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[UPDATE] How I fared during month 1 of the cold pitching challenge

It’s been a little over a month now since I started the cold pitching challenge and I felt I should provide an update giving a quick overview of what has happened since I started the cold pitching challenge.

The cold pitching challenge was initially set to take place over a period of 30 working days.

The idea behind the challenge is very simple: using methods and strategy I will be sharing publicly, I (and others following) will send about 1,500 cold pitches during the challenge period (with the idea being to send 30 – 50 cold pitches a day).

Based on the 1,500 cold pitch target, I had set a personal goal of hitting five figures by the end of the challenge period.

Midway through the challenge, however, due to intense demand and clamor for an extension in the challenge Facebook group, the duration of the challenge was extended to 60 days.

While originally billed to end August 11, the challenge will now be ending September 22.

The purpose of this article is to give you an update on how things went for me, personally, during the first month of the challenge.

In this update, I will be telling you exactly what I did and the results I’ve gotten. I’ll also be shedding light on the way forward.

A quick overview of month 1 action and results

Here’s a quick overview of what happened for me during month 1 of the cold pitching challenge:


  • Total number of cold pitches I sent: 673
  • Total number of cold pitches that bounced: 49
  • Total number of valid cold pitches sent (when bounces haves been removed): 624
  • Total number of responses I got: 56
  • Response rate to my cold pitches (approximate): 9 percent


Number of clients I got: 2 clients.

Value of writing work closed so far: $1,050

Average rate per article: $.30 per word

While I’ve shared some of these results on the Facebook group, including links to the website of one of the clients I’ve gotten (as well as the initial article I wrote for this client), I’ll only be revealing the other clients publicly once the challenge has been officially concluded.

Now, a key question remains:

Am I failing or succeeding with the cold pitching challenge?

Given, the challenge started initially as a 30-day challenge and I had set an audacious goal of reaching five figures in income by the time the challenge ends.

Now, 30 days after the start of the challenge I’m just a little over $1,000 in income. Based on my initial goals of earning five figures, would that be said to be a failure or success?

I wouldn’t call it a failure, but I certainly could have done better.

That said:

Here’s a quick analysis of what happened and the reason for the apparently poor result on my end:

  1. I underestimated the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

This is not necessarily because it is impossible to get clients due to the pandemic.

Rather, it is because of the following key factors:

  • It is now taking A LOT longer than it was before the pandemic to close deals; people are a lot more busy, distracted, and careful than they used to be before the pandemic.A lot of prospects now have me waiting for weeks (and in some cases more than a month!) before a deal is finalized. Pre-COVID-19, this is something that usually takes days.Just to give you an idea, the following screenshot shows when my second client approved a trial article for $150 (for what turned out to be about 500 words):

    If you take a look at the timestamp, you will notice that I closed the deal on August 7. What isn’t immediately clear, however, is the fact that I sent the actual cold pitch on July 23.

    That’s about two weeks (and I’m slowly finding out that this is quite FAST for the COVID-19 era).

    Here’s a screenshot of an interaction with a prospect that should be my client 3:
    I sent my very first cold pitch to this particular client on July 27. We’ve interacted a great deal since then, and they’ll only be making a decision after August 2 (a month after). This is a pattern I’m noticing with my cold pitching efforts since COVID-19.

  • People are A LOT more price sensitive due to the COVID-19 pandemic: I can’t overemphasize this. I’ve spoken with at least 20 different prospects that have shown interest in my services and that had wanted to proceed only to balk or stop responding once they hear that I charge upwards of $.30 per word. If I were to charge half that rate, I’m sure I would have closed a lot of deals — and would most likely have reached (or at least be close to) a five figure income. That said, I’m not a new freelance writer (I have a number of clients that pay me quite well and I run a farm full time, so I’m not exactly desperate for the money and I don’t have the luxury of time to go that low just to say, “yay, I’ve gotten a lot of clients!”).To give you an idea, here’s a screenshot of an interaction with a client who seemed initially excited about my services until I mentioned my rates:

    In fact, I had quoted a much lesser $.25 per word to a particular prospect who had made it clear that they were looking for freelance writers.

    Here’s the prospect’s response:
    Now, there is an African saying that “all fingers are not equal,” so certainly not all clients will be able to afford my rates. But this is the BIGGEST price resistance I have seen from my cold pitching efforts in over a decade of being a freelance writer — and it is due to COVID.

  1. I slowed down a bit and that affected results.

I’m a “no excuses” guy, so I’m not excusing myself.

However, I’d like to state a fact: the apparently poor result is also due to slacking (intentionally and unintentionally) on my part.

The unintentional “slacking”:

For example, I fell really sick with cold, uncontrollable sneezing, and catarrh for about 2 weeks midway through the challenge — this made work practically impossible during this period.

There was no fever, or pain, or other COVID-19 symptoms (and sneezing isn’t really one of the main symptoms of COVID-19) so I didn’t contract COVID-19 (but thanks guys! ;), but my work was seriously affected by this. I’d later realize that my illness was an allergic reaction to something I might never know (after battling it for about two weeks, I took allergy medications and it resolved in two days).

I also have existing clients and I run a farm full-time. The work I was doing (existing clients, farm, etc) gradually accumulated, thanks to the increased effort required due to COVID and my health challenge, and I had to attend to this first — so this affected my ability to fully commit to doing some of the challenge tasks.

So, as you can see, I’ve only sent a little over 600 cold pitches from the 1,500 target. Based on the current trajectory, I’m confident of closing deals worth five figures by the time I hit this target.

  1. The closed deals are yet to fully “mature”.

The initial income report does not fully reflect the outcome of the challenge.

Firstly, I mentioned that the first client ordered $900 worth of articles. However, I had pitched them another service worth four figures, which they have expressed interest in, but would only be starting about a month from the time they hired me (anytime soon, based on the time I’m writing this). This is not captured in my report since it is yet to be commissioned.

Secondly, the second client requested a sample which they really liked (screenshot below) but the full decision as to the scope of future work will only be made in the first week of September when the CEO is back — so, technically, I have this client but, other than the trial, they haven’t really commissioned any work.

In the long run, I’m confident that these two opportunities would be worth FAR more than the $1,050 reported, but I’m reporting specific work captured during the first month of my cold pitching efforts.

In Conclusion…

I have to stop here for now.

I’ve learnt a great deal already, particularly on better ways to deal with the challenges that come with getting clients and closing deals via cold pitching during the COVID-19 pandemic, and I’ll be sharing a bit of what I’ve learned in due time.

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Welcome! I'm Bamidele Onibalusi, a young writer and blogger. I believe writers are unique and highly talented individuals that should be given the respect they deserve. This blog offers practical advice to help you become truly in charge of your writing career.

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