How to Pitch Big, Paying Publications

how to pitch big paying markets and publications

Here at Paid Write, I’m BIG on bringing you high-paying markets like:

And I do this because these assignments do a lot of things for your writing career; they help you build a spectacular portfolio/resume, secure your status as an expert in your niche, and provide a lucrative, new income stream.

But landing these gigs depends on one thing: your pitch. (Also referred to as a query.) Which is why learning to write an effective pitch email is so important, whether you’re a new(er) freelancer who needs to learn EVERYTHING about queries or an established freelancer, with room for improving your pitch, .

If you’re asking yourself, “How do I (better) pitch big, paying publications and take advantage of these impressive markets?” you are in the right place because I’m going to show you…and we’re going to use my actual accepted pitches to examine what works!

Before You Pitch

The most common complaint of editors who field queries is that they’re constantly receiving pitches that aren’t suited to their publication. Their number one piece of advice? Get familiar with the publication! Are you seeing a theme? Editors are practically begging writers to pitch what their readers want and you, the writer, can get an idea of what that is by looking over the publications you’re planning to pitch—and pitching articles specific to their audience.

You won’t need a full subscription (you’ll go broke doing that) but you should study at least one hard copy of a print publication or the website of a digital publication. To give you an idea of what you should be looking for, check out my Ultimate Pre-Pitch Checklist over on BeAFreelanceBlogger.

But the format and content of the publication aren’t the only thing you should study before you pitch. You’ll also need to read through the entire submission guidelines. Not only should you follow these, but many editors include tips on what they’re looking for and which sections of the publication are commonly written by freelancers. Why would you skip this? Heed their advice and give them what they’re asking for!

Once you’ve researched your market, you’ll be able to tell the editor in your pitch that your piece would fit nicely into their publication’s ‘whatever section’. While your article won’t overlap their current content, your piece will enhance and support their insert current articles on the subject and is expected to meet the section’s word count—which all shows you’ve done your homework!

Let’s look at an example of what goes into a successful pitch. This is the pitch I emailed to land that BeAFreelanceBlogger assignment:

Lauren and Sophie,

I almost saved this for the next Pitch-fest but couldn't wait. I'd like to
write a guest post for the 'Get Hired' section of Be A Freelance Blogger
that dissects what to study about a blog before sending a pitch. After
all, writers are constantly told to get familiar with a publication before
submitting story ideas (see 'Why Pitching Blogging Clients Directly Is
Where The Money's At' by Kirsty Stuart, which would make a great related
article or in-text link) but what exactly should they be looking for? And
since the common complaint of those receiving and sludging through
submissions is that queries are often not suited to the website or in no
way even related to the blog's topic, I feel an actionable check list
could help writers...and maybe your own inbox.

Tired Of Hearing Crickets? The Ultimate Checklist For BEFORE You Pitch or
20 Life Or Death Questions To Answer Before You Pitch

Introduction After Title – define the common problem of writers not
properly researching blogs before pitching. Use social proof (quotes from
submission editors) to validate the issue

Style and Layout – every blog has one. Is it formal or casual? Is the tone
professional or are there a couple cuss words here and there? What tone of
voice do the blogger and guest bloggers use? Most writers have multiple
tones and while you won't be expected to clone your style, the tone of
your pitch and guest post should match the tone of the blog. Are posts
bulleted? Short lists of tips or resources? What is the average word
count? Do articles include lots of links or hardly any? Are the links for
outside resources or are they internal links that navigate around the
blog?

Most Popular Posts – usually found somewhere in the sidebar or footer,
this shows you what readers of the blog get excited about. Look for any
common topics or formats. Are most of these posts about one or two
subjects or are they mostly round-ups of useful resources? Use your search
engine to find the most popular posts if they are not listed.

Common Themes and Departments – again, check the sidebar for categories.
Would your guest post idea fit seamlessly into one of these? Also, some
blogs only accept guest posts for specific categories. Be sure to look.

Series Topics and Related Posts – many bloggers use an editorial calendar
and break large topics into smaller posts to publish as a series. Are
there any current series? Is there an older but popular series that you
could write a related post for? Search for your blog post topic within the
site and see what's already been posted on the subject. Is there a new
angle or a sub-topic that hasn't been covered?

Who Writes What – keep an eye on those by-lines. Are there recent guest
posts? Do the bios in the guest posts include links? Does the blog owner
seem to write primarily in one category? Is there a category with all
guest posts? What percentage of the blog's posts are written by guest
bloggers? Are there features that run every so often in the same way
magazines include certain columns each month? Focus on categories already
written primarily by guest bloggers. You are not going to break into a
column written exclusively by the owner. Also, make sure to check the
about page so you know who's a staff writer and who is a guest blogger.

Headline and Heading Style – What common hooks are used on the site to get
attention? Do they include numbers like '50 Ways To Make A Ton Of Money In
Your Pajamas'? Are they short or long? Do they include: colons that break
them into two parts? While the chances are good that your editor will
change or tweak your headline, pitching with one that fits the blog's
style is always better.

Round-Ups and Resources – Does the blog accept round-ups from freelancers?
These are usually among the most popular posts because readers come back
to them repeatedly for information and they are heavily shared. The same
goes for resources. Are any written by guest bloggers? Could you pitch a
report, spreadsheet, infographic or checklist for readers?

Study the Submission Guidelines – These are not suggestions; they are
instructions. Follow all guidelines and make at least one reference in
your pitch that shows you read and studied the publication and the
guidelines. Send your pitch in the appropriate form (on-spec article,
outline, summary) to the correct person at the correct email address or in
the appropriate contact form.

Further Instructions – Read posts, subscribe to the newsletter, be helpful
in the comments, keep your name fresh in the mind of the blogger

I think that the questions contained in the article could make good bullet
points and the subtopics of each heading would be fleshed out as
individual main ideas for each paragraph. (One I didn't mention was
looking for the use of oxford or series commas on a blog before
submitting. I've done that research.)

The article would run in the 1,000 word range that you're looking for and
internal links to examples of each subheading could be added as well.

I recently launched an opt-in for my new site, PaidWrite.com, using the
strategies I learned following Jon Morrow, so there is no site yet. The
opt-in [50+ Writing Markets and Resources] included BAFB and I'd like to
thank you for retweeting the link to the landing page.

My professional site is at http://www.ricekristytreats.com/ and as a
writing sample, you can also (re)check out that 50+ report at
{link excluded], which Danny Iny of Mirasee recently shared with his audience!
(Super-excited about that.)

Sincerely,

Kristy Rice
http://www.paidwrite.com/
Kristy@paidwrite.com

 

Now the first thing you might notice about this pitch is that I included a full outline. Your market might not prefer this type of pitch but this particular website hosts what they call Pitchfest, a contest where freelancers submit their pitch/outline in the comment section of a blog post. Since I had a chance to look at the past winners of the competition, I could see that the outline format was effective. And my approach worked—they assigned me the article!

 

how to pitch big paying publications

 

Now let’s look at a more traditional pitch. This is the email I pitched to Barefoot Write for a piece on the business side of freelance writing (and landed a $150 assignment):

Forget the cutesy lists of ’10 Ways You Know You’re A Writer’, I’d like to offer practical and essential career advice to those making the leap to (or dreaming about) full-time – from a full-time, in my comfy pants right now, self-employed freelancer.

Veterans will nod their heads at this list saying, “Yeah, that’s a must that I learned early on.”

What I’ve outlined and would like to put together for your readers can be slanted a few different ways:

  • 9 Things Full-Time Freelancers Know (evergreen)
  • 9 Things I Learned Freelancing Full-Time From Home (personal experience)
  • 9 Things You Should Know About Going Full-Time (newbies)

I think it would fit well into ‘Thinking Like a Writer’ at 700-900 words.

The nine subheadings would include:

  1. Cast a Wide Client Net to Book Your New Business Solid
  2. Always Have More Than One Client (one-and-done assignments don’t count)
  3. Your Website is #1
  4. Keep 3-4 Queries Circulating To Build Your Portfolio
  5. You’ll Probably Need to Exercise
  6. Your Crockpot is Your New BFF
  7. You Need Another Kind of Net (Safety)
  8. When to Stop Organizing and Start Working
  9. Your Niche is More than a Topic

I feel like a subheading on bookkeeping (saving receipts and a chunk for taxes before you begin filing quarterlies) could round out the piece, if you’d like to include one.

My work has been published on Be A Freelance Blogger, in the Funds For Writers newsletter and I host a blog for writers as well. If you’d like to see my portfolio I have a list of links posted on my website.

Thank you for taking the time to consider my article idea. I hope to hear from you soon. 🙂

All The Best,

Kristy Rice

KristyRice@RiceKristyTreats.com

Now let’s break down this pitch by color.

The blue is what’s called a hook and the idea is to get your reader’s attention. This can be done with a shocking statistic, a thoughtful quote, a surprising statement (which is what I went with), an intense description, or you can bring your reader directly into action with those first words.

The green section covers the scope of the article. Your goal here is to describe your piece so that the editor can envision the assignment. Include why readers will be interested in your article, how your article will relate to the content they’ve already published on the subject, a tentative title or two, the points you’ll use to support your article, any interviews you’ve lined up or could line up, the research you plan to include, any images or graphics you’ll include, your expected word count, and the department or section of the publication where your piece would be a natural fit.

That purple paragraph is where you show the editor your experience as a writer, focusing as much as possible on samples in the same niche as the publication you’re pitching. Since this pitch was for a ‘writing’ publication, I focused on my experience in the ‘writing’ niche.

Sure I could have included that I’ve written recipes and put together amazingly researched nutrition guides, but this market won’t care. That being said, if you’re pitching a niche where you have no related clip, you can slant your samples.

Maybe one of your clips highlights your research abilities or your ability to build an interesting article around quotes or interviews. Maybe that personal essay emulates the conversational tone of the market you’re pitching. Or maybe you see the format as being similar. What’s important is that your samples show your skill and that you can relate those skills to the assignment you’re asking for.

Finally, and only because it’d be awkward without one, the orange section highlights the closing of my email.

Now, let’s look at another! This pitch is long because I included the outline for a lengthy round-up, but my efforts landed me a $100 assignment from WOW! Women On Writing!

Niche articles are overdone. I admit it. But I’m still going to pitch one because I think newbie writers only hear half the story of what a niche is. The article I’m proposing, Your Niche Is More Than A Topic, would introduce new (and experienced) writers to market and format specialties they may not have considered.

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By exploring these twenty-eight types of assignments, readers will discover new career opportunities and can then begin to target the types of work they enjoy. Writers can realistically determine how they spend their work-a-day by pursuing more of the assignments that make them happy.

I believe career writers find their niche while writing, not while deciding what their niche ‘should’ be. You find work you like, you pursue more of it. You want to try a new format, you put yourself out there to take it on as an assignment or you practice on your own to have a sample to show. If you enjoy the process and side-tasks, you promote these services – locally or remotely.

This article will also benefit writers who like to be out-and-about instead of in front of their laptop. I’d like to point out in the introduction that offering local services can help a writer get out of the house and open doors for the outgoing. They can also help new writers gain their first clips.

Writers who want to ‘Go Local’ can join their local Chamber of Commerce, attend expos and networking events, research local business organizations, scout local publication stands, inquire at newspaper offices (yes I’ve done it) and use old-school legwork to build successful writing careers. I’m a laptop gal now but in my younger days…

The niches and markets I’d like to include (with my notes) are:

  1. Journalism/News/Reporting (digital or local, can cover a range of topics but determined by format)
  2. Round-Ups (brief writing, big #, images with caption)
  3. Subscription Incentives (reports, case studies, white papers, goodies)
  4. Ultimate Guides (evergreen topic or fleshed-out round-up)
  5. Restaurant Menus (local, photography partnership/opportunity)
  6. Brochures (b2b, consumer, informational)
  7. Newsletters (subject, community, employee)
  8. Sales Letters (print, format, local or remote)
  9. Landing Pages (practice LP elements with your professional site)
  10. Video Scripts (digital, local or remote, employee training)
  11. Content Creation (contributor positions)
  12. Social Media Posts (local or remote, brief, knowledge of tools)
  13. Reach-Based Affiliations (if you have a large following on your blog/social media and make money through affiliations or reviews)
  14. DIY/Crafts (image-driven steps as you complete a project, watch out for overhead)
  15. Recipe Writer (local or digital, newsletter opportunity for local businesses, beware overhead)
  16. Recipe Videos (pull off a great sample and you can sell these cooking snippets locally and online, overhead and equipment)
  17. Crowd-Funding Campaigns (local or remote, non-profits, break in by volunteering, fund raising, local organizations)
  18. Grant Proposals (local or remote, technical format and attention to detail, requirements)
  19. Technical How-To With Screenshots (Have a blog? Write WP tutorials. Knowledgeable about Canva or any other platform people want to learn? Small business employee tutorials/reference materials)
  20. Procedures and Manuals (local or remote, new software, procedural, emergency, training)
  21. Sales Emails (combination of digital newsletter and sales letter, study funnels and auto-responding systems or sell just the writing service)
  22. Advertorials (local or digital, they look like articles but are labeled and they inform while they sell, slant)
  23. Interviews (local or remote, part of many assignments but can be a specialty, video and podcast opportunities)
  24. Case Studies (can be technical, process-driven or success stories that profile someone’s inspirational story)
  25. Radio Commercials (local or remote, contact local stations about in-house opportunities/referrals, offer to businesses as part of a marketing plan, don’t discount internet radio ads)
  26. Magazine Features/Articles (local or glossy nationals, use to build topic authority and credentials to your portfolio, logos on your professional website, usually combined with blogging/book platform/freelance/content creation)
  27. Guest Posts (remote, digital version of magazine feature, use to direct topic niche strengths, build portfolio)
  28. Local Columnist (local, beat reporter, band reviews, publication can still be digital but you’re reporting on something in your community, maybe even the high-school football games)

I would like to include a clear explanation of each niche, along with what to expect in terms of activity (interviews, images, travel, photography possibilities/partnerships, local marketing) and complementary links: related content you’d like to promote, industry statistics and niche-specific resources.

For the format, I’d like to include a key identifying local and/or remote (L/R) before the text for each niche. It should be a good way to avoid repetition in the text and readers will be able to scan the list for one or the other. A Go Local subheading for applicable niches will include actionable advice and highlight local writing/marketing opportunities. It will also break up the length, as will text boxes that showcase market statistics and source quotes.

To include adequate information for each niche (industry/market trends, sources and useful links) I would like approval for 2,000 to 3,000 words. Though long, I think presenting the niche as a specialty in formatting, project-types and services as opposed to an expert-level-topic-platform will create an evergreen and sharable addition (28 Writing Niches That Are More Than A Topic) to your new bi/weekly features.

My writing about writing has been published on Be a FreelanceBlogger, Funds for Writers, Scribblrs and my own blog, Paid Write. You’re also welcome to review a full list of my articles with links on my website. 

Below my salutations, I’ve included what I believe to be my most appropriate sample. Though it’s not on the topic of writing I think it shows the level of research, formatting and effort I’d like to put into this piece for you.

Thank you for looking over my (lengthy) proposal and considering my work.

Sincerely,

Kristy Rice

KristyRice@RiceKristyTreats.com

Okay, one more. Why not, right?

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This email landed me a gig (the first one in the pitch, the second became a Paid Write blog post: Eliminate Email Overload By Creating A Free Resource Library) with C. Hope Clark and Funds For Writers:

Hello again, Hope.

I emailed you a few weeks back because I’d included your site in a resource report for writers, [50+ Writing Markets and Resources]. Thank you for retweeting my link, by the way.

After reviewing your recent guest posts, I would like to offer two ideas that I would be thrilled to write for the blog and newsletter. Both are related to the business side of writing, give your readers clear actions that would earn them income or save them time and money, include links that provide tools and fall within the 500-600 word count.

The first is ‘No More One-And-Done Jobs’ and outlines the benefits of writing repeatedly for a few clients instead of constantly marketing yourself to new clients, then shows readers how to do just that. It would include advice on re-pitching successful markets: identifying a topic you can write about repeatedly, how long to wait after your first submission is accepted before re-pitching the same publication and how to approach an editor you’ve worked with previously.

The meat of the post will dissect the key to repeat business: keeping in contact with editors. Headings would highlight tips on using social media, the comment box and subscriptions – which works for both blogs and periodicals – to develop a relationship that keeps your name fresh in an editor’s mind.

This guest post would fit in the clients, freelance writing, blogs, guest blog and writing sections of your blog. I could also include links to online publication directories in the paragraph about identifying your topic, which would help readers discover new markets to query.

The second article idea is ‘Turn Your Inbox Into A Toolbox’. In it I show readers how to stay informed of industry news, keep current on industry leaders, receive free publications and resources, create their own categorized library of information and clear out their personal or professional inbox, all while solving the distraction of checking emails throughout the day.

All of this can be accomplished for free by creating a dedicated email address for newsletters and subscriptions to industry resources and sorting those emails into topic folders including marketing, bookkeeping, pitching, etc.

And to get readers started on curating their library, I’d like to include a link to your own subscription sign-up at the end of the post with a ‘to get you started’ statement. The article could also include a bulleted list of folder categories that work for writers.

I have done this with my own email because while I don’t want to miss anything going on out there in the freelance-o-sphere, I was spending more time than I care to admit clearing my inbox every day and it took away from my writing time, which is money lost. So while the article would not increase readers’ income directly, it would help them save time and money and ties directly into ‘profitable business practices related to writing’.

Both articles are previously unpublished and I would be happy to incorporate any additional elements you feel would benefit your readers.

My professional website is located at http://ricekristytreats.com/ and you can also (re)check out the report I wrote at [link omitted], which Danny Iny of Mirasee recently shared with his own audience!

Sincerely,

Kristy Rice http://www.paidwrite.com/

Of course, you probably won’t be writing about freelance writing, but the format of these emails are the same no matter your niche. So are the steps to creating a successful pitch: research your market, study their submission guidelines, and give the editor a clear picture of the article you’re proposing. Include a hook to get the editor’s attention and highlight your samples’ strengths. Follow this advice and checking your email will become SUPER exciting!

Oh and did I mention you’ll build an impressive portfolio and make some serious income, too?

There is a Mobile Optimized version of this page (AMP). Open Mobile Version.

I spent years working low-paying jobs. I’ve been a cashier. A line cook. I unloaded trucks. These days I support myself and my children with my writing. It’s a new and exciting life – and I want the same for you!

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