Writing Your Freelance Pitch Email (+ Templates!)

Apr 10, 2017

Post updated: October 18, 2020

This is part three of a four-part series on pitching as a freelance writer. For an overview of the series and easy access to every other post, click here.

You’ve made it this far—you found a place (or a few places) you’d like to pitch, you did your research, and now your fingers are itchin’ to draft your freelance pitch email and put yourself out there.

But, then you sit there staring at that menacing blinking text cursor and think, “Uhhh… now what?” You’re stumped on how to get started and what exactly you should say. How do you write a freelance pitch?

Trust me, I’ve been there. And, when I look back at some of the pitch emails I wrote early on in my freelance career, I either cringe, shudder, or cry—or all of the above. Seriously, I’m blushing just thinking about them.

Yes, I’ve learned a lot about successfully pitching since I took my first step into the world of freelancing. I even had a pitch accepted and published by The New York Times. *dusts shoulder off*

So, today, I’m going to share all of my pitching wisdom with you so that you can (hopefully!) avoid looking back on your pitch emails and immediately weeping. I’ll do that, so you don’t have to.

Want even more pitch templates? From pitching an editor who previously rejected you to pitching when you don’t have many published samples, my “Pitch Pack” has everything you need.

What to Include in Your Freelance Pitch Email

Your pitch email is a short and sweet message (take it from me, you don’t need to write your entire life story like I did when I was getting started) that shares the following with a brand or publication you’re interested in writing for:

  • Who You Are: Provide a brief and friendly introduction. Make sure you include any relevant or unique experience/expertise you bring to the table. If you’re pitching a healthcare story and you used to be a nurse, that’s important to mention.

  • Your Story Idea(s): Include your proposed headline, along with a brief description (aim for 10 sentences or less) of your story idea. Make sure you’ve done the groundwork to pitch your story in a compelling way, rather than pitching a half-baked nugget or idea.

  • Your Writing Samples: Include links to two or three writing samples. If you have relevant ones (meaning, similar to the story you’re pitching) to share, use those. Otherwise, include the work you think best showcases your writing ability.

  • Your Website/Portfolio Link: This is great to include for any editors who want to learn more about you.

  • A Deadline: If you’re pitching a one-off story (and especially if it’s timely), include a deadline when you need to hear back. Tell the editor that if that deadline comes and goes without a response, you’ll assume it’s a “no” and move forward with pitching it elsewhere. While this might seem a little pushy, I’ve heard from numerous different editors that they actually appreciate this small addition. It takes some pressure off of them to respond if they’re not interested, and also aligns your expectations right away.

And that’s really it! Remember, your pitch email doesn’t need to be lengthy to be effective. Busy editors and content managers don’t have the time to read a never-ending email anyway.

Freelance Pitch Emails: Nuts and Bolts Tips

Before we dig into the templates, let’s cover some nuts and bolts tips you should remember when crafting your pitch email, so you can be sure to fill in the blanks effectively.

Rely on Your Research

Remember when I forced you to adequately prepare for your pitch email in this post? Well, you didn’t do all of that research just to say you did. You should actually use it to craft a relevant and impactful pitch email.

This is especially important when generating your potential article ideas. Not only do you want to ensure that what you come up with is a great fit for their publication or blog, but you also want to make sure that it hasn’t been written already.

Do a quick search to make sure that you aren’t pitching a redundant idea. Pitching something that has already been written will help you stand out—but not in a good way.

pitch email

Show Some Personality

Particularly when you’re pitching larger outlets, it’s important to remember that those places receive hundreds (maybe even thousands) of pitches on a weekly basis. So, your goal should be to set yourself apart a little bit.

Do that by incorporating some of your personality and humor so that your email doesn’t read like every other one in that editor’s inbox.

Keep it Organized

The easier you can make your pitch email to read, the higher the likelihood that it will actually, well, be read. 

So, rather than bombarding that contact with a wall of never-ending text, keep your email as organized as possible. Utilize subheads, bold font, and even bulleted or numbered lists if you can.

Don’t Include Attachments

This is a question I get a lot from prospective freelancers: Should you attach your resume, PDFs of published samples, or anything else to your email?

I recommend staying away from this for two reasons. First, editors don’t really care to see your resume—which means it just clutters your message. And, secondly, since many outlets use generic inboxes for pitches (like, you don’t want your attachment to be the reason you get automatically sent to the spam folder.

With that said, links within the body of your email are great. I will typically include links to relevant writing samples or my portfolio where the editor can find out more about me (and view more of my work).

Pitch Emails: The Templates

Alright, now that we have that out of the way, let’s take a look at a couple of templates so that you can get an idea of what a pitch email could look like.

FRIENDLY REMINDER: These are just templates. You absolutely can (and even should) make adjustments to suit your own individual personality and circumstances. Consider these just a starting point.

Pitching a One-Off Story

In some cases, you might be pitching to write just one story for a publication or a brand, as opposed to trying to join their team as a regular contributor.

Admittedly, this isn’t something I typically do. I tend to look for more regular contributions and content marketing roles, as it helps to keep both my workload and my income more predictable.

But, in those instances when I do want to pitch a one-off story, my pitch email typically ends up looking something like this:

Subject: Freelance Pitch: [Article Headline]

Hello [Editor Name],

My name is [Your Name], and I’m a freelance writer specializing in [niche].

My work has been published by [link to relevant outlet], [link to relevant outlet], and [link to relevant outlet].

Since I have such a passion for [niche], I’d love to use my expertise and insights to write a piece for [this brand or publication]. I’ve included a story idea below that I think will really resonate with your readers:

[Story Headline]
[Brief description of your piece. Make sure you’ve thought carefully about the angle of your story, so you can make this as compelling and grabby as possible. Make the editor want to read more.]

My writing samples are here for you:

  • [Writing Sample #1]
  • [Writing Sample #2]
  • [Writing Sample #3]

My portfolio is here: [website link]

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need any other information from me. If I don’t hear from you by [Date], I’ll assume you’re not interested and move forward with pitching this story to other outlets.

Thanks so much for your consideration, [Editor Name].

[Your Name]

pitch email

Pitching Yourself as a Regular Contributor

This is the method I use most often. If I’m going to write somewhere, I prefer it to be on a more reliable and predictable schedule. So, I typically take the approach of pitching myself as a regular contributor.

This is a better approach for content marketing opportunities (like writing for a company’s blog) than it is for tried and true publications. When you’re pitching a publication, you’re better off using the first template.

The email looks fairly similar to the one above. However, I typically delve a little more into my interest in the outlet and share at least three—rather than just one—article ideas. Since I’m hoping to write on a more predictable schedule, I know I’ll need more ammo.

Here’s what that looks like:

Subject: Connecting about content for [outlet]

Hello [Editor Name],

My name is [Your Name], and I’m a freelance writer specializing in [niche].

My work has been published by [link to relevant outlet], [link to relevant outlet], and [link to relevant outlet].

Since I have such a passion for [niche], I’ve been a long-time [reader/follower/admirer] of [this brand or publication]. As a result, I’d love to find out more about joining your freelance content team and becoming a regular contributor. I know I have plenty of expertise and insights on [topic] to offer!

To put my money where my mouth is, I’ve included a few story ideas below that I think will really resonate with your audience:

[#1 Story Headline]
[A few sentences outlining the piece]

[#2 Story Headline]
[A few sentences outlining the piece]

[#3 Story Headline]
[A few sentences outlining the piece]

Are you currently looking for additional contributors? If so, I’d love to talk with you about these story ideas and [this outlet]’s content goals. 

Thanks so much for your consideration, [Editor Name]. I’m looking forward to chatting soon!

[Your Name]

Your Homework

There you have it—all of the nitty gritty information you need to write an effective freelance pitch email. So, now it’s time for you to roll up your sleeves and get to work.

Over the next week, use these tips and templates to send out some pitch emails to a few of the outlets you identified in step one.

Are you getting stuck on a certain part of the process? Leave a comment below so that myself—or some other savvy writers in this community—can chime in with some tips and advice!

It’s time to get pitchin’, my freelance friend.