Many new freelancers are shocked by the fact that marketing is an unavoidable part of self employment.
You don’t just have to do the work, you have to find it and – most importantly – GET it! That reality is as true for experienced freelancers as it is for those who are just starting out – and that’s why lots of people look for freelance pitch examples.
Some people look for work on LinkedIn. Others use Google (or another search engine!) to search out likely prospects. Many scan the ads on job boards like Upwork, Problogger or Flexjobs, and others source work from previous clients or people in their network. Most freelancers use all of these ways to get clients at one time or another.
Regardless of where you find each potential client, it’s vital to make a great impression with your pitch.
So, with that in mind, we’ve created a guide to help you write the perfect pitch to land your next job.
What is Pitching? (Hint: It’s Nothing to Do with Baseball)
A pitch is (usually) an email you send to a prospective client. It outlines who you are, and what you can do for their business.
There’s an art to writing the perfect pitch — and certain pitfalls you must avoid if you want to impress.
In this article, we list some of the biggest dos and don’ts of pitching. We also provide some freelance pitch templates to get you started. We’ve even included examples of some of our own pitch letters that succeeded – and break down why they worked.
Freelance Pitches: Dos and Don’ts
When writing a job pitch, consider these points:
DO THESE THINGS:
- Always put the client first: Explain how your work will benefit them – rather than saying what a good fit you’d be for the job.
- Stick to the point: Make your application easy to read and relevant to the job / publication.
- Show your results (if you have some): For example, if you’ve created a viral blog post or video, demonstrate that by quoting the stats. If an article got a client x new customers, include that stat (with permission).
- Know who you’re writing to: Discover the best person to write to and use their name in your salutation and email subject line.
- Send relevant examples: Only include relevant examples of your work. If you work in several niches, have a CV or portfolio ready for each. Have several versions of your bio, too, relevant to each.
- Proofread your application TWICE before you press send! Put it through a grammar and spelling checker like Grammarly (or just the built in one in Microsoft Word) to catch things you miss through familiarity.
- Let your personality shine through: Show them who you are, and demonstrate that you’ll be competent, easy to work with etc.
- Research the job/company/blog before you apply: Show you’ve done this by referencing articles, blogs etc. and mention what you liked.
- If a website has application or pitch guidelines, stick to them.
AVOID THESE PITFALLS:
- Don’t copy and paste formulaic pitches: Even if you use the templates in this article as a starting point, make sure you ALWAYS customise them to suit each client.
- Avoid sending a long letter full of irrelevant details: Employers are usually too busy to read an intimidating wall of text.
- Never lie about your experience – but don’t highlight your lack of experience either! Instead, think of the skills you’ve gained in other life areas and apply them to that job.
Freelance Pitch Examples and Templates
In this next section, we provide specific advice and examples for three different types of pitches:
- Cold Pitches – where you’re approaching somebody who’s not advertised any specific requirements.
- Warm Pitches – where you already have “a foot in the door” – perhaps you already know the client, or have had a preliminary discussion.
- Job Board Pitches – where you’re responding to a specific advert.
You write a cold pitch when you’re approaching someone who hasn’t advertised a job. In this case, you’re suggesting ways that your work could benefit them.
The objective of a cold pitch is to convince someone that they need your services.
First, do some research to find out about the company or publication, then send your pitch. Always customise your approach for each client. An editor can spot a “copy and paste” cold pitch from a mile away, and it’ll end up straight in the trash.
You could tell the client about an article idea, showing how and why it would benefit their readers. Perhaps you’ll pitch them on marketing services, or you may notice their website is outdated and offer your services as a web developer.
It’s usually best to offer a specific idea or service. I’m a writer, so I focus on the specifics of an article I feel someone could use.
Example Cold Pitch for Freelance Services:
Dear (name of prospective client),
P. 1 Mention their website and something positive you’ve noticed about it. Say that you have an idea for an article and why it would benefit their readers.
P. 2 State the article title, word count and subject. Add an outline showing possible headings or a summary of the content.
P. 3 Include your relevant bio information here.
Close with: I can have this article ready for you in (timeframe)
Looking forward to hearing your thoughts on this,
Examples of Successful Pitches (and Why they Worked)
In the screenshot below, I show an example cold pitch that won me some work as a novice freelancer:
In this next one, we show a successful pitch from another HomeWorkingClub writer, an established freelancer:
- Notice above how Michelle focuses on specifics. She has a clear view of what the article will be about, including a full introduction and an outline of the article’s body, with supporting statistics and research.
- She’s also provided a “reply by date,” so that she can pitch the article elsewhere if necessary. It’s often a good idea to reach out a few days before the date approaches to jog a client’s memory. Often, they may have put your pitch into a “to do” pile and then forgotten about it.
Cold Sales Pitch Ideas for Other Freelance Niches
- Your specific ideas and skills to improve the client’s website and conversion (details about SEO optimisation, etc.)
- Your specialist marketing services and any statistics that show how you have boosted client sales in the past.
- Possible graphic design ideas for the client’s brand.
When you’ve worked for a client before – or you’re writing to someone you know or have met in passing – it’s known as a warm pitch. The same can apply if you’ve been introduced by a mutual business contact.
The pitch is “warm,” because the recipient already knows who you are and (perhaps) about the quality of your work.
In these pitches, the tone of your letter can be friendlier (warmer, in fact!). Instead of giving your bio and experience, you may be able to refer to previous work together.
Example Warm Pitch Outline
Hi (name of client)
P. 1 Mention your previous work together and what went well, or reference your previous discussion or relationship with a mutual contact.
P. 2 Outline your new proposal in detail, mentioning the who/what/why/how of the article or work.
P. 3 Friendly conclusion, including dates if relevant.
Close with: Best wishes, (your name)
Successful Warm Pitch Example (and Why it Worked)
Job Board Pitches
When somebody advertises a job, you already know they are interested in hiring. So, a job board pitch is all about explaining why you are the perfect fit for that job.
As with cold pitching, the process begins with some reading and research:
- Read the job description through to the end. I can’t emphasise enough how important it is to read the whole ad. Some editors will even include a trick right at the end, like “include the word tiger in the subject line,” so that they know you’ve read everything. Sometimes they hide a random instruction in the middle of the ad to check how good you are at noticing details.
- Research the company (you can usually Google them) and check out any example work they link to in the ad. Of course, you have to ensure those links are safe before you click on them – there are often scams on freelance job boards.
When I’m pitching for a freelance writing job, I often summarise what the client says they need and the qualities they’re looking for. That’s a compelling hook because, straightaway, they know that I’ve understood what they want and have the skills to deliver.
It’s difficult to give a template for a job board pitch because clients are so varied. Some want a quick, no-frills letter. Others will ask specific questions as part of the advert.
Sometimes they will want to hear your ideas, and occasionally they’ll ask what questions you have about the job.
These all allow you to showcase your experience and suitability with honest, relevant answers.
Outline for a Pitch to an Advert
P. 1 Summarize what their job entails and what qualities are needed in the applicant.
P. 2 Demonstrate that you have these qualities, mention qualifications and how you can benefit the advertiser (and possibly their clients.)
P. 3 Answer any questions.
Attach relevant examples or links.
Close with something like: “Looking forward to hearing from you regarding this job.”
Example Snippets from Successful Job Board Pitches
“I’ve done a bit of research around your ad and see that you specialize in comparison sites. I have a background in such sites and used to be the Head of Content for xxx, whose main site compares xxx products.”
“I gather from your job advertisement that you’re an education expert specialising in personalised learning. I understand how difficult it is to write about your work in layman’s terms without resorting to the jargon that you know so well.
When I was teaching full time, I noticed that many teachers found it difficult to write reports to parents in language they could relate to. No matter how hard they tried, the education jargon crept in. So one of my twice-yearly tasks was to help my colleagues re-write their reports in ‘plain English’.”
“More importantly, you need someone who can watch the videos and write easily understood summaries for busy people who want the information in a nutshell.
I hope you will consider me for this job and look forward to chatting with you more about it.”
Occasionally applicants send a video application with their letter. All you need to do is record a video of yourself, addressing the client directly, in response to their advert. Then just send a link to it with your application.
If you’re confident in front of a camera, that can be a terrific way to stand out from the crowd.
Hopefully these freelance pitch examples have given you a sense of how to approach cold and warm pitches, and those you create specifically to respond to a job advert.
Always remember these key things:
- When you’re pitching for a specific job, always tailor your pitch appropriately. Many freelancers play a “numbers game,” and send out loads of “boiler plate” pitches without correctly reading requirements. Clients can spot it a mile off.
- Remember that clients always like it if you do some homework on their business before you apply. Dropping in some information you’ve learned from their blog or social media feeds will often serve you well.
- Always mention the benefit that you can bring to the business and their clients.
- Proofread your pitches before sending. Clients do notice mistakes, and there’s nothing worse than catching one yourself after you’ve already hit “send.”
You’ll always be sending out a lot of pitches; it’s part of being a freelancer. Some people won’t even bother to answer.
Many replies will be rejections. Try not to take that personally. Don’t let it break your heart, or you won’t last long!
Instead, enjoy the thrill of success each time a client replies “YES! WHEN CAN YOU START?”
While You’re Here
- Grab the free version of Grammarly, to ensure you don’t make any foolish mistakes in your pitches.
- Listen to this podcast on winning your first freelance gigs.
- If you’re keen to get started as a freelancer, find WAY more information on this stuff in our very own Freelance Kickstarter course.
Lyn is the author of Culture Smart NZ (2022). A freelance writer and blogger from New Zealand, she specialises in content for lifestyle magazines, blogs, podcasts and virtual summits. You’ll find her blog on writing, farm life & talented New Zealanders at lynmcnamee.com