July 15, 2010
Caption : Not sure how to get started as a freelance writer? All it takes is an idea and a pitch. Here are some tips from GP on pitching freelance articles.     

Not sure how to get started as a freelance writer? All it takes is an idea and a pitch.

Once you have your idea, the next step is figuring out the best place to pitch your article. Make sure you visit the publication’s website to see if they have specific pitching guidelines for freelance writers. Although this will vary from publication to publication, here are some tips for how to structure your pitch: 

  • Introduce your story idea and define your angle. In other words, tell us what you want to write about and explain your point of view and argument.
  • Explain why your idea is timely, unique, important, and/or of interest to that particular outlet’s readers. The most important thing when developing your idea is to figure out why people reading the article should care about what you’re writing about. Take a step back and ask: “What’s interesting about this? What am I adding to the conversation that’s not already out there?”
  • Estimate a deadline for your piece.
  • Include your phone number and email address.
  • Attach clips and/or writing samples to demonstrate your experience (if relevant)

Pitch Examples

Here are three examples of possible pitches—one that’s not so good and two that publications would be more likely to accept.

Example of a bad pitch:

Dear Publication X,

I am a political science major and a writer for my campus newspaper. I’m interested in writing a story for your publication with an alternative view of the Patriot Act, because I think it’s really important for students to know about and understand. Would you be interested in a piece like this?

Thanks,

Jack P. Student

Example of a good pitch for a reported feature:

Dear Publication X,

I would like to write a story for your publication that attempts to explain why there hasn’t been a powerful on-campus student movement against the Iraq war. Although most students seem to agree that it was a mistake for the United States to invade Iraq, a strong, unified student voice calling for the president to bring our troops home hasn’t yet emerged. As a part of my analysis, I would like to compare the student activism of the 1960s to that of today, and argue that although there doesn’t seem to be a unified student voice against the war, students today are expressing their opinions and making a difference on the national scene.

I will talk to 10 college activists from campuses across the country and attend a rally that is scheduled to take place next week at my college. To compare and contrast today’s activism to that of the Vietnam era, I will also interview administrators and anti-war student activists from the 1960s.

It is important for someone from our generation to write this piece. Various political writers, like Thomas Friedman of the New York Times and Courtney Martin of the American Prospect, have recently argued that college activists are ineffective. Your audience will enjoy reading an article written by a college student that counters these opinions.

If my pitch is accepted, I can turn in a draft of the piece by the end of this month.

Thank you,

Joyce Q. Student

jstudent@university.edu

(202) 555-1212

Example of a good pitch for an opinion column:

Dear Publication X,

I’m often disturbed by the lack of diversity in the contemporary environmental movement. I would like to write an opinion piece for your publication arguing that the perceived whiteness of contemporary environmentalism keeps the movement from reaching the places that need it most: low-income communities, which have disproportionately high levels of minority residents. Because the movement currently places so much emphasis on individual choices made by consumers—like the decision to buy environmentally friendly light bulbs or hybrid cars—environmentalists have distanced themselves from those who can’t afford to make those choices.

It’s no surprise, then, that students of color and low-income students feel helpless and uninspired when it comes to climate change. There aren’t enough high-visibility role models of color in the environmental movement, and campus activism is dominated by white activists. As a student of color who cares about climate change, I can offer personal experience and a unique perspective to the discussion.

If my pitch is accepted, I can submit a draft by the end of next week.

Thank you,

Thomas G. Student

tstudent@university.edu

(202) 555-1212

Have a story to tell but looking for someone else to write or pitch it? Share your unique experiences with us by emailing eleach@americanprogress.org. 

Want more info on pitch writing? Or ways to craft an effective message, prep for an interview, and structure and pitch out your op-ed? Head to genprogress.org/we-are-progress to watch our webinar on Earned Media Tactics!

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