We’re always striving to offer super-actionable and hands-on advice here at Horkey Handbook.
We want freelance writers to succeed, because we know how confusing this journey can be when you’re just starting out.
With that in mind, we’ve launched a new series on the blog. It’s called How I Got Published On, and it will offer practical advice from writers who were published on major websites.
This week’s post comes from Pinar Tarhan. Pinar is a really talented writer who succeeded in getting published on Solo-ish, the dating and relationships blog owned by The Washington Post.
Here’s Pinar and her story!
I’ve been freelancing for a while now. One of my favorite niches is dating and relationships. My musings on modern dating got published on websites like GoWeLoveIt and Great Mate. I also run my own dating blog called Dating and Relationships in the 21st Century.
And on the 8th of June this year, I got the highlight clip of my dating portfolio:
I was published on The Washington Post. My post was for their Solo-ish blog, and for any writer, it is something to write home about.
But how did an international writer even know Solo-ish existed? And how did she even know to pitch The Washington Post?
Being an international freelance writer comes with its own set of advantages, like the brag factor. You get to say: “I have clients from all over the world.” Or you can say: “I’ve been published all over.”
Of course, there are also drawbacks, like forgetting to mine your location so that you can get some local clients. Or even worse: You can even dismiss the idea of pitching to huge publications because you think you aren’t from the right place.
Be honest. If you aren’t from DC, how likely are you to pitch to Washington Post?
What if you are not from even the United States?
Like most freelancers, I knew the publication existed. I didn’t know, however, that it’d embraced the digital world, or that was accepting pitches from international freelance writers. I first heard about The Washington Post’s Solo-ish through a podcast on Beyond Your Blog. The podcast was an interview with the site’s editor Lisa Bonos, and it covered all the insider info a writer needed to know before pitching them.
Here’s what I did to get published on The Washington Post’s Solo-ish blog:
1. I read and studied the posts diligently.
No matter which publication I’m aiming for, I always read and study the posts carefully for content, style, length, links and more.
(Gina’s Tip: I know that we’ve already mentioned this a couple of times in the How I Got Published On series, but knowing the publication that you’re pitching, really knowing what kind of material they publish, is an important step in crafting a pitch that fits their audience.)
I started with the posts highlighted in the podcast, and then I read some more.
I crafted the best pitch I could for my idea, and I hit send.
Then, I got rejected.
2. After my initial rejection, I read even more posts.
I think I went back a year or so. This is one of the reasons I love pitching online publications: You can go as far back with the content as you feel comfortable with. And reading the personal essays on Solo-ish is easy. They are relatable and interesting, so it’s not hard to read quite a few of them to get the gist of what the editors want.
3. The next time I pitched, I pitched multiple ideas.
The second time I pitched, instead of sending one idea, I sent several.
The main idea (whose pitch was more fully fleshed out) got rejected, but one of the others struck the editor’s fancy as it confirmed a current trend: More and more single people were either moving back home with their parents, or they were not leaving in the first place.
Oh, yes. I live at home, and dating has never been easier.
You need to remember that dating when you are 16 and living at home is completely different from dating when you are 31 and living at home. Since this was a slant not yet used on the blog, I took the plunge.
With experience, I’ve developed a pitching format that is showing results. Click below to download my template.
4. I did as my editor told me to. (I love pleasing editors.)
Granted, it was nothing unreasonable. She asked me to send a small bullet list to see what I had in mind.
I did, and she told me to write the article.
I developed upon the bullet points already improved by her. After I sent the post, she requested some editing, which I happily did.
She approved the second version, and the post went live.
I pitched twice or thrice after this, both with single and multiple idea pitches. I haven’t gotten lucky again, but that doesn’t stop me from trying.
What Else You Need to Know About Writing for The Washington Post
Payment was between 100 and 200 for Solo-ish during the time of the podcast. I was paid $150.
Another great thing about getting published in any section of the Post is that you join the Talent Network, which gives you the chance to pitch from that platform if you don’t have a relationship with the editor. You have to fill in information such as previously published clips, contact and payment info.
While Lisa Bonos, editor of Solo-ish, said she prefers to be pitched via e-mail, you can pitch editors you haven’t previously pitched via the network.
It also includes some of the stories other freelancers got accepted and published through it, so there’s your market study right there.
What about you? Have you pitched The Washington Post? Are you planning to reach out to them?
Pinar Tarhan is a freelance writer, writing coach and social media consultant for hire. She specializes in career management, relationships, productivity, social media, blogging and freelancing. You can catch her updates on Addicted to Writing and follow her @zoeyclark on Twitter.