How to Pitch The Content Strategist
Freelancing is such an important part of Contently’s DNA. The company was founded, in part, to help freelance creatives get paid well for doing what they love.
Before I joined Contently, I started as a freelance writer, as did our head of marketing Joe Lazauskas. We know firsthand how difficult it can be to write for a living, especially if you have to prove yourself over and over through pitching. Working on your own provides freedom, but it can also lead to a lot of unpredictability.
While the coronavirus is affecting the way everyone lives, it’s also changing the way we work. Freelancers are at risk of losing stable opportunities because of the pandemic. To help them, we’ve decided to frontload our own freelance content budget right now for The Content Strategist. That’ll allow us to accept more pitches and pay more freelance writers to do what they do best.
Below, I’ve put together an FAQ list that outlines what we’re looking for, what we pay, how to pitch us, and more.
What kind of stories are we looking for?
We cover all things content marketing, which is broad by design. Our audience consists of marketers trying to be more creative and think more strategically. Possible topics include content strategy, SEO, storytelling, video, social media, marketing ROI, and more.
Many of our clients come from four industries: financial services, B2B tech, healthcare, and travel and hospitality. So we’re most interested in ideas that tie in to those areas.
Before you pitch, check out the site to see what we’ve published over the years. If you have a particular topic in mind, make sure we haven’t covered it before. Use the search function on the site and do a Google site search to be safe.
Marketing blogs are saturated with a lot of generic how-to posts that promise tips and tricks. Offering unique advice is a good start, but freelancers will have a better shot of getting published on TCS if they present their advice through a narrative that includes original reporting and data.
Here are a few examples:
- The Financial Gym Is Changing the Way Consumers Learn About Money
- ‘We’re a Media Company Now’: Inside Marriott’s Incredible Money-Making Content Studio
- Corporate Responsibility in the Age of Content and Social Media
- Video Measurement Is Broken. Here’s How to Fix It
Personal essays/thoughtful takes
- Novelty: The Storytelling Element Your Brain Craves
- The Difference Between Empathetic Marketing and Fake Empathy
- The Lost Art of the Mid-Range Blog Post
- Study: A Look at Branded Web Series and If They Actually Work
- The Trouble With Brainstorming (And How To Overcome It)
- How to Write a Helpful Headline People Will Want to Click
- Finance Marketing Leader Crystal Eastman On Why Brands Need to Hire Journalists
- How Storytelling Helped Richard Branson Become a Billionaire
What do we pay?
A flat rate of $500 per story. We occasionally publish Q&As, which pay $300.
We pay upon submission of the first draft through Contently’s proprietary platform. There’s no invoicing—you get credited with the amount in our platform and then can withdraw it to PayPal.
What should you include in your pitch?
Start by putting “[Freelance Pitch]” in the subject line. I receive a lot of guest post pitches from people who want to promote themselves or their companies, so this signal will help separate your idea from the rest of my inbox.
Treat the subject line like it could be the official headline for your completed article. Sometimes people just send topics like “Content Marketing & TikTok,” which isn’t a dealbreaker, but take advantage of the opportunity to catch my eye with something like “Should Your Marketing Team Care About TikTok?” If you have a great pitch, try to pair it with a creative headline since we’ll have to think of one at some point anyway.
A good subject line might look like:
[Freelance Pitch] Should Your Marketing Team Care About TikTok?
For the body of your pitch, write 2-3 paragraphs explaining your idea in detail. Tell me why you think the pitch belongs on TCS, what’s unique about it, and who you’re going to interview (if applicable). I’d also recommend highlighting the thesis of your idea in one clear sentence. If you’re offering tips and advice, definitely include those as bullets. You’d be surprised how often people pitch that kind of story but don’t include the specifics.
Wrap up the email with 2-3 writing samples. It helps if you have clips related to the topics we cover on The Content Strategist, but I recognize that’s not always possible. If you have good writing, I don’t care if it’s about food, sports, Australian cinema, whatever. I’m just looking for proof that you can write well and deliver what you pitched.
What should you not include?
There’s a difference between having an interesting idea and sending a good freelance pitch. Frankly, I turn down a lot of poorly constructed pitches for ideas that have potential. Remember that you’re pitching your talent and professionalism just as much as the idea itself.
Here’s a quick list of things you shouldn’t do:
- Don’t send multiple pitches in one email.
- On a related note, don’t just send a list of titles for various ideas without any description of your ideas. A lot of people do this, and I’ve never accepted this kind of pitch.
- If I reject a pitch, don’t send a new pitch the next day. Give it at least a week.
- Don’t send drafts completed on spec. I’ve found that the editing process works much better when we start with a pitch and develop the idea together.
- Stay away from how-to articles. We tend to cover those internally.
Who should you pitch?
Email pitches for The Content Strategist to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll do my best to get back to you within a week. If you don’t hear from me after seven days, feel free to follow up with a reminder.Image by Alashi