Every few months, I pitch a story to an editor I’ve known since last year. This editor seems like a good guy. He’s pleasant, thoughtful with feedback, understanding if I ask for an extension. We even trade some personal banter once in a while. But whenever I send over the pitch, he never gets back to my first email. I always have to follow up a week later, sometimes two. We do the little dance—apologies for the delay, no worries, was crazy busy, etc. I could never confirm this, but I get the sense he looks at the initial pitch and intentionally waits for the reminder email before responding.
To be clear, I’m not casting a stone. As a fellow editor, I’m often guilty of similar infractions, even if they’re unintentional. Right now, 1,285 unread messages sit in my inbox, including a few pitches from freelancers or marketers looking for a guest byline on The Content Strategist. Ideally, I get back to everyone immediately—and I respond to most pitches within a few days. But a few slip through the Gmail cracks, pushed down below important emails from colleagues and unimportant outreach emails with subject lines like “HUGE WEBSITE PROBLEM – I CAN HELP.” Then I forget about the pitches, until a week or two goes by and I receive a helpful reminder from the writer.
The system needs to be better.
When I launched The Freelancer in 2014, during my rookie year at Contently, I wrote that “becoming a freelancer is like choosing to fight a battle you know you’ll eventually lose.” Since then, the battle has improved. There’s more infrastructure for self-employed creatives and more places willing to pay them good rates. But if there’s one area that’s worsened, it’s the communication between freelancers and…