Cold pitching is not magic and it takes hard work but it’s also not as scary or intimidating as it seems once you get going. Here are a few tips for geting this strategy up and running.
In case you’re not familiar with this term, in the freelance world, “cold pitching” is what happens when you email or call strangers hoping to get work. This can be overwhelming at first and requires a different strategy than reaching out to warm leads (people with whome you have existing relationships). But if you want to grow your freelance business, it is a necessary step.
Cold pitching to get clients fast
I see a lot of freelancer posts in networking groups talking about how they’re tired of searching job boards for a decent opp paying a reasonable rate or sick of pitching magazine and newspaper stories that don’t pay well.
They’re feeling frustrated and stuck but they don’t know where to look for those niche clients who pay well.
The fastest way I know how to make money as a freelance writer is to pitch companies with marketing budgets. Yes, you can also pitch publications but the turnaround time is longer. And you can also sit back and hope your website will earn you passive ad income or affiliate sales or whatever else, and that’s fine too. But it’s a long game. And if you need money now, it’s not a great short-term strategy.
Bonus tip: For freelance writers searching for stable corporate clients, LinkedIn may be their shining beacon of hope.
Cold pitching companies is also a better, quicker strategy than responding to posts on job boards or prospecting on a freelancer bidding site. For starters, in these places the competition is fierce and often, because of the large pool of willing writers, the pay is low.
Here’s a quick three-step strategy to get you going
If you’re ready to make this a part of your regular prospecting, schedule one to two hours per day for cold pitching. Some of this time will be research and some will be emailing. Trust me, you’ll need all of the time.
- Research. Search for and make a list of marketing and advertising agencies. You can use Google, LinkedIn, local directories, etc.
- Find a specific email address. Look for someone like a marketing manager or communications director, someone who would be an actual contact and do your best to find their real email address (rather than “info” or “contact”)
- Send a cold pitch. Also known as a query or letter of inquiry (LOI), send a short email asking if the company works with freelance writers
If you get a “yes, we do work with freelance writers,” then you can continue the conversation by letting them know who you are and how you can help them (this is where an elevator pitch comes in handy).
Two extra tips. They may ask for samples or portfolio links, have them ready to send (another option is having your LinkedIn profile optimized and sending that link, totally acceptable!). It’s possible they’d like references—have a couple ready to go, previous clients who can vouch for your work and character.
Like I said before, this will all seem scary and intimidating until you get the hang of it. Cold pitching can be terrifying if you overthink it. And yes, you’ll experience rejections, although many won’t respond at all, and that’s OK. It’s all part of the process.
Here are a few more ways to increase your odds of getting to “yes” from cold pitching
- Warm up the connection as much as possible. Find common ground wherever possible, like a mutual connection or membership in the same organization
- Send cold pitches to companies that look like they’ll need your services. Rather than shooting a buck shot, try targetting your pitches to places where it makes sense and your skills match
- Narrow your search by thinking local rather than global. You’re trying to get quick pickups here, so look for places that likely aren’t getting as much pitching
- Keep your email short and to the point. In your first outreach your goal is to get a response to begin a conversation. That’s it.
Once you get into this prospecting strategy, you’ll realize you need a tracking system and a follow-up system. In fact, following up is one of the most important pieces. How many times have you intended to respond to an email and just let it get away from you? A short, polite follow up is sometimes all it takes to prompt that positive response.
If you’re ready for it, here’s a great three-step follow-up system from Jennifer Goforth Gregory.
Other articles you may enjoy
- Get Clients Fast With These 7 Ideas
- Creative Places to Find Clients
- How to Find Great Freelance Writing Jobs
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