Most commercial magazines have in-house writers and many also rely on a group of regular freelance contributors. Working with writers who have proven themselves to be both skilled and reliable is an asset to any magazine editor, but this often comes at a cost. When the same writers are featured in every issue, a magazine’s content may become too uniform.
The best way to bring in fresh ideas, voices, and perspectives is to provide space in each issue for new freelance content. Including new writers will help you expand the topics you can offer readers and the diversity of content will help create a more robust magazine—not to mention the benefit of attracting new readers from within a guest writer’s network.
The two best ways to collect content from freelancers are to solicit pitches or review full articles. While there are benefits to both, soliciting pitches can be a good way to begin expanding your pool of writers. Here’s why:
New Ideas and Unique Angles
While in-house writers are the backbone of any magazine, covering set beats and topics, freelance writers can add variety to your magazine with exciting features or unusual sidebars. Pitches from new-to-you freelancers are a quick way to scan for ideas that are a good fit and help you expand the range of what you offer readers.
Access to Contacts
A strong pitch will help you quickly see the network a freelancer has already secured. Sometimes a guest writer will have special access to contacts that staff writers do not—these could enhance a feature or result in an interview. Writers who have exclusive connections and a strong story will be able to offer your magazine content you would not find otherwise.
Ability to Shape the Story
Unlike full drafts, pitches can be tweaked if the angle or sources aren’t a perfect fit for your magazine. Engaging in dialogue with the writer to develop and shape the piece will ensure that they create the kind of content you’re looking for. As a bonus, the writer’s responsiveness to your changes can help you determine whether you will want to assign stories to them again.
Get Specific About What You Are Looking For
When planning months or years ahead for future issues, you can identify specific content you’ll need and put a call out for pitches. You can also provide general pitch guidelines. Weeding out submissions that don’t fit your guidelines will allow you to zero in on the freelancers you want to work with.
Quickly Assess Writing Quality and Fit
Since most pitches are between three and five paragraphs, you’ll be able to scan a large number of them quickly to determine writing quality and tone. It should be easy to identify writers who have done their homework and know your magazine’s style, audience, and what topics you have and haven’t covered before.
Find the Stories
There’s nothing worse than reading a long, well-written article only to discover that there’s no real story. Scanning pitches will help you cull interesting stories from unfocused topics.
Skilled freelance writers are nimble and can fire off pitches as soon as breaking news drops. Accepting pitches, and scanning them daily, can be a great way to take advantage of writers who have their ears to the ground and who can turn pieces around quickly.
The Joy of Discovery
Ultimately, the best part of accepting pitches is discovering a writer, idea, or story you didn’t know you needed. The best surprise for editors can be in finding a one-of-a-kind story that will bring your magazine to the next level.
To learn about how Submittable could serve your call for magazine pitches, please reach out anytime.