These days, being a working creative means learning how to write a pitch. After all, collaborating is key to growing your brand/business/whatever it is that you do. Whether you’re a musician trying to book a show or a blogger trying to get featured somewhere, it’s all the same. But when the Internet is super-saturated with people doing the exact thing that you do, it’s vital to stand out from the very beginning.
As a former online magazine editor and a blogger and writer of 5+ years, I’ve learned a quite a few things about pitching emails. These things are simple, but can make a huge difference.
Being an editor was especially eye-opening. Witnessing everything from the other side made me realize that a lot of creative folk are in the dark about crafting an email that embraces their badassery while sounding professional. There are also a few little things that can drive the recipient (like an editor) insane.
This is where this guide comes into play. While it only features three points, they are all extremely important for emailing a pitch. Hopefully, you’ll feel encouraged to send out more pitch ideas out into the world. Here it goes!
1. Get the Name Right
For the love of all creative gods… double, triple, and quadruple check the name of the person you are writing to. Extra points for spelling it correctly throughout the entire email.
Often, people start off on the right foot then trip over their own feet. In other words, people begin with the right name and somehow switch in subsequent messages. C’mon now.
I get it – everyone talks to everyone these days. It’s easy to drown in a pool of similar names and crazy spellings. However, that’s no excuse. If you are capable of doing whatever it is you do, you are capable of checking that you get the name right.
Addressing someone by something other than their name is a lot like succumbing to the beer goggles of PR. It’s like making a move on Chris when you really wanted to get with Joe. Meanwhile, Chris gets stoked, only to realize that move wasn’t even for him.
Like I said… beer goggles.
Not only is getting the name right professional and polite, but it shows that you are paying attention. It also demonstrates that you’re ready to take on whatever task you are discussing. It only takes a few extra seconds of triple checking. The barista won’t even be done with your latte by the third time you check.
Now is not the time to get loopy, friends.
2. Keep it Short
Like, real short. One paragraph to the absolute max.
It’s not uncommon for editors, managers, and fellow creatives to receive a million and five emails a day. There’s a real good chance they’re just as busy are you are (if not more.)
With that said, keep your message simple and to the damn point. Don’t talk about your hopes, dreams, and what you had for breakfast. They do not care.
Instead, introduce yourself in the first two lines. Next, jump right into what you have to offer. Are you pitching a collaboration idea or design services? A how-to article for an online magazine? An R&B rendition of the ABC’s? Whatever it is, get to it ASAP. The other person shouldn’t have to read a novel before learning why you’re even contacting them.
Remember, we all have the same number of hours in the day. Use it wisely. By writing short emails, you’ll prevent wasting your time (and theirs). Think of it as a virtual cover letter.
Of course, there is this argument:
Aren’t you supposed to sell yourself? Tell them how freakin’ amazing I am?
While this is 100% true, you’ll gain a lot more traction if you let your work speak for itself. State your biggest highlights and leave it at that. This is exactly why a portfolio comes in handy. This is especially true if you don’t have something like a blog to back you up.
Basically, if someone wants to find out more about you and what you do, they will dig deeper. Sending over a brief paragraph and link to your website is all they need. What they do from that point is not up to you.
3. Own Your Words
The tricky thing about emails (or any kind of technology) is that you can’t physically see the other person. The conversation’s vibes are laced within words and punctuation. Use them wisely.
There is nothing more unattractive than starting a pitch with, “Sorry to bother you, but… “
Even worse? “I know you get a lot of emails, however… “
These phrases lack confidence. They suggest that you don’t believe your words (or work) are not worth the other person’s time.
If you’re going to make the first move, then own it.
Apologizing is a way of justifying why you’re reaching out in the first place. Who says you need to justify your motives, actions, and general radness? Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Remember, pitching is the first step to getting yourself out there. You never know what will come out of it, so take care to never half-ass a pitch. Full-ass, only.
… or something like that.