Leaving Work Behind

Proposing New Article Ideas to Clients: The Ultimate Pitching Blueprint

Written by Gina Horkey on April 30, 2015. 10 Comments

blueprintYou pitched a new writing job and your prospect is interested. Now what?

Unless they’ve given you a clear idea of alternative next steps, it’s typically up to you to propose some blog post or article ideas. You’ll have to do this for prospects, but also for recurring clients that you write for on an ongoing basis.

What does this look like?

Tom,

Thanks for your interest in having me write for Leaving Work Behind!

Here are three post ideas that I think would work perfectly for your audience. Look them over and let me know which one(s) I can move forward with, or if you have any additional feedback.

Proposed Title #1. 2-3 sentences to provide some context to your post idea. Enough to get the client interested, but not a novel that will take too much time to read (or write!).

Proposed Title #2. See above. The explanation would be specific to the second proposed topic/headline.

Proposed Title #3. See above. The explanation would be specific to the third proposed topic/headline.

Looking forward to getting started on my first post due 5/12/15. Thanks!

~ Gina Horkey

How many ideas should you send? What’s the best pitching format? And what’s the best way to handle rejection?

Today I’m going to cover all three of those questions (and more). Let’s dive in!

How Many Ideas Should You Send?

Personally, I like to shoot for 2-5. Definitely more than one, but probably not more than five. You want to give your client choice, but not too many options that they feel overwhelmed, or a list too robust that they won’t take time to read them all.

You also want to keep emails as short as possible, while still giving them all of the necessary information they need. Why? People are busy!

No one has time to read a novel and frankly a lot of the successful “webpreneurs” I know put off reading an email that is more than two paragraphs long. They get a million emails a day and feel defeated before even diving in when there is too much text, as they think it will take up too much time, energy or both to respond. So they ignore it!

That said, make sure your pitches are fleshed out well. It’s probably worse to have what looks like an ill-prepared pitch, than one that is too long.

When Tom and I chatted about this, he asked me, Why possibly only two, and why not more than five?” He recently had a writer submit 13 suggestions when he asked for 3-5 and it blew him away. In his words:

It demonstrated that she (a) had plenty of topics to write about, and (b) was willing to go above and beyond for me.

My response? I like to follow the rules. For example, if you’re responding to a job board ad and they ask for 3-5 ideas, I wouldn’t submit more than five, because I feel like it’s a violation of the client’s time.

So who is right? We’ll let you make the call! 😉

What’s the Best Pitching Format?

If you look at my example pitch email above, you’ll notice a couple of important things:

  1. The headline is in title case, bolded and followed by a period (it could be another form of punctuation potentially).
  2. It was followed by normal text and contained 2-3 sentences explaining what the post will be about.

To me, this is the ideal way to pitch a client or prospect new ideas when they haven’t given specific directions otherwise. It’s clear, it’s concise and professional. You look like you know what you’re doing (even if you really don’t!).

Another option would be a full outline. But again, it depends on the client and their expectations. Sometimes clients will say, “That looks great, write it up.” Other times, I’ll get asked to flesh out a full outline. What would that look like, you ask?

Proposed Title in Title Case

Intro

Point #1. Followed by supporting text to explain subheading.

Point #2. Followed by supporting text to explain subheading.

Point #3. Followed by supporting text to explain subheading.

Conclusion

What to Do When the Client Says No

Clients won’t like every idea you have (and that’s okay). Don’t take it personally – instead, if you feel it’s a really good idea, find somewhere else to use it. If it’s your idea, there’s no reason that you can’t pitch it to another client in a similar niche, use it on your own blog, or propose it as a guest post topic somewhere. Alternatively, just write it down on your “future post ideas” list.

Then get back to brainstorming. Keep pitching new ideas until you find the right fit for that client, if that’s who you want to work with. If you keep getting rejected (and they’re not giving you any feedback), it’s possible that you’re not the right fit.

And guess what? That’s okay too! Because you’re not going to be the right fit for every client. And the only way that you find out is to try!

In Conclusion

There is no right way to pitch ideas to prospects or recurring clients. But there is a good way, which I’ve covered in this post.

Take time to brainstorm a number of ideas. Take the winners and flesh out 2-5 of them, so you have a strong title and a few supporting sentences that tell what the post will be about. If your client rejects them all, find another place to use them or add them to your future posts list. Then, keep trying until you get a yes!

Does your method for submitting new ideas to clients or prospects look like mine or is it different? Let me know in the comments section below!

Photo Credit: Kalsau

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10 Responses to “Proposing New Article Ideas to Clients: The Ultimate Pitching Blueprint”

  1. Akosua Albritton
    April 30, 2015 at 2:06 pm

    Hello: I agree up to five ideas is sufficient. You’re demonstrating thoughtfulness. Giving more may be overload and possibly, the client may use your ideas.

    Title & short description isn’t something I’ve thought to do. I thank you for that suggestion.

  2. Anneke Steenkamp
    April 30, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    Hi! Thank you for sharing this post.

    Whenever I’m pitching article ideas and topics I allow my creativity to flow. Apart from wanting to show the client what I’m capable of, this also shows me how interested I really am in the topic or company.

    I love doing research on the particular industry and there’s something competitive about finding the right headlines and topics to give the client that edge.

    In general, I pitch about 8-12 topics – I’ve also found that they sometimes choose more headlines when they know it’s available. Instead of pitching 3-5 and only having 1/2 accepted – I like the odds of establishing a long term relationship. 🙂

  3. Lindsay Liedke
    April 30, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    Gina,
    This is very helpful! I think it is a good and concise way to structure pitches and the formula would work for (almost) every client! Thanks for the tips!

  4. Leandro Thomas
    May 14, 2015 at 6:43 pm

    Great article as usual and love these tips. Everyone, if you didn’t already know, listen to this woman – following this got me paid work.

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