Organizing your business life as a freelancer can get heady. To best account for the many moving pieces as a writer and hustler means being smart about how you record everything you do.
Primarily, I’ll focus on pitch count in this post. While it’s a baseball term, related to balls or strikes thrown by the pitcher, I’m using pitch count here to refer to the pitches you send to editors/prospective clients. To paraphrase Glengarry Glen Ross, always be pitching! It’s a tactic I’ve practiced for the past 18 months and with great success: half of my pitches get greenlit.
But I wouldn’t stay on top of those pitches, and the requisite follow-ups, if I didn’t make a database of all those pitches. Step one was formatting a Google Doc spreadsheet to list the outlet, editor’s name, editor’s email, pitch description and a field for accepted or rejected. It’s as simple as that.
For every pitch I sent, I filled in that data so I can stay on top of pitches that go unanswered. If I haven’t heard from an editor in two weeks, I usually follow-up with a two-sentence email to inquire whether or not they liked my query. Otherwise, without that database, the pitch would float into the ether, likely forgotten by a brain occupied with new ideas and assignments.
If my pitch count is particularly heavy in one week, I might ease up on another week, seeing how I can get the chunkiest ideas to send to editors of, say, outlets I’ve always wanted to work with at some point. If my pitch count is filled with more rejections than acceptances, I’ll try to figure out why, and glean any trends in the types of pitching I’m sending to editors.
If you freelance in an industry that doesn’t require the kind of pitching I’m illustrating here as a journo, then make a spreadsheet of your clients, assigned projects, pay, key details, etc. I’m sure this idea of pitch count recording can be applied to any ‘lancer with a slew of projects and ideas on the go.
For other advice on freelancing, read this blog post on making an hourly schedule.
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