I didn’t study journalism: here’s how I learned to write a pitch
I’ve always enjoyed writing, it’s a hobby I’ve had since I first learned to read. I studied languages in college, but didn’t start seriously considering writing, and being paid for it, until about two years ago. I was intimidated by the credentials I assumed I would need if I was going to write for any publication, online or in print. I couldn’t have been more wrong. Here’s how I got my start with pitching:
Find your voice
One of the biggest pieces of advice I learned from blogging on the internet, exploring niches within the entrepreneurship community and existing online is that people appreciate consistency and specificity. Know what you want to write about, and what you do not want to write about. Use this to help hone your voice, and most importantly, assert your right as the perfect person to write an article for a specific angle i.e. why should you be the one to write this, not someone else?
Make a Twitter
Twitter is the number one place for source requests for journalists, where editors are likely to put out calls to commission articles (paying someone to write about a specific topic) and where you are most likely to discover a network or community of writers to grow your opportunities.
Because of twitter I have worked with writing coaches, joined opportunity newsletters that organize calls for pitches from different publications and gotten loads of practice with pitching. I use twitter like normies use LinkedIn, and then some.
Attend a workshop
There’s a lot of internet buzz about not attending writing courses; I can’t advise you what’s bets practice here. I would recommend, no matter what, you attend writing workshops lead by writing coaches. Writing coaches have crafted a businesses teaching others to write, this makes their workshops, examples and templates provided so much more valuable than trying to pick the brain of a journalist who’s an exceptional reporter but has never had to try and explain why they’re good at what they do.
It’s hard to teach people to write, so take the time to learn from someone who’s good at both the teaching and the writing.
Practice your balls off
A quote from Trevor Noah about learning languages has been rattling around in my head for a few weeks, and it’s that “In order to learn a new language, you have to be willing to be an idiot” and the same is true when it comes to learning how to pitch article ideas online. Just as you would fuck up when leanring to walk or sight read a new piece of music, you’re going to have some major flops and some awesome wins.
Whatever you do, keep practicing. Send out silly pitches, funny pitches, pitches with typos. Practice and practice and practice until you can send out a fresh pitch within twenty minutes of seeing a prompt. Learn to listen to yourself and know when the timing is right to pitch or hold off until the right story comes along.
Always celebrate rejections
Out of personal preference, I keep a firm rule about celebrating rejections. One of the toughest parts of writing is getting your foot in the door, and let alone a response from very busy editors. Keep this in mind when you receive a rejection, however timely it may be, and always say thank you. It’s good to remember that there is always more going on behind the scenes, and oftentimes as writers we don’t get the privilege of seeing the entire picture.
All we know is our idea, the outlet we think might be a fit, and hope the words in our idea are compelling enough to open and be shared with others. You’ll likely see more rejection than you will acceptance, so start practicing how to celebrate getting your foot in the door, even if it wasn’t a perfect fit.
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My name is L Brinks, I’m a social media wizard, twitter enthusiast and transgender writer; I also love old cats and silly memes. Subscribe to my newsletter here for weekly messages of encouragement and tips for business.