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Do you know how to write a pitch that gets freelance writing clients’ attention?
Or better yet, gets you the job so you can make some money off those awesome writing skills of yours?
Pitching can be your bread and butter whether you’re a new freelancer or you’ve been writing for years. In a perfect world, every pitch you send out turns into a new freelance opportunity.
It’s a chance to connect with your dream clients, do work you love, build your freelance brand and smash your income goals.
But sometimes, the reality is more like this:
You’re sending out pitch after pitch but only getting the occasional nibble from prospective clients.
Or your pitches are being outright rejected by editors.
Even worse, you’re not pitching at all.
And if either one of those is true then it’s time to fix it.
What Is a Freelance Writing Pitch?
In freelancing writing, pitching means reaching out to people you want to write for and offering them your services.
That’s a really basic definition though, so let’s dig a little deeper.
First, there’s the cold pitch.
This is when you pitch someone you’ve never had contact with before or don’t have any connection to.
For example, you might come across a blog for a business in your niche that hasn’t been updated for a while. So you email the blog owner to see if they might be interested in hiring you to create some new content.
Then there’s the warm pitch.
Warm pitching happens when you pitch someone that you’ve had some interaction with.
For example, you might be connected on LinkedIn or follow a certain blogger on Twitter. You’ve commented on their blog or reshared some of their tweets. That gives you an opening to pitch.
Besides cold pitching and warm pitching, there are different formats your pitch can take.
For example, if you just want to put yourself on someone’s radar you might send a pitch introducing yourself as a writer.
But other times, you’ll load your pitch up with some great ideas for blog posts or articles you want to write.
The approach for those is a little different, which is where learning how to write a pitch comes in.
Why Pitching Matters for Freelance Writers
Email pitching can be super-intimidating, especially if you’re still learning how to do it.
You’re basically saying to a complete stranger, Do you want to work with me? Check yes or no.
I get it.
When I first started freelancing, the thought of pitching made my throat close a little. I’m super-introverted and having to put myself out there was scary.
But that’s a critical part of building a freelance writing business. Learning how to write a pitch is one of the things that’s allowed me to grow my business to where it is today.
In my first six months of freelancing full-time, I became the little pitching engine that could. And the more I did it, the better I became at honing my pitches to get clients’ attention and land jobs.
Not just any jobs either. Ones that allowed me to double, then triple my rates and while cutting my working hours in half.
And that’s what you want too, right?
Which brings us back to the pitch.
If you can do it consistently and do it well, pitching is one of the most powerful ways to build your freelance writing business.
Here’s how to write a pitch that gets you more freelance writing clients–and more income.
How to Write a Pitch That Freelance Writing Clients Will Love
Step One: Target Your Pitches to the Right Audience
When I first started freelancing, I pitched everyone.
If I came across a posting on a job board that was even remotely close to the kind of writing I wanted to do, I pitched it.
If I found a website in my niche that had a blog, I pitched it.
And if the site didn’t have a blog, I pitched it anyway in the hopes that maybe they’d be so dazzled by my writing samples they’d want me to help them create one.
I was banking on volume to produce results. But my approach was all wrong.
What I really needed to be doing was targeting my pitches to the companies and brands that I wanted to work with most. And that’s what you need to do to.
Ask yourself who your ideal client is and why you want to work with them.
- Are you interested in helping small businesses nail down their marketing strategies?
- Is writing about money and investing for big-name financial publications your ultimate goal?
- Are you passionate about helping startups gain exposure and grow their brands?
Asking these kinds of questions can help you narrow your focus.
That’s important because you want to pitch businesses or brands that need what you have to offer. When you can solve a specific problem as a writer because you’re an expert in your niche, clients will want to hire you all day long.
Step Two: Read the Pitch Guidelines Thoroughly
Repeat after me:
I will not skip reading the pitch guidelines. I will not skip reading the pitch guidelines.
When it comes to pitching a guest post for a blog or responding to an ad on a job board, skimming won’t cut it.
For example, it’s pretty common to see job board listings that ask you to put a specific word or phrase in the subject line of your email. If you’re rushing to pitch without reading the whole ad, you might miss it and send your pitch without it.
The result is that your pitch might land in the job poster’s trash folder.
So, read the guidelines. Then read them again.
And more importantly, follow them.
If an ad asks for three writing samples about natural parenting, don’t send them two articles about small business marketing.
Or if a blogger asks you to send your post ideas in a Google doc don’t send it in a Word doc.
If you’re supposed to include a link to your online portfolio, drop it in. (And if you don’t have an online writing portfolio yet, check out this post on how to create one for free.)
Step Three: Personalize Your Pitch
One of the toughest parts about cold pitching is that 99% of the time, you don’t know the person you’re emailing.
That’s especially true with job boards, where you might be sending a pitch to a catch-all email address versus a specific editor or content manager’s inbox.
As you master how to write a pitch, steer clear of the generic greeting trap.
“Dear Sir/Madam” or “To Whom It Concerns” are perfectly acceptable greetings, but they’re also boring as hell and they scream, hey, I don’t know you but hire me anyway!
What you want instead is an opening that’s warm and personable.
Addressing the person you’re pitching by name adds a friendly vibe. And it can help you stand out in the crowd.
Sometimes it takes a little digging to get a name. You might have to check out the publication’s masthead or stalk their social media profiles to find out editor or content manager is.
A simple “Hi [Editor’s name],” can make your cold pitch stand out. Even better, you can use your detective work as an opportunity to make a personal connection pre-pitch.
Following an editor on Twitter, for instance, or sending them an invite on LinkedIn with a short note letting them know you enjoyed a recent story they published can lay the groundwork for a working relationship.
At the very least, it puts your name top of mind so they’ll recognize it when you send a pitch.
Step Four: Be Specific, Not Generic
Knowing who you’re pitching and why is one part of the perfect cold pitch equation.
Another is knowing what to pitch.
Pitching Freelance Clients Through Job Boards
If you’re replying to an ad on a job board, your pitch format might look something like this:
My name’s Rebecca Lake and I’m a freelance writer specializing in finance. I came across your job posting on LinkedIn and wanted to see if you’re still looking for an investment writer to join your team.
A little about me:
I’ve been covering finance for four years, writing for outlets like U.S. News & World Report and Investopedia. I frequently write about investing for retirement and retirement planning for different life stages, both topics mentioned in your original job posting.
I’ve been reading through some of the posts on your site and I’ve got a few ideas that I think would be a great fit for your audience. What’s the most pressing content need you have right now?
You’ll find samples of my latest work below, along with a link to my online portfolio. You can also see some of the brands I’ve worked with on my LinkedIn profile.
Let me know when would be a good time for a quick chat about a possible collaboration. If you’re interested in seeing a few pitches first, I can shoot those over to you straight away.
Thanks for your time and I look forward to connecting.
Why This Pitch Works
In this email, I’ve done three things:
- Let them know who I am and what my skills are, without blabbing on and on.
- Shown them that I’m familiar with the publication and I can help them solve a problem.
- Given them a specific call to action to follow.
In my early pitches, I used words like “hope” and “think” and “perhaps” a lot. But those words lack confidence. Now, I keep my pitches short, direct and positive.
If I were cold pitching an editor directly, my pitch might look a little different. In that case, I might include some of the same information but I’d go ahead and plug my ideas into the pitch.
Pitching Story Ideas to Freelance Clients
In some cases, you might be pitching one or more ideas for a story or blog post. And there’s a right and wrong way to do it.
When the editor of a well-known credit card site recently reached out to gauge my interest in writing for them, he asked me to quickly turn around a couple of pitches. Here’s what I sent:
I’ve been in and out of my inbox this morning and spotted your message, hence the quick reply! I’ve included some links to my recent work, as requested. Here are a few story ideas to get the ball rolling:
Could Rising Interest Rates Make Balance Transfer Promotions Scarce?
With interest rates on the rise, credit card companies are positioned to take advantage but only for customers who are carrying a balance with interest. That could make longer-term 0% balance transfer promotions less appealing. I’d like to dive into how that could affect promotional periods and what credit card users should know if they’re contemplating a transfer.
Why Freelancers Shouldn’t Write Off Business Credit Cards
There are approximately 57 million Americans doing some kind of freelance work and that number is expected to grow. A business credit card isn’t just for traditional business owners; freelancers can also use them to their advantage. I’ll examine what those benefits are (separating personal vs. business expense tracking, rewards, etc.) and what freelancers need to know about choosing and applying for a business credit card.
Generally, I’m comfortable with being assigned stories or coming up with ideas on my own. If you’d like to see any other samples or you have questions for me about my background, just let me know.
Looking forward to hearing from you!
Why This Pitch Works
The story ideas I included were relevant to the site’s audience and the type of content they already publish. They also tie into a newsworthy event or trend, something the editor appreciated.
While the content of my pitch emails is slightly different, they still follow the same basic rules. Sticking with those rules can work for you too.
Here are some other basics to follow for how to write a pitch that converts:
1. Keep it short and simple.
When it comes to pitching, less really is more. Don’t ramble and don’t waste anyone’s time with unnecessary information.
2. Get to the point quickly.
Your cold pitch email should include an intro explaining who you are but clients don’t want to read your life story.
Break the ice, then move ahead to the real meat of the email: your pitch.
3. Back up pitches with data or facts.
Clients love pitches when they’re supported by an eye-catching statistic. Just remember to frame them in an interesting way and don’t overload on information.
Too many numbers and your prospect’s eyes might start to glaze over.
4. Include relevant links.
There’s really only one rule for including links to your work with a pitch: pick the best, most relevant samples you have.
If all you have are some posts you’ve written for your blog, go ahead and link to them. Just make sure you’ve polished them to perfection first.
5. Don’t forget your portfolio and social media presence.
A cold pitch email gives you very limited space to sell yourself and what you do. Your writing portfolio and your social media profiles can fill in the gaps.
Do you need a dedicated writer website to show off your samples? Depends on who you ask.
I don’t have a writer website. I’ve had a few over the years and I just never kept up with them.
Some of the writers I studied as mentors when I first started freelancing have self-hosted websites to feature their portfolios. It’s really a matter of personal choice, and how much time and money you’re willing to invest in setting up and maintaining a site.
As for social media, you don’t necessarily have to be on every platform.
I personally use Twitter and LinkedIn, both of which have been a great way to connect with prospective clients.
If you’re trying to engage clients on social, stick to the channels where your ideal client spends time and skip the rest.
6. Close with a specific CTA.
Once a prospect has your pitch, the ball is in their court. But they may not have a clue what to do with it.
That’s what the call to action is for.
Your CTA should spell out what comes next.
You might suggest scheduling a Zoom chat, for instance, or setting aside time for a quick call to discuss their content needs. The goal is to get your would-be client to keep the ball in play.
7. Proof your pitch.
Duh, you need to proofread your pitches before hitting send. And not just once either.
Read through your pitches several times before hitting to send to check for poor grammar, misspelled words, awkward phrasing or a choppy flow.
Embarrassingly enough, I’ve sent out pitches with spelling and grammar errors, which could have been avoided if I’d taken time to proof my pitches thoroughly.
If you’re worried about making a blunder with your pitch, use a tool like Grammarly to check them.
Grammarly is a browser extension that checks your writing automatically for spelling mistakes, punctuation errors or wonky grammar. It can help you fine-tune your pitches so you can wow clients.
Step Five: Write an Attention-Getting Subject Line
The last thing you do after proofing your pitch and hitting send is double-checking your subject line. Your subject line can make or break the success of your pitch.
So what does a good subject line look like?
There’s no single answer but your subject line should be enticing or interesting enough to justify opening the message.
For instance, if you’re pitching story ideas you might use a sample headline or call out a specific statistics or data point from the pitch.
Steer clear of cutesy or cliched subject lines, or anything that seems like a bait-and-switch.
Of course, you could always stick with something basic like “Writing for XYZ Publication”. It may not dazzle an editor but it tells them quickly and clearly why you’re emailing them.
Do You Have an Awesome Tip for How to Write a Pitch Clients Can’t Resist?
Learning how to write a pitch takes a little trial and error but once you nail the perfect pitch, you can start to see real results in your freelance writing business.
If you have a super ninja tip for how to write a pitch that gets clients, head to the comments and tell me about it.
And please pin and share this post if it helped you!
Remember, if you need some help with fine-tuning your pitches, you can get four FREE cold pitch templates in the Freelance Writer’s Toolkit!