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From pitch to payment, a new "listings" site for freelancers has been launched by journalist Kabir Chibber, who considers parts of the industry to still be "stuck in the 19th century".

With his website, Pitchme.org, Chibber aims to provide a place where journalists can add previews of their best ideas for editors to peruse and commission.

"There's a key group of journalists that we're trying to target in the long run," Chibber said.

"There's obviously the freelance writers who are looking for more work; there are the young journalists who are just starting out who want to freelance a little bit as they gain experience; and the third type, which I think is quite an untapped market, is people who are in established jobs but want to do other things. So you might be a politics writer on holiday and you see something cool and you want to write a travel article. There may not be the scope for you to do that in your organisation."

Based on some of his own experiences, as well as conversations with others, Chibber felt there was a gap in the market.

"I think freelance journalism is sort of stuck in the 19th century a bit," he said. "I got very frustrated with it. You have to find people, pitch to them directly, it takes forever to build up trust and then you have to chase the payment or chase the final piece, send your expenses by receipts in the mail and the whole process seemed ridiculous."

With Pitchme.org, however, he hopes to be able to streamline the process. Not only will it allow freelancers to upload previews of their best ideas for editors to browse and commission but it will give both parties a platform to tailor the piece together before acting as a middle-man for the payment process.

"That's a core part of our sales point," he said. "Writers often don't really get paid on time but it would be great if they could.

We're really focussed on the writing but the stuff that we do behind the scenes is taking care of that seamlessnessKabir Chibber, Pitch Me
"So what we try to do is take care of the payment process. We want to make it as painless as possible for both the editors and the writers; so no more chasing payments, no more getting chased for payments. That's an important part of our core mission which I think a lot of other people are not as focussed on as we are.

"We're really focussed on the writing but the stuff that we do behind the scenes is taking care of that seamlessness."

With such an attractive proposition, he says the response has been "overwhelming" in terms of writers submitting applications, but the site is on an invite-only basis until it can properly accommodate the demand it is attracting, with a focus on quality rather than quantity.

"We're going to open it up in the next four months or so," Chibber said. "It is there now and it's a fully functioning site but it's about refining the experience. We're going to try to cater for London and New York and the freelance writers there and build up those communities. To connect the writers and editors there with the rest of the world, that's our immediate focus going forward."

Beyond that, the Pitchme.org team sees potential to expand the site into translation services, personalised assistance in recommending events to cover and even moving offline to provide sessions and seminars on the art of pitching. Freelancers can pitch as many times as they like through the site but by taking a £12 flat fee for each commissioned piece, plus a percentage from the editor, Chibber is confident that the business is sustainable and that his service will help the wider journalistic community.

"There's a huge amount of them [freelancers] in the world now, mainly because of cut backs in organisations.

"A lot of sections in newspapers and magazines require freelance journalists because it's too expensive to send people abroad.

"The world is changing in the things that we know about and the pressure is on journalism in general. It's also changing for the journalists themselves as it's more reasonable to be a freelancer now and our site is part of that. Let's make it as easy as possible to be a freelancer."

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