Shop Talk: Keeping a Pitch Graveyard

shoptalk copyPitching a steady stream of articles is one of the most important recurring tasks you need to stay on top of as a freelancer. Whether you’re trying to break into a new outlet or are simply feeding fresh ideas to editors you already work with, it can be a real challenge to track the status of the many queries you’re constantly sending out into the editorial world. Many fall by the wayside, but you shouldn’t let them grow cold for too long. Undead pitches can sometimes make the best pitches.

It pays to use a spreadsheet to build a simple system for tracking your pitches, because it’s very easy to accidentally fire and forget — particularly if you don’t get a response to your query. It takes very little effort to create and maintain, and the benefits are twofold.

Starting with a blank spreadsheet, create bold headers divided up into a few important columns. At the very least, make columns for logging the title of each pitch, the target publication, and the date you sent it. I also add columns to note the dates I follow-up, what response I get, and any additional notes. Once you have it all set up, be diligent about keeping it current. Update the status of your pitches frequently, marking the ones that succeed and refreshing the ones that don’t.

Soon you’ll inevitably find that certain pitches, even if they’re excellent ideas, just aren’t panning out with the editors you’re targeting. Perhaps you can’t find an outlet they’re a good fit for, or maybe the timing isn’t working out. Whatever the case, it’s time to consider moving on to other article ideas and sending the old ones to the graveyard. I keep a separate section on my spreadsheet devoted to dead pitches — favorite ideas that I couldn’t successfully find a home for after numerous pitch attempts. Don’t mourn their passing too hastily. Dump them there and let them decompose a bit. They’re not going anywhere.

After you’ve spent a few months focusing on other pitches and assorted tasks, you might hit a lull where you’re either creatively tapped out or just looking for stuff to pitch again. That’s the best time for a little freelance necromancy. Aren’t you glad you have a pungent supply of rotting pitch corpses to dig up and re-animate? Dusting off those old pitches, freshening then up a bit, and firing them off to new editors is quick and easy since most of the work is already done! You can easily retool and resend half a dozen pitches in a single afternoon this way. Welcome to Mega Productivity City, population: you!

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One thought on “Shop Talk: Keeping a Pitch Graveyard

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