Yep, it’s time for another $100 blog pitching contest! I’ll give you all the details of how to enter at the end of this post — but first, please read our guest Chana Roberts’ excellent advice on how to kick ass and win. 😉
So, you’ve found Sophie’s blog. You’ve seen the Pitchfest posts – they’re really cool. They make you drool. Oooh, a $100 prize for contributing a post, on a blog like this?
It’s a once-in-a-season contest. Pitchfests – and guest posts – are only accepted once every three months.
You want to be the winner. You want that $100 prize, and you want to show your post off. But you don’t feel qualified to enter.
Like, seriously. You’re just starting out, and you haven’t even been able to get a guest post published yet, much less find a client willing to pay more than $0.02 per word.
You feel like the biggest loser. All around you, there are successful freelancers, each with a story of, “I was in the worst place when I started, but within 6 months to a year, I was earning a full-time salary from part-time writing.”
You’re the only one left behind, you tell yourself. You suck. Big time.
And you know what? *That* is your biggest problem.
This Pitchfest is no different from any other site’s blogging job ads. Here’s how to win.
Everywhere, companies and websites are looking for dedicated, creative bloggers. Everywhere, you stand a chance of succeeding and you stand a chance of being ignored.
The same steps and tips that help you write on other websites, or pitch to other websites, will help you here, too.
And more than that, there’s an advantage in pitching for BAFB. There’s a community here.
The BAFB editorial team is more than willing to give you guidance, advice, and tips. They’ll tell you where you went wrong, and what you might want to do to add some sparkle.
But the rules and the expectations? They’re exactly the same.
You’re expected to follow instructions and to put in your best effort. You’re expected to be willing to work on your piece and to take criticism.
You don’t feel qualified, because you have cold feet and low self-esteem. But you know what? Feelings aren’t everything. If they were, many of the most successful businesses wouldn’t exist today. If feelings were everything, almost no one would graduate college.
The good news is that, if you can manage to take an objective viewpoint, you’ll be able to accomplish a lot more.
I’m not a therapist, so I’m going to leave the issue of low self-esteem aside, and just say this: Believe in yourself. Or, at least, pretend that you believe in yourself.
If you’re not willing to put in the energy to at least pretend you can do this, stop reading right now and go cry in bed.
Okay, let’s wait for all the scaredy-cats to leave.
Are we alone yet?
OK then, let’s get to the gist of this article. We’re prepping you for the Pitchfest, right?
The first thing you need to know is that you most definitely are qualified to try your hand at pitching in this contest.
Repeat after me: Pitchfest isn’t scary, and I’m just as qualified as anyone else to give it a shot.
Read the guest posting guidelines.
Did Sophie mention experience as a criterion? Do you need to have published pieces? Do you even need to be an official freelance blogger?
No, no and no. None of this is mentioned, because none of it matters.
All you need is a good idea, to know how to follow instructions, and to know your audience.
Next, let’s look at what you need to do *before* you pitch.
First, don’t make the Pitchfest deadline your sole focus. If you pitch under pressure of a deadline, you’re almost guaranteed to pitch poorly. Take your time.
Look around the blog. Read the posts and get to know the community and style. Read other peoples’ pitches in earlier Pitchfests, to get ideas.
If you don’t have any bright ideas yet, you’ll need to get your creative juices flowing.
- What are the topics that interest you? Have they been covered?
- Are there any angles or sub-topics that haven’t been discussed yet?
- Is there anything that someone else wrote that *really* bugs you?
- Do you have an answer for a question that someone asked, whether in a post or in a comment?
What can you add to Be A Freelance Blogger, that will help the readers (and maybe the staff, too)?
When you write, your goal should be to help your readers. They’re reading your post because they want to know something.
Bore your readers, and they leave.
Catch their interest – by promising to inform, guide, or otherwise help them – and they’ll become loyal readers and followers.
Read through the guidelines for the current Pitchfest (down at the bottom of this page), and pay attention to the instructions.
Stand up and walk away from the computer. If you haven’t yet thought of an idea, ask a friend to read the Pitchfest instructions and help you think of something.
Get up and do something else. Exercise. Bake a cake. Have a cup of coffee and an ice cream. Then come back, sit down, reread the post, and read the comments.
Still don’t have an idea? Read up on how to beat writer’s block.
Will it help you relax if I tell you there’ll be another Pitchfest in three months? If you don’t get your entry in this time around, your chance isn’t gone forever — you can sit on your great idea until the next Pitchfest, or submit it as an unpaid guest post.
Have a great idea? Jot it down, so you won’t forget. Then you can work on turning it into a proper post outline and pitch it to Sophie and Lauren.
Copy and paste the Pitchfest instructions into the comment form at the bottom of this page, or into a blank document if you want to keep a backup copy. Write your idea above the instructions. This is your template.
Take a few minutes to think through what you want to say, and how the guidelines want you to say it. Figure out three different angles or post types you could use, and decide which is best. Now fill in the template with your idea.
Okay, now it’s time to look over your pitch. Edit it before you press “Post Comment”. Reread what you’ve written – does it lack anything? Does it have too much information? Ask a friend for a second opinion.
You’re almost done. Say a quick prayer and submit! Good luck to you!
It takes guts to pitch, and it takes guts to post. No one is arguing that. But those who really want to succeed will take the risk and jump in.
Pitching doesn’t cost you anything except some time. And come on, the creative thinking is good for you.
So chin up, and take a deep breath. Don’t let your cold feet get in the way of success. Believe in yourself and your writing, and give it your best shot.
You can do it.
Our guest author Chana Roberts is a mompreneur, teacher, and freelance writer and editor. She lives with her family in beautiful Israel, where the sun shines year round.
Enter the Pitchfest!
In case you’re not familiar, Pitchfest is a blog post pitching contest we run here on Be a Freelance Blogger every 3 months. You tell us your blog post idea and we choose our favourites, with prizes of up to $100 for the winners.
The contest starts today.
Your theme for this Pitchfest
This time, we’re looking for posts that fit into at least one of these two categories:
- “Blog Better” — help our readers write better blog posts for their clients
- “Level Up” — help our readers boost their freelance blogging careers
- 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 definitely 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.
- Second prize: $50 for your guest post, paid on publication.
- Third prize: A 3-question mentoring package via email.
- Submit your pitch before the end of Thursday, December 10th, 2015.
- We’ll announce the winners on December 12th.
- If we choose your pitch, we expect you to deliver your first draft to Lauren by January 4th, 2016. (But if you need a little longer, 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.
- Tell us which category your pitch is for: “Blog Better” or “Level Up”?
- 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 why this is a great post for Be a Freelance Blogger and why you’re the right person to write it.
- 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 tell us which category your pitch is for, and (if necessary) explain why it belongs there.
- 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, it’s time.
Let the Pitchfest begin!