7 mistakes to avoid when cold-pitching freelance clients

7

Min Read

Rana Tarakji

The freelancing industry continues to grow each year and is expected to represent 43% of the workforce by 2020. This comes as no surprise given its many benefits, one of which is its ability to help people earn more money with the option of choosing who they send scope of work templates to and who they sign contract templates with. However, earning money through freelancing can be challenging. In fact, more than 50% of freelancers surveyed by Paypal said that their biggest challenge is irregular income.

One of the ways to combat irregular income in freelancing is to be more proactive in terms of finding clients, commonly done by sending cold emails to potential clients. This means soliciting business from clients who have had no prior contact with you. Having success with cold emails to potential clients can be daunting and it can backfire if you don't know what you're doing.

The key is learning how to send cold emails that get responses. Before you send a cold email to a potential clients though, you must first learn to avoid these common cold-pitching mistakes.

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1. Not personalizing your cold-pitch email

Research shows that the average email user receives 147 messages a day and ends up deleting 71 of them in under 5 minutes. You don't want your cold-pitch to be one of those that people delete.

Optimizing emails by using the right words and length, plus knowing the best times to send them can help you optimize your cold emails to get responses. However, these email tactics are not enough if your email is not personalized to fit the client.

Before you craft a sample email to a client for new business, do your homework first. Learn not only about the company but also about the specific person you are writing to. People will appreciate the time and effort it took for you to do so and will most likely show that appreciation by reading your email at the very least.

2. Pitching to the wrong person

Pitching to the wrong person is a waste of your time and energy and this is why doing your research prior to sending a sample email to a potential client is necessary. To increase your chances of drafting cold emails that get responses, make sure that you're contacting the person qualified to make that decision.

A company, especially a big one with several departments, may have several decision makers as well. Depending on the nature of your proposal, you will need to research not only on the specific department but most importantly, the person who is likely to be in charge of deciding on it. This will make personalizing your proposal a lot easier.

To really make sure you’re not pitching to the wrong person, find potential clients who need exactly what you’re offering by asking for referrals from your existing clients.

3. Not knowing how to craft a winning business proposal

A business proposal is a document you send to a potential client that details the products and services you offer and how their company can benefit from them. It must be professional, clean, and easy to read. Most importantly, it must also be winning and convincing, whether you're preparing a freelance proposal, making a quotation for your freelance work, or if you're writing a book proposal.

Creating a winning proposal takes practice but it's something you can get better at in time. It is composed of various elements but the most important action you need to do first is to research. Know what the company requires for the job and see if it matches any of the products and services you offer. It is only then that you can decide how to design and write your freelance proposal.

There are sample proposals online that you can use as a guide or you can also try the Bonsai freelance proposal tool that makes creating, sending, and tracking proposals online easier.

4. Not having a professional freelance portfolio website

When cold-pitching to a new client, you should make sure they will be able to get to know you and what you can do. This enables them to make an informed decision to either hire you or not. Traditionally, this means setting up a physical office to show clients that you are legit and professional. These days though, you can present yourself professionally online through your own freelance portfolio website.

Whether you are a freelance writer, a web designer, or an owner of a link building agency, there are more benefits to having a website than not having one. A freelance portfolio website not only allows you to market your services and establish your authority and expertise easily but also gives potential clients a quick and easy way to get more information about you.

You should take note though that there are many elements that go into creating a portfolio website. You can either hire someone to create one for you but you can also learn how to build one from scratch using one of the website builders you can find online.

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5. Ignoring personal branding

Branding is essential to every freelancer and consultant because it helps create a powerful reputation for yourself. Some think that it only involves designing a logo or creating a look for the business. However, it also involves all the aspects that go into creating a perception for your brand, including everything from the message you send to customers, how it is delivered, to how you work together, or what kind of project management tools your freelance business uses.

Branding is not limited to companies though. Personal branding is likewise an essential factor to your success in freelancing. Remember that there are hundreds of freelancers out there who are competing for the same sets of clients. Having a personal brand sets you apart and makes you more memorable.

Take the time to explore your unique personality and focus on that. This also involves understanding who your audience is. It is better to have a defined target market rather than a broad one. Understanding how you wish to be perceived by the market helps you become more strategic in incorporating it into your personal brand, thus taking you one step closer to sending cold emails that get responses. Once you have defined your personal brand, don’t forget to apply it in your proposals, as well as your freelance contracts, invoices, and other documents.

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6. Making your pitch all about you

We've already established that when sending a cold email to a potential freelance client it's important for them to learn more about you. However, it's not all about you either. Rather than boasting about your accomplishments, take the time to research more about the client to identify their needs and their pain points. Doing this allows you to better offer the services that will provide solutions to their problems. It's all about providing value to your clients, and showcasing it in a sample email to the client for business.

Your value proposition not only differentiates you from other freelancers and demonstrates the benefits your clients can gain from it. Having one will not matter though if you do not know how to properly communicate your value proposition to your clients.

It must be communicated clearly and consistently through your words and actions. Include it on your portfolio website, your other online or social media profiles, proposals, speeches, articles, and even in your freelance invoices. It can also be showcased in the work that you do, not only for your clients, but also through your speaking engagements, events, and other means.

7. Not following up

Cold-pitching is not all about sending pitches though. While sending a sample email to your client for a proposal can help initiate a conversation, it's the follow-up emails sent after the proposal that help close the deal. Most people are busy and might even forget about replying to you though. So don't hesitate to follow up on it but be sure to do it only once so you don't end up annoying the client.

As a freelancer, knowing how to send cold emails to potential clients effectively is a skill you can’t do without. It doesn’t have to be such a daunting task though, especially if you have access to freelancing tools that will help you manage your freelance business better. With Bonsai’s all-in-one suite, you don’t have to worry about that. Sign up for your free trial today.

Rana Tarakji
Originally from the U.S., Rana Tarakji is the founder of One SEO (a multinational link building agency), author of "Off-site SEO guide: A Hands-On SEO Tutorial For Beginners & Dummies", and a web content specialist who now lives and works in Beirut, Lebanon. Rana's work has appeared in a wide range of publications in print and online, including Life Hacker, Upwork, Christian Today, Newswire, and many other outlets.

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