The dream for every freelance writer is for potential clients to come running, right? Until then, it’s all about building clients through pitching.
Now, while that makes some people uncomfortable, it’s a part of the job. Let’s face it, no one likes hearing no (or crickets), but rejection is a fact of life. The thing is, you can reduce the amount of potential rejection by tightening up your pitches.
A solid pitch can go a long way towards getting more clients and making good connections. In this post, I’m going to walk you through five ways to improve your cold email pitches so you have more success.
Right now, I deal with cold email pitches in two ways. First, as a freelancer who does work with B2B brands, I have to pitch too. Second, I help run a popular site for freelancers, so I get a quite a few pitches as well.
Unfortunately, most cold email pitches are not good. So I can attack this post from two angles: I know what has worked for me and I know what stands out to those who get pitches.
Alright, let’s dive in and see what works.
The fact of the matter is if your subject line can’t get your email opened, it doesn’t matter how good your pitch is. People get sloppy with subject lines or they leave them to the last minute. Avoid that by focusing on the subject line first.
Ask yourself these questions: What is the one main point of my email? What is the action I want this person to take? Did anyone introduce me? Do we already have a connection?
Once you’re done with your subject line, ask one very important question: If I got this in my inbox, would I open it?
Use that to help craft your subject line for better results. Here are a few tips:
- Be creative with your subject lines, generic often doesn’t work
- Offer as much info as possible in them, let your subject line do some of the heavy-lifting
- Highlight if you have a connection already, use any potential warm leads
Here’s an example that worked for me:
John Smith told me to shoot you a message re: copywriting gig
I turned a cold lead into a warm one in the subject line (and got the job).
Here’s a standard generic subject line I see all the time:
Wonderful site! Interested in contributing
When I see a subject line like this, it goes to the trash almost every time.
Here are a few more examples you can use:
- Ben Smith told me to connect
- 2 minutes of your time re: your email opt-in
- Can you chat at 3 p.m. Wednesday?
Subject lines are an easy way to improve your pitch results. Try them on your own.
Do Your Research
The best way to get results is to make a real connection. Try to get yourself from cold to warm as soon as possible. A great way to do this is through research.
I’m for quality over quantity when it comes to pitching. I’d rather spend 20 minutes on Google finding out something, anything, that can make a connection with a potential partner than winging it and sending off three generic pitches in 10 minutes.
Brands and blogs get generic emails all day every day. Most of these include the same type of pitch. And almost all go into the trash. You can stand out by not being generic.
The easiest place to start your research is the About page. See what they like, what personal information they offer. You might find something easy to connect with right away, like the fact you both love the Red Sox or went to the same college.
Greetings from a fellow sports fan!
From there, go to social media. See what they share on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. This has a positive secondary factor in that it lets you see what kind of content appeals to them. Great for writers!
Finally, search for the brand or person and see the content they are putting out there. Read through a few articles to get a feel for what they are writing. And also pick one or two that stand out to you. For your first touch, use that as an icebreaker and compliment.
A lot of people ignore the follow up. They think if they don’t hear back the first time, it’s a “no.” Not true.
You know how swamped your inbox is, now imagine that for other people. Is it any wonder something can get lost in the shuffle?
What you want to do is use a few tools to set yourself up with a follow-up schedule:
Start by following up a few days after the first email. Then go with a few weeks, and finally, you can even extend to quarterly.
I have a note to follow up with past clients if I don’t hear from them for a few months. The email doesn’t have to be long and involved, a simple check-in works.
Here’s a recent example of an email I sent to a client I hadn’t worked with in a few months:
Hope you’re well. I wanted to check in and see if you needed any more posts for the upcoming weeks. If not, no problem, just staying on your radar!
He responded the next day and sent a request for more content later that week.
How are you? Well, I hope.
Yes, I’ll get some over. I just had a bit of a backlog to get through. I’ll get some ideas over ASAP.
If you don’t hear back, that’s fine. But I’ve had experiences where months down the road, a past client has responded with a request for more content.
Tracking What Works (and What Doesn’t)
Data matters when it comes to emails too. You want to track what is working and what isn’t.
A great way to do this is use a CRM tool like Streak. It lets you see everyone in your pipeline, the email you sent, and their response.
Use a tool like this both as a way to highlight customer management and as a way to track exactly what you’ve sent before.
When you notice more responses tied to a particular subject line or type of pitch, you’re likely hitting on a winner.
Once you start getting positive responses to your pitches, don’t be afraid to turn them into templates.
Of course, don’t send the exact same thing over and over again. But, you can save yourself the time and energy of having to rewrite constantly by sticking with a winning formula.
Create a few sample templates in your email and leave blanks to add in the spaces for personalization.
As you test and track to see what’s working and what doesn’t, make tweaks.
Give These Tips a Try!
I hope following some of these tips will help improve your pitches. I’ve been able to see positive results with mine with these efforts.
They’re not a fix-all for everything, but being willing to test and change your pitches will go a long way towards better results.
Let me know what’s worked for you in the comments!