It’s a tricky thing to judge. You might think your grammar’s perfect, when really you’re making some howling mistakes. Then again, you might fret that your grammar isn’t good enough when it’s absolutely fine.
So I just want to say two things about grammar, and then we’ll get on to the $100 blogging opportunity. 🙂
1) Grammar is in the brain of the reader
If they care about split infinitives and subjective versus objective pronouns, then you should too — because picky readers will leave if they’re irritated by grammatical errors. But if your readers don’t give a shit about grammatical correctness, then you can split as many infinitives as you like.
Bear in mind that in this context, your “readers” include your editors, your clients, and your potential clients. So if your pitches, proposals and portfolio pieces are dripping with grammar screw-ups, you risk putting some people off the idea of hiring you.
But to be honest, sometimes you sound like a dork if you don’t bend the grammar rules. Stuffy. Uptight. Worry about grammar too much and you end up writing “nonsense up with which I will not put.” [That quote is a misattributed and misconceived but nevertheless brilliant illustration of the concept.]
2) Grammar is a set of rules you can look up
But there are a lot of rules, so you might want to try using a grammar checking tool instead. 😉
I’ve been trying out Grammarly with a Premium account — it warns me about all sorts of grammar mistakes and tells me how to fix them. It’s damn handy for checking my own blog posts, and even more useful if you’re prepping something for a client and want to know how correct your grammar is before you submit it.
Plus it understands English way better than Word [in tech speak, it’s got superior semantic processing capabilities] and it’ll spot the kind of errors you can only judge from context. As a fan of artificial intelligence, I’m impressed.
Free Grammarly accounts are available, so check it out if you want a fast, easy grammar rescue. And if you win Pitchfest this month, you’ll get 6 months of Grammarly Premium as well me sending $100 to your PayPal account. [Big thanks the the Grammarly team for donating the bonus prize!]
You might be relieved to hear that we’re NOT judging you on your grammar in this Pitchfest. We’re looking for a great blog post idea and the ability to convey it in writing.
So pitch us your blog post idea and we’ll choose our winners. I’ll explain the rules in a minute, but first…
Your theme for this Pitchfest
This time, we want you to plan your pitch to fit one of the existing categories, sections or departments of the publication you’re pitching to.
This is a crucial skill when you’re pitching to clients or editors who already have a well-organised blog going, so let’s get some practice.
Here at Be a Freelance Blogger we’ve organised all the blog posts into 6 categories:
- Blog Better (17 posts so far)
- Get Hired (35 posts so far)
- Get Paid (18 posts so far)
- Get Started (11 posts so far)
- Level Up (46 posts so far)
- Stay Sane (31 posts so far)
Plus there are 3 extra categories:
- Guest Posts (for every guest post ever)
- Top Posts (for only the most popular, most conversation-starting and most useful posts)
- Uncategorized (which we don’t use at all)
But you can ignore those last 3; your post will definitely be a Guest Post, might become a Top Post, and definitely won’t be Uncategorized.
Focus on putting together a blog post idea that fits nicely into one of the 6 main categories listed above. Then when you submit your pitch, tell us which category you’re targeting and why.
- Anybody can enter the contest by typing (or pasting) their pitch into the comments box at the bottom of this page.
- Only ONE PITCH per person, please.
- Follow the pitch format I’ll tell you in a moment.
- After you submit your pitch, Lauren and/or Sophie will offer feedback to help you optimise your idea for this blog’s audience and improve your pitching skills. You may also get feedback from other entrants, BAFB team members, and innocent bystanders — pay attention, because they represent your readers here.
- After you get our feedback, you can revise your pitch if you like and re-submit it by pasting it into a follow-up comment. And yes, that means you can offer us a completely different idea if we’ve told you your first idea won’t work for this blog.
- If you win, we’ll ask you to send us a draft of at least 1000 words, so bear that minimum word count in mind when you pitch.
- First prize: $100 for your guest post, paid on publication, PLUS 6 months’ premium membership of Grammarly, worth up to $179.70.
- Second prize: $50 for your guest post, paid on publication.
- Third prize: a freelance blogger mentoring group session in exchange for your guest post.
- Submit your pitch before the end of Thursday, March 19th, 2015.
- We’ll announce the winners on March 21st.
- If we choose your pitch, we expect you to deliver your first draft to Lauren by April 4th. (But if you’re about to head out on a month-long safari or something, let us know and we’ll work around it.)
How to pitch
- Read our general guest blogging guidelines first, then come back here to submit your pitch.
- Start your pitch by telling us which category you’re aiming for, out of the 6 we already use (see the category list).
- Suggest at least one headline designed to make freelance bloggers want to read your post.
- Follow the headline with the opening lines you’d use in the post. No less than 30 words, no more than 60. You DON’T need to write a whole post (or even a whole introduction) before you pitch — we’d like to give you feedback on your idea before you write a draft.
- After the opening lines, give us no more than 6 points you’ll make in your post, and provide a one or two sentence summary of each point. (If you plan to make more than 6 points in your post, only tell us the most important 6 in your pitch.)
- Then explain in no more than 3 sentences who you are and why you’re the right person to write this post for Be a Freelance Blogger.
- Put your pitch in the comment box at the bottom of this page.
- Check the little box that says “Notify me of follow-up comments” so you’ll know when we’ve given you feedback.
- Submit your comment and if you followed all the steps above, you’re entered into the contest.
- Remember to tailor your post idea to your chosen category!
- To get a better idea of what Lauren and I are looking for in your pitch, study the pitches and responses in previous Pitchfests.
- Save a copy of your pitch somewhere before you post it here — if your comment gets lost in the internet, you don’t wanna have to re-write it from scratch.
- Your comment may get held in a moderation queue, especially if it contains hyperlinks. Don’t worry if that happens; we’ll get to it and reply!
OK, enough talk.
Let the Pitchfest begin!