So you’ve submitted a pitch for a freelance writing job you know you’ll excel at. Great! But now there’s a waiting game, and as each day passes with no response, there’s an inevitable sinking feeling that the job has been handed to someone else. And you don’t know why…
This disheartening scenario isn’t uncommon. Every freelance writer must learn to accept that they won’t win every single job they pitch for. That’s the nature of the job and it’s not something to take personally. But if this cycle of disappointment is becoming a little too common, it might be your pitching technique that’s the problem. Let’s look at some common mistakes you could be making and figure out how to rectify them:
- Your pitch is getting buried in inboxes. Anthony Ha, Senior Writer at Tech Crunch, gets over 80 pitches to his personal email account per day, and hundreds more to the general Tech Crunch inbox. With this in mind, would it be reasonable to expect Anthony to open every single one on a daily basis? No. He has an actual job he needs to do, and opening pitch emails would become his sole responsibility if that’s all he focused on. So what’s the solution if your prospective client is overwhelmed by emails? Here are some ideas: 1) Follow up, send two or three follow-up emails after the initial pitch to get noticed. 2) Make your email subject stand out. If it’s titled ‘Pitch’, it’s not going to grab anyone’s attention. 3) Make sure your pitch is being sent to the right person. As Anthony has pointed out, generic inboxes can become overloaded far more rapidly than individual ones. If you have to make a call to ascertain the right contact, then do so!
- Your pitch is too long to read. Busy decision-makers don’t have time to read through a zip-file of 50 documents. They probably get distracted after about 50 words! If your pitch is too long, it’ll be dismissed. Ensure what you need to say is succinct and clear and outlined in the first paragraph. If your prospect is interested, they’ll read on.
- You’re using annoying buzz words. Former New York Times editor Fred M. Hechinger once outlawed any pitches that used the word ‘unique’. Funny, huh? He said people used this word when pitching so frequently that, even when an idea WAS unique, the word had totally lost all meaning. Some buzz words can annoy editors and decision-makers, ensuring that before your pitch has been properly read, it’s already been sent to the spam folder to die a sad death. So, when pitching, try to say it how it is and avoid any overused buzz words. You can find websites listing ‘annoying buzzwords’ here and here although please remember these are subjective and admittedly, many may not apply depending on who you’re talking to.
- You’re talking too much about yourself. You are an important aspect of your pitch, but what’s equally important is what you can do for the client. Remember, pitching is SALES. When you’re buying a new phone, you want to know what that phone can do for you, how you’ll benefit from using it and the many ways it’ll make your life easier. The same principle applies when pitching for a freelance writing job. Tell the client how THEY benefit from having good content. A failure to do this will almost always result in a lack of interest.
- You haven’t done your homework. A couple of weeks ago I wrote a blog post about why doing your homework before writing a pitch is critical for sales success. If you haven’t read it yet, you can find it here. It is very apparent to a client when you’ve not researched the company or publication prior to pitching, and it creates a whiff of desperation that is almost always off-putting. So, before you even contemplate forming a pitch, find out about the person and company you’re pitching to.
There is so much more to say on this, and I am going to be talking more about pitching and the importance of follow-up in our Exclusive Learn Freelance Writing Facebook Group over the coming weeks. If you’d like to join us, sign up today and let’s take a look at your pitching technique together.