For freelance writers, pitching stories can be intimidating. What should you say? How many clips should you include? How do you ask for more money? A panel of assignment editors at FinCon 2014 revealed what’s been successful with them.
The advice was offered up Saturday (Sept. 20) at FinCon in New Orleans. FinCon is a national financial blogger conference that drew about 600 attendees this year. The panelists:
- Victoria Araj, blog team leader at Quicken Loans
- Korrena Bailie, managing editor at Bankrate Insurance
- John Egan, editor-in-chief at SpareFoot.com
- Miranda Marquit, freelance journalists for publications including U.S. News & World Report and Huffington Post
- Matt Schulz, senior industry analyst at CreditCards.com
Their advice to freelance writers:
PITCHING THE STORY
- Spell the editor’s name properly in the pitch letter. Check and doublecheck it.
AFTER YOU GET THE GREEN LIGHT
- Find numbers or reports. You can give your casual blog post more heft by including strategically placed data.
- Pay attention to details and sourcing. Source the original data report, not the media outlet that reported on the stats.
- Communicate if you are going to miss your deadline.
Don’t go over your word count. Really, don’t do it. If you need more space, ask your editor before you do it.
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AFTER YOU’VE TURNED IN THE STORY
- Stories will be edited. Don’t get offended. If you have concerns about how it is being edited, find a professional way to communicate that. Don’t be rude.
- Don’t keep emailing and hounding an editor if a story hasn’t been published. After you get initial confirmation that the editor received your story, give the editor two weeks before you send another check-in email.
- Share your stories on social media when it is published. You are proud of it and it’s a good idea to help your story perform better.
- Reach out to your sources and let them know the story has been published. Often, they’ll share it on social media, helping you get more readers.
- It’s OK to ask for analytics about your story’s performance. Some editors will provide them. You can start the conversation by saying, “I shared it on my social networks and it was share 35 times. Looks like it got some attention in my social circles.”
More advice from the editors is published at mirandamarquit.com/fincon14.
Carlie Kollath Wells is a New Orleans-based reporter. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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