These 6 Tips to Pitch an Editor from food writer Dan Clapson are the first steps to writing beyond your own website and very useful to the freelance writer.
Last updated Jan 30, 2020.
Ad networks and sponsored posts are all nice and good, but sometimes a food blogger can yearn for something more. As much as we all love sharing our recipes and experiences with on our blogs, we often have ideas popping into our minds that aren’t necessarilyy a ‘fit’ for our individual websites.
Foraying into the world of freelance writing is equal parts exciting and scary. No one likes rejection, but, hey, that’s just part of the game!
There are many, many tips to share when it comes to pitching your stories, but here are six for getting your ideas in front of an editor that will help put you on the right track and, hopefully, help you share your writing with more eyes than the faithful readers of your blog. Happy pitching!
1. Send Your Pitch to the Correct Person
This seems fairly common sense, but you would be shocked at how many people send stories to the incorrect inbox. If you’re sending some ideas off to a magazine that could be classified as ‘lifestyle’ (i.e. covering fashion, art, music, food, etc...), make sure you know who the food editor is.
I write regularly for a magazine here in Calgary and I know that many, many emails that come in are misdirected. Sometimes they’ll be forwarded onto the right person, but often times not. It’s up to you to get it right.
2. Know the Media Source You're Planning to Pitch
Much like you get annoyed from miscellaneous PR individuals sending you press releases on products and happenings that have nothing to you with your blog (that happens much too often, doesn’t it?), editors get equally annoyed with story ideas that do not pertain to their publications and/or websites.
For example, a “guys’ night out” scotch-centric story probably wouldn’t be a great fit for Canadian Living, the same way “Four creative takes on pie” likely wouldn’t appeal to the readers of Vice.
3. Don’t Waste An Editor’s Time
Again, this goes back to the first point - editors’ inboxes fill up faster than you can say: “Let me write for you!” so don’t clog up their email streams with inquiries on whether or not they are looking for ‘new contributors’ or have any ‘freelance opportunities available’. Of course they are!
Ok, maybe not all of the time, but if you have a fantastic idea that is timely, engaging and suits their reader base, chances are you will pique an editor’s interest.
4. Spelling, spelling, SPELLING! (and Grammar too)
Years ago, I sent out my first pitch to a major food and drink publication. I thought my idea was great, the tone fit well with the source’s stories of the season, I had my suggested word count, recipe and image options...yes, everything looked perfect.
Shortly after I hit send I was rereading my ‘masterpiece’ pitch. I noticed several spelling errors, one grammatical error and even a missing word. Needless to say, I was mortified. Did I hear back from the individual I had reached out to? Of course not. I mean, if I can’t even get an initial email right, how could I be trusted by someone I have no history with to be contracted for an article? Still not over this one! Ha, ha, ha. Triple check your work!
For more tips on pitching an editor check out this interview with a former Managing Editor at Chatelaine Magazine on how to pitch your work like a pro.
5. Think Ahead. Seriously,Think Way Ahead
Don’t you love those lovely *light bulb* moments where you come up with the best story idea of all time?
Well, before you go pitching it to a website or magazine, make note of if the story is seasonal or not. A story centring around harvesting pumpkins might make for a solid read, but if this idea came to you in early September, it’s unlikely that anyone would pick it up.
Why? Depending on the media source, editorial teams can work up to five months in advance with their content. That’s why you may catch food writers on Twitter and Instagram cooking up turkeys and other fall favourites in mid-Summer for upcoming articles. If you’ve missed the boat, season-wise, don’t fret, just put it in the bank for next year!
PRO TIP: With a little extra leg work you can find some magazine editorial calendars on line. This article will give you some tips on how to search them out.
6. Back Up the Quality of Your Work
Even if it’s your very first time submitting a pitch, it’s always a good idea to offer up the option of viewing some of your past work.
This can be a (very) well-written blog post you’ve done that shares the same tone of your story idea, a link to a piece you’ve done for another website, or a PDF attachment of a published work.
Depending on the source, some may value your ability to create ‘viral’ stories (think buzzfeed), so a link to a story that garnered a lot of retweets and Facebook shares can show your ability to create engaging content worth broadcasting.
- Have I Got A Story For You - Pitching Your Work To An Editor
- There's a Story In My Soup
- Talk To Me: The Basics of Interviewing