Abraham Lincoln famously said, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.”
This Lincoln quote makes one thing very clear: effort alone is not enough to succeed in any endeavor. You also have to be smart and strategic.
As we gear up to start the 30-day cold pitching challenge, where the focus is on cold pitching businesses and corporate clients, the importance of having the right strategy cannot be overstated.
With the right strategy, you can get impressive results with minimal effort. That is why the very first thing we’d be doing for the 30-day cold pitching challenge is laying out a clear strategy.
Without wasting your time, I’ll be using and recommending the following 6-step strategy:
- Determine a viable niche.
- Get social proof.
- Determine a cold pitching schedule.
- Create a prospect list.
- Send your cold pitch.
- Follow up.
I’ll be writing detailed guides/articles on some aspects of this strategy in the near future (for example, I’ll be releasing an article on writing an effective pitch next week), but here’s a quick breakdown of the 6-step strategy:
Step 1: Determine a Viable Niche
This step doesn’t need a lot of explanation; if you’re in a niche where you’ve gotten a client or two before, then you can skip this step and simply do the challenge in your niche.
If you haven’t gotten a client before, however, the very first thing you need to do before you start cold pitching is to determine a viable niche. While some people pursue a generalist approach to cold pitching, experience has shown that it isn’t always the best route.
Instead, it is much better to focus on one clear, specific niche: for example, during the Earn Your First $1,000 as a Freelance Writer challenge I chose the tech niche — targeting antivirus and online security companies mainly.
For this particular challenge, however, to ensure maximum success, I will be working in three different niches in the following industries:
Of course, I’ll be going much deeper and selecting more specific niches in these industries. I plan to send between 1,000 – 1,500 cold pitches during this challenge (God willing), so there is enough room to cover the three niches.
However, I will only be revealing the EXACT niches once the challenge is over for a key reason: thousands of people are following this challenge, and, if experience is anything to go by, it will hurt the challenge to have hundreds/thousands of people pitching the exact same potential clients I am pitching using the exact same methods/templates I am using.
The purpose of this challenge is to help you have success in YOUR OWN niche(s).
If you want a more detailed guide on choosing a niche, I’d recommend getting my COVID-19 Freelance Writing course — module 1 of the course focuses on niching, and it shares over 30 niches that are viable during this COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy of this challenge, you can get 33 percent off the original cost of the course (for a limited time, obviously!) by using the coupon code: 30DAYCHALLENGE. Just enter that discount on the checkout page and you will be set!
Step 2: Get Social Proof
The second step of this strategy involves getting social proof.
I know, this is where a lot of people chicken out, but wait a bit… I have a shortcut for you!
I DON’T ever send a cold pitch without social proof. This is because a cold pitch without social proof is a lot weaker and often less effective.
That said, there are a bajillion ways to get social proof. These include:
- Guest blogging/getting featured on major publications.
- Having received a major industry award.
- Having published a book (self-published or traditional… but of course traditional is better).
- Having been featured in a documentary, film, or TV channel in your industry.
- Having received an advanced degree in your industry — e.g. PhD, Masters, etc (who wouldn’t love to have a PhD write for their website!).
- Having gotten a certification in your industry.
Of course, there are a lot of other ways you can get social proof and I plan to use a combination of two to three of the above methods in my cold pitches during this 30-day challenge, but if you have absolutely no social proof and are worried that you won’t be able to get social proof before the challenge is over, here’s a shortcut: Get a content marketing/digital marketing certification!
As simple as this sounds, it can be powerful: Google and Hubspot offer digital/content marketing certifications that you can get for free, after taking free courses on their website and passing their exams.
You can get the Hubspot certification in less than a day and the Google certification in a few days. Now, imagine being able to tell prospects that you’ve been certified by Google or Hubspot. Just think about how powerful that is and the thought process in your prospect’s head: (“I mean, so Google certified/endorsed this freelance writer? What???!”).
Well, that’s the fastest way to get social proof that I know of, but don’t let it end there: make sure you publish a sample article in your industry. If you can’t get published anywhere, it doesn’t matter if it is on a Medium publication or on the Medium platform itself. Clients will often want to see this before deciding on whether to hire you, to get a feel for your writing, even if you’ve been certified.
- Learn more about the Google digital marketing certification here
- Learn more about the Hubspot content marketing certification here
Step 3: Determine Your Cold Pitching Schedule
While it is important to have the right cold pitching strategy, it is just as important to realize a key fact about cold pitching:
COLD PITCHING IS A NUMBERS GAME.
I want you to repeat that again and again.
I’ve gotten emails from people who send just one cold pitch and expect to get results. It just doesn’t work that way. You’ll have to send about 100 cold pitches to get to four figures if you are lucky… and a lot more if you are like most people.
In fact, one of the reasons why I’m happy about the fact that I’m at the forefront, leading this challenge is that you get to take a look at my numbers. You get to see how many cold pitches I send before getting certain results.
While we’ll all see how it ends up for me, here’s what I will say: I’m planning to send between 1,000 – 1,500 cold pitches during this 30-day challenge.
I might send fewer depending on how quickly I get results (I always design my strategy to require the maximum amount of effort so as to completely eliminate the chances of failure), but that’s what I’m targeting.
For this challenge, this will turn out to about 50 or so cold pitches a day — maybe 30 to 50 cold pitches on the average day.
Step 4: Create a Prospect List
“Oh, Bamidele… let’s just start sending those cold pitches already!”
I can see the impatience, but please hold on.
It wouldn’t make much of a difference if you start today or tomorrow if nothing changes in your approach.
The very first step is to work on your prospect list and make sure you have a solid list of target prospects before you send the very first cold pitch.
So, for me, while the 30-day cold pitching challenge officially starts today, July 1, 2020, the actual cold pitching won’t start until Monday, July 6, 2020.
Guess what I’ll be doing between now and then? I’ll be prospecting for clients. In fact, I’ll be coming up with a list of at least 1,000 different companies I plan to pitch between now and Monday.
So, I suggest you start preparing your prospect list immediately too?
I’ve already written quite a bit about prospecting in the past, and the article I wrote about prospecting for clients during the Earn Your First $1,000 as a Freelance Writer challenge is still as valid as it was then, so you can start with that article.
Step 5: Write and Send Your Cold Pitch
Once you’re done with the above steps, the next step is to write and send the actual cold pitch.
There is a right and wrong way to write a cold pitch, and there are certain elements to a successful pitch.
I will be releasing my guide on how to write an effective pitch (with several examples and a dozen different templates you can adapt for this challenge) next week.
Step 6: Follow Up
Following up is just as important as sending the actual cold pitch.
People are very busy, and following up becomes all the more important during this COVID-19 pandemic; a lot of organizations will be short-staffed and a lot of stuff will go unnoticed. Being able to follow up effectively can make a whole lot of difference.
Again, I’ll be using my 3-7-7 follow up formula which I’ve written about before.
The idea behind this formula is simple:
- Send the first follow up 3 days after the first cold pitch.
- Send the second follow up 7 days after the first follow up.
- Send the third follow up 7 days after the second follow up.
Keeping Track of Results
To better keep track of results, I have created a series of spreadsheets I will be updating on a regular basis to help me and others to monitor my progress.
The “Daily Tasks” spreadsheet: This spreadsheet contains the actual tasks I will be doing on a daily basis and will be updated every day to indicate my progress. It will be public.
You can see my progress through this spreadsheet here.
The “Prospect List” spreadsheet: This spreadsheet will help me keep track of the prospects I plan to reach out to. I’ll be using it at the beginning of the challenge (that is from now till next Monday) and gradually populate it with a list of potential clients.
You can see what it looks like here.
My copy will be private and can only be seen by me (since it contains personal identifiable information of the prospects I will be reaching out to).
The “Client Outreach” spreadsheet: This spreadsheet keeps track of clients I reached out to, when I reached out to them, and whether/when I get a response.
You can see what this looks like here. I will be keeping my own version private, too (since it contains personal identifiable information of the prospects I will be reaching out to).
The “Client List” spreadsheet: The goal of this challenge is to get actual clients, so this spreadsheet will be containing a list of the actual clients I have gotten as a result of this challenge.
You can see what it looks like here.
Mine will be private for the same reasons listed above (although I might reveal it once the challenge is over).
This has been a very long post, and I know what they say about short attention spans…
So, I’ll summarize.
In essence, my six-step strategy involves:
- Step 1: Choosing a viable niche: I’ll be working in three niches in the following broad industries: healthcare, wellness, and telecommunications. I’ll be revealing the specific niches once the challenge is over, but if you’re stuck at niching and need direction, especially in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, you might want to check out my COVID-19 Freelance Writing course. Module 1 is dedicated to niching and shares 33 niches you can get started in and 23 niches to avoid during the coronavirus pandemic. You can also get it at a 33 percent discount for a limited time by using the coupon code “30DAYCHALLENGE” at checkout.
- Step 2: Getting social proof: I’ll be using a combination of a number of social proofs including having been featured on authoritative publications, citing key successes I’ve had with content marketing, and highlighting certifications I plan to get. If you do not have certifications yet, I recommend getting the Google/Hubspot certification.
- Step 3: Determining a cold pitching schedule: I plan to send about 50 cold pitches a day and certainly no less than 30 on any day during the cold pitching challenge. God help me!
- Step 4: Prospecting for clients: I will be creating a list of at least 1,000 prospects starting immediately. I plan to begin prospecting right away and hope to have the full list ready by Monday, when I will start cold pitching proper. You can read my article on prospecting to see my approach to prospecting.
- Step 5: Write and send cold pitch: I’ll be starting this once I’m done with prospecting, hopefully by next week Monday.
- Step 6: Following up: I’ll be using the 3-7-7 follow up formula I developed, and that many have reported great success with. I’ll wait 3 days before sending the first follow up, send the second follow up 7 days after, and then send the final follow up 7 days after.
Don’t Miss Out on the Challenge
I’ll be promoting this challenge as best as I can to ensure that many people get to take advantage of it, but there’s only one sure way to make sure you don’t miss out on challenge updates:
- Subscribe to the 30-day cold pitching challenge newsletter through the optin form below this post and across the site.
- Join the Writers in Charge group where the next 30 working days will be dedicated to the 30-day cold pitching challenge. While it is a private group, you can have someone in the group invite you or manually request an invite, and you’ll be approved quickly. You can also inform as many of your writer friends that you think will benefit from the challenge and invite them to the group. They’ll thank you when the challenge ends!