The only way to connect with prospective freelance writing clients is through pitching. Learn how to do it right.
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The following excerpt is from Laura Pennington Briggs’ book Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business. Buy it now from Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Apple Books | IndieBound
Your pitch to prospective clients is everything in your freelance business. Simply put, you can’t get off the ground without it. And while there’s no standard pitch that will work for all freelance writers, great pitches do include several common elements:
- An explanation of who you are and your background as a writer
- An overview of why you’re the right person to help them with their content
- Further details about your work, such as links to your portfolio and writing samples
First, start with a great opener. You’ll lose someone’s attention if you can’t capture them immediately with something that’s enticing to them. Way too many freelancers kick off with something that’s generic.
Next, move into showcasing your individual talents — that’s your unique value proposition that makes you different from other freelancers. For the explanation of your background, review your writing resume and think about past experiences with clients. Which examples stand out for you? Which clients did you have the best experience with and who would you love to work with again? Tweak those into your current pitch. Be results-focused when writing these aspects of your pitch, such as:
- I have a habit of delivering on time, and it’s why most of my clients hire me again.
- My clients tell me that my work jumps off the page, and that’s my underlying goal in each project I take on.
Related: The 9 Skills It Takes to Succeed as a Freelance Writer
And, finally, while it might be possible to get prospective clients to hire you immediately, it’s far more likely you’re going to have to prompt them to take some further action, like answering you or accepting your request or opening your samples.
Your pitches should each have all three things in the right order and in the right amount of depth. A couple of paragraphs is more than enough. Remember, your prospective clients are busy and don’t care or have time to read a long letter.
Look for clues to pitch clients
As you craft your pitch, try to read between the lines to figure out what a client wants. You’re not going to be able to do this all the time, but you can look for clues.
Especially on freelancing sites or even in a LinkedIn message, a client will tell you exactly what they need and how they might have had a bad experience in the past or share other concerns they have about the process. Any time you can use this type of information to your advantage, it is extremely beneficial to do so.
While you won’t always have much information about the client, reviewing their company and asking questions will help you figure out their hesitations. During your phone call with a client, the other person is likely to drop clues. For instance, if they tell you that they’ve worked with a writer who missed deadlines, this is your chance to talk about your own reliability.
When you pick up on one of these clues in a job board post, in an email conversation, or on a phone call, work it into your pitch so the client can begin to picture what it’s like to work with you.
Finding your unique value proposition
Your UVP is what you and only you can bring to the table. Your UVP matters because it’s what sets you apart from everyone else, especially when you are working with warm leads from freelancing sites.
You want to make sure that you are showcasing what makes you different from other people. Your UVP should be woven throughout your pitch so that people know why they should consider working with you and the main benefits of choosing to outsource to a freelancer overall.
If your pitch is missing your UVP or you are talking about someone else’s UVP because you copy and pasted somebody else’s pitch, it’s not going to convert for you because you are attracting ideal clients who are interested in that person’s success, not yours.
Related: The One Thing You Must Do If You Want to Be a Successful Freelance Writer
Here are a variety of UVPs that might apply to writers who are pitching for a gig as a book ghostwriter:
- I’ve written 16 books of my own.
- I’ve been published in Writer’s Digest and Business Insider and know what it takes to get an editor’s attention.
- My last client increased their sales threefold because of the rewrite I completed of their landing page.
- I’m an academic researcher and an expert with projects that require a lot of research.
- I’ve been in this field for ten years and have a firm grasp of industry trends and jargon.
- As a former investigative reporter, I can help you write this book by using interviews, transcribing them, and weaving them into a story.
Now do you see why a generic pitch won’t work for everyone? Everyone’s experience is different. You’ve got to find what makes you different, too.
Related: The 4 Steps You Need to Take to Set up Your New Freelance Writing Business
Major pitching mistakes to avoid
Finally, here’s a quick list of some of the biggest pitch mistakes freelancers make:
A pitch that’s too long. Clients are busy. They do not have time to spend 15 minutes reading your pitch. Keep your pitch to a few short paragraphs.
Talking too much about yourself. Clients are self-oriented people, and they care far more about what you can do for them than learning about you. What clients care most about learning is why working with you is beneficial to them.
Saying “I’m good at what I do.” Please do not make this crucial pitch mistake of saying this statement: “I’m a good writer.” If you’re a freelancer who’s getting paid for your services, it’s assumed you’re good at what you do; otherwise, you would have been driven out of business.
Expecting an instant response. People will fall off the process at every stage of your pitching. From opening the email and responding to it to scheduling a call and all the way through to a signed contract, the pool of people who will work with you shrinks at each stage.
Not following up enough. If you pitched one person once, and that’s it, no wonder you’re not hearing back. It can take dozens of pitches to get a response, and you may have to follow up for a long period of time.