Preparing a Pitch for a Magazine Article

Photo of a man using a laptop, surrounded by a newspaper, planner, and clipboard.

Though most magazines and other publications will employ a team of staff writers, they almost always rely on additional content from freelance writers, who make themselves known by writing pitches for articles they want to write. Of course, making a pitch by no means guarantees that your work will be featured. Editors may see thousands of pitch emails coming in each week, so you need to make sure that yours is as strong as possible so that it stands out. While you should follow format with how you submit your pitch (no editor wants to deal with unconventional attention-grabbers like phone calls or solicitation on social media), you can take some steps to ensure that your pitch for a magazine article doesn’t get lost in the crowd.

Do Your Research First

Crafting your first few magazine pitches may take lots of time, because you need to frontload pitches with research—not just research about the articles you want to write, but also research about the publication that you’re pitching to. Over time, you might start to recognize which magazines align most with your writing style and interests, so you won’t have to do quite as much legwork in the pitch process.

Know the publication.

You should never pitch to a magazine that you have never read. While that may sound somewhat obvious, it is all too common for freelancers to want to pitch to as many publications as possible, so they might do so without really understanding what each magazine offers to readers. That means if you want to focus on magazine writing, you need to start reading more often. When you do have the background of the tone and subject matter you’ll find within a certain magazine, it will be easier to showcase to an editor that your writing can fit into those standards.

Outline your article.

You can send a completed article to a magazine when you pitch content, but more frequently, pitches will be accompanied by article summaries. This is advantageous for a few reasons. First, you will save editors time, which is something that any editor will thank you for. If you can paint a picture of the article you want to write in just a few words, you will already be in an editor’s favor. In addition, you won’t waste your time writing out every article idea that comes to mind, only to have editors reject your pieces.

Line up relevant research and contacts.

Once you’ve come up with a solid outline for the article you want to write, it will need to take shape with some research and possibly interviews. You don’t need to necessarily perform interviews yet, but having contacts lined up will save you some stress if your pitch is accepted and you’re suddenly under a deadline.

Offer a Small Taste of Your Writing

When you are creating your article outline and organizing your research, you will want to be thinking about how to sell the idea of the article in a brief summary. One thing to remember is that though a summary should be short—only one or two paragraphs—it should still offer a good taste of your writing talent. Don’t be afraid to add your voice into that short writing sample and be sure that you come up with a killer title to make the article come to life with only a small introduction. Steer clear of bland and boring titles like “How to Grow Your Own Vegetables” and try to spice things up with something more exciting, such as “Planting the Seeds for a Better Diet.”

Additionally, you should only pitch content that you are excited to write, because a lack of enthusiasm will show in your pitch. Remember—pitching content allows you the opportunity to sell the content you genuinely want to write, so you should try to find the right publication for your pitch rather than trying to pigeonhole your idea into a publication that’s not quite ideal for the article you have in mind.

Know How and Where To Submit Your Idea

Once your pitch is all ready to send off, you’ll want to make sure it goes to the right place. Some publications will have a contact email specifically for prospective freelancers to send in their article ideas. Others will have a page on their website where you can submit your pitch. Be sure that you know exactly where you should send the content so that it reaches the right person.

Follow Up On Your Pitch

Perhaps the hardest part of sending in a magazine pitch is waiting for a response, and, unfortunately, many magazines will never respond to a vast number of the pitches they receive. That doesn’t even necessarily indicate that the article idea was no good or that your writing isn’t strong. More often than not, it’s simply a matter of not having the time to review every pitch. To increase the chances that your pitch is seen, take the time to follow up with a secondary email or even a phone call, if appropriate. When you follow up with the editor you’ve sent a pitch to, he or she may take the time to look at your initial pitch just to give you a response. Even if it’s negative, this will give you more insight than hearing nothing at all.

Wait Before Pitching the Same Idea Twice

It may happen that you have an article idea that could work for a few different publications, and it is okay to send different magazines the same idea, if you stagger the pitches. Magazines assume that the idea in your pitch is fresh and new, so you should not double up on the same idea without first receiving a rejection or waiting at least two weeks and hearing no response from a given publication.

Writers Work can help you plan your next pitch for a magazine article with our Submissions section that shows you which magazines are looking for content, how much they will offer for an article, and where to send your pitch. With a little extra help from our search tools, you can dedicate more time to your actual content and waste less time seeking opportunities to write.

Blog Comments

Darlene Lamoureux

Good, practical advice and helps. Thank you! I’m just beginning to take freelance writing seriously, so I appreciate this kind of content.

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