THE WRITE BRAIN: How to Pitch Freelance Editorial Work

Liveblog

BLOGHER CONFERENCE 2011
AUGUST 6, 2011, 10:45 A.M.
THE WRITE BRAIN - HOW TO PITCH FREELANCE EDITORIAL WORK FROM SOME BUSY EDITORIAL PEOPLE

* Please scroll down to download attachments. *

Captioning Provided by:
Caption First, Inc.
P.O. Box 3066
Monument, CO 80132
www.captionfirst.com
US & Canada: (800) 825 5234
International: +001 630 790 1341

* * *

Communication access realtime translation (CART) is provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

* * *

>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Hi, everybody. Thank you for coming to the panel called, "How to Pitch Freelance Editorial Work from Some Busy Editorial People." When I was in the speaker's lounge yesterday, I added some words. Like cranky. I'm Julie Ross Godar, the managing editor of BlogHer.
We have a mic wrangler. Where did she go? Back in the back there. And we want to open it up for questions right aways so you can take away what you really want to take away from this. So why don't I have my panelists introduce themselves. Barb.
>> BARB DYBWAD: Hi, Barb Dybwad. I have been a professional tech blogger for the past eight years, I guess already. During that time, I have covered Apple, consumer electronics, video games, social media and everything in between. Along the way, I have been senior editor at Engadget, and Joystick and senior tech editor at Mashable and now I'm head of contact at a new start up, called Tecca.com, t e c c a.com. And we are actually venture backed by Best Buy to cover consumer electronics for a main stream audience, but we operate completely independently at arm's length from the parent company.
So instead of the -- as the Engadgets and Emotiv, it covered for the early adopter or the enthusiast tech audience. We want to bring consumer electronics and technology to a more mainstream. So people who have a proliferation of technology and gadgets in their lives, but they don't want to spend 20 hours a week following tech news and they want to know what phone should I get and when I have it, how the heck do I use it. So that's our focus.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Thanks. Nicola.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: Hi, I'm Nicola Bridges, and I have never blogged, but I have been a freelance writer in my early career, actually right here in San Diego primarily for Copley News Services as a travel writer. So I come at this topic having experience, having done lots of pitches and getting lots of rejections.
I went into magazines in New York. I became Editor in Chief of "Working Mother" magazine, and then when the web started to brew, way back when and a lot of the digital properties decided that the tech guys didn't really know about content, they started reaching out into magazine mastheads and I was wooed over to create a new company back then, which was clubmom.com. I don't know if any of you are familiar with that. It's still around, but it's now Cafe Mom. I feel really proud that I was one of the cofounders of that. Just four of us in a cubical. It's become a powerhouse for blogging moms and I think we started a lot of that back at Club Mom because our primary content was user generated and it was women running the community boards, writing for Club Mom in a very kind of organic, grass roots way.
I went back to my native UK for a few years to work for the BBC, and when I came back to the States, I joined iVillage. So, again, great site that's been around a long time. It has a great reputation for coming from the parent soup and parent place kind of community, women writing for iVillage. Through the iVillage writers, we have professional writers and others like you who are pitching and able to come into the fold and create personalized content.
Currently, I'm head up I'm senior vice president at RealAge.com, which is, again, based here in San Diego. I have come full circle back to my roots here. I don't know if you are familiar with RealAge. How many of you have taken the RealAge test? Great! That's fantastic!
So if you haven't, you should go to RealAge.com and take the test. It will tell you your real age based on your good and bad health habits and your health factors and health risks and it will tell you, you may be a few years younger or it may tell you you are a few years older, and you have to do something about it. That's me.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: I'm Stephanie Wood. I'm executive editor of "Parenting" magazine. I work with parenting.com very closely. We have a separate edit team for print and digital, but we share a lot of content. We work together on a lot of projects and I do blog for them from time to time. We have quite a few different blogs on parenting.com, but I don't have my own blog. I don't tweet. I do have a Facebook page.
(Laughter)
>> BARB DYBWAD: You can start today. You can start tweeting today.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: But I'm still primarily here to talk to you about print publishing and how to make your way into the magazine world.
I worked freelance for 13 years. I started out as a magazine editor and then I have three kids of my own. When I had my children, I decided to work freelance. I spent a lot of time on both sides of the desk, pitching and, you know, trying to please editors and now I'm back to being an editor. Things have changed a lot since I first went freelance. There's a lot of competition out there because now we have not only all the usual magazine journalists pitching us, but a lot of bloggers like yourself who are interested in breaking into our field too. So I'm hopefully here to help you figure out how to make that happen.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Thank you, and I'm Julie Ross Godar, I'm the managing editor of BlogHer and I have been a freelancer and editor for a long time as well. I wanted to talk about freelance work and editors. Regarding freelance pitches to most editors: my experience is that most of the content that we publish does not come from a cold pitch -- which is, you know, a pitch by somebody you don't know or you don't know very well. Most of it is assigned, and the pitches that we take are usually from people that we have a relationship with, which makes sense, right? If we know you and know you are going to hit your deadline, we are a lot less anxious and able to do our jobs better.
At BlogHer.com, our mission is a little bit different. I will get into that, how we do that and the various ways we do that in a little bit even at BlogHer.com. I would say much less than half of our content comes from a cold pitch. It's really hard -- you have to really shine in your pitch, because we get a lot. And we really can't -- even if we want to, we can't use them all. A great pitch makes us really, really happy because a great pitch, what it does is make it easy for us, and we like that.
So I would love to open it up to you guys. So each of you, tell me what are some of the elements of a great pitch? Who wants to start?
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: Should I go at it? Do you want me to do my slides?
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: Do your slides.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Stephanie did slides for you guys.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: I will tell you a little bit quickly about the magazine. "Parenting" has an early years and school years edition. Early years is birth to age 5, and school years is 5 to 12. Obviously know the magazine as much as possible in terms of the content. I get so many pitches for college, you know, issues and things like that and we don't cover that. We don't even really cover teenagers. So first and foremost, be as familiar with the magazine as you can.
This is a sample of some of the blogs that we host on parenting.com. We have quite a few freelance bloggers under contract. Some of them are written in house, our pop culture blog is written by our executive editor, Shawn Bean, put our parentally post blog, there are six different freelancers who contribute to that. They all get paid for it.
Moma's Boy is one of our most popular blogs. It's written by a single mother. She has a contract. We have a Mom Congress blog which is our school years initiative to bring together moms who are fighting for great schools. We have a lot of opportunity to guest blog there as well as somebody under contract doing that. And we have a tech blog. That's something we started recently to introduce moms to great things for kids in the tech world. Those are all opportunities with parenting.com.
But from there, some of these people have actually made the leap into print too, and I will show you a few examples of how they did that, and why we liked what they were doing and how it translated well for us.
So this writer, Erin Zammett Ruddy, she did a popular blog called lifewithcanceronglamour.com. She was with Glamour. She had to go off her cancer medications to have these kids. She wanted to write more about parenting. She came to us with an idea about doing an essay and how she would take this risk again and have a second child because she felt like that's what she needed to do and she wrote an essay about that. And so that was the first piece that she did for us.
It went from blog post to first person essay, which is not something we do a lot of in the magazine, but, you know, if it's a really great compelling story, there's room for it. Unfortunately, I couldn't get that out of the archives to show you. That was her first piece for us, but then she went on to start doing service feature writing for us and the thing that's great about this is, you know, it's a traditional kind of health, women's service piece, but she brought her great blog voice to it. It's written, you know, not just with the same service content, but like, you know, doesn't it suck when somebody asks you when you are due, and you have already had the baby kind of voice, you know?
She was really able she's really great to marry the blog voice and practical service information, which is what most print publications are about.
And this is the mama's blog. Christine Coppa. She used to blog for Glamour, but she fit in really well with our editorial plans not just as a blogger, but as a feature writer because she's writing a perspective that we are really keen on getting into parenting, which is that of modern families. Something like 18% of families today are the traditional white, Caucasian dad goes to work and mom days home and raises the kids. Everybody else out there is in a nontraditional family arrangement. They might not be married. They might be interracial couple, interreligious and there are so many same sex families. We want to bring that perspective in our magazine and we don't feel like it's done amongst our competitors, not profiling them, but having their voices in their magazines, but quoting them being like we would quote any other parent. That fabric of nontraditional life is what we need we wanted to bring out more and more in the magazine. We are looking for pieces that would lend themselves to that.
So here's Christine Coppa, did it "Single Parent Handbook." She's raising a son with no father anywhere in sight. How does she handle those? She turned it into more service. Her voice is in there but she's talked to a lot of other experts and brought in their opinions and their advice. So a willingness to be able to report as well as share your own personal experience. That brings it to a level that other people can benefit from. We all love a good read and we love to hear about your you know, your passion and your agony and angst and that's great that we learn from that but we also need the service element in terms of what we publish. So that's one example.
Let's see, this is our screen play blog, the digital blog I mentioned before. We have a writer under contract for this. She has a piece coming out in our October issue, and it's digital milestones which is, again, kind of our modern take on, you know when are they going to walk, talk, use the potty, it's when are they going to be able to use a laptop, to, you know, have their own phone and text or in the case of like my youngest, when are they going to figure out that they can go on Amazon and hit one click and order all the toys they want. That happened about the age of 7.
That translated from being a blog topic to where we are going in print today.
I don't want to monopolize this. I had a few tips. Do you want me to go through them quickly?
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Yep.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: All right. So voice, humor, expertise and in a specific niche that will appeal to a wide range of moms. Our tech blogger, our Mom Congress blogger, they created their own sort of following and they have a really wide knowledge of those topic areas. They are talking from both perspectives, a mom with a blog voice but also a real knowledge of their subject matter.
If you have a large blog following, a large social media reach, that's great for us. That's not a deal breaker if you don't but if you do it really helps us because you can drive traffic to us, you know, both online and on the newsstand, as well as we do the same for you. So that's that's a nice plus.
You know, again, the ability to craft your personal experience into a service article that will help the readers is really great and the willingness to do the reporting.
And then, you know, as a said before, check out Facebook.com/parenting and the topics that generate the most controversy, interest there are going to be the same ones that bring buzz to the magazine. So whatever you see as a hot topic, you know, amongst parents there is going to be something we would likely be interested in printing too. Topics that generate a lot of volume, and doing a service article. And I wanted to mention mediabistro.com, how to pitch parenting.com. That will give you the most current information as to who the editors and what the topics are that they are handling and their contact info. We have a lot of people who have the title of senior editor and associate editor but they don't all do the same thing. This will tell you exactly who does what category.
And then, you know, just back to writing the pitch. We get so many pitches every day, from writers from PR people. So the most important thing you can do is keep it really brief and concise and to the point. If I have to read three paragraphs to figure out what it's about, I will hit the delete button. So just we try to think as editors in terms of what's the cover line? What's going to sell this topic? So, you know, that's the way you want to pitch an article. What's going to make somebody grab it off the newsstand is what I want to read in the first sentence or two.
And everything via email. We don't pick up the phone too much. That's my speech.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Thank you, Stephanie. What's really interesting, going through this, is that almost all of these things that you mentioned are things that bloggers already do. You know, we contact everybody by email. We are very personal. We have a unique perspective. We have a voice. It's really just making sure that the audience, the magazine's audience and figuring out how you can twist what you bring to the table for their needs.
I see a question.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Oh, yeah. Hi. My name is Heather, I write rookiemoms.com, and I have a question about one of your previous slides. It said to have a niche focus but also a mass appeal. That feels like an oxymoron to me. I was hoping you could expand on that.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: Okay, yeah, I guess ... I see what you mean there. We mean -- like, if you are particularly passionate about education and it's something that you follow and you have an expertise in that area, because you are very involved in your PTA and in your child's school. That's something we would say is your expertise, but it's going to appeal to every mom that reads school years, because they are worried about what's happening at their school.
It might be a great school, but there's always a way to improve it. It's a topic that is something that you are passionate about and you have knowledge about, but almost any other mom that's going to read the magazine is going to want to hear that.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Yes, please.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, I'm Megan from sortacrunchy.net. You mentioned having a large blog following, and that's kind of subjective. Could you clarify or what's large to you?
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: Well, you know, I am probably not the best person to answer that but our dot com staff would know those numbers a little bit better than I do. The two women I mentioned, Erin Zammett Ruddy, and Christine Coppa, they were blogging for Glamour and a lot of their readers followed them over to Arthur site. It's not something that's an absolute deal breaker but if you have gotten, you know, traffic in the past that would lend itself to coming to our you know, our web site too, then that's helpful.
>> BARB DYBWAD: For us too, I would say it's not really necessarily about some sort of absolute threshold of numbers but if you can convey your awareness and your understanding that your participation in social media is going to contribute to your ability to help us grow our brand as we are helping you grow your voice too, that definitely goes a lot farther than getting a pitch from someone who doesn't even mention it.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: Yeah, I would have to agree because, you know, in the digital space, it's not just about words and an article and text at our brand and web site. We are you know, we are wanting the content to get out there virally in the social arena. So, you know, I use the the acronym KISS, keep it interactive and social if you can, because you guys are out there. You have your ears to the ground as to what's really getting traction, and conversation out there in the blogosphere and beyond. For a lot of brands, we have the digital areas RealAge.com, and iVillage.com, and parenting.com. We want our brand to be socialized. If you can include in your pitch the social element that you bring, that it goes beyond just the piece you are pitching, for us to have at our site but tell us how you think this will get traction out there in the social arena.
So you don't have to have, you know, a huge following. You could be a really individual blog that has a very, you know, discrete audience, but if you have got your ear to the ground in your niche, that really helps us.
Fundamentally, as editors, for print and digital, we are busy and part of it is we are lazy. We want you to tell us how you can get your piece out and what advantage you bring to us.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: I see a question.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, I'm Heather from oh, sorry. I'm Heather from 4 a.m. blogger. Whether you have a large following or not, content is still king?
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: Yes.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: So if you have something that's grabby and reaching, that's going to win out over levels of volume of followers, et cetera?
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: That's right.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: I agree. You know, again, interactive for us is important because a lot of sites, including RealAge and others that I speak from, that I have worked for, we're ... you know, it's not just about flat content anymore. It's about thinking multi dimensionally. So, again, if in a pitch you can show, you know, how this content that you are pitching could play out differently, could it make a great slide show? Could it make a great, you know, photo gallery with content? Could it make, you know, a great tool at the end of the day?
So I think if you can think beyond just content as words, that's really helpful, because at the end of the day for sites like ours, it's about page views and metrics and, you know so if you can think metrics as you are pitching what would get traction, what would get clicks, but what would get, you know, multiple page views per visit, again, that kind of elevates your pitch amongst the stack that we all get, because you are competing with our delete key. And when we get your pitches and emails, it's very easy for us to just hit delete. So you've got to grab our attention in multiple different ways. It's not easy. It's difficult.
>> BARB DYBWAD: It is sort of a complex set of matrix of factors that would lead to a great pitch. I would agree that content is king, maybe, you know, 50% or more content, great content can even trump something like experience which is another factor that helps get you in the door and we love to bring on people with experience because they are proven, but if you happen to be a great writer and you have a great angle and something new that you can bring to the table, can even trump it, the experience. Having the social media wherewithal is also a great thing to bring to the table. So the more you can bring to the table out of the that total package, the farther you will go.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Whenever you can, show us what you can do. I like to think of a pitch as a very, very, mini resume, because -- for example, for BlogHer.com, if you volunteer a community post (because we are also a community site), and you enter that post, then I know that actually hitting the save key is not going to freak you out when it comes time to post. You know, because our back end, I don't even want to talk about, but when it comes time to do the assignment, I know you will not have a data entry issue because you have proven that to me. As much as you can prove to me that you can do is great.
>> BARB DYBWAD: I would go further with the resume analogy. You think it's obvious and goes without a saying, but you wouldn't believe how many pitches and applications we get that aren't spell checked, that have grammatical errors that are missing punctuation and it's sort of like, you know, if you haven't prepared a production worthy application to send to us, how are we going to have confidence that you are going to produce production worthy content?
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: And just like your cover letter on a resume, make sure that you haven't copied and pasted the wrong media company on your pitch.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: I was just going to say that. I get pitches addressed to the competitors. Then you know they sent it to everybody, not just you.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: I see a question.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Thanks, I'm Sue Campbell, I'm a freelance writer for "Metro Parent."
If we are submitting queries via emails, what's the best way to show you our clips? How do you like to see those come through?
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: My reaction from recent stuff that is very easy to digest getting emails. You guys are technical, set up a portfolio online. Include a link to clips at your web site. Am I going to click through five PDFs and three Word Docs to see it? You would have to send me a really good pitch. If you say, you can see some of my previous work at this link. We are digital and it shows us that you have savvy, you have got your open web site or send us to your blog and point us to the archives or the pieces that you want to showcase. For me, that's the quickest, easiest and best way to show me your additional tech chops too.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: I would say never send an attachment because it really irritates some people.
>> BARB DYBWAD: Don't me make open Microsoft Word please.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Tell me in the pitch that you have been published in places and if it's just your blog, isolate the good stuff. Give a title to the links that you are trying to point me too.
>> BARB DYBWAD: And that's the best for us too, links to an actual by line that you have written for an actual publication. We can see the piece and we can see did it get a lot of comments, a lot of Facebook shares, did it generate activity and did it go viral. That's a lot easier for us to hit a few links than certainly to open an attachment. If you are not able to do that or you have experience on print and you are trying to break into web, it's fine to set up a portfolio, but definitely think about how to make it as easy as possible.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: I know for parenting.com, we do create a lot of original content there that will be, you know, it will be health content. It will be, you know, service content, like we would do in the magazine, but we look for people who who know web writing and have experience that category too. And I think, you know, having your own web site, like almost all the print journalists do now, and that says a lot about how committed you are to making this happen. You know, it's not just a whim, that you are going to drop in a couple of months or whatever, you know? So it just it's like having a great resume and a polished portfolio. It just says a lot about how dedicated you are going to be.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Absolutely. And your own blog can go really far for that. For me, I'm BlogHer and obviously I look at blogs. For me, I'm looking for great comments and great content and great perspective whether blogs or other media. The only difference between your blog work and a real byline, is I know you have worked with an editor before and I know you are hitting a deadline that's not internal, and I know that you have been edited because if it is the very first time you have ever been edited besides by yourself, it can be ... it may not meet your expectations.
(Laughter)
>> BARB DYBWAD: Cultivate thick skin.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: And we are all former freelancers. So we come at it from both ways. Question?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, I'm Mia, from Mia, From an Orphan Mom. Are there places where magazines post? Or do you get cold pitches or relationships from people that you already worked with?
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: I wanted to touch on that, because it's something pertinent to what Julie said earlier. We are assigning to people we know, we are assigning to people we know have a great resume. It's hard to break into as a newbie. We are not posting out an assignment, that you know, 50 people can grab and submit a pitch, but to that point, I think something that's really important is to -- you know, if you are serious about doing it for the long haul and not necessarily as a one off, the way to get those relationships on one level is to join some of the professional organizations that are in writing, editing, magazines, all, you know, established magazine organizations like the MPA Magazine, Publishers Association, the American Society of Magazine Editors, you know, Media Bistro is the big one online at the moment. But they all have digital components, as well as the magazine side.
You know, attend events. Find out your local chapter. You know, go to their cocktail hour or their lunch presentation and that's how you get to meet people. I think you can make an impression there and start to create those relationships, because it's very hard to do that just totally virtually, but, you know, we remember people who make an impression on us at those kinds of associations.
If you join those, and we see that on your resume, that starts to build your credibility in the writing arena.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: And we will post all the associations she mentioned on to the live blog for you guys.
Question?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi, I'm Shannon. I blog at the woman formerly known as beautiful. My question was, do you ever read full submissions? For instance, at BlogHer, when I have submitted, it says that I could actually post the entire post as opposed to a pitch. Do you guys read those things?
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: We do. Somebody on the editorial team reads anything that anybody puts on BlogHer, which is a lot. On BlogHer, basically our mission is to spotlight women bloggers and we do that in several ways. We have a team of editors that are leaders in the blogosphere that we add to occasionally. We accept guest editor pitches, which is a freelance editorial pitch and we syndicate, where we think the writing was so kick ass and it's a subject that needs to be a conversation on BlogHer.com. And for original and syndicated posts we pay $50.
We also spotlight people's posts that they choose to put on BlogHer.com. We don't pay for those; we also don't edit them. It's a community site as well. If you want to post, we will look to feature it and that's a good way to get your foot in the door. We are also going out to the entire blogosphere. We have a team of section editors that go out and look for posts to curate on to BlogHer.com, where we are just posting a little excerpt and say this post is awesome, and go read it on her blog so we create traffic to your blog. We have a lot of different ways. You can pitch us all of those kinds of posts.
And syndication is a great way -- if you have written something, it's nice because you have already written it, you know? So you don't have to worry about the pitch. It's a great way to prove that you can work with us and you want to build a relationship.
Yes?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Sorry. On that breaking into the market again, in essence, when you go to these associations, that's one way to do it. I have read that if you see my name over and over with some decent pitches, do you then start to form, oh, there's that woman again. She's annoying and, okay, that's interesting but not the right time. That's interesting. Now here's one. So if you see that repeatedly or do you just delete, delete, delete? Tell the truth, please.
(Laughter)
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: It's going to sound really random, but sometimes it gets annoying, you know, especially if you keep sending me the same pitch over and over again, and I know every Monday morning it will be in my inbox, but, yeah, different pitches, no, you know, if you seem to be on the right track, you know, and maybe this one didn't you know, didn't work because we've got something similar already in process, then I'll keep an eye out for your name and for the next one.
It's it's really tricky because there are so many things we think of in house anyway, and we've heard a lot over and over again, but at the same time, you know, we are looking for that a ha moment that, you know, just might be in that first paragraph that will keep me reading or if you have an idea there, you know, if it's more of an essay kind of thing, I will keep reading. It's you just have to kind of grab me.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: I think I think as long as they are not all really bad pitches that are coming in, because then it's a double edged sword and we look at your name and we go, oh, it's her again. It does come down to the pitch itself, and everything that Stephanie had in her presentation, you know, it's not rocket science. It's about grabbing us right away in that first line, keeping it short and sweet, showing us that you know how to report. I mean, I can I pulled up a pitch that we got recently that did grab our attention that came in cold. Just one page. My scribbles on it.
But, you know, to me it has the elements that you really should focus on. So, you know this was about how do you maintain weight loss when you have lost weight? You know, that's not a new topic. It's about how to come into that with a different angle. And this caught our attention because it has, you know, the four or five things take think work really well in a pitch, especially when we are service and we're not just personal, but the headline, the pitch headline is the art of staying in your skinny Jeans. Well, that kind of got my attention, right? That's cool. A grabby pitch headline.
Starts off with a personal anecdote, ever since I lost 12 pounds earlier this year, I'm fascinated how different and difficult it is to maintain weight loss. A couple of sentences there. Personalized it right in. So now there's a new study. She cites the study at the bottom. So I'm like, okay, this is not just personal. She's using some news coming out of a study. The study polled 1,165 people and found out so there's four bullets on just some summary headlines of what the study revealed.
The column would look like and there's five more bullets. So she's being very specific about, you know, the sub headlines and what this pitch would cover. What do you think? That's her last sentence.
So it kind of it kind of hits those grouping of things that we are all talking, about you know?
Giving us something new. Show us the headline that you think could work with this. Show us that you have done some reporting. She's already talking about the study. You know, and explain what you touch on without telling us in a long winded way and two pages all about what the thing would do.
So you know, that was just a quick example of keeping it short and sweet, but hitting the right notes that's going to grab our attention.
>> BARB DYBWAD: That's a great example too of how she used the research study. So this is a topic that people have been covering for a long time, but now there's a new study. So that pins it to a current event. It pins it to something on the timeline which makes it easier for us to bring out again. It's something new. It's back on the timeline. People are looking for that information again, and that's also an added element to bring.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: Any kind of pop culture reference or connection you can make too, we want our magazine to not be the you don't want to be able to pick it up and have it look exactly like it did in 2000. We want it to be current. We want it to feel like you know, we were talking about the TV shows and the music and, you know, the things that people are, you know, are really focused on now. That needs to kind of be woven into whatever the subject matter is. So it doesn't feel like the same old same old, but it's anchored in right now.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: And for BlogHer, now means now. If you have something that's breaking right now and you are capable of covering it now, I will look at you, you know, very intensely because we move quickly, as do you guys.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: Yeah and I think especially in like parenting and health, we are not you know, we are covering lot of the same stuff over and over again. It's not like this brand new stuff coming out over and over again, and it's a new way in. I always led this exercise with our internal teams of editors and writers where we we brainstorm headlines looking for a story.
So we don't think about the article of the story or the content, we think about great headlines and then what is the story behind that? So a recent example of that in our PR lead, Meredith is sitting over here. We do best and worst cities for RealAge and that comes out of the database, the data of everyone that we know have taken the test and we can query the database. We can query what are the best cities for health and the worst cities for health, based on the personal information that people are sharing. We are pitching as well on the PR front, we are pitching to try to get coverage in the media.
So we get pickup on the best cities and worst cities and the localization, and then somebody said, well, what we come at it a different way and we say does this city make make my butt look big? And it was just a new way into it, right? Instead of pitching and pitching the same thing, it's like, does my bum look big in this city? That would get somebody's attention, right, to kind of come into the same topic from a different angle. So
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: It's a delicate balance. Because we are telling to you prove everything you can do and grab us in a couple of sentences and keep it brief.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: It's not easy.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: There is an art to that pitch.
Do we have a question?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I blog at Jessruns.com and my question is more related to the pitch. What I was curious about was the pitch you just gave the example of was awesome. You said that was about one page. I guess I'm kind of curious what your definition of brief, is how you fit in all the catchy stuff and metric stuff while keeping it brief.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: This happened you know, it's probably not quite a page, but it's it's bulleted and I think if you really think concisely, it's amazing how much you can cram into a short amount of time. For one of the magazines I was at, I used to do a CBS radio minute in 60 seconds sounds like a hell of a short amount of time. It's amazing what you can cram into a short amount of time.
When I was at the BBC, our own internal pitches for television and radio programming had to be one paragraph. So we would start out just writing down the whole pitch. It might be three pages. Then we would do another round and say how can we condense this even further. Ultimately some of the big TV shows that have since come over here, they were pitched to the BBC producers and execs as one paragraph.
So, you know, pitching is a skill in itself. It's a lot to cram in, but I think if you just be really a couple of sentences to set it up, some bullets to back it up, some citation to show that you have already been looking to support the pitch, and that you are reporting.
STEPHANIE WOOD: We always say, think of it as the elevator pitch. If you are on the elevator with somebody for two minutes and you have to convince them of whatever it is you want them to do that's first paragraph of your pitch, the two minutes that you have to grab their attention.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: Yeah.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: If you want to outline how the piece will go and give us some subsections, package them in a juicy way but you don't have to give us a whole paragraph of what's going to go into subsection, you know? But the catchy phrase and, you know, just a really, like, little nibble of what would come next.
>> BARB DYBWAD: And the ability to be concise is a great skill to cultivate as a writer. You want to be able to deliver a lot of information very efficiently. You don't want to waste people's times. We have to cover the launch of a new product with all the specs and release date and how much it's going to cost in as little as two paragraphs and you have to be able to fit all of that in quickly and have it read well and have it be entertaining.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: And it is journalism 101 for those of us that that was our education. It's the inverted pyramid, which ties into the elevator pitch. Get the good stuff at the top because imagine we might not make it all the way down to the bottom. We might stop reading halfway down. So you put the important stuff at the top, and that comes from the old school newspapers where the copy chief would be cutting your article from the bottom up, because they are running out of space. I think it's the same in the pitch. Get it important at the top.
You know, I had a moment yesterday where I had my own elevator pitch with Marco Pierre White, who he's doing the food demonstrations in the expo. He's like a God to me, because he taught Gordon Ramsay everything that Gordon Ramsay knows. Marco is a British chef and I wanted to go and kind of introduce RealAge to him and the notion of him perhaps us talking about doing something together and he's surrounded by a group of people and I had two minutes to set it up and give him my card and hope he will follow up. So it's the same thing, whether you are doing an elevator pitch verbally or on paper.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Question?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Okay. Sorry, I have one more question but this one hasn't been asked and it's the money question. I do feel like there are online venues and possibly even print venues that are very happy to feature my work for zero dollars. How do I drive the zero up to something that's appropriate? How do I know what's appropriate? How do I know when to have that conversation? And I think that's it. So as both being writers and editors, I mean you may have different answers, depending which hat you put on, but that's my question.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: That's a great question. Nicola, you had suggested when we were talking that one way to get your foot in the door, is offer one free post.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: I hate to say that as somebody who has had to pay my mortgage and rent on freelance stuff in my early years, it's tough, but, I mean, if you are willing to do one or two assignments for free to get that relationship going, that's great. I mean, we were chatting earlier before the panel started, and, you know, in our day when we were new in our careers and free lancing and writing for magazines and the web didn't exist. It was a per word fee, you know? Five cents a word or, you know, and if you were brilliant and you were doing 1,000 word article, that's kind of a nice check to get as a freelancer.
But, you know, there are fewer pages in magazines. There are fewer magazines. There are even fewer newspapers and online, you know, we don't have huge budgets. You know, you might think we do, but we actually don't. And even professional writers, it's less per word, or definitely not per page anymore, but it's, you know, $500 for the piece, or $250 for the piece, or $1,000. I don't know. I haven't paid $1,000 for a piece in a long time!
So you are in a much more competitive environment because, you know, anybody can be a self proclaimed writer today. Anybody can kind of start their blog, whether you are a small blog or a big blog, you are writing. Then there's the whole professional writers out there that have gone to Northwestern Medill Journalism School and they are coming out and that's what they want their career to be. So it's very competitive. I always felt it was competitive, but I think it's more so now.
>> BARB DYBWAD: I think what you are getting paid depends on the industry and the market that you are writing for. If you are writing for the tech industry online. That industry is a lot more well developed than the industry for fashion, for example. So there are a lot more examples of publications out there who pay the writers. We pay all of our writers. It's also going to depend on the age and the size of the publication. If it's a start up that just launched a site last month, they are probably going to pay less than a more established site like Engadget who paid industry wages that are approaching the wages of print.
Also in general, online will pay less than the equivalent amount in print. Also, it depends if we'll pay you per piece or certain folks who can't with us a lot end up moving to a stipend sort of role. So that's out there as a possibility, and I would say it's probably not the thing that you want to ask in your pitch, but if you get a response and you start getting past stage one, it's appropriate to ask early on do you compensate and how much do you compensate, because if it's not a good match, you can say, thanks but no thanks, earlier and don't waste each other's time.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: And I would say, BlogHer pays $50 a post for anything that we accept on syndication or original assignment, by the way. Don't do too many things for free, unless you really, really want to work with that publication, because you really, really want to work with that publication. Because people will publish content for free and then stop working with you. It's the way a lot of publications online right now.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: We, just from my perspective, if we publish you in print, we are going to pay you. We are not going to I mean, if it's somebody in the company from another magazine that writes for us, then we can't pay them. If you are a freelancer and we want to publish your work, we will definitely be paying you something.
That said, we don't pay what we used to pay. You know, probably since 2008, when the recession hit, that was coincidentally right when I came back to work full time from being a freelancer. I don't know if I could afford to be a freelancer now and make the money I did then, because everybody's budgets have been slashed and as Nicola just said, we have fewer pages. We are making fewer assignments. So, you know, if you kind of think of it this is an entry level job for you, then you will get an entry level wage. It might make the difference in me giving you that assignment than somebody else who I used to work with, but I can't afford to pay what they are used to getting anymore. So, you know, I'm looking for new talent that the fit into my budget now. It's a give and take but we are also we are not going to publish your work for nothing in print anyway.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: And Julie mentioned syndicating what have you. Syndication is a fancy word for republishing and getting more bang for your buck for things that you are already producing. So anybody who is blogging or have their own site presence, you have a huge inventory of stuff that you can tap into and look at reshaping and, you know, redelivering in different ways that feels unique.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: And most places that syndicate -- obviously read your fine print, but with us and others, you do retain your copyright, in case you were worried about that. But you do have to double check.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Piper Hoffman, I blog at piperhoffman.com and my writing tends to be op ed like, and I'm wondering if there are publications that are interested in opinion writing and if there is a different approach for pitching that and for trying to get paid for that.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Me!
(Laughter)
I'm interested in your opinion. I think, you know, the best thing to do is be familiar with the publications, see what they have published before. Media Bistro, and I think you can reach out to Media Bistro and ask them to pursue a publication that they haven't written about yet.
If they do what you do, pitch them, you know? That's the best way. If they don't do what you do, but you think they should, pitch them politely.
Do you guys accept opinion?
>> BARB DYBWAD: That sort of goes back to know a lot about who you are pitching and know who is appropriate to approach with that kind of need. For us, in our industry, it's not as high priority as other things. Once we have writers on staff, certainly, they will do certain opinion pieces, but it's not necessarily the thing that drives the needle. For us it's not so much the thing, but there are definitely other publications in the industry that do more of that.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: Yes, it's not something that we do at RealAge, but speaking from my experience primarily back at magazines at working mother and working woman magazine, we have a personal essay publication in every issue and it was quite competitive. That's probably where we got the most cold call pitches coming in, was from people who thought they had an interesting story to tell, for an interesting opinion to share. And I never edited that column, but I know that it was one of probably the couple of pages in the magazine that had the most kind of work on the editor's part, working with the person submitting once they accepted an idea. There was still a lot of crafting to do.
So you know, opinion writing and personal stuff sounds easy, right? It's your words and nobody is going to mess with it. But there was still a lot of kind of editing back and forth to get to get the full opinion or the full essay in that one and a half pages can be really tricky.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: There are a couple of issues that come into play for us too. We do we would do some opinion pieces depending on what the opinion and the topic is. The two issues for us is I will use the example of the American academy of pediatrics. We work very closely with them. They contribute a lot to our magazine, including a monthly column. We support a lot of their initiatives and so somebody wants to write an anti vaccine piece, I'm not going to publish that because, you know, it's just not something that we support editorially either.
That said, we would be willing to do something that wasn't necessarily offensive or polarizing, maybe, but was, you know, something you were passionate about and want to share. We don't want our readers to ever feel guilty about any of their parenting decisions. We don't want to make you feel bad if you didn't continue to breast feed after two months. If you don't want to get vaccines, that's fine, don't do it, if that's the way you feel. We won't make other people feel guilty because they did get their children vaccinated. So it's all about, you know, not antagonizing people or creating a polarizing situation but sharing your opinion in a helpful, thoughtful way.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Right, and another thing about being courteous when you pitch. I have ... maybe we should get into examples of a bad pitch. I have had, you know, people say, dear Ms. Godar, BlogHer is woefully underrepresenting subject X, and I am here to correct that for you.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: Delete.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: I love self confidence, and probably I of most publications because I want -- I love every one of you and I want to spotlight every one of you at some point in time so I may overlook that, but that's something that will get you the delete key almost everywhere immediately.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: It's interesting though, to that point, we don't have bloggers at RealAge but back when I was at Prevention, some of the health bloggers we had, we chose them specifically because they had a point of view and they were coming at something with opinion, mostly based from expertise, but sometimes, you know, just a nurtured kind of expertise, and we liked that because it did drive comments and, you know, conversation, and debate. So a blog by very nature, in my world at brands I have been at have actually brought that element of opinion and point of view.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Question?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Carleen Brice and I'm here actually to be on the panel this afternoon on how to pitch your book. I'm an author and blogger, but in my other life, I freelance and have edited and one of the suggestions I wanted to have make for you all is if you are interested in pitching to magazines considered trade magazines, there's a lot of magazines that are out there for organizations like I spent a few years working for the American association of animal hospitals. That organization has a magazine for veterinarians. They pay for writers and they are always looking for writers and there's a slew of those magazines called trade magazines that are always looking for new voices. They don't pay hugely, put they pay. And I think they pay pretty well.
And the lady who had a question about op ed pieces, there are still a few newspapers in this country, and a few of them do pay. I did an op ed not too long ago for the "Washington Post" and they paid me. So if it's tied to something happening in the news and you have something that sheds light on that, that's important, consider newspapers too. They are still out there.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Great point. Thank you. And there are trade magazines for everything. At one point I was subscribed, and I don't know why, to “Potato Business World.”
(Laughter)
Which was fascinating!
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: Down here.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Question?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hi. Hello. I'm Amy Wilson and I blog at when did I get like this? Hello. My question is, I know it's bad form, obviously to pitch an idea to more than one magazine at the same time, but generally when you do a pitch, you either kind of hear yes right away or maybe right away or you hear nothing and then kind of dawns on you that one is not going to go. I'm wondering, how long do you give a magazine to sort of consider your idea before you can assume you are free to go elsewhere with that idea?
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: Well, usually if it's something that I think I could be interested in, I will reply and say, you know, I'm I might say I'm shipping this week. Get back to me in two weeks. That's your cue to email me again. Sometimes things can sit around. I mean, it might be an idea we know we like we just know that we won't use it. I try to let writers know that it's not a dead issue, but it's on my back burner.
If you sent the same pitch three times and you don't get a response, and there's nothing wrong to say, I would like to sell this elsewhere, and can you at least let me know if I have a prayer? I will say, you know what, take it elsewhere, because it's not something I can get to right now and I don't know when I can. I try to be pretty forthcoming about that and not leave people hanging.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: It's the perfect time to ask did you see my pitch before I give it away? But if someone gets back to you and says, contact me later, make sure you follow up.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: If you don't get a response, the answer is no. And follow ups can get kind annoying. We get 1,000 emails in our inbox that we have to deal with every day, internally and across the country and of all the cold ones coming in.
We just can't get the it's the old we can't get back to everybody kind of thing. So it's tricky. It sounds rude, but that's the reality.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: And emails get buried too. I can tell you right now, don't email me on the weekend. I know a lot of people are working on the weekend, if you are working from home, that's when you get the time. You know, I won't look at it until Monday and by the time I get in there, this might be, you know, 100 other emails on top of yours and I'm busy on Monday morning and I'm not I'm never going to find that. So the timing is everything. I would say, you know, email me in the middle of the workday, lunchtime, when I'm sitting at my desk going through my email.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: You get lunch?
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: As I'm working, you know. That's when I'm cleaning up the inbox and noticing things. It's not going to be on Sunday morning.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: And not while you are shipping, right?
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: Yes, the first two weeks of the month are bad, the second half of the month are good.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: And for BlogHer, maybe not the week after BlogHer.
(Laughter)
Do we have a question?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I'm wondering if a lot of times you get pitches and then think that they are really good topics and assign them to staff writers and if so, should and if you see that kind of happening I've done this a couple of times where I've pitched something, and then I have seen that, you know, newspaper cover it the next day or something, and I'm like, you know... should I keep pitching because I have really great ideas or or is you know, is that probably a signal that they really just want to stick with their staff writers? I'm Sarah Gilbert from cafe momma.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: I would say a lot of stuff is probably just already assigned in-house. And you have your pulse on that organization, if you keep seeing the items. It could be something completely unique to you, you would know best -- but, yeah, I mean ... if I were you, I would bring it up once or twice and see if I hear a response and if not, then don't give them your best ideas anymore, you know?
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: We had an experience like that recently, where a I mean it does happen a lot. It's usually purely coincidence. I mean, especially if you see something appear like right away, because, I mean, in print we work so far ahead that by the time you pitched us and it came out, it might have been in the works for six months.
This was a writer who pitched me about a year and a half ago about these new balance bikes for kids that are coming over from Europe. They don't have training wheels and it's a new way. I did not see the pitch. We just had a change in Editor in Chief and there was a lot of chaos going on. I ended up switching jobs and taking a different role. I never saw that pitch. And another editor came in and had a friend from Europe, who had a balance bike and it ran in her section and this guy wrote us and he was very upset, it was 200 words. It was like this is what they are. You know, this is why they are great for kids developmentally. It was not like, you know, something that couldn't have been thought of by many other people, but he was upset.
And, you know, we apologized to him. We explained it went to this editor and the editor who did the story wasn't on staff at the time you did it, and it was just a bad coincidence, and we're sorry. There's a lot of information. It's not so much the topics that you know, they are not new to us. It's the spin you can give them a lot of times that will make it more unique and make us look at it twice.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Right. Question?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Let me try this again. I'm Christina Ruddy and I blog at Russianhilllife.com, but my paying job is video production, and I'm wondering if you could comment, if you feel like you are going to start implementing video posts or if you see the future there?
>> BARB DYBWAD: We already do video. We have two series that run, one is a weekly tech news show and one is a daily segment that's three minutes of how to do this one thing. So video is definitely starting to become a lot more important in a lot of ways the monetization is moving a little bit more quickly than sort of display advertising. So I think there's a lot of shift towards wanting to do more video.
It's a very different animal than working with print. If you have to edit a video that turnaround time is 24 hours, whereas if I just want to change a sentence, that's five minutes. But I definitely think there are a lot of openings already and there are going to be a lot more opening for video production, particularly, yeah, online in the future.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: Yeah, that's an interesting point because I haven't thought about video as I was preparing for that panel. That is still a very wide open opportunity space in freelancing, and before RealAge, I headed up programming for healthguru.com which is specifically video. It's health video. It's targeting quite a younger market, but I have experienced implementing video every band of work, including at RealAge and it's very expensive to produce, right? And we don't have huge budgets for video. And so you are often farming it out to production companies, which is expensive or, you know, you have a video editor, producer on site doing more kind of down and dirty video.
I think there's opportunity in the middle there, but I have yet to receive a cold call pitch on video, but if it's something professional and you can show an example and are willing to put the money in or the time to kind of produce a couple of videos that you think would be great, and a great fit, then it's very likely that you would be engaged to do more, but with more closer brand direction, because in video, it is, once it's baked, it's baked. So it's got to be kind of on brand. But, yeah, there could be some opportunities there, I think.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: I think there's absolutely a future in that. I can tell you that we and every print magazine publisher are scrambling to come one an iPad edition that will engage people. Part of that is going to be video enhancements to the content that's in the magazine and it's not something we have any budget for right now at all. We are trying to figure out how to do it. We literally have our creative director making videos on photo shoots.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: Yeah.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: As we see how that evolves and if that turns into a money making situation for publishers, I could definitely see there being a lot of opportunity there because there's only so many people on staff to do this kind of stuff.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: Yeah.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Question?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hello. Sorry, hi, I'm known as the sleep doula, I do a lot of stuff with parenting. I find at least on Canadian side, it comes when you are dealing with a whole bunch ever publications and you are seen as an expert, if you continue to go back and write for them, even if you are not getting paid for it, that you should stick to a publication or always pitch them first? Or pitch everybody all at the same time?
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: The point about exclusive offering an exclusive pitch, if you have a relationship with an outlet, I think that's that's a nice thing to offer an exclusive or offer them first right or refusal, but if freelancing is is part of your day job, I think you shouldn't limit yourself to just pitching one outlet. You should spread it wide and whoever says yes first is a gig, right?
But if you do have an ongoing relationship with an outlet or two, I think that's nice if you are offering first right or refusal.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: If they are not paying you to be exclusive to them
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: That's true.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: Then you shouldn't be. You have the right to earn money wherever you can sell your work and unless I'm willing to say, I will give you a contract and, you know, pay you X amount to do so many stories for us a year, then, you know and I'm saying that from when I was a freelancer. I you know, you have the right to work for whoever you want to work for and, you know, it shouldn't be it's one thing to do something for free, to get your foot in the door, to build a relationship, but, you know, that you shouldn't keep giving away your work.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: It shouldn't be an abusive relationship.
Question?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: Hello. Hi, I'm Dana with reclaimingleadership.com and I just want to thank you for being so open and honest with us. This has been a really great conversation. And I'm realizing, actually, that I have stumbled into two syndication opportunities for online publications because I knew the editors. I mean, I just knew them anyway.
And what I have realized is what I do with them, I write them a post or if they don't take it, I put it on my blog or send it to someone else. In print, I understand that pitches are short but how often is it a good idea to go ahead and write the article and then maybe do you send a pitch and the article? Do you send the article? How does that work?
>> BARB DYBWAD: We typically actually come at it from the other direction. We are doing a lot of syndication to other publications and what we have found typically works best and is most expedient is write the post, send them a link. Are you interested in this? Would you be interested in it? You know, if we could do particular edits that you want to do, so I think that is becoming much more common parlance now on the web, and I think it would be interesting to start seeing more of that type of pitching coming along as opposed to just here's what I want to write. Can I write it? Here's what I wrote, would you on interested in in some content sharing?
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: Yeah, and I think as I noted earlier, for us, we are syndicating out also, but it's usually in relationships. So RealAge has a relationship with Yahoo! Shine, it's a syndication relationship. It's something that we are writing for RealAge that they get at the same time or we are pitching them ideas and it's a lot of on the fly stuff related to timely topics.
If we are syndicating in, it's usually because we see a partner out there or a content provider who is consistently doing things that we think would be interesting to us, and it's a syndication deal that says, you know, we'll we'll suck in your weekly whatever or five times a month or daily and it's coming in. So syndicating one off is not a world that I experienced on either side of the fence. So I'm not sure how that would be.
My feeling, outside of short stuff, do you really want to commit your best effort to doing a fully baked thing with a very high possibility that you won't get a yes? Do you want to do that up front, versus a tight pitch that you can share and tell and explain what you are going to do and how you are going to do it? I don't know.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: I would say 75% of the time you don't want to do it beforehand, especially if it's a research, reported kind of piece. The one exception is maybe a humor piece or, you know, a first person essay where we really need to get a sense of your writing style to see how it's going to play out, and then, you know, if you are devoting 800 or 1,000 words as opposed to 2,000 words and it's something that's kind of rolling off your fingertips then that's kind of a different situation, but that's, you know, just a fraction of what we would publish. So
>> BARB DYBWAD: I would definitely agree it will be a lot easier to establish more of a long term relationship with a brand or a publication who if you have similar goals with them, to be able to approach them and say, would you be interested in some sort of ongoing syndication deal, as opposed to one offs?
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: Question?
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: I had this question is coming from your editor's standpoint between like, I'm assuming you are not the boss of your publication, you work for somebody else. Do you ever get into struggles between the management and your freelancers? Can you share a perspective on that? I mean, not like them fighting amongst each other, like you are fighting for your writers against the powers that be or vice versa or he they hand down a rule, and they get all pissed off and they quit.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: That brings to mind when you are working with the Editor in Chief and you are working with the freelancers and you are working with them, and it comes in and goes through the routing process and ultimately the Editor in Chief is supposedly looking at everything and sometimes it comes back that they want changes or they want a different angle and it keeps going back to the writer and it's not always coming from the editor. They might think they are done and it's a great piece, but the powers that be wanted a different angle or something different, or isn't quite working for me, and the editors have to figure out what that means as well.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: It depends on the size of the staff too. I mean, if you are looking at a woman's magazine, there could be so many different cooks stirring the broth. You might think that you are done and you come back with more revisions.
From my perspective, I'm the executive editor, I'm the second person in charge of the Editor in Chief. So usually we are pretty much in sync but, you know, there can be something that will I will be excited about, that you know, she will be completely turned off by, or vice versa. So it happens. It's just, you know, it's all it's subjective in terms of, you know, your family life and your parenting experience to a lot of to a certain extent. So, you know, you are an editor that you are working directly with, can be excited and it ends up not getting the green light.
So it does happen. You know, it's just kind of part of the process.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: One last question and then we'll be done.
>> AUDIENCE MEMBER: My name is Margaret I blog at shortfatdictator.com which is a parenting blog. My question is it seems to me in the blogosphere that voice is very important. When I have someone come to my site, I really want them to hear my voice and know my writing very specifically by that voice, and I know in freelancing sometimes that's not as attractive to editor, that they they are not looking for such a strong voice. They are looking for something maybe more in keeping with their publication and I'm wondering what your thoughts are on that.
>> STEPHANIE WOOD: We we like a great voice. We want something to be really engaging and, you know, don't want it to be just the same old, same old reporting. So we're we're looking for that voice. I mean, I guess if it's radically different, it might not fit in with us, but in general, I would say we want the uniqueness of your writing style and your publication.
>> BARB DYBWAD: Yes, for us too. I mean, we don't want technology to be a dry subject. We want you to bring your your voice to it. We want there to be humor. We want you to have a unique angle. We want it to be relatable, personally, but all of that said, you still you do need to be able to work within a style guide and work within a framework and fit within the larger voice of the publication, but within that larger umbrella, there is room for a lot of individuality.
>> NICOLA BRIDGES: Yeah, and I think we we want the best of several worlds. We want to have a voice. We want the brand voice to come through as well. But as importantly and as, again, I'm no expert on blogging, you guys are the experts, but SCO and optimization is just huge for us.
So you know, if you guys are writing with a very strong personal voice, do you pay attention to optimization? Because for us, that's important and there's always a struggle between, you know, optimizing the copy for SCO, and retaining a voice within that. So, again, maybe maybe that's something that gives you an edge and a pitch if you can show or indicate in one bullet that your SCO savvy and this idea has come up because you see in Google sense or Google words that this is a topic that people are searching on and then how you optimize your copy and maintain a personality, it's a fine line. It's very tricky.
>> JULIE ROSS GODAR: That's a great point, and, yeah, the more you can show in your pitch, the better. But first and foremost, make sure your pitch has your voice. Your voice may not fit the company you're pitching -- but nobody will take a bland pitch.
And I think that's it.
Thank you, guys, for your time. And if anybody wants to pitch me, I've got business cards and I will be here for a couple of minutes.
(Applause)

AttachmentSize
BlogHer-freelance_editorial_work.ppt6.54 MB

Comments

In order to comment on BlogHer.com, you'll need to be logged in. You'll be given the option to log in or create an account when you publish your comment. If you do not log in or create an account, your comment will not be displayed.