At some point in making your ideas a reality you're going to need to pitch them to someone via
email. You might need to send out pitch email if you’d like to:
I’m not one to wait to be chosen. I’ve told you about how I asked my husband out on our first date. If you wait to be plucked from the crowd very few interesting things are likely to happen to you. Be an active player in your own success. This means dreaming up ideas and drumming up business.
- Get a review copy of a newly released craft book
- Guest post on someone’s blog.
- Collaborate with another artist on a project
- Ask if you can interview someone for your blog
- Seek out sponsors for your blog
- Ask a company to donate products for a giveaway
- Get a book deal
- License your artwork
Truly the ideas are endless. You’ve got think big, think creatively, and most of all, always be thinking. What could you do that would go beyond the obvious, that would be interesting, valuable, and mutually beneficial? These are the kinds of things that I’m always mulling over.
Photo by MissChatter on Flickr
My Recent Pitch
A few weeks ago I came up with an idea of a way to work together with Spoonflower, the print-on-demand fabric company, for a blog post. I did some research to make sure my idea would work and honed it to make it valuable to my readership, interesting and fun for me, and beneficial to the company. And then I wrote a pitch email.
This type of email is something that you need to get right in the first shot. If the recipient opens the email and they’re intrigued enough to read it through and respond, you’ve done it well. Take your time, but not too much time because, like most things in life, it doesn’t have to be perfect to be effective.
Contact the right person. It can take some digging to find whom exactly you should address your pitch letter to and writing to the wrong person can mean the death of your good idea. Search and ask around until you’ve got the right name and the right email address. For my Spoonflower pitch I reached out to a friend who has written some guest posts on the Spoonflower blog and asked if she might share the contact person’s name and email with me. She was glad to help out. (And, conversely, I think it’s a good idea to be generous in sharing contact names when people ask. There’s lots of work out there and lots of room for good ideas.)
Write a descriptive subject line. “Hi” is not a descriptive subject line. I used, “Softies blog post with Spoonflower” for this email. Use the subject line to state in five words what you have in mind.
Address the person by name. I don’t think you need to be formal in this type of email. “Dear Darci” is just fine, or “Hi Darci”. No need for “Dear Ms. Moyers” and certainly not “Dear Sir or Madam”. You want the recipient to know right off the bat that this is not some kind of mass email they’re getting. This is a personalized pitch letter you’re sending just to them.
Explain briefly who you are. “My name is Abby Glassenberg and I am a craft book author, pattern designer, and sewing teacher in Boston, Massachusetts” is my go-to first sentence. One or two more sentences explaining your credentials. Include links that back up your qualifications (a link to your blog or website, your Etsy shop or a magazine article you wrote would all serve to show you are who you say you are).
State your idea. In three sentences explain what you have in mind. Make each sentence count. Don’t be wishy washy. If you can’t describe your idea succinctly, you aren’t ready to pitch it. Show that you’ve done your research, you know what this person or company makes and you're ready to work with them. If you've done this kind of work before, send a link to an example. And in crafting, visuals pack a big punch. Two or three great pictures can make your email memorable.
Here’s my statement to Spoonflower:
“I'm interested in creating a
blog post about the impressive selection of pre-printed softies available as
Spoonflower fabric. One of the things I love most about Spoonflower is the
ability to create softie patterns with templates and instructions printed right
on the fabric. The creative possibilities for a stuffed animal designer are so
“My plan for this post would be to sew up 3 softies from cut-and-sew softie fabrics from Spoonflower (a girl doll, an animal or play food, and a robot or monster that would appeal to boys) and then write about them. I'd do a short interview within the post with a designer who has created a softie pattern as Spoonflower fabric to find out more about the design and printing process, and then choose ten more of my favorites of this sort of fabric from the Spoonflower shop as a link list.”
Ask for what you want. I think as a woman it can be difficult at times to ask directly for what I want. As a business person I’ve had to get over this fear and learn to be direct. Create an action step you'd like the recipient to take because, frankly, at this point in reading your email they're saying, “Okay, what does she want?” Here's my action step: “Would it be possible for you to send me three 1/2 yard cuts of this type of softie cut-and-sew fabrics to work with?”
Be polite. “Thank you for your consideration. I look forward to hearing from you.” That’s my usual ending, along with “Sincerely” as the closing.
Make it easy for them to find out more about you. Your email signature should include links to your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or wherever you’re business is active and present. Assume that the recipient might want to poke around a bit to see who you are, how wide your reach is, what your work looks like, or what your writing style sounds like.
Follow up. Emails get lost. People get overwhelmed. Everyone is busy. It is your job to follow up on your pitch.
That Spoonflower email? I sent it on February 18 and didn’t hear anything back. I follow Spoonflower on Twitter and saw that they had some staff members at QuiltCon in Austin from February 21-24. They posted a few photos and in one of them was Darci Moyers, the person I had contacted, working at the Spoonflower booth. Ah ha!
By March 1 I figured everyone was probably back at work so I sent a polite follow-up email restating my pitch. Here was the response, “Hi, Abby! I'm so sorry I didn't respond to the message you sent in February, we were very consumed with QuiltCon and I must have missed it! That sounds like a terrific post idea, we are happy to send you some softie cut and sew fabrics for your project. Thank you!”
Success. Like writing to the wrong person, failure to follow up can easily be the death of a good idea.
Photo by MissChatter on Flickr
So look out in a few weeks for my post about softies and Spoonflower. I’m excited! And turn some of your big ideas into real experiences that will enrich your business and your life. Pitch them and see what happens!
Have you written pitch emails? Received any good ones (or bad ones)? Please share your experiences and any tips, too!