Wednesday, 23 August 2017

Top Mistakes Writers Make When Cold-Pitching

Guest Post by Efose Ikhalo

Cold-pitching is the best way to get freelancing client (don't believe me? Ask Jorden Roper).

Still, an alarming amount of writers find it difficult to land clients even after blasting out hundreds of email pitches to prospective clients.

Why's that?

They are doing (at least) something wrong and have failed to realize it.

Cold pitching has been proven countless times to be the most effective and its results far surpass most other methods of seeking for clients. But it doesn't work just by the snap of a finger.

Like every effective way of doing things, getting clients through cold pitching requires well-planned methods and approaches. It isn't rocket science but it is no kindergarten study either.

Writers that fail to land clients through cold pitching fall into different categories other than those taking the wrong approach with the most stinging of them being that they can't write. Sometimes the pitch is great and the prospective client takes one last step to vet the writer before beginning to discuss terms; they check out writing samples and are disappointed.

Off they go.

The not so good news: This article will not be of help to such a "writer".

Decent writers that find it difficult to get high-paying clients (or any kind of client for that matter) through cold pitching are missing out on the really good stuff in the business because of one of the following reasons:

A. Not knowing who to pitch

This basically is the foundation of failure in seeking for clients.

One fact some freelance writers fail to realize is that not every person or business out there will be a good fit for the services they offer.

This is where specialization; either by niche or services, come into play. A lot of writers do not want to be restricted by niches but even then, their work must be defined by something.

Prospective clients want to see a piece of your work that has the same bearing as what they offer. You probably would get the job done but they don't know that and so they rely more on facts, which means samples of your work.

So pitching to just about anyone or business makes no sense. In fact, this is the exact answer to why a lot of pitches end up in the trash. Imagine a freelancer who writes about sports and has practically all his writing samples built around the subject, pitching to a tobacco company. What happens to such pitch?

Your guess is as good as mine.

Recognizing the prospective clients need for your service and how well you fit into the equation would determine your progress thereon.

Little wonder it is often advised to research prospective clients before reaching out because it is only in doing this that you get an insight into what they are all about and if you stand a chance.

Do not be the accountant applying for an engineering job.

B. Not knowing how to pitch

Knowing who to pitch isn't the Promised Land. If anything, it’s just the beginning of the road to the Promised Land.

A lot of writers chase prospective clients away a lot quicker than they found them by the content of their pitch or the way it was drafted.

For starters, your pitch is the first writing sample by you that the client sees. So even if for some reason you write articles a lot better than you pitch and your pitch is still crappy, it ends up in the trash.

Writing a pitch is easy enough but for a couple of faults writers are guilty of.

  1. Too Long pitch

It is hard enough for readers to go through very long blog posts especially when it does not involve actionable steps or some kind of guide, let alone a busy client going through a very lengthy email when all you mean to say is "I need a job".

Well-detailed pitches yield great results but there's a difference between well-detailed and bulky.

A pitch mustn't be a thousand words to be sound. A sound pitch is concise and straight to the point; serious clients hate it when you beat around the bush.

Good examples of what a right pitch should contain are:

  1. Short salutation
  2. A tiny bit about you (it's not really about you)
  3. Where you saw the job
  4. Relevant experience
  5. Pointer to samples
  6. Why you would be the right choice for the job
  1. Using Templates

Personalizing every pitch can be very tedious but "with great power comes great responsibility".

Writers can easily get a good template on the internet which isn't bad, but sending it out just the way it is, is pure wrong. These clients are aware that such templates exist and for those who deal with lots of email messages every now and then, any email with a trait of being from a template (even if it isn’t one) is quickly jettisoned.

Why do these clients hate templates so much?

  1. It implies that you never researched about the client’s business (even if you did).
  2. It implies that you did not go through the job advert.
  1. Pitch is too formal

Remember how in school you were taught to sound as formal as possible when writing to those you didn’t previously know (especially application letters which this is)?

Jettison all that because informal is the new formal.

Trying too much to be professional in a pitch message just ends up boring 21st-century clients; such pitch is read halfway and tossed away. Being professional is necessary but a little friendliness creates a connection with the client.

Not Knowing When to Pitch

Time really is money!

A lot of writers are guilty of sending out email messages without considering the time zone of the recipients. Most of these writers are advocates of the rule of thumb of not sending out pitch messages on weekends but fail to realize that sending these messages at odd hours is just as damning.

These clients are more or less as employers to writers and one common thing about employers is that they hate to be bugged and getting unsolicited messages at unofficial hours.

Do yourself a favor and research the time zone of your prospective client before shooting a message.

Writers make a lot of other mistakes when pitching

  • Not having relevant samples
  • They don’t pitch enough
  • Failing to track pitches
  • Only pitching to job ads
  • Not proofreading the pitch before sending

    What is your experience with securing writing jobs to develop your freelance writing? 


    Efose Ikhalo is
    a freelance writer and editor currently living in Edo State, Nigeria. His  interests range from writing to reading about: internet marketing, business and entrepreneurship. His is also interested in technology and soccer. Efose writes at

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