Pitch up – Look Sharp: the 3 Ps – prodding, pushing and persisting


Well it’s nearing midnight on a Tuesday and – like any good freelancer – I’ve decided to start my Wednesday morning assignments. One item on that assignment list is some pitching feedback for an article I delivered some weeks ago. I’ve got to say I’m sorry that I didn’t do it sooner… I’ll rephrase that:

“I’m so sorry that I haven’t got back to you; it’s been a really busy week!”

This is your first freelance lesson and although it might sound like something very negative it is actually extremely positive. For a commissioning editor to utter these words means that you’ve prodded, pushed and persisted.

These are three vital Ps for any successful freelancer.

There is another but I’ll come to that… So, back to the lesson…

I had sent a few pitches and queries and waited for a day or two… No reply. I then had that sinking feeling where I doubted my own abilities and reconsidered my career: nothing unusual. Then I decided to just send another email: a nudge, if you will. For one particular pitch I sent this:

Pitch Feedback


What was my reply?

“Hi Matt, Sorry I didn’t get straight back to you earlier this week – so manic here.”

Suddenly the pitch was on and this very week I am working for the editor on two articles. Would he/she have replied if I hadn’t sent a follow-up email? Impossible to say, but I do know that a follow-up most certainly didn’t hinder or harm my chances of commission.

And strangely enough I am beginning to understand the editor’s reply. As Editor of Guest Posts here at Hacks I have to commission and work with wannabes on articles and posts. Although we don’t like to appear pompous or bigger than we actually are here at WH, my inbox is packed full of potential guest post pitches! This is – of course – absolutely fantastic to see.

The Freelancer

The Freelancer's Movember Update

What isn’t fantastic is that I sometimes find myself forgetting and pushing back the replies. On top of my other commitments it can be pretty tough to organize all those pitches and unfortunately I have no money to employ a personal assistant (fifth hack: guess what you’ll be doing?) The occasional reminder is just the tonic I need.

And that’s just Hacks; imagine how many pitches and extra emails the content editor of a national newspaper has. A follow-up is not a nag or an annoyance but a simple “I’m here” – and in this overcrowded journo world that’s not a bad thing to say.

Problems might only arise if you appear aggressive and bitter because, with my follow-up, I wasn’t rude. This is your fourth freelance P…

Politeness!

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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

3 Responses to Pitch up – Look Sharp: the 3 Ps – prodding, pushing and persisting

  1. mhdbass says:

    This post came up just in time – I was about to force myself to write a little ‘prod’ of my own to an editor and this made it just a little bit easier. I look forward to more of your freelancing series!

  2. hoh says:

    thanks for this!
    cheers
    hoh
    cape town

  3. Pingback: Introducing ‘Pitch Perfect’ for National Freelancers Day « Wannabe Hacks

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