“Pitch” is an awful word. It conjures up mental images of desperate car salesmen. “What will it take to send you home in this car?!” Nevertheless, freelancing demands you to contact prospective clients. There’s no other way to close a deal. Here’s how to write a pitch that converts (no sleazy sales tricks required!).
Note: I’m a freelance writer. This article is based on my personal experience pitching clients on websites such as Problogger and Upwork. That said, any freelancer should be able to apply these strategies. Simply adjust the details to fit the specific service you provide.
Make them laugh.
Hiring a freelancer is a stressful process. Prospective clients want to choose the absolute best person for the job. Remove some pressure by giving them a reason to smile.
I like to start my pitches with a strong (but funny) opener. Here’s an example: “Hi! I’m sure you’re buried in emails, so I’ll get to the point…” That’s resulted in several responses like this one:
Hint: You’ll be competing with 20-200 other freelancers for most assignments, so it’s a safe bet this joke will resonate. Just don’t use it word-for-word or people will be suspicious when they see it twice… ;)
Know your audience.
Don’t apply for an assignment until you’ve read the job posting word-for-word. It’s sad that even needs to be said out-loud. But you’d be amazed how many people fail to do so.
Many clients have caught-on to this problem. That’s why some people sneak a “secret word” in their job postings. Or they might ask you to phrase the email subject line a certain way. Fail to comply and they’ll assume you’re lazy or bad at following instructions.
Also, resist the temptation to talk about yourself. You’re not making a new friend. It’s just a business collaboration. Focus on their needs and leave your ego out of it. Let’s say you find a job posting on Problogger. The client requires content about social media marketing. Here are two ways to play the situation. Which one looks better?
Option A: “I’m the perfect person for this job posting! You don’t even want to know how many hours I’ve spent on Facebook. It is my favorite social media site. I’d love to write about how to market services on that website. Hire me!”
Option B: “Social media is a powerful marketing tool. More small businesses need to learn how to use it strategically. I’ve got some personal experience with advertising on Facebook. Maybe your readers will benefit from a case study?”
The second pitch is clearly better. It’s less self-absorbed. You’ve demonstrated a comprehension of the assignment. And the “I” statement is there for a good reason: to emphasize you understand the content’s subject matter. Boom!
Showcase relevant samples.
You can’t expect to get paid before you prove your talent. Why should someone hire you to write business advice when you’ve never ran a business (or at least published content on the subject)? That’d be foolish on their part.
If you don’t have samples yet, here’s an easy way to fix that. Do a Google search for “write for us” + “(your topic).” The topic can be anything you desire. That said, some topics offer more profit potential than others.
People will constantly read content about health, fitness, dating, relationships, business, and money management. Sailing, sea turtles, and scuba-diving? Not so much. When in doubt, be broad.
Here’s a screenshot to show you what I mean:
Many of these websites don’t pay for content. That’s okay. If you’re a new freelancer, you have to do some free work. There’s no other way to build a portfolio. Your efforts will pay off later.
Identify at least five blogs that will benefit from your content. Tailor your pitch to fit their submission guidelines. Repeat until you collect a bare minimum of three samples.
After you collect those samples, include them in your pitches. Preface those links with a statement like: “To give you a feel for my style, here are some live samples…”
James Johnson, founder of Freelancer Writers School, suggests using this format:
Website Name – Article Title/URL – Share or comment count
To confirm your understanding, I’ll apply that format to one of my own articles:
Pakwired – 5 Questions to Ask Yourself before You Become a Freelancer – 1,100 shares
Note #1: Some websites (such as Upwork) won’t let you attach hyperlinks to your pitch. In that case, simply add the plain text URL in between the title and share count.
Note #2: Clients like to know readers find your content engaging. That’s why the share or comment count is there. Include whichever statistic sounds more impressive.
Provide some actionable ideas.
Some prospective clients will ask you to summarize or outline a few content ideas. Regardless, it’s smart to do that. You’ll stand-out from less proactive freelancers. (There’s no room for laziness at the top!)
If they include a link to their website, review some of the most popular articles. Ask yourself, “How could I explore these topics from a more original, creative, or interesting angle?” Brainstorm 3-5 article ideas based on your insights.
Here’s a script to tweak for your own purposes (this comes after your samples): “I reviewed some trending content on your site. It helped me understand your demographics. I’m confident these blog ideas will resonate with readers.”
Refuse to let rejections faze you.
Every pitch you send won’t result in a hire. In fact, most of them won’t. And you know what? That’s nothing to fear.
Sometimes your style isn’t compatible with a client’s needs. It doesn’t mean you’re a horrible writer or freelancer. You’ll just need to keep writing pitches until you find the right fit.
“Patience is a conquering virtue,” as Geoffrey Chaucer said.
Share this article with your friends who freelance. They need to know how to write a pitch that closes deals, too.
READ MORE OF THE FREELANCING 101 SERIES BY DANIEL WALLEN:
- 5 Questions to Ask Yourself before You Become a Freelancer
- How to Be Productive at Home (When You’d Rather Be Watching Netflix)
- How to Learn a New Skill (without Stressing Yourself Out)
- How to Get Your First Paying Client within a Month
- How to Set and Negotiate a Rate You Can Live with
- How to Publish and Promote Your Online Portfolio
- How to Write an About Page That Resonates with Your Audience