You’ve heard that cold pitching can be a great way to acquire new freelance clients, but you’re unsure how to actually do it. After all, you don’t want to come off as needy or desperate. Luckily, cold pitching is a common tactic for businesses and when done correctly, it can help you find and retain high-quality clients.
In my years as a freelancer, I’ve used cold pitching on numerous occasions to find great clients whom I worked with for years. Below, I’ve laid out the 6 most successful strategies I’ve learned. I also have a few free templates you can use to get started.
What Is Cold Pitching?
Cold pitching is a sales strategy that involves reaching out to businesses to sell your services. This is normally done through email, but could also be down through LinkedIn or another social site.
Cold Pitching isn’t throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks. Instead, it is a specific, calculated approach to find freelance clients you truly think you could help in some way, or clients you are eager to work with.
What Are the Benefits of Cold Pitching?
Cold pitching for freelancers offers a number of benefits includes:
- Personalized Approach: You can target and nurture the companies that you best feel fit your style and business, with an approachable and personalized marketing strategy.
- Measureable: Unlike other marketing methods, cold pitching through email is easily measurable and traceable. You can use software like Boomerang to track how often and when your emails were opened, if at all, which can help you measure success and adjust your tactics.
- Stand out among the competition: Job boards and freelancing platforms are often inundated with freelancers bidding for the same jobs. Cold pitching allows you to target the people you want to work with and stand out as a go-getter.
- It’s low-cost, high reward: While it may take a lot of perseverance to find success from cold pitching, it’s a free marketing strategy that has worked for decades. Even if you only land one client through it, that is well worth the zero dollar investment.
X Cold Pitching Strategies
1. Do Your Research
Before you send out a cold pitch, you’ll want to complete thorough research on the company. While cold pitching can often seem like a numbers game, you’ll have a greater chance of success by targeting specific companies that are within your niche and can actually use your services.
Doing your research means looking at their website, their socials, and maybe even customer reviews to understand what they sell, who their clients are, and why they could use your services. After all, if you’re hoping to make them a long-term client, it’s important that you understand what their business is all about.
Once you’ve honed in on a company, figure out the best contact to reach out to. Sending an email off to a generic hello@ or info@ email address is a surefire way to get ignored. Instead, look for people in charge of your area of skill. For instance, if you’re a freelance copywriter, you should seek out the marketing or communications manager.
2. Know What Value You’re Offering
After you’ve figured out what company you want to reach out to, and the contact person that is best placed to help, you need to define what your value proposition is. Figure out what you can offer this company that it doesn’t already have and why the team should hire you over another freelancer.
You shouldn’t insult the company you’re reaching out to, obviously, but you should show you understand their specific pain points and struggles. Identifying these areas and specifically how you can help improve them shows that you know your value and gives them a reason to keep reading.
3. Craft Simple and Personalized Emails
When sending out your cold pitch, it’s important to keep it straight and to-the-point. People are busy and don’t want to read a long-winded email from a stranger. They should easily be able to skim it to determine if they want to pursue it further. Respect their time by keeping it brief.
That being said, it’s also important to personalize them so they don’t feel like a cut-and-dry template. It’s perfectly fine to use the same general format for each cold pitch email, but include specific details about the company or the person you’re reaching out to, to show that you’ve done your research and understand their needs.
4. Make the Subject Line Pop
For busy people, an email subject line is the key to getting someone to open and read your cold pitch. A generic sounding pitch, a spammy one-liner, or an impersonal opener is a one-way ticket straight to the trash.
Instead, try to make your subject line stand out in a sea of other emails. Keep it short and urgent, to entice the recipient to open it. Additionally, include a personalization, like the person’s name, to further engage with them.
5. Include Proof of Work
Claiming you can help a company is one thing, but being able to prove it is the key to selling a cold pitch. While you shouldn’t fill the email itself with a ton of past work, you should be sure to include a link to your freelance portfolio.
Specifically, you should carefully craft your portfolio with relevant, high quality samples of your work that show off your best side. Aim to include only professional work, though if you’re a new graduate or starting out, it is okay to include samples from school or personal projects – just be sure they are your best work.
6. Follow Up
After you’ve sent an initial cold pitch, it’s important to give the person time to see it and respond. They are probably a busy person and might not have a chance to respond right away. However, after a few days of crickets, it’s perfectly acceptable to follow up.
Following up might seem annoying, but it’s a completely normal business practice that shows persistence and eagerness. I always suggest waiting at least three days for an initial follow up, in case they are on vacation or in the midst of an intense project.
If you still don’t hear back from them after the second follow up, you can follow up again a week after that. While some might suggest a fourth email is okay as well, tread with caution, as you may start to seem desperate or turn them off completely.
Instead, I’d suggest holding off for a while, but possibly sending an additional follow up in a few months, especially if you’ve worked on relevant projects since your initial pitch and think they might be more open to considering your services. This also just helps to keep you on their radar, should the need arise.
Cold Pitching Email Templates
The Initial Email Template
For the initial email, make sure you lead with information about their company, to show you’ve done your research. Next, talk briefly about your own experience and how you’ve used it to help other clients. Finish with a specific way you can help them and a call to action to get in touch.
Hello [first name],
I’ve recently stumbled across [company name] and was inspired by the work you’re doing. In particular, I was impressed with [company specific detail].
As a freelance [specialization] with [x] years of experience, I have worked with [list some past clients] to help them achieve [specific goals – better web performance, more brand recognition, etc.] through [x ways]. You can check out some of my work here [link to portfolio/samples].
I think I could help you as well through [specific value you can offer them]. I’d love to chat more about what I could bring to the table to help [company] achieve its goals. If you’re interested, I can send through some samples of my past work or we can hop on a call to discuss further.
Thank you for your time,
The First Follow-Up
After the initial email, keep it brief – if they saw and read your email the first time, there is no reason to rehash the whole thing. However, still be sure to name drop past clients or achievements to keep them engaged. Finally, like the initial email, end with a call to action.
Hello [first name],
I wanted to follow up about the email I sent on [insert date]. In case you missed it, I am a freelance [specialization] interested in helping [company] achieve [specific goal] through [x ways].
I’ve similarly helped [past client] through [specific action or project]. To see my work in action, check out my portfolio here: [link portfolio].
I’d love to chat more about how I can help [company]. Please email me back or schedule a time to chat.
Thank you for your time,
For the final follow up, wrap up the communications in a positive way. Let them know you won’t keep reaching out, as it shows professional boundaries. However, be sure to still promote your services, especially in the future. This helps remind them you still exist, without coming across too pushy.
Hello [first name],
I’ve sent you several emails over the past couple weeks with ways I could help [company].
Since I haven’t heard anything back from you, I won’t clog up your inbox with any more information now.
However, if you ever find yourself needing a freelance [specialization], feel free to reach back out. I’d love to help [company] achieve its goals.
Thank you for your time,
The Best Way to Accept Payments as a Freelancer
Once you’ve built up a regular client base as a freelancer, it’s important to have an easy payment system in place to ensure you stay on top of client payments. As a freelancer, there are many ways you can be paid, but being able to offer service options is a great way to build up your professionalism and client experience.
Pay.com is a payment service provider that makes it easy for freelancers to send payment requests to clients through direct Pay Links. With multiple payment options including digital wallets like Paypal and credit cards, you can make it convenient for clients to pay how they choose.
Plus, with the user-friendly Pay Dashboard, you can easily track client payments and send payment links for any outstanding invoices. This makes it easy to juggle multiple client payments at once, all in one location.
The Bottom Line: Is Cold Pitching Right for You?
Cold pitching can often feel like a worthless endeavor for freelancers. Done right, though, it can help you gain high quality clients that you want to work for. It may not be the most time-efficient marketing technique, but it is free and highly personalized, which can work heavily in your favor.
Once you’ve scored some new clients, you can use Pay.com to send payment requests and track your payments easily. It’s easy to sign up for an account and get onboarded, so you can start receiving payments in a convenient and professional way.