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How To Pitch an Article to a Major Publication

3 minute read

October 12, 2016

Drew Berger

Crowd Content Writer

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While content mills and copywriting provide freelancers with a steady income and constant access to work, some freelance writers choose to set out on their own and aim to get their work published in online publications and magazines as a way to supplement this more reliable income.

Many people don’t realize that few magazines and online sources are staffed with writers in today’s “gig economy”. In fact, many publications get some, most, or all of their content provided by ambitious freelancers who pitch an idea, and then write an engaging piece on that idea.

Should you add to the work you do with content creation platforms by writing independently for print or online publication?

What should you consider when pitching an article to a major publication? It can be intimidating to present an idea for the first time, but remember: publications need the creativity of freelance writers as much as freelancers need the money and exposure.

Here’s a beginner’s guide to pitching your unique ideas:

Have an Intriguing Idea

No matter how experienced or talented you are at writing what are referred to as “query letters”, your endeavor will never get off the ground if it isn’t backed by a clever idea. With the rise in prominence of media sources like Buzzfeed, we’ve reached a point of content saturation, wherein if you’re going to suggest new content, now more than ever the idea must be as strong as possible.

This seems fairly obvious, but many freelancers overlook it due to anxiety about the pitch itself.

Consider the Editor Receiving Your Pitch

Ask yourself questions about the person to whom you’re pitching your article.

What is the best way to reach them? Most editors only respond to queries made by email, so this is your best bet. Feel free to reach out with a note requesting the best way to make your pitch.

How can you grab an editor’s attention? If your query is unnecessarily long, it has a chance to be ignored simply due to the time it would take to consider it. One successful freelancer recommends putting information about the idea in the subject line, so if the reader is interested in the pitch, it jumps out immediately.

Introduce Yourself

Writer’s Digest suggests breaking down your query letter into sections to make sure you include all the relevant information.

Let’s review. You’ve gotten the editor’s attention with an excellent lead, you’ve presented your idea in a comprehensive way that justifies the writing and makes the editor want to buy it; all of this means very little if you don’t also sell yourself professionally.

This is basically a cover letter for your contributions to the publication. Discuss your background, your qualifications and why you think your writing could be a strong addition to the publication’s existing content. Think of every query letter partially as a job application.

There are plenty of success stories about strong pitches from talented, confident freelance writers. Freelancing can sometimes make you feel defeated, but having a strong basis of how to pitch an article can yield major results and boost your career to new levels. As a supplement to an existing career as a trusted content creator for a reliable on-demand content site, writing articles for larger publications can take your freelance career to new heights.

Have you successfully (or unsuccessfully) pitched your ideas to a print or online publication? Tell me in the comments!

Drew Berger

Drew holds a degree in Political Science with a minor in Economics. He has experience writing in the areas of politics, economics, sports and sports business, and product descriptions. He always strives to produce unique content within a given deadline at a high level of quality.

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