Every new writer struggles with pitching their ideas to blogs, companies, and publishers.
Learning how to pitch is a standard rite of passage for writers, and doing so separates successful writers from the rest.
If you are looking to expand your writing, get new clients, or finally get published, then this is the post for you.
You will learn what a good pitch looks like, different types of pitches, and how to write a pitch to land you killer results.
How To Write a Pitch: An Overview
To write a good pitch, you first have to understand the basics.
What Is a Pitch?
A pitch is a short explanation of a story or article that a writer sends to an editor, publisher, or producer to convince them to commission it.
A pitch is usually no longer than 500 words from start to finish.
You’ll know your pitch is successful when the company or person you’re pitching to jumps on board so you can write your story, play, or article.
Different Types of Pitches
It is important to note that there are different types of pitches.
You can write an investment pitch, a sales pitch, or a collaboration pitch, to name a few.
Each kind of pitch has a unique purpose.
For example, an investment pitch is written to ask investors to put money into an existing or upcoming business (think Shark Tank).
However, this post is about creative (or writing) pitches.
This pitch is all about asking your written work to be included in a website, blog, magazine, or publishing house.
This could be a guest post in a blog, an article on an investigative news site, or a novel idea.
The Importance of Getting a Pitch Right
Much as I love blogging there are frustrations and one of them is getting hundreds of bad pitches each week, mainly from wannabe guest bloggers, agency press releases and anyone with a new product or service.
Sometimes when you reach a certain level of blogging success it feels as if you’re besieged by strangers emailing you about their new blog, website, book or business and asking you to help them promote it.
The first time I got a pitch email I was pleased because it told me my blog was on someone’s radar.
That first time, and many times after that, I replied to pitch emails with a polite email like this:
“Thank you for contacting me. Sorry, but I can’t help you because my blog isn’t about remote control cyborgs so I don’t think your product will interest my readers.”
Times have changed. Now a cursory glance is all an unsolicited pitch gets before I hit delete.
A lot of time, I only read the subject of the email before I decide to open it.
I no longer feel guilty about that because some pitch emails don’t seem to come from real people, or at least not from people with real communications skills, a real passion for what they do or a real idea about how to get people to say yes.
So I decided to update an old post about How to Write a Pitch.
But first, let’s look at what not to do when you write a pitch.
How Not to Write a Pitch Email
Let me show you a few samples of pitch emails I’ve received to give you an idea of the suffering innocent bloggers and business people like you and me are being put through.
Take this as an example of a pitch email that recently turned up:
Sir, I have tried to reach you about…”
Unfortunately, this company plundered the domain name registry to see who registered my blog address and came up with my name as Anne, which is my middle name.
Getting someone’s name wrong or misspelling it is bad, but reassigning their gender is worse.
If you don’t know their name find out what it is before emailing them.
If you really can’t unearth a first or last name, then you should either brush up on your detective skills.
Most people prefer to be called by their first names these days, but I try to respect my elders and if I want to be formal, which an unsolicited email pitch calls for, I’d use a title and start the email “Dear Mr. Dunlevie”.
Here’s another bad pitch email which shows that anyone can make mistakes.
A fellow web copywriter contacted me as part of a mass mailing via LinkedIn recently.
This interesting email pitch case study highlights the dangers of mass mailing.
Please bear in mind that I’m a professional web copywriter too and had connected with this copywriter on LinkedIn to support her endeavors.
Then she sent me this:
Email Subject: Your LinkedIn Profile Needs Help!
That got my attention, so I opened the email and read this:
“Why is your LinkedIn profile so weak?“
I have to give this woman credit for being proactive in seeking work and her offer of $50 to rewrite a LinkedIn profile seemed like a reasonable deal.
So good in fact, I might have even forwarded it to a few people if I hadn’t felt so insulted at being told my profile was weak.
But my ego’s still intact because she probably hadn’t read my profile – for starters it wasn’t that bad (admittedly not a Pulitzer prize winner but at least average) and it did at least say that I was a writer, which would have been a red flag for her not contact me with her offer if she’d taken a moment to read it.
Even if she meant to contact me, I don’t think it’s a good plan to insult people and make them feel like idiots in a pitch.
To add injury to insult the entire email was in heavy bold lettering, with a lot of italics thrown in.
The final nail in the coffin came when, because I’m inherently nosy, I decided to check out her LinkedIn profile to see what was so good about her profile writing. Sadly there was no link to it so I’ll never know.
Writing a pitch seems to be a minefield but it should be an easy process.
If you’d like to know how to write a pitch that gets noticed read on.
How Do You Structure a Good Pitch?
Here is the basic structure to help you build a good pitch.
The outline of your pitch is for you and should not be sent with your pitch.
This will help you organize your thoughts and ideas and have your pitch flow more naturally.
Your outline should define your idea and help you generate ideas about it.
No pitch should be sent in on a half-baked, last-minute idea.
2. Subject Line
A subject line is the first thing the editor will see in their inbox, like an article headline.
Subject lines must be succinct and explanatory.
They should answer the question, “Why am I sending this email?”
3. Beginning and Hook
The introduction to your pitch must hook the editor.
When writing your intro, making them want to continue reading should be your main goal.
Immediately introduce your subject.
Explain your knowledge of the publisher, why you wanted to pitch that specific story, and your angle.
The body of your pitch should address why a reader would want to read about what you are writing.
Explain what your story would be about, why it matters, and how it fits into the existing blog or website.
Your body should focus on addressing the question, “Why would anyone be interested in reading this?”
5. Conclusion and Call to Action
End your pitch by inviting the editor to reach out with any questions they may have.
Remind them that you are open to start writing the piece as soon as possible and reiterate why you believe your idea is perfect for their site or company.
6. Bio and Contact Information
Here is where you link your portfolio and add some contact information.
Ensure your portfolio showcases your best works, especially those relevant to your pitch.
What You’ll Need To Write a Pitch
Writing a pitch can be a simple and hassle-free task.
You simply need:
1. A Topic That Has Been Thought Out
Never send in a pitch with a topic you just happened upon.
Here is what you need to do:
- Do your research into the publishing house, company, or website you are pitching.
- After you research, pick a topic that fits with their brand.
- Research the topic thoroughly to see if you can write a full article or story on it.
2. A Way To Turn That Topic Into a Story
If your pitch is accepted, you will be writing on it.
Before you send your pitch, ensure you can write a story on your chosen article.
- Fully research different angles you can tackle the topic from.
- Make several drafts on the topic and build a story.
- Ask yourself which of the drafts is interesting enough to be monetized.
3. A Specific Desired Outcome
When pitching, ask yourself what your desired outcome is.
Do you want your pitch accepted or do you want to simply send a pitch so you can get comfortable doing it?
If you want your pitch accepted, are you willing to sell your idea and not write the story?
Open your mind to the different outcomes available and be specific with what you want.
4. A Way to Track Your Progress
After the huddle of sending the first pitch, you gain confidence to send more pitches.
Be sure you track your progress. You can use Excel, Google Sheets, or other free apps like Notion.
Here is what you’ll need to keep track of:
- Who you sent the pitch to
- The topic of the pitch
- The date you sent the pitch
- Your drafted story for each pitch
- When you last followed up on your application
- The response, if any, from the editor you sent it to
Step by Step Instructions: How To Write a Pitch
Now that you understand what a pitch is, here is how you write a pitch to land killer results.
1. Understand Your Audience
You must understand who you are pitching to and how to pitch to them.
The best way to understand who you are pitching to is to understand their audience.
The key questions to answer are:
- Who do they write for?
- What language do they use?
- What kind of content do they publish and,
- Has the topic you want to write been covered already?
Once you know who you are pitching to, understand how to pitch to them.
Usually, most websites have clear instructions on how to pitch on their Submissions or Work With us pages.
If this is not provided, search “How to pitch X” on any search engine and you will probably find hundreds of results.
Use the successful stories of others to curate your perfect pitch.
Also, be sure to know to whom you are addressing your pitch.
2. Outline Your Pitch
Before you draft a pitch, outline what the key components are.
You will need your subject line, your interesting introduction, and your body.
You will also need a conclusion and a portfolio of work to add or link.
Having this outline of needed parts will help order your mind as you begin writing your pitch.
3. Draft Your Pitch
A draft is not going to be sent to the editor you are pitching to.
However, it will help you formulate the perfect pitch every time.
The same way you draft your stories before you write them, your pitch must also be drafted.
Create a Clever Hook
Remember that the majority of email recipients open emails based on the subject line alone.
Editors, especially, get tens, hundreds of pitches every week.
You hook your reader with the subject line and engage them with your introduction.
From your first line, your pitch should captivate the editor.
Do not write fluff.
Immediately highlight your knowledge of the publication or website then dive into your title and angle.
Write your hook to address what the key takeaway is for readers.
Write Your Story
Your pitch needs to be clear. Avoid general ideas and vague topics that have not been thought out.
Write a genuine story that readers of your chosen website or publication will engage with.
Show the editor that you have thought of the story by explaining why the topic would work on their site.
Include your plan of action to write a complete, engaging story.
Wrap Up Your Pitch
Conclude your pitch with a link to your relevant works and a way to contact you.
Include your availability and experience as well.
4. Edit Your Pitch
After you have completed the draft, it’s time to edit it.
- Ensure Proper Grammar: Run a grammar and spell check and proofread your work.
You can also have another writer or a friend look at the pitch.
- Ensure Relevancy: Link your professional resume from sites like LinkedIn and also your portfolio. Include a short bio at the end to show that you know what you are talking about.
- Ensure Brevity: The theme of a pitch is concise and precise.
Keep it brief and without any fluff.
5. Send Your Pitch
It is now time to send your pitch.
Ensure you have the correct email address and have addressed your pitch appropriately.
6. Remain Responsive
Be ready to interact with the editor.
They may have questions and need clarification before giving you the green light.
Remain responsive and be ready to expound on your idea and show why you chose it.
You may also get suggestions to refine your original topic once they accept it.
7. Don’t Overthink It: You Can Do It
Remember that pitching is a part of growing as a writer.
You will send many pitches and you may not always get a positive response.
Don’t let this stop you from sending your first, second or fiftieth pitch.
Persistence after rejection is how almost every writer got their big break!
Remember, what constitutes a good story is widely a matter of opinion, and what doesn’t interest one person may impress another.
Keep trying, don’t give up, and most importantly, be excited about the topic you’re writing about.
Your genuine excitement will propel you through times of rejection.
How to Write a Pitch That Works [An Overview]
I could share many more bad email pitch examples but let’s move on to how you should write a pitch:
- Never pitch strangers by email or any other way. Build a relationship with them first on Twitter or by putting a few comments on their blog. Unless you have some connection with them before you write your pitch, your email will be deleted straight away.
- Be sincere and personal.
- Get your facts right and show them you’ve read their blog. Most bloggers love to support and help the readers who support them.
- Mention something you’ve done for them – linked to their blog, left comments, shared it on Facebook, subscribed to their newsletter, or bought their latest product.
- At the least, find out the person’s name and spell it right.
- Use the normal language and abbreviations you’d use if you were speaking to someone so you don’t sound artificial.
- Be formal when you write a pitch and use Dear as the opening address. Unless you don’t know their name in which case you’ve not got much of a chance.
- Avoid using exclamation marks in pitches or emails. They never inspire confidence in a business situation.
- Don’t insult the person you’re trying to win over.
- Always include a link to your blog and other social media profiles like Twitter and Facebook.
- Don’t do a mass mailing – you’re wasting everyone’s time.
- Make sure the email isn’t all in a small font or bold lettering.
- Write a brief pitch. This isn’t the time to write an essay. Emphasize the benefits and let them know the best way to move forward.
- Thank them for taking the time to read your email.
- Don’t pitch at all.
Writing a pitch is an integral part of being a writer.
To compose a successful pitch, you need to focus on researching who your audience is, creating a clever hook, and curating an engaging story.
Your pitch should be short and precise without sacrificing the details of your desired writing topic.
Don’t fear pitching your ideas– it’s all part of the process.
As an author, I have had to pitch hundreds of sites and it is always a little unsettling to do so, but the results are worth it!
I hope you enjoyed this tutorial and if you did, send this article to a fellow writer and share your thoughts and questions in the comment section below.