By Abdullahi Muhammed
As a freelancer, you don’t have the luxury of a guaranteed monthly paycheck. You earn only as much as you get to work. Turns out, finding enough work is the biggest challenge for most freelancers. A research study jointly carried out by Freelancers Union and online staffing platform Elance discovered that finding new work and maintaining a stable income is a major challenge for freelancers. Participants in an informal survey by Certified Freelance said finding work on a regular basis is their biggest challenge.
To have the best shot at having a stable income, you want to constantly be marketing your services and signing on new clients. One of the best ways to do this is to cold pitch clients you want to work with. This potential client is someone who has the funds to hire you and needs your services, but might not know it yet. When I started my company, Oxygenmat, a freelance agency, I cold pitched 70 prospective clients and succeeded at signing on three of them. To date, one of these companies has spent over $20,000 with us, and another has sent nearly $35,000 worth of business to us through referrals.
Follow these steps to create the perfect cold pitch to increase your chances of landing your dream client.
- Pitch to the right person
Most likely, your ideal client isn’t a person, it’s a company. But filling the company’s contact form or sending out your pitch to their customer service email address is a surefire way for it to never get read or responded to. Over the years, I’ve sent hundreds of cold pitches to prospective clients and publications I wanted to write for, and this has been my experience.
Increase your chances of standing out in a busy inbox by pitching to the most relevant person in the company, such as a senior manager, department head, or hiring manager. You can learn more about positions in a company from the “Our Team TISI +%” page on the company website (where available) or with LinkedIn search. Once you’ve found the right person to pitch to, use Google to find their contact information. If that fails, use these advanced tips.
- Write a compelling email subject line
Your pitch could be amazing, but if your subject line isn’t compelling as well, chances are your prospective client will never read it. There’s no one single subject line that fits all situations. Look to some of the most effective subject lines to get inspiration for your own pitch, such as “A [benefit] for [prospect’s company],” “Question about [their goal],” “Ideas for [a topic they care about]”. Make a list of possible subject lines before making a final decision.
- Personalize and speak to their needs
Email templates can help you save time when cold pitching, but make sure each is personalized to the client at hand. This goes beyond addressing the person by name. Identify his or her specific needs and priorities, and then offer a unique solution that’s specific and shows you’ve researched and understood the person’s aims. If you’re a web designer, for example, point out specific elements of their website that you can improve.
- Establish credibility with social proof
Cold pitches are inherently suspicious. The prospective client has no idea who you are, and you’re emailing them out of the blue asking them to hire you and give you money. Take care of these concerns by showing that you’re legit, your work is quality and other serious people trust you. You can establish social proof by sharing links to some of your best work, evidence of industry influencers or publications who have endorsed or featured you, a relevant award you’ve won or testimonials from your past clients on third party sites like Upwork or PeoplePerHour. If you’re just starting out, don’t despair, links to your social media profiles will help too.
- Follow up
Showing persistence is another important element when cold pitching a dream client. Maybe your first email didn’t wow them, or slipped through the cracks when they were cleaning out their inbox, so always follow up. Generally, I consider it polite to wait at least 7 days before reaching out again, and to never follow up more than twice.