Guest post by Bamidele Ojo
For over four years, I worked as a content writer on freelance marketplaces… writing for peanuts.
Things changed, however, when I came across detailed information about how to land clients with cold pitching.
When you’re paid only peanuts, however, it becomes a form of slavery.
What makes cold pitching different from other forms of clients’ prospecting?
Why is cold pitching effective for getting high paying clients?
How did I get a 2-year writing contract and earn $704 for a single SEO blog post?
This article answers all the questions above and gives a detailed overview of the step-by-step process of prospecting for clients in challenging times.
I believe that this success story would, no doubt, be of help to others struggling to get their first result ever from cold pitching.
COVID-19 and The New Normal
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of businesses suffered a lot of setbacks. My freelance business was not exempted.
This was due to the influx of freelancers and remote workers to freelance marketplaces, increasing the competition considerably.
Almost everybody was working from home during the lockdown from April to July due to the global pandemic.
So the number of freelancers skyrocketed while the number of available jobs decreased significantly.
The July 2020 Writers in Charge Cold Pitching Challenge
At the peak of this same period, Bamidele Onibalusi decided to open up his popular cold-pitching challenge after four years.
I earlier signed up to participate in the 2016 edition, but I had many freelance jobs in progress by then and could not dedicate enough time to see the results.
So, I simply seized this new challenge as the long-awaited opportunity and decided to give it a shot.
What is Cold Pitching?
You might be asking, “What exactly is cold pitching?”
It is the art of emailing targeted strangers to convince them to try out your services.
It is simply sending an email to a total stranger telling them you want to work with or write for them.
What makes an effective cold-pitch?
It’s not an easy task to get people to open your cold pitches.
You have to give them reasons to do so.
Let me clarify that cold pitching or prospecting for clients is not a bad thing.
If you’re just starting, you should be doing that right now instead of waiting for luck to smile on you!
With cold pitching, you don’t have anything to lose, but you have everything to gain.
Here are six things to focus on to increase the open rate of your cold mails:
- Personalization: According to a report by Andestra, including the recipient’s name in the mail increases the open rates of most cold pitches by up to 22.2 percent.
- Conciseness: If you choose to go with cold pitching, your email must be as concise as possible.
- Brevity: Let the client know within 60 seconds or less that you are not there to spam their inbox.
- Clarity: Communicate clearly with your clients. Let them know that you are a person with whom they would want to do business.
- Research: Doing a bit of research about your prospects will influence the effectiveness of your cold pitch. It helps to reach out to targeted clients.
- Follow-up: This is an important key to increasing the response rate of any cold pitch. Sending a follow-up email to your cold leads can double or even triple your response rate.
Why is cold pitching effective for getting high paying clients?
Everyone’s a stranger until you meet them. And sending a personalized message to the client’s inbox is a knock on their door.
The goal of prospecting is to GET your foot in the door, get in FRONT of prospects, tell them WHAT you CAN do and HOW you can HELP them.
Through cold pitching, you knock on the door that otherwise would for sure never open until you try.
If you decide to knock, you might or might not get a new deal.
It’s all about getting your name out there, telling people what you do as a freelancer, and how you can help them.
If you don’t want to go the route of cold pitching or messaging, the alternate route to get an influx of clients to your freelance business is this… Wait for high-paying clients to come knocking on your inbox.
Yes, sit back, relax, and wait for clients to pop up in your email or chat from your online and social media presence. This may take forever to happen!
BUT if you are new to freelancing and want to get high paying clients and don’t want to wait indefinitely, cold pitching is pretty much non-negotiable.
It is the only route to reach such goals FAST!
Here’s how I got a 2-year writing contract and got paid $704 for a single article due to cold pitching:
If you wait for a perfect time, you won’t get anything done.
I started with gathering leads and starting sending the cold pitches.
I had barely sent 50 pitches when this client indicated interest about the need for content creators.
That set the ball rolling for me.
It is one thing to read the success stories of others.
The first result was all I needed to convince me that cold pitching works.
Here are the details of my experience and a few takeaways from it:
Effective conversation is the key to leads conversion
The conversation with the client was ignited.
No sooner had we begun to discuss before the client asked for my rates.
This is always a tricky question. Many freelance writers will just say: I charge so and so amount.
Having been in the freelancing space for over five years, I don’t usually answer the question in just one sentence.
A powerful positioning statement helps to win clients
I’ve created a powerful positioning statement for my content and copywriting services.
For instance, if you are a good SEO content writer, you can say:
“I help brands beat their competitors and get more traffic to their site through content that ranks at the top in Google searches.”
Let me make something clear about cold pitching, as mentioned earlier.
The goal of any cold email or pitch is to get your foot on the door.
Be clear about the pain points of clients
After you’ve introduced yourself and caught the attention of prospective clients, pitch the value you are bringing to the table.
Most times, the clients initiate the question on the rate card.
When asked this question, it is another opportunity to sell yourself, your Unique Selling Point, and the value clients should expect.
Don’t just say, “I charge $50 for one blog post.”
What Is It For Your Client (WIIFYC)!
Clients often ask, rather indirectly, “What’s in it for me (WIIFM)“?
Answer the question, and you’ll be on your way to earning a gig soon.
Part of my response focused on the values I provide as an SEO Content Writer/Copywriter.
I’m a AWAI, Hubspot and Digital Marketer Certified Content Writer.
What benefit will your freelance services be to prospective clients?
Every freelance writer must come to terms with the fact that they are the sales rep, marketer, accountant and CEO of their freelance business.
Charging per project or word?
In my case, I was flexible with my rates.
There is no one size fits all. This was my response.
“I charge per project since I often execute clients’ jobs on a freelance basis. Long-form blog posts go for $250 each. Average length blog posts go for $150 per post.”
As you can see above, I was not definite about the word count.
A long-form blog can be any post from 1000 words upwards, while anything below 1000 words can be regarded as short-form or average-length blog content.
If the client goes by that statement, I could end up writing 2,500 words for just $250.
But the client replied shortly they are willing to pay $100 for 500-word – short blogs and around $200 for a blog of 1000 words.
The client proceeded to ask if I can accommodate the above rates.
I’ve charged as much as $25 for a 100-word copywriting gig in freelance marketplaces.
I’ve also charged a flat rate for content writing.
But this was the very first time a client would offer to pay me 20 cents per word.
Sample or No Sample?
I accepted the gig but with mixed feelings. You may wonder why?
It was because I was not so clear about writing on a given topic as a sample gig.
Requesting for free samples is always a turn off for me.
Since I’m working with a reputable UK tech company, I decided to play to their tunes.
The first job was to be a writing sample to gauge my writing ability and determine if I can deliver on the values I promised earlier.
The first topic was assigned, and it was the first I would ever write in that niche.
Learn to Ask Relevant questions
Before I proceeded with the research, I asked relevant questions.
I already mastered that art from my over five years of writing for clients in freelance marketplaces.
No one knows the target audience as the clients do.
Yes, they relate with their leads and clients every day.
So, don’t be afraid to ask questions about the target clients, their pain points, the content’s goal, and any other relevant information.
My questions were answered swiftly.
That led me to the research process.
The content research kicked off
Was the research a walkover?
I wished I can tell you it was.
But it was the opposite despite having years of writing and freelancing experience behind me.
To be candid, the assigned topic was not so easy.
But I’ve inculcated the habit of sticking to my goals until I achieve them.
And my ultimate goal is to always deliver pure gold to every single client.
The first draft of the content was eventually delivered within three days.
Be open to revisions but be firm
The client had earlier asked how many revisions I am open to.
I mentioned my SEO content ghostwriting services come with 2-3 revisions.
My experience in freelance marketplaces informed this response.
There was a time I offered unlimited revisions for my writing gigs.
Some clients took undue advantage of this offer to send endless revisions.
Most of these are not even revisions per se.
They are additions here and there, which can bump up 500 words content to 700 or 1000 words.
That’s like playing smart to get more by paying less.
So, I had to take the bull by the horn by specifying the number of revisions I offer.
When the client returned the first draft for revision, one of the requests was to add new twists here and there.
At this point, I knew this could no longer be a free sample.
It must be a paid sample.
I told the client that I’m willing to effect the changes requested, but what would be my remuneration?
The response was that I could proceed to work on the content following the suggestions given.
And on the remuneration part, he told me the rates would be as agreed before: $200 for 1000 words.
I heaved a sigh of relief and was fired on to move on with the project.
We ended up with an in-depth research article that goes a little bit over 3500 words in the long run.
For the first time, the invoice was requested, and I earned 20 cents per word as an IT content writer.
Not only that, I earned over $700 from a single IT blog post.
I’d earned $750 from a single copywriting gig on Fiverr.
But it was for hundreds of product descriptions. It literally took me weeks to complete the gig.
Besides, I ended up getting only $600 after Fiverr deducted their 20 percent commission.
But here, the entire $704 is mine to keep.
This is really an exciting journey, so to say.
It is after this first gig that I was onboarded as a freelance writer for the company and signed a two-year writing contract with the client.
If not for cold-pitching, I would not have landed this gig and the client won’t know I exist, not to talk of offering my freelance services to the company.
I’ve completed two more gigs for the same client. I’m in the third long-form blogpost for the client as I compiled this post.
And I look forward to earning at least $1000 per month from this client as we advance.
I plan to leverage upselling more services such as guest posting and social media content.
And to reach $10k a month, I only need 5-10 clients like this one.
The cold pitching process continues.
If 3-figure has been attained, 5-figure is also doable.
Keep pitching, guys.
And don’t stop anytime soon.
Cold pitching is an effective marketing strategy, but it is a game of number.
Send more cold mails.
Brace up for rejections.
Sow your seeds in the morning, noon and evening.
You never know which one will fall on the fertile ground.
Sow your seed in the morning, and do not rest your hands in the evening, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that or if both will equally prosper.
Meet you at the TOP! That’s where every diligent and committed freelancer belongs.
Bamidele Ojo is a Digital Marketer & AWAI Certified Direct Response Copywriter and Freelance Coach. He works with clients to create conversational copy and content that demonstrates authentic thought leadership and builds authority. Next to that, he coaches upcoming freelance writers that want to develop their freelancing business to excellence. You can connect him on Linkedin here or or follow him on his website, www.BamideleOjo.com where he shares actionable Freelancing and SEO Copywriting tips.