Are you a freelancer? Do you work a 9-5 and want a new job? In both of these situations, you need to pitch or write a quick email to introduce yourself, skills, and experiences to a prospective client or employer. You need to stand out. Keep reading to learn 7 common freelance pitch problems and how to avoid them so you can stand out, get noticed, and get your foot in the door to expand your network and grow your business.
1. Too informal
Common pitch problem #1 is being too informal. The way you address your potential client could make or break the rest of the pitch/cover letter. Don’t be too informal. Steer clear of informal greetings like “hey” or “hiya”.
Since 9.9999 times out of 10, you’re sending an email, you can start your email with the traditional greetings, dear, hello, or hi, and you can also just omit the greeting and go straight into the name of the potential client.
Pro Tip: A good rule of thumb is to always be a step more formal than you’re comfortable being.
2. Too Cold
Common pitch problem #2 is pitching cold. Cold pitches are duds. And just so we’re clear, a pitch can be cold even if you’re replying to a job announcement.
If you can send the same pitch/cover letter for all of the jobs you’re pitching (with little to no customization), you’re sending cold pitches. Even if you’re applying for jobs from job boards, a cold pitch is a non-researched post.
Finding a way to connect with your intended audience in the pitch will take your pitch from iced cold to lukewarm. And sending a warm pitch increases the likelihood that you’ll get noticed and perhaps even score an interview.
Do a deep dive on the company. If there’s a job announcement, use the information they gave you about the job to see what they’re currently doing as a company and then take an educated guess to explain how you could make it better.
For instance, if you’re a virtual assistant, they probably need you because they have more work than they can navigate and they need a second set of hands. If you’re a graphic designer, maybe they’re graphics are converting sales but they want to take their graphic design a step further.
By showing that you understand their pain, you can then explain to them how you can help them.
Pro Tip: Keep it positive. Don’t give them an area for improvement or worse yet tell them how you can do something “better.” Don’t use the word improve. You’re really just there to help, assist, and help them to do more of what they’re already doing or wanting to do.
3. Too Long
Common pitch problem #3 is pitch that’s too long. There’s no “right” length for a pitch or a cover letter but you can always tell when it’s too long. If the job description asks you to respond to each of their questions, do that. But if you’ve decided to wax poetically about your philosophy on organization, please stop.
You want to leave something to discuss in your interview. Better yet, you want to get an interview. So, keep your pitch 3-4 short paragraphs long and end it.
Pro Tip: A pitch is a mini-proposal. You could always offer—in your pitch—to have a quick conversation with them face-to-face or over the phone and then submit a proposal with your methods, approach, and pricing options.
4. Too Vanilla
Common pitch problem #4 is being too vanilla. Let’s talk for a second about vanilla. Now, this is just a personal preference but I’m not ever going to just order vanilla ice cream. Give me chocolate or a chocolate/vanilla swirl over plain vanilla any day. That said when I say “too vanilla,” I mean boring.
Don’t be boring in your pitch.
That means don’t regurgitate your resume. Don’t tell them how you can do the things they listed on their job description. And please don’t just use your pitch to reference your attached resume; that’s just a waste of real-estate.
Use your pitch to quantify the work you’ve listed on your resume. Use numbers as much as you can, and give clear examples of the type of work you’ve done and then always walk it back to how that work relates to the client.
Pro Tip: Make a list of your most relevant work experiences before you write the pitch and write relevant one sentence examples of how your experience relates to the opportunity you’re pitching.
5. Too Ambivalent
Common pitch problem #5 is being ambivalent. I know it’s tempting, but don’t play it cool. One of the worse things you can do in a cover letter is to say, “I hope to hear from you.” Don’t do that.
When I say ambivalent, I mean being standoffish and not asking for what you want. When you throw a ball in someone else’s court —as you do when you say “I hope to hear from you soon.”— you’re giving away your power.
Pro Tip: Instead of giving all of the responsibility away, why not help them make the decision? For instance, “if they think you’re experience will allow you to hit the ground running from day one, then I would hope they’d hit reply to schedule some time to chat.” (wink wink…nudge nudge)
By ending your pitch with a decision and an invitation, you’re gently telling them how and if to engage you. And if they never respond, well then you know they didn’t think your skills were up to par.
6. Too Demanding
Common pitch problem #6 is being too demanding. In my experience, accepting pitches from everyone from virtual assistants to graphic designers and accountants, I’ve seen some demanding pitches. For instance….
“I’m available for a call tomorrow at 2pm. Let me know if that timing works for you schedule.”
“I’ll follow up tomorrow by close of business.”
Demanding people like that annoy me. This is a personal preference type of thing. I don’t like and I wouldn’t do it. Consider the implications of emails that demanding to a business entrepreneur. What if they don’t get your email until after the suggested time? What if they get your initial and follow-up email back-to-back?
It sends a desperate vibe.
Pro Tip: Don’t be demanding. It’s a red flag and a turn off to many people in a position to hire you. Instead, try using a gentle invitation to open up a conversation with a prospective client or hiring manager.
7. Too Repetitive
Common pitch problem #7 is being too repetitive. Never repeat yourself and never regurgitate your resume.
Use your pitch to make yourself and your resume stand out amongst all of the competition. Your pitch allows you to show your personality and to draw a direct line to show how your experience relates to the needs they’ve described in the job description.
Pro Tip: Check to make sure your pitch compliments your resume but doesn’t say the same things. Reread your pitch and make sure each line serves a purpose.
Pitching is an art form to give a perfect snapshot of your skills, experiences, and a bit of your personality. It’s a great way to nudge your foot in the door with an organization to start a conversation about a possible partnership. Just make sure to avoid these 7 common pitch problems so you can expand your network and build your business.