CONTEST: Win a Free Year of the Freelance Writers Den

CONTEST: Win a Free Year of the Freelance Writers Den!

Carol Tice | 30 Comments
Freelance Writers Den Contest

UPDATE: Congratulations to our essay contest winner, Lisa Hewitt! Enjoy your free year in the Den!

Congratulations also to our runner-ups:

  • 1st runner-up: Stacey Langheim
  • 2nd runner-up: Linda Caradine
  • 3rd runner-up: Dharmik Shah

Thanks to everyone for your great stories/entries!


Ten years ago—ten!—I got a crazy idea in my head: I was going to start an online writing community for freelancers. But what should I call it? Maybe the Freelance Writers Den.

The goal: Provide a place for writers to learn how to market their services and earn more.

When we opened the doors in 2011, I had no clue how needed this sort of all-you-can-eat learning platform was for freelance writers.

The Freelance Writers Den turned 10 this year and is over 1,500 members strong.

The Den is packed with 300+ hours of trainings members can access anytime, on everything from how to do lucrative types of writing like white papers, to how to find better-paying clients.

Curious about the Den? We’re opening the doors and welcoming new Denizens for a few days, starting on December 8.

To celebrate the holidays, we’re giving away a year-long membership to the Den! That’s a $400 value.

We’re holding an essay contest to award this juicy prize. Find out more below:

Essay contest rules

The essay question that can win you a year in the Den:

Tell us about your WORST experience pitching. 

Why this question? Because all of us have had an awkward or downright bad experience when making a pitch to a prospective client. Whether we flubbed the pitch or the client made things hell, we’ve all been there. Tell us all about it, and perhaps a bit of what you learned, in a 300-word essay.

Here are the details on where to post and how to win:

  • One entry per person. Multiple entries will disqualify you.
  • Limit 300 words.
  • You can post your essay in the comments below or on our Facebook page (look for the post with the graphic you see on this post).
  • Current Den members are eligible to participate.
  • Winner will be announced on our blog post of 12/7. We’ll also email the news to subscribers, and update this post and Facebook.

Is our online writing community for you?

Maybe you’re new here and not familiar with the Den. If so, recommend you visit the Den home page and watch the video that goes through all our member benefits.

We serve new, returning, and mid-career freelance writers around the world with focused bootcamps, 24/7 forums, monthly live events, podcasts, an exclusive job board, and training resources galore.

It’s been a thrill to serve so many writers, and to create a platform that makes freelance knowledge affordable for the hungry writers who need it. And it’s still early days! Great trainings are coming up in the New Year.

Good luck, everyone! And hope to see you in the Den.

 

Your Shortcut to Success. Freelancewritersden.com

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30 comments on “CONTEST: Win a Free Year of the Freelance Writers Den!

  1. Emmanuel on

    I was not able to participate in the contest due to unforeseen circumstances. But I feel the urge to pitch you at least to get a reply. I congratulate the winner of the essay contest immensely.
    Writing is a part of me that I have discovered recently. Just as the book and biro, we are an inseparable pair. For me, writing is not all about penning for money, what makes it superb is the joy, passion and contentment of being able to create something for indeed a writer is a creator.
    I didn’t take writing seriously until after my mom’s accident. I needed money for her surgery but I had none. A friend of mine referred me to writing for money (freelance writing) as writing was the only thing I could do perfectly and would earn a lot of money compared to the work I was doing. Truth be told, I fancied the idea and thought it was going to be an easy task pitching a site but alas it was not. This was way back in June. I put my writing skills into combat but the result was demoralizing. I was not even replied. Then, again I continued yet the former was the result.
    A friend of mine lent me some cash which I used to pay for my mom’s surgery. The surgery was successful but to an extent. She could not work properly.
    I decided that she had to undergo another surgery so that she won’t be forever deformed but I needed the cash. I continued pitching sited yet all had dead ends. They were either not in need of content writers or they would give a somewhat negative reply. It was during this period that my friend postulated I join the freelance den. Though I am still on the waiting list but am quite sure that I will surely make it into the den.
    All I want is something that will commensurate my efforts at least prove I am also a creator. I take note of everything that happen around me this days and try so much to create something from it and I have been successful only to an extent. No site seems to see my work eligible for them. “We shall get back to you” is a statement common to me and I hope it would change when I make it into the den. I pray your reply won’t be like theirs.
    I really need to get some cash for my mom not for me. I don’t want her to be deformed forever

    Reply
    • Angie Mansfield on

      Hi, Emmanuel –

      So sorry to hear about your mom. The Den is open right now – you can go to the front page and click “Join Now” to sign up.

      Best,
      Angie Mansfield
      MALW Admin

      Reply
  2. Tom Bentley on

    Too late for the contest (and not about a pitch, but in regards crazed clients for your amusement):

    I wrote some property descriptions a ways back for a fellow running some specialty Airbnbs. All straightforward stuff, with friendly exchanges between all. I’d never had any contact with his wife, when I got a recent phone call from her, many months since I’d heard from him. She asked me to write a GoFundMe page for her, to pay for a big fence on their property so she wouldn’t have to see the neighbor’s dogs.

    They and other neighbors had had trouble for a year with these marauding dogs and the dogs’ owner, but the most recent incident had the neighbor bringing the dogs onto her property, and one attacked and killed her dog. Their property is rural, and large, so the fence would be substantial, and require a lot of money, thus the GoFundMe page.

    Gruesome, but I understood the assignment, and agreed to it. Then she began a long story of how she and my original client had split up, over many complications, the dog’s death being one. I won’t go into the details, but it was convoluted, with many specifics you shouldn’t be telling a stranger, one you were hiring for the first time.

    OK, a flag there, and not just red, but burning. But I’d said I’d write her page, so I was going to hold to that. But I was unsettled.

    Two days later, her husband, my original client, called me. He immediately went into a long, rambling disquisition on why his wife and he had broken up, including the fact that he’d signed over the rights to their property to her, under great duress, in a quitclaim written by weaselish lawyers, that she’d been having an affair with an older man (80!) and a bunch of other things I shouldn’t have been told. But he said I should go ahead and write the GoFundMe page, because it had been his dog too, and she should be shielded from seeing the neighbor’s murdering dog.

    Multiple flags burning now.

    But I did write the page for her. Several days later, she called and asked me to send her the original copy for the Airbnbs, saying her husband was blocking her from using them and she was going to repost. Gong! Finally, I woke up, and said I couldn’t do that, and that I couldn’t be in the middle of the dissolution of their marriage, and didn’t want anything to do with work that was part of that.

    Two days later (you guessed it), I got a call from him, saying he was going to have to involve some private investigators, perhaps even the FBI, because she was violated his trademarks (and was trying to steal them) for another company he owned, and she had hacked a website he owned. He wanted me to write a long statement that was a summary document for the lawyer he was going to engage on these issues.

    I had to tell him the same thing that I told her, which was that I couldn’t write anything that was kindling in the fire of their flaming marriage. After many apologies (and more meandering details), he hung up. I did—I’m stupid that way—write something for him on a different, innocent subject a while after, but it was a Voldemort: she cannot be named or involved while discussing any writing, now and to come.

    Perhaps not so much the client from hell, because they were mostly bedeviling each other. More like two clients from purgatory wanting me to join them. I’m not answering any Evites for their parties.

    Reply
  3. Christina on

    The worst experience I have ever had with pitching was with a magazine. I am still learning how the process of pitching works, and how one should craft a pitch. In this case, I felt I had created the prefect pitch.
    I took my time crafting the pitch, and despite the anxiety I was trying to overcome, I told myself this will change my life. Even if I get nothing back, I have at least taken the first step towards my dream.
    In the pitch I stuck to the facts. Here is my idea, and why you should pick me to write a column for your magazine.
    My fingers were ready to press send, but my brain was holding firm at no.
    After reading the email pitch several times, running it through Grammarly three times I felt confident this pitch was ready to send.
    A couple days later, I received an email while I was at work from the editor of this magazine. I wanted to look at it, I wanted to jump up and down. Butterflies were swarming in my stomach, and I felt as though I was going to throw up.
    Like Ralphie from “A Christmas Story” I pictured the editor was flabbergasted by my talent.
    After three hours I finally made it home, with a pounding heart I opened the email.
    It read, “Thank you, but we require writers to understand basic grammar.”
    I looked over my pitch again, this is impossible I double, tripled checked. But there it was, the word that no program or eyes caught, “their”. I meant “there”. I was humiliated and felt I had let myself down. After all these years of dreaming about writing, I shot myself in the foot.

    Reply
  4. Abubakar Abdul on

    Back in high school, I knew I was pretty good at writing essays and short publications. But whatever I wrote back then was subject to the school’s interest and curriculum. After high school, I wanted to communicate my ideas and opinions more effectively and also to a much broader audience. I wanted to educate and provide quality written content for readers in my writing style.
    Writing was something never really valued in my country. The pay was relatively low and it was considered in most parts of the country as an insignificant skill. I wanted to write for international clients but I needed experience. I wrote for some local magazines and blogs, which at the time paid about 2-4 dollars for a 1500 word blog post. The most popular blogs and magazines paid about 5-7 dollars for the same post length. That’s just how low the pay is for a freelance writer here. Nevertheless, I wrote because I was keen on improving myself as a writer and freelancer.
    When my writing skills were sufficiently refined, I sought out for higher-paying clients. I thought that I’ve finally reached that point when everything was to fall in its place. That I’ve met all the prerequisites. But to my dismay, the one factor that would separate me from my goal was something I never anticipated nor considered. It was the country I lived in. Most internationally recognized blogs would only accept writers from developed countries like the US, Singapore, or the UK. Not once did I ever feel so restricted.
    This is not the end though. There are other blogs that accept writers from anywhere in the world. I always pray to meet good clients that pay well.
    Keep pitching! Keep writing!

    Reply
  5. Barb Ostapina on

    Beware Big Fish: How Not to Pitch a Prospect

    If only I knew then what I know now.

    My freelance writing business was new. I was working mostly with small, local companies – doing nothing to sustain my lifestyle for more than a month at a time.

    And along came what looked like a pretty big fish… a young, aggressive, growing technology startup with the city of Chicago in its jaws. It flopped right into my boat.

    The president saw my profile on LinkedIn and called me. He wanted to rework his company’s website and liked my style. He asked if I could suggest anything.

    But it was I who got hooked. I saw dollar signs and promptly dropped my wits in the lake.

    Why yes, I could… let’s meet for lunch… my treat, of course. Not just any lunch. For the likes of me at the time, an expensive lunch. That’s what salespeople I knew then did – bought prospects lunch.

    Did I know anything about working with bigger clients? Creative briefs? Vetting a prospect? Requiring a deposit before starting the work?

    Apparently not.

    I paid for that lunch, spent hours afterward drafting a site redesign, and proudly sent it to the prospect. And then I waited for the business to flow my way.

    It never did. Instead, as Herman Melville said in Moby Dick, “[T]hen all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.” And my boat ran aground. I never got so much as a ship-to-shore radio call.

    But the site now looks a lot like my design.

    What I learned from that experience is that good business exchanges are partnerships. What I have to offer has value. I will never again give away my caviar before getting paid to make it.

    Reply
  6. Jett Farrell-Vega on

    My worst experience pitching came at the conclusion of a long process trying to sell my first fantasy novella.

    I’d experienced rejection before–I finished my first novel when I was sixteen, and agents I contacted at that time were gentle in their rejections. Walking through the murky waters of querying as an adult proved much harder.

    I carefully crafted and sent my first query only to be rejected. I repeated the process and was rejected again… and again. Each time, I had to navigate a fresh onslaught of unpredictable emotions—something particularly hard when a major magazine not only rejected my story but did so with veiled insults.

    I’d whittled down my list to one last publication—one last hope. I submitted and waited.

    I was working on a commercial crew in Colorado, and the gig quickly proved a lightning rod for Murphy’s Law. As I laid down exhausted that night in the crew house, I received the email I’d been waiting for. I prayed and opened it.

    The final rejection.

    It broke me. I don’t cry, but I wept in silence, not wanting colleagues to hear as I mourned the death of my beloved story. I slogged ahead the next day, masking my pain with a cheerful face as I grieved.

    It took me months to recover—that rejection hurt like nothing I’d experienced.

    I recognize now that though the moment had felt like a permanent failure, it wasn’t the end. Markets shift and turn, and a dead story can resurrect with reworking. Most important, I realized I am not made of glass, and I kept writing. While I am still refining my fiction, I am now a published travel writer in a niche that I love.

    Rejection hurts, but it’s not the end—don’t give up.

    Reply
  7. Andria Kennedy on

    Organization runs through my blood. You’ve seen anatomical images. Deoxygenated blood in the veins is blue and oxygenated blood in the arteries is red, right? Well, my blood cells are color-coded. Heading to the kidneys? Crimson. Making a trip to the GI tract? Yellow. Fueling my brain? Those cells are purple. I’m THAT absurd about structuring my life. Usually, anyway. Until that ONE pitch fell through the highly-organized cracks.

    Writers perform complicated juggling acts. On any given day, you look at project assignments (research, writing, editing, communications with clients), marketing (more research and communication), socialization with your peers, and pitching. You need a system to keep tabs on everything. At least, I do. Without my color-coded planner, whiteboards, and spreadsheets – and the occasional Post-It note – I’d tear my hair out. The structure and organization remind me where everything stands and allow me to check off stages as I complete them. And it’s SUPPOSED to be a flawless system.

    1. Once I polish a pitch, it goes into the tab of my writing file.
    2. Then I add the details of the first market.
    3. I move to the next choice as I hear a response (or don’t).

    Sweet, easy to follow, and foolproof.

    But sometimes, you get SO excited about a pitch, you forget to clue in your brain. Say, when something new breaks related to the story. I rushed to get my pitch out to the next editor on my list. At least, I THOUGHT it was the next editor. (Nope, I didn’t check) Then I went to enter the details on my spreadsheet.

    Turns out, I’d just pitched them. Two weeks in a row, sending the SAME pitch. Cue my head hitting the desk. Systems only work as well as their operators.

    Reply
  8. Nicole P on

    I looked at the call for pitches posted by the editor on Twitter. It was one of my fortes: writing about writing. I thought of all the lessons I had learned over the course of a few active months with freelance writing. I pondered over my experiences researching and writing articles as a ghostwriter. I had to have something to say for others to read and be inspired by. Except I had nothing.

    I pitched anyway. I can’t remember what I pitched exactly, which is just as well, because I got the standard response of, “Thank you but no thank you.”

    This is my weakness as a freelance writer: getting ideas.

    Sadly, if you hired me to write on your company’s pressure washing blog, I’d probably come up with something easier. That’s not the writing I want to be known for. I have something to say – I’m sure of it, but I can never think of it when trying to pitch an editor.

    I have countless attempts – staring at a call for pitches – sure of myself that something within me will erupt with creative inspiration to be able to craft a decent article idea. I’ve read the advice. I’ve talked with other writers. Something just doesn’t click with me.

    Reply
  9. Christine Facciolo on

    It started out innocently enough.
    I had been freelancing for the local newspaper for a few years when the health editor put me in charge of a monthly health and fitness column. Called “Get Fit,” the column featured one individual’s approach to fitness after becoming sedentary and making poor food choices. It consisted of some background about the individual and a Q&A whereby the individual would answer a routine series of questions submitted by me. I would edit the responses for space and grammar while maintaining the subject’s voice.
    I kept the column interesting by exploring some alternative ways to exercise: rock climbing, roller skating, kettlebell ballistics, kick boxing and salsa dancing. There was even a cache of feisty fitness converts, including a sedentary septuagenarian who worked up to a 16-minute mile.
    But I thought I’d hit pay dirt when I found a twenty-something who did pole dancing for exercise. Eyebrows got arched and jokes got cracked when she told others of her choice for getting back into shape. But she responded by pointing out its benefits, combining as it does elements of both gymnastics and dance. Plus she felt it never got stale and that encouraged her to stick with it.
    Keeping with the routine, I put the column together and filed it with the new editor. Unbeknownst to me though, was that a decision had been made at the editorial level to nix the column. To make matters worse, the editor decided to pass the story on to a staffer and it appeared under the crown of her byline—along with verbatim chunks of quotes and narrative. Talk about a nasty surprise!
    I realize there is no copyright on ideas but this was more than a bit beyond a pitch. Did not expect this from a veteran editor.

    Reply
  10. Faniso Matengaifa on

    I could feel the heat all over my face. I dragged my heavy limbs out of the office just wishing to be swallowed by the floor. Let me tell you the whole story.

    We were a group of individuals doing a number of projects in our region but we were still in the infant stage.  The first stage involved paperwork and it was easy. We could get ideas from others. Here comes the final stage. We had to present our projects live, trying to convince potential supporters so that we could get assistance. I was overconfident and did not believe in failure. The way I presented my ideas was a total disaster. I found myself stammering here and there. I could not present my ideas in a logical way. They were all jumbled. I did not need anyone to tell me the results. I had lost my audience, some were rubbing their chins, scratching their heads and even yawning.

    I learnt a lesson I will never forget. Never underestimate certain things in life. Planning applies to either small or big matters. I had to be humble and avoid being over confident. We all learn from our mistakes and I used them as stepping stones.
    We all fall many times but the problem is remaining on the ground. I held my head high, dusted myself and continued with the journey

    Reply
  11. Christian on

    My girlfriend and I lined up for an hour just to get inside a conference room where more than a dozen Film & Tv development executives were eagerly waiting to hear our pitch. Apparently, everyone in LA has a clever idea for a movie. Pfffft, as if. The guy standing in front of me was already sweating buckets, and I hate standing in a crowd. Screw it! We flew down from Vancouver to pitch an MOW and there’s no turning back now.

    Eventually, we get called over and we sit down in front of a young, casually dressed type of producer and deliver the goods — finishing each other’s sentences without skipping a beat. After a few minutes, we stop yammering and wait for signs of life…

    “Are you two together?”

    Huh? I lean back in my chair, my girlfriend raises an eyebrow: “Yeah?”, he leans in: “So what happens to your project if you guys break up?”

    **Here’s the thing: Our relationship was already skating on thin ice for reasons that I’m not gonna get into, because you already know what that’s like. And if you don’t (because you’re a monk), then bless your little heart.

    “I guess we would go our separate ways. What happens if you get hit by a bus?!” I chuckle. She rolls her eyes and gets up. I follow suit, and we exit stage right. Or is it left? Fck, I can’t remember.

    Dear world: It doesn’t matter what side of the table you are sitting on. Be kind and respectful (insert heart emoji). It takes a lot of courage to put yourself out there, and if that courage gets squashed the minute you sit down, then not only are you hurting the person in front of you, but you’re also hurting yourself in the process.

    Reply
  12. Joseph on

    WORST
    (experience pitching)
    Under the criteria mean, communication is a matter of importance into the every living thing and it deserves the right comprehession for its in turn.Now under the communication criteria much on it have been invented for the easiness into the services though expensive it’s better than hardship.On that side i want to say there are some professionals who don’t want to hear about easiness they like only the hardships and that’s not a good life for this time of progress most when someone thinks about the hardships.I say this because, there is one time i was working in a construction company, but the most work was likely to be done by the machine but instead, the foreman didn’t want to hear that he only wanted done by hands.what’s a matter i will never forget i congratulate INVENTORY.

    Reply
  13. Magda Modzelewski on

    I ain’t ‘fraid of no ghosts! But I sure do get annoyed when I get ghosted by a client/potential client I’m pitching. Surely the rapport we built meant something. People have integrity, right?

    I try to give them benefit of the doubt. Maybe they had a catastrophic accident and are now permanently incapacitated. Maybe they won the lottery and are sipping fruity drinks on a beach on Vanuatu, having forgotten to tie up loose ends.

    I say these things to myself to soothe my inflamed ego. Whatever the reason, it feels crappy.

    Pitching is kinda like online dating, isn’t it? You’re not quite sure who you’re dealing with until enough time has passed for them to show you.

    But, I have hope! That unicorn client is out there, somewhere. Pitch on, my fellow writers!

    Reply
  14. Alicejane Uwaoma on

    How my worst experience turned out to be my best experience.
    Suddenly my world came crashing down a trusted friend had just scammed me, I had resigned from my lucrative job where I was the IT manager of a very reputable company with the hope that the ‘deal’ would be a success only to find out that I had been scammed. In just a few months the family’s finances had been washed away.
    I tried to apply for new jobs but I would not get hired, then I tried writing but that would not work either. I was not thinking straight any more, confusion and depression were gaining the better part of me. Then I came across a book “From the poor house to the Pent house” by Kay Heugen, narrated how that by redirecting her mind and thoughts from the negative to the positive, from the evil to the good, from the depths to the heights things had turned around for her for good. It all sounded too good to be true, just like that? And there was the transformation! Just by following a few guidelines on mind transformation principles she was able to from her poor house to her lent house? Then I thought to myself ‘if this could work for her it can work for me as well’, and besides there was no harm in trying.
    So I wrote down the guidelines and started practicing the principles tirelessly everyday. It has actually turned out to be the best experience of my life as I have gone further to be the change in the lives of the struggling people that I now meet. I desire to share my story to impact on the lives of all positively to bring all to new and beautiful levels of goodness in their lives.

    Reply
  15. Dharmik Shah on

    I was a student at the university and needed to pay to go to the gym.

    I came across a consultant, who offered me some writing work. He asked me to send my portfolio. I sent him some articles that I had written for my college magazine.

    He said that he would get back to me shortly. 2 days and no communication. I thought that I should get a bit proactive and gave him a call.

    Realizing my desperation, he said,” I am afraid, you don’t have any professional experience, so my client won’t hire you.”

    I was disappointed.

    After a second, he added, “But there’s a way out. Inexperienced writers do a couple of articles without charging any fees. This could be your pitch to prove your worth, and if the client finds it satisfactory, then you have chances of getting hired to write more”.

    I was reluctant, but I did not have any choice. I ended up writing an article. In a few hours, I received a mail asking for revisions. I replied promptly. I further received two additional mails asking for corrections. After all, they say a client’s word is final. So, I did it.

    Then, the consultant got back to me saying that they had gotten a bunch of articles for me to write for another project. Though were SEO articles and would pay low, they could serve as excellent pitches for other high paying clients.

    I agreed.

    Retrospectively, I read on ‘Make a Living Writing’, that the kind of articles that I wrote fell under the category of White Papers and I was paid SEO rates.

    For a moment, I felt cheated, but realized I realized that I must become proficient at the art as well as the business of writing.

    Reply
  16. Ubai on

    I begin my essay with the question, what is my worst experience pitching?

    Many aspiring writers may share my story.

    I have read millions of words on how to write. I can now predict the following sentence in every post or book I read. I could teach someone how to become a top-notch writer.

    I have spent thousands of dollars in my quest for the perfect course, one that will make me a well-paid writer. I have practiced writing in all genres.

    I even created a website with a bunch of samples. I diligently practice the art of writing every day.

    I dream every night that when I get up in the morning and check my email, I will have clients begging me to write for them and willing to pay a premium for my services.

    When I see a job opening, and I see a ray of hope, I apply, albeit half-heartedly, knowing in my heart, I will never be accepted. I even stopped keeping track of all the places I sent out resumes.

    I have written for peanuts for content mills, only to be barred for no reason at all. I have had few and far between clients, some of whom disappeared once I submitted my work. Even after several follow-up emails, I did not get paid.

    I try to give myself pep talks and psych myself to be productive. At the end of my day, I look back at how I spent it; I realize I have been busy but not productive. Sometimes, shockingly my productivity seems to be negative.

    So, I ask myself, what is my worst experience of pitching? The answer is not pitching at all!

    Reply
  17. Hardik Lashkari on

    Imagine this.

    You are desperately looking for a client.

    Every morning, you wake up at 5 AM, rub your eyes, open the laptop, and knock on all job portals’ doors for freelance gigs…till 12 AM when you fall asleep on your table.

    Finally, you come across a gig that lightens up your eyes.

    “I found my ideal prospect”, you dance and celebrate.

    The next moment, you calm yourself down and start writing a proposal. You showcase your skills, attach glittering social proofs, explain the working process, and use all tactics to persuade the prospect.

    Then, you write an email to the client to send over the proposal.

    You pray for a few seconds and hit the SEND button.

    Instantly, you realize you have messed up…you forgot to attach the PDF document.

    You reply to the sent email, accept your mistake, attach the file, and resend the email.

    Alas! This time you discover you miswrote the apology sentence.

    Now what?

    You draft a third email within 10 minutes, describing how hastiness is the real culprit here, not you. You re-apologise for your mistakes.

    After double-checking typos, grammar, and everything else, you hit the SEND button.

    But by this time, the hopes of getting this ‘ideal’ client have been crushed.

    Whatever you just imagined happened with me 5 years ago.

    Back then, Gmail didn’t intimate when you forgot to attach a file even after mentioning ‘attached’ in the email.
    And I messed up thrice.

    No, unlike ‘LinkedIn rags-to-riches stories’, I didn’t end up getting the project.

    But I learnt something important that day.

    You might edit your content or copy twice or thrice.

    But it’s equally important to review the client communication as well, whether you are writing an email or a WhatsApp message.

    Reply
  18. Kapil Gupte on

    As a management trainee, I was the first to arrive at the bank and had to go through a list of high-value transactions of the previous working day.

    It so happened that one day while making my pitch to a potential customer who had received more than USD 10000 in their account, he asked me

    ‘Why do you know I have received this sum of money? Are you monitoring my banking operations?’

    I politely repeated my practised pitch of how the bank had superbly designed products which could benefit his investment with us and that is when they exploded,

    ‘How dare you access my transactions without my approval or permission. Do you think I am laundering money?’

    I had tried to explain to him that I was within the banking regulations on monitoring large transactions, which annoyed him even more

    ‘So just because you can access my transaction you believe this money is for the bank?’

    I tried to improve my pitch on the spot but the customer wanted none of it and went to town with his idea of how I had wronged him and that he needed to teach me a lesson on providing service to high-value customers such as him.

    Obviously, my holy experience was followed by an email to the branch manager on how wrong I was in asking for the investment. The manager berated me not for the fact that I had called the customer, but for the result where the customer had complained about me to the manager.

    I realized that the pitch was where I had goofed up. The pitch was never about selling him the products, it was about what the customer needed and providing a solution and adding value to his investments with us.
    .

    Reply
  19. Jacqueline Graves on

    Long, long ago (about 15 years, actually) in a land far, far away (well, right here in Atlanta, to be honest) lived a freelance writer. She had experience as a food and travel writer and, upon moving to a new land, approached the King of the Magazine. “Your magazine lacks a restaurant review. I am an eater and a writer!”

    “We will give you one assignment as a trial,” the haughty Queen in charge of Local Stuff announced.

    I wrote my review. It was good. The Queen ripped it to shreds. “What is this alliteration? We are a serious publication!” she ranted.

    I was furious. All my hard work. My writing. My rewriting. What does she know? I sat at my desk, fuming. Then I began asking myself questions. Who is the customer here? Who gets to make the rules? Do I want to be their restaurant reviewer or not? I realized my pride was about to keep me from getting a very sweet (albeit poor paying) job.

    I called the Queen and asked for “clarification” – a word which means “I think you’re stupid, but I’ll do it your way”. I dumped the entire article, replacing it with a journalism major-sounding piece.

    I spent years eating at (almost) every new restaurant in our county. I met wonderful people, ate yummy food and eventually became the Magazine’s feature writer (after the Queen was beheaded).

    Reply
  20. Richard Simpson on

    You guys provide an invaluable service. I’m afraid I don’t have a bad pitch story as such as all my pitches have gone awry. I’m a real hack when it comes to tech connection. I prefer to just email, but will try to get more up to speed. Thanks for this. Richard Simpson.

    Reply
  21. Angela Weber on

    What was my worst pitching experience?
    Let me think…
    I could tell you about my most embarrassing experience.
    Which was the time my communication disorder caused an epic miscommunication that left me with splattered egg all over my ego.
    It all started when I received this email from a copywriter, I follow, who spoke about how she hated when she made typos in her emails. So, I decided to pitch my editing services to her.
    She replied that she liked the pitch and was sending it over to her partner, for if they ever needed an editor.
    And what my subtlety-not-detected-brain heard was that she was going to discuss hiring me with her partner. And that I should wait expectantly to see if they’d decided to give my services a try. So, when I received the next broadcast, I decided to edit it for “funzies” and send it off as a sample of my work.
    I didn’t do a bad job. I followed the instructions from my editing course, and I found a ton of typos. I found so many typos that my inner paranoiac had me convinced the email had been sent out as a test to see how good I was.
    Yes, I know how ridiculous that sounds. Now.
    Anyway, I pressed send and then the partner wrote back to inform me line-by-line that none of the errors I pointed out were real errors (they were all made on purpose). But not to trick me. They were part of this copywriter’s style.
    Only one was a genuine typo.
    And then while the yolk was still running down my face it was explained that they weren’t even hiring.
    What I learned was the importance of researching my prospect’s house style before submitting. And also, how to detect polite rejection.

    Reply
  22. Lisa Hewitt on

    I interviewed this man, someone prominent in our small city, and he was kind and gregarious, funny and sober. I transcribed the recording and cleaned it up, making it ready, making it polished.

    And stopped. It sits on my desktop now, mocking.

    I should know how to do this. I have a bachelor’s in journalism.

    But what to do with this raw gloriousness? How do I turn it into something an editor will not only want to see, but will scramble to put into a magazine?

    In October of 2016, I hit my head on the laundry room door. I was working as a graphic designer and copy editor at the time, happy in my job, having finally recovered from the insecurity and chronic unemployment that had plagued me since the recession, when I was summarily dismissed from a well-paying position I’d spent years finding.

    I knew immediately I was in trouble. My brain swelled against my skull; the ER doctors told me to go home and rest.

    So I did. For fifteen months. My job vanished, as did most of my friends.

    There’s a name for every malady, and so there is for this one: post-concussion syndrome. The doctors blink thoughtfully, tap their chins. There is no timeline. Everyone is different.

    My symptoms include fatigue, memory loss, and a complete and utter lack of confidence in my own abilities. This hasn’t stopped me completely—I’ve been writing articles at abysmally low pay for a medical magazine—but the process of creating an article is slow and painstaking, with much anguish and many false starts.

    My horror story is knowing that I am running out of time.

    My worst experience pitching? This is it. Having the will and the materials, but not having a clue how to move forward.

    Reply
  23. Stacey Langheim on

    I have written to you before. I even remember saying something to you in the email about my desire being greater than my fear.

    My 300-word story is not of one rejection, but of several. One giant clump of lumpy rejection gravy. I spent a few years sending out pitches, beginning a blog, entering contests. Became a certified grantwriter and did probono work for nonprofits. Wrote profiles for the village paper for a whopping $50 a month.

    In the end, my wheels spun to busted.

    I’ve won a few contests over the years and I enjoy writing as much as I enjoy researching which convinces me that I’d make a great content writer. The funny thing is that I’m not looking for a three- figure salary (wouldn’t refuse it), but I’d be very content to have one or two nice writing homes to hang my hat.

    My worst rejection, to abide by the rules of this contest was actually winning an honorable mention in a essay contest with a popular writing magazine. The recognition was nice, but it felt like the climax in my writing career story. It’s a case of the “very nearlys”. The ALMOST good enough wound that gets the constant salt. Sometimes, I’d even receive personal notes like, we so enjoyed your writing, it was very close. We enjoyed your idea, but not taking on new writers at this time.

    The mistake I made after I emailed you was talking to my husband about it. It had come down to money. I couldn’t provide any guarantees the investment meant returns.

    Continuing to TRY costs nothing, right?

    Not exactly true. Had I pushed the button and spent the money, I may not be sitting here now, typing an essay to try to win a year on Writer’s Den.

    Reply
  24. Linda Caradine on

    As the director of an animal rescue organization, I thought I knew enough about pets to write an article for a well-known animal wellness magazine. I put together a pitch letter and suggested several topics that I thought would make great articles. I sent my letter to the editor and awaited her enthusiastic reply.
    A month later I received an email letting me know that they were uninterested in any of my sensational ideas. I couldn’t believe it. I’d crafted a compelling come-on and provided my credentials and past publications. Instead of inviting me to submit an article, I was summarily dismissed without any feedback as to why they weren’t interested.
    It was not as if I was a writing newbie. I’d experienced rejection before. My pitch didn’t suit their needs. Or I lacked a solid idea for a story. Or maybe my writing didn’t suit the tone of their publication. Perhaps they didn’t have the space or the timing for the piece was off. I examined my pitch letter backwards and forward. I couldn’t find a thing wrong with it.
    So I did what I usually do when someone tells me no. I try to find out why. I dashed off a courteous note asking the editor for feedback and she was kind enough to respond. If I had done my homework, I would have seen the problem. Each and every one of my ideas had been already written about in the magazine in the not-too-distant past. They weren’t bad ideas. In fact, they were so good that some other freelancer had beaten me the punch.
    I learned a valuable lesson. You need to educate yourself on the publication before pitching. The best-written article in the world won’t take the place of knowing your market.

    Reply
  25. Sandra Kristal on

    I would LOVE to enter. I am a freelance Ghostwriter and Editor and Author and I have been deeply hurt by such experiences, being led on, done the work and never paid!

    Now – I am an idiot (True) however I shouldn’t be. I am a pro in all I do and these nasty creeps leading me down the garden path and wanting a date have totally p*ssed me off.

    Is this entry free and gratis? That is my question!

    Sandy M Kristal MS OTR Psychiatry and Human Behavior, MA Literary Arts and MA Performing Arts, Dip IT IBM with YEARS of experience.

    Reply
    • Angie Mansfield on

      Hi, Sandy – Yes, the entry’s free. You just have to leave your 300-word pitch story here in the comments.

      (Note: I removed your email address – leaving it in a public comment like that invites a lot of spammers to contact you!)

      Reply

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