Written By Stephanie Osmanksi

How One Email Earned Me $825 as a Writer

When I decided to quit my full-time job in an office in New York City and freelance full-time instead, I had worked for two big digital publishing companies and interned for three. I had the promise of a bare minimum of $1,000 per month thanks to a contract with the entertainment division of the first digital publishing company I ever worked for. It was enough to get by but that’s about it. Everything else I was doing at the time was abysmal: $30 here, $20 for a slideshow, one $200-per-month contract that required me to write four articles a month.

I knew that in order to take my freelancing career to the next level, I couldn’t continue to rely on the contacts I already had (nor could I rely on these small, just-getting-started bites). It wouldn’t be enough—my freelancing career would not grow and my income would stay the same. Instead, I had to expand my contact list by making an effort to establish new contacts. So I began cold-emailing brands I admired that I thought aligned with the kind of work I wanted to do.

Perusing Ed2010.com, I noticed Dogster and Catster Magazine were looking to hire an intern. Now, with five years’ work in writing and building editorial content and social media marketing under my belt, I was overqualified for an intern position. But I saw it as an in. I cold-emailed the contact listed on the site and explained to her that although she was looking for an intern, a criteria I did not fit, I would appreciate keeping in touch should any freelance writer positions crop up.

Below is the original pitch I sent:

I’m writing because I am a huge fan of Dogster, saw that you were hiring on Ed2010.com, and believe I could be a valuable freelance contributor to your team! I live in New York with my 15-month-old pomsky, Koda. We are big fans of Dogster, holistic dog care, dog park-ing it up, and more. I’m a very hands-on dog mama. I make her treats from scratch and enjoy sharing our travels and other dog mama tips on my blog and to our Instagram followers. If Dogster has any openings or opportunities for freelance writers, I would love to be considered. I saw that you’re currently hiring an intern but as I’m in grad school, I’m not sure that’s a position that would work for me. I’d be more interested in contributing print and online content remotely, if possible.

Then I launched a bit into my professional background regarding education and editorial experience. To prove my passion and fit for their site, I added one more cheeky line for good measure: “I’ve also attached a pic of Koda because, you know: dog mom. Thanks for your time and consideration.”

I then proceeded to include an adorable photo (I know, I know—I’m biased) of my dog and I’m pretty sure it’s the cute snapshot that sealed the deal. (I kid, I kid; hopefully my background, education, and unbridled enthusiasm contributed, too). But eventually, I was hired.

An editor from Dogster got back to me super quickly explaining that yes, Dogster is always looking for freelancers to contribute online. Next, the editor talked logistics: pay rate, word count, etc. Dogster pays $75 per post (please note that this is their online rate; I am unsure what they pay for print contributions) for about 500-800 words. All articles for Dogster are to consult at least one “expert” source for quotes (I usually reach out to veterinarians exclusively, unless I’m writing about something that is not medical-related). Additionally, the editor also let me know that they work with editorial content two ways. While they are happy to assign articles, editors are also open to receiving and accepting pitches.

Oh, and she even opened with: “Koda is so cute!”

I responded to the Dogster editor, letting her know the workload I was able to take on, and encouraged her to send over any pitches she may have for me. This email exchange had occurred toward the end of April, so April assignments had already been doled out. By May, I had an email in my inbox from the Dogster editor: Would I be willing to take on one article for May? It would be $75 for anywhere from 500-800 words.

Of course, I graciously and enthusiastically accepted. Ever since adopting my pupper, I’ve wanted to make a contribution to the pet wellness community, ideally by aligning my love for pups and ability to write. Up until I booked this gig, I was doing so just on my blog, but now, with a widespread and well-respected platform like Dogster, I was beyond thrilled to write about something (and share something) I’m passionate about.

For the month of May, I was assigned that first article. Because writing within the pet wellness sphere was new to me and I didn’t have many veterinarian contacts established (except Koda’s!), I took it upon myself to make some contacts by befriending vets on social media. To do this, I began following the #veterinarian hashtag and reaching out to vets based in the US. IF I learned one thing from writing for Dogster, it’s that professionals in their field want to establish relationships with journalists. Especially veterinarians!

Many of the vets I reached out to were so wonderfully accommodating and game to do an interview whether over the phone or via email. For my first initial article, I cited several veterinarians as “experts” because so many of the ones I direct messaged on Instagram were interested in participating.

By the time June assignments rolled around, Dogster offered me two. I went through the same process of going through my newly-established veterinarian contacts and wrote both of the articles that month for a total of $125.

In July, I took on three assignments. I was happy with the steady increase of monthly work by July, but then came the point when I knew I was doing something right. My contact at Dogster reached out to me in the middle of the month even though my three assignments were already completed and handed-in. They needed an article rush-updated; an already existing online piece contained information that needed to be brought up to date to suit the most recent medical perspective. For this piece, I would share a byline with the original author, add a total of 2-4 paragraphs reflecting the new information, and would be paid $50. In July, I made $275.

When it was time for August assignments, I agreed to take on four articles. With articles at $75 a pop, that means I took home $300 from Dogster for the month of August. Additionally, an editor from Dogster’s sister website Whole Dog Journal reached out to me. I ended up writing an article for Whole Dog Journal too, also for $75. That puts me at $375 for the month of August.

Considering this is a gig I only nabbed a few months ago—that first month totaling out to $75—I am happy with where I’m at now. In the four months since I first cold-emailed Dogster, I have had close to 10 articles be published and I nabbed a separate contract with another pet-oriented site, Whole Dog Journal. The work is exciting, engaging, and always keeps me on my toes, especially because it strikes a personal chord with me as Koda’s owner (cough, mom). Through this experience I learned to never underestimate the power of an enthusiastic cold-email and I also saw the value of establishing quality connections and doing good work play out. Because of the quality, thought-out work I was producing for Dogster, my editor thought highly enough of my work to recommend me to a colleague. As a freelance writer always looking to extend her contact list, that is by the far the greatest reward.


Steph Osmanski is a freelance health and wellness writer, blogger, and brand consultant. She is currently pursuing her MFA in Creative Writing from Stony Brook Southampton and working on her memoir. Her words have appeared on Seventeen, Life & Style, Darling Magazine, and more. Her fiction has been featured in Montage and The Southampton Review and nonfiction in Cold Creek Review and Soft Cartel. She lives in New York with her pomsky, Koda. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter.

Your Comments:

  1. Leigh says:

    Kudos to you!!!

  2. Lisa Lysen says:

    Super inspiring article! Thanks for sharing your very positive experience.

  3. Anthony says:

    Make sure you share with Koda since he helped close the deal.

  4. Susan Fox says:

    Good for you. Love hearing those blogger/writer success stories!

  5. William Msiska Jr says:

    Thanks for inspiring. Peace and Prosperity unto you always.

  6. Pam Torres says:

    Loved your testimony of how you got to where you are. Gives me hope to know that I can achieve the same. Good luck to you and Kudo in your adventures.

  7. Dawn Baggett says:

    Thanks for sharing these clear steos and results! It really demystifies the process 😎

  8. Theresa McClellan says:

    Kudos to Koda’s mom. You should include a photo of the dawg with this great story. : )

  9. Maryanne says:

    Thank you for sharing, i have to admit i now see where i have been going wrong with my proposals.

  10. pete pringle says:

    Thank you for your writing success tale. I’d like to write , and reading of your win at it is inspirational.

    • Cynthia Rucker says:

      I still believe in the old adage, “If something appears too good to be true, it probably isn’t.”

      Unfortunately, such is the case in the outcome of your awe inspiring story, as well. However, I equally have no problem standing corrected, if I am, indeed, otherwise proven wrong. Furthermore, I sincerely congratulate you on your accomplishments and wish you well in your future endeavors.

  11. Carol Rafferty says:

    It’s always a good thing to be passionate about your work.

  12. Cathy says:

    Loved this—and always wondered how people built contacts in the “expert” space. This took the mystery out! Followed you on insta as I’m also a writer and environmentally low-impact, but would love to see more from you here too. Kudos!

  13. Tammi Moses says:

    Well done! Very inspiring post!

  14. Rinah says:

    Wow,this is very encouraging even to those of us who have been afraid of starting .

  15. Amy Steele says:

    Excellent example and inspiration. Thank you fur breaking it down (fur on purpose for you:)

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