4 Pitch Templates for Freelance Writers

by Robyn Roste

Although pitching isn’t the only way freelancers find paid work, it’s an important skill to master.

As much as I’ve tried to avoid it over the years, pitching in some way, shape or form is a large component of my freelance business and something I need to continually practice and improve at.

Industry lingo

Pitches, also called queries, are used most-often in journalism and refer to specific story ideas for an individual publication. The freelancer crafts a pitch, which includes a headline, a brief outline and the scope or source ideas if necessary. If the freelancer is unknown to the editor, the pitch also includes samples related to the beat they’re pitching or the writer’s experience.

However, for business writing, copywriting, content marketing and other types of freelance writing, letters of inquiry are more common. This is because writers in these situations are pitching themselves and what they can do for the company, organization or trade magazine on a freelance basis. Rather than sending one-off story ideas, these freelancers look to build relationships with editors and marketing managers as they tend to assign work rather than accept story pitches.

Regardless of whether it’s a journalism story or a copywriting gig, pitching your story or yourself is both an art and a science mixed with a bit of good timing.

What makes a good pitch?

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Posted on July 1, 2020 at 10:50 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

WEBINAR: Pitching for Success – Sell That Story!

You have the story. You know you can write it and deliver it. But how to get the editor’s attention—and a green light to proceed?

CFG Founding Member Sandra Phinney will take you on a journey down the freelance “pitching for success” path in Pitching for Success – Sell That Story. This workshop will cover:

  • today’s most common complaints from editors (and how to capitalize on that knowledge);
  • how to analyze magazines, newspapers and websites before creating a pitch;
  • tips to make your query jump off the page;
  • sample pitches/queries will be included, along with a real-life email trail with an editor, from pitch to filing story, including negotiating the best rate.

Sandra’s been a journalist and author for the past 20 years. Markets come and go but she continues to be a prolific writer and pulls off some interesting assignments. She’s penned four books, contributed to several travel guides and her  articles have appeared in over 70 publications.  She’s also won several writing/photography awards that have kept her humble.

This one-hour webinar happens on Tuesday, July 7th from 12 pm to 1 pm Eastern Time. It will be conducted using the Zoom platform. It is free for Canadian Freelance Guild members and costs just $25 for non-members.

Your link to the Zoom-platform session will be sent to you shortly before the start time. Please be on time.

You can find more information about the cost and benefits of membership in the CFG right here.

To register for Pitching Success click here.

Posted on June 23, 2020 at 4:26 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

The Born Freelancer on Going from 9-to-5 to Freelance During a Crisis

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer shares personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

 

Extreme conditions bring about extreme changes.

In many cases, it is the only way to survive.

Today I’d like to talk about how the current crisis may be a good time in which to reconsider your career options going forward.

Going freelance

So perhaps you find yourself out of work from your 9 to 5 routine due to the pandemic.

Or perhaps you are in limbo on CERB while you wait to see if your old 9 to 5 job will still exist.

Maybe you are working from home and you are thinking that you kind of like it.

Or maybe you are still working in your 9 to 5 but hating it more and more and wondering why you stick with it.

Have you considered going freelance?
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Posted on June 17, 2020 at 9:59 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , ,

WEBINAR: Getting the Shot – Tips to Taking Winning Photos!

Antarctica

It’s all in the eyes! Portraits, head shots, promo photos, editorial news and travel imagery is all about making that visual connection with the subject, to help convey emotion and tell the story.

In the Canadian Freelance Guild’s next webinar, Getting the Shot, learn the composition, lighting and exposure techniques to bring the viewer into the scene, and sell the shot!

Your Instructor: CFG member Frederic Hore is a freelance photojournalist, writer and travelholic with a passion for news, science, culture, the arts and the great outdoors. He started as a photographer-reporter for the weekly Powell River News, then worked for 8 years as a freelancer for the Montreal Gazette and Postmedia Inc.

His images and stories have been widely published including in the New York Daily News, Huffington Post, CNN, Canadian Geographic, in newspapers across Canada plus numerous other magazines and periodicals. His motto for life is: “Nothing ventured, nothing gained!”

This one-hour webinar happens on Tuesday, June 16 from Noon to 1 p.m. Eastern Time. It will be conducted using the Zoom platform. Participants will also receive a detailed tips and resources sheet.

Registration is free for Canadian Freelance Guild members and costs just $25 for non-members.

Your link to the Zoom-platform session will be sent to you shortly before the start time.

You can find more information about the cost and benefits of membership in the CFG right here.

To register for the webinar Getting The Shot click here.

Posted on June 4, 2020 at 8:54 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , ,

Ways freelancers can diversify their income

by Robyn Roste

 

Many people are drawn to freelancing because of the lifestyle and career freedom it affords. However, the lack of stability can be stressful.

During this pandemic, some freelancers have watched their work shift or outright disappear, prompting an urgent need to find new ways to earn an income.

Even those who haven’t noticed a significant impact on their workload are facing uncertainty, unsure if the work will continue.

Seasoned freelancers have been preaching income stream diversification for many years. Having several revenue streams creates space for dry spells, losing anchor clients and even vacations.

In times of plenty, it’s easy to fall into the trap of coasting, pulling back on our marketing or delaying income diversification. Preparing for rainy days seems unthinkable when the sun is shining and there’s not a cloud in the sky.

But now that the storm is here, it’s time to get creative. While we could default to taking whatever work comes our way—even if the rates are inadequate or the contracts require us to sign away important rights—another option is finding ways to pivot.

Treating freelancing like a business

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Posted on June 1, 2020 at 11:00 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: 

Dave Greber Freelance Writers Awards aim to support social justice writing in Canada

Dave Greber could talk about writing for hours on end. The Calgary-based freelancer had an unquenchable enthusiasm for storytelling.
 
“You could see him come alive discussing writing,” says Dave’s partner, Shirley Dunn.
 
Twenty years after his death, Greber’s passion lives on in the form of awards for freelancers that Dunn created in his name.
 
Greber spent the latter part of his career writing books and articles focused on social justice issues and teaching writing at Mount Royal College. When he died suddenly in 2000, a visit from a group of his students inspired Dunn to find a way to honour his memory.
 
“I knew from what he said that the time between getting a contract to publish a book and the time of publication was very dry financially,” says Dunn.
 
She decided to create a fund to offer cash prizes for social justice-related books and magazine articles. Writers can submit their work for the award either pre- or post-publication.
 
The Dave Greber Freelance Writers Awards are aimed at helping freelancers pursue social justice journalism and reach a wider audience with their work.
 
“The hope is that social justice journalism impacts the general public,” says Dunn. “I chose social justice because in the latter years Dave was doing a lot of social justice writing, particular around the Holocaust. He was the child of Holocaust survivors.”
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Posted on May 25, 2020 at 5:52 pm by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: ,

CFG FREE Special Presentation: The Class of Covid-19

The winter session at the University of King’s College School of Journalism in Halifax started normally enough, until the biggest story of the century engulfed the world.

By Friday March 13th, all classes were cancelled, access to gear vanished, and the big end-of-semester show that usually caps the JOUR 3005 Mobile Video Journalism Class?

Would…could…should the show go on?

You know the answer to that.

Using their mobile phones, sometimes iffy Internet connections for online interviews, without tripods or microphones or proper editing facilities, they got to work – while keeping themselves safe in truly troubling times.

Join us on Sunday at 3 pm ET to share the Covid-19 news show they created, and hear from four of the students and their instructor – CFG Member Catherine Harrop – about how it all unfolded.

Who knows: You might learn some useful tricks.

You can register for this event right here. And as always, it’s free for CFG members.

Posted on May 12, 2020 at 8:09 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

Freelancers face new challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic

by Monte Stewart

This is part two in a series on the ways that Canadian freelancers are weathering COVID-19. Read part one right here.

 

Lesley Evans Ogden

Lesley Evans Ogden shares her home office with a pet bird.

Her feathered friend was there even before the coronavirus struck. But now the Vancouver-area freelancer, who specializes in science reporting, has to deal with her husband and two of their kids being around during working hours as well.

Evans Ogden is one of many Canadian freelancers who are adapting as they contemplate how the coronavirus will affect their livelihoods on a long-term basis.

In her case, the answer is “still emerging.”

“And, I expect it will continue to change over time,” said Evans Ogden.

Currently she has a backlog of deadlines assigned both before and after the pandemic was announced.

“All of these assignments have nothing to do with COVID-19. I’m writing those up as fast as I can because I’m anxious to contribute to COVID-19 reporting,” she said.

Anticipating that COVID-19 will be a big part of her work for the foreseeable future, Evans Ogden is preparing pitches for “solutions-based stories” in areas that interest her.

“But I’ll also make sure to mix [pitches] up with other topics I like to write about,” she said. “I know I will need to take my brain off the corona-channel some of the time for my own mental health.”

Evans Ogden advises freelancers to be flexible, “think outside the old box,” create opportunities, reject “shitty contracts” and, if necessary, seek help with contracts and other issues from the Canadian Freelance Guild.

“This is a brand new world,” she said. “We don’t have to operate in the same ways as before.”
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Posted on May 11, 2020 at 6:53 pm by editor · One Comment · Tagged with: ,

Freelancers struggle to adapt to a shifting Canadian media landscape during COVID-19 pandemic

by Monte Stewart

This is part one in a series on the ways that Canadian freelancers are weathering COVID-19. Read part two right here.

 

Jeff Gaulin

Jeff Gaulin does not believe that the Canadian media landscape will go “back to normal” once the COVID-19 pandemic ends.

The owner of the popular journalism job site says the pandemic has been “devastating” for his website and all of the journalists who rely on it.

“Freelance journalists will need to adapt more than ever before, and find out what their edge or unique selling proposition is in this increasingly volatile and competitive market,” he said.

But even though freelancers are scrambling during the pandemic, Gaulin says, there is still demand for freelance services as news outlets strive to keep their fixed costs low but still access reporters.

Overall, the number of jobs posted on Jeffgaulin.com has declined more than 90 per cent. But Gaulin says all of the jobs posted on his site in the past month were freelance-based.

“Journalism is an essential service in Canadian society, so I am glad to see there are freelance opportunities for journalists,” he said.

“On the other hand, there is more competition [among freelancers] than ever before, and the prices paid are dropping dramatically, as most media outlets are losing their primary source of revenue – advertising.”
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Posted on May 10, 2020 at 8:25 pm by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: ,

The Born Freelancer Asks, How You Doin’

This series of posts by the Born Freelancer shares personal experiences and thoughts on issues relevant to freelancers. Have something to add to the conversation? We’d love to hear from you in the comments.

 

In my last column I talked about how, in many ways, freelancers are equipped for this crisis and its requirements (such as working at home) based upon our characteristically independent natures.

The enforced social distancing/self-isolation must seem trivial to those actually struck down with illness but, for the rest of us, it remains the most challenging aspect of the pandemic.

There is, however, a qualitative difference between choosing the independence that freelancing can bring (if you so wish it) – and having social distancing and its onerous conditions imposed upon you.

It’s called having control. Or lack thereof.

For some freelancers (and others) I suspect this is key to the state of our mental health.

One of the big attractions of freelancing is the feeling (illusion?) of control — for whom you work, the nature of your work, where you work, etcetera. You don’t have to be a “control freak” to be a freelancer – but it sure doesn’t hurt.

I think the low level anxiety many of us are feeling is, fundamentally, a sense that things are out of our control.

For some freelancers, without that usual sense of control, life may have lost essential qualities of its previously understood definition and context.

So it’s important to rebuild some meaning and put it back into our lives.
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Posted on May 5, 2020 at 10:27 am by editor · LEAVE A COMMENT · Tagged with: , , , ,