Hearing Crickets? Try These Freelance Pitch Tweaks That Get You to "Yes" - Make a Living Writing

Hearing Crickets? Try These Freelance Pitch Tweaks That Get You to “Yes”

Editor | 29 Comments

Freelance Pitch Tweaks That Get a Yes! Makealivingwriting.comAre you scared to send cold pitches to drum up new business clients?

It made me nervous, too, when I quit my salaried job to write.

But my monthly income from freelancing was a disappointing $200 – I had to attract new business clients fast.

Cold pitch emails were my solution. In four months, my income skyrocketed to $4,200 and I had four new clients.

Here are five strategies I used to conquer cold pitching with only a few writing clips under my belt.


1. Study cold pitches

At its heart, a strong cold pitch is a sales conversation starter. Study any pitches you can find, then tweak to include your personality.

Remember: a freelance pitch is the first glimpse of your writing that your potential client sees. Make it count.

2. Build a freelance pitch template

Create a strong template to save you time, but personalize it for every lead.

Point out why you’re perfect to write for their company. It could be your background, your interests, or even a family connection. My litigation software experience was a good fit for software and technology businesses, so that is where I focused my pitching.

Here’s my pitch template that got a “yes.”

Hi [First name],

Congratulations on [company’s news or launch]!

I noticed on [company’s website] that you have just one [writing that you’re pitching, ex. case study].

With your new [product launch], I imagine you have lots more great stories to tell about [results they’ve gotten for clients].

As a [your title], I can help you [specific action to get specific result]. For example, [insert research from their website that you could use as foundation for a case study, blog article or marketing piece].

Recently, I helped [a similar client’s win].

When are you open for a 15-minute call about how we can work together?

3. Include three essentials in every pitch

These keys help you get more success from your pitches.

  • Keep them to 200 words or less. Make every word in your pitch count. Would you carve out 30 minutes to read a stranger’s 10-paragraph email?
  • Personalize the message. Create a connection with your lead from your research on them and their company. It’s a special touch that matters.
  • Make it easy to say yes. Your pitch’s one goal: for your lead to set up a call with you. Have a clear call to action: “Are you open next Tuesday to chat about working together?”

4. Follow up

If you haven’t gotten a reply to your first pitch, it’s likely buried in your recipient’s inbox, so follow up 4-5 business days later.

I like to follow up on Wednesdays or Thursdays, but you should pick the day that works for you. Avoid Fridays, though — the weekend is too close.

Still no response?

Send follow-ups every 7-8 business days. I send five follow-up emails before deciding that lead is not interested.

5. Edit and try again

No response even after following up? Edit your pitch to make it more compelling.

Or do what I did: target different businesses.

When my first pitches went unanswered, I changed my strategy. Instead of pitching multi-million dollar businesses, I targeted start-ups with 6- to 7-figure revenues. Suddenly I started getting replies.

Keep testing different tactics until you hit on the one that works for you — so you can increase your chances of success with each cold pitch.

What’s helped craft a successful freelance pitch? Tell us in the comments below.

Laura Lopuch is a freelance copywriter and writer based in Denver. She specializes in direct response, travel, and real estate.

Freelance Writers Den

29 comments on “Hearing Crickets? Try These Freelance Pitch Tweaks That Get You to “Yes”

  1. Roberta Griffin on

    I made a commitment to do at least 5 queries a day to earn a few more clients. Seeing this guest post just took away some of the anxiety. Thank you for the template.


    Roberta Griffin

  2. Udunma on

    Thanks alot. This is timely. I wish to know how to get the email addresses, Thats how to build email list . Thank you for your help

    • Carol Tice on

      Udunma, check out my Get Great Clients ebook (see the ebooks tab up top)…it’s got a lot of techniques for finding contacts and identifying good prospects.

  3. Alex on

    Sound great.

    I love the email template as well. Half a time, I think I am a little lost while trying to write something out.

  4. Mary Lee on

    I just recently started using a template as my basis for my pitches, as I tend to get long winded when writing pitches. I have found the hard way, through rejections, that clients don’t want to read a long, drawn out pitch. Making a template and personalizing it for each client is a great way to avoid that. Thanks for showing this template. I can use some of the points and layouts within my own pitch template.

  5. Elizabeth Pilgrim on

    Thanks for your post, Laura. I’ll try it.

    Do you have any suggestions for how one might pitch case studies if one has never written case studies professionally? In other words, how would you tweak this line “Recently, I helped [a similar client’s win].” Or would you just leave it out and use portfolio samples to demonstrate your ability?

  6. Ro on

    Good post. I have no fear of rejection from pitches. The most difficult part of making money writing for me is finding a certain kind of client to focus on. For example, the owner of this blog is a business writer. That’s all well and good. But I don’t know anything about businesses and solving their problems. I have a wide range of interests such as food, soccer, travel and psychology. This had led to me pitching to publications in these fields, albeit without any success.The message that this blog conveys to its audience is clear – proactive marketing is the way to find clients that pay well. I am just overwhelmed by it all because there are so many publications out there, I don’t know where to start. One could spend hours researching a magazine, and end up getting rejected. These hours could’ve been spent bidding for jobs on Upwork or somewhere similar with a higher chance of success.

    • Carol Tice on

      Ro, there are food…businesses. Travel…businesses. I have writer friends who’re doing very well writing for both of those types! We all know SOMETHING about business, because we interact with scores of different businesses every month.

      I got into business writing from journalism, and have no degree — it’s a transition many writers are able to make. It’s true that pitching pubs is tough, and it’s hard to get ongoing assignments that stabilize your freelance business. Businesses area better target for that, which is why I recommend it.

      But…if you’re pitching publications with zero success, you might want to check out Pitch Clinic — sounds like you need to learn more about how to create pitches that sell. You can see it over here: http://usefulwritingcourses.com.

  7. Abby on

    Your cold-email structure reminds me of the “Pain Letter” template c/o Forbes blogger Liz Ryan. Her career advice is really well tailored to freelancers, as her philosophy is that we are all consultants. I find she has some really great resources for cold-pitching, if anyone is looking for more to read on the subject.

  8. Destiny on

    Hi, Carol.

    I write the cover letters and emails almost every day but have never noticed those points. Your tips should help me enough. Thank you.

    One more, could you, please, suggest any other ebooks on pitching, custom writing or anything related to these topics? Would appreciate it.

  9. Joe on

    Thanks, this is great advice! I just learned I’ve been pitching people and giving up too soon (as well as writing too much).

  10. Joel on

    Thanks a whole lot,Carol and Laura. Is there a chance you can show us a sample of the follow-up email you use? Cheers

  11. David Throop on

    This post is serendipitous with what I’ve been thinking all weekend! And thank you, Carol, for sharing Laura’s guest post!
    The template idea is a great tactic. It should allow me to streamline my queries and pitches by keeping the gist the same for each while personalizing the particular addressee.
    Thanks again.

  12. Diane Young on

    I could really use a template for cold-pitching non-fiction idea queries. I’ve got the gist of it, but a template would streamline and
    speed up the process.
    Thanks so much for any help. I love getting your mailings with all
    those helpful suggestions that make my work more professional.
    Best wishes for your continued success,

    • Carol Tice on

      Diane, queries aren’t like LOIs — they’re highly individualized depending on the publication you’re pitching and the story idea you’re trying to put across. There are some basics though — a strong opening or lede, and moving quickly to a nut graf, ie “In my article, HEADLINE NAME HERE, readers will learn X.” It’s incredible how many queries have these basics missing!

  13. Mike Gayette on

    Thank you Laura! I’ve been looking into ways to find more clients for technology writing. This email template (and some creative research on my part) is exactly what I need to get rolling.

Comments are closed.