How many pitches have you sent out today? This week? This month? As a freelance journalist, you will soon realize that one of the most useful tools in order to get work is to be able to be pitching stories to editors as a habit, rather than as a chore. Sometimes, these pitches will stay unanswered, but the truth is, you have to continue sending out pitches no matter what, regardless of the response rate. Here are 4 steps on how you can create the habit of pitching and stick to it.
Create a specific goal
In freelancing, it is extremely important to set specific goals and plan on how to reach them for a simple reason: you are your own boss – which can be both awesome and dreadful at the same time – and entirely responsible for creating your professional goals and reaching them. Begin with setting a very specific and realistic goal for your pitching pattern: for example, commit yourself to sending five or ten pitches per week.
Set a time period and show up
New habits are easier to be established when you dedicate a specific time period within your working day (or week) and adhere to it respectfully. It could be early in the morning, during the evening or late at night: pick the one that best suits you. Try to eliminate any distractions such as checking your social media for this dedicated time; time-tracking tools such as Freckle can also help you stay more focused.
Keep track of your progress
That’s how you will stay motivated and keep building the habit of pitching. Create a spreadsheet using Google Drive and watch efficiently by week/month how many pitches you have sent out, how many replies and how many yes/no answers you got. You will soon realize that even the “no” answers are a mini success, as a busy editor took the time to reach out to you; on top of that, a “no” answer is one step closer to a “yes” answer if you follow the right steps.
Be accountable for your progress
To yourself, a colleague, or even better to a group of other freelancers. Ever since I joined an online freelance writers’ group, my motivation has skyrocketed. Either because you feel part of a community facing the same challenges or the fact that there is always a success story to inspire you, all of a sudden you don’t feel all alone any more and that takes your motivation to a whole new level. Don’t be afraid to share your successes – hurray, you did it, you should be proud of yourself – and your frustrations. After all, they are also part of your career as a freelancer.
So how many pitches are you sending out today? No matter how intimidating it might seem, this is the way to publish your fabulous stories so try to have some fun with it.
Rania Margari is a freelance journalist with an interest in travel, food and lifestyle stories. Currently based in Switzerland, she's been writing for international publications since 2004.