It is not a new fact anymore that the world is staying home. Everything has taken the shape of a work from home model. We all started staying home when forced by the pandemic but now most of us are liking this change. The covid 19 pandemic has led us into rethinking our choices.
We are renegotiating our living, our careers and every factor that leads to a good life. We now include time as an important asset. Many are leaving jobs commitments to shift to less commitment work, or freelancing. You are not bound in time in freelancing.
This change has led to a lot of change, therefore. There has been an increase in the number of freelancers in the world. This is a good thing but it can also be a difficult thing. As a freelancer, you have to find work for yourself, you cannot expect work to come to you.
Only when you are an established person in a domain, will people offer you jobs automatically. You have to pitch yourself to get gigs. This article revolves around pitching and finding a freelance gig. We will discuss how to pitch, write a pitch email, also known as cold emailing, and how to write a cold email.
What is Freelancing?
Freelancing is now probably the most famous job in the world. It is working on a project with no commitments of a normal corporate job. It is portable and can be done from anywhere in the world.
Imagine a freelance writer, he/she can work from anywhere with a computer and an internet connection. Think of a freelance website developer, who is good at developing great websites, he can get a freelance job and after finishing it he is not entailed to more jobs from that employer. So, freelancing is working for someone in short runs of time for which you obviously get paid.
As the pandemic began, the demand for freelancers began too. Everything became remote, and our homes became our workstations, a school and a personal gym. All that transformation led to many changes.
One of the changes was that people started reconsidering their work-life balance. Eventually, people began choosing their careers in the freelance industry. It is not the best option but it gives people the freedom to choose their work timings.
Pitching to Prospective Employers
Imagine someone who is a freelance writer. He is good with words and explanations. He thinks that he should earn something with this skill. At this stage, it is not good to expect someone to offer you a job, without you having gained some experience. So you have to seek a job, a project or something that adds value to you as a writer. This is when pitching comes to mind.
Pitching is seeking work by any means. It can be via an email or a cold call or reaching out to any of the potential employers. As a writer, you would like to work with editors and blog managers. You have to ask them for an opportunity matching your skill sets. This is what pitching is. It is seeking opportunities.
The most common way by which people pitch their ideas is by sending emails to prospective employers. As emails are easier to find online than numbers. It can also be the other way round.
Why do Freelancers Need to Pitch?
Simply because freelancers have to find work. You cannot expect ‘work’ to find you, you have to reach out to prospective or potential employers who can provide you with an opportunity.
As a writer who is freelancing, you’ll need to pitch articles if you want any writing gigs. You could be a significant famous writer but if you don’t find work, work will not find you too. It doesn't really matter much if your writing or research is strong, you have to seek opportunities to make it work.
When we say seek work, it does not necessarily mean that you have to struggle to get some opportunities. There are fair opportunities out there, you just have to find a place for yourself.
There are many publications out there that don’t have enough resources or budget to hire full-time writers. Publications like these try to have people with short term job roles and they employ part-time writers or freelancers. Organisations like these spread to each and every domain, be it writing, coding, graphic designing etc. In this article we will take the issue of a freelance writing pitch, it is however to be noted that every other field has the same, or almost the same pitching rules and checkpoints.
How to Pitch as a Freelancer?
Let us see how people pitch and how you as a freelancer can pitch for opportunities. There are many checkpoints that you have to keep in check, a few of the most important ones, we are listing them below. Give them a read for better understanding.
Personalisation has a Plus Point (Personalised Emails)
When we talk about personalisation, most people will be scared as hell. We don’t really put in the effort in that domain. An editor or any employer gets thousands of emails every day, what sets you apart from those thousands of anonymous people? This is when personalisation became a necessity. You cannot expect someone to give you an opportunity if you reach out to them very bluntly, speaking only about yourself and your work skills. It does not quite show efforts on your behalf.
What we mean by personalisation is simply that you have done your homework in finding something about the potential client. We are suggesting that you know about the prospective client thoroughly in and out.
It is like creating a world view from their perspective and then writing your pitching email. You have to find out how that client sees the world, what are the things which interest them and what they most want.
Once you develop a theory of their mind maps, it will be easy for you to reach out to that person. It also shows the other (receiver end) person that you have invested some time to investigate and you are really interested in opportunities.
This point also makes it clear that you have to make it clear why you are emailing them. Research shows that people are far more motivated to help others when they feel uniquely qualified to do so. This can be achieved by showing them your place with probably a short story and why you fit where you fit. This will help them understand more precisely what you do and why you should be chosen for work.
Stand with Credibility
When you research someone and find something interesting about them, it is important that you have some credibility. This will help them recognise you in the first instance, which will increase your chances of getting the project.
Remember, when you do some research or investigate the employer, you know about them but they don’t really know about you. They have to get some points which make them believe in you. They have to know who you are and why you should matter to them. This is what is called the “Showing credibility” act. Editors are busy people, and they aren’t willing to spend a long time verifying things.
You need to make it clear that you are credible and they can trust you. There are many ways to do that. You can mention someone you both know, a mutual friend. It is in fact by far the best way to start a stranger conversation.
You mention someone directly who is common in each other’s network. Even when you mention someone who is mutual, it entails that both of you are not strangers anymore. The point is to figure out some common relations/ thoughts/ goals so that you become less of a stranger to prospective clients. This is good to start a conversation from zero. This will make you a little more important than a stranger. The more important you are, the more you will have the chance to get a reply.
Provide them with Something they want
This is a very basic thing to know. There is no free lunch. It is a question on why the recipient should care about your email. Why does this person take his busy time out to read and respond to your email? You have to make sure that you are adding the value of some sort.
It is important because if you are adding value, only then there is some chance to get a response, otherwise not. If you cannot add value, then you should probably refrain from sending any pitching emails as it will degrade your views in front of the employer.
Once you are clear of the fact that you are here to add value, begin at once. Knowing your value will also help you to reach a certain level of respect for the work that you do. If you are of some value, show that. Show that explicitly. It will help the employer to judge you on the basis of your value addition to the organisation which is the best measure.
Keep it Concise and Actionable
As a freelancer, all you are doing is simply increasing the response rate of an email that you type with all the good words you know. It is very crucial then, that your email is small, concise and quite actionable.
Just make sure you are clear and actionable. You call someone out on an email and then you ask them for an opportunity. This is a great thing, asking for help in real life is amazing and in fact, you are giving them the chance to feel good about themselves.
Now when they see your email and they know what you are asking about, that means you are clear enough. Then, it becomes easy for them to take action and all the resistance in between seems small. Your email should also be small. This is very important as a small email has a better chance of being read, than a very long email.
No one has the time or a big enough attention span to look through your thesis on why you should be given an opportunity. So keep it short and increase your chances of being seen and read. This also is to be noted that if you are counting your words, make every word counted. Precise does not mean a small paragraph but it means a clear and to the point reply.
Vulnerability and Appreciation
You are emailing some random dude who you don’t know and you are emailing that someone for a favour. This is hard to grasp. Don’t make it a hard thing for the receiver, a hard thing to grasp. Make it clear and show some vulnerability.
When I say vulnerability, it does not mean to shed all your weapons and appear like a kitty. Rather be mindful and appreciate the fact that they will help you out. That can be packaged in a form of gratitude but it is the same thing.
Respect them with a little power and status and hope that they will return the same favour to you. When writing to a prospective client, you can use phrases like “Thank you so much” or “I am really grateful” to sound grateful. This will increase the chances of getting a response.
You can also add that they can choose to reply at their own pace or they can ignore the request. This will make them more obliged to answer your email. Simple, simple things but can add layers of protection.
Things You Should Know Before Pitching as a Freelancer
Research before you pitch
It is important that you target your pitches and you research about them, not researching to write an autobiography on them but to make sure that you know them thoroughly. This will help in a more tailor-made approach. Also, make sure that the people/organisation to who you are pitching lies in your skillets.
The topic of your article/email should relent to the prospective clients. It should be within the style of content that they produce. If you are a writer, know their publishing domains. Then match the pitch accordingly. This will help you as well as them to sort pitches and pick prospective clients.
Think about your specialisation and pitch people according to that domain. Know that the world always respects specialisation and you can benefit from your domain. If you have experience in one specific domain then it can be largely used to pick the next pitch and next project.
Demonstrate your Skills
Show your writing skills and prove that you are worthy but don't be too wordy. Yeah just like the Marvel movie ‘Thor’. You have to prove that you are worthy and only then do things become easy and worthwhile.
If you have prior experience, show that, showcase that experience explicitly and properly. It will explain your exposure and will make you stand a better chance of getting selected. Make sure you are not too overconfident. Make it subtle, the employer is not here to read all your victories. He just wants to get his/her work done.
There is one more thing that is silent in pitching. That is, you dare not use a template. You can google cold email templates and you will find hundreds and thousands of them but that does not set you apart.
The world is filled with templates, what it needs is a trailblazer and a person with courage. Have some bravery and carve your own template, this really shows the other person that you have the nerve. Moreover, it is impossible to personalise a template according to your target client. It is hard because it has already been set with some general idea of a pitching letter.
Proofread and make sure that you don’t comment on any grammatical problems. It is a huge red flag. If you’re applying for a writing pitch, a grammatical error can literally end the whole hope for you. Make sure that you are clear and clean of errors.
Respect the other person
You are pitching an idea and asking for a favour from a random dude. You don’t know the person, you only know the email address. That person has no reason to take you seriously. He can just delete or ignore your hard work of writing a pitch. Give them a reason to take yourself seriously. It is like meeting some stranger in real life.
You start by introducing yourself and then you appreciate what they want to say and have. That is how you build a relationship with literally anyone, this is almost the same scene here.
You write an email with an introduction, you mention some point of contact or mutual person and you go on to build a professional relationship by appreciating what the other person is saying. Simple and straightforward.
This may sound simple but most figure this out very late. If you are applying somewhere, remember to take a follow up after some time. Employers and clients are humans too and they can also be left behind with the pressure of work.
Don’t take it too soon or too late. If the client hasn’t replied for two weeks, then take a follow-up. Check by asking if they have had the chance to read your pitch email. Even then, if you don’t get a reply, then you can safely assume that your pitch is lost somewhere in translation and others. Have patience but take proper follow-ups. The time of both parties is important.
It is not that you will not get selected anywhere and it is the end of the world but embraces trying and work. Even if your pitch is not accepted, be grateful and work on the next pitch with perseverance. There is no failure, only lessons in disguise.
In the above article, we discussed the art of pitching. Obviously, there can exist more than one way of pitching to your favourite workplace. Keep in mind your perspective, the industry and the recipient.
We went from explaining what a pitch is and why it is important. To a more comprehensive approach to writing a perfect pitch. It is always important to take care of what you write on that email/any other means of seeking.
Your pitch should sound interesting — if your hook piques the editor’s interest, they know it will pique their audience’s interest, too. If you’ve ever written for the publication before, Showcase those writing skills and explain why you’re a good fit. It is important to provide some common touchpoints.
Once you and the prospective client are on the same ground, it becomes easier to negotiate. It is however important that you should be able to add value with your skill sets. Developing a rapport with prospective strangers and showcasing value addition becomes the recipe for a perfect pitch.
What is considered a successful pitch?
A successful pitch is when you hook the editor in the first few seconds and get your points across.
How do you start writing a pitch?
Research about the company or publication, Write an appealing subject line for your email pitch, Explain how are you different from others and why should the publication publish your story.
How long should a freelance pitch be?
A freelance pitch should be 1 to 1.5 pages long.