Most of you reading this will have at some point in your lives attended a job interview. And during that dreaded, awkward, completely nerve-wracking interview, it is inevitable that you were asked, “So what do you know about the company?”

This is a critical job interview question because it tests the commitment, interest and research skills of the candidate. And those who fail to answer it almost always fail to progress in the process.

The exact same principle exists in pitching for freelance writing work. Doing your homework before writing a single word is critical if you want to be awarded the job. And yet, so many freelancers forget this fundamental step.

Something happens on sites like Upwork that really annoys me, but I can totally understand why prospective clients do it. Often I see a job advert that has a sentence in it that reads something like this:

‘When pitching, write the sentence ‘I love unicorns’ at the top so that I know you have properly read this advert’.


Now, I hate it when this happens because there isn’t a chance in hell I’m going to write something about unicorns on my pitch simply to prove I’ve read the advert. And frankly, it can make the client look a tad neurotic. But they’re only doing it because they receive huge quantities of generic pitches that have absolutely nothing to do with the advert. By using a code word like ‘Unicorn’ they can weed out the time wasters. And the reason that happens in the first place is because freelancers are failing to do their homework before formulating a thoughtful proposal.

So, here is my advice:

  • When responding to a job posting, always read the advert twice. Note down what the client wants and what you can also upsell to them.
  • If you’re using a job board or freelance networking site, it might be difficult to see the name of the company or client that’s posted the ad. Look for urls or profile names for clues.
  • Research the website of any publication or business you’re pitching to. Follow them on social media (twitter, facebook, insta) and get a feel for their tone, content and audience.
  • When looking at the website and social media presence of any publication or business, look for gaps you can fill. Be careful your ideas aren’t duplicating what’s already been done.
  • Even if you’re using a pitching template, customise it as much as possible! Never send a generic pitch to anyone. 

If you’re a member of our exclusive Facebook group, you can watch me talking about this in more detail in a video. I’m also here to help members find the right clients and pitch effectively. So, if you’d like to receive some support in finding clients, sign up today and gain access to our supportive community!