Free Review: Here’s a Chance to Buff Up Your Pitch Letter

Offer: Help to Buff Up Your Pitch Letter. Makealivingwriting.comYou write a pitch letter, send it off, and get nothing.

That ever happened to you? Every freelance writer knows what it’s like.

You crank out queries and letters of introduction to editors and marketing managers.

You try some heavy-lifting techniques to engage prospects and land assignments.

You even flex your writing muscles and try different approaches to crafting pitch letters.

You hustle.

That’s exactly what you should be doing. But your pitch has to be strong enough to get noticed.

If your pitch letter is weak, it’s gonna feel a lot like working out at the gym, even though you’re not really sure if what you’re doing is working.

And that’s not what you want. You want to connect with prospects, land assignments, and make a living writing. Right?

If you’re not getting the results you want when you send a pitch letter, it’s time to get some help.

Ready to buff up your pitch letter? Here’s a chance for a free review:

Prepare for a pitch letter workout

I’ve been writing for a living for 20 years (newspaper reporter, editor, copywriter, blog editor, full-time freelancer).

But it’s not the only thing I do. When I’m not on a writing deadline, or chasing my three kids around, I:

  • Lift weights
  • Run a ton of miles
  • Eat healthy
  • Help people lose weight, build muscle and get in shape as a personal trainer

Do it long enough, and similar problems start to appear that can easily be corrected with a little tweak, modification, or this-is-how-you-do-a-deadlift demonstration.

It’s actually a lot like helping writers improve pitch letters and queries inside the Freelance Writers Den.

Pitch letter problems that show up frequently include:

  • Weak lede or introduction
  • Stiff and formal writing style
  • The-world-revolves-around-me approach
  • Novel-length query or LOI
  • Lack of focus or failure to provide ideas

Don’t worry if you’ve made these mistakes. We’ve all been there. With a little help, I’m confident you can make your pitch letter stronger.

Want to get your pitch letter in better shape?

From now through Tuesday, May 14, I’ll review your pitch letter for free in the comments section below and provide feedback and suggestions to help you. But you’ll need to follow a few rules:

  • Study the basics of writing an LOI or query letter
  • Submit your pitch (letter of introduction or query letter) in the comment section below. (Do not include links.)
  • Identify a specific publication or business you’re pitching. (I won’t review generic templates.)
  • Ask any specific questions you have about improving your pitch letter.

If you want to write better pitch letters, you have to work at it. It might be hard at first. But with a little help, you can improve, boost your response rate, and start landing more client work. Let’s do this.

Want a free pitch letter review? Post it in the comment section below.

Evan Jensen is the blog editor for Make a Living Writing. When he’s not on a writing deadline or catching up on emails, he’s training to run another 100-mile ultra-marathon.Avoid writing scams: Join Freelance Writers Den

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58 comments on “Free Review: Here’s a Chance to Buff Up Your Pitch Letter
  1. Hi Carol,

    Thanks again for offering your advice. Here’s one I’m working on for Liisbeth. I pitched a version of this story before, and the publisher turned it down but gave good feedback. So I changed it. Here is.Article Pitch for LiisBeth: Profile of Feminist Entrepreneur
    May 25, 2019
    To the Publisher:

    I am submitting an article pitch about a women-owned clothing maker solo business who caters to large women.

    The Pitch:

    Clothing designer Becky Tonkin never set out to work for herself. Then she started making natural fiber, zero waste clothing for all sizes. Plus-size people are underserved and her clothing serves that niche. Her business contributes to a diverse maker community and their fans.

    Why this story is important:

    • It profiles a feminist enterprise that makes clothing for extended sizes.
    • It is about a women-owned clothing business that serves a diverse community by creating useful products not easy to find elsewhere.
    • This is a profile of a business that contributes to the vitality of an already diverse maker community.
    • Helps larger women and those who identify as women find clothing that fits them.
    • Shows how the business-owner is authentic, and makes people feel comfortable and not judged when shopping for clothing.
    • Shows how the maker community naturally attracts diverse people as they are marginalized in other areas: “I think the maker community is so diverse because marginalized people find ways to creatively make a living when the world is basically built against us.”

    Why this story is relevant to LiisBeth:

    • Demonstrates a feminist entrepreneur.
    • Creates clothing for plus sized women.
    • Shows how the maker community is supportive of underserved groups of people. Says Becky: “The plus size population is so terribly underserved in the “slow fashion” community that I’m really an anomaly and all kinds of people are drawn to that. I’m also fairly unpretentious and “real” and pretty easy to talk to. There’s a certain kind of disarming quality to having someone help you get dressed in an open-air booth – there has to be a lot of trust and vulnerability there!” 

    Why Michelle Walch as the Writer:

    • Three years blogging about solo business owners, especially encore entrepreneurs.
    • Two years blogging about healthy aging, women’s health, and rural health and aging.
    • Has been a feminist since age one.

    (Hope it’s ok that I’m a repeat seeker of advice.)

  2. Ify says:

    Hi Carol,
    Thanks for reviewing pitch letters. Here is a query I wrote for Chatelaine magazine but I did not get a response.
    Good day Editor!
    My name is Ify. I am a blogger and freelance writer in the United States. I am writing to pitch the article “Nine ways to motivate yourself to Exercise” for Chatelaine magazine. I currently work part-time as an RN and I have a degree in Kinesiology. I blog under a pen name.

    Nine practical ways to motivate yourself to exercise
    Intro:
    I am a kinesiologist who was once a personal trainer. I always thought I would be fit and would never have to motivate myself to exercise because I just love it! Ah! How things change. I am a mother to a very active toddler and now I have to motivate myself to exercise. Here are nine ways I motivate myself to workout. These are not unique to me. They are ideas anyone can use.
    1. Watch weight loss stories: There are so many weight loss stories online and watching them motivates me. I think “If someone else can lose so much weight and transform their lives, I can definitely lose my baby weight.” I love to watch weight loss stories on Youtube or Netflix’s “Bringing sexy back”
    2.Set a time of the day to exercise. Picking a time of the day to work out means part of the decision-making process has already been performed so all you have to do is stick to it. It may seem like something that is inconsequential at first but I have had better success with this than I have had when I tell myself “I will exercise sometime in the evening.”
    3. Plan to exercise every day- If you have not been exercising often, you probably will not get to it every day but you are more likely to do it sometimes if you put it on your daily to-do list.
    4. Use Pinterest as your personal cheerleader: I love Pinterest because it has so many creative and motivational ideas that you can have available to you at any time by saving it on your own Pinterest board. Save motivational pins about exercising. There are so many motivational quotes about exercising, and simple work out routines on Pinterest. This way, if you are too busy to make it to the gym it is only a Pinterest pin away.
    5. Add in physical activity to your day: Adding in physical activity to my day by walking around the store or taking the stairs instead of an elevator is a good way to motivate myself to exercise. This usually lets me know when I am out of shape.
    6. See exercise as a mood-lifter: Most people don’t want to move when they are down in the dumps but if we see exercise as a way to pick ourselves up emotionally, we are more likely to do it. The other options like watching a movie or eating junk food will slowly become less of a pull.
    7. Use a calendar as your journal to mark days when you exercised and for how long.
    8. Set a specific goal with a specific timeline. If you are trying to lose weight you can set a goal for how many pounds you would like to lose per month. It should be something realistic. ( I will add some examples of realistic weight loss goals). If you are trying to gain muscle tone. Assess your muscle tone by measuring the circumference of your arms or your waist.
    9. Pick a form of exercise that fits your lifestyle: If you are someone who likes to stay indoors, use work out videos. If you like being outdoors, go run in a park.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Ify, I can spot 3 obvious things off the top here — one is that you can’t use a pen name in journalism for magazines. They’d want to know your real name.

      The other is that… this is like a blog post. It’s you writing off the top of your head about your experience. There are no interviews, attributed facts. That’s not what magazines are looking for, in the main — they want reported stories where you interview experts and create the piece. Your ideas, opinions and thoughts are usually NOT part of the story (except maybe in that essay spot on the back page of many big magazines).

      Finally, there is no news hook – no fresh research or breaking event that makes Chatelaine readers need to read this NOW, in particular. Editors assign stories that have a news hook.

      Study your publication and read deeply. See how they lead, source, quote, and conclude stories. I’m betting you’ll see they don’t begin with the word “I.”

  3. Michelle says:

    Hi! Thanks for offering this service. Hope I’m not too late. This is a pitch to KOA Kampground’s blog about our Yellowstone road trip and our children’s nature picture book made it in to 2 of the KOA gift shops in the area. It’s kind of a book tour. Sorry, I’m not expressing this very well! Anyway, here is the pitch:

    My family and I enjoy KOA Kampgrounds. We stayed at a few during our Yellowstone road trip in 2018. Two Kampgrounds carry our children’s nature picture book Letters of the West. What a great pairing!

    I want to share the memories made with this Yellowstone road trip (we stayed at the Jackson/Snake, West Entrance Yellowstone, and Craters of the Moon KOAs) and how other campers can enjoy KOA campgrounds and use our book as a kind of guide to flora and fauna in the area.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Michelle — what would readers LEARN from your story? What is the headline you would write? In general, pitches with no headline tend to go to the delete folder fast.

      You’re going to want to include that in your pitch. In general, magazine queries are not 2 paragraphs long — they’re a fully-fleshed out sample of exactly what would be in the magazine, starting with the opening paragraph. Editors want to see that you understand their audience and writing style.

      Have to say, reading through this, it basically sounds like you’re asking for free promotional advertorial space in their magazine to promote your book! Rather than pitching an article with readers’ needs in mind. I would expect they’d respond to you with their ad rate sheet and recommend you place an ad for your book in the magazine, or their rates for paid advertorials.

      My tip would be to instead pitch a useful article, where your tagline would note you are the author of this book. Congrats on that, BTW! I’d use your KOA book angle to introduce yourself, you’re sort of a built-in authority for them. Then craft a pitch with useful info for readers that’s NOT self-promotional. Expect your tagline credit with the book title in it to be the promo for you. Make sense?

      • Michelle Walch says:

        Hi Carol,

        Thanks so much for your tips! That really helped me adjust the pitch, which I was stuck on. Gonna send this improved letter off soon.

        Your writing advice on Twitter is really helpful. I read it almost daily.
        –Michelle

  4. Here’s my pitch to True West magazine which I would like to send to the Editor (I have his name). They have a 300 word limit on pitches and need several illustrations which I will have for them. Thanks/Diane

    Wild West Star Lulu Belle Parr

    Finding herself divorced and living in the seedy river town of Steubenville, Ohio in 1903, Lulu Belle Parr did what no other woman would do: she reinvented herself as the World Champion Lady Bucking Horse Rider and went off to live a life epitomizing the romanticized ideals of the Wild West. Lulu Belle worked for the big boys – Wild Bill Cody, Pawnee Bill, Ringling Brothers and Barnum and Bailey. She toured Europe and South America, performing her awe-inspiring feats of horsemanship, trick shooting and bison riding before crowds including the Prince of Wales and the President of Argentina. As Lulu Belle said, she wasn’t afraid to use a gun or to look pretty. The petite beautiful woman followed her own star throughout her life with independence and strength. She marched, along with her Wild West cowgirl colleagues, for women’s suffrage in the May 1913 New York City march. Married three times, her second spouse was, like her, a celebrity Wild West performer. Her final try at matrimony was to marry a clown on Halloween and leave him on April Fools’ Day. Not giving up the performing life until her late fifties, she returned to Ohio to live in poverty with relatives. After her 1955 death, she lay unnoticed in an unmarked grave until local history buffs re-discovered her, planted a marker, held a parade and made sure she was inducted, as she well deserved, into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.

    As an experienced nonfiction writer, I would love to share Lulu Belle Parr’s story with the readers of True West. Her colorful story, lost for so long, has yet to be shared in detail and fills out an entertaining part of the women’s side of western life. Men and women alike deserve to know about her.

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Diane,

      Interesting. Nice idea. I looked at True West, and this aligns with the type of historical features I saw on their site. Bet you’ll get a bite.

      A couple things,
      First sentence is pretty long. See how it compares to other stories on the True West site.

      I wonder about dropping the reader into one of Parr’s performances or stunts to introduce her, vs. starting with a mega summary paragraph. Just an idea. I noticed some of the True West stories do begin with a brief historical summary. But some drop the reader into a situation:

      Really liked this real-time intro sentence for the story “The Legendary Maney Gault”: On April 1, 1934, 6’2” Frank Hamer was sitting, cramped, in his tiny Ford V-8 automobile in a lonely riverside migrant camp near the West Dallas viaduct, eating from a can of sardines and celebrating Easter Sunday alone.”

      Working headline
      It’s standard practice that you include a working headline in a query letter. It’s another way to show off your skills, and help an editor envision your piece in their magazine. Take a look at the headlines for stories at True West and come up with one for your article based on their style. And include it in your pitch. “I’d like to write [Working Headline] for True West about Wild West Star Lulu Belle Parr. Then map out how you’ll write the piece and highlight elements of her life. Even better if the Lulu Belle Parr parade is coming up you could point to.

      Nice idea. Minor updates.

      Keep going.
      Evan

  5. Hi Evan,

    Thanks for offering to do this! I sent a pitch to a credit union almost two weeks ago and have not received a response. This was my first letter to a big corporation and it was quite terrifying to put myself out there but I did it anyway. I’d love to get any insight you can offer on how to make my pitches stand out to a major corporation!

    ****

    Hi Madison,

    My name is Quinisha and I am a freelance marketing consultant and writer looking to potentially contribute content to Navy Federal Credit Union. I am a United States Navy veteran, and I believe that my experience with the unique nature of military finances would be beneficial to the company’s target audience.

    I write about personal finance on my website Money the Wright Way, and I also work with clients to create content covering finance and career topics. Here are a few samples of my work:

    1st & 15th

    How to Get Cash for a Last-Minute Summer Vacation

    3 Strategies That Will Change Your Outlook on Wealth

    4 Ways to Determine You’re Making Progress In Your Finances (And Life)

    In addition to previous content I have created, my recent transition into freelance work has resulted in the idea of providing tips for military service members and veterans interested in entrepreneurship. In an age where the gig economy is growing rapidly, I think it would be great to explore this topic, along with links to products that NFCU offers, such as business credit cards.

    If this is of interest, I would love to speak with you further on next steps. Thank you for your time and I look forward to hearing from you.

    Best Regards,

    Quinisha

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Quinisha,

      Virtual fist bump for hustle. But you’ll want to refine your pitch letter skills to improve your response rate. Right now your pitch letter is “all about me” dominant. And that’s not what you want.

      When you cold pitch, remember you’re a total stranger. You’ve got to find a way to break the ice. I recommend mentioning something the prospect is doing well, or point out a blog post on their site you found useful, informative, funny, well-written, etc. Point out something specific and offer a brief comment.

      After a custom intro, I recommend asking the question: Do you work with freelance writers?

      Then introduce yourself with a 1-2 sentence bio.

      Nice idea to pitch some blog post ideas. I’d suggest including a 1-2 sentence summary for each working headline.

      If this credit union has a known market for serving military families, this pitch angle might work. If they’d don’t, I’d drop it. More than anything you want to just get a conversation started. That’s more important for the first contact than hashing out a contract or assignment.

      Search Make a Living Writing for these two posts:
      -Follow This Freelance Recipe for a Tasty Letter of Introduction
      -Freelance Marketing: Shape Up Your Pitch to Get More Writing Clients

      Keep going.

      Evan

      • Hi Evan,

        I appreciate the feedback! As soon as I posted my comment, I realized the pitch was more focused on myself than the company so thanks for confirming that. Will definitely keep these pointers in mind for future pitches.

  6. From now on I post my business email address with all comments: that was one ugly avatar that got stuck on my gmail address!

  7. Tiziana says:

    Dear (Editor’name ) or an informal opening
    I’m writing to you because I ‘m a wedding planner and a wedding copywriter.
    My topics are focused on unconventional wedding locations and wedding tips/trends
    I consider to submit to your attention to those following tasty article topics:
    (indicating 3 pitches)
    Have a nice day,
    Tiziana

    • Carol Tice says:

      Tiziana, you’d have to include your full pitch to get a review here — Evan can’t read your mind! All you’ve included so far is basically the windup to your ideas. Also, what sort of prospect is this, a publication, what kind?

      One tip: Saying you’re also a wedding planner is your ticket to having to write that article free — they’ll assume you don’t need pay and are writing to promote your other business.

      • Tiziana says:

        Thanks Carol
        For your tip.
        This is a pitch for a wedding pubblication. Online
        Just to know if the pattern will work. Obviously, I will list my pitches.

  8. Carmel Murugen says:

    Hi Carol & Evan,
    Thanks for this great offer! My pitch was sent to the Editor of a magazine for a large health product franchise, 5 days ago. No response yet.

    Hi Jenny,
    It was great connecting with you on LinkedIn recently. I have an article idea I think readers of (name of magazine) will benefit from. From conversations with several female friends and colleagues in their 40s and 50s, as well as from my personal experience, I noted a common, recurring lament about “brain fog.”
    Have you walked into a room and struggled to figure out why you went there in the first place? Or, were you introduced to a couple of people at a party only to forget their names within minutes? Yes? You’re not alone! Studies show that 60% of women in their 40s to 60s have complaints about forgetfulness and the strain it places on their lives.
    My article “Menopause and Memory Loss: What you need to Know” refers to findings from research undertaken by the Universities of Rochester and Illinois that investigated the link between menopause and memory loss. The article also examines the concept of “brain fog,” outlines its causes and provides a plan incorporating lifestyle strategies and supplements, from (name of company) of course, to reduce the impact of brain fog on premenopausal and menopausal women.
    I’m a freelance writer specialising in health and wellness, and family and relationships. My work has appeared online and in print, in health and lifestyle publications.
    Looking forward to hearing from you.
    Best regards,
    Carmel Murugen

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Carmel,

      You’ve got a decent idea here. But you’ve got a ways to go to turn this into a solid magazine query. This blog and the Freelance Writers Den both have great resources to help you write an effective query letter.

      Two things that jump out at me.

      1. You don’t mention any sources you’ll interview for this piece. Two good sources would be an actual woman in this age demographic who is experiencing this kind of forgetfulness, and a researcher from the study, or at least an expert in this field.

      2. Product endorsement. Not sure what kind of magazine you’re pitching. But for many magazines, product endorsement like this “supplements, from (name of company) of course” doesn’t fly.

      I’d encourage you to read this magazine. Study the headlines, lede paragraphs, sources, quote attribution, style, and length. Then model that to write your query and develop your story idea.

    • Carmel Murugen says:

      Hi Evan,
      Thanks for the very useful suggestions. I’ve also learnt a lot from yours and Carol’s responses to the other comments on this thread. Will definitely utilise your suggestions.

  9. Amy Newman says:

    This is a pitch I’m working on to have a client featured on a local news health segment. Right off the bat, I think I waited way too long to say what I wanted, i.e., to be a guest on the segment (salutation/sign-off/identifying info omitted).

    ***

    What’s creepy and crawly, sends parents into a panic, and makes heads itch just talking about it?

    It’s lice, the tiny critters that school-aged children unknowingly (and far too frequently) share with friends. The Centers for Disease Control estimates that six to 12 million children ages 3 to 11 are infested with lice each year, making it the second most common reason for missed school days.

    Yet as common as lice may be, there’s a lot of misinformation about them. As owner of ABC Lice Treatment Clinic, which has locations in [local cities inserted here], as well as a mobile treatment unit, I’ve heard it all. From how lice spread to the best way to eliminate them – including a few at-home remedies that are ineffective at best, downright dangerous at worst – these are just a few of the myths I’ve heard since first opening my lice removal center in 2012:

    Lice fly or jump from head to head. Head lice don’t have wings, so they’re physically unable to fly or jump from head to head. They are spread only by direct head to head contact with a person already infested.

    Lice spread when children share hats, jackets, helmets, pillows, hair accessories, or anything else that touches the head. Although possible, lice cannot survive off the human head for more than 24 hours, so getting them from any of these activities is extremely rare – the lice have no incentive to leave the warmth of the head and its ready food supply. Lice are most commonly spread through direct head to head contact.

    Over the counter products eliminate lice in one treatment. Unfortunately, no single product on the market can kill all lice and their eggs (called nits). And unremoved nits eventually hatch, which starts the cycle all over again.

    The only guaranteed way to eliminate lice is to methodically comb out each nit, nymph and louse. As a Shepherd-certified head lice technician, my staff and I utilize an all-natural, strand-by-strand method of lice removal that uses non-toxic, pesticide-free products to eliminate lice and nits from the head. This makes our method more effective than over-the-counter treatments, because lice have become tolerant of traditional treatment products through the years, resulting in a strain of “super lice” that are harder to eradicate. No harsh chemicals also eliminates the risk of secondary reactions, such as hair loss, allergic reactions, or chemical burns, which are common with over-the-counter treatments.

    Just as important as treating children (and their families) infected with lice is educating the public on lice prevention, treatment options, and the general myths and misinformation they have about these critters. A [Insert news channel name here] segment would be the perfect medium to share prevention and treatment information with a wider audience, and I would love to help be a part of that.

    ###

    • Carol Tice says:

      Amy, I think this falls outside the scope of this pitch review, because it’s not pitching a client that you should write for them. This is a PR job, where you’re trying to obtain placement for a client you’ve already got, yes? Sort of a different kettle.

      • Amy Newman says:

        Kind of. She wants to be a guest on their health segment but wanted me to write the pitch for her. So I guess more a ghostwritten pitch letter. It’s the most recent one I’ve written, but understand if it you want to just focus on pitches to get the writer’s own piece published.

        • Carol Tice says:

          Yes, that’s the offer here. I don’t think Evan nor I have done this sort of PR work, so I think you’re out of our wheelhouse. Best of luck with it, though!

      • Evan Jensen says:

        Agree with Carol.

        But thinking about this like an editor/reporter flooded with press releases, I’d much rather see a short teaser/intro about the topic, short bio about your client, and bulleted list of talking points, than a lot of text.

        Much more likely to read/scan, and consider setting up an interview (Or maybe I’m just lazy. LOL).

        You definitely want to avoid being overly promotional. Any time I’d get these kind of press releases that are overly promotional, I’d just throw them away, or see if advertising wants to follow up.

        Also, correct AP Style for CDC first reference is is Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

        Best,
        Evan

  10. This one seems appropriate, since it’s in response to an item spotted Wednesday in the Freelance Writers Den. I went from there to its LinkedIn location, and from there to the Financial Diet website to identify a specific person to pitch to (Holly Trantham, Executive Editor). Note that by the time I checked the original LinkedIn listing, it was marked “no longer active.”

    Freelance writer’s inquiry: Financial Diet website

    Holly,

    I heard that The Financial Diet is hiring a new website editor. I also see that the articles on your website were contributed by a variety of writers. How many of these are freelancers? I have over a decade of writing experience and have contributed to Old Farmer’s Almanac, the Menninger Clinic website, Bird Watcher’s Digest, The Lookout, and MakeALivingWriting.com (it was in MALW’s Den forum that I found FD’s Website Editor listing), among many others.

    I’d like to discuss possibilities for submitting articles to your website as well. Topics I might develop include:
    40 Quick Ideas for Learning New Habits When You’re Over 40 [I have some good personal-experience stories for that one!]
    Staying Financially Sound (And Employable) When You Have a Mental or Behavioral Illness [one of my top writing niches]
    Seasonal Shopping: My “Lent-Approved Groceries” List

    Do you have official writers’ guidelines, or a style guide?

    Thanks,
    Katherine Swarts

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Katherine,

      Pretty solid. Like that you just ignored the “no longer active” message and pitched anyway. Things change. Writers come and go. Content needs expand.

      If you think you’ve stumbled across a solid prospect and potential client, send a pitch. You just never know what might happen. But of course, don’t wait around, move on to pitching the next prospect.

      “How many of these are freelancers?” You asked this question, but I’m pretty sure you can answer this on your own. Do the writers have a bio page on their site? Check LinkedIn. If these are staffers, their LinkedIn profile will probably have that info. Their writer websites may also help you determine if the writers are staffers or freelancers for The Financial Diet..

      That’s the long answer to “don’t waste an editor’s time.”

      When there’s a transition of editorial roles, there’s often some growing pains to find the right person, get them up to speed. You might consider describing that pain point a little in your pitch. Could be a good way to remind Holly, “Yeah, I need some help here.”

      You may also want to consider mentioning an article you learned something from, or thought was well written for The Financial Diet audience. Always a great way to break the ice.

      Keep going.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Katherine — A couple things:

      First off, most publications’ writers’ guidelines are readily available online. If you don’t yet have them, I’d just try to get them first. Read, then pitch with the insights you’ve gained. Asking the editor for them at the end of a pitch to me seems sort of cart-before-horse.

      My sense is these headlines are more about your personal interests than about studying the publication and what gets great traffic for them, and then finding a variant or update to those ideas you could pitch. The latter is a much easier way in the door.

      The other thing is you might think about SEO for your article ideas, since this is a website. All their headlines will need key phrases they want to rank for

      • Thanks, Carol. At the moment, my biggest challenge with pitching has little to do with the actual wording of the pitch: it’s a matter of getting out as many pitches as possible while still making sure each pitch covers every necessary point adequately. The habits that most hurt my pitching effectiveness are playing a numbers game (“I must meet a quota of 5/10/15 pitches today, even if that means getting sloppy on research and wording to finish on time”); over-editing; and just plain overcrowding each day’s to-do list.

    • Hi Katherine,

      I have pitched to The Financial Diet a couple times and had an article published with them within the last year. I’d be happy to share the pitch letter that I sent to them if you would like to get an idea of the pitch style they respond to.

  11. Tuve says:

    Hi Carol and Evan,

    Great post and thank you for the opportunity for free feedback! This pitch is for the travel website SmarterTravel.com.

    ——
    Dear Ms. McMahon,

    The historic Casbah of Algiers is a destination that remains remarkably elusive. People may have seen this old quarter in The Battle of Algiers, or heard the term in the song by The Clash, but there is little discussion of what lies inside it today. A large array of cultural sites lie amongst its steep stairs and winding alleys, and pay tribute to Algeria’s rich history. These include:

    – A former synagogue now used as a mosque;

    – A museum of calligraphy in the restored palace of the Ottoman Dey – featuring an open courtyard, arched passageways, and intricate woodwork;

    – The mausoleum of the popular saint Sidi Abdelrahman, where locals have gone for blessings and prayer since its construction in the 17th century;

    – A carpenter’s house whose roof deck offers a panoramic view of the Casbah and the Bay of Algiers;

    – And the Museum of Popular Art and Traditions, with a large collection of textiles, jewelry, pottery, metalwork, and furniture.

    As an expat who lived in Algiers from 2015 to 2017, I have direct experience with these parts of the Casbah. My French and Arabic language skills allowed me to gather many stories of this historic area, while also capturing its vibrant colors on my camera. “5 Must-See Sites in the Algerian Casbah” will take the reader on a detailed tour of these sites, highlighting the treasures that await them.

    Are you interested in this story for SmarterTravel? Algeria has been slowly opening its doors to more visitors as its tourism sector expands, despite recent protests and political upheaval, but there is still a lack of accurate information about travel in the country. I estimate 1,000 words for my article, but am flexible based on your needs.

    Thank you very much for your consideration. If you have any questions about this pitch, please let me know.

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Tuve,

      Looks like a solid idea. Nice job modeling your working headline after others on SmarterTraveler. Took and look and noticed this site LOVES list posts.

      What I don’t see is language talking directly to the reader: “you” and “your.” Spent a few minutes on the site and noticed pretty much ALL posts use this style. Makes sense, you’re the reader’s virtual travel guide telling them where to go, what to see, what to do, what not to miss.

      I’d work that into your pitch a bit more. Also, can you address the editor by first name?

      Looking good. Keep going.

      • Tuve says:

        Hi Evan,

        This is great. Thanks so much for your feedback and advice! I really appreciate you reviewing pitches for everyone here.

  12. David Pyle says:

    Dear Editor:

    Internationally known as Quilt City U.S.A., Paducah, Kentucky has a variety of amenities for the senior travel. Located in the state’s southern area, it is abundant in historical and natural attractions.

    I would like to write for your magazine an article on the benefits of senior citizens visiting Paducah, located at the junction of four rivers, the Ohio, Cumberland, Tennessee and Mississippi. One can watch the river, and view the murals on the flood wall which protects the city from catastrophe. Also, there is the River Heritage Museum, which is dedicated to preserving the area’s river based heritage, including a simulator allowing experience piloting a boat.

    The Quilter’s Museum and annual Quilt Fair are big local attractions, included with the city’s many activities devoted to culture and the arts. The Dogwood Trail in spring is a lovely thing to follow as guests can tour a path leading them through the natural beauties of the area.

    These and other local attractions would be covered in the proposed article, along with historic sites and interesting places to stay. Pictures can also be included with the article.

    Thanks for your time. I look forward to hearing from you.

    Sincerely,
    David V. Pyle

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi David,

      What magazine is this for? Your idea has potential. But this isn’t how you pitch a magazine. In it’s current format, the response you’re most likely to get is…DELETE.

      When you pitch a magazine, you generally write the first part of the article, exactly as you envision it would appear in the magazine, provide a working headline and subhead, and map out your plan for research, interviews, and writing the article.

      I’m not sure of the magazine, or audience. But I’m pretty sure the magazine style talks directly to the reader with “you” and “your.” And NOT like this, “One can watch…”

      FYI: this post has a lot of tips and ideas to help you write a stronger query letter.

      https://www.makealivingwriting[DOT]com/15-tips-to-make-an-editor-fall-in-love-with-your-query-letter/

      Keep going.

      • David Pyle says:

        Thanks. I haven’t really decided on the magazine yet. I was thinking of one geared to senior citizens. I had sent a Outpost Magazine, never got a reply.
        The comments and suggestions on this thread have been very useful.

        • Carol Tice says:

          David there are few magazines for seniors — AARP is basically it. A few small others, a few online sites, but not much. And AARP is one of the most difficult markets around to break into, as it’s one of the biggest-circulation and best-paying magazines in the country.

          I’d think about where ELSE your topic might be of interest, or additional slants you can use, so that you have more places to pitch to with your idea. Not sure why quilters all have to be old — think it could be refocused to be about what CRAFTERS could do in Paducah, yes?

  13. Hi Evan,
    I am Judith Norris, a student of Jon Morrow’s Guest Blogging course. During Module Four, we are asked to write three headlines and send them to an editor for review.
    While reviewing Carol Tice’s Guidelines or Submission, I saw that Make A Living Writing wants an outline as well as headline suggestions. I submit these three headlines, used a fourth as the title, and the outline.
    Thank you for your time and effort.
    Sincerely,
    Judith Norris

    Headlines:
    • These Three Sensational Guidelines Make Your Writing Star-Quality!
    • Three Audacious Techniques That Score Valiant Writing Success!
    • Unleash Your Miraculous Writing With Three Winning Ways!

    Three Winning Ways To Unleash Your Miraculous Writing

    Introduction

    • Some believe that only one perfect person ever lived.
    • Yet we mortal humans still want to be perfect. We want our work to be perfect.
    • But what is it? How is perfection defined?
    • Webster’s definition
    • “
    • I. Perfection
    • Many disciplines strive for perfection.
    • Although perfection is not attainable, striving for it we encounter excellence.

    • A. Practice fails to make perfect. Only perfect practice makes perfect.
    • 1. Who among us claims to be perfect?
    • 2. Examples from sports stars, musicians, writers who dislike
    practicing.
    • 3. If anything is to be learned, we work at or practice it.
    • B. Practice Strategies
    • 1. No Distractions.
    • 2. Plan What To Accomplish.
    • 3. Warmup Physically with Basics.
    • 4. Practice Makes Permanent.
    • a. Practicing mistakes makes them learned inaccurately.
    • b. Time wasted from wrong learning.
    • 5. Any task needs to be overlearned for automatic performance.
    • a. Practice On After Learning and Memorizing.
    • b. Rewards Come from Winning!

    • ll. Timing
    • A. “Perfect” Timing
    • 1. True or False?
    • 2. Is There Such a Thing?
    • B. Timing is Ultimate
    • 1. Arrive late, miss the bus/train/airplane/class/appointment.
    • 2. Asking for a raise demands the best moment in time.
    • 3. A musician knows the best time to enter the music.
    • 4. Quarterback knows exactly when to throw the ball.

    • III. Implementation/Achievement
    • A. “Git ‘er dun!” says comedian Larry the Cable Guy.
    • 1. Musician plays Carnegie Hall.
    • 2. Football player wins the Super Bowl.
    • 3. Your Book is a Best Seller.
    • B. It All Comes Together
    • 1. After editing and sharing with others.
    • 2. When your editor has a book signing party.
    • 3. You know that you know. It’s a “gut” feeling.
    • Conclusion

    • Carol Tice says:

      Judith, believe we’ve been clear that this is NOT an open pitch for my blog. Evan is reviewing pitches for other markets.

      • Judith Norris says:

        My deepest and heartfelt apology that you thought I was pitching your blog. That was not my intention. I just wanted feedback on how it could have been a better pitch.

        Thank you.

        • Carol Tice says:

          Believe you can get that in the Den, Judith, as a member. The traditional response to not getting a ‘yes’ on a pitch to a market you want to get into is to…come up with another pitch and send it in. Bear in mind we’re looking for 500-word pitches — looks like that outline might be close to that count by itself! So it doesn’t seem in tune with what we’re looking for. I’d say keep your outline fairly simple, for pitching a short post.

  14. Hi Evan,
    I have input the LOI and outline several times. Each time, what appears tells me there are too many URLs. I removed all but one and still receive the same message.

    Any suggestions? Thanks.

  15. Brett Wagner says:

    Hi!

    Great idea, Carol. Certainly, one I could benefit from. Here goes:

    * Technology company
    * Sent to the director of marketing 3 days ago, as of today it has not been opened


    Hi!

    As a local freelance writer who specializes in SaaS and mobile technology, your feature in the Sacramento Business Journal’s list of Fastest-Growing Companies caught my eye. I poked around your website a bit and loved the emphasis upon the human touch.

    However, I noticed you do not have a section for blog posts or content that could help reinforce how your company is personal and wants to emphasize human to human contact.

    I am wondering if you need help creating content for your website that would help reinforce this much-needed emphasis upon personality within technology and the various ways you serve your clients?

    I help growing businesses and entrepreneurs clarify their web presence by providing content development and website strategy. Here is a recent example of a post I did for a SaaS client:

    Would it make sense to hop on a call and discuss further?

    Thanks for your time!

    • Brett says:

      Sorry, Evan – Just realized you were the author. Apologies!

      • Evan Jensen says:

        Hi Brett,

        No ego here. It’s not a big deal. At some point, Carol Tice, myself, and a few others at Make a Living Writing touch every post.

        -Evan

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Brett,

      Pretty solid. Brief, conversational, helpful. That’s exactly what you want. Send out enough pitch letters like this, and you’re bound to get some bites.

      It’s worth a shot. But IMO, it’s always a hard sell to pitch a content marketing idea the company isn’t currently doing. No blog means there’s a strong chance that’s intentional. But if it’s a new company, it’s possible they just haven’t had the time or person to develop a blog.

      Third paragraph. Consider simplifying this.
      -Do you work with freelance writers?
      -What content projects do you need help with?

      Love this bio sentence: “I help growing businesses and entrepreneurs clarify their web presence by providing content development and website strategy”

      Nice work overall. Couple minor updates to consider. Keep going.

  16. Hi Evan,

    Thanks for offering to beef up our LOI and pitch letters. As a relative newby, I sent you a pitch and outline for an article about practicing. Since you didn’t reply even after a friendly reminder email, I knew that area could use some help.

    I am a Frelance Writer’s Den member. You will find my pitch email there. Since then, I have written a an introduction to myself. That will be included.

    I am willng to follow all requirements. Clarify for me, please.You stated that we put the letter here. Is that correct? Or, do you want the pitch placed in the Den area?

    Yhank you.

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Judith,

      Post your LOI here for a free review. See “But you’ll need to follow a few rules:” in the post. You can’t include links here.

      Or you can post your LOI for a review inside the Freelance Writers Den in the Query/Letter of Introduction Review forum. It’s a service you get with your Den membership, along with a massive amount of resources, training, and network of other writers.

      Evan

  17. Alex Tucker says:

    Hi Carol/Evan, great post, and thanks for this. This is an LOI for a specific online retailer of nutritional supplements I’d like to approach.

    Subject: How’s your open rate for marketing emails?

    Hello (name)! I’m a digital marketer with a passion for crafting email copy, and I’m curious about the approach (companyname) is using. I initially signed up for your mailing list because I use your products and I’m interested in your upcoming affiliate program. As a constant student of the trade, I sign up for and read many marketing emails, and I find (companyname)’s approach fairly unique.

    How happy are you with your current open rate and click rate? If you’re thrilled with those metrics, then I’d like to know. In all honesty, the image-dominant nature of your emails remind me of the paper ads other companies still send out by snailmail. It doesn’t seem like the absolute best use of your subscribers’ attention.

    That said, the images you use are beautiful, so I figure you have a decent budget dedicated to email marketing. I wonder, would you be open to trying a more personalized, segmented, and copy-based approach? I already stand behind your company by recommending it to my friends and family – I’d be happy to work with you to increase your open and click rates, if those metrics aren’t all they could be.

    Regardless of whether there’s room in the budget, I’d be glad to talk strategy with your marketing director – as I said, I’m really interested in the results you’re getting with your current approach.

    Hope all is well, and stay healthy!

    Alex Tucker

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Alex,

      I could be wrong, but this looks like a form letter/template. You’ve got placeholders for (name) and (companyname).

      And IMO, your copy is generic enough that you could sign up for any nutritional supplement email list, and then fill in the blank with this.

      Whether it is or not, the form letter/template doesn’t work. People generally see right through it. I also think it’s unlikely a company would disclose their content marketing strategy to a total stranger.

      You need to develop a relationship before that’s ever going to happen.

      My two cents.

  18. James Nguma says:

    Hi Carol,

    Thanks for this special opportunity and your kindness to reviews pitches. Here is a pitch I sent to B2B Global Networks business.

    Hello Paul,

    “The benefits of social media recruiting”

    The first blog post content I noticed once I landed on your website.

    However, it was too difficult for me to read the content. Here are my reasons

    1. The content did not have paragraphs

    2. No headings and subheading

    3. No images or screenshots to help explain concepts

    4. No white spaces

    Do you know such content as that can increase the bounce rate and lead to loss of potential clients?

    Well, I can help you with that.

    I’m James Nguma, a B2B Martech and Tech content marketer, blogger and ghostwriter.

    Here is what I will offer you:

    1. Tutorials and guides to educate your website visitors about your services
    2. Blog posts to draw traffic to your business website
    3. Content to help generate leads and convert them to clients
    4. Content to educate clients on how to use the services to solve their business challenges

    [link to my website]

    Shall we connect?

    I’d be happy to jump on a call to see how I can help your business.

    Warm Regards,
    James Nguma

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi James,

      Solid observations. But I don’t think “you’re doing it all wrong” is a good approach for cold-pitch emails, especially the intro. It puts people on the defensive immediately.

      You have this huge barrier to overcome. When the prospects opens your email, they’re pretty likely to think, “Who the hell is this, and what does he know about my blog, my readers, and my business?”

      I’m sure your observations are correct. But I’d suggest connecting with your prospect in a more positive way first, before pointing out something that needs improvement. In this case, I’d suggest mentioning something specific that you learned from one of the prospect’s blog posts. Point it out and offer a brief comment about how it supports their marketing efforts, branding, authority, or something similar.

      Introduce yourself. After a first paragraph about something the prospect is doing well, introduce yourself. This is your elevator speech 1-3 sentences or short paragraph that describes your writing background and knowledge of their niche.

      Then point out the problem/solution.

      You may also want to provide some blog post ideas with a working headline and 1-2 sentence summary of what each post is about.

      Give that some thought. Hope you get a bite.

      Keep going.

  19. Hello Carol,
    Thank you for reviewing my pitch letter. This will be going to a regional publication in NC. I have written articles for the magazine before, so I have not included clips or qualifications.

    Query,
    Hello Scott,
    I would like to write an article for “Carolina Country” about the Bee City USA program in North Carolina. I know you are booked up with stories through the summer, but this can be written as an autumn piece if you prefer.

    Pollinators such as butterflies, moths, bees, hummingbirds and beetles are in big trouble. More than forty percent of the world’s pollinating insects live under the threat of extinction. North Carolina cities such as Raleigh and Hendersonville showcase the way to reverse this trend by serving as pollinator-friendly Bee Cities.

    The Bee City USA program, the brainchild of Asheville resident Phyllis Stiles, began in 2012 as a way for cities as well as college campuses to increase the populations of pollinators by reintroducing native plants and habitat into their metropolitan landscaping.

    I will interview Stiles along with representatives from Raleigh and Hendersonville about the Bee City initiative and the transformation of their cities to pollinator-friendly waystations.

    I did not find any Bee City articles in your archives and believe this would be an interesting piece for “Carolina Country”. What do you think?

    • Evan Jensen says:

      Hi Greta,
      Great that you have a good track record with this editor, it’s a lot easier to land an assignment with a query like this. Looks like a solid idea, but I’d suggest going with a more traditional query letter approach. To me it looks like you’re missing a few things.

      Lede paragraph. You share an interesting fact, but I don’t think it’s strong enough to engage the reader. Can you drop the reader into a day in the life of Stiles tending bees, or someone from the Bee City program planting trees and shrubs that attract bees, for example.

      Nutgraf. Your first paragraph kind of looks like the nutgraf to me. I think you might want to take this a step further and explain: why should I care? What’s in it for me?

      Quote: I’d recommend quoting Stiles or another source in your query. This adds a lot of street cred to your story idea, and shows you know how to find and interview sources.

      Working headline + subhead: It’s pretty standard to include a working headline and subhead. It’s another way to help an editor envision your article in their magazine.

      Good start. Minor updates to get this query in better shape.

      Keep going.