As a freelance writer, pitching for work can feel like being on a treadmill of emails, follow ups and rejections. Even if you have a regular stream of steady work, sooner or later there will come a time when you need to get out there and pitch your services to potential clients. A great pitch email will help you stand out from the crowd, show your expertise and encourage your prospect to hire you rather than any of your competitors.
So just how do you write a perfect pitch email? Here are a few dos and don’ts to help keep you on track.
- Keep it short: Chances are the person you’re pitching to is busy, evaluating multiple pitches, and doesn’t have time to read through a lengthy essay. Keep it to three paragraphs or less – if they want to know more, they will ask.
- Provide relevant examples: It’s always a good idea to provide links to samples in your pitch email, but make sure they are relevant to the job at hand. This reinforces your expertise.
- Tailor your pitch to the job or client: Make sure each and every pitch is specifically tailored to the job or client. Address the specifics of the project and show how you’re a good fit. You’ll have a much better chance of success if you tailor your response as it shows you’ve thought about the job and you’ve taken the time to address the different aspects of the project.
- Check and double check for typos: There’s no worse feeling than hitting send on a carefully crafted pitch email and promptly noticing a huge typo in the subject line just before it disappears. Always check and double check! If you have a friend or colleague who can take a look, even better.
- Make the next steps clear: It’s always a good idea to let the prospect know what they should do if they are interested in hiring you or talking further. A phone number and a suggestion of when you might be free to chat is a good idea, or you can suggest they let you know a convenient time for you to call them.
- Bang on about yourself: A common pitching mistake is to focus on your skills, experience and personal attributes rather than looking at what the prospect wants and how you can meet their needs. While you can and definitely should talk about your own experiences and skills, make sure you’re doing so in the context of how they can help the client, rather than just talking yourself up.
- Send a generic pitch: While creating a pitch template email can cut down on time and effort, make sure that you customise it for each and every prospect. Generic pitch emails imply laziness and a lack of genuine interest in the client and they are likely to end up at the bottom of the pile.
- Be too pushy: If you don’t hear back from a prospect, it’s perfectly acceptable to follow up in a few days or a week. If you still don’t hear back, a second follow up is also fine, but that’s probably about the limit. Sending daily or continual follow up emails reeks of desperation and is more likely to send your potential client running for the hills than into your arms.
- Bag out the competition: Bitching about other copywriters is a definite no-no, especially when you’re pitching for work. It looks unprofessional and immature and if your most convincing selling point is how bad everyone else is, quite frankly that doesn’t say much for your skills. Just don’t!
- Send huge attachments with samples: When sending samples it’s far better to send a link to your online portfolio or directly to published work than email over a massive PDF that’s likely to take ages to download and irritate your prospect. Breaking someone’s email server is never a good way to make a first impression.
Writing pitch emails can take a while to get right, but once you’ve landed on a winning formula it’s a good idea to save it as a template. You’ll still need to tweak it to each individual prospect, but having a basic outline will save you a great deal of time and effort, while helping you get better results.