How to Pitch an Idea | Caroline Leland | Skillshare
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6 Lessons (32m)
    • 1. Introduction

      2:45
    • 2. Lesson 1: WHAT

      6:04
    • 3. Lesson 2: WHY

      5:28
    • 4. Lesson 3: HOW

      8:09
    • 5. Lesson 4: WHO

      4:51
    • 6. Conclusion

      4:33
21 students are watching this class

About This Class

If you’re an aspiring freelancer of any kind, half of your job is finding clients. Pitching yourself and your ideas is a specific skillset necessary to freelance success. This 32-minute class will walk you through the steps of generating quality ideas, establishing your qualifications, finding publications/editors/clients to pitch to, and crafting the perfect pitch to land you the paid project you’ve dreamed about.

The concepts presented in this class will be broadly applicable to all freelancers, but the class material will use creative-content projects for its key examples. This class is perfect for aspiring freelancers or anyone who wants to improve their confidence in pitching ideas to new clients.

The class project is to write your first pitch using the tips and techniques from the class lessons. The class teacher will give personalized and constructive feedback for every pitch shared in the class forum.

Transcripts

1. Introduction: Hey, everyone. My name is Caroline Leland and I am a freelance writer and communications professional, recently relocated from National Tennessee to Brooklyn, New York Over the course of about 18 months and pretty much right out of school, I built up a full time freelance writing career for myself. I moved to Nashville with no connections. Very quickly landed radio stories published on NPR. Ah, long term podcast production retainer with a start up company and a blogging gig for Arlington. I'm here in my home office on Now Live in Brooklyn, as I mentioned, and I moved here because as a freelancer, I can work from anywhere, and I finally felt like my my income in my career was stable enough to be able to make the leap living in the very expensive New York City. So how I learned to pitch, I learned to pitch from talking to a number of other freelance writers, googling and reading a lot online and also, of course, through experience seeing what actually worked and what didn't. So this sculpture class will walk you through my tips and tricks and the lessons I've learned for pitching ideas to your potential clients. which is a crucial skill for any creative freelancer because my background is mostly in writing and content production. I'll use that as examples throughout the class. But the lesson should be pretty broadly applicable to any freelancer, especially creative freelancers who want to pitch their ideas, their ideas and services to potential new clients or even to existing clients. Now I'm going to briefly go over how I organize the class, and what's included in the farming lessens. So the classes organized around the ideas of what, Why, how and who So first, what is your idea? How to generate and shape what you want to pitch next? Wire idea matters. Who will care about it? And why would they care? What's the significance or value of your idea? How is how are you qualified and how are you going to carry out the project? And then, finally, who who to pitch to knowing who your target publications or clients are and knowing your target audiences. So I'm gonna go over each of those ideas in each lesson, and then will be a final wrap up conclusion lesson where I cover any remaining tips and tricks and give some pointers for the class project. How to approach this class? I recommend watching all the lessons straight through taking notes throughout and write down your own game plan because writing things down helps people stay more committed. Also helps organize your thoughts and help you remember things. Um, and then you could also refer back to each lesson one at a time as you carry out each step . And so, by the end, you should be ready to post a pitch draft in the Cost Projects Forum for personalized and constructive feedback for me and the other students, Let's get started. 2. Lesson 1: WHAT: everybody. Welcome to Lesson one, where I answer the question. What eso One question I asked a lot of freelancers when I was just getting started was, How do you come up with your ideas for what to picture what toe work on? And this all said, I'm going to tell you about what I learned from those conversations and from my own experience answering that question. My first tip is for people who are in the world of content production, and that is to ask a lot of questions and pay attention just observed the world around. You ask why things are the way they are and how they could be different. Ask people about their life experiences what they notice, what they wonder about. Ponder what other people are thinking about what they might be interested to learn about, or to learn more about. You should consider especially voices that are not dominating public discourse. Whose perspective are we not hearing from? And what can you do to bring a microphone? To that perspective, that's one thing that makes good journalism and one thing that will help you come up with new ideas for things to work on you should know that this approach takes practice and time , but eventually it will become second nature. I have developed this skill to a point where I now have to work to turn it off, because as a writer, for example, I now feel an urge to find a way to monetize every life experience that I have. That's not really a healthy way to live. So if you practice, uh, you definitely will become second nature to you. I'll give you one example of how I carried out this tip in real life. So a couple of years ago, I wanted to do a two week backpacking trip on the Appalachian Trail. I plan my trip mostly just for the fun of it and wasn't really sure how I would pay for it . But I figured I would come up with an article to write, pitch it, sell it and kind of just went for it. So I went into the trip without really knowing what I would write about. But after a few days, I started noticing that everyone who was hiking carried more than just the bare essentials , which is not what I would have expected. Going into a backpacking trip were carrying literally everything on your back. I started wondering what each person was carrying. That was non essential things that might have more emotional value than practical value. For example, I was carrying a letter from my sister, a little notebook that I could journal in. So I asked each person who had passed, What is the least practical thing you're carrying? And I turned that survey into an essay that I pitched and sold to Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine. I was paid more than enough to cover the cost of the trip and eventually essentially made the hike a paid vacation. This is the kind of opportunity that makes me love freelancing. My second tip is one that everyone should pay close attention to. It's called Do some Digging. This means that pretty much any good idea needs data or at least context to make it stand out. You should do some reading, make a few calls, know what you're talking about and build a sturdy foundation before you try pitching your idea on what you might think is its own inherent value. That's sort of a shiki of sugi basis to picture a Dion. So, for example, I once attended a conference about food and farming in Middle Tennessee. While I was there by chance, I sat in on a session that was designed to match land owners with people toe work the land , and it struck me as curious that such a service would be needed at a conference like that. So I started looking into it. I asked the conference organizer for the list of contact information for everyone who attended that session, and I call it an email. Each of those people I asked each of them why they attended the session and what they got out of it on whether they thought that was an issue that needed more attention. The story that grew out of those phone calls turned into a 20 minute podcast episode on the James Beard Award winning podcast Gravy, which is hosted by Southern Foodways Alliance. I was actually the first podcast episode I ever produced, and now I guess it's almost two years later, I'm getting paid to produce an entire Siris on my own for a start up company. So basically anything can happen when you ask the right questions and are willing to do the legwork to find solid answers to those questions. Tip number three. When developing your idea, Think about multimedia. If you're a writer, what visuals will company your work? If you're a radio reporter, what sounds will you collect for the story? If you're a photographer, are there any graphs or charts or illustrations that can add value to your photo essay? No matter what kind of work you do, you should think about what could accompany it to make it even more engaging or appealing to your target audience. This kind of anticipatory brainstorming will be appreciated by clients your pitching to because otherwise that responsibility will fallen them on those editors or whoever it is that you're pitching, doom, your initiative and contributing supplemental ideas will show that you are thoughtful and thorough, and it will make your pitch stand out for all of my reported radio stories and articles, for example, I bring along my DSLR camera on reporting trip so I could be sure to have high quality accompanying photos for all my work. So that's pretty much it. Those are the basic guidelines you should follow if you're trying to generate ideas as a recap. First, ask a lot of questions and pay attention. Second, do some digging. Third remember multimedia and other accompanying factors. A couple of other things that may be relevant depending on what kind of project you're working on. First, what's the timeline for how long it'll take you to carry it out? Is there a timeline for when I need to be published? Order for it to still be relevant by the time it hits audiences. Second, what kind of scoop are we looking at? The length of an audio project, for example, the word length for something written? How many photos for a photo essay? How many hours for other kinds of contract work? Those are just other considerations to keep in mind as you're developing your idea and preparing it to pitch. That's a lot to keep in mind. But as I mentioned earlier ease comes with practice. Soon those steps will seem intuitive. If you have any questions about these tips, feel free to reach out to me directly. I'm happy to give any feedback or pointers on ideas you may have even ones that are unformed or need a lot more development of happy to help you out with that. Next up. Why? Understanding and framing why your idea matters and why people should care. 3. Lesson 2: WHY: here we are in lesson to Why? Why does your idea matter and washing anyone? Care the suss. It'll cover the importance of defining your audience first and second, understanding and expressing the significance of your idea. You need to understand who was going to be, who is going to be receiving your work, and you need to be able to understand why your idea matters and be able to express that to whoever you're trying to pitch to. So first used to define your audience. Figure out who is your audience that you can tailor the pitch to appeal directly toe why they would want to see or hear your work. Some things to consider include demographics like the you'd range of the people you're trying to reach their income, their ethnicity, where they live. Think about the reach of your audience. How broad is that? How many people are going to be included in this? We also consider their professional or personal interests anything that would engage that audience that you're trying to reach. This is what you need to be aware of in order to make your pitch effective and convince your potential client. Why this a D eyes going to succeed in terms of engaging that clients audience. When it comes to defining your audience, a lot of it comes down to who your your target publication is, or target client. So, for example, on the 80 hike that I mentioned in less than one, the audience that I wanted to reach those people who would be interested in hiking or the backpacking world. So I targeted a publication that reaches out to those types of people outdoorsy people who would be interested in reading about my hike on that watching trail. So unless and four, I'm gonna cover who to pitch to and those lessons. These two lessons overlap to some extent, because who you pitched two is gonna be directly related to who your target audiences. But understanding your audience can help you figure out who to pitch to so they can go in one direction or another. Another quick example of how I defined my audience for one of my past pieces of work waas in the podcast that I'm engine that was about farm access to farmland, matching farm owners with people to work the land image not up in Lesson one so I knew that whoever would be interested in that story would be people who were interested in the food production system or interested in agriculture, food policy or understanding where food comes from, and and how people grow it, how it gets from the farm to the table. So I therefore pitched that idea to Southern Foodways Alliance, whose target audience is people who care about food and food systems. So, depending on the topic of your of your idea that will help you define who the audience is, who's going to receive whatever work it is that you are creating? So when you're working on creative content, developing something creative, like a piece of writing piece of audio work, you can look at basic news values is a start to figure out the significance of your idea. So, for example, that I think the depends on who you ask. But there are pretty much five basic news values. The 1st 1 is timing, so topics dinner, current topics that are hot right now, you might say, Um, just anything that that's happening now that's a really great way to give it significance, Um, and then impact or the number of people affected by the story. 3rd 1 is proximity, something that's closer to home. So whether it's something that people can relate to based on a personal quality or they're geographically close to it, it's another thing to consider on and then prominence. So anything that's just really well known. So a famous person, famous place or event thes things can can add significance. Terry D. I. Just that it's already well known and then, finally, general human interests of anything that has an emotional appeal. Anything that's quirky, funny, surprising but engaging in in that kind of unexpected or emotional way that is something else that can give your idea significance. Some other considerations that aren't basic news values but are related and on the same line of thought include historical contacts. So understanding why you're a DEA matters in a historical perspective. What has led up to it being significant today, the local or cultural significance. So figuring out what region you're targeting or limiting your idea to a certain region can help make it more appealing to a certain group of people and therefore make your pitch stronger because being specific is always really good it's better to be to tell a very specific story and then be able to generalize based on that than it is to tell something general and leave out any and or try to include specific examples. But it's really better to start with the examples. You could also consider potential impact on the future on and then straightforward entertainment value. So maybe it's to educate people or just to tell them about something that we'll keep them entertained. Numbers are good when you're considering all of these factors, so in your pitch you could think about how big is your is. The reach of this idea and including hard numbers to back that up can strengthen your pitch . So I'm just throwing out a lot of different considerations here. But these are just some tips to help you consider why your idea matters and telling you that being able to verbalize that being able to put it into words and explain it to your potential client is going to help them be a lot more impressed by your pitch and a lot more swayed by and more likely to hire you. Coming up is Lesson three, how you're qualified and how you're going to carry out the work 4. Lesson 3: HOW: Hello, everybody. Welcome to lessen three how you are qualified and how well do the work. So first, talk about higher qualified. This is gonna take up the bulk of the lesson you need to show your potential clients that you are qualified to do the work that you're pitching to them. You don't want to make them have to hunt for that evidence because they don't have the time or the motivation. You need to make it easy for them to want you. So put all of the evidence supporting or qualifications upfront a lot. People there first thought is okay, while I'm well educated or my education is relevant. Sometimes potential clients don't really care about that. Usually your education is not relevant, especially if you're a pitching a one off project with. More important is your past work experience. Your work ethic matters, too, but I'll get to that later. So the best way to show your past work experiences, but is by showing examples of it. I, for example, I worked for my college newspaper all through college, so that was what I used for clips until I had more professional experience when I applied for my first radio job. I included on the application on audio project that I had created in school when I pitched my first podcast idea, Um, I included on my application or with my pitch, the one published radio story that I had at the time as evidence of my ability to produce audio projects. And I had my fingers crossed, hoping very, very much they wouldn't ask for an additional clip or any other additional clips because that was literally my only one that I've been published at the time, and the only other option I had was that I think that I had done in school that wasn't good , so but likely I landed that pitch and the editors did not ask for any additional clips. So I was able to produce the that podcast idea that had come up with. And now I've moved on to producing an in depth, six part series on behalf of a startup company so your clips will build up over time. But you do have to start somewhere if you already have clips listening to this sculpture class than great length, um, in your pitch email and you'll be good to go two or three samples is usually best. Um, just a quick side note. If you our creative freelancer, you should already have a personal website to display your portfolio. And if you don't yet have a website, then you can check out my very first sculpture class. It's called a Beginner's Guide to Building your Personal Website and I walking through all the steps with lots of screen sharing demos. I've had people tell me it's been very helpful for them. Just overcoming that initial intimidation factor of how do I create a personal website? Seems like there's a lot of steps and there are. But in that class, I give you a really quick tutorials. I think that total costs is 20 minutes long, so check that out. But never simply link your entire portfolio with with your pitch and expect your potential client to sort through your work on their own. You should make it as easy as possible for them, so just pick out your two or three favorite pieces. Your best pieces, the ones that are most relevant to the project you're pitching include that, and then maybe the bottom of your email, for example, in your email signature include the link to your website. And you know, you could say in the email if you'd like to see more of my my projects and check out my website, and then they can if they will have the time of the interest, they can follow up with that on their own. But don't force them to do that because it's sort of unlikely that they would go there and and and take the time to sort through all of your different projects. You just want to make it easy for them. Give them the ones that matter that you think will matter to them most. Give that to them up front. If you don't yet have a professional portfolio, getting started is hard. I'm not gonna paint that a ziff. It were easy, but there there are ways to do it. So consider if you have relevant work from past jobs, even if it's not exactly what you're trying to do. Currently, for example, what maybe you have created a content calendar in your previous job and now your pitching social media content idea, so those are not the same thing, but at least you could use one to show that you understand what it means to manage social media content and in your picture would be your job to make that argument. And then maybe you have projects from school you could use like I did. Maybe you could take a class that enables you to produce a project that you can use. Um, maybe it might take you simply going out on your own and doing the work for free just so that you can have something to show when you're pitching work for pay. And no matter what, you need to have something to show your potential client that you are qualified and something that shows that's the most important part. You can't just say you're qualified to show. Don't tell some quick examples of ways to do that. Work for free so that you can eventually get paid for it. You can ask your friends if they will be your pro bono clients. If you're a writer than start and maintain a block, if your photographer than but your photos online and display them on in an appealing way in your website or on Flickr or something like that. If you're a software engineer, obviously build websites in your free time and and create things that your products you can show to someone who might be then willing to pay you for that kind of thing. Sometimes references professional references can help back you up. That might mean simply listing previous clients whose names are recognizable and or people who would be willing to put in a good word for you. It's unlikely that whatever your whoever your potential client is that they would follow up with those references. But it looks good to have them. But make sure their professional and not personal references, and also make sure that you only less people you've actually done work for people who would actually recommend you. All right, so Part two, how you will do the work. This will obviously vary depending on the kind of work you do. But the point is to make sure you have a game plan in mind before you send in your pitch. So keep in mind your own capacity to carry out the project that he have time to do it energy to do it. What kind of timeline you're looking at If you're gonna consider whether you will be depending on other people. For example, sources for story models for photographs, sound engineers for an audio project in order to complete your work. So factor that into your timeline to make sure you have ways to get in touch with those people. So if certain people require special access, for example, if they're famous like a celebrity, they live far away. Then you need to note in your pitch how you plan to get in touch with him, because your client will be anticipating potential barriers to you carrying out that project. And you wanna be able to answer those questions before they even as soon as the company, that person's mind, as soon as they come up in your client's mind, have the answer. Ready till limiting any doubt seem I have so that they don't shoot you down. Another practical consideration is making sure you have all the equipment you need to do the work. So, for example, sometimes a pitch will land and the client will ask for a very fast turnaround. So you need to be as prepared as possible at the time when you send in your pitch. Finally, be confident you in this role you are a sales person should put a positive spin on all of your experiences. Be proud of your accomplishments. If your portfolio consists entirely of work you did for school or for free. At this point, you don't need to mention that just presented as good work that's relevant to the work you're trying to pitch to your client. You have the power to shape their perception of you so got there and impress them. If that includes mentioning your work ethic. Mentioning that, for example, I sometimes say, I've never missed. If I'm if I'm pitching a long term project, I might say I've never missed the deadline because that's true. It's something that's really important to me. And that's something I like to note because I think that a lot of times clients are nervous about their freelance, their feelings contractors not been dependable, so if that's a point of pride for you convention that you're dependable, but you the way your it's your job to to convince them that you're qualified, that you know how to do the work. You have a plan you have the experience to make to enable you to do a good job. And it's your job to be able to convey all of that to whoever you're pitching Teoh in the very succinct way, and I believe that you can do it. And as I mentioned before, that's gonna be the first. The class project is to create your first pitch. So if you submit your draft, you can get personalized you back from me and from your classmates, and we'll help you carry out these lessons that you're learning. And throughout this class, next up is the final lesson in this class who to pitch to. 5. Lesson 4: WHO: Hello, everybody. We've made it to the final lesson. Welcome to lessen. Four Who to pitch to? So what lesson do we talked about defining your audience? Knowing who your audience is or who it should be or who it might be will help you decide who to pitch to is your idea something that promotes a certain product or type of product? Then you're gonna want to pitch to a company or organization that promotes ourselves, that product or a type of product. If your idea is to write a travel essay, then you'll probably want to pitch to travel websites or magazines. So figuring out who to pitch to a probably will definitely take some research. If you're a writer, you can literally Google. Publications that pay plenty of people have put together lists and other resource is helping you sort through what publications pay for freelance work and what their standard rates are. And some people will report on how quickly those publications will actually come through with your paycheck. Whether you're a writer or other type of freelancer, it's wise to keep a spreadsheet or other organized list of your target clients so that you can keep track of who's on your radar, whose radar you want to be on who view pitched to before that kind of thing. But to be honest, cold pitches rarely land. I have managed to do it a couple of times, but it's not where the book of my income comes from. My best paying gigs, the contracts that are bigger than a small one off project. Those almost always come through personal connections, So work those personal connections. Make sure everyone in your life knows that you are a freelancer. Available for work. Pro tip. Make sure your email signature includes a link to your personal website. For a step by step tutorial on building your personal website, check out my very first sculpture class, which is creatively titled Ah, Beginner's Guide to Building your Personal Website. Other ways to get the word out about your availability as a freelancer is too. Ask for the answer. Friends for intros or suggestions. If you know any other independent contractors who are more established in their careers, you can tell them that you would love to take on any of their cast off projects. For example, if a client reaches out to them with a potential project they don't have time for were. If someone asks them to carry out a project that falls below their pay range, you could potentially take on those projects. If that freelancer refers, you refers the client to you, you're not a bigger, but you still can afford to be only so choosy when you're first getting started. And referrals are great way to get started. Once you have relationships clients, it becomes a lot easier to pitch, and your pictures are a lot more likely to be read and considered. Another thing to think about is that if you have a niche or a specific topic area that you consider your specialty, it's very helpful for your clients to remember you by something like that. For example, I'm passionate. I personally am passionate about food systems, so I often have editors emailing me press releases related to agriculture, and some of my best stories have come from those I write about a lot more than agriculture . But because I'm associated with food systems in there in those people's minds, they think of me when they see anything related to farming or agriculture, and I get to write those stories regardless of who you're pitching to make sure the pitch is personalized. That specific client. For example, if you're pitching for a magazine, you should mention the name of the specific section in the magazine that your story would fit into. If you can. In your pitch email, you should link to pass projects of yours that air similar in some way to what the clients are you doing or projects that demonstrate qualities that they don't have yet. But they could benefit from that. I'll make your pitch even stronger if you're pitching the same idea to multiple potential clients. Triple check that you get the name right. The name of the publication in the name of the editor, the contact person. And if you're pitching content to any kind of publication, always check to make sure that publication has not published on that topic or idea recently . Even if you're pitching to multiple Alec, do you want to make them think that they are unique and special in your mind, and you want to convince him that your idea is perfect for their specific, unique audience? Everybody wants to feel special, all right, That's pretty much all I have to share on this topic. That's a lot of packed into just a few minutes, but should be enough to set you on the right track. So as a recap, do your research ahead of time to target the right potential clients. Leverage your personal connections, toe win, introductions and referrals. Give your clients a specific topic area or particular sub scale to associate you with and personalize your pitch to each potential client. Now that this lesson is over, you have heard all of my key recommendations for how to craft a pitch in the class. Wrap up video, author out a few more miscellaneous tips, talk you through a basic pitch email, recap the whole class and go over the class project. As always, feel free to reach out in the Meanwhile, if you have any questions 6. Conclusion: everyone, we have reached the conclusion of this class. This is the wrap up lesson where I will recap what I went over in the previous lessons throughout some miscellaneous tips and tricks and walk you through a basic pitch email and then, at the end, bulk over the class project. So in the class introduction, I told you a little bit about myself and what to expect from the class, and I gave you advice on how to approach the class. In less than one. I talked about the what generating and shaping your idea that involves asking a lot of questions, paying attention to the world around you, digging for additional information and brainstorming, multimedia and listen to. I went over the Why understanding and framing why your idea matters and being able to explain why people should care. This center is largely on knowing your audience, knowing who your audience is and knowing the real world context that your ideal lives. In Lesson three, I covered how we used to show how you're qualified and planning out how you'll do the work . Lesson four focused on who? Figuring out who your potential clients are getting in touch with them and appealing to their need to feel special. I do have a few more recommendations that didn't fit into those four categories. So I'm going to go over those additional ideas, which are mostly things that do after you've gone through all the steps outlined in my previous lessons. It's always helpful to run your ideas past other people. It can be really hard to tell a genius idea from a week one when it's your own idea and other people can help encourage you if it really is a good idea and they can help you make it better if it's not quite as genius as you thought so workshop your idea with friends. You should pitch every idea to at least 10 publications or potential clients. And don't be discouraged when you don't hear back as I mentioned and listen for. Landing a cold pitch could be really, really tough, which makes it all the more rewarding when it does finally happen. Keep working those personal connections in the meanwhile. Finally, I'd recommend that you don't ask about payment until the client has agreed to take you up on the pitch. That's just a decorum thing it can be annoying to have to wait, but the client has power until they've decided they do want to hire you. So don't be pushy about the money. Don't even ask for rates until they know they want you. When that point does calm, don't be afraid to negotiate. That's all my tips. I have shared all my knowledge and wisdom. Now go forth and prosper briefly, though, I'll talk you through a basic pitch email. So you start with dear insert name and then write one sentence introducing yourself. I usually say I'm a freelance writer based in Brooklyn. The next sentence should lay out the point of the email. For example, I would like to pitch you an idea about X and be very specific. For example, I'd like to pitch you a photo essay of through hikers on the Appalachian Trail, focusing on what motivates each of them to hike. You can then add one more sentence, giving detailer explanation of your idea. In that first paragraph, for example, giving your estimated word count or timeline, it might be also worthwhile to add a sentence on how you plan to carry out the work. If that seems necessary and maybe a sentence, pointing out how this idea fits this client. If that's not already obvious, then start a new paragraph to explain your qualifications. For example, I've previously been published in X Y Z magazine's most relevant to this pitcher. My previous photo essays in this outdoors magazine and include a link there and then right . My personal Web site showcases more information about me in a comprehensive listing of my portfolio with, of course, your personal website linked in the text. As I've mentioned before, I have another sculpture class about building your personal website. If you don't already have one, check that out for a tutorial that goes through each step and that's it. Sign off your email and hope for the best. You want to keep the email as brief and to the point as possible. Thank you for taking this class to apply what you've learned. Check out the class project, which asks you to take those steps to craft your bitch. So first brainstorm your idea. Second, define your audience and choose your target publication or client and then third right your pitch, putting it into one or two sentences, focusing on the hook or the cat. Whatever the intrigue is, um, whatever makes it appealing and then include any sources you've used or planned to use right? Another sentence about why this idea fits this client. When more sentence about why you're the right person to do the work and then post your pitch to the class for feedback. Your classmates are invited to give each other feedback, and I will give you feedback as well. Let's get started.