PItching Made Easy: How To Ask For Freelance Work via christineknight.me

Pitching for freelance writing can be a scary thing to do. No one likes being rejected. After giving this freelance writing thing a good go for the best part of a year and a half now, I can tell you that it does get easier. All of it. The cold emailing. The pitching. And even the rejection. Somewhere along the way of sending out too many introduction emails and pitches to count, I suddenly stopped taking it personally if I didn’t land a job.

The thing is, working for yourself is a very personal thing to do. When you pitch stories and ideas, you’re also pitching your skills and experience, so it can feel like a very personal rejection if you’re turned down. What you have to remember is the person you’re pitching to is usually a paid employee of a large company, and they are juggling many freelancers and staff, as well as deadlines and articles of their own, plus reporting to their bosses. To them, your pitch is just a tiny cog in their daily wheel – something they are used to dealing with day in and day out. To them, it’s just work. It’s not personal. If they don’t reply to your email, or dismiss your ideas, it’s not personal. They’re just doing their job.

The lesson for me in this was to not let rejection destroy my self confidence. After being rejected or not hearing from a potential client, I will still go back and try again if I think it’s worth the business. Even if my idea has been shot down, I will still do it, because it’s through perseverance that we succeed.

So this how I approach business for work with a cold email (yes, you can also call an editor on the phone, but I’m a wimp and I prefer emails to basically ever picking up the phone):

Hello Judy,

Lovely to e-meet you. I love “Mum Business Magazine” and am interested in freelance writing for you.

I am a professional writer based in Sydney, Australia. My articles on parenting are regularly published on sites such as the Huffington Post and by businesses such as Fisher Price. You can see my published work portfolio and resume for more information about my work history.

I would love to pitch ideas for articles at “Mum Business Magazine”. Can you please send me your submission guidelines.

Thanks for your time. I look forward to your response.

Christine Knight

Key things to note:

1. Keep it short and to the point
No one has time for long emails. Keep it brief.

2. What can you offer?
What experience do you have? Why are you right for their publication?

3. Hyperlink to resources
Make it easy for the person to find your most important work examples, resume and work portfolio.

4. What do you want?
Submission guidelines will include what topics they accept work for, the word count, if they want photos, if they pay and what the pay rate is. If they don’t have an official guidelines document usually your reply will include at least a few lines that will cover this.

Hope this helps you work up the courage to pitch for paid freelance work. Let me know what you would like me to write about next.

Christine Knight
Christine is the editor of Adventure, Baby!
  • Hugzilla

    Great article! I totally agree on the rejection side of things. You just have to hold your breath and press send.

    • Thank you Melissa! Yes re sending things – then waiting in excitement/dread to see what if any response you get 🙂

  • Great tips! I’ve been a freelancer and a commissioning editor, and I would say definitely don’t take silence or rejection personally. Editors receive so many emails and if you’re not solving an immediate problem for them, you can end up on the never-ending ‘to do’ list. I am a big fan of the follow up too – I suggest waiting two weeks or so and then sending a follow up email just checking in and seeing if they are interested. I have probably had just as many jobs from a follow up as I have from a first email.

    • Thank you Carolyn. 2 weeks sounds good. A question – how long do you wait if you’ve been asked to write a piece, then write it and send it, and haven’t heard back?

  • Awesome advice hun and I totally agree – rejection gets easier lol xx

    • Thank you Sonia! Amazing that you can actually grow a thicker skin, isn’t it? I didn’t think it was possible!

  • So interesting and helpful to find out how the world of freelancing works. And great news that it is possible to not take rejection too personally!

    • Thanks Kirralee – I didn’t think it was possible, but yes, after sending out a hundred or so emails, you totally stop taking rejection so personally.

  • Oh hello, I’m just getting my head around pitching. Thanks so much. Zoe xx

  • Great tips Christine! I’ve recently pulled my fjnger out and started pitching stories to editors and surprise surprise I’m getting somewhere! If you don’t ask you don’t get 😉

    • Thank you! And so true – I always figure you’re best off just asking and worst case they say no, but who knows, maybe they’ll say yes!