Stop Hearing Crickets: These Pitch Changes Get You More Writing Jobs

Hearing Crickets? One Change Gets More Writing Jobs. Makealivingwriting.comAre you desperate to find more good-paying writing jobs?

I hear from a lot of writers who send out pitch after pitch…and hear absolutely nothing back. Crickets.

Recently, I met a writer who said they had sent 800 pitch letters out, and gotten zero responses!

That’s just wrong.

If you never get a response to your pitches — even just to say, “We don’t use freelancers” or “We already have this topic assigned” — you’ve got big trouble.

Stop what you’re doing. It’s time to re-assess.

Getting off the intermediary places like Upwork, content mills, and Craigslist ads, is key to earning better rates. To do that, you’ve got to be able to target better-caliber clients you want, pitch them, and get them to say ‘yes.’

If you’ve been hearing crickets from your pitches, and you’re confused about how to change things, good news: there are basically only three things you can do to make this better. The road to a better response rate isn’t complicated.

There are three big levers you can throw to improve your situation. Changing any single one of them could make a HUGE difference in the number and caliber of clients you get.

Ready to start getting more responses, client meetings, and assignments? Here are the only three things to focus on, if your pitches aren’t getting results:

1. Say what?

The top problem I see when I review pitch letters is that the content isn’t sharp. It’s just not a compelling pitch.

Most pitch letters have one or more of these basic flaws:

  1. The writing is dull (this is a writing audition, people!)
  2. The pitch doesn’t show you researched the prospect
  3. You don’t demonstrate industry knowledge
  4. The pitch doesn’t explain why you are their writer
  5. Article or blog-post pitches lack strong headlines
  6. You’re proposing a business do a new type of marketing (i.e. they should launch a blog)
  7. You point out what they do wrong (“your web pages have a lot of errors”).
  8. You talk a lot about yourself, little about the prospect

Why are most pitch letters so weak? Mostly, because writers never get feedback on them. They think they know what to say…but if you’re not getting hired off yours, your pitches need a content overhaul.

Find a writer who gets a good response rate to their pitch letters, and have them give yours a read. You’ll probably learn there’s much you can do to improve.

2. Target

Once you’ve optimized your pitch message, the next obvious question is: Who’s getting these pitches?

Often, writers waste a lot of time pitching prospects who aren’t really our client.

They’re 1-person realtors, they have a little retail shop, maybe a couple employees. Or a small, local publication with a couple of staffers.

They’re startup solopreneurs operating out of their garage. A tiny nonprofit where it’s an all-volunteer effort.

Many writers have a big heart for the little guy. And I get that. So heartwarming.

Except for the part where that leads to starving. For you.

Understand that you need better clients, to run a sustainable, lucrative freelance-writing biz.

Bigger is seriously better, when it comes to freelance writing clients. Think companies with 50-100 or more employees. National nonprofits with $10+ million budgets. National magazines with large circulations, or niche publications with a well-heeled readership.

I hear you saying, “Oh, I’m a-scared to pitch big, prestigious places like that. It’s just little ol’ me here!”

Ask yourself this: Are you more scared to pitch real businesses, or more scared of having to take a day job and not getting to write for a living?

Also, what’s the worst thing that happens? Nothing. No lives at risk here. So pitch big. It’ll change your life.

The first major retainer client I landed was a global insurance and healthcare consultancy. Dorkilicious, I know! But I made so much more that I took my entire family — including my parents — on an Alaska cruise.

That sound more like the lifestyle you want? I thought so.

It’s worth getting over this fear hump, and going after big game.

3. Frequency

Let’s have a frank little chat now: How many pitches are you sending per month?

I ask because most of the writers I meet don’t seem to understand the volume of marketing they need to do, to launch or build their business.

They’re all, “I sent seven pitches last month, and nothing!”

Um. That’s not nearly enough marketing.

When I work with my coaching students on doubling their income, for instance, we routinely do 100-pitch monthly challenges.

Did your jaw just drop? I see that a lot.

Most writers are doing way, way less marketing than that. More like nearly-no marketing.

But 100 pieces per month is a much more realistic marketing target, if you want to get some traction and find good new clients.

Why so much? To end up earning great rates, you need to get a lot of client nibbles coming your way. That way, you can pick and choose the best offers.

Most writers think in terms of barely getting one or two new leads, then desperately making those client situations work. No matter how sketchy they seem.

So. Consider cranking up your volume.

If you’ve gotten positive feedback on the content of your pitch letters… and you feel solid about who you’re targeting… then upping your frequency is the only change left to make.

Up your game for more writing jobs

Remember, the only three things you can change are:

  1. What you’re saying
  2. Who you’re saying it to
  3. How often you say it

When you read those three basic things you can change to get better pitch responses, do one or more of those resonate for you? If so, you know what to do to improve your pitch letters to get more emails, calls, client meetings, and ultimately… writing jobs.

Sometimes, changing just one of these factors can make a big difference in your response rate. Or you may need to improve all three of these areas.

The good news is, when writers improve their pitch content, target great prospects, and do volume marketing, they get clients. I’ve never seen it fail. Totally reliable.

So get out there and up your pitching game! Better clients are standing by.

Getting results with your pitches? Let’s discuss in the comments.

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11 comments on “Stop Hearing Crickets: These Pitch Changes Get You More Writing Jobs
  1. KV says:

    Watch out for scams. I made a PP payment to hire a writer two weeks ago and still waiting to get a refund.

  2. Udunma says:

    Nice one.

    Honestly, I have not been sending pitches out because I really need to have a template that works to model so I don’t keep doing things wrongly.

    Besides, knowing the exact person to write to who will respond because he is in charge of responding to me.

    How do one know these big industries to write to?

    Thank you.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Udunma, you might want to check out my Pitching 101 link at the top of the blog — I have a mini-course that answers these exact questions! How to find prospects, find the contact person and their contact info, and what to say. It’s not about a ‘template,’ but I do provide one that gives a starting point. In general, customized pitches that are about what you’ve learned online about that particular prospect are what convert.

  3. 100 pitches in a month isn’t all that much when you consider it’s about the same as 5 pitches a day, which would be a couple of hours’ work, or half a day at most.

  4. Matt says:

    Good points, and I agree with all of them, in theory… In practice, though, how do you go about researching the prospect and writing a tailored pitch — at a pace of 100 per month? I like the idea of the 100 pitch challenge, but I do find that I am more likely to get a response when I take care to read up on the prospect and craft a thoughtful message. But writing 3+ pitches a day would turn pitching into a full-time job.

    • Carol Tice says:

      Not when you have the approach we do in the Den, Matt! Have you seen my Pitching 101 class? It could help you make those custom pitches a lot more efficient — check out the tab at the top of this blog.

  5. Beth Casey says:

    Great article, Carol, and so true!

  6. Judy says:

    Great advice. I’ve spent most of forty-some years in sales (in one form or another) it’s always about quality AND numbers. Thanks, Carol!

    • Carol Tice says:

      And… MESSAGE. What are you saying?

      We review a lot of pitches in the Den, and I have to say it’s RARE that we read one that we think, “Oh, brilliant, send that out!”

      Most are simply NOT set up to convert for you. Most writers have no idea what to say, or how to think like a client. Getting some feedback from pros who get 50-75% response rates to their own pitches can change your life.