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):
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.
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 is the editor of Adventure, Baby!