One of the very first things you need to do during a cold pitching campaign is to prospect for companies to pitch.
As a freelance writer, you don’t just go and randomly start pitching people. Instead, using a refined set of criteria you first come up with a list of qualified prospects you will be sending your cold pitches to.
In this video, I give a thorough walkthrough of how to prospect as a freelance writer. The video shares the exact steps I take when prospecting for clients as a freelance writer. Using the health and wellness industry as an example, I come up with a list of 48 viable prospects in the health and wellness industry:
Here’s a short summary of the steps in the video:
Step 1. Start by determining your target industry (e.g. health), then determine the actual niche in this industry (e.g. health insurance) and come up with a list of “seed keywords” that you plan to use to find organizations you will be pitching.
Examples of seed keywords:
- Health insurance
- Health insurance company
- Health insurance provider
- Health insurance service
- Health insurance plans
You’re likely to come across more seed terms as you find target companies — as some of these companies tend to use these terms in their site title. So pay close attention to key terms/phrases used by companies you come across in their homepage title, website description, and copy.
Step 2. Determine the tools you’ll be using
I generally use the following tools to find prospects when looking for potential clients to pitch my services to:
I’ll start by searching Google for the seed keyword of my choice; usually, I pay attention to results in the first 20 pages, carefully scanning them and picking out the companies that I feel would be a relevant target. This is because the results you’ll get after the twentieth page are likely to be spam.
Here are a few factors I pay attention to when deciding on whether or not to select a company:
- The description or business model of the company based on information available from their website: I generally rule out blogs, content companies, or organizations that do not clearly sell a product or service.
- The design of the company website: If the design is 1999-ish, then there’s no point contacting the company — it is probably inactive or dead.
- The date in the footer of the company’s website: For example, “Copyright 2020” or “From 1996 to 2020.” This is an indication of how active the company is; we’re currently in the second half of 2020, so if a website is yet to update its design to reflect this age (and is still stuck in the 90s), it is probably not very active or dead.
- I also pay careful attention to the overall look and feel of the company website: This goes beyond just the design but it’s part of it. In other words, does it look like an actual business? What’s your gut feeling about the company in general?
Step 3: Compile the list of viable companies and add them to the spreadsheet one after the other: For efficiency, I often go through the Google search result pages fast, going through several pages first and opening companies I find interesting in a new tab until I have about 20 or so tabs opened for different potential companies, I then go through the tabs one after the other and decide on which company to add to the spreadsheet and which one to ignore. This saves some time.
Step 4: It is very important to realize that not all results will link to a company homepage: A lot of these results will be blog posts on company websites as opposed to an actual company homepage; this is because search engines like Google prioritize content and as a result rank them better.
So content on a company might rank for the keywords you chose while the homepage won’t; this doesn’t automatically disqualify a website. Instead, click to this content and then click to the homepage from the content to see if it is a right fit.
Step 5: Pay careful attention to ad results: Don’t just look at the organic search results; if a company is rich enough to pay for Google ads, they most likely can afford to hire a freelance writer. So you don’t want to ignore the companies regularly featuring in the top spot for your target keywords when prospecting.
How Do You Prospect For Clients?
So there you have it, my step-by-step walkthrough on how to prospect for clients to pitch your freelance writing services to. You can use this prospecting method regardless of the niche you are operating in as a freelance writer.