When you become a freelancer, you may think “Great, I’ll never have to write a job application again!” Then you realise that every pitch to a potential client is basically a job application. And actually, you’re writing them much more often than you ever applied for jobs in paid employment. So how do you write a winning pitch and make it as painless as possible?
Can it be painless?
It’s worth bearing in mind that everyone hates writing these sorts of things, whether it’s a job application form, a cover letter, or a pitch to a potential client. And why do we hate writing them? Well, it’s because most of us hate talking about ourselves, especially if we have to say how great we are!
So before you even start writing, you need to have the confidence that you can do the job/project/task you’re pitching for. In fact, you can do it with your eyes shut. You’re not going to sound arrogant, you’re just going to demonstrate that you can do what the client needs, and do it damn well. Better than anyone else who’s pitching.
The other painful aspect is that writing pitches can be time-consuming. To alleviate this, you just need to create a great pitch template that’s personal to you and really sells you, then tailor it for each individual pitch to the client. This saves a ton of time and means you don’t have to constantly re-write the “I’m amazing” part. So, how do you write a stellar template?
1. Don’t be generic
There’s nothing potential clients hate more than reading a generic pitch that you’ve obviously sent to everyone. I can’t stress enough that every pitch should be different. While it’s helpful to start with a “template”, you need to tailor it to the specific project, task, or job you’re pitching for.
If you were paying a lot of money for a new suit, you’d want it tailored to fit you perfectly, right? Well essentially, that’s what this process is doing. You’re the new suit for the business, and they want the right suit for their business.
2. Know your client
Likewise, potential clients want to see that you know something about them and properly read the brief. So, take 10 minutes to re-read the brief, peruse the client’s website if you can find it, and get to know what the client is really looking for. That way, you can show you’re a great fit for their requirements and their values.
If it’s not clear what they want from the brief, then send them a message with some questions before submitting your pitch. It’s better to spend time finding out their true requirements and sending a relevant pitch, rather than just firing one off when you’re unsure.
3. Win them over
Remember, the client wants to know you’re interested in their project and working with them. You don’t need to massage their ego, but you do need to show you’re genuinely interested in the project and not that you just need the money. So, start your pitch by saying what you love about the project before jumping straight into talking about yourself.
4. Sell your background
This is where templates come in handy, as you can prepare a short paragraph on your previous skills, experience, and qualities that would make you ideal for the project, then tailor the wording slightly to match their requirements. If you have a few different skill sets, then prepare several of these template paragraphs. This should follow the explanation of what you love about the project and show that you’re a great fit for the work.
5. Be structured.
Rather than writing paragraph after solid paragraph, structure your pitch with short underlined subheadings on: their project, your background, what you’ll do, and details of the offer. This makes it easier to read. You can also mix it up visually with bullet points to explain what you’ll do.
6. Explain the process
When telling the client what you’ll do, a simple explanation of the process is really helpful. For example, as an editor, I explain the various stages of editing in simple bullet points, with a rough timeline of the stages, and my availability hours if they need to contact me. It’s also helpful to explain your working style for longer projects, for example, I explain that my working style is relaxed and friendly, because that’s best for the book process. The important thing is showing the client what they can expect. Again, this can be template paragraph.
7. Details of the offer
This is where you might explain the price, the cost of making any changes, the accepted methods of payment, the terms of business, any deposit required, and so on. This is sometimes included as a separate box on freelancing websites and platforms, and there is sometimes an option to add an additional terms of business document detailing these aspects.
8. End on a positive
Make sure you close the pitch with something positive, such as telling the client “feel free to get in touch if you have any questions” and wishing them luck with their project whether they choose you or another freelancer.
9. Be length-smart
There’s no set length that a pitch should be, but a general rule of thumb is that it depends on the project’s complexity. For small, one-off jobs, the pitch is likely to be much shorter than a long-term, complex project. As an example, a pitch to proofread a blog article might only be a few paragraphs, while a pitch to edit an 80,000-word book over several months is likely to be around a page long.
Remember that the client doesn’t want to read stacks of information, especially when they might get hundreds of freelancers pitching for the work, so only include relevant information and try to keep your wording concise.
If you need more help with pitches, get in touch. Got more tips on pitching? Feel free to comment below.