Recently, one of my freelance writing clients told me they’d be cutting my workload — which meant less income for me.
I decided to get proactive and do a week of cold pitching to seek new freelance writing jobs. Before this, I’d gotten all my clients from job boards or referrals.
I know what you might be feeling right now — cold outreach? Yikes!
But, if you shift your mindset and just start doing it, it’s not nearly as scary as it seems. And the results might just surprise you.
Here’s how I got started, got great results in just 7 days — and how you can, too.
Step 1: Learn to write a decent pitch
When I first started freelancing, I didn’t even know what a pitch or LOI (letter of introduction) was!
But doing something is still better than nothing, and even untrained pitches can get you clients. The more you do it, the better — and more successful — your pitches will get.
If you’ve got access to a more experienced writer who can review pitches and help you make them better, take advantage of that opportunity. If not, find a course that offers feedback from real-world editors and marketing managers.
Step 2: Research potential clients and contacts
I decided to reach out to two types of clients: companies and trade publications in my field, health copywriting.
One approach I take is to search for companies that post on LinkedIn’s paid job board, by going to the ‘jobs’ section on LinkedIn. If a business is willing to pay for a job posting on LinkedIn, they’re likely serious about hiring the best talent.
When viewing the job description, you’ll find that most companies have a company page that lists how many employees they have. Click on the company name from the top to view their page.
If they have 500 or more employees, you can assume they have a good marketing budget that would allow them to hire freelance writers at a reasonable rate. On the other hand, a company with 1-10 employees may not.
Once you find a potential company that looks like a good fit, the next step is to find the right contact. If you look underneath the banner on the right hand side of the company page (as you see above), you can find the list of employees who have LinkedIn profiles.
Click “See all” and find the marketing manager, chief communications officer, or even the CEO.
Alternatively, you can also search on LinkedIn or even Google for “marketing manager [company name].” By reading people’s profiles you can often get a sense of their role from their job descriptions and whether they seem likely to hire freelance writers.
To find a trade publication to pitch, search on TradePub.com. Many of these publications post a staff directory on their website. If you look in the first few pages of the publication for the masthead or check the website, you can usually find the email address of the editor so you can contact them directly.
If not, then Google can be your friend: search for “[name] [publication] email address.”
Step 3. Send out your pitches
Here are two example LOIs I used.
Note: I personalize these for each contact and the skills the company requires. I try to put something unique into each pitch to show I’ve paid attention to something meaningful to them and also briefly highlight the skills I bring to the table.
I send this as a LinkedIn InMail, but it works as a regular email message, too.
And I send a personalized version of this to trade publication editors:
Finally, take a deep breath and hit send. 🙂
The freelance writing jobs I got
Over seven days of pitching, I made 15 contacts – two job submissions, one trade pub (direct email to editor), and 12 short LOIs via LinkedIn InMail. Here are my results below. I scheduled three phone calls with prospects, and sent out proposals after all of them.
- 6-month contract. One proposal, sent out to a large healthcare staffing and management firm in New York, netted me a $1,400-a-month contract for six months, with lots of upsell potential.
- “Let’s keep in touch.” The second nibble to one of Australia’s largest nutrition and fitness sites didn’t get me the role they had advertised (which I actually wasn’t after), but surprisingly, the CEO gave me a shot at it, anyway. In the end, they chose someone who could come into the office. However, he did ask if he could get in touch for future copywriting jobs. Win!
- Another 6-month contract. The third proposal, for a mid-level medical media site, netted me another six-month contract at $1,200/month, which may also have upsell potential.
- “Opportunities are coming up.” I got on the radar of one of America’s fastest growing healthcare companies in the online strategy and technology sector. The marketing manager said there are freelancing opportunities coming up soon so he’s going to get in touch — and I’ve just saved him time when he needs a writer!
- “We’ll be in touch soon.” The trade-pub editor asked for my clips, got back again to ask for my rates, and then said she’d be in touch soon. They’re in the process of rebranding, but I’m confident she’ll send work my way in future.
That’s five great additions to my client pipeline and two firm bookings worth over $15,000, in just seven days. Pretty cool, huh?
Be patient…and other takeaways
There’s definitely patience required in this game, as it took around three weeks to seal the two deals from that initial pitch week. Some companies can brew on this stuff a few days and might have other people to consult, while others get back straight away.
What I’ve learned from my first week using this marketing method is that people who’re serious about their business are always on the lookout for great people to hire, either right now or in the future. Outreach is about putting yourself out there and telling people what you do, so they think of you when a job comes up.
Most important, building your base of freelance writing clients is about building relationships. It may not always bring in immediate cash, but it does skyrocket your opportunities for the long term.
What outreach methods have worked for you? Tell us in the comments below.
Jedha Dening is a freelance health business writer and copywriter who creates compelling B2B and B2C content and content marketing strategies for healthcare companies worldwide.