I personally love to track everything I submitted or pitched on emails. But I must admit, I am also not good at tracking such submissions like how others would do. It’s not that I hate organizing them, but I feel that doing so every now and then is cumbersome and time-consuming.
Not everyone loves to send pitches, especially to a person you don’t really know. Personally, I had this terrifying feeling at first. But if I think again, the worse I would get is a no response from him or her. Just hit the “send” button anyway!
As time passes by, with more and more pitches, article ideas, and job submissions being sent, I noticed one thing that nags my mind: how do I know if my pitches were compelling and if they ever reply to it? Oops, I don’t even think of keeping track of my submissions, so everything was messed up with other emails in my inbox. What a clutter!
Then, immediately I started to read many blog posts on the web on how to keep track of pitches and submissions. Many suggest that I should use a spreadsheet so that I can list out all of my submissions and not forgetting to follow them up for a few days if they don’t respond.
And so I did.
Using the Excel spreadsheet for managing my submissions: not what I’m expecting
At first, I have been feeling like, “Finally! This must be the holy grail of getting to know the numbers I send the submissions and follow-up when necessary.” After all, I can include several details that can be fit into specific columns, which I can always refer to in case I need to at a later time.
Everything is in an orderly manner, and I can always go back to the spreadsheet to update the list and get to know the dates and figure out when to follow-up at appropriate timing. Perfect! Well then, now that I’ve been able to keep track of my submissions properly, I can focus back on what I suppose to do: writing! Am I right?
There lies another problem. Since everything is in the spreadsheet, I tend to forget at times that every time I did submit my pitch or an article submission to somebody, I need to update it there. But, the supposedly productive task of not losing track of what I do turns out to be the biggest rock on my shoulder.
It might be only me, though, but don’t get me wrong. It is one of the great ways to organize all of my submissions and pitches in one go. The cells, the columns, the rows, everything is there. I just need to fill in the blanks. But somehow, opening the spreadsheet document or having the need to open my Google Drive folder just to open that file and then edit the spreadsheet seems to be inefficient and time-consuming for me.
I could have created a shortcut on my desktop or my tablet so that I can access it directly. But then, updating and editing in the spreadsheet does not seem to be my thing. I do love color-coding the texts there to indicate if my pitch or submission is successful. But beyond that, it is too cumbersome on my side, and in the end, I started to lose track of my submissions again.
Searching and connecting the puzzle pieces
So I was figuring out a way I can keep track of my submissions without a hassle of opening and typing into the spreadsheet again. I have to confess, it is not easy to get my light bulb turned on in a short time, but eventually, I go back to where I often use the most: email.
So I log into my Gmail account, and immediately I noticed two things that I can do in my inbox:
- Using the labeling feature.
- It can send the email to my own inbox.
Fortunately, I still could recall a few years ago from a person who told me that I could send an email with files attached in it, then send it to my inbox through my email address, meaning both the sender and recipient use the same email address (yup, it still works). Thus, the second thing I mentioned above.
But as for the first one, I overlooked it. I honestly have no idea what to do with the labels, so I thought I should just ignore it. I mean, other than being able to categorize my emails with the labeling feature, I don’t think it is in any way useful for my work.
*light-bulb turned on*
Well, I am an email guy, after all. Compared to scrolling on social media, I spend my time a lot on glancing through emails, as well as writing and sending emails. I don’t exactly believe that email is dead and irrelevant. In fact, sending emails is how freelancers would get their gigs and bylines on publications. It’s also a professional way of communicating with businesses.
Anyway, back to the email thing. The first task I did (albeit unintended) on my Gmail inbox was sifting through my email submissions as well as copies of web forms I sent for gigs I found on the job boards.
Then I create labels on the sidebar of my Gmail, depending on the type of emails I sent. Since I did send job board inquiries, article pitches, and even plain cold emails, I named the labels similarly, which becomes like this:
With that, I can simply select the emails then assign them to the labels I created. If I still haven’t created a label for a particular category yet, I can simply create a new one after I selected the emails, then add them to the new label.
Either way, to make my long story short, I select the emails that I submitted from my inbox and label them within there. Also, if any of the submissions turned the prospect into my client, I can simply create a new label for the particular client and add the labeling for that email. I would use that label too when the client sends me work-related emails later. Simple as that.
Now, what if I send a query or submission outside of my emai account? In that case, I will create a new email draft and jot down the details of my submission, including contact email and date of submission.
The template for jotting down the details goes like this:
Subject header: [your article title/job submission title]
Article/job description URL:
Date of submission:
After that, I will send the email to myself, which then I would repeat the same steps of labeling the email. Simple as that. Or if I do not intend to send the email to myself, I can label it even in the draft mode, as shown in the screenshot below.
Last but not least, how would you make sure that I won’t forget the time and date to follow-up that prospect in case you need to? Amazingly, Gmail has a snooze feature that can notify you on a specific date and time, and I got to find out that feature from a post on cold email at Ryan Robinson’s blog.
Yes, I tend to easily forget to reply to emails when there’s too many of them or if I have too many errands in one go. So, the snooze feature is pretty much my life-saver.
Take the follow-up email as an example. If I need to send a follow-up email to the prospect three days after I submit my first email or submission, I can select a date and time to reflect that. I installed the Gmail app on my phone so that I can get the snooze notification.
So there you go. The way I set up a system to keep track of my submissions and pitches is definitely not for everyone. It is not even 100% perfect, but it is sufficient enough for me to not getting myself lost in wade of too many submissions.
I’m sure you have your own method of keeping track of your submissions. Either way, getting your submissions organized and continuously keeping track of it will ensure that you get to know your pitching and emailing methods effectively.