I love writing enough to make a career out of it and sometimes that involves writing for other people. Those assignments are just as important to me as any personal piece of writing because paid work allows me to write the things I want to. Landing those assignments is difficult though because it takes time to develop a relationship with editors willing to pay for my writing.
Being a professional writers means convincing other people I am a pro. That requires a keen sense of who I am and one of the best ways I gained clarity was thinking about the pitch. The pitch is a professional introduction that explains what I do for a living in a succinct fashion. This is easy when writing for a big platform. For example, my first big job was writing sports at the Vallejo Times-Herald newspaper. The pitch was simple as saying “My name is Jose San Mateo and I’m a sports reporter with the Vallejo Times-Herald.”
It’s tricky for a freelancer because it is not quite as impressive to say “I’m a freelance writer.” That could mean anything and in a worst case scenario it could lead to negative assumptions. Coming up with an effective pitch as a freelancer took a little bit more work.
The best place to start was figuring out what my pitch was supposed to do. I wanted to make sure people got a positive impression of what I do for a living. What I came up with wasn’t long: “I am an editor for Indie Haven, a website dedicated to covering indie video games. I’m also a freelance writer that covers other geek related topics like comic books and speculative fiction.”
It’s important to keep in mind that the pitch doesn’t end here. More details will come out naturally during the course of conversation. It’s impossible to predict what other people want to know about me, but it is important to have answers for key follow up questions.
For example, it’s important for a freelancer to explain how they work so I have to practice talking about my creative process. The ability to explain how I go from idea to story is reassuring to the people that pay. “I’m a journalist that is skilled at writing features for print and web publication. I’m a confident interviewer that can produce written stories, video stories and promote my work effectively on social media.”
People are going to ask about profit eventually, so it’s important to be comfortable talking about it. Honesty is always the best policy, but never be afraid to let them know you have vision even if reality doesn’t point to success at the moment. “Indie Haven is only a few months old so it is a free site right now, but we are growing. I want the site to become large enough that advertisers take notice and support us.”
The pitch is about marketing and being a saavy about that leads to paid work. I couldn’t write for a living without help and the pitch helps helps convince other people to do just that . It’s rare the pitch happens exactly how I’ve thought it out, but clarity brings confidence. When the conversation shifts toward my profession, I know how to answer and that makes all the difference