As a freelance writer, a big part of my week is sending out pitches to companies I want to work with. Cold pitching isn't easy work. It can often be challenging and not rewarding. You won't get a positive answer to every email you send. Every no is an opportunity to work on your pitch, every maybe is a new connection, and every yes is money in your pocketbook. While I am not a cold pitching expert yet, I wanted to share a few tools that help me write better cold pitches when I do it. Keep reading for the tools that help me!
Note: This post contains affiliate links.
Do you want more helpful advice like this? Join my free Facebook group The Ambitious Freelancers Group!
As a writer for human resources technology companies, I need to find people to pitch easily. AngelList has become my best friend when it comes to searching for small businesses/startups to pitch. AngelList is a site for startups to list their companies, accomplishments, job openings, et cetera. I use it to find interesting HR tech startups, but startups in all industries join the site. Sometimes these startups are small, but multi-million dollar startups also list their company's here.
Above you can see a little look at their Startup Database. AngelList is my favorite tool for cold pitching. While some people list jobs on AngelList, I don't usually use the website for that feature. Instead, I gather data about a startup from the database and reach out directly to see if they need help with content marketing.
Since the database is over four million companies strong, I do a ton of filtering to make sure I am getting the best businesses. I usually filter by market and location. I want to make sure that I am reaching out to human resources businesses located in the United States. I'm relatively picky about who I work with. When I make these adjustments, I get to look at a much more manageable number of companies.
I would search the database about once a month for some ideas on who to pitch. New companies are being added to AngelList all the time.
Cost: Free (LinkedIn offers upgraded account options you may or may not decide you need.)
Once I have a company, I like to look up that company on LinkedIn. One of the best parts about LinkedIn is that employees of the company often list the company as their employer. Once you find the company, it's as simple as finding the person in charge of doing what you want to do for the company. For a writer, you might look up that company's content marketing manager. I also use LinkedIn to find contacts for brands I want to partner with here on The Happy Arkansan. Instead of looking for a content marketing manager, I look for their influencer marketing manager or a regular marketing manager.
You should get used to utilizing LinkedIn as a creative. You can create many opportunities thanks to LinkedIn. Even if you are avoiding 9-5 life at all cost, get a LinkedIn account. I'll even be your first connection if you want to send me a request. I feel that LinkedIn is even better for creatives or freelancers because you can make connections with people, get referrals, et cetera. I love it as a freelance writer, and I feel like everyone should be on this platform. LinkedIn is also a great place to connect with your clients if you don't want to connect on sites like Facebook.
Cost: Basic version is free; Grammarly has a premium option that I subscribe to and wholeheartedly encourage everyone to get.
When I am writing my cold pitches, my best friend is Grammarly. Even though I am a blogger and freelance writer, I don't have the best grammar. We all make mistakes, but it's vital to catch as many of them as you can before they get to your clients (potential or real.) Instead of worrying about every minute detail of what I write, I give my content a once over with Grammarly before it's sent to my clients.
Grammarly isn't perfect, by the way. I wouldn't just accept every change it tells you to make. Grammarly is a general tool that various writers can use to make grammar decisions. This means that it's not super specialized to you or your industry. Words or sentences that are right to you and your client might not seem right to Grammarly. Instead of depending on it for everything, go through your content line by line with Grammarly's help.
I use Grammarly for everything, whether I am writing a blog post, cold pitch email, or a social media update.
Cost: Basic version is free; Mailtrack has a premium version that I encourage you to get, especially if you want to track emails covertly.
Emails are an essential part of the cold pitching process. One of my least favorite parts of sending emails is how much of a black hole they can be. Where does the email go? Is it even opened? Did they click anything? There are so many questions that come with sending a cold pitch. Having those questions unanswered can lead to various issues that make it harder for you to get better at cold pitching. When I found out about Mailtrack, it was the answer to so many of my email woes.
Mailtrack is a Chrome extension that allows you to track emails. It works with Gmail, so I encourage you to use something like G Suite as your email address provider because an @gmail.com email address is not professional. My email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) is hosted with GSuite, and I only pay like $6 a month for my email address. Once Mailtrack is installed, understanding clicks and opens will be so easy. You'll get real-time stats on opened and clicked emails. When someone opens the email a ton or clicks around on it a lot, but doesn't respond, I would follow up after a few days. Life happens, and you never want to lose out on money because you didn't take the initiative to reach out again.
5. The Potential Client's Website
Last, but not least, when I am cold pitching, I need the client's website. It's important to research the company you want to cold pitch. What are they all about? I usually mention the company and what I like about their mission or vision in my emails. Show that you did more than write the introduction email. If you want to create graphics for a company, look at their current graphic design strategy; if you're going to write sales page copy for a company, look at their existing sales pages. Take that step so that you can write your cold pitch with ease!
Earlier this month, I got to publish a piece with one of my dream clients, Greenhouse. Greenhouse is an HR tech company that does some fantastic stuff with diversity and inclusion. I wrote a post on employer branding. Before I cold pitched them, I did my research. I read various blogs on their website and tried to get to know their brand some. I mentioned their diversity and inclusion initiatives in my introduction email and linked to a post I wrote about diversity. Use the language they feature on their site and mirror it back to them in your cold pitch.
There you have it. These five tools/sites are things that I use all the time as I am cold pitching clients. Finding clients isn't easy, but using these tools will make it so much easier for you. I hope that you enjoy the tools I laid out in today's post. Did you find a new tool to use? Let me know in the comments!