how to write a pitch

This is a quick definitive guide on how to write a pitch. In this guide, you will learn how to write a pitch that wins you plenty of freelance writing jobs. 

So if you are looking forward to starting a successful freelance writing business, this will be your ultimate guide. Just briefly, here’s what I’ll cover today: 

  1. Pitch meaning 
  2. What makes a good pitch 
  3. How to pitch a story idea to a magazine or publication
  4. How to pitch an article job on Upwork 

Let’s jump right in. 

Pitch Meaning – What Does the Word Pitch Mean? 

In general, a pitch means submitting an idea to someone with authority – could be organizational changes, software ideas, procurement plans, etc. But what does the word pitch mean in freelancing? 

A pitch in freelance writing means a written submission to someone in charge, such as the editor in chief or a content strategist at company X, inquiring if they’d be interested in your writing services. 

Pitching has become popular over the years, and because of the changes, reputable freelance writers, book authors, etc. have found pitching a little scary. 

That is why I thought I’d share with you how to write a pitch. So let’s start with the basics – what makes a good pitch? 

What Makes a Good Pitch 

1. Make it easy for editors to accept your pitch 

Editors are quite busy people, and if you don’t draw their attention, the chances are that your pitch will land into the trash. 

According to prdaily, editors are exposed to more than 100 emails every day. Huh! 

So what must you do to increase the chances of an editor reading your pitch and finally accepting it? Make sure that your pitch touches on the following points: 

  • Why your pitch story is a perfect match for their audience. 
  • How it will add value to their audience. 
  • Whether or not it touches on the pain points of their audience. 
  • Why your pitch story is different from what has been covered on their publication. 

That said, don’t send canned pitches to editors and hope that they will respond. Canned pitches are those pitch templates that “gurus” recommend that you use in every pitch you send. Instead, make sure you tailor every pitch.

2. Personalize your pitch

Personalization has become an essential aspect of marketing. It feels more professional and friendly when you address someone by their name. 

According to Statista, personalized emails generate up to 18.8 percent as compared to emails without any personalization – 13.1 percent.  

Don’t ever start your pitch email with anything that reads “Dear Hiring Manager, Dear Recruiter Officer, Dear Editor, Dear HR, etc.” 

Instead, go the extra mile and look for the people in charge of content at the publication or magazine. And the good news is that there are a ton of ways you can identify the right person in charge of content at a publication. 

The first way is to head over to the publication’s about us page and see if you could find anybody with the title “content manager, editor, editor in chief, content strategist, chief marketing officer, etc.” 

You can also leverage social media platforms, such as Twitter and LinkedIn, to find information about a specific company. We will dive into other ways later in this guide, but for now, let’s look at how you can write your perfect subject line. 

3. A perfect subject line

We receive tons of emails every day in our emails, so what makes you decide whether you will read an email? Most people will read the subject line to see if it’s something relevant to them. So yes, a subject line will determine whether or not an editor will open your pitch email. 

According to Aweber, forty-seven percent of people open emails based on what’s on the headline. However, it would be best if you didn’t give away too much in your subject line, according to Brian Dean, the founder of the Backlinko blog. 

4. Dive right into the subject matter

Editors are quite busy, and they receive a ton of pitch story ideas everyday. That’s why you need to simplify work for them by getting to the point immediately. Beating around the bush could land your pitch email to the trash. 

You have the freedom to say something briefly about the publication (two or three lines) and then dive into the reason you are writing to them. Make sure this paragraph is benefit-driven to give the editor a reason to accept it. 

Finally, don’t be too wordy. Let every word that you write count – no fluff. In my opinion, you shouldn’t go beyond four paragraphs of three lines each.

And those are the four most crucial elements of a good pitch. But how do you write a pitch story idea using the above elements?

How to Pitch a Story Idea

1. Identify prospects 

The first step is to find your prospects. These are the publications or magazines you have always wanted to write for. Fortunately, there are many ways to find publication or magazine prospects.

But before you identify your prospects, there’s a need to choose a niche. A niche will help you filter out only the publications that are your perfect match.  

Once you have chosen your niche, start looking for your prospects. Luckily, there are many ways you can identify prospects. First, you can do a quick Google search using a phrase, such as “parenting+write for us,” “technology news+write for us,” “Marketing+write for us.” 

As you can see, we are basing our searches on the niches. So you don’t have to enter the same words as we have done using the above examples. Instead, choose your niche and add the phrase “write for us.”

You can also source prospects from social media platforms, such as Twitter and LinkedIn. These two platforms are more like professional sites, and the chances are that you will get in touch with industry thought leaders. 

Take your time to connect with influencers on those social platforms, build stellar relationships. Who knows, these could form part of your prospects list. However, don’t spam people by sending them unnecessary DMs without their permission.

2. Research about your prospects 

The next step after identifying your prospects is to research about them to know them better. If you are targeting publications that pay writers, you will have to filter your list of prospects to make sure that the companies you are targeting have a considerable budget for content marketing. 

So assuming that you have identified publication X, check out if it is listed on either Crunchbase, AngelList, AcquiredBy, Owler, Zoominfo, etc. All you have to do is to enter the publication or company’s name on any of the sites above. You should find all the necessary information – from their annual income to whether or not another company acquired it. 

You may also want to check out if the company is on LinkedIn. Your primary goal is to know the number of employees they have. Companies with a range of 10-50 can pay you as a freelance writer. However, it may not be a good idea to target companies with so many employees, say, 100+.

3. Find contact emails 

You have researched your prospective publications. You also have an idea of who you should target with your pitch email. So what’s next? 

Finding contact emails for your target person at the company or magazine. 

This post list some of the email finder tools you can use to find prospect email addresses, but just as a recap, below are the email finder tools that can help you find nearly every person’s contact email: 

But that is not the only way to find the editor’s contact information. There are other ways you can leverage it. For example, if you already know who to contact, you can head over to Twitter and search for his name. 

The chances are that you will find his or her website details, where you can find the necessary information. From experience, I have also found out that if you can’t find the contact information of an influencer, the best thing is first to follow them, then show them, love by retweeting their tweets. 

Usually, this should help build a relationship. Once you are sure that they know you, you can request to send them a DM. There are higher chances that they will give you the freedom to DM them privately. 

Finally, you could find the editor’s contact emails easily by doing a simple Google search. This will help if you know the company’s website, or you know the editor’s name. Just enter either of these phrases on Google: “editor+company x contact,” “contact+company x.” Sometimes, the contact information could be staring you right on the contact page or about page. So it would help if you check out those pages, as well.

4. Writing a pitch – how to pitch a story

The final stage is to write your pitch story to the publication you have chosen. And while you do this, make sure that you know your goals. For example, if you are pitching a paid freelance writing job, make sure you tailor your pitch to that direction. If you want to do a guest post on a popular magazine, write your pitch in that direction. 

That said, you need to consider some of the elements of a good freelance pitch we mentioned earlier: personalization, the subject line, being brief, and going straight to the point without beating around the bush. This will help your freelance writing pitch stand out from the other crap pitches that usually land in editors’ inboxes. 

First, make sure that you know a bit of information about the publication or company. This will help you write a pitch that editors can easily accept. Remember that these publications only publish the best of information for their audience. 

Secondly, personalize your pitch by addressing the editor by the name. As I said earlier, you can always find the editors’ names from the about us page or below any published post on the company’s website. 

For example: Hi John

Next, you want to make sure that you have a catchy subject line that will quickly draw the editor’s attention. For example, if you are pitching a freelance writing assignment to an editor, you can use the suggested subject line by Bamidele “Content at Company X.” 

For example: Content at Your Passion Matters

Finally, don’t beat around the post, briefly state your knowledge about the publication, then dive right into your reason for sending them a pitch. If you are pitching a guest post idea, make sure that you have mentioned that. If you are pitching a paid content job, do the same. 

Briefly about the publication/ company – For example: I’ve been following Your Passion Matters for quite some time. And I must say you are doing a fantastic job. Your recent post about “Difference between article and blog” has completely changed my thoughts. 

If you are pitching a paid content idea, for example: “I’m reaching out to see if you are someone who will help you with your content marketing needs – keyword research, content creation, and social media campaigns at Your Passion Matters.”

5. Email pitch examples

We have covered everything on how to write a pitch (specifically for magazines or publications), but an example would give more clarity. Fortunately, we have tackled quite a few examples. What’s remaining is to put together these examples into a complete email pitch. So here we go: 

Subject line: Content at Your Passion Matters

Hi John, 

I’ve been following Your Passion Matters for quite some time. And I must say you are doing a fantastic job. Your recent post about “Difference between article and blog” has completely changed my thoughts.

I’m reaching out to see if you need someone who will help you with your content marketing needs – keyword research, content creation, and social media campaigns at Your Passion Matters. 

My name is {your name } and I can help with researching relevant and low competition SEO keywords that will give a massive boost to your website’s ranking. Besides doing keyword research, I can also help create audience-specific content that will not only get you a ton of organic traffic but also help you make more sales. 

I will be happy to discuss my experience and how I can help steer your business to the next level if you are interested. 

Cheers, 

{Name}

How to Pitch an Article Job on Upwork 

While most people are only familiar with magazine pitches, freelance writers on freelance marketplaces, such as Upwork also write pitches, resulting from job postings. 

So I decided to cover this part because I know there is a majority of people who heavily rely on freelance bidding sites, such as Upwork, to make a living. 

So how do you pitch an article job on Upwork?

1. Start by creating writing samples 

The first step as a freelance writer is to craft writing samples that will quickly get clients nodding yes. You know the aha moments when clients find themselves saying, “this is the right candidate. Her sample ticks all the boxes.” 

And fortunately, crafting a writing sample doesn’t have to be daunting. For example, freelance sites like Upwork features tons of jobs that you can use to create mimic samples. All you have to do is sign up for Upwork (this post has every detail on how you can get accepted), then identify a mimic job post, and create your writing sample from the job description. 

If you want to go in-depth on how you can create a writing sample, this post on SmartBlogger has a simplified version of how you can create your writing sample, step by step. Find time to go through it.

2. Identify the article jobs on Upwork 

Once you have your writing samples, you should identify best-fit jobs on Upwork. These are jobs you are confident you can handle and complete successfully.  

To identify your best-fit jobs, sign in to your Upwork account and go to your job feed. From here, you should be able to see a ton of jobs that perfectly match your skills. Upwork only shows jobs that are most relevant to you based on the skills you have on your profile. 

But what questions should guide you in choosing the right article jobs on Upwork? 

  • Do I have the necessary skills to handle this job? 
  • Is there enough time to handle this job? 
  • Has the client provided adequate information on the job posting? 
  • Is the client’s budget worth my time? 

The above questions will prevent you from applying to jobs that don’t match your skills. Remember, your reputation on Upwork matters because clients would only be willing to work with freelancers with better ratings.

3. Read the job postings 

This is just an extension of identifying the right jobs you want to pitch to on Upwork. Once you have chosen the best article jobs on Upwork, ensure that you have read the job description very well so that you are sure that you can handle the job.

In my opinion, the most detailed job postings are the best. These are possibly real clients who know the value of content marketing, which means that they could pay better rates compared to clients who are so brief in their job postings. 

It is crucial, though, to note that not all jobs with longer descriptions. There is also a category of freelance clients who want more done with a very low budget. My advice is that you ignore these jobs even if you are still a beginner.

4. Write your article pitch

Many gurus try hard to convince freelance writers that there is a specific way to write pitches on Upwork. Still, the truth is that writing good pitches on Upwork depends on your knowledge and experience of freelance writing. 

That is why I recommend that you read through the job description and identify the client’s pain points. Once you know what the client needs, you need to show the client exactly how you will help him or her. 

Also, it is essential to keep an eye on any conditions mentioned in the job description. Some clients will always want you to start your pitch with a phrase, to ascertain that you read through their job post. 

So how do you write a good Upwork pitch? 

  • Start by going through the past client hires to find his or her name. 
  • Jot down any pain points the client has to help you address them appropriately when writing your Upwork article pitch. 
  • Check out if there are any phrases you need to start with. 
  • Start your proposal with this phrase, “I can see you are looking for….” 

With that out of the way, what are the components of an excellent Upwork article pitch? 

Elements of a good article pitch 

  • Personalization: As I said, you need to research the clients’ names from his or her past hires. So it would be best if you ended up with something like: Hey Jamie, Hi Hannah. 
  • Next, include any phrases the clients want applicants to mention at the start of the pitch to ascertain that you read the job description. 
  • Now prove to the client that you read the job description and that you fully understand his or her pain point in a statement: “I can see you are looking for an SEO content writer..”
  • Your second paragraph should illustrate to the client how best you can help him or her. This is the section that will either make or break your pitch. If you don’t have enough knowledge about the job, clients will easily detect it from your pitch. So make sure that you are applying to your perfect match job. 
  • Include a sample. I have seen most freelance writers send out articles pitches (proposals) without including any sample. That’s quite bad and don’t fall victim to such. Instead, include two or three links to your most recent writings (could either be published or a Google Docs link.) It is also crucial that you include only relevant writing samples. 
  • Lastly, make sure you have an excellent call to action. In as much as your pitch can be one of the best, you could lose the chance of getting hired because you never told the client what he or she should do next. I have found out that call to actions that take the form of a question converts better. For example: “Would you mind if we had a brief talk via the messages to figure out the best possible way to make this project a success?” 

Upwork Article Pitch Sample

The Job Description:
how to write a pitch on upwork
The Pitch:

Hello Eduard, 

I can see you’re looking for copywriters who are well-conversant with any of the topics mentioned in your job post. 

First, let me acknowledge your content strategy because it’s almost similar to the one I use to steer my clients to success. So you provide keywords, then the freelancer builds content around the provided keywords. 

This is almost similar to my strategy. The only difference is that you don’t use a content brief and a competitor analysis. 

A content brief is a document that contains the content guidelines which the freelance must use when writing content. Usually, a content brief will have the keywords, title, searcher’s intent, client success criteria, content structure, and competitor influencers. 

On the other hand, a competitor analysis is a cheat sheet that the freelancer will fill when carrying out research. Remember, the focus is to compare content already ranking for the keywords you’re trying to rank for. Additionally, competitor analysis is used to assess whether or not the competitor content has enough visuals, the word count, or any other component making it unique. 

That said, I’ve worked with several clients across the world. Check out my latest projects on Upwork below: 

1. {writing sample 1} 

2. {writing sample 2}

3. {writing sample 3}

Those are my latest project on Upwork. Feel free to go through my portfolio to confirm these projects: 

{my upwork portfolio link}

Lastly, would you mind hopping into a 5-10 minute call or a brief message chat so that I can better explain my process of content creation and how it could be a significant boost to your business? 

Regards,

Denzil 

The client quicky sends me a message:

Hi Denzil,

I like the style of the VA Productivity and VPN Article.

I would need this fresh & cool & conversational style for my Articles

If you don’t mind, I would ask you for a sample article before we start working together.

Its 2.500 Words and I would pay you 75 USD for that:

Does this work for you ?

Let me know

Best
Eduard

The offer comes:

how to write a pitch

In Conclusion – How to Write a Pitch

That said, how to write a pitch – whether a guest post pitch or an article pitch doesn’t have to be scary. You only need to make sure you have done your homework the right way. 

And that is through researching your prospects to know more about them and understanding their pain points. With this strategy, you will land a ton of high-paying clients. 

But I’d love to hear from you too. Have you ever pitched a magazine or publication? Was it a guest post or a paid article pitch? What was your experience? 

Let me know your experience in the comments below. 

24 thoughts on “How to Write a Pitch: A Quick Definitive Guide”

  1. Avatar

    Well well well,
    This piece is mind blowing.

    When I read the previous post on how to become a ghostwriter, I was hopping that I could land on a post that will guide me on the pitching process. I was to request you to do this post but I kinda forgot. Thank God you dropped it when I needed it most.

    About the sample Upwork pitch that landed you the $18.75 per hour job, that was genius of you. I read the job description screenshot, paused and tried to craft a mimic pitch but it was not even close to what I read after. Your pitch is well crafted and covers everything the client would want to hear. The CTA is just super cool.

    I can say that signing up to your email-list was the best move I ever made. I believe I will learn a lot from you. I have already bookmarked this site.

    Thanks for this.
    I am heading straight to practicing my pitch writing skills.

    1. Denzil Otieno

      Hi James, clients that give clear job descriptions are the clients any freelance writer should target.

      However, most freelance writers shy away from long job descriptions because they are hurrying to apply to every job using what I call “canned proposals”

      So I usually grab these opportunities and make sure I take my time to write good proposals.

  2. Avatar

    Hi Denzil,
    This is awesome. It has been a nice read.
    Very nice points and tactics that are rare. I wouldn’t agree more on the subject line while doing cold pitches.
    Upwork is quite tricky, especially for newbies to land their first client.
    My question is; how do you handle those clients who are specific with a freelancer location? Say, they only need a freelancer from USA, or Native American, something like that. Do you pass such job posts? On many occasions, you’ll find that the job description fits your qualifications and experiences. But your location becomes an obstacle.
    Regards.

    1. Denzil Otieno

      Hello Astariko, you don’t have to pass any job, if you are sure you can handle it – whether the client states they only need English native writers. Most of these clients just need a writer who can deliver top-notch content. So just send out your proposal without caring about the location.

  3. Avatar

    Hello Denzil,

    This has been a nice read.

    Pitching on Upwork is a huge pain in the neck for many budding freelancers. But with such tips that you’ve generously shared, it should be now easy to land the first client.

    The problem is that most of us freelancers don’t take action with what we learn. In such a competitive industry, I’m persuaded that success is exclusively for the takers.

    As for me, after I’m done with this comment, I’m heading over to Upwork to put these new strategies to work. I hope to be back with a praise report soonest.

    Thank you for going to great lengths to create such an informative piece. It just proves how committed you’re to helping newbies find a voice in an industry that almost every guru is only interested in pulling the rope in their direction.

    1. Denzil Otieno

      Hi Godfrey,

      It is true that most aspiring freelance writers don’t take action and this is the reason why they end up failing.

      Additionally, most aspiring freelancers shy away from trying. What they don’t know is that trying and making mistakes helps people learn and become better over time.

      I’m glad you are going straight to implement these tips. I wish you the best of luck. I’m waiting for your positive feedback.

  4. Avatar

    Just yesterday I was on google looking on ways to pitch then today I see your post on Facebook. God’s guidance & favor, I guess. Thanks for this.

    1. Denzil Otieno

      Thanks, Andia. Sometimes there’s a need to show practical examples. Danny Margulies says that you should not say, but show. That’s what I tried to achieve with the post – to show.

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