Monday, August 24, 2009

GUEST POST: How Not to Pitch an Editor

I'm thrilled to have Deb Ng of Freelance Writing Jobs contributing a guest post to CatalystBlogger. If you're not familiar with this site, this is one you'll want to bookmark--Deb delivers dozens of freelance writing job leads several times a week, as well as tips on professional blogging, social media marketing, commercial writing and running a business.

How Not to Pitch an Editor
By Deb Ng

I’m buried under a pile of email. The amount of people wanting to submit a blog post for consideration for my freelance writing blog network is staggering. I don’t know if it’s because we’re a popular network or because we pay for guest posts, but I didn’t expect such a response to our seeking outside writers. Unfortunately, I will only be contacting a small number of the people who queried to ask them for more information about their pitches. Here’s why:

Not enough information

More than half of the pitches weren’t pitches at all. They were questions:

Dear Deb, How would you like an article about how to find a freelance writing job?

Sure…except we write about that every single day. How would this post be different from others? There is nothing here for me to go on.

On our “write for us” page, we list the types of blog posts we’re most interested in reading. We also ask that folks stay away from general topics or the stuff you find on every single other freelance writing blog.

When pitching an editor it’s best to include the slant of the article. For instance, if this writer told me she wanted to write a piece about how freelance writers can find work at writers conferences and list some of her tips for networking at these places, I probably would given the go ahead.

Not relevant

Before pitching a blog, website or publication, it’s probably a good idea to a little perusing. Not knowing anything about the market you wish to query is a freelance writing Cardinal Sin. I received pitches about gardening, web design, and iPhone apps. The thing is, these writers could totally have won me over with niche- focused pitches. For example, the iPhone writer could have discussed apps for freelance writers instead of his “How to Create an iPhone App” pitch. Instead of discussing tomatoes, the gardening blogger could have talked about achieving success by rocking one’s niche. Finally, if the web design spoke about how bloggers can benefit from strategic design instead of a post about where to find design jobs, he might have gotten a little more love.

Not what I’m looking for

I’m easy. I like a casual writing style and tips every freelance writer can use. Sometimes folks send in ideas for stuff I’m just not looking for. They might be the terrific writers, but their pitch didn’t grab me or it was a topic we just wrote about.

Editors want writers to look at the guidelines, read some of their past blog posts or articles, go beyond the usual and dare to be different. Editors aren’t only looking to fill space, they’re looking to enlighten, educate and stimulate. Don’t pitch the pieces that are easy to write – pitch the pieces you want to read.

Deb Ng is a freelance writer, professional blogger, social media consultant and founder of Freelance Writing Jobs, the number one online community for freelance writers.

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