Introducing ‘Pitch Perfect’ for National Freelancers Day

At Wannabe Hacks, we realise the pros and cons of being a freelancer. The Freelancer himself has blogged about the importance of pursuing article pitches and the temptation to sell out to a mass-media freelance company just to get your foot in the door. The idea of being a freelancer may be appealing but, in reality, very few are able to survive as one.


National Freelancers Day – you may or may not know – is fast approaching. Organised by the PCG, a not-for-profit association which supports the freelancer community, National Freelancers Day (Tuesday 23rd November 2010) is set aside to reflect on the contribution of freelancers to the UK’s economy. This year’s event is focusing on the lifestyle involved in freelancing and there are a number of free events which could be interesting if you have an evening spare.

To celebrate National Freelancers Days we are launching ‘Pitch Perfect’: a freelancing workshop-come-experiment in which we invite YOU to pitch ideas to vastly-experienced former Reuters editor Paul Bolding. Paul spent 34 years at the world-renowned news service as correspondent and desk editor in various parts of the world before leaving in 2008. He has kindly offered to help us out and provide tips and hints about the best way to pitch articles/ideas/features.

But how do I pitch an idea to Paul? – The ‘Pitch Perfect’ process

Paul B

1) Think of an idea for an article or feature – It can be about anything (student tuition fees, the ethics of fur, the Ashes etc) but must be NO LONGER than 100 words. Include who you are pitching the article to and who you will speak to for the piece. Desk editors have little time to read lengthy pitches so make it original, short and snappy. The deadline for pitches is this Friday 19th November 2010 at 5pm.

2) Send your pitch to us – Send your pitch to in a WORD DOCUMENT marked clearly with your name…

3) Straight to Paul – We will forward the pitches to Paul, who will read and critique as many as possible…

4) Straight back to you – We will then return your pitch – complete with feedback – for you to analyse and hopefully learn from…

5) Pitching advice posts – So that others can learn the best way to pitch, we will be publishing several of the best pitches complete with Paul’s comments. If you do not wish your pitch to be used as an example on a blog post, simply state so when submitting your pitch to us…

By the end of ‘Pitch Perfect’, we hope that some people would have taken the opportunity to refine their pitching skills and learn a little more about what an editor looks for in a pitch.

If you have any queries about ‘Pitch perfect’, do get in touch with us at or contact us via Twitter (@wannabehacks)…


About benwhitelaw
Ben is Communities Editor at The Times

7 Responses to Introducing ‘Pitch Perfect’ for National Freelancers Day

  1. Peter Demain says:

    Remember that particularly magazine editors depending on circulation, size or whatever can give leway for pitches larger than 100 words – the quite well-known Pitching the World blog which was featured on Wannabe Hacks has examples of longer ones. Informally knowing who you pitch at can also affect time allocated.

    I feel obliged to point out that it was the wire agencies which, years ago, saw the gap left by the corporate takeovers of print media which occurred in the late 70s/early 80s. Prior to this time freelancing saw thousands more able to live off writing to all sorts of places. Since the buyouts there hasn’t been a renaissance of sorts in that type of journalism, though online stuff sort of has the spirit with the unusual exception of often being written for free with freebies nor money having a part.

    When it comes to the British market the Press Association (PA) cannily noticed the aforementioned gap and prospered after filling it. International agencies though have impacted on freelancing elsewhere too over the past 30 years. I’m sure Mr. Bolding has some knowledge regarding this as mine is limited. It would be good to hear since in this day and age pitching abroad is more accessible than ever.

    Pete, editor at Dirty Garnet.

    • We all love Pitching the World Peter, but it’d be a little harsh on Paul Bolding if we gave him tens of pitches, all of a ‘proper’ 300-word-plus length. I think I speak for all of the Hacks when I say that “Pitch Perfect” is an introduction and a taster in pitching. After all, trying to pitch in 100 words is a nice little practice for cutting-down your pitches anyway… I know it’s an exercise that’s helped in my pitches…

      We’ll also try to ask Paul about some tips on pitching abroad as well as some more general ones…

    • Also a good point on informally knowing the editor; something that I’ll be posting for my Pitching series…

      • Peter Demain says:

        To clarify I meant the word length remark as a highlight to circumstances which vary rather than as comment on the conditions set out in this article. I was going to append something about the straightforward procedure you set out which is fine, but was sidetracked by a need for lunch.


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