The Proven Pitching Process For New Freelance Writers

Are you pulling your hair out because you just don’t get it?

You’re a new freelance writer so you know you have to hustle to land that first client.

You know you need samples, so you got to it early on.

The Proven Pitching Process For New Freelance Writers

You even know where to find freelance writing jobs and avoided places like Upwork.

So, why aren’t you seeing success? Why are you struggling to land any paid writing gigs?

My First Pitch

When I first started freelance writing over a six years ago, I had no clue how to pitch my services. Here is my first pitch I ever sent out (you can click on it to see it a bit better):

first-pitch

Can you spot the mistakes?

Two obvious mistakes are that I don’t appear confident in my pitch and I mention that I’m new (psst…don’t EVER mention in a pitch that you’re a new freelance writer!).

But, you know what? I kept on pitching. I found some good job boards (ProBlogger and Freelance Writing Jobs) and sent pitch after pitch. I think I sent around 20-50 pitches before I landed my first writing gig for an automotive enthusiast site.

I was ecstatic that I actually landed this gig, because I just knew I failed the interview. The prospect emailed me back and requested we talk.

This was my first ever phone interview and when it was over I was convinced I bombed it. I didn’t sound confident at all and I didn’t ask the right questions either.

But, I ended up getting the gig! That gave me a boost in confidence and I guess it showed because I landed my next client soon after (and upped my rate too).

Perfecting My Pitching Game

I had my fair share of “bad” pitches  for the longest time. But, that didn’t stop me from landing clients.  Prospects started contacting me and for a while I wasn’t pitching…until some clients slowed down their content schedule.

Suddenly, I went from writing four blog posts a month for one client, down to writing only one post a month for them. This cut my income so I had to go back to pitching.

I’m glad that happened because I really focused on optimizing my pitch and making it better than what I had. And I finally found a pitching process that works.

If you’re a new freelance writer and you’re having problems landing a client, maybe it’s time to look at your pitching process. Here are 4 elements to a winning pitching process:

1. Review Your Current Pitch

My current pitch looks nothing like my first pitch. It’s come a long way. As a new freelance writer, you may be tempted to use the same template for all your pitches.

While this isn’t a bad or wrong thing to do (it’s actually a great way to streamline your process and it allows you to pitch to more job ads), you might not realize that changing a few things in your pitch can dramatically change your conversion rate.

Things like:

  • Work to appear more confident in your pitch. Swapping phrases like “might be good at this” to “I know I’ll be good at this” dramatically changes the view of the person reading your pitch.
  • Be explicit. Mention exactly what you will do for them. If the ad calls for someone to write blog posts, explain to them what you will provide (an eye-catching headline, a call-to-action, promotion on social media).
  • Show proof you are a writer. Providing links to your published content is 100x better than providing attachments of your work.

2. Keep Track of Your Pitches

Whenever I do a round of pitching, I make sure to keep an Excel sheet or Google sheet tracking all of the pitches I sent out. This helps me with keeping all the information in one place.

Each job ad will have information you need to have easily accessible for when the prospect responds to you. Such things as their proposed rate (or if you proposed a rate), the topic and how often they need content.

So, when it comes time to pitch, I keep track of:

  • Where I saw the job ad (specific job board and link to the ad).
  • The email I sent the pitch to.
  • When I sent the pitch. This is important to remember as I tend to circle back a few days later when I don’t hear anything from my pitch.
  • Important information.

I keep this sheet and just update it whenever I need to pitch. So, sometimes I can look back on all the pitches I sent and if there’s a spot open in my schedule, I’ll contact some of these companies and see how things are going with their content needs.

3. Pitch Daily

It’s a good idea to build a metric around your pitches. Set a goal of how many pitches you want to send out and for how long. For example, for two weeks I will pitch one time every day.

Check out my step-by-step guide on how I find freelance writing jobs quickly.

This gives you a firm goal to stick to and helps you feel accomplished when you complete it. I don’t know about you, but I like competing against myself. It just gives me a bit of motivation to outdo myself (and it usually works).

You might think this isn’t important. You say to yourself, I’ll just pitch whenever I have time. Well, I want you to think of this:

You hit whatever you aim at.

So, this means you’ll hit your target when you have a plan in place. You just have to start!

4. Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

You go to a job board and all you see is a bunch of, “I can’t do that!” type of job ads.

Instead of thinking what you can’t do, start thinking how you can match the criteria in a job ad. Cast a wide net when you pitch.

Look at all the job ads at each board and see if you are remotely qualified for or interested in the ad. My first gig wasn’t my first choice, but I was pitching to anything and everything at that time (and I’m glad I did. I still write for my first client and I still enjoy it!).

Keep at It

Hustling is the name of the game when you’re new to freelance writing. No one knows who you are or if you can even write.

But, trust me when I tell you, the more you pitch, the higher chance you’ll have at landing that first client. You may not land a gig if you’re only pitching 5 times a week. But, if you pitch 10 times a week you might see a better turnout. Imagine if you pitch 30 times a week?
Remember, no excuses!

Over to you – what’s holding you back from pitching?

Hi I'm Elna and I'm a freelance writer and mom blogger. I help people just like you become a profitable freelance writer. Within 6 months of starting my freelance writing business from scratch I was able to earn a full-time living as a part-time freelance writer while taking care of my twin toddlers. Check out my free email course Get Paid to Write Online and learn the steps you need to take to be a freelance writer.

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56 Comments

Hi Elna! I don’t know if you’re still seeing comments on this post; I’m a little late to the party, lol! But I had a question related to cold pitching. I have a pretty good list of contacts to email and pitch my writing to. I use a service called LimeLeads, which another freelancer who I follow, recommended. So that’s how I’m getting my contacts. But my question is, have you ever had a problem with ending up in people’s spam folder? I’ve been afraid of this happening lately. So far I haven’t seen results from cold emailing, but I’ve only sent about 75 so far, so I know I need to send a bunch more to expect any kind of results. But, that worry still gets in my head. I also worry that, even if I’m getting into people’s regular inbox, if others are marking my pitches as spam, maybe that could increase the likelihood that future pitches will go into future recipients’ spam folders? I don’t know if that’s necessarily true but it worries me. Do you have any thoughts or advice on this?Reply to Conor
Hi Connor, Yes, I still read my comments! Thanks for your question. As for cold pitching that could be an issue for sure. You might want to create a new email address for cold pitching and try that to see if those don’t into spam. After 75 pitches though, you should hear back from some. I would also try engaging on social media and do your asking there too!Reply to Elna
Hi Jean, All in the name of teaching, right? I hope my first ever writing pitch can help others to not make the same mistakes I did!Reply to Elna
I have been looking on jobboards but most of them require experience I even found something in which I have a lot of personal experience but never written about I know I would be great at the job but they want 3 examples of writing I have already done Are there any boards where jobs are easier to get for newbies than the ones already on hereReply to jade
Hi Jade, As you can see you need to have samples before you pitch. That’s great you found jobs in which you know the industry. So spend time crafting writing samples and post them on your blog or on Contena or LinkedIn and then start pitching!Reply to Elna
Thank you for this helpful article! Do I need to have a personal blog or published guest blogging posts to include as samples before I can pitch successfully? I don’t have a personal blog yet. Should I focus on getting that up and running before I start pitching? Thanks, -Mary BethReply to Mary
Hi Mary Beth, Before pitching, you do need writing samples. They can be from your own blog but make sure they aren’t personal essays. These blog posts should be helpful (like what I create on this blog…it’s helping new freelance writers and I could use any one of these posts as a writing sample). You can create a post on Medium and then start pitching! Don’t let writing stop you from pitching!Reply to Elna
Your contents are super great. I really want to be like you. Thanks for this information. I saw this article from the email you sent me, and I was sure I will learn something- I learned a lot. Thanks.Reply to Rex
Hi Rex! That’s fantastic to hear! I hope you are ready to start pitching!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, I just stumbled across your site and really like the content you offer. I want to talk about rates. I notice in your first job pitch more than five years ago you were charging 4c a word. I am hoping your going rate is now much more than that! I’m assuming the days of freelancers earning $1 a word are long gone but I am concerned that freelancers are now massively undervaluing their work and allowing themselves to be paid much less than their talents deserve.Reply to Stephen
Hi Stephan, Yes, as a brand new freelance writer with absolutely no confidence that my writing could be great to be paid, I charged 4c a word. But, as luck would have it, my first LEGIT freelance writing job paid me $100 a post (900 words or so). My rate was around $.10/word. And yes, five years later my rate is much higher and many of my clients pay me $1,000 a blog post 🙂Reply to Elna
Hello Elna, I have been writing for awhile but not for myself. I have always wanted to be a freelance writer and now is the time for me. I have been reading your articles and am thankful for your very informative articles. They have taught me so much. I am still reading and watching your videos so I can learn more. Thank you.Reply to Beth
Hi Beth! Thank you for being a loyal reader! Make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel and I’m updating my channel weekly since I’m still suffering from RSI hand pain and need to take a break from typing periodically!Reply to Elna
I have been studying dutifully to become of freelance writer for a few weeks now and I felt the need to say that your writing and advice have become indispensable to me! I am working my way through as many of your articles and videos as I can. You are a true inspiration! Thank you!Reply to Suzanne
Hi Suzanne, So happy to hear this! If you ever need more help, please consider one of my courses!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, I like your articles a lot, and thank you for writing such informative posts. But most of the job boards that you have mentioned in other articles post jobs for US citizens. Even when the listing mentions remote, it has the criteria that the applicant should be from the US. Or it is inherent in some posts. I have been going through many job boards daily but that’s what I have noticed. It is worse when they don’t mention who can apply for I keep wondering should I even spend time and bother writing a specific cover letter if I am not even eligible. Thank you for the posts.Reply to Priyanka
Hey Priyanka, It can be difficult but I do know non Americans can land freelance writing jobs. I’m Canadian and I had no shortage of jobs and I do know of UK writers having no problems. Make sure you are presenting yourself online as a highly credible writer in one core niche. This might help you!Reply to Elna
Amazing post yet again! Here’s another cult following you have lmaoReply to Jordon
Great piece! I really love all your advice, Elna, but the last part especially about pitching being somewhat of a numbers game. I’ve been getting frustrated with my lack of results but when I look at my spreadsheet tracking all the data, the problem becomes glaringly obvious—I’m not pitching enough! I think because we’re hustling and working so hard, it seems like we’re sending out 20 pitches a day when in reality it’s 5 or 6. Ha! Your advice is spot on and insightful.Reply to Meaghan
Hi Meaghan, That’s awesome you figured out the issues! Usually, new freelance writers aren’t pitching enough or putting themselves out there! Good luck!Reply to Elna
Thank you so much for your insightful posting! I have been intimidated by the prospect of pitching and failing and pitching and failing some more, but reading about your experiences is very encouraging and knowing you just need to knock on more doors makes me roll up my sleeves and get to it.Reply to Julia
Hi Julia! Thanks so much for stopping by! And yes, you just need to keep on knocking on those doors until someone opens it! 🙂 Good luck!Reply to Elna
Thank you elna, your post is of great importance to me as I have learned a lot from you lately.. I want to delve into freelance writing and your tips have been really a motivation for me. I’m yet to pitch because I need to get my samples out there for clients to see. Thanks.Reply to Danvic
Hi! That’s great to hear! Good luck when you start pitching!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna I have been following your blog for a few weeks now and you won’t believe, I actually sent my first pitch out moments before I came across this post on Pinterest! I wish I saw it before I sent it ha ha ha. I have a question, I am in South Africa, my main concern is that I am not American and most jobs advertised are for American sites. Do you think this will lessen my chances of landing any jobs? Thanks for all of the amazing tips and resources!Reply to Felicia
Hey Felicia! As an online writer you can live anywhere and my clients are all over the world too! As long as you have strong skills in writing in English and you convey that with your copy you should have no problem!Reply to Elna
I still have nightmares about my first pitch email. I got mostly negative responses but I’ve learned to keep my chin up even at the worst moments. I pitch every day because that means I’m more likely to get a response, whether it’s positive or negative. One of the things that really stood out in my process is when people tell me that cold emailing works. Personalizing your email means you are more likely to get a response and then more likely to get a positive response. That’s my experience, anyway. I also sent out flyers to local businesses, which is how I got one of my current clients. I’ve gotten much more confident in my pitch…to the point where I look forward to crafting my pitches every day. I never saw myself growing excited to do it – even as early as last year! I’ve learned from my mistakes and couldn’t be more excited to see how my pitching will evolve. Thank you for a great article, Elna!Reply to Lizzie
Hi Lizzie, That’s great! Tapping into your local business district can turn out to be a goldmine for new freelancers!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna! The content you provide is always helpful. Do you pitch to companies in your niche? I will check out your article on where to find freelance writing jobs. I know a few websites but as far as working with a client I haven’t gotten that far. Thanks for all that you do! Carrie UsmarReply to Mama
Hi! Right now I rarely pitch. The majority of new jobs are from companies contacting me! This is what I teach in my courses as I don’t have the time to pitch constantly!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna – it works! (As if you need me to tell you that). I started up as a freelancer at the beginning of the month and following your advice. I started pitching last week and – boom – landed my first paid job this morning. Super thanks xReply to Nicola
Hi Nicola! I read your post and my question is are you a newbie? Being new myself I have no other experience but that as an undergraduate.Reply to Janet
Hi Nicola, That’s perfect to hear! Good job! Keep on hustlin’ and land more gigs!!!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, I find most of your posts very easy to understand and informative, too. Pitching in this post was easily explained and I’m sure it’ll help in landing my first writing gig. I have a question though- except job boards, how and where to look for writing gigs?Reply to Arpan
Hi, Thank you so much! Great question. Hopefully, this post can help you? https://elnacain.com/blog/get-paid-to-write-without-job-boards/Reply to Elna
Hi Elna! I just discovered your site today, and I’ve already recognized where my pitches can become more effective, and I’m more confident than ever that I will be able to succeed as a freelancer. So far, your articles have been more informative than any others on how to approach freelancing for the first time. Thank you!Reply to Hannah
Hi Hannah! <3 Thanks a bunch! So glad this post has helped you with your pitches. So happy you are confident. Go kick some freelance writing butt!Reply to Elna
Elna — this is one of the best intros to pitching that I’ve ever seen. Great job!Reply to Ashley
Hey Ashley, Thanks girl! This post is awesome and I might actually put a content upgrade too!Reply to Elna
Thanks for sharing this, Elna! When I first started pitching, I never kept track of my pitches. Fortunately, I didn’t have any embarrassing blunders result from that, but it did make it hard to remember what I’d sent and to whom. Once I started keeping track in Excel, the whole pitching process just felt easier and less chaotic. As you mention, pitching daily is SUPER important! You may have a full schedule right now, but you never know when that will change. It’s always good to keep your schedule full, rather than find yourself floundering for work. As usual, great post!Reply to Alexia
Thanks Alexia, Yes, pitching everyday is key when you’re first starting out. For me, I go in spurts since it isn’t necessary to pick up more work. But, I know that in the summer, business is slow! So you gotta be hustling.Reply to Elna
Thanks for pulling the curtain back Elna!LOL! And I wonder where this misconceived notion comes from that successful people, were simply born or destined to be that way!LOL! As if, all they did was declare themselves experts and successful and the rest, somehow magically fell into place! Thanks for deep six-ing that myth!LOL! I think a lot of people, need to be reminded of the grim reality, ever once and a while!Reply to Mark
Hey Elna, I’m still battling with myself whether or not I should give this a try 🙂 When you write it out like this it sounds a lot easier than I imagine it to be! Of course there is a bit of a challenge here and there but nothing comes for free in this world. Great tutorial and love how you showed one of your first pitches and the problem areas! EstebanReply to Esteban
Hey Esteban! Thanks for stopping by and thanks for the mention in your post! When I have time I’ll give your blog a thorough read. I’m glad my process makes the idea of pitching less intimidating and more doable. The first step is taking action right?Reply to Elna
Hey, Don’t mention it. I was truly inspired by your words and I stumbled on two posts of yours in one day that we’re good reads so it was only natural to mention you 🙂 I would be pleased if you did decide to have a snoop around. Let me know what you think. Taking action is definitely the right approach. I am currently waiting for my guest post to be published and other things to happen before I get started with my pitches! Again thanks for the great advice. EstebanReply to Esteban
Hi Elna Great post. As my late blooming son said to me recently ‘Dad, I’ve figured out what business is all about. To make it in business you gotta hustle!’ And how right he is. Hustling or pitching is the name of the game. We sure can’t hide our light under a bushel by wishin’ and hopin’ that clients will flow in our direction. There are different ways to hustle, of course, and you have perfectly illustrated how to do it in the writing sphere. Although I’m not a freelance writer we use similar techniques when looking for clients in our agency and consulting business – we send an email. We then extend the email strategy by following up with a phone call. When framing a pitch (by phone, mail or email), it is imperative that we get the messaging right. I like to do a bit of research on a prospective client first, and then incorporate some of that in the email – expressing it in a ‘what’s in it for me’ kind of way. Your post will give a lot of encouragement to struggling writers. As you say, getting the first client is always the hardest, but after that it gets easier. All people need is one good client story – they can dine on it for months! Thanks Elna, KimReply to Kim
Kim, I couldn’t have said it better (and I’m the writer here!) ha 🙂 You’re son is right, it’s all about the hustle, even for online businesses. You start out as a small fish in a big pond and for others to notice you, you have to make a splash! I hope you liked your $5 haircut (psst..I read your post).Reply to Elna
This is so inspiring. You are the best, Elna! 🙂Reply to Mercy
Hey Mercy! So glad you came by and happy to hear the post inspired you! You just made my day! I know for many new writers, landing that first client is hella hard. You think you’re the only one struggling, but in fact, everyone who starts struggles. I had to send out lots of pitches and scour the job boards daily to land my first client. And soon after, I had prospects coming to me! So persistence and dedication are key to being successful 🙂Reply to Elna
Hi Elna! I loved this post… I’m squirming at the thought of going back to look at my own first pitches. My pricing structure was very similar to yours in the beginning, and I was super desperate to get started. Back then, I figured $1 > $0. I’d take just about any job. Fortunately, I’m a little more established now. I like your advice about pitching every day. Having spent most of my career in sales and business development before freelancing, I would often share that advice with new sales people… practice makes MONEY! Forget about being perfect. Just get out there and make a lot of connections. Business is a contact sport. (The skill would come later…) Also, I believe this is my first time commenting on your blog. I know we’ve connected over at Blogging Wizard, but not sure I’ve been by your own website. I plan to return in the future though. 🙂 By the way, I guess you could say that my own blog is going through a bit of a transformation at the moment. I’m really changing gears to start focusing my content on helping other freelancers to get started and grow their online business. Figured that’s worth mentioning while I’m here. 🙂 All the best, BrentReply to Brent
Brent! What a nice surprise! Glad you enjoyed my tips! Yes, I was looking through some old files and found my first ever pitch! Looking at it now, I couldn’t believe I sent that out! Even the pitch that landed me my first gig – is a diamond in the rough. I think a lot of new writers would benefit from seeing my actual first ever pitch. They can identify with it and hopefully spot ways to improve their pitch. It’s all a numbers game right? The more you pitch, the better chance you have at landing that gig. I like your saying, practice makes MONEY! classic and awesome!! I should do more blogger outreach. Really I should. I just don’t have any time to read all the wonderful blogs out there!! grrr..I’ll have to check out your site and blog! And congrats on the re-brand or re-structure.Reply to Elna
I’ve been really awful at commenting on blogs lately — even some of my favorite blogs that I read regularly. So I made a list and I’m committing to commenting on five per day. Multiply that by six days per week, and I should be about to hit 120+ blogs every month. And yes — it is most definitely a numbers game. 🙂 BrentReply to Brent
This is awesome Elna! Thanks for sharing this…it’s going to make a great guide for me when I start sending out pitch letters. I’m excited and nervous at the same time :). Hope you’re having a great day! CoriReply to Corina
Hey Corina! So glad to hear this! Having a stellar pitching process is key to landing gigs. If there’s no plan, good luck trying to land any gig. Excited to hear that you’re going to give freelance writing a try! Way to go!Reply to Elna
Hi Elna, Thanks for this pitching process you just shared. I figured following something proven to have worked is way better than trying some random pitch you just came up with. Although one cannot really possibly determine the outcome of it all but i just like to be on a safer side when reaching out. As a said on the SB Blog, Please keep writing. You just got a Fan. -Babs.Reply to Babs
Babs, Thanks for stopping by! Yes, pitching is hard for a lot of new freelance writers. Often the problem is credibility and sounding too green. You need confidence when you pitch!Reply to Elna