The Pitch Routine that Gets You Published (And Keeps You Sane)

By Arianna Meschia

Congratulations – you just got your first piece of freelance writing commissioned! Now what?

You’ve spent hours and days learning the ropes of querying, you can craft an enticing pitch that will make it impossible for the editor to resist your originality and writing flare. You’ve gone as far as getting your interviews done, even written a first draft.

And now your pitch, interview notes, research and story are sitting in a digital mess on your desktop, you can’t find the first draft, interviewees are getting jumbled in your mind and the pictures you took are nowhere to be seen. Sounds familiar?

The internet is full to the brim with advice from writers, journalists and editors on how to learn the devious art of pitching, but what of the humongous task of organising your ideas and material both whilst pitching and once your story has been assigned? How to keep track of what pitches you sent to which editor, how long ago, and when you should follow up?

I was in a very similar situation when I first started freelancing, but I had a solid five years of film project management on my side, which meant I devised a fool proof system to stay on top of tens of pitches and commissions at once. And what’s more, it is all built on three wonderful, free platforms: Airtable, Google Drive and Google Calendar.


Airtable is perfect to build your market research, as well as store ideas for future pitches and your ever-growing list of contacts.

I suggest creating three tables on your Airtable base: Pitch Tracker, Markets and Contacts. The beauty of Airtable is that you can link the three, so that whenever you are looking at a specific “record” (what Airtable calls an item) in your Market table (say, National Geographic), you can see which ideas are associated with it, both the ones you’ve already pitched, and the ones you’re still developing.

Google Drive

Repeat after me: Google Drive is your best friend.

Google Drive is where you will keep all the files relating to a pitch or a story, e.g. Google documents with the pitch itself, story drafts, pictures, interview recordings and notes, and more.

Google Drive and Airtable handily integrate, so each pitch on your Pitch Tracker on Aritable will automatically be linked to its own Google Doc, which in turn sits inside a dedicated project folder on Google Drive.

If you name everything correctly and consistently, finding things, even months down the line, will not be an issue at all.

Google Calendar 

And last, good old reminders. I don’t know how I used to function before Google Calendar came into my life, but I now pretty much use it to schedule every single thing I do, professionally or otherwise.

Since Airtable does not have an inbuilt calendar function, you will have to use a third party application to schedule your time, as well as set reminders for when to follow up editors. This will become particularly useful when you start pitching consistently and have to follow up fifteen or twenty pitches a week.

Pitching Workflow

On Airtable, the Pitch Tracker table is my go to in the morning when I start work. Here I can see all the ideas I’m either working on, or the pitches I’ve already sent, the ones that need following up and the ones that have been awarded.

On this table, I normally create a new record for every pitch I develop and send, which means if I pitch one idea to two different publications, that same idea will have two cards, each linking to their own publication.

I normally organize pitches in the following categories:

  • Idea Stage
  • Potential
  • Greenlit
  • Followed Up 1
  • Follow Up 2
  • Replied
  • Awarded
  • Rejected
  • Withdrawn

As I work through my pitches, they get moved around these categories, and any relevant data is added whenever necessary, e.g. follow up dates, the name of the editor to send the pitch to, link to the pitch document on Google Drive, etc.

If you follow this simple structure, you’ll soon see that keeping track of your pitches will become much easier. Note that you could do this on a simple tracking spreadsheet if you want to stick to just using the Google suite, but the drawback will be that you won’t be able to easily link markets with editor contacts, and with pitches associated to that market or editor.

And now, go forth and pitch!



We send you writing jobs.

Sign up and we'll send you 3 companies hiring writers now. Plus, we'll send more companies as we find and review them. All in our free email magazine.

We're the magazine for freelance writers.

We send you companies hiring writers.

Subscribe and we'll send you 3 companies hiring right now.

We'll also send you a guide that gets you started.

We're completely free.

Subscribe now. (It's free.)


About Us

We're dedicated to helping freelance writers succeed. We send you reviews of freelance writing companies, assignments, and articles to help build your writing career. You can view our privacy policy here, and our disclaimer. To get started, simply enter your email address in the form on this page.