Thanks so much for the kind words, I really appreciate it! And definitely don’t feel bad about the first few pitches not working out — trust me, been there, done that. The more you pitch, the easier it gets. There’s a rhythm to pitching that I think only starts to feel “natural” once you do it a bunch. Everyone has to start somewhere, and you’re on the right track.
In terms of topics, they say to write what you know, so I started off writing about college life and high school (particularly college admissions). While it’s nice to push your boundaries and write about different things as you go along (I certainly didn’t want to write about college life forever), starting off with topics I was confident I could write about well meant I could spend more time focusing on making my writing better and learning the editorial standards for each publication and less time freaking out about my actual content.
tl;dr When you’re starting out, it’s okay to focus on some low-hanging fruit. Also, Shane Snow’s principle of minimum required credibility is extremely important for getting yourself moving up the ladder, so definitely read his work!