There are two ways to send pitches. The first way is by sending a pitch in reply to a job posting. (Not sure where to look for writing jobs? Check out this post.) The second way is by cold emailing.
When you cold email, the company isn't necessarily looking for writing services but could in the future. It's a great way to make connections with potential clients and get yourself out there. Plus, it's an awesome way to fine tune your pitch.
Today, we're going to mostly be talking about responding to an ad but these tips also work for cold emailing.
P.S. If you want to up your cold emailing game, I totally recommend checking out the course created by Jorden from the Creative Revolt!
Whichever way you're pitching your services, there are some key guidelines to follow that will help you land the gigs you want.
Pin this for later! ⇓
Step #1: Do Your Due Diligence
If you come across a job you want to apply for, the first step is to get to know your potential client. Knowing a little about their company and what they do will help your pitch. It shows you're genuinely interested and not just sending a pitch for every job you see. (even if you are!)
Visit Their Website
Visit their website and see what their business is all about. Do they have any blog posts on their site? What's the vibe of their web copy? Is it fun and personable, or uber professional? By looking at the content they already have, you can tailor your pitch to fit their business.
Pro Tip: Include a name in your pitch! Read the job post again to see if it includes the name of the hiring manager or the person receiving the pitch. Perhaps the email address includes their name. Addressing someone by name makes the pitch more personable and memorable. But, if you're not sure, don't guess! Instead, keep it simple with a “Hello” or “Hi team.”
Find Them on Social Media
Next, check out their social media accounts. It can be beneficial to see what's going on in the day to day activities of their business. Plus, if their social media voice differs from their website, it can give you more options when it comes to the tone of your pitch.
Review the Job Requirements
Lastly, read through the job requirements one more time. As a new writer, it's possible you won't meet the qualifications since a lot of companies ask for 1+ years of experience. But, just because you don't have the experience doesn't mean you're automatically out. Let your writing speak for you! Just remember, if you're applying for a job outside of your wheelhouse, you're really going to have to sell yourself – but never lie!
Now that you've done your research, it's time to introduce yourself and you're niche.
Step #2: Pitch Yourself as a Problem Solver
First, introduce yourself.
- How long have you been writing?
- What do you specialize in?
- Who have you written for before?
Reference where you found their ad, or how you know them. If you met at a networking event, try something like:
“Hi, John. We met a few weeks ago at a luncheon for the PRO Hurd Network. I just wanted to reach out…”
Next, you need to solve their problem – even if it's one they don't realize they have.
AKA, What can you do for their business?
Businesses don't want to guess how you can help them. Chances are, their job post is going to tell you exactly what they need help with, so focus on selling yourself as the answer to their problem. Don't be afraid to be specific!
Are they looking for a writer to create informative blog posts for their industry? Tell them why you're the right choice. Do you have experience in the field? Have you written similar content before?
Maybe you're a finance writer and have 6 years of experience in the banking industry. That information is relevant if the job you're sending a pitch for is finance-related!
Step #3: Show Off Your Work
9 times of 10, you're going to need to include writing samples with your pitch. This is where an online portfolio comes in handy! It might depend on the requirements, but oftentimes you can just include a link to your published work in the body of your pitch email.
It's important to include samples that are relevant to the job you're pitching for as well. It doesn't make sense to send a previous article about the best brand of dog food to a company in the tech industry.
If you don't have relevant samples, make some. LinkedIn is a great place to publish your own articles, or you can check out sites like Medium.
An exception to this would be if you're writing samples relate to another field, but you have experience in the industry you're sending the pitch for. If your previous writing has been for the health and wellness field, but you want to apply for a writing gig in the tech industry, having worked in that industry before will work in your favor. Just say something like:
“At this time, I don't have any writing samples relating to the tech industry. However, before starting my career as a freelance writer, I worked as a Mobile Developer for three years at X Company.”
You can still attach writing samples of your best work. Plus you'll have an edge because you worked within the industry. Still, if you have the time I recommend creating a writing sample or two. Having a sample will really solidify you as an expert!
Step #4: Proofread Your Pitch
One of my services as a freelance writer is proofreading and editing. So, I get really embarrassed when I make a mistake while pitching. Whether it's grammar, spelling errors, or forgetting to delete extra words I feel very silly!
When I was using sending pitches for jobs on Upwork, I learned very quickly to proofread my pitch. There was one time specifically that I was powering through pitches (admittedly, too quickly) and I sent a pitch without looking it over.
Not only did I misspell a few words, but I also forgot to respond to one of the questions the client asked. So embarrassing! I seriously still cringe when I think about it!
Needless to say, I slowed down after that and I always double-check my pitches now.
Always double-check the requirements in the application guidelines, too. Some clients get sneaky and ask you to reference a specific phrase or word in your pitch, or add it to the email subject line. If you don't follow the rules, your pitch will get tossed aside, no matter how good it is. So, it's definitely worth the few minutes it takes to double-check everything before hitting send.
Step #5: Track Your Pitch
Not everyone does this, but it's something that I think is important.
Keeping track of your pitches can help you out later if:
- They don't get back to you right away
- You're sending multiple pitches at once
When I first started pitching, I didn't think to keep track of them. That became a problem when I started getting responses and couldn't remember what I wrote a pitch for!
Then, when I went back to find the ad, it was already taken down.
The best (and least embarrassing way) to track your pitches is using a spreadsheet of keeping a notebook dedicated solely to pitches. Some information to include:
- Where you found the ad
- How you sent your pitch
- Did you have to go to a secondary website like Spotzer or ZipRecruiter?
- Was it through LinkedIn?
- A dedicated email address?
- About the job
- Job title/expectations
- Did they have a pay rate included or did you they ask you to include your rate?
- What samples did you include?
- When did you send it?
- Did you get a response?
Knowing the answers to these questions will save you time later on and keep you from feeling embarrassed if you can't remember the details.
As if sending a pitch isn't stressful enough, there's a lot to consider. Verifying that you've included the appropriate information is so important! Before you hit send and send your pitch off into the universe, make sure you:
- Do your due diligence.
- Did you check out their website and get to know their company?
- Are they on social media?
- Did you review the requirements?
- Is there a name associated with the job ad?
- Be a problem solver.
- Introduce yourself
- Where did you find their ad/how did you meet them?
- What can you do to make their business better?
- Back it up with proof
- Show off your work.
- Now's the time to insert links to your best work
- You can also send a link to your portfolio and say, “More of my work can be found at …”
- Create samples if necessary
- Always remember to proofread!
- Did you answer all of their questions?
- Did you check your spelling and grammar?
- Are there any typos?
- Were there special words or phrases you needed to include?
- Track your pitch.
- Did you write down the job title/expectations?
- Did they mention pay requirements or ask you to include your rate?
- What samples did you include?
- Where did you send it?
- When did you send it?
- Did you hear back?
To help you prepare and keep track of your pitches, I created an awesome checklist + pitch tracking template.