You have an idea burning in your head.
It’s so good, you have to pitch it to a favorite publication or two so the public can bask in your insight. You write a simple pitch online, press send on the email and wait.
Then there’s nothing. Days go by and you never hear anything back. So, you circle around with a follow-up email.
Then you get it: the dreaded rejection message.
It’s OK. It happens to all of us at one time or another in our online writing careers. But over the years I’ve learned a few things about how to write a pitch or proposal for a writing assignment. The number one thing to keep in mind as you craft a pitch is that it’s not about you.
Focus the pitch on the receiving publication to avoid getting ignored. What can you do for them?
4 Reasons Your Last Writing Pitch Was All Wrong
1. Your pitch is all about you. Sure it’s nice to let the client know you have expert insight or a passion for the topic, but don’t dwell on it. A pitch should explain what the article can do for the person or company you’re writing it for.
- Will it help boost their visibility on a specific social media network?
- Will it make the company look more personable and giving?
- Will it highlight a personal goal or achievement of the company?
- Will it build customer trust and push them to buy?
Honestly, the editors don’t care what the piece will do for you. Make the pitch all about them.
2. Your pitch is too long. I have a tendency to talk too much, which translates into writing too much. This can be the kiss of death for an article proposal.
When you’re having a busy morning, and you’re cleaning out your inbox, how much do you read of each email? The first paragraph? The first sentence? Maybe you don’t even make it past the subject line?
Your pitch should be short, sweet and to the point. Just like the future text, the first sentence must be snappy and engaging. Intrigue the editor with a fact or statistic that’s too juicy to pass up. Or, reel them in with an emotional plea. Or, tell them something about their industry that makes them go, “Really? Why didn’t I know about that yet?”
Break a story. Offer uncommon insight. Be different. Your pitch isn’t the only one in that editor’s inbox.
3. Your pitch isn’t all-encompassing. So you’ve wowed the editor with a tightly focused idea that appeals directly to their goals and audience. Fabulous. Now take your pitch one step further. Offer to also compose a few simple extras.
Consider crafting social media posts, Tweet ideas, creating a catchy hashtag or writing a few succulent calls to action that encourage readers to share the article, leave a comment or take the next step.
4. Your pitch is not timely. Finally, none of the above tips matter if you’re simply out of the loop on the publisher’s needs. The number one thing I can tell you is to plan ahead. Far ahead. It’s December and I’ve already completed content for Valentine’s Day promotions. Yes, really.
If your pitch relates to a holiday or season, plan two to three months ahead. If you enjoy writing news topics, anticipate what will be coming up, such as trial coverage based on a recent crime or a follow-up on a hot news headline.
Writing a pitch doesn’t have to take hours or intense research. You simply want to catch the editor’s eye, get a response and start the negotiating process. A follow-up synopsis or outline can be offered later. Right now, concentrate on getting your foot in the door.
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