How to Pitch Your Idea to a Website
If you’ve never written for a website other than your own, it’s easy to wonder how in the hell all those names show up on websites you like to read. Do they have a massive staff of writers, all working 40 hours a week, writing about sexy, kinky things? Uh, no. In reality, writers just like me and you (yes, you) pitch the company or website an idea, and it gets accepted.
If you’ve ever seen content on a website and thought, “I could write about that!” then it’s time to pitch your ideas and see if anyone bites.
A word of warning: pitching is a numbers game. Not every pitch you send out will be accepted, and it’s possible you may never hear back about it. Don’t let one or five rejections discourage you. Pitching is a skill like writing, and the more you do it, the better you get at it. Eventually someone will love your idea, and you’ll have your first writing assignment.
Read the Publication
Never pitch a website blind. You might already have a brilliant idea, but if it doesn’t fit with the voice, audience, or scope of the website, it won’t get accepted. Take a look around the website. What kind of sex or relationship articles do they publish? Are the pieces primarily personal essays or do they look for how-to stuff? Do you see a lot of interviews and journalistic work?
Knowing this will help you figure out if your idea even works for their site. If it does, having an understanding of who they are and what the publish will allow you to tailor your idea to the specific website. Sometimes, you might get an idea from something they’ve already published. When I see beginner 50 Shades type BDSM content but their vanilla sex information is in-depth, I’ll pitch an idea for a more realistic look at BDSM and D/s. I figure if they’ll educate people about vanilla sex, why not the kinky stuff too? Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn’t.
Write Down Your Ideas
Take it from someone who has thought up an idea, thrown together an email, and hit send without looking back – don’t do what I did. The pitch was sloppy. The idea wasn’t well thought out. And I think there might have been a typo or two. No! Bad, Kayla! Bad, bad.
Write down your ideas. Sometimes it’s a title that hits you first (5 Ways to Make Your Partner Orgasm Through Nipple Play) and sometimes it’s a concept that’s not quite fully formed. Once you get it on paper (or for my digital peeps), a screen, play with the idea. See if you can explain what you want to write about in a paragraph. If you can’t explain it to yourself, how will you explain it in a pitch?
Check for References and Sources
Sometimes the idea you pitch is based entirely on your own sexual experience. I do this a lot when I talk about D/s relationships. Not every idea will be like that, and sometimes you want to bring in outside information to back up your ideas. It’s also possible that you have a great idea triggered by reading the website, but it’s not something you know a lot about. Don’t worry, you can still write credibly about sex you haven’t experienced (usually).
Research your idea. Do you know people who you can interview? Is there good (and credible) information online to back up your idea? Make sure you can get your hands on information about your topic – assuming you need it – before you submit the idea. After a pitch is accepted isn’t the time to find out there’s nothing out there to support your claims or help explain concepts.
Look for Writer Guidelines
Some sites post guidelines for writers and some don’t. Always look for them first. I’ve become a detective in the past to find what I wanted. It might be on the Contact page or the About Us page. Sometimes you get lucky and they have a “Write for Us” page that’s easy to find. But I have gone into the Site Map to look, too.
If you find a page that tells writers exactly what they’re looking for in pitches and ideas, follow these guidelines to the letter. The last thing you want is to have your pitch rejected because you couldn’t follow the rules. You aren’t the only writer pitching ideas, and some editors use this as a way to weed out people and narrow down their pile of pitches to consider.
Write Your Pitch
For new publications I’ve never written for, I tend to write out my pitch (from greeting to closing) in a separate Word Doc or Google Doc. This allows me to make sure it’s exactly what I mean to say and/or follows the guidelines before hitting send. Once I copy the text from the document into the email, I’m confident it’s as good as I can make it. Remember, your first pitch becomes your calling card to a publisher. They won’t know anything about you other than this email you’re about to send.
- Start with a greeting. If you know the editor’s name, use it but don’t assume gender.
- Introduce yourself. Example: Hi, I’m Kayla Lords, a freelance writer who focuses on BDSM, kink, and D/s relationships OR a freelance writer focusing on sex and relationships (depending on the site). Keep it to a single sentence.
- Give your idea in two to three sentences. If you can’t explain what the piece will be about in two or three sentences, go back to the idea stage.
- Include when you can have it submitted if approved. Example: Once approved, I can have this to you in three days. Be realistic about how much time you’ll need. Shout-out to Girl on the Net for this idea. I’d been pitching for years and never thought to include it until I attended her session on pitching at Eroticon.
- Include links to your writing. Close with samples of your writing. If you haven’t been published anywhere before, blog posts from your website are fine. Do not send them to your website’s home page – link to specific posts that you think represent your style and ability. Say plainly, “Here are samples of my writing for you to review.”
- Close with a “Thank you” or a “Sincerely.” Back in the day, I used extremely long-winded closings: “Thank you so much for taking the time to consider my pitch. If you have any questions, please let me know.” Ugh. The pitch is supposed to be something that doesn’t leave them with questions, and I sounded desperate.
What Makes a Good Pitch
A good pitch is something that an editor or marketing person of an adult company can look at and in 30 seconds know if it works for them or not. Your article idea should be concise and clear. There should be no doubt about what you’re proposing and whether you’re qualified to write the piece. It should also fill a hole in the website’s content or help them offer a different type of content that still fits with their audience. It’s possible for a pitch to be good but not quite what they need. It’s possible they’ll come back to you and ask for something a little different. Only agree if you think you can do the article well. (Most of the time, you probably can.)
Once you send off your pitch idea, make a note to follow up in a week or based on the guidelines given. Website owners and editors get busy and they may have seen it but forgotten about it. The follow-up should be short and to the point. “I’m following-up on my pitch regarding…” Include the original pitch in the body of the email or forward the first email so all the information is there for them to review.
Writing pitches takes practice. I’m still working on my technique. I’ve been rejected a lot, but I’ve also received feedback from editors praising my pitch and asking me to send more ideas their way. Anytime an editor or site owner emails you back, you’re doing something right, even if they pass on the idea. Don’t get discouraged if they don’t accept your ideas. Keep pitching ideas and someone will.
Okay, your turn. Have you pitched anyone yet? Did you do something different, and did it work for you?! Share in the comments below.