October 18, 2021
If you read my previous freelance writing advice blog post on Why An Editor Deleted Your Pitch, you learned some of the do’s and don’ts of article pitching when you want to get published in a print magazine or online outlet. (Pssst, here’s how to come up with article ideas if you’re in a creative rut.)
Another important factor when considering your working relationship with editors is to learn the best time to email an editor.
Because any freelancer can tell you, about half the battle with nabbing an assignment is getting an editor to open your email and read your pitch. (Looking for article pitch examples? I’ve got you covered!) You worked so hard on that freelance pitch! But, if it goes unread, you’ll never get that stellar assignment and be able to share your incredible story with the world.
I can’t say with 100-percent certainty that any particular time of day truly is the best time to email an editor and hear back on your freelance pitch. But I’m basing this information on my experience as an assigning editor on staff at magazines when I used to receive pitches from writers, as well as the success I’ve had as a six-figure freelancer. With 15 years of reading pitches from writer and sending out pitches as a freelancer under my belt, here’s my advice on the right time to send a pitch via email.
Why wait until Tuesday to send your article pitch to an editor? Because their Monday is probably spent catching up on news over the weekend, emails from colleagues, preparing for work meetings, and completing tasks they didn’t get to last Friday. Your email is way more likely to get lost or overlooked if you send it on Monday morning. It should go without saying that you shouldn’t send pitches on the weekends. That email is likely to get lost or the editor might be a little annoyed. One of my secrets of managing my limited time during the week with a baby at home is to write pitches on the weekend and use a scheduling service like Boomerang for them to go out later in the week.
Thinking Friday might be the best time to send your freelance writing pitch because that day tends to be quieter? While it seems fair in concept—and you might have an editor’s attention if he or she isn’t as busy—many editors are trying to get done all of their must-do tasks on Friday afternoon before signing off of work for the weekend. I remember when I was at Prevention magazine trying to check of my to-do list on a Friday so I could leave on time—spending a few extra minutes thinking about a new freelance writer’s pitch wasn’t my priority. (But if you’re looking for tips on how to write email subject lines for freelance pitches, here are 20 examples of pitches that worked.)
An editor reading your email pitch on a Friday and replying “Sure, this is assigned,” is less likely to happen on a Friday. (Follow this advice to get higher-paying freelance clients.)
Whether you’re sending an intro email to a new client, or, you’re sending your best article pitch to an editor, I think that emailing a freelance pitch to an editor midweek is best. Sure, your editor’s schedule is packed with meetings but by Tuesday afternoon, they probably trudged through their Monday to-dos and are better prepared to make long-term decisions about story assignments (at least, I was when working on staff at WeightWatchers.com, Prevention magazine, and Muscle & Fitness magazine).
I’ve already mentioned not to send pitches on Mondays, which is when a lot of holidays fall in the U.S., but make sure you’re adjusting that pitching schedule around a holiday week. If you’d normally pitch on Tuesday and Monday was a holiday, treat Tuesday like a Monday and wait to email an editor your freelance article idea until Wednesday so it’s more likely to be read.
If you’re freelancing on the side, it might make sense for your schedule to work on freelance pitches after work hours or early in the morning. If you do that and are on the same time zone as your editor, they might see the email and open it, and then forget about it the next day or later in the day if it’s an early morning email. If you’re overseas and pitching an editor on a drastically different time zone, keep that in mind when scheduling your emails to go out to editors. They’re more likely to read the pitch during work hours and consider assigning it to you if it’s top of mind when they are in “work mode.” I know many editors check email at night when their workday is “done” so while they may read it—and it might seem like they have more time to think about your pitch—it’s likely to be forgotten the next day.
Sure, some politics editors were probably looking for quick turnaround stories late October and November in the U.S. but unless you’re a well-known writer in that niche, it might not have been the best time to email an editor a story idea if you never worked with them before. Politics and news editors were super busy and they probably didn’t want to chance something going wrong—like you missing a deadline or not turning in good copy—during an intense time.
Keep in mind industry trends and “busy seasons” for editors. I do some writing for Tom’s Guide, a consumer products editorial site and they were very busy at the end of this year getting ready for Amazon Prime Day, Black Friday, Cyber Monday and all the shopping days that mean they have to get a ton of articles up in a short amount of time. While I was already working with an editor there, I knew it might not be the best time to pitch an idea for a February story because she was likely too busy to think that far ahead. If I were pitching a new editor during their busy season, I’d follow up a few more times than usual. This can also be a good time to follow the editor you’re pitching on Twitter or at least glance at their feed if you’re not connected. They might be attending a (virtual) conference, or posting about being on vacation or something that would let you know that you should wait a few days to pitch them. All of these small factors add up to finding the perfect time to email an editor your freelance pitch.
Make sure you give yourself some time to write out well thought out article pitches, proof them for any errors, and double-check that you have the editor’s name and email spelled correctly. While I don’t think you should send your email pitch on the weekend, extremely early in the morning, or late at night, I think you can write up the freelance article pitch and schedule it with a delayed email service like Boomerang.
I covered this topic on when to follow up with an editor when you don’t hear back on your pitch in this blog post, but I heard this topic discussed at a panel during an ASJA conference one year. The editorial page editor for The New York Times Opinion department, James Bennet, said that he preferred a writer email him again if the pitch was timely with a comment like, “I just wanted to let you know that I’m going to send this elsewhere since it’s timely.” Then, give the editor a day or so to be able to review your pitch or story idea, he suggested.
When I was an assigning editor, I didn’t mind if a freelance writer emailed again within the same week of sending a pitch to let me know that it was a timely topic. If I had to pass, I’d let the freelancer know. Find out why following up should be on your freelance marketing plan.
These tips are to give you the best advantage possible to grab an editor’s attention when they might be more likely to have time to read your pitch.
When do you send out article pitches? Is there any rhyme or reason to it?
Get one-on-one professional freelance writing help with your pitches when you sign up for my “Get Paid to Write” freelance writing online course. Enroll today!
Tags: article ideas, article writing advice, content marketing, content strategy, freelance, freelance writing, freelance writing advice, freelancer, magazine editors, magazines, making six figures freelancing, pitching
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