What Not to Include in a Pitch

Freelance writer sitting on the floor, frowning at his laptop computer.

When you read through a magazine, you might imagine that the articles in it were written by full-time writers who do nothing other than research and churn out new content each day. However, many publications take a great deal of work from freelance writers just like you. It all begins with a pitch. Writing a pitch is an essential skill for any freelancer, and, all too often, pitches are destroyed by a few common errors that irritate editors everywhere.

Remember, when you send a pitch, your competition is probably steep, so any errors in your pitch submission will probably stop an editor from considering you before they have even read your writing samples. If you want to stay on any editor’s good side and remain a top contender when you send out a pitch, be sure to avoid each of these critical errors that are most likely to take you out of the running.

Long, Wordy Descriptions

Have you ever received an email that’s just a big wall of text? You probably weren’t too excited to read it. Imagine receiving an email like this as a copy editor who has to sift through hundreds of emails to find qualified writers to produce new content. You’d probably feel inclined to skip right over it, wouldn’t you?

When you write your pitch, don’t tell your whole life story. Keep it short with just a few sentences about why you are the right fit for a publication. It’s a given that you’re passionate about writing or that you want to make it as a freelancer—otherwise you wouldn’t be sending a pitch at all. So, instead of offering these details, focus only on the qualifications that will mean something to an editor. For example, if you are pitching to a travel magazine, highlight your experience as a world traveler and travel writer.

Generic Email Copy

While you won’t want to write too much about yourself every time you write a pitch, you also won’t want to avoid important details that can set you apart. If you’re copying and pasting the bulk of your pitch, then you aren’t offering the right information to get you hired. You also need to show the publication that you’re pitching to that you understand their tone and their audience. Generic email copy will make it look like you aren’t trying to adapt to what that publication needs at all.

Self-Doubting Statements

It’s common for freelance writers to lose confidence from time to time—especially as beginners. But a pitch is not the time to let your self-doubt show. Your job when writing a pitch is to convince an editor that you are the right fit, so steer clear of statements like “I’m new to freelance writing” or “I want to know if my writing is really any good.” Your pitch should be a show of your confidence, even if you have to fake it until you make it.

Your Own Creative Twist  

Often, when you pitch to a magazine, online publication, or blog, you will find specific instructions for doing so. It might be tempting to add something extra or change your pitch to stand out, but this will only show that you don’t follow instructions well. Pitch directions are usually a pre-test for any editor, so they will add some specific steps to follow. If your pitch email doesn’t follow the guidelines, it’s usually ruled out without a thorough read.

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