You dug up an awesome story, and you’re ready to sell your idea, but emailing a parade of editors, hashing out the terms and waiting weeks to get paid can be a drag.
The whole process takes place on the platform—pitching, messages, contract signing, filing and payment—creating a “catalog of your entire conversation in one place.”
This “listings marketplace for journalists” lets freelancers present a short pitch to editors who subscribe to the site. Editors from publications including the magazines of Conde Nast, BBC Future, Monocle, and Atavist are subscribers. Editors can sift through the ideas, commissioning the ones they like. Editors and freelancers can draft a contract directly on the site, and Pitch Me also acts a mediator for payment.
After years of freelancing for the BBC, the New York Times and other news organizations, Chibber’s frustrations with the “nonsensical” freelance market prompted him to look for another method.
“There were delays with expenses, there were delays with feedback, and I just thought there had to be much a more logical way to do freelance journalism,” he said.
Freelancers can pitch at no cost, but once the writer and editor decide the terms, the writer must pay a flat US$15 fee and 3 percent of commission to the site. Freelancers get half the money upon a commissioned pitch, and the remaining half about a week after the final draft is filed (or a 50 percent kill fee if the story doesn't work out).
Editors can also request a certain type of story, so freelancers can pitch directly in response to these requests, a method that recently secured the site's first commissioned piece. However, Chibber said freelancers can’t pitch directly to editors who haven’t placed an ad because they don’t want editors to feel harassed.
“We don’t want to create that one-on-one functionality because it mimics too [many] of the flaws of working in the real world.”
Chibber said he hopes Pitch Me can be more than just a facilitator between existing publications and freelancers. He would like it to enable users to set up their own publication of freelanced pieces.
"You can just set up your own magazine in Singapore and commission everyone through the site around the world..."
Only editors can read the full pitch, so there is no need to worry about another writer running off with your idea. Freelancers and editors can “like” a pitch, and writers receive email notifications when someone “likes” or reads a pitch.
The site is still invite-only. Chibber vets all the freelancers, but he’s not “in the business of chucking people away,” he said.
“It’s a question of letting people in first who will benefit the most from it,” he explained. “A student who’s still in university is perhaps not quite as ready to freelance and pitch as someone who’s been doing it for years.”
Chibber is hoping to open up the site to all freelancers by September. Until then, he'll be revamping the site, making the freelancer database searchable, enabling real-time editing to contracts, offering personalized profile pages and playing with the idea of offering translation services to freelancers for a subscription fee.
Image screengrabbed via pitchme.org.
IJNet Editorial Assistant Margaret Looney writes stories and blog posts on the latest media trends, reporting tools and journalism resources.