Are you tired of your pitches getting ignored? You know you are the right writer for the job, but your emails keep getting ignored. How do you get your freelance pitch to translate into a profitable writing job?
Pitching and applying for new writing jobs takes a lot of time, so it is important that your pitches translate into paychecks. Here are my top tips to increasing your chances of getting your pitches read.
1. Your Email Subject Matters
Your pitch is competing among several other emails. If you are replying to a job board offer, then there is a good chance that your email is one of 200-300. Can you imagine how overwhelming that is for the client? Think about what will make your email subject stand out. You don’t want to be obnoxious and use all capital letters, but you do want to get your email read.
If I am applying for a job board, I usually will have my email subject line as, “Expert Finance Writer Featured in Times, Business Insider and More.” This has helped me get an answer from many popular listings. I think two things stand out to the client. One, the email header reads like an article header with the right words capitalized. Second, if all my competition has headlines like, “job application for…” or “interested in writing job…” then my email looks more promising than theirs.
For cold pitching to potential clients and publications, you still want to grab their attention with a good email subject line. However, you need to realize that the person is probably getting many requests from PR individuals too, which are likely to go straight to the trash. I try to avoid making my email sound like another PR email. I usually use a header like, “Writing for X Company,” or “Freelance Pitch: Why You Will Never Be a Successful Writer.”
2. Short and Sweet
People are busy and don’t have more than a few minutes to devote to an email from an unknown sender. Don’t make them regret opening your email with a long string of sentences. Get straight to the point by answering these key questions from the potential client’s perspective:
- Why me?
- Who are you?
- What is your experience?
- Where can I find out more?
- Why do I need you?
I have written pitches that answer the “Why do I need you?” part, but have also had success leaving it off. I like to have the defined answer so that I am more confident when I pitch, and I also have a concrete answer if the client responds, “What do you think you can help us with?”
3. Link to Your Profile or Work
It is best to link to a portfolio that is easy to view and access. I love Contently for their free portfolio service (and this site has also lead to a lot of work). If I am emailing, I link the text in the body and also include it at the end. However, I have only had my portfolio for less than a year. The lack of a portfolio or site did not hinder me from getting work. This solution works if you are new to freelancing too.
“Here are three links to related links:” (include the best links that are related) or “Here are three sites I write for:” (include your author profile on the site – i.e. my Investopedia contributor page).
4. Personalize Each Freelance Pitch
Don’t rely on copy and paste to get you work. Instead, find the first name of the person you are emailing. I like to start with a “Good morning, Julia,” or “Good afternoon, Robert,” when possible. Addressing people as sirs/madams or by their full name is archaic.
I also like to include a small tidbit about how I found them. If I found them on LinkedIn, I will also request to connect. It’s just an added step to make sure you are on that person’s mind without crossing the annoying line.
5. Remove Seeds of Doubt
Is your freelance pitch strong and confident words? Do you truly believe you are the best for the job? Never say that you are a new writer or that you are looking to break into a certain field. Don’t say things like, “I hope to talk to you more,” or “I think I’m the best fit for the job.” Make every sentence a confident one. You aren’t going for prideful or egotistical, but you want the potential client to feel confident in hiring you, not like they are about to take a risk.
6. Keep Pitching
Don’t get hung up on a pitch. Sometimes you will not hear back from a potential client for several weeks. You need to keep moving and not grow too attached to a potential client, job listing, or article idea. Pitching is a numbers game, so keep working at it.
Yes, I have written and worked for probably hundreds of clients, but do you know how many “nos” or no answers I’ve gotten in the past ten years. The number has to be in the thousands!
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Follow Up
I like to keep track of who I pitch and what I pitch. This allows me to follow up in a few weeks to ensure that they got the message or were interested in the idea. For potential clients, I would send a short follow-up saying, “Hi Jane, I was just reaching out to you again to make sure you got my last email. Just in case you didn’t get it, here it is below (previous email). Thank you so much for your time.”
For direct pitches on stories, my email would say, “Hi Brian, I am touching base on the retirement alternatives article I pitched on (date). Are you interested or can I move forward with shopping this idea with another publication? Thanks again for your time.” I will usually forward the original message I sent so that it is included and write a new message above it. I would then change my subject line to, “Follow up on (Original subject).”
If you find that your freelance pitch still isn’t working for you, then it is time to change things up. It doesn’t hurt to mix up some of the sentences, cut out unnecessary items, or promote different related work links. Don’t grow discouraged, instead get determined about landing the job you want.