Starting in the freelance writing world is usually the stumbling block for many and that’s a common issue. Here is some feedback from my experience starting out in the freelancing world that I hope will be useful for you either as a newbie or as someone that just needs a reminder!
1. Pitching is only one way to work with editors - The other, and one that I much prefer, is through introductions. I’ve found many long-lasting editorial relationships and even some great one-off projects simply by introducing myself to editors. Of course, you need to have some samples to point them to so whether that’s writing you did in school, bylines you’ve accomplished as a hobby or even some pro-bono work done for a nonprofit, make sure you have those links ready. If editors find a good fit, they will send along assignments including advertorials and sponsored content posts which sometimes pay a lot more than the regular stories the outlet publishes. This will, however, not work if you have a very specific idea in mind but it will get easier to work with that editor and send them one of your ideas once that relationship has been established. If you are open to it, especially when starting out, then sending letters of introduction to editors might turn into a lucrative income stream you never knew was possible.
2. Applying for pitch calls or positions even if you don’t satisfy all criteria - Self-censoring and self-declining, if I may use those terms, are crimes all freelancers who are starting out commit against themselves. Well, sometimes even the experienced ones are guilty of this. If you see a call for pitches from a certain editor or outlet or even for a freelancing position, and you feel you even partially qualify to apply, then go ahead and do it. Even if your pitch or application isn’t picked up, most organizations save your information for at least a year if not longer. When the right opportunity comes along, they might just reach out to you with an assignment. Sending in that application or pitch hurts you in no way. The worst that can happen is you don’t hear back, or they simply decline. But in the best-case scenario, sometimes those simple pitches can lead to some great work in the future and even consistent work if the editor finds they like working with you.
3. Making the ask when you see a suitable opportunity - If you don’t necessarily have a suitable pitch or idea at just the right time that an editor shares pitching guidelines or welcomes enquiries, don’t fret. Instead, if it’s an outlet and editor you want to work with, ask to see if they need assistance with anything or have a story they’d like to assign instead. Provide your bylines and experience so they can make that decision. Or if you have related skills, you think would be useful then offer up those instead. It might not be immediate success, but it could also work well in your favor, if not immediately then maybe in the long run. I’ve received editing gigs form and editor I was writing for, research assignment from another editor, and assigned several stories because of asking what the editor wanted me to work on. So make that ask when you can!
Enjoyed reading these tips? Chime in with yours in the comments below…
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