With the risk of sounding old and grumpy: a writer or blogger who can’t even put together a half-decent pitch to introduce themselves to a publication they want to contribute to should not be allowed anywhere near a brand or a newsroom.

Pitching to write for a publication requires time to craft a compelling proposal that showcases your expertise, aligns with the publication’s audience and content, and highlights the value you can bring as a contributor. It is also about being transparent with your intentions: do you want to become a contributor writer to share your knowledge and enhance your digital authority, or are you simply after a venue to plug a client’s press release and get free publicity?

Here are six key things to consider before reaching out to any publication to try to become a news outlet contributor.

Research the publication

Before reaching out to a publication, it’s crucial to thoroughly research what they do and how they do it. Take time to dive into their website, read recent articles, and get a feel for their tone, style, and audience. Understanding the publication’s preferences and audience demographics will help you tailor your pitch to fit seamlessly into their content lineup.

Identify your niche

Consider your areas of expertise, passions, and unique perspectives that you can bring to the table before approaching a publication. Your pitch should reflect your knowledge in a specific field or topic area while also aligning with the interests of the publication’s audience. But narrow things down even within a niche; For example, if you are a travel writer, keep in mind that travel is a massive field to cover. Unless you suggest some specific articles that you genuinely want to work on for a publication (and they are truly unique), it is unlikely you will stand a chance.

Be clear and concise

Crafting a compelling pitch is the key to grabbing the editor’s attention. Start with a captivating subject line that entices the editor to open your email. Introduce yourself briefly, highlighting relevant experience or credentials that make you well-suited to write for the publication. Then, present your article ideas concisely, focusing on topics that align with the publication’s content and audience. Be sure to include a unique angle or perspective that sets your pitch apart from others.

Personalize Your Pitch

The trick of referencing a specific article or sections of the publication that resonate with you is an old one, so make sure you mean it. Personalizing your pitch is essential for building rapport with the editor and demonstrating your genuine interest in contributing to their publication. However, editors receive hundreds of pitches on a monthly basis from people wanting the same chance to become a contributor writer, so publications can be choosy. Never use a template that sounds too perfect or desperate. Write your own copy, well-tailored to the publication you want to be working on.

Say who you are

Anyone can pitch an idea for an article. But you are unique and that is what editors will look at in the first place. Make sure to introduce yourself and to provide your social media handle and things you have written about within the niche you are pitching for. When signing a message as a potential writer, also add your surname and LinkedIn. The only three people on the planet allowed to sign a message to a stranger with a single name are Madonna, Rihanna, and Adele – and none of them are writers.

Provide Samples

Show straightway that you can deliver a good copy by providing links to, at least, three of your best and most recent articles online. Very important: work samples that don’t feature your name, as the writer, have zero value.

If you don’t have published samples, consider writing a whole article to give the editor any editor a sense of your writing style, knowledge and approach. Regardless of the format, your samples should align with the topics and tone of the publication you are pitching for.

Be transparent and upfront

When offering a writing service, even if at no charge and with the intention of creating a writing portfolio, be clear about what you expect in return and how it will benefit you. If you have a flat fee for every 1000 words, highlight it and also mention how many revisions are allowed within the fee. If you work for a brand and the brand is likely to be featured within your content, you must disclose it at the very start of the negotiations to become a contributor writer.

Flexibility is key when pitching to write for a publication. Be open to feedback and revisions from the editor, who may have suggestions for refining your pitch or article ideas.

One thing that very few people remember to mention when applying to become a contributor writer for a publication is how flexible their schedule are. Willingness to negotiate terms such as deadlines, word count, and compensation if a pitch is accepted should be highlighted as part of your initial outreach if you want to increase your chances of establishing a successful partnership with a publication.

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