Growing tired of the hefty price for organic, free-range eggs, I began keeping chickens in my San Antonio backyard.
I watched my feathered flock of Ruby, Tallahassee, and Shiloh grow from little chirping fuzzballs to sizeable clucking hens.
Though it appeared that they might never start laying, the past two weeks I have had my fill of farm-fresh eggs. I have found a lot of similarities between raising chickens and pitching stories and news for placement:
Do your research.
Prior to getting chickens, I did a lot of research into raising them. I gathered information on everything I could—from the best breed of chicken for my climate to how long chicks should stay under a heat lamp.
As you begin pitching stories, you have to go through a similar style of research. Subscribe to RSS feeds and look at what content does well on the sites you want to place content on. Do research into the editors and creators of the site. Share their stories on Twitter, or comment on Facebook. A little preparation can go a long way.
Baby chicks need gentle hands.
Baby chicks are delicate. They must have either the warmth of a heat lamp or a mother hen because it’s easy for chicks to get cold.
There is medicated chick feed to prevent Cocciodosis, a parasite to which chicks are particularly susceptible. Because they are smaller and more fragile, you have to be gentler in handling a chick than a full-grown hen.
Approaching an outlet you have never written for is different from approaching one you have a relationship with. Emails with a familiar editor can be more casual, but you’d be wise to approach correspondence with a new person more carefully.
Grapes are different from broccoli.
As my chickens began to develop, moving out from under the heat lamp and into the backyard, I found they loved treats—something different from the usual feed I scatter for them.
They have discerning taste, though. Tomatoes, strawberries, and grapes (their favorite) will bring them running, but foods such as cucumbers or broccoli warrant only mild interest before they turn their beaks away in disgust.
Knowing not only what types of content, but also the tone in which they should be written, is key to ensuring the outlet you pitch to is receptive. After all, no one likes broccoli. Not even chickens.
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An egg—finally (have a carton ready).
I thought my chickens would never lay eggs. I put a lot of effort into raising them from fluffy chicks to adult hens, from making sure they had a cozy coop, to waking up early (and I am not
a morning person) to feed and water them.
I grew disillusioned as I checked the nesting box; it evolved from being something I looked forward to with anticipation of that first egg to a perfunctory task. Then it happened: On one of those routine checks I got an egg—and I kept getting eggs, multiple eggs, every day, allowing me to enjoy farm fresh, organic, free-range omelets and quiche whenever I got the craving.
Placing articles takes the same dogged determination, but when you find an outlet receptive to your stories you can build a trusting, professional relationship. Stories get pitched, your news appears on the site, omelets get made.
Garrett Heath blogs for Rackspace and has experience as a technical project manager in the cloud. Read his personal blog on restaurants and culture in San Antonio, or follow him on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and App Dot Net @gmh.