More often than not, freelancing is the work of consistently developing your skills, updating your portfolio and pitching clients. Getting rejected, losing projects and having an unstable income are all part of it. It is fueled by a restless, proactive attitude that can overcome challenges and spring back from difficult times. This is why it’s not made for everyone.
A crucial component of freelancing is the acquisition of projects. It gives the opportunity to earn an income. In some instances, a gig can find its way to a freelancer without much effort on their part. But in reality, most freelancers are constantly after new projects and clients because of the uncertain nature of the sector. Therefore, it’s important for every freelancer to master their pitch.
I have been experimenting with different strategies and have had some success. I pitched a story to editors at The Muse and Social Media Week, and leveraged that to become a contributor at the Huffington Post. It’s a trial and error process, but there are some ways to maximize the chances of getting a positive response. Here are the most common mistakes I have seen freelancers make when pitching clients:
They send out mass emails
No one likes to read a generic email, especially one that may not even address them – and yet, is in their inbox. It’s tempting to copy paste the same email and send it to everyone or to hit “bcc”, but that often comes at the cost of the potential opportunity itself. Take the time to personalize each email. Mention a specific project they’ve worked on or the exact contributions you can make. It will be different for everyone. Personalization is key, and you will only arrive at it if you do your research – which brings me to my next point.
They don’t do their research
Imagine having a marketing agency and getting pitched about a new car product for your business. See the link here? I don’t either. You would likely ignore the email after reading the subject line. They get ignored immediately. Don’t be our fictional car salesman. Before reaching out to someone, take time to study what they do (their website, mission, team and story). Familiarize yourself with their content and find an area where there’s room for improvement. Suggest how you can make it better. The more specific you can be in your pitch, the better.
They don’t provide enough details
While you shouldn’t share everything about your life in an outreach email, it’s good to provide as much relevant information as possible. Get straight to the point and include your resume and samples of your work. If you’re asking for a phone call or meeting, give your availability. You want to do all the preliminary work so that they don’t have to. People have a short attention span and don’t like to ramble on, so make it easy for them to say yes or no.
They don’t add value
Too often people talk about their qualifications without offering to solve the problems their potential employer is facing. Yes, they’ll love that you know how to write code, but how will you use that skill to help them? Will you improve the user experience on their website? Or will you build that plugin that will allow them to collect more emails? Focus on the other person first.
Pitching clients is an essential part of freelancing. Cold calls aren’t ideal, but when they’re done right, they can help freelancers score gigs and land new clients. Undoubtedly, some people will still say no even when you’ve optimized your pitch for their approval, but by knowing the most common mistakes other freelancers make, you can prepare better for your next email or presentation.
Shelcy Joseph is a freelance writer, social media strategist and career blogger. She is the voice of A Millennial’s Guide to Life, a career and lifestyle blog dedicated to helping multi-passionate creatives make a career out of doing all the things they love.