Editor Q&A with Alexia LaFata of Elite Daily

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Editor Q&A with Alexia LaFata of Elite Daily
Editor Q&A with Alexia LaFata of Elite Daily

Please welcome to the Editor’s Q&A corner Elite Daily‘s Senior Editor, Alexia LaFata. Alexia tells freelancers what they need to know to be successful with a pitch, why it is important to have a seriously unique take on a story, info on part-time writing positions, the type of article their readers love, and lots more!

Q: Elite Daily is a leading publication among millennials for information including news and trending topics. What else should we know about the site? 

 A: Elite Daily is so much more than news and trending topics! We also provide long-form commentary, advice and inspiring stories on topics millennials always care about, no matter if it’s trending. That includes dating, sex, relationships, friendships, family, fitness, wellness, mental health, adulting and more.

Elite Daily Senior Editor, Alexia LaFata

Q: As Senior Editor, what does a typical day look like for you?

A: I run the dating vertical, so a typical day for me would be to sweep the internet for interesting stories about sex, dating and relationships. That includes new studies or sex toys that come out, viral tweets with hilarious Tinder screenshots, text convos, or the like, crazy news stories of people cheating or having the kind of wild sex that lands them in the hospital — literally anything the internet has to offer me that day that relates to my vertical.

I also think about what’s happening in the culture and in my and my team’s personal lives, and what sorts of articles we could write around those happenings. Like, did a well-known celebrity couple have a nasty break-up, and can we reach out to a relationship expert or psychologist to give a take on it? Did one of my writers fart in front of a guy for the first time, and can we ask the girls in the office to share their funny stories of farting while hooking up for a roundup piece? Lots of possibilities.

My team of editors will also sweep the internet and pitch me stories, which I’ll approve, and then stories are assigned to part-time writers. All final headlines get approved by me before publish. If I feel inspired by something and I really want to write a piece, sometimes I’ll write as well. But I mainly manage and edit.

I’m also always thinking about how the content we produce aligns with the bigger vision I have for the vertical. That’s the most abstract, but also probably the biggest part of my day-to-day.

Q: I think of viral content when I think of Elite Daily. What format do contributions usually take? 

A: Well, our contributor network no longer exists, so the types of contributions we’re taking are from freelancers (who we pay) and, of course, from our part-time writers, who operate as employees. Freelancers can pitch any kind of essay or reported story they want, except the “viral”/breaking news you might see on the site because those are done by part-time writers.

We’re currently transitioning to our new parent company (Bustle Digital Group, or BDG) so it’s hard for us to accept new freelance work right now. However, we have multiple part-time positions open, so if you would like to apply.
 
Q: What is the best way for a freelance writer to submit work/pitch your publication?
 

A: New writers who want to submit freelance work can email editors of each vertical (dating, life, news, entertainment) directly with pitches for that vertical. Or you can apply to work part-time.

(**To find an editor, Beyond Your Blog suggests using Google, LinkedIn, or Twitter to find a name and then following the convention (first initial)(last name)@elitedaily.com)

Q: Tell us about the type of article you personally are on the lookout for – any specific topics you’d love to see more or less of?

A: Right now, if someone wants to contribute as a freelancer, they really need to offer something different. I’m definitely not interested in any pitches about the plight of the single straight girl who hates dating and men because they are so terrible and blah blah blah. But if you did something wild and crazy in your dating life and can tell that story in a provocative, engaging way, then I’m interested. Did you ask all of your ex-boyfriends about what you were like as a girlfriend? Did you purposely show all of your red flags on a first date, just to see what would happen? Those experientials are awesome.

We’re also speaking exclusively to women now, so I love anything that offers a unique male perspective on sex/dating. I’d also love to hear from people in atypical sex/dating situations. Are you in a polyamorous relationship, and people are always misunderstanding you? Are you on your third marriage, and you want to give a list of advice to single girls? etc. 

Q: Once a freelancer has had an article accepted, what is the process?
 

A: Each vertical operates differently, so the editor of the vertical who the freelancer submits pieces to will likely determine the specifics of the workflow. Once someone is accepted as a freelancer, they’ll probably work with an editor via email or Gchat who will accept/reject pitches and work with them one-on-one on edits.

Q: Can you share some pieces that have been home runs on Elite Daily for potential contributors to read and study and/or the qualities that really make something stand out to you as an editor?

A: For freelance submissions, I love content that satisfies our audience’s deepest curiosities or explores something taboo. Writers should also have a very strong voice and offer a unique perspective. Basically, freelancers need to be able to offer something that no other writer on the internet can.

One of our freelancers wore all of her old bridesmaid dresses around NYC because bridesmaids insisted that she’d get a second wear out of them. She included pictures and commentary and everything. That one did really well for us. Another male freelancer went to the AVN awards and wrote a piece on the differences between “normal girls” and porn stars, which crushed. This beautiful personal narrative, in which a male freelancer detailed some of the women he’s lost throughout his life and exactly when he knew he lost them, also really resonated with our audience. Another girl rode around with an Uber driver in NYC on a Friday night (and her story, complete with visuals and screenshots of the night, is HILARIOUS), and another girl wrote a list of the 7 biggest myths about lesbian sex, which she as a lesbian debunked.

Q: How quickly do you typically respond to pitches, or is there a timeframe when writers should move on with their piece if they have not heard back?

A: It depends. If I have worked with the freelancer before, I will probably respond no matter if I’m accepting it or rejecting it. If I don’t know the freelancer but I like the pitch, I’ll probably respond within a couple of days. If I’m not in love with the pitch, I may sit on it for a bit to see if I can come up with a more interesting angle. But if you don’t hear from me within a week or two, take it as a rejection.
 
Q: I am guessing that you sift through a TON of submissions. Can you share any stats on how many are accepted vs. not accepted?
 
A: I don’t have any stats for our new system of submitting because it’s so new. But right now, because we’re currently transitioning and focusing mainly on hiring part-time writers, I’d say the acceptance rate is going to be very low for freelance.
 
Q: Can you tell us about some of the benefits Elite Daily contributors take advantage of?
 
A: Yes! We pay all of our writers. We pay freelancers per piece; payment will be determined by the editor. If you are hired as a part-time writer, you get treated like an employee with sick days and other part-time benefits.
 
Q: What has been a highlight for you since starting at Elite Daily in 2014?
 

A: Elite Daily now is nothing like it was back in 2014 when I was an intern. But in a good way! I’ve loved watching the company evolve under different ownerships and different forms of leadership. We’re still lovably rough around the edges, but we’re a little more refined now (#adulting). We have the most talented writers and editors we’ve ever had, we’re reaching out to experts to give original takes, we’re forming relationships with celebrities, politicians and other public figures — we’re just really establishing ourselves as a trustworthy source for everything millennials care about.

And yet, throughout every change, Elite Daily has remained raw and honest and authentic and just a bit absurd. That’s what I love the most about us: how we can change so much, but also so damn little.

Q: What’s next for Elite Daily
 
A: We’re currently transitioning into our new home at BDG, so any big projects right now are internal. But I’m sure we’ll have lots more to talk about publicly in the coming months!

About the Author

Susan Maccarelli

Susan Maccarelli is the creator of Beyond Your Blog, a site helping bloggers successfully submit their writing for publishing opportunities beyond their personal blogs. She also offers online training and consulting to new bloggers looking for direction on submitting their writing for publication. Susan has interviewed dozens of editors from publications like The New York Times, Huffington Post, Brain, Child, Chicken Soup For The Soul, The Washington Post, and speaks at many respected writing and blogging conferences.

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