I know what it’s like to be paralyzed by self-doubt and terrified of sending out a freelance writing pitch.
Which is why I’m going to show you the exact steps you can take to land a great gig with just a bit of effort and a simple pitch template.
This process is based on a real gig I got back in early 2016.
And yes, this is beginner-friendly.
Anyone can do this (as long as you’re willing to take action).
The following pitch landed me one of the absolute best gigs I’ve ever had.
And it wasn’t because of the money!
Sure, it was obviously great to get paid, but it was even better to work for a company that I loved, write about topics that I was deeply interested in, and be a part of a great team.
I’m not going to disclose the name of the company in this blog post (even though you might be able to figure it out), but I will say that it was a subscription box company in the yoga niche.
I worked with this company for about two years, and because it was a monthly recurring gig, I made at least $29,000 in total during that two-year period from that one gig alone.
Just from a simple freelance writing pitch.
And no, these pitches don’t involve cold calling on the phone.
I’ve never done that, I always stick to email.
You can do this too.
Let me show you what I did.
Before You Think About Pitching Anyone
Before I get started, I wanted to just point out that there’s a fair bit of work to do before you even start crafting your pitch to a potential client.
I plan on writing another in-depth blog post just on this very topic, but in general, here’s what needs to be done:
- Scour the web and/or your personal/professional network to find businesses you’re interested in working with.
- Create a list of at least 20 businesses.
- Research their brand, products/services, website, and other marketing or information materials.
- Identify opportunities where you could help them by offering your writing services.
- Find out who the best person is to contact (and their contact information — ideally email) at each business.
I know this probably seems like a lot of work — especially for 20 businesses.
The reason why I’m suggesting you do this for 20 businesses is because most of them probably won’t work out.
Some won’t respond, others will respond but won’t need your services at the moment, some won’t have the budget for your rates, and so on and so forth.
If you plan to pitch at least 20 businesses, you have a better chance of landing at least one of them.
The awesome client I’m mentioning in this blog post that I landed didn’t happen because I sent one pitch.
I sent out at least 20 to 30.
Not everyone is going to be a match, but don’t let that get you down.
The more businesses you pitch, the higher your chances of eventually landing a really great one.
How to Find the Contact Information of the Right Person to Pitch
When looking to contact the right person, typically you’re looking to get in touch with one of the following (or some variation of the following):
- The owner
- The editor
- The head of marketing or marketing manager
- The content manager or content strategist
Tools to help you find this person’s contact information include:
- The business’s Contact page on their website
- The business’s About page on their website
- Voila Norbert
Funnily enough, I never found the contact information of the person I needed to contact to land my awesome client.
In fact, all I did was contact customer support and the support rep just gave me the name and email address of the owner of the business.
I kind of lucked out here since I doubt that many customer support reps will do this.
Because it was a small business, it just worked out for me.
So if a business you want to pitch has a customer support system, there’s no harm in reaching out to see if they’ll give you the contact information for any of the above individuals.
Tip: Compile your list of businesses and contact information in a spreadsheet to make it easier on yourself. I recommend including a separate column for the business name, website, primary contact’s name, their contact information (email address), date contacted, date followed up, and notes.
Craft Your Freelance Writing Pitch
Now it’s time to actually craft your pitch.
You want to make it personalized and friendly, but you also want to sound professional.
Here’s the exact pitch I sent that landed me the awesome $1,200/month gig:
Now let me break down all the major components you need to include in your freelance writing pitch:
Address the individual by name.
Start with a simple Hi or Hello followed by the individual’s first name and a comma.
No need to be super formal by using Mrs., Mr., or Miss and their last name.
Tell them how you found them.
If you’ve always loved their product/service, tell them!
If you found them on Google, that’s fine too.
Just keep it concise.
Tell them who you are.
Introduce yourself by telling them your name, that you’re a writer, and that you specialize in writing content for their niche.
If you have experience, you can briefly share that too.
Offer them a very simple and brief compliment. [OPTIONAL]
This isn’t an requirement, but it can certainly go a long way — especially if you’re pitching an individual business owner like a solopreneur.
What do you like about their business or their website?
You don’t necessarily need to be a customer yourself.
You could keep your compliment as vague as telling them that you’re impressed by their site/mission/product/service.
Make sure you keep this as brief as possible — one sentence at most — or a short phrase that leads into next part.
Tell them you’re interested in writing for them.
An easy way to do this politely and professionally is by stating that you’d like to know if there’s any way you could lend your writing services and corresponding experience in/passion for their niche to help their business.
Tell them how your writing can help them.
This will require some research into figuring out what the client is trying to achieve.
It could be a lead, a sale, a subscriber, or something else.
It’s important to tell them that your writing can get them the results they’re looking for.
Give them some personalized ideas of what you can do.
If you’re pitching a client, you must have an idea of how you can help them with your writing.
For instance, if you’re pithing copywriting services, tell them how you might rearrange one of their web page’s content to help improve sales.
If you’re pitching for blog writing, offer a few blog post headline ideas.
Tell them you’d be happy to discuss it further.
You’re almost done. Right now, you’re just trying to see if they’re interested.
Instead of bombarding them with more info, just tell them you’re open to discussing how you might be able to work with them.
End by linking to your portfolio.
Thank them and sign your name.
You can tell them that you look forward to hearing back from them and then add your signature.
I like to use “Best,” or “Thanks again,” before my full name.
Note: You don’t necessarily need to do all of the above in the exact chronological order as shown.
I find that you can switch around the introductory components (telling them how you found them, telling them who you are, complimenting them, and telling them that you’re interested in writing for them) almost any way you want as long as it flows properly.
Here’s my pitch again with all of those components (minus the compliment) labeled:
Now I know what you’re thinking…
This looks like a lot of work.
No, it didn’t take me five minutes to write that pitch.
I can’t remember exactly, but it probably took me close to a half hour (at least).
You can (and should) expect to hear nothing back from some propsects.
That’s just the nature of cold pitching as a freelance writer.
But let me tell you this:
You absolutely must personalize your pitches and communite your value as a writer.
These days, people can identify spammy messages almost instantly.
You’d get better results sending out 20 personalized pitches that took you 30 minutes each to write as opposed to sending out 200 pitches of the same generic message with no personalization.
Trust me when I say that the time and energy you put into crafting your pitches will pay off.
Here’s the reply I got to my pitch:
When a prospect is interested, 99% of the time they’re going to ask you what your rates are.
If this is a bigger project (and client) with lots of moving parts, like a copywriting project for an online course plus two or three upsells, then you’re going to want to get on the phone or a video call to discuss the details so you can send them a proposal later.
However, if it’s a fairly straightforward project, like blogging, then you might choose to tell them.
In my case, this was a straightforward blogging project, so I replied with my rates:
Some prospective clients will try to negotiate with you.
Experienced writers should always stand by their rates and pass on anyone who tries to lowball their offer.
However, if you’re just starting out and you’re more focused on gaining experience rather than earning a certain amount, you can certainly leave a little wiggle room in your rates and consider lowering them slightly for any client you really want to work with.
Of course, the better strategy would be to consider the prospective client’s budget and your own rates to see if you can find a “middle ground” point where you get to earn as close to your rate as possible, but perhaps with more limited work.
In my case, I quoted $75 per post (with byline) and this client came back to me wanting $50 per post for 30 posts a month.
Since I really wanted to work with this client, but didn’t want to take that big of a cut, I just said I’d be willing to do 4 to 8 posts a month at that rate ($50 per post) for them.
It seemed that he wanted more than that, so we both compromised.
We ultimately agreed on 15 posts per month at $70 each.
And no, I never had to get on the phone with this client.
Some clients will be perfectly fine with discussing it all via email as long as it’s simple and straightforward enough, which it was.
How a Decent Client Can Turn Into a Great Client
At 500 words per blog post, that’s about $0.14 per word, which isn’t exactly like hitting the jackpot in terms of rate per word, but it isn’t bad at all.
In fact, it’s a decent rate for a beginner.
I was able to write and publish one blog post an hour on average, so I was making about $70 an hour for this gig.
I started out making $1,050 a month for 15 blog posts, but soon after, I was asked to scale back to 10 blog posts a month when I was asked to do some copywriting work on their monthly products.
So for the better part of our client-freelancer relationship, on average I was making $700 per month for 10 monthly blog posts and $500 per month for writing the copy for each product that would be included in their monthly subscription boxes (for a total of $1,200 a month).
As an added bonus, I received both of the two subscription boxes they sold, every month, FOR FREE.
That was over $150 worth of products I was getting as an added perk, every month.
Every so often, I was asked to take on work for extra projects — either by scaling back my blog post writing for the month to make room or by adding it on to my existing monthly workload.
Best of all, the people I worked with were great communicators, they gave me a ton of autonomy, they paid me on time, and they valued my input on various things like monthly themes, products, packaging, customer engagement, and so on.
To sum it up, here’s what I got out of this gig in the long run, all in addition to the original blog post writing I originally signed up for:
- Copywriting for all the products included in each month’s box, which appeared on cards in the boxes each month;
- Copywriting for the company’s two semi-annual promotional boxes (summer and winter);
- Copywriting for the company’s monthly yoga retreat giveaway;
- Copywriting for the front page of the website;
- Email campaign writing;
- Referrals from the co-owners;
- An excellent team to work with;
- $150+ worth of free products from the two monthly subscription boxes.
Not bad, huh?
The Only Thing Stopping You from Achieving the Same Is Your Freelance Writing Pitch Work
It’s truly amazing how one freelance writing pitch can lead to something so great.
After about two years, the work was getting a little repetitive for me and the company was looking to hire in-house employees to replace its remote workers anyway, so I decided to take that as an opportunity to pursue other things.
Two years of doing fun and interesting work, nearly $30K in earnings, an amazing team, and free stuff is basically a freelance writer’s dream.
I will absolutely never forget how awesome it was to work with this company.
The best part is that anyone can do this.
You could take these exact steps, even as a beginner, and strike gold just like I did.
I’m not guaranteeing that you’ll make any specific amount of money, but I know from my own experience that the more you take pitching seriously, the higher your chances of landing at least one good gig.
Who knows how many freelance writing gems are really out there!
It’s up to you to find out.
You just have to bust through self-doubt, imposter syndrome, perfectionism, procrastination, and everything else that’s keeping you from taking action.
How Do You Pitch Prospective Clients?
Got any tips or stories to share about your own freelance writing pitch experience?
Let me know in the comment section below!