The Art of the Pitch: How to Sell Stories As a Freelance Journalist

The Art of the Pitch: How to Sell Stories As a Freelance Journalist

If you’re a freelance writer working in the age of digital journalism, we don’t have to tell you twice: drafting a story is only half the battle. The true challenge comes during the pitching stage when you have to race against the clock to get a story published while it’s still timely for readers.

Struggling to master the art of the pitch? Here are five tactics to remember on how to sell stories being a freelance journalist to media outlte.

Prioritize Reputable Sources

Whether you’re pitching a news story or an idea or a completed story, reputable sources are critical for capturing an editor’s attention. Even if they love your style or concept, they can’t put their outlet’s name on your piece without proof of authentic references.

If you’ve secured an interview with a top-notch expert or witness, put their name and your connection to them at the top of your pitch. You already know never to bury the headline, so the same rule applies to sources!

Craft Your Pitching a News Story to a Specific Editor at a Specific Outlet

You shouldn’t be sending the same copy and pasted pitch to everyone on your target list. Each outlet has its own unique set of readers, and each editor has a specific taste and tone.

When you draft the pitch, always include references to the outlet’s latest coverage and why your story fits the framework. If possible, send it to a specific editor who’s shown interest in the topic in the past.

The more you demonstrate you’ve done the research, the higher the likelihood of receiving a response.

Be Transparent About the Story

The editors you’re pitching a news story have been around the block many times before. If your pitch frames your story as something it’s not, they’ll notice sooner rather than later - and won’t be happy you mislead them.

Be upfront about the beat, purpose, and takeaway of your story. Never try to pass off an opinion or blog piece as fact-driven reporting, and cite facts about the story in the body of your pitch.

Never Submit a Story With AP, Spelling, or Grammar Errors

Even if you’re a veteran journalist, it’s worth hearing this reminder time and time again. Everyone makes mistakes – especially fast-paced writers who crank out multiple stories a day – but if an editor catches an AP. spelling, or grammar error, odds are high that you’ll receive a rejection.

As a freelancer, editors turn to you for stories they don’t have to manage from start to finish. Make their job as easy as possible with air-tight writing, and you might just be rewarded with a reply, or if you’re lucky, publication.

Join a Media Community

Still can’t break through the noise of how to sell stories? You don’t have to navigate these choppy waters alone.

Though technology and journalism haven’t always gotten along, we’re building a tech-driven community where editors and writers can meet, network, sell, and buy stories – every ingredient for successful pitching a news story packed into one convenient marketplace.

Learn more about membership perks and how to sell stories through 5WH.