Track Your Pitches: Use This Spreadsheet to Land More Online Writing Jobs

Tracking pitches for online writing jobs
Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

Successful freelance writers are organized and efficient. They don’t waste time looking up which pitches they’ve sent and which still need to be polished to go out. They don’t have to look up an editor’s name and contact information every time they want to re-pitch a publication.

This system isn’t an accident; they use tools to track their pitches, ideas and contacts — tools that help them land better freelance writing jobs and make more money. For many of them, the tool of choice is a spreadsheet.

This spreadsheet is different than one you might use to track your daily word count or work toward other writing goals, but you can use these tools in tandem to boost your productivity as a writer.

Want to create your own spreadsheet to track your writing pitches, acceptances and contacts? Here’s how to make this system work for you.

How to create a spreadsheet to track your pitches

Whether you track your work using Excel or Google Spreadsheets, the process is the same. Alyssa Martino, an MFA student at the University of New Hampshire whose work has appeared in several travel publications and Narrative.ly, uses a spreadsheet that includes both pitches and finished pieces that she’s submitted.

You’ll want columns for Title, Date, Publication and Result, and Martino also recommends including columns for the editor’s name and email address. “It’s a good reminder to seek out a particular editor to pitch, rather than just a general address,” she points out. This strategy also makes it easier to follow up with the editor if you haven’t heard back after a few weeks.

Make your spreadsheet work for you

Successful writers have learned how to tweak their spreadsheets to make them more useful and efficient, and to better support their work.

Martino uses color coding to show pieces that have been accepted, rejected, and are waiting for a response. “If you’re submitting multiple pieces to multiple publications, it’s easy to forget and mistakenly submit twice or miss a crucial follow-up,” she explains. Editors are busy people, and you want to present yourself and your work professionally.

Color-coding is not only a helpful reminder about which pieces need a follow-up — it’s also a fun way to keep you motivated to submit work, check in with editors and celebrate your success. As Alyssa says, “it’s secretly exciting to highlight a new due date or acceptance in a bright, bold color.”

If you do multiple types of writing — for example, short fiction as well as nonfiction blog posts — you may want to track them on separate tabs of your spreadsheet. Or you may find it easier to look at all your writing accomplishments in one place. The point is, do what works best for your writing practice, business and goals.

Tracking freelance writing pitches

Alyssa Martino’s tracking spreadsheet

Pitch better, faster

Use your spreadsheet as a motivational tool. Craig Robert Brown, a contributor to The Sound and a humor/fiction writer, says that his spreadsheet helped him get over a fear of submitting. “I grew addicted to filling in the cells with information about my work being sent out into the world,” he writes.

His spreadsheet also helped Brown to resubmit his work when it was rejected. “Yes, I got rejected a lot,” he says, “and I think those [rejections] in addition to my desire to fill that spreadsheet really motivated [me] to get over myself” and keep sending out work to new journals and magazines.

Martino tracks rejections in her spreadsheet as well, and always follows up with editors. “When I receive a rejection, I often reach out to the editor afterwards, asking, ‘Is there anything I can do to make your reconsider? A different angle or focus?’ I try to make it clear that I’m willing to make revisions to fit the style and needs of the publication,” she explains.

In the best case, that No turns into a Yes with a few tweaks to the original piece. Even if she doesn’t get a yes, Martino often receives valuable feedback that can help her make the pitch more attractive to other editors.

Whether she hears feedback or not, Martino uses her spreadsheet to reframe those rejected pitches for new publications, similar to C. Hope Clark’s recommended “keep 13 pitches in play” strategy.

Make using your pitch spreadsheet a habit

For a spreadsheet to be effective, both writers agree that you need to update it frequently. As soon as a rejection comes in, record it; don’t archive or delete the email until you put it into your spreadsheet.

Use a column for “Notes” to write down any responses you get from editors, and use this feedback to improve your next pitch. As soon as you send out a new pitch, record all the relevant details and highlight it in your chosen “waiting for response” color.

Alyssa recommends starting a new spreadsheet every few weeks or months, so that you don’t have to continuously scroll through all of your pitches to get to the most current ones. You might also try recording new pitches at the top of the spreadsheet, instead of at the bottom, or you might enjoy seeing all of your work in one place. Experiment to find what works best for you.

When your spreadsheet becomes a habit, it becomes something more: affirmation that you are progressing towards your writing goals. A spreadsheet is proof positive that you are a working writer. As Craig puts it, “it shows I’m taking this seriously, that I’m putting in this effort outside of the writing and editing.”

Want a free pitch spreadsheet template to get you started?

If you don’t already have a system of your own, or you hate the idea of making your own spreadsheet, download my spreadsheet to try for yourself. I’ve polished it up with bright colors and easy instructions, so that even the most spreadsheet-averse among you will be unable to resist.

Try it for three weeks and see if you get addicted to filling in those cells. Pretty soon, you’ll feel motivated to submit your work regularly, follow up on unanswered pitches and watch your acceptance and publications stack up. Happy writing!

Do you track your writing pitches and submissions with a spreadsheet? Or do you prefer a different system?

Share to Facebook Share to Twitter

Alicia de los Reyes is the author of DIY Writing Retreat: A Guide to Getting Away. She is currently at work on a nonfiction book about a year in an evangelical church. Find more of her writing on her website: .

Alicia de los Reyes | @likesoatmeal

Alicia de los Reyes

Comments

  1. I loved this article! I use Google Sheets to track my pitches, but I feel like my system is a bit lackluster, with nothing more than the publication, submission date, and working title. It’s so smart to include the editor’s name on the spreadsheet, along with the anticipated follow-up date. Why didn’t I think of that? 😀

  2. Great spreadsheet! I use something similar to track work due to clients and for review request for my books. Makes it so much easier, and lets you know who likes your work so you can approach them again. 🙂

    I keep track of my contacts through lists in my email. For example, editors have their own list. It saves me having to remember to add their information to the spreadsheet, and I can view all editors at the same time.

  3. Hello Alicia,

    I am reading your posts for the first time today and they are pretty interesting, helpful, as well as educative.

    I love spreadsheets but tend to find it a challenge to keep track of them. I use my writing software Scrivener. I create a folder for each of my Clients, and place every article written for them in that folder. Using a sub-folder for payments, I move paid orders into it making my life easier.

    The beauty here is, I have all I need in one place and do not need to have separate software/files to keep track of.

    It has its drawbacks as I am unable to carry out the financial tracking and analysis. I plan on trying out the spreadsheet and see what comes of it. I however, will still keep my Scrivener system. Its served me well

    Cheers

  4. THIS! I have been looking for. For a long time! Thank you, Alicia.

  5. I have used an Excel workbook for tracking clients/submissions for several years. As the need has arisen, I have added additional columns for contact information, payment information, etc. It works for me for now. I hope to have so many clients/submissions in the future that I need to consider another plan. Fingers and toes crossed!!

Trackbacks

  1. […] Track Your Pitches: Use This Spreadsheet to Land More Online Writing Jobs: Want to land more writing jobs? Alicia de los Reyes shares an amazing spreadsheet you can use to track your pitching progress for The Write Life. Get organized! […]

  2. […] This system isn’t an accident; they use tools… (Click here to continue reading this article.) […]

  3. […] for a spreadsheet of your own? I shared a link to mine here. You can download it, fill it with your own information, and update it whenever you get a […]

  4. […] Use a spreadsheet to land more writing jobs […]

Speak Your Mind

*