5 ways to generate story ideas for your next pitch

It’s no secret that freelance journalism is a challenge. From chasing invoices to filing stories to deadline, becoming a successful freelancer is no small feat. One of the biggest struggles many budding writers face is getting their editors to accept their story pitches. To help you along the way, we’ve come up with five top tips for generating more story ideas.  


1. Subscribe to mailing lists

It may sound obvious, but calling up a press officer of a key organization and getting added to their press release mailing list is the perfect way to get ahead. Tell them what topics you are interested in covering and let them know who you plan to write for. This is also a good opportunity to express an interest in accepting exclusives, should any arise in the future.

2. Keywords are everything

Setting up Google Alerts is one of the best and efficient ways to stay on top of your beat. You can subscribe to instant notifications or even get a daily or weekly one. Do yourself a favour and pick 5 keywords that are relevant to your interests as a writer. You can also go a step further and pop on Twitter to monitor trending hashtags. Think about how you can cover stories with a different angle for your publication.


3. Go to events

Covering events for a news outlet is a good way to network and get fresh story ideas. Often journalists can attend for free if you bring a press card or a letter from your editor saying you write for a publication and are covering the event. Go along to interesting speaking sessions, attend the coffee breaks and don’t be shy. Be sure to bring your business cards, notepad and a curious mind.

4. Plan ahead

One of the best ways to pitch stories is to plan ahead. Freelancers often have to cover features and stories with a wider angle than those who work in newsrooms. That’s why you need to get your calendar out. Write down relevant anniversary dates, upcoming conferences, holidays, elections along with other big days. Don’t hesitate to talk to your editor months ahead of the event.

5. Read local and national newspapers

Reading local newspapers is an excellent way to find undiscovered quirky stories. You may also be able to adapt national news and apply it to how it will affect your local community. Whatever you do, be sure to brainstorm different angles and adapt the stories you come across to the audience you are writing for.  

Got a top tip for brainstorming story ideas? Tweet us the name at @advocassembly


Want to learn how to pitch great stories and get published? Sign up to Advocacy Assembly’s free course “Media match-making for freelance Iranian journalists” taught by The Rory Peck Trust.


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