Intriguing editors with your story idea remains the first step for both seasoned freelancers and those looking to break into writing on the side.
Freelancer Kabir Chibber has made the pitch the selling point of his website Pitch Me, an online platform where freelancers can post their story ideas and editors can commission the ones they like.
Pitch Me will be on an invite-only basis for the next few months, so Chibber has developed a keen eye for what makes a good pitch as he vets the site's potential freelancers. Here are a few of his tips for making the perfect pitch:
Have a catchy headline. “It’s best if it’s in the style of the publication you want it be published in,” he said. “If you already have a catchy headline, that’s already 50 percent of the battle won.”
Keep the pitch short. “I don’t think pitches should be longer than maybe two paragraphs,” Chibber said. “They should be very sharp and to the point because people don’t really have the time to take a look and read them.”
Intrigue from the beginning. “The key part is the first sentence,” he said. “It must be fantastic.”
Pitch your access. If you have an exclusive point of entry, feature that in your pitch. “It does help if you’re in a sexy location, you have an interesting angle that no one does have or if you’re somewhere where it’s expensive to send people,” he said.
- Pitch characters, not concepts. “Essentially when you’re selling a feature, you’re selling a character,” he said. Rather than, for example, writing about a social issue in a foreign country, write about a child affected by the issue. He said “it’s a massive leap of faith” for an editor to send a promising freelancer just to cover an issue, “but if there’s a passionate 60-year-old man that’s put aside his farmland to try to campaign from the government about water shortages in Bangladesh, then that’s the person that needs to be the star of your article.”
IJNet Editorial Assistant Margaret Looney writes stories and blog posts on the latest media trends, reporting tools and journalism resources.
Image courtesy of Pitch Me.