Ah pitching. Love it or hate it, it’s an essential part of the freelance existence.
The thought of starting to pitch yourself to get work can be a little overwhelming. Who do you send pitches to? How do you find them? What do you write? Do you send a cover letter and resume like a normal job? Seriously though… what do you write? Ahhhhh!
We get it. These are all questions we asked, too. But as long time freelancers (seriously, Amna has been freelancing full-time since 2006!), we’ve worked all this stuff out. And we’re here to help you figure it out too.
Settle in with a hot coffee, we’re getting into all the details you need to know about pitching for freelancers.
What Is A Pitch?
A pitch is typically considered a cold email to someone – often someone you don’t know – to try to get work as a freelancer.
At The Freelance Hustle, we also consider a pitch:
- Replying to freelance or remote job postings
- Warm emails to people you already know and want to work with
- Emails to past clients to get new projects
- Sending messages on networking sites like LinkedIn
Basically, a pitch can be any form of communication with a person or company you want to work with that tells them:
- Who you are
- Why you want to work together
- What benefits you offer
Why Pitching Is Important
For many freelancers, pitching is how they get the majority of their clients. This is especially true for freelancers just getting started who may not have the network of referrals or retainer clients needed for a full-time income.
Waiting around for clients to find you is not exactly the best approach to becoming a booked out freelancer. I hate to break it to you, but you could be waiting a while (and going broke in the meantime)! That’s why pitching is so important.
Pitching = filling your calendar with client work = money = successful freelancer 🎉
If you’re just starting out, it’s crucial to build your network and your portfolio – and one of the fastest ways to do this is by pitching. Pitching will bring clients into your network that normally wouldn’t have known about you. This gives you the opportunity to:
- Get clients
- Earn money on projects
- Add more projects to your portfolio or website
- Build your network of clients who can refer you
And if you’ve been freelancing for a while but often find yourself with holes in your schedule, pitching can help you to have steadily booked months.
When you first start freelancing, pitching feels really scary. After you’ve done it a few times, it starts to become second nature. It’s just part of the job! (Part of the job that makes you money!)
Who To Pitch?
The first step to getting started with pitching is figuring out who you should be sending pitches to.
How to pick your niche
The key to your success in marketing your freelance business (which includes pitching!) is having a clear idea of your niche or ideal client.
Knowing your niche or ideal client will help to make your pitches more targeted and more successful. When you know at least a few basic things about your ideal client, you can tweak your pitch to fit their reality, which will help them connect with you.
Ask yourself who you want to work with. Here’s a few questions to get you started:
- What industry are they in?
- What size is their company?
- Where are they located?
- What is the job title of the person who is most likely to hire you?
- What is their budget for a project like yours?
- How often would you like to work together?
Start with these questions to get an idea of the people or companies you’d like to start pitching.
How to find clients to pitch
Now it’s time to start researching those prospective clients who match your ideal client profile you created.
Start with people you might already have in mind. Do you follow a certain entrepreneur, CEO, or blogger that you would love to collaborate with? Maybe there’s a software company you absolutely love. Or maybe there’s a few local agencies in your area that work with really cool clients, and you want on their list of contractors.
Write them all down!
To keep that list growing, do some creative searching by looking for similar profiles. I like to use twitter for this, but you can also use Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.
Oh by the way, we’ve made a list of 21 job boards to get you started!
How to keep track of it all
If you’re sending multiple pitches each week, it’s important to keep track of everyone you’ve reached out to and everyone who’s replied. We recommend using a Trello board or simple Google spreadsheet. Keep everything in one place and update it often.
What To Include
Every successful pitch has a few common elements.
Here’s what you need to include in your pitch:
- A strong and catchy opening
- An understanding of the job posting or the company’s needs
- Examples of your work
- Relevant testimonials
- An offer to work together
- A CTA
If you can include each of these things in your pitch, you will get the attention of the reader.
And here’s a few more things to remember when writing your pitches:
Make it about the client, not you
Don’t open your proposal with your name, job title, and years of experience. This isn’t a resume.
Start with a bang by immediately proving you understand what their goals and needs are.
Testimonials and relevant samples will help you immensely. You want to demonstrate how you can solve their problems with PROOF by showing your past work, referencing similar projects you’ve done, or sharing a piece of advice.
Include an easy CTA
Always give the potential client an easy call to action, like scheduling a call to discuss the project. If you leave the client with no instructions on how to proceed, they likely won’t take action and will soon forget about your email.
How Often To Pitch
You can’t pitch once and expect to be fully booked out. In the end, pitching is a numbers game. The more you do it, the more work you’ll get.
Consistently pitching means making sure your calendar is full with clients, and that there is plenty of work on the horizon as well.
You’ll need to figure out what works best for you, but we suggest picking a realistic number (1-2 pitches per day if you’re freelancing full time, 3-5 pitches per week if you’re freelancing on the side) and try to hit that goal every week for three months.
You will probably get to a point where you can slow down with your pitches, because you’ve built up a network of clients who are bringing you repeat work or referrals. That’s awesome! But don’t stop completely. You still want to be exposing yourself to new clients on a regular basis to keep the work flowing.
How Templates Can Save You Time
You might be thinking… “this all sounds great. But I don’t have time to write that many pitches.” Well that’s exactly why you need templates!
Having a template can save you the time and effort of starting from scratch for each and every pitch.
If a “from scratch” pitch takes you two hours and a templated pitch takes you 30 minutes, you can easily save 7-21 hours per week if you’re sending 1-2 pitches per day. Yea, if you thought you didn’t have time to pitch consistently, having templates will help immensely!
Instead of starting from scratch each time you need to pitch a potential client, you’ll be able to pull up the right customized-for-you template, make a few changes or additions so it fits the person/company you’re pitching perfectly, and hit send. That’s minutes of work instead of hours.
If you’re looking for help creating pitch templates you can use over and over to get freelance clients, check out The Essential Freelance Pitch Pack, a template system and mini-course series that will teach you how to write money-making client pitches so you can win more gigs and get more amazing clients.
When To Follow Up
Many people never follow up on pitches and proposals but that’s a mistake because following up increases your conversion rate – by a lot!
Plus, why wouldn’t you follow up with a potential client when you’ve already done the hard work of putting together a great pitch? The follow-up is the easiest part and one that can make a huge difference to your freelance business.
Most of the time, people don’t respond to you because they got busy. It’s not a reflection on you or your pitch. It’s just that they’re busy and frankly, your pitch isn’t the most urgent thing in their inbox.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve received a pitch only to forget about it 30 seconds later because something more urgent came up. And guess what? If that person never follows up, I will most likely not remember the pitch. But if they follow up, they’re showing up in my inbox again reminding me to take action.
By following up, you’re reminding them that there’s an opportunity to work together. It’s a little bit of work for great rewards.
If you make the effort to craft quality pitches, and you pitch consistently for a few months, you’ll start to see the clients rolling in. Your calendar will begin to fill up, and so will that bank balance!
Consistently pitching is one of the fastest routes to success and freedom as a freelancer. If you’re looking to grow your freelance business, we highly recommend you explore this tactic.
Tell us, what questions do you have about pitching to get freelance gigs?