Even though I studied journalism at university, I was never taught how to pitch to publications. I learnt how to write articles, I did two years of radio work, learnt how to do a live cross…but never how to pitch. However, I’ve recently had a pitch published — on Fashionista, no less — but it took me hours of googling figuring out how to do so – so here is a foolproof guide to help you out.
Looking back at my time at university, if there’s one thing I regret it’s that I didn’t begin pitching professionally earlier. Before we get into the questions of ‘How to pitch to publications”, one of the best things you can do is start a blog – Wix and WordPress are both great options. If your university produces a magazine or a newsletter – visit the office, email the publication and ask if you can help out in any way or write for them.
Another thing to do is round-up as many internships as possible; if you start in your first year, you’ll have multiple on your CV by the time you graduate. Places like Go Think Big offer numerous internship/work experience opportunities, as do Fashion Jobs UK and Fashion Workie. If at the internship, you don’t get the opportunity to write, ask someone in a senior role if they can read a piece of your work – everyone started in the same position you did.
Websites like Fashion Jobs UK and Fashion Workie constantly have job postings looking for writers – a lot of small, startup blogs in particular. Check regularly – I’ve written for three blogs since moving here. LAPP the Brand, set up by Victoria’s Secret model Leomie Anderson, takes pitches from young writers, as does Into The Fold. Another great platform to write for is the self-publishing platform Medium. It takes only a few minutes to set up an account, and from then all you have to do is start posting stories. Unlike other publications, you have the freedom to post on whatever topic you like – it’s a great place to get some writing practice, and to publish pieces that may have gotten passed over elsewhere.
Refine Your Great Idea
So you’ve got an idea for your article– that’s great! Now it’s time to refine it. While you don’t have to write the whole article just yet, it is good to do some research and planning at this point. Is there anyone you can interview for the piece for a different point of view? Reach out to them and ask if they’d like to help. Another great thing to do is to add data to your piece – having legitimate statistics to back your argument will make a piece stronger.
How to Actually Pitch
If you’ve done your homework, you should have the tone of voice of the publication down. Now do some extra work and make sure that the publication hasn’t published something similar in the past. A simple Google search or a scroll through their archive will help you out.
Find the right email address. Some websites will have a specific email address from pitching, others may take a bit more work. Fashion Monitor is great for finding specific editors email addresses. A lot of publications will have their own guides on who to pitch to, and how. Check out these ones from Fashionista, Bustle, Stylist and Fashion Journal.
In the subject line of your email, make sure the recipient knows it’s a pitch (and if it’s one that’s timely or related to current news, make note of it). Combine it with a fresh, catchy headline – you want to catch their attention, and you want them to open your email. Address the person you’re sending the pitch to, and introduce yourself. Keep this brief, no more than two sentences.
Now introduce your idea – define your angle, and state what you’d like to prove. In just a few bullet points, let them know what key points you’ll cover in what order. If you’re going to interview someone, or include relevant data, put that in one of the dot points. Expert opinion/data always helps when it comes to proving a point.
At the end of the day, the publication wants to know how your piece will benefit them. Say it in such terms – “I believe this will benefit your readers as it is a unique take/offers an unheard opinion/will resonate with readers because of XX.” Ask yourself what your piece offers that isn’t offered elsewhere.
And at the end, include links or PDFs of your work – the publication wants to know that you can write, and wants to know your tone of voice. You don’t have to bombard them with an exhaustive link – send them a few of your best pieces.
Congratulations! You’ve sent off a pitch. Now you wait – but only a week tops (if it’s not a timely piece). Editors are busy people, and may not always get back to you in the time period you’d like them to. A polite follow-up email goes as such:
Hope you’re well!
I’m just checking in to see if my pitch below (sent on XX) is of interest?
One further follow up email is fine – but if you receive no reply after that, feel free to take it to another publication. If it gets passed over by several publications – back to the drawing board you go; it may be time to consider that your pitch needs a little polishing or a new angle.
Your Pitch has Been Accepted
Hurrah! Look at you go. You’ve put forward a successful pitch. Here comes to real legwork. It’s time to write your article. This part is wholly up to you.
But a few tips – link! Link to any data you cite, link to other articles from the publication (that are relevant, of course). Triple check what language your document is set to (make sure it matches the publication – I write for US, AUS and UK publications, always check!). Always use spell check and use grammarly if you have it. If you don’t, download it.
Once you’ve finished the article, print it out and read it aloud to yourself. Often things that you miss on screen, you pick up on paper. When read aloud, you can often find where some of your wording may be awkward – this has helped me out numerous times. Get a friend or a co-worker to have a look over it as well; having an outside, neutral eye really helps.
Sending it Back
When you send it back, don’t be offended if they ask for more edits. As editors, it’s literally what they do! And they understand the publication a lot more than you do – it’s making you a better writer. Write back to their email fairly promptly, and ask them for clarification if there’s any feedback you’re unsure about.
Here is a tip I wish I followed – not only save the link but save your writing as a PDF. This is assuming it’s a digital publication if it’s print then just ask for the PDF. Sometimes blogs go down, websites get moved, and you will straight up kick yourself if you don’t have proof of your work. Always have proof!
The more you pitch, the more likely you are to get published. And the more you get published, the more kick-ass your portfolio is. I went to both a panel talk and a mentoring session and asked how to get published and their advice was just to pitch. Everywhere. I’m sure you have a lot you want to say, and I’m sure a lot of people are willing to publish it. Just remember, when you’ve started building up a portfolio, aim for the bigger leagues. Know your worth and get paid for your work.
Words by Kate Edwina
Want more articles like this?
Check out our article with Billie Bhatia, Fashion Writer for Stylist Magazine