How to Pitch for Freelance Writing Jobs
I used to hate the thought of pitching for freelance writing jobs.
A long time ago when I was a student, I (very) briefly had a part-time job cold-call homeowners to sell them kitchens.
To emphasise, these weren’t qualified leads. Oh no. I called people who had never expressed any dissatisfaction with their current kitchens and tried to persuade them to get a whole new refit.
Yeah, people hated me. People hung up, shouted at me, got upset. I didn’t sell many kitchens.
I was a student and desperate for beer and pizza money, but even I could only be demoralised so many times. I think I lasted a week. If that.
What has (not) selling kitchens got to with pitching for freelance writing jobs?
When I first became an online writer, I didn’t want to pitch for freelance writing jobs because I equated it with calling people in their homes (probably as they sat down for dinner) to persuade them to have an entire room of their home ripped out and replaced.
It didn’t exactly inspire me to take action. I didn’t want the rejection. I couldn’t handle it.
I soon figured out this was purely an emotional reaction – and old emotional reactions that no longer serve a purpose can be looked at, scrutinised and (on a good day) rationalised and eliminated.
When it came to pitching for freelance writing jobs, the cold hard facts looked more like this:
- Unlike those unsuspecting homeowners, companies online actually need what you're offering. Which is (ahem) a consistent source of quality content to attract and engage customers. So not kitchens.
- You can actually do all of the pitching over email and by attracting writing clients to you, meaning you don’t have to pick up the phone once. *smug smile*
- A kitchen is a one-off purchase. My pitching efforts were all about developing a long-term relationship with clients and adding value to their business over time.
How to pitch for freelance writing jobs
Your approach for each of your pitches will naturally differ because it depends on what sort of writing you’re offering and what sort of client you’re pitching to.
But you can use the following as a sort of universal pitching checklist. Whether you're responding to freelance writing jobs or emailing potential clients, tick each one off before you hit send on that pitch.
1. Research the client
Obvious? Yes. Often skimmed over? Double-yes. Whether you're pitching for an individual freelance writing job or for regular client work, nothing is more important than knowing the company/publication you’re pitching to.
This means researching general information about their business and blog, sure, but it also means identifying any challenges they may be facing. You can then address these issues in your pitch. (Clever, huh?)
Tip: Follow your potential clients on social media and get to understand what’s important to them. Some folks call this: 'stalking potential clients.' I call it: 'being thorough.'
2. Get a contact name
Find out the name of the relevant person you need to address in your pitch – and then address them. Your pitch should appeal to the actual person you’re pitching to, and include any pain-points, concerns or issues that individual may be facing.
Yup, this is where all that research comes in.
Tip: It doesn’t harm to drop in something about saving them time, money or hassle in some way. Bonus points if you include a way for them to impress their boss. Everyone wants to impress their boss. (Apart from the boss-boss… but only because she doesn’t have a boss.)
3. Respect people’s time
Keep your pitch short and get straight to the point. You know how to write, how to get a message across in the most succinct and engaging way – you're an online writer. Try to summarise your idea or angle in the fewest words possible.
Tip: Bullet points are good. Huge masses of dense grey paragraph? Not so much.
4. Know your worth
Pitching for freelance writing jobs and regular clients can be a bit of a tightrope walk. You need to make clear your unique skills and abilities as a writer and that you're an expert on the topic. You need to sell the benefits of hiring you.
But ya don’t want to appear desperate.
Those people trying to eat their dinner while I tried to sell them kitchens could hear I was desperate. You’re not desperate. There are other clients out there. Know your worth.
Tip: Introduce yourself and your ideas in a way that leaves the person you’re pitching to well informed of what you can offer... but excited to find out more.
5. Structure well
The best email pitches are structured like this:
- hook to draw the reader into your idea or angle
- a mini synopsis of the content you're proposing
- links to examples of your work
- a direct invitation to contact/hire you
Sign off by thanking the person for their time (see tip 3) and directly asking for a response. Be polite, but don’t give your potential new client a chance to leave your email in their inbox for a month before downgrading it to the trash can come zero-inbox spring-clean season.
Tip: Include suggested titles for content you're pitching, perhaps even in the email subject line to capture their attention.
Cover these basics when pitching for freelance writing jobs and you’ll start getting more positive responses. No phones, no unsuspecting homeowners. And definitely no kitchens.