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You're a professional writer, not a baseball player
By William Ballard
Have you ever calculated the hours you spend writing and sending out email queries or pitching new article ideas to new publishers or editors a day?
As a professional freelance writer, I know that it may appear that we spend all of our time in this particular activity, but it shouldn't be that way.
I recently read an article in Writer's Digest, February 2017 issue, that touched on this topic, and ultimately inspired this piece.
Understand this: As a professional writer, words are your currency. If you are not getting paid for the words you write (or have written) then you are wasting time and money.
What To Do in Place of Pitching Article Ideas
I know that there is some contradictory advice going around the web about pitching your article idea first, before actually writing the piece. And they say this because, in their mind and through their logic, you would be wasting valuable time writing a full article or story that ends up never getting bought by a pub.
But, through that same logic, are you not also wasting valuable time pitching the idea that never gets bought? The emphasis here is on the idea of wasting valuable time.
Look, as a professional writer myself, I know that there are some daily task that we have to operate by -- scheduling, reading, housekeeping, interviewing, invoicing, and the list can go on and on. And I know that these particular things are not necessarily income or revenue generating activities, but they have to get done.
However, pitching article ideas to new pubs should never be part of these daily operational activities. Wouldn't you rather have clients and pubs reaching out to you than the other way around?
I have come to the point in my writing business that, if I have a nifty article idea, I am going to write it out first and then pitch it last.
You see, there is a difference between writing and content. Your email pitches and queries are what I refer to as content, it's your actual article that is consider writing. And your income generator is your writing, not your content.
Let me ask you this: When was the last time someone tried to sell you a product that hadn't been made yet? That was just an idea in someone's head? It hasn't really ever happened, has it? No, of course not! You see, the salesperson has the product in hand first, then they try and sell it to you, not the other way around.
Well, as a professional writer, your article is your "product". Your email pitch is the salesperson in you trying to sell your "product" to the consumer (editor or pub) you think would be the best fit for your "product" (or piece).
In short, write the article or story that you are most passionate about first before you ever get in touch with an editor or pub. Then, do your pitching.
And, in this "ball-game", there are only two strikes. In other words, if one pub rejects your piece, then try pitching it to one more pub. If they reject it as well, then move on.
I would suggest publishing it on your own professional freelance writer website or even to LinkedIn's publishing platform.
That way you become the editor or "pub" of your own piece where you should start promoting the heck out of it -- because that is what publishers do (or should be doing).
Then pubs will begin to see where they messed up and start reaching out to you to write another piece for their audience.
Focus Your Pitches On a Few Pubs That Truly Value Writers
Now, let us bring this article in for a landing.
As we have already emphasized, as a professional freelance writer, income and being able to pay your bills is extremely important.
With that said, it is not a bad idea to have at least two or three pubs that truly value writers and pay really well, even if they are not your ideal or dream publication.
Brand pubs, such as trade journals, in-flight, or even hotel magazines, often pay around $1/word. An assignment from a couple of these pubs a month could cover living expenses and help you feel better about your new decision--and paradigm shift--of spending less time pitching and more time writing great stories and article pieces.
Also, bear in mind, pubs like these are often overlooked, meaning your shot at acceptance automatically increases by a 100 percent.
In short, it all boils down to this: Stop wasting valuable time pitching article ideas, only to receive rejection after rejection, and find that by the end of the day you have nothing to show for it.
Instead, focus your efforts on writing stories that capture your writing voice and personality -- not to mention, are set on fire by the passion that burns inside you.
Now Over to You
If you want to become a more financially successful writer, try writing more than pitching and see what happens. I promise you it will help tremendously.
Now, it is perfectly OK if you disagree with me. I completely understand -- we can't all be right. Just kidding. The comment are open below. I am looking forward to reading your thoughts on this topic.
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William Ballard is the author of "The True Writer's Life," which is the book that essentially started it all for William. In conjunction with the coaching he provides for free through his blogs and articles all across the web, he also offers Personal Writing and Business Coaching where he teaches freelance writers and aspiring authors how to start, build and maintain full-time, high-earning writing careers.