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Freelancer's Guide: What to Know Before You Pitch to Clients

Althea is a creative writer who enjoys creating informative pieces that aid in decision-making and problem-solving.

Preparation is key to a successful pitch.

Preparation is key to a successful pitch.

Pitching to Clients as a Freelancer

The lockdowns and economic challenges that came with the pandemic caught us all off guard. As unemployment skyrockets, more and more people are exploring the freelancer route (especially online).

Unlike a regular office job where your income is assured every month, earning from freelancing depends on getting clients, and you get clients by actively pitching your services. How do you pitch your services?

But before you start promoting yourself to potential clients, there are a few things you should prepare in order to ensure that your pitch will be complete and professional. Here's a list of essentials you need to make a good impression and land a successful pitch.

Determine What You're Selling

First things first, and this is pretty basic. You can't pitch without offering a product or a service. You need to determine what your marketable skills are. Are you a graphic designer? A writer? A virtual assistant? Deciding on what you want to do and what you're going to offer clients will help you tailor your whole pitch according to their needs.

With that said, you should also know your limits. Never put yourself on the line and commit to something you’re not skilled in. There are cases when freelancers agree and assure the client that they can fulfill the requirement just to win the pitch, only to come up with half-baked outputs or worse, just give up on the project. Know your strengths and focus on that first. Never commit to a project or offer a service you have little knowledge about just to get the client.

First determine what your marketable skills are.

First determine what your marketable skills are.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

There's no such thing as, "My target audience is everybody, anybody." Knowing and researching who needs your service will have a great impact on the time and effort spent preparing a pitch. You'll be pitching to an audience where you have the greatest chance of securing a sale. You don't sell milk to a vinegar factory. You sell it to the yogurt guy. In other words, if you're a graphic designer, you approach ad agencies, established bloggers, start-up companies, big corporations, and people who are likely to be in need of design services at a non-agency rate. Luckily, in this day and age, you don't have to peddle in the streets to market your skills. Online job boards and sites exist where potential clients post their needs and you can apply.

Everyone is not your customer.

— Seth Godin

Prepare Your Cover Letter

A cover letter is your potential client’s first impression of you. Some people opt not to include a cover letter in their pitch but always having it handy is a best practice in freelancing. Most freelancers never get to present live to a client, especially when it’s a remote job. So think of your cover letter as your one and only chance during the online pitch to actually relay your background, your skills and key achievements, your portfolio, what you’re willing to do, and your commitment to the project. Not only that, your cover letter has to sound and look professional, so always do a spelling and grammar check before you send it out. Lastly, always end with your full name and contact details so they know how to get in touch with you.

But remember that one cover letter doesn’t fit all. You can have a standard template but you must always study the needs of the client and tailor your message to address them.

Have Your Portfolio Ready

A portfolio is a must in your arsenal of materials if you want to impress a potential client. Your cover letter makes a promise of quality work and should be supported by samples of your best products. You can still go traditional and make hard copies, but in these times, an online portfolio is the easiest, fastest, and handiest way to get your client to view your work. Just make sure to curate them well and only publish them with permission from the clients who commissioned them. Some good, free and easy-to-use platforms for your portfolio are WordPress (blog/portfolio), Dribble, Behance, Deviantart, and Pinterest.

Settle Your Pricing Structure and Payment Method

Lastly, it is important to set your pricing structure and payment method. Why? This is the information that potential clients are most eager to know. There are those who want quality work for low pay, but of course, this doesn’t mean that you have to short-change yourself in order to get them.

Your goal must be to find that middle-ground, the sweet spot in pricing where it’s fair to the needs of both parties. Study the pricing structures of your peers at the same level as you are. Don’t be afraid to charge more if you feel that’s what your work deserves, but don’t be unrealistic and always be open to negotiations. There’s some debate if hourly or fixed pricing is the way to go but the bottom line is - you should know the value of your work. Never undervalue yourself just to get a client. Let your client understand what you’re bringing to the table and its potential impact on their company or business.

And of course, don't forget to set up your payment method so you can receive the payment you agreed on. There are plenty of platforms now where you can receive online payment, which makes it very convenient for freelancers.

Don't forget to set up your payment method so you can receive the pay you agreed on.

Don't forget to set up your payment method so you can receive the pay you agreed on.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2020 Althea del Barrio