A lot of you have asked me how I find work and my methods for pitching new freelance clients. Let’s face it, this is such a huge part of our businesses that it’s sometimes all we can think about (anyone else have dreams about this? No, just me? Okay…).
I use a variety of different methods. Some clients come directly to me through referrals, through my website, or through a recommendation from a fellow freelancer. Others I might pitch through jobs boards, and others still might find me through guest posts I’ve written.
One of my favourite ways to find clients, though, is to directly reach out to brands and businesses that I absolutely love. This is something I like to call “Direct Contact Pitches”. It’s essentially cold calling, but I like to think of it in more of a warm and fuzzy way because the method I use isn’t a blanket email at all. In fact, I treat them like they’re my friend (but not too pally, mind, as that can cause a whole load of other problems).
So, if you’re struggling to find work or drawing a blank when it comes to pitching new freelance clients, here is a detailed guide to getting in touch with brands in your niche and really showing them how your services would be of value to them.
The Ultimate Guide to Pitching New Freelance Clients
Step One: Who Should You Be Targeting?
You know this better than anyone. There are a few things to think about here, but essentially you’re looking for brands that tickle your fancy, that are in your niche, and who might just need your help.
We’re talking websites and publications within your area of expertise and agencies that are focused on similar areas of interest. But most of all, you’re looking for brands within your niche that you can really help. If you’re a writer, it might be a website whose copy is letting them down or whose blog is stagnant. If you’re a designer, it might be a business whose website is really not user friendly. You get the picture.
So, the first circle is brands in your niche, the second circle is brands in your niche who could benefit from your services.
Step Two: Research Those Brands
The next step in the “pitching new freelance clients” game is compiling a list of potential brands and businesses to reach out to. I just use Excel Spreadsheets to create a quick table with the name of the brand, their website, contact information, what they’re all about, and then a few extra boxes that tackle things like what they’re selling or how I think I could help them.
To do this you can use good old Google to simply search “businesses in X niche” or “X brands in X destination”. It’s worth scrolling through to at least page five (or ten, or even twenty!), as there might be some awesome brands tucked away on Google search who could really do with your help.
You could also hop onto Twitter and use keywords and hashtags to search for brands in your industry. One tactic I use is collecting the information of brands who follow me on Twitter because they already like what I’m putting out there. This is also a great time to start connecting with these clients by sending them a simple Tweet or favourite. At least then you’re on their radar for the later steps in the process.
There are hundreds of other ways you can find brands to start pitching to in your niche, too. For example, if you’d like to work with local companies you could thumb through a local directory or listings site.
Step Three: Do Your Homework
This is the time-consuming stage when it comes to pitching new freelance clients.
You want to spend around 5-10 minutes browsing their websites and getting to know them as a brand. This will really help you tailor your pitch to them and show you really understand what they’re all about.
At this point you want to be assessing their style and figuring out who their audience is. What are the pain points of their audience and how could the brand improve what they’re doing to attract more likeminded people?
Then take a look at what they’re selling and HOW they’re selling it. Finally, consider where your services fit into the brand and how you can provide value to their website, products, or audience (or all three if you’re feeling super duper!).
You might want to jot all of this down in the spreadsheet, or you might want to start a separate document for each brand so you don’t get confused (the last thing you want to do is email the wrong company). Just a few bullet points on a page will do so you can beef it up later when it comes to finally getting in touch with them.
Step Four: Craft a Personalised Email
This is the most important part of the pitching new freelance clients process. So many freelancers send out blanket emails to companies, but that’s a surefire way to get your email deleted instantly.
Instead, you want to create a connection with the brand and show that you know all about them and what they’re trying to do (ahem, thanks to the stalking you did earlier!).
When pitching new freelance clients, you should include a brief introduction about yourself and the services you offer (no life stories, though, just one or two sentences!), a little bit about their brand and their pain points, how your services can help this, and then a call to action, like “I’d be more than happy to discuss this further if you hit reply!”
Hi XXX (it helps if you can get the name of someone!),
My name is _____ and I’m a _______ who ________. We connected today on Twitter/I found you on good old Google, and I’d really like to talk to you about improving your website’s performance/creating content that answers your audiences’ problems/whatever.
With _____ experience, I can really help you _________ by _________. I see from your site that you’re selling X/writing about X/whatever, and I’d love to discuss options for improving this and providing even more value to your audience.
I’d be more than happy to discuss this further – just hit reply!
Thank you for your time,
You see – pitching new freelance clients doesn’t have to be a slog, and the emails don’t have to be lengthy at all. In fact, that can do more harm than good. Instead you want to keep it short and snappy, get to the point straight away, and be clear about what you’re asking of them.
Step Five: The Waiting Game
When you’re happy with your email and you’ve really nailed what the brand is all about, hit send! It can be scary sending your lovely crafted note off into the ether, but trust me it gets easier the more you do it.
I usually wait around 2 weeks before I follow up, but don’t feel bad if you never hear a reply from some. Instead, simply move onto the next – it gets easier with practice.
And there you have it – a recipe for easily pitching new freelance clients!
Do you have any awesome techniques for pitching new freelance clients? How do you go about doing it? I’d love to hear your process in the comments below!
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