Rachel Weingarten is a weekly style columnist for Parade.com and opinion columnist for amNewYork who also freelances for CNN Digital, Esquire.com Fortune, Newsday, USA Today and many others. Rachel is the author of three non-fiction books including Ancient Prayer: Channeling Your Faith 365 Days of the Year.
The most important rule to remember when pitching a freelance writer is…Unlike writers on staff, we tend to have existing ongoing relationships with numerous outlets. Depending on the product, person or project, it’s entirely possible that we can include your client in one or more stories and publications. Once you have an existing relationship with a freelancer, don’t be disappointed if they reject your pitch to one of their outlets; it’s best to be open to different outlets, even they aren’t your initial targets. For the same reason, always try to offer more than one facet to your pitch. This is a great way to create an ongoing relationship. One more thing, if your contact is a regular contributor or columnist, check to see if they’re still with the publication when you pitch.
As a freelancer, I am typically working on… any number of stories with a workload that might ebb and flow. For instance, I write a weekly column for Parade.com, am an editorial columnist for amNewYork and contribute to lots of other publications as a freelancer. I also take on new assignments regularly. I do copywriting and marketing copy, so in a given week I could be writing a minimum of two articles and thousands of additional words. Or I might be working on my books while keeping up all of the rest. And during all of this, I also might be researching and interviewing sources for upcoming articles. My writing is a business, and as such I create structure and manage many moving parts. But I also have clients and editors that I love working with, so I’ll happily accept extra assignments from them even during the busiest times- I just try to figure out how to manage my deadlines better.
Sometimes I am at the whim of my editors which means… that I might not be able to predict when a story of mine might run. In fact, I usually have no idea whatsoever when my pieces appear. I usually tell publicists that it’s entirely possible that they’ll see a story before I do. It also means that sometimes stories get killed or sections or product recommendations are cut. And while I value my relationships with publicists, I also realize that I have to smile and accept the decisions of my editors.
That’s right, we all have to smile and accept the decisions of editors!