Pitch up – Look Sharp: part #1


Freelance Image

Image courtesy of Mannobhai

This might sound strange, but this week I’m taking a leaf from the book of an absolute failure.

Well, semi-failure.

Well, award-winning failure.

You see, I was recently recommended a freelance blog that has truly changed my outlook on freelancing; but even as I write this now, I am not sure if it is for the better or worse.

The blog is called Pitching the World and embodies one man’s ambitious attempt to get articles commissioned at over 600 magazines in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook. Of course, being a Wannabe Hack and prospective journo freelancer I was more than a little intrigued and decided to scour his sporadic posts for some inspiration.

I would introduce him with a descriptive and detailed passage full of bravado and ambition, but I think I’ll let the blog’s author introduce himself:

Hello and welcome… I am an idiot.

So far, so good right?

Unfortunately for Pitching the World I was introduced to the project on its One Year Anniversary. I’ll give you some of the front-page snippets of success:

Recently, my wife and I separated.

Wish me luck. Oh and I’m no longer in Bournemouth, I’m living in Clapton. At least I’m living in Clapton until Monday when I become homeless. Wish me more luck.

My name is Pitching the World, and I’m an alcoholic. Yep, this was me earlier this morning at AA in Belsize Park, London. Good, isn’t it?

Over the year we’ve seen several nervous breakdowns, borderline alcoholism, chronic alcoholism, divorce… and precious little else.

My life – financial, matrimonial, professional and plenty more – has been a colossal fuck up.

So far, so good right?

Take the time to read the blog entries in their entirety and all is not so woeful. The author has actually had – although he would use these words with much more cynicism – a fairly glittering career. He has previously written for the Guardian, Independent, Square Mile and FRONT whilst his word prowess has even taken him as far as the Caribbean for a career as a political speech writer.

Some might say that Pitching the World is a good example of how terrible things can actually get for somebody self-employed, but I see it as a tale of inspiration – a no-matter-how-bad-things-get-Im-going-to-pitch-the-world kind of thing.

Magazine Stand

Image courtesy of TheSeafarer

And I’ll let you in on a little secret: I haven’t pitched in a good seven months.

You see, my freelance commitments have been semi-stumbled upon; my work for Sartorial Male, Food & Drink Mag and the various other outlets are direct results of writer applications, not pitches. The last time I pitched was to the Ed of a much-esteemed fashion blog – in person – and since then I’ve been a little, shall we say rusty.

But I want to be like Pitching the World; I want my own little experiment.

So I am going to have it. Starting today. This afternoon.

By using the advice from some particularly well-known freelance websites (Freelance Switch, The Adventurous Writer + again) and by digging-up some of my more successful early pitches, I am going to re-pitch some of my current ideas/work to the popular and not-so-popular publications out there.

And this being Wannabe Hacks – an advice blog by wannabe journalists to wannabe journalists – I am going to ask for pitch feedback, whether I am successful or not.

Perhaps my commissioning editors will even be so kind as to give some advice that I can deliver back to you fellow wannabes as and when.

Until then; wish me luck… “I am (maybe also) an idiot.”

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About Matthew Caines
Community & content for the Guardian Culture & Media professional networks | founder of @wannabehacks @withinreachmag | find him on Twitter @mattcaines

6 Responses to Pitch up – Look Sharp: part #1

  1. Your opening line had me wanting to come down to your offices and set fire to them. But then it became much nicer. Thanks for the support and good luck with your experiment.

    • Thanks for the comment Pitching The World!

      I wish we had offices you could set fire to but, alas, my above-a-“massage”-shop flat will just have to do! Don’t do it though; it serves the community very well…

  2. Peter Demain says:

    I can’t remember arriving at Pitching the World, but it was plain to see it was not your ‘ordinary journo’s’ blog. It had the characteristic online diary ego and conceit…but not in a bad way. That pitch where you rambled on about needing a holiday and would do a travel review for a paper if they paid for the trip in full was funny.

    If you read articles by journos freelance or salaried they are short on humour. It’s needed, as is not taking stuff seriously. The only serious stuff is investigative work or topics where humour is obviously inappropriate. A few journos unjustly believe they’re minor celebrities when they’ve appeared on News 24 twice for all of three minutes; with the state of the print press they need to dislodge the cranium from the colon, or be it dismount the high horse.

    Are you coping well as a teetotaler? You should do a ramble about what’s replaced it as an activity of ostensive recreation. Maybe watch Tommy Wiseau’s ‘The Room’?

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet

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