Pitching to a magazine in your niche

Because this blog is all about sharing information on being a writer, I’m going to walk you through how I just recently snagged 3 paying articles in a national magazine.

1I had noticed on a facebook post that a magazine about chickens had just gotten a new editor.  He had written a refreshingly honest first editorial where he openly admitted that, while he was an accomplished editor, he still had lots to learn about chickens.

I read the editorial and then I immediately composed a letter of introduction. I started it off with a sincere warm letter of congratulations on his new position.  The chicken community is actually a fairly tight-knit group of people, we know of the writers, the experts, and we will go out of our way to help anyone who needs assistance.

I gave the editor a short list of my chicken credentials (I hold workshops, have a backyard flock) followed by a short list of my writing credentials (chicken blog, blogger for Grit and Chicken Communities, and regional journalist.) I also provided links to some of my online articles.  

I then pitched 6 article ideas, here are two of the pitches –

  •  Shaming chickens – we all have them. Although we’d like to think that our chickens are angels on earth, at times, they can be very naughty (like when my hen pecked off the “H” key from my husband’s new laptop keyboard.)
  • House chickens – because of medical needs and bad timing with the seasons, we ended up having a chicken live in our house for 6 months. It’s not as crazy as you might think, chickens do make good pets (except for that poop thing and even then, people have come up with solutions for that.)

 Lastly, I offered to provide all the photos for any of my stories.

In essence what I had done was:

·         Said hello and made a connection
·         Introduced myself
·         Established myself as an expert in the field (why I mattered)
·         Established myself as a competent writer
·         Pitched article package ideas
·         Finished up with saying that I’d love to work with him

That afternoon, the editor sent email requesting 3 stories roughly 1000 – 1200 words each with photos.

So what are the take-aways from this?

Be known for a niche. This particular niche happens to be chickens. I’m also known as a disability rights, parenting, and thrift writer. I tailored this pitch to a very specific niche and only used the credentials that supported my experience in this particular area.

Pitch, pitch, pitch. A few weeks back, I answered a question  from a reader of this blog where I described the process for a formal pitch. In a formal pitch, you have to include estimated word count, photos, an outline of the article, and a list of the references and resources you’ll be tapping for the article. In this case, however, I had already established myself as a competent writer, what I wanted to do was to let him know that I could come up with quick, quirky, and interesting article ideas.  So I used the multiple “headline” version of a pitch where I throw out an idea (possible headline) and then describe it in a sentence or two. I was trusting him to let me take it from there if he wanted me to pursue an idea.

Be ballsy. Seriously, I am so busy that I didn’t have time to think “oh gee, but if I send him this email, he might think I’m being overly-confident or needy.” I sent the email with absolutely no expectations. That doesn’t mean that I didn’t have some hope, but I knew that this was nothing more than a shot in the evening dusk which quite surprisingly turned out to be a direct hit.

 

***

Wendy Thomas is an award winning journalist, columnist, and blogger who believes that taking challenges in life will always lead to goodness. She is the mother of 6 funny and creative kids and it is her goal to teach them through stories and lessons.

Wendy’s current project involves writing about her family’s experiences with chickens (yes, chickens). (www.simplethrift.wordpress.com)

 

18 thoughts on “Pitching to a magazine in your niche

  1. This is really great and inspiring! Thank you for sharing! I’ve always had a dream of being published in a magazine, but never knew where to begin.

  2. Once again, you provide helpful and knowledgeable advice for new writers struggling to build a reputation! Thanks Wendy!

  3. Wow, thanks so much for this! As in a few short years I’ll be looking for a job in writing, it’s great to know this! I never would have thought of this! Thank you so much!

  4. Wendy, I love the supportive and informational nature of this post. You are followed by me, yes, I know the police will think the same, but I am really a good guy! I need to settle on a niche and approach it the way you did.

  5. Thanks so much for this! I was recently considering approaching Today’s Parent in reference to the “Stuff I Know About Kids” posts I’ve been writing lately. I don’t expect anything to come of it, but it can’t hurt to try and now I have an idea of how to go about it. 🙂

    Also, congrats! You rock! 😀

  6. Great article, especially like the ballsy bit. I run workshops on Writing for Magazines, and many participants feel too frightened to approach editors. As I tell them, if the editor doesn’t like your article, they’re not going to come to your house and beat you up – so don’t worry about it. Have a go!

  7. Also, remember most of us have Gmail. In my searches I’ve found many editors with Tumblr sites on which they actually post when they’re looking for writers. These sites also include contacts. As a last-ditch effort that rarely works, but ostensibly could work, try @ messaging editors on twitter. Send them a link to an article that is related to their publication or their own writing, or a tip about something in the area they cover. They may follow then you at which time you may then direct message them. Many people don’t get twitter and therefore are excited about the attention. Follow, then @message but be discreet because those messages are public. This tipping method, can work via email, too. Send along a tip about something new and exciting that the publication should know about and say, “I love Freelance Magazine, and I’m too busy to cover this myself right now, but you should really know about this new free tax preparation service for Brooklyn freelancers. I imagine you’ve already heard about it, but if you haven’t I just thought I’d send it along.” Then, when you have a suitable pitch, you’ve already established yourself as a friendly. Just make sure the tip is a good one.

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