The freelance industry has grown so much over the past few years. Freelancers currently represent 35% of the U.S workforce and this number is expected to grow. Given its numerous benefits, this growth is not surprising.
However, earning money through freelancing can be a challenge sometimes. Over 50% of freelancers surveyed by Paypal said that their biggest challenge is irregular gigs.
To keep the income flow regular, freelancers would have to be proactive. This means finding clients which is commonly done by sending cold pitches. Cold pitching is a way of soliciting business from clients who have not heard of you before.
A good pitch can propel your freelance business to a new level, no jokes. But communicating with a person you don’t know is a bit complicated. How will they receive the cold pitch and how can you compel them to look or listen seriously? Things can backfire if you don’t do it the right way. And your pitches may end up in the trash before they even get the chance to be opened.
The key is learning how to send cold pitches that get responses. Before you send a cold email to a potential client though, you must first learn to avoid these common cold-pitching mistakes.
Sending a long cold pitch
According to research, the average email user receives 147 messages a day and ends up deleting 71 of them in under 5 minutes. Hence, it only takes seconds to decide the fate of your mail. So it’s in your best interest to summarize your main points. Be as brief as possible. There is no need to write an epistle where you went to school or how many years you worked as a freelancer.
Get to the point fast. After you have introduced yourself, the company, and done a little genuine flattering, it’s time to sell. In three to four sentences explain what you’re looking to offer them and how you can do this. Offer pricing details (low to high) and why this would be a good opportunity for their company.
Sending out generic cold pitches.
This is one of the many terrible mistakes freelancers make. It doesn’t matter how compelling your message, recipients get turned off on seeing a generic message. If your mail is not personalized, it will most likely end up in the company of those that people delete.
Before you craft a sample email to a client for new business, do your homework first. Learn not only about the company but also about the specific person you are writing to. People will appreciate the time and effort it took for you to do so and will most likely show that appreciation by reading your email at the very least.
To send a personalized email, use the recipient’s name and acknowledge their position. You can mention a shared connection if any.
Not validating yourself
Remember the person you’re pitching to has no idea who you are. They’ve never heard about you before. So you have to showcase your credibility in a relevant way. This can be done in two quick lines. You can mention two big clients who worked within the relevant industry.
Failing to research each organization.
Doing this saves you a lot of trouble and this where most freelancers fail. First, your pitch almost writes itself when you’ve done proper research. You can start by looking at the company’s website or checking their social handles. Also, look up the competition your potential client faces. You can gather a lot of information from industry news and take note of loopholes. All this information will provide the ammunition you need for your pitch
There is nothing as bad as sending a well-prepared freelance pitch to the wrong person. Your message will be ignored. This is another advantage of researching the organization. You will be able to know the decision-makers in the organization and direct your message accordingly.
For a small business, try reaching out directly to the owner; in larger companies, pursue someone from the marketing/HR department.
Focusing on your expertise rather than the value you can bring to the client.
After reviewing a lot of freelancers’ pitches we see one common mistake- making the pitch about them. Your pitch is about your client, not you. Rather than boasting about your accomplishments, take the time to research more about the client. Identify their needs and pain points. Based on your research, your pitch should proffer solutions to the client’s pain points.
“It’s all about that client, not you. If you have done your research well, you will understand the client’s pain points and can then focus your proposal on those rather than boasting about your accomplishments. Your pitch should communicate ‘what’s in it for them. — Daniel Tilipman, President of National Debt Relief.
Doing this sets you apart from other freelancers. It also demonstrates the benefits your clients can gain from taking your freelance service. But you must be able to communicate your proposition. State clearly ‘what’s in for them’.
Ignoring personal branding
Branding is essential for every freelancer because it helps you create a powerful reputation. It goes beyond choosing a logo, or color, of fonts for your websites. It encompasses every aspect that goes into creating a perception for your brand.
Personal branding is an essential factor in your success in freelancing. For one thing, there are hundreds of freelancers out there who are competing for the same sets of clients. Having a personal brand helps you differentiate yourself from the crowd.
Having a clear understanding of how you want to be perceived by your target audience helps you become more strategic in incorporating it into your personal brand thereby moving you one step closer to getting positive responses from your cold emails. Once you have defined your personal brand, you can proceed to apply it in your proposals, as well as your freelance contracts, invoices, and other documents.
Sending a cold pitch to the wrong person
It’s a total waste of time and energy if your cold pitch ends up in the wrong mailbox. You will get better results if you devote time to properly research before sending the email.
Send your email to the person qualified to make that decision.
Most companies have different departments with several decision-makers as well. Depending on the nature of your proposal, you will need to research not only the specific department but most importantly, the person who is likely to be in charge of deciding on it. This will make personalizing your proposal a lot easier.
It is possible to ask for referrals from existing clients to help you find a potential client who needs exactly what you’re offering.. This is to make sure you’re not pitching to the wrong person.
No professional freelance portfolio website
Potential clients will want to know if you’re legit. They want to get to know you so that they can make an informed decision either to hire you or not. Your freelance portfolio website is like a physical office that presents you not only professionally online but also legit.
You will be needing one whether you’re a freelance writer, a web developer, or owner of a link-building agency and this comes with a lot of benefits. For example, a website not only allows you to market your services and establish your authority and expertise easily but also gives potential clients a quick and easy way to get more information about you.
What if you’re a new freelancer with no clients? How can you build your portfolio website?
For starters, shift your mindset from a job seeker to a professional. Create your own opportunities by sourcing for gigs on freelance websites like Konveyo, Upwork, Fiverr, etc. Most freelancers get jobs through word of mouth. there are people who need freelancers but don’t post them anywhere. Instead, they rely on personal relationships and contacts. Also, there is the option to do low-cost jobs or free jobs to build a portfolio very fast.
Not having a clear call-to-action
A lot of cold pitches do not have a call to action anywhere in them and this is a big blunder. They often just end with a “thanks very much, bye” kind of situation which could be losing you a ton of custom. Instead of assuming a prospect knows what to do after reading your pitch, a better way is to let them know what to do next and how to do it.
For example, if you want to get them to set up a call with you, instead of saying “would you be interested in a call”, say something like “Shall we set up a call for next week? I’ve got space available on Monday or Tuesday. We can talk through your needs and see which of my packages will get you the best results”.
Not following up
When you do not get a reply after sending a proposal, send a follow-up email. Most people are busy and might even forget about sending you a reply. Again, while sending a sample email to a prospect for a proposal can help initiate a conversation, it’s the follow-up email that helps close the deal. This does not mean you have to annoy the prospect with a series of messages. One follow-up message okay.
The skills to effectively send cold-pitch clients are learned over time. You develop them by continuously experimenting, testing different subject lines, changing the timing, using software to track the opening rate, and working on different offers. You need new clients to stay in business, and, while that may take some time and effort, one of the most important skills you can develop is sending cold pitches that get positive responses.