So you wanna pitch editors? But you don’t know where to start. How do you find them? What do you say? And how exactly do you increase your chances that they’ll respond? Those are some of the questions I had when I first started writing, and it took me a long time to find the answers. Luckily for you, I’m going to tell you the three steps I’ve found utterly invaluable for successfully pitching my story ideas to editors.
Three steps to successfully pitch story ideas to editors
1. Find the right contact
This step is pretty simple. Every major publication is going to have this information publicly available; it’s just a matter of knowing where to look.
Most websites offer a “contact us” link on their page. You usually have to scroll all the way to the bottom of their website, but it’s there and just waiting to be found.
Take the architectural magazine Design Sponge, for example. If you scroll all the way to the bottom of their home page, you’ll find the link to their “Contact” page, which gives you the information you need to pitch a story idea to their editorial staff. In this case, it’s just a standard contact form.
But what if your magazine or news outlet doesn’t offer an easy way to contact them? Well, in that case, you’re going to have to cold email someone on staff — which means you’ll need to find their contact directory. Again, every large news organization or magazine has a directory page, and once you’ve located it you can find the editorial staff and their email accounts.
I always recommend you pitch your story ideas to Associate Editors rather than Managing Editors, Page Editors, or Directors. Associate Editors are usually the day-to-day editorial people that actually read and review new story ideas and guest submissions. But now that you’ve found your perfect contact, how do you pitch them?
2. Pitch your editor the right way
Pitching is never easy, but there are some general rules you must follow in order to catch the eye of your editor.
First, introduce yourself and provide as much social proof as you can muster. Without knowing who you are and why you’re credentials matter, it’s unlikely that an editor will make it past your first lines. Credibility is key.
Here’s how I opened my pitch myself Freelance Writing Jobs’ editorial staff:
“Hi, I am an avid reader of Freelance Writing Jobs and a career artist, IPPA award-winning photographer, painter, and businesswoman whose work has appeared in TIME Magazine and the Wall Street Journal. I have a fantastic story idea for you that I believe would really resonate with your audience.”
I started by introducing what makes me an expert in the relation to the story idea or guest post I plan to pitch. Then I hit them with some credentials. I’m a photographer, writer, and artist — so I decided to showcase the places where my photography has been featured. This helps editors see the value I could provide them, which is exposure to new audiences through cross-promotion and an awesome story for their readers.
IMPORTANT NOTE: I generally only like to pitch publications and blogs I read regularly; it helps with understanding the story ideas they might like to publish and it allows me to give back to organizations that have helped me!
Once you’ve introduced yourself and provided your social proof, get right into the nitty-gritty of your pitch. Most editors get upwards of 100 pitches a day. So keep yours short and informative, and explain the value you can provide them and their readers.
Here’s how I did that for this post when I pitched it:
“TK The steps I use to pitch the media and get my articles published.
I’d outline a list of five major steps I use to properly pitch media outlets on my guest posts!
Please let me know if you are interested, or would like more information. I would absolutely love to partner with you. Thank you for your consideration, I look forward to hearing from you.
If I don’t hear back from you before April 14, I will assume you’re passing at this time.
Thank you for your time,
It’s very important that you clearly lay out the story idea and what it will include. In this case, I’d be explaining the steps I use to pitch editors. In this case, when I finished the article, I realized only three points were of maximum value to their readership. So I cut to points and focused all the attention on the three most vital steps required to pitch editors effectively.
After you give editors all the information they need, finish with a call-to-action that invites the editor to see your social media or writing samples if they like your story idea.
I keep it simple and list my website, Instagram, and TikTok so editors can see my audience reach.
Important Note: in printing and journalism, TK means “to come”. I like using this in all of my pitched story ideas because it allows me some freedom when producing the final product. For example, I may have pitched five ideas for this post, but as I began writing I realized there were really only three major things you needed to, and a few odds-and-ends I could cover within those three tips. Leaving yourself a little room to maneuver with your story is a great way to produce the best possible finished product!
3. Always Follow Up
Always mention a follow-up date with anyone you pitch, and always follow up with them on the day you mentioned. Persistence makes a difference and you will eventually make headway. In my email example, I stated that I would assume the editor was not interested at the time, but I always send a follow-up message on my proposed cut-off stars.
Following up allows editors to catch a previous message they might have missed in their busy inboxes, and it shows that you’re persistent. Anyone who’s willing to follow up a few times is someone you can rely on, and that’s something editors love in a guest poster!
If you want to be successful when you pitch editors your prospective story ideas, you should always find the right contact, pitch them using your clear defined assets and story outline, and follow up to stay on their radar.
About the author:
Carolyn Mara is a writer, photographer, painter, and online performance artist who specializes in creating artwork with a mop. You can see all of her other work on her Instagram or TikTok and you can view her current gallery inventory on her website!