1. Build a daily practice to support your work
Create a daily (or weekly) practice where you consistently show up, take small actions and make positive choices to help you start to move towards your goals. Your actions will start to build on each other and you will start to see changes. Otherwise, it’s really easy to get overwhelmed by your big dreams and goals.
2. Know that it’s about the long haul
While it would be amazing to send a pitch to a magazine and have an editor immediately want to assign the story to you, that hardly ever happens. A vast majority of story ideas are generated in-house and then assigned to trusted freelancers that editors have worked with in the past. Greeeeeat. How do you become that trusted freelancer?
Instead, think of pitching like an audition. I recently received an assignment from another dream publication of mine after corresponding with the editor for two and a half months. I sent her a pitch which she didn’t assign but it was well-written and showed her I knew the publication and its target audience, which impressed her. She then invited me to send her more pitches and shared the specific sections of the magazine that she needed story ideas for.
Bottom line: take time to cultivate the relationship!
3. Do the work
I mean, simple right? Just don’t get in the way of your own success, right?
But this might also mean taking the extra step like doing research and pre-interviews for your pitches, even before you get an assignment (to show the editor that there’s a story there). It means writing and editing and editing and editing and editing your work because that first draft is almost always terrible.
I worked on countless drafts of the essay that I sold to The Washington Post in order to get it just right. My Scary Mommy essay languished in my drafts folder for months. When you’re starting out, there aren’t many shortcuts. But you get better at what you do when you do the work.
4. Ask for help
I’m a pretty independent person and I don’t always like asking for help. For once, I decided to invest in myself by taking classes — an essay writing class and workshop on improving your pitches. I also joined a two-week writing group which helped get my creative juices flowing and forced me to make time to write.
Sometimes we can use classes and professional development as an excuse and a means to put off working towards our goals.But these classes were exactly what I needed in order to break through my plateau.
For example, the workshop on pitches pushed me to send out 8 well-developed and researched pitches or letters of intent within a month to 8 different publications — more than I’ve ever sent out. It forced me to dedicate time to marketing (which I hate) and showed me that I can come up with story ideas and write good pitches quickly.
Maybe it’s taking a class. Maybe it’s joining a mastermind group. Maybe it’s joining a writing group. It can be anything that challenges you and keeps you accountable.
By the way, those 8 pitches led to three assignment with new clients.
You might hate it but you should do it — follow-up. Oftentimes, people don’t read your first email or it ends up in spam. Instead of sitting by and wringing your hands hoping that a response will appear in your inbox, follow-up. But do it tactfully. There’s a fine line between circling back on something and being a stalker. It can also help you build the relationship.
Daffodil International University (DIU)