How to Pitch an Article Idea to a New Publisher

One of the best strategies for popularizing your blog or just generating more website traffic is getting your writing published with external publishers.

Before you can get an article published, you have to make a pitch and get that pitch accepted by an editor. What’s the best way to write this type of pitch, and how can you make sure it gets accepted?

The Basics


Your ultimate goal is to get your pitch accepted, so you have the opportunity to write a full-length article. To accomplish that, you’re going to have three main goals that you’ll need to keep in mind as we detail the rest of the process:

  • Serve the publisher. You may be self-serving by writing an article to advance your own marketing agenda, but your pitch and your article need to serve the publisher first. If it’s not a good fit for the publisher, or if it’s clear that you’re operating selfishly, you’re never going to have the opportunity to post.
  • Minimize effort (on both ends). You should also try to minimize effort on your part and on the part of the publisher. There’s no reason to spend 10 hours on a pitch that might end up getting rejected anyway; keep things fast and loose, especially at the beginning.
  • Be patient and flexible. Your first pitch may be rejected, or it may require significant tweaks before the publisher is willing to accept it. You need to be prepared for this reality and willing to flexibly accommodate these requests.

Find the Right Publisher

Your chances of getting a pitch accepted are significantly higher if you choose the right type of publisher. There are millions of websites out there publishing user-submitted content, so it pays to be discriminating and find the best potential partner.

Keep the following in mind:

  • Size. Audience size is a double-edged sword. The bigger the publisher, the bigger your potential reach will be. But smaller publishers are usually more eager to work with you and will have fewer requirements for getting published. Go for low-hanging fruit first and work your way to bigger and better publishers over time. You won’t get a piece published in the New York Times with your first pitch.
  • Subject matter. You should also choose a publisher whose subject matter is aligned with your intentions. It’s especially valuable to find a publisher that is exclusively dedicated to your specific industry, assuming you can find one.
  • Openness. Some publishers are more open than others. Publishers like are open to new queries from aspiring writers and niche experts from a variety of different backgrounds. If the publisher is closed to user submissions, don’t bother.
  • The process. Also see if you can find out the process for accepting new pitches and publications. Some websites allow you to submit new content directly, with no pitch required. Others require you to get in touch with editorial staff. The easier and more straightforward your first submissions are, the better.

Research the Publication Requirements


Before you start putting together a pitch, research the publication requirements. What does this organization require of its writers?

Think about:

  • Topics. Does this publisher specialize in one specific subject, or is it open to a broad range of different topics? Do you have a specialty that fits well on the website, or will you have to get out of your comfort zone to write for them?
  • Length. How long and in depth does the article need to be? Some publishers are perfectly happy publishing bite-sized opinion pieces of a few hundred words, while others prefer several-thousand-word long treatises.
  • Formatting. What formatting is required of both the article and the pitch? Are you required to structure headlines and subheads in a specific way?
  • Other special requirements. Are there other requirements? For example, are you required to interview someone to get this piece published? Or do you need to promote something within the website?

Get to Know the Audience

You’ll have a much easier time getting your pitch accepted if you get to know the publisher’s audience well. Read several articles that have been published here in the past and get a feel for the topics and writing style, as well as the types of people who read this material. Your pitch should fit right in.

Come Up With an Idea (or Several)


Now is the time to come up with an idea, or preferably, several ideas. This creative brainstorming is hard to force, but if you spend enough time reviewing other material on the site and you have some expertise in a particular area, eventually an idea will come to you.

Format the Pitch

With one or more ideas in tow, you’ll be ready to write your actual pitch.

Be sure to include:

  • An introduction. Before you get into the pitch itself, introduce yourself and why you’re writing. Prove that you’ve actually read the blog in the past and explain what you like about it. Also, touch on your past experience and your writing credentials, if relevant, but keep things brief.
  • A tentative headline. Next, provide your tentative headline. In many ways, it’s the most important part of the article, so it needs to grab your editor’s attention.
  • A short description. Spend a couple of sentences further elaborating on the point of the article. Who are you writing this for? How are you going to flesh out the topic at hand?
  • A value proposition. Explain why this is valuable for the publisher and for their readership. Why should they accept your pitch?
  • An invitation/call to action (CTA). Ask for feedback and next steps. Something simple, like “let me know what you think!” works perfectly well in most situations.

Follow Up

The publisher may accept or reject your pitch. If they accept your pitch, follow their instructions and put together a first draft of your article. If they reject it, politely ask for feedback and see if you can improve.

If you don’t hear back from the publisher, wait a week and send a follow up message. Follow up a few more times, but don’t be aggressive or annoying. If you still don’t hear back, or if you face several rejections from a given publisher, simply be ready to move on. There are plenty of publishers on the web to choose from, so eventually you’ll find a good fit for your needs.

About Nina Smith

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