With the huge amount of content needed today, editors are looking for writers for their blogs, websites, and newsletters. They need writers they can count on who are easy to work with and can deliver professionally written, engaging articles in a timely manner.
That’s you, right?
Now, perhaps you did some research and found your ideal client, but then paralysis set in and you’re unsure how to reach out to the company’s editor. Here are some tips to help you move forward.
Like most people in business today, editors are busy people. They usually have more work than time. So the best way to get on their good side is to be respectful of their time. And that starts with your pitch.
- Crafting a Pitch the Editor Can’t Refuse
When reaching out to an editor, be sure you know their business. Review the type of content they regularly publish so you can tailor your pitch to their audience.
Throw generalities out the window. Develop a specific idea that has a new hook or angle.
For example, for this article, instead of pitching a piece on ways to work with an editor, the pitch would be — “I’d like to write an article about three tips on working with an editor that focuses on developing the pitch, how to communicate with the editor, and flushing out the project.”
With this approach, the editor knows exactly what you’re going to write about and has a better chance of accepting your article.
Focus on one Big Idea.
If you have four great ideas, pitch four articles. It’s better to have four shorter articles, each with its own specific focus, than one long, rambling article.
Follow up with your editor. Once you’ve made the pitch, if you haven’t heard back in a few days, reach out again.
By this time, your email will have dropped off the first page of the editor’s inbox. A polite follow-up email will demonstrate your professionalism.
It doesn’t have to be long. Just re-send the original email with a comment such as… “Just a quick follow up on my original email of last week pitching my article on ‘Developing a Great Relationship with an Editor.’ Please let me know if you think this would be a good fit for your website.”
- Consistent Communication Leads to a Friendly and Positive Working Style
Once the editor accepts your pitch, be easy to work with. This includes being professional, courteous, and timely.
Don’t miss your deadline and then come up with a series of excuses.
Communicate your status and ask questions.
If you’re unsure of any aspect of the project, ask your editor. She would rather answer questions in advance than have to correct something after the fact.
If you have a longer deadline that’s more than two weeks out, keep your editor informed of where you are in the project.
This could be a brief email once a week. This is especially important if you have to conduct interviews. Let your editor know what time the interviews are scheduled. Then, when your editor’s boss asks questions, she knows exactly what’s happening with this project.
It’s imperative to follow the editor’s instructions.
This could include the article’s length, submission deadline, and submission requirements.
Your editor knows exactly how much space is available, so if she asks for no more than 800 words, don’t submit 805. Even though you’ve only gone over by a few words, that type of minor overage can irritate an editor enough into not hiring you again since you can’t follow simple instructions.
The same is true with the deadline. If they want it “end of day,” that’s typically 5:00 p.m. of their time zone, not midnight.
Additionally, does your editor want it in Microsoft Word or Google Docs? Does she want links to your sources? Be sure to submit your copy exactly as requested.
All of this will help you build a rapport with your editor. You’ll be more likely to get future projects if your editor knows, likes, and trusts you.
- Completing the Project
Before you start working on the article, make sure you know where it fits in your editor’s plans. Is it general content to keep visitors returning to the website? Is it available to anyone who comes to the website? Or is it behind a pay wall, open only to members or subscribers?
Knowing this information will help you structure the article to the right audience.
Write without a safety net.
After you’ve written your article, go back and edit, review, revise, rewrite — until you produce an article you believe is ready to be published without any further revisions.
This will save the editor a great deal of time.
But, even after submitting what you think is a perfectly polished piece, be open to editing and be prepared to make revisions or rewrite sections.
The majority of editors will find phrases or sections that need to be corrected. If these are small, she may make the corrections herself.
Or, she’ll send it back to you to correct.
Don’t take the edits personally. Know what corrections to accept and what to fight for.
Point out requested corrections that are factually incorrect but accept those that don’t change the tenor of the article. Then, make these corrections the first time.
Your editor doesn’t want to see the same mistakes or requested corrections on your second draft.
With the large, ongoing volume of content needed to fill in their Editorial Calendars, editors are looking for writers they can count on to turn in work that is publication-ready. They want to work with amiable professionals who can deliver engaging articles on deadline.
If you follow these tips, you could become an editor’s go-to writer.