A pitch log is essential for freelance journalists to keep track of various pitches and responses.
It might include information such as the name of the editor and publication, the fee, sources to interview, and secondary markets to target if the pitch is rejected by your first choice.
And when you give yourself an end-of-year performance review (which you should, by the way), it can help you assess your pitch-to-published ratio to get a clearer idea of what's working for you.
For example, freelance writer Lola Akinmade-Akerstrom has published a pie chart of her pitching progress every year since 2008.
Some journalists use Google Sheets for their pitch log, but I find the project management tool Trello far less labour-intensive (no more copy-and-pasting, for one thing).
Trello has a number of different uses – I first used it when working on the responsive redesign of expressandstar.com – and for a free tool it's pretty impressive.
If you're not already familiar with Trello, here's the low-down on what you can do with it:
organise lists into boards, and move items within a list (known as "cards") between different boards;
add comments, attachments, check-lists, due dates, and other useful information;
work collaboratively by adding other users to your boards.
Now, instead of spreadsheet columns I have various "boards" in my pitch log.
I add pitches as "cards", which start off in the "ideas dump" board and move across to other boards depending on progress (pitched, assigned, completed, invoiced, and paid).
I especially like the fact that if I'm not at my computer I can still check in on my pitch log using Trello's iPhone app.
On the back of the cards I add details about which editor I plan to pitch to, other editors I could pitch to if the first one doesn't work out, checklists for what I need to do, and – once a pitch is assigned – the name of the publication, my deadline, and fee.
I also use a colour scheme to mark when a pitch card is assigned, rejected, on hold, or has interest from an editor.
And I sync Trello with Google Calendar, so my deadlines automatically show up in my schedule.
Want to give it a go? See the video above for more detailed instructions on how you can get started with Trello to create your own pitch log.
Free daily newsletter
- Tip: Here’s how to better share analytics with your team
- Tip: Check out these free tools for mobile audio
- Tip: How to adapt large journalism projects for small newsrooms
- Tip: Check out these multimedia resources from the ONA17 conference
- Tip: Remember this advice for writing strong headlines for social media