Should You Write an Article Before You Pitch It?

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Part of being a freelance writer is pitching your ideas to editors and hoping they want you to run with the stories. The entire pitch process can feel a little chicken-and-egg. After all, editors want to see how you will approach a story. They’ll also want to know that there is enough material available to justify an article. On the other hand, you may have concerns about investing a great deal of time into work that you aren’t sure you will get paid for. This common quandary leads many freelance writers to wonder how to handle pitching an article and writing on speculation. Should you complete an article before you pitch it? Or should you wait for an editor to give you the go-ahead before you start writing? These tips will help you weigh up your options.

Pitching 101

If you’re new to freelancing, the concept of pitching an article itself may feel foreign. Pitching is the process of bringing an idea for an article to an editor in hopes that the editor will accept your story idea for a piece. If you hope to write for magazines and newspapers, then pitching will definitely be part of your process. Most freelance writers have to pitch pieces at least occasionally.

Pitching an article takes more than simply sending an idea, however. After all, editors need to know that you will be able to execute the piece you’re suggesting before agreeing to it. This cloudy area is where writers sometimes doubt their approach. Is it worth it to write your article before you even know if anyone wants to buy it?

Pre-Writing for Pitches

There is no single right answer to whether you should write an article before you pitch it. A good place to start is the publication’s submission information. Most publications tell you exactly how they want to receive pitches. Some of them may say to send an outline of the piece you want to write with your pitch, while others specifically request a first draft. As a rule, you should always follow the guidelines set by the publication and provide them with what they request.

If there are no specific rules from the publication, consider the piece that you want to write. For something that is very technical or that requires a unique voice, such as humor, sending a first draft with your pitch is probably helpful. It will give the editor a look at how you can handle the topic and show that you are capable of executing the piece.

For pieces that are not as specialized, submitting an outline with your pitch is usually enough to show an editor what you envision and how you plan to execute it. Be sure your outline is detailed enough to show the editor the angle you plan to take.

Although you may need to pre-write a draft for a pitch, it is usually not necessary to write a fully polished piece. When your pitch is accepted and you start working an editor, the piece will likely change a few times anyway. Thus, it is usually not productive to go further than a first draft.

At Writers Work, we have everything you need to craft a perfect pitch. You’ll find a range of editing tools, along with a directory of publications, simplifying the process of pitching an article. Get started today with our risk-free membership plan backed by our 30-day refund guarantee.

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