What is a Pitch in Freelance Writing?
You can’t hang around freelance writers for five minutes without hearing the word pitch used - or one of its other grammatical iterations: pitches, pitching, pitched. But what does pitch mean Exactly?
Part of the problem with the word “pitch” is that it can be used either as a noun or as a verb. And it means different things in different contexts. Let's look at the most common ways to use pitch so that you can spout it like the pro you are.
“Pitch” as a noun
The first way to use “pitch” is as a noun. A pitch can refer to a query letter, a letter of introduction, a book proposal, or anything at all you're proposing to get published.
A “query letter” (or just “query,” for short) is a detailed article proposal that you send to an editor at a magazine or web publication. For example, you might send a query titled Three Essential Supplies for a New Mom’s First Aid Kit to a magazine aimed at parents.
This query will be quite detailed and lay out everything you propose to cover in that article. The editorial team will then review your query and get back to you with a yea or nay.
Way back in the day, when our founder, Elizabeth Hanes, started freelancing in the mid 90s, writers almost always called queries “queries.” But over the course of time, freelance journalists have trended towards referring to these as “pitches.” Either term perfectly acceptable.
This can get confusing, however, for new writers, because as we said earlier, the word “pitch” can refer to at least four different types of items. One is a query, and the second is a “Letter of Introduction.”
A Letter of Introduction (or “LOI,” as we say in the business) is not a query. It is not a detailed article proposal, and it is not sent to magazines or journalistic outlets.
An LOI is a very brief introductory email that you send to prospective content marketing clients. A content marketing client is a company, health syste, insurer, or health care brand that publishes various types of content: webpages, newsletters, blog posts, white papers, webinars, and lots more stuff like that. The term “pitch” is often used to refer not only to the LOI itself as in, “I sent a pitch to the content director at XYZ health system,” but also to the act of pitching. So now we've moved from noun to verb.
"Pitch” as a verb
To pitch simply means to propose an article or to offer your services. So you can pitch a pitch to a magazine, or you can pitch a pitch to a corporation. Clear?
Okay, let us try that again!
In freelance writing, pitching refers to the act of sending any kind of proposal to any entity. To get something published, you might pitch an article idea (query) to an editor at the New York Times, or you might pitch your services to Cardinal Health. You might pitch your book manuscript to an agent or publisher.
Pitching simply means the act of sending something to someone else for consideration to be published. That's it in a nutshell. As a nurse writer, you will primarily use pitch in two ways, as a noun to refer to a query or an LOI, and as a verb to refer to the act of having sent the pitch.
Go forth and pitch like a pro!
We hope this brief discussion of freelance writing jargon enables you to sound like a pro when you’re talking writing. But if you’d like a little extra help, check out our Get Paid (Well!) to Write program, where you can learn exactly how to pitch and receive coaching from expert nurse writers who have pitched it all in their careers!