It used to be that to get clients as a freelance writer, you needed to be pitching constantly. These days, we don’t have it as bad thanks to job boards (such as Paid to Blog Jobs) and freelance work platforms. However, cold pitches are still one of the best ways to land jobs that you would never get otherwise, and it’s all about making your approach the right way.
If you’re anything like me, you’re pretty suspicious about emails from people you don’t know. The few that don’t make it to my trash folder all have one thing in common – they grab me from the get-go. If you can make your client pitches do that, then you won’t be lacking for work.
In this article, I’m going to walk you through three simple steps to identifying potential clients and pitching them. It can be nerve-wracking, but the rewards are usually well worth it. Let’s talk business!
Step #1: Identify The People You Want to Pitch
When it comes to pitching freelance clients, research is as important as the contents of your proposal. For example, if you wanted to pitch someone at Leaving Work Behind to publish your work, who would you contact?
If your answer was me, then you would be wrong. Instead of guessing, your first move should have been to check out the blog’s About Us page and see who appears to be in charge there. Once you have that information, you should look for ways to contact that person. In most cases, people prefer to hear work proposals via email, though, so I wouldn’t jot down someone’s social media profiles.
Let’s check out another example. If you’re into Search Engine Optimization (SEO), you’ve probably read the Moz Blog at some point. It gets a lot of traffic, so you could do a lot worse than to get published there:
In that blog’s case, they don’t have information for guest posts, so I can assume a cold pitch would be my best bet. The first thing I’d do would be to take a look at their team page and check out who’s in charge of the blog side of things:
Bingo! Now I check out that persons profile to see if they have an email listed there. If they don’t, my next stop would be LinkedIn, to see if I could find it there. While you’re at it, try to read up on what their job description is and topics they care about. That way, you’ll know something about them when you send in your pitch.
At this stage, I usually like to collect a handful of emails for different sites. That way, I can pitch them all in one day and wait to see if anything comes of it. Cold-pitching is a numbers game, so you need to do it in volume if you want to succeed (at least at first).
Step #2: Compose Your Pitch
You have a list of emails and names now. Hopefully, you also know enough about each of these people so your emails don’t sound like you’re a random salesman.
With cold pitches, you need to keep things short since most people probably won’t want to give you too much attention. However, you also need to make sure you sell yourself and your value adequately. For example, here’s a pitch that would surely get ignored:
I want to write for your blog. You can check out my portfolio at this link, so let me know if you’re interested!
There are two things that pitch does right – it’s concise and it includes a link to your portfolio. However, it’s also remarkably vague and it doesn’t tell the person on the other end why they should care. Let’s take another crack at it:
I’m a long-time fan of the blog (particularly your pieces on SEO). I’ve noticed articles on keyword research do particularly well on your blog and I want to pitch you a few ideas if you’re interested.
In the past, I’ve written for X and Y. Here’s a link to my portfolio so you can check out some of my work. Mainly, I think you’d be interested in reading X and X.
I look forward to hearing back from you,
That’s much better. The pitch was a bit longer, but it manages to show you’re familiar with their work and you understand what their blog needs. You’re also showing value by namedropping a couple other clients they might know and linking to a few specific articles that might catch their attention.
Personally, I don’t like to drive the sale any harder than that. If you do your research right, you should be targeting people who know they can benefit from your work. That means your job is to get on their radar and walk away gracefully if you don’t hear back from them.
Step #3: Time Your Pitch (And Track Its Performance)
When you pitch freelance clients, timing is everything. For example, you don’t want to contact a potential client at 3 AM, even less so if it’s a Saturday. That’s a surefire way to get relegated to the spam folder, or for your email to get completely ignored.
What I like to do is send my pitches during workdays, preferably after lunch or near the end of the workday. Naturally, those times will vary, so let’s just say around 2 or 6 PM depending on your gut. At those times, people should be more relaxed, and they might spare more time for your pitch.
Since you’re sending out multiple pitches at once, you should also be tracking their performance. For me, that means keeping score of two metrics:
- How many people are clicking on my emails?
- How many of those people are replying to me?
The first one tells me if my email headlines are getting people’s attention, whereas the second shows if my pitches need some work. You can do both these things using Chrome extensions.
In my experience, getting one reply back out of every ten emails is pretty good. However, that’s one extra client you didn’t need to find through freelance platforms, so it’s a score.
Over time, you’ll get better at writing pitches if you track their performance. You’ll also improve your portfolio, which means getting clients to notice you will be easier, so keep pitching in the meantime!
Let’s be honest, cold-pitching can be nerve-wracking. However, it’s sometimes the only method at your disposal to connect with the kind of businesses that aren’t posting jobs to online boards or freelance platforms. If you’re pitching the right people, they’ll be more open to seeing the value in your work, and although you may not always get an answer, you’re giving it a good shot.
Here’s how you should pitch freelance clients:
- Identify the people you want to message (these should be the key decision makers within that business).
- Compose your pitch and remember to explain why they should be interested in working with you.
- Time your pitch so you send it at the right moment and track its performance, so you can refine your approach.
Do you have any secrets you’d like to share about how you pitch freelance clients? Tell us about them in the comments section below!
Image credit: Pixabay.