In this era of freelancers, working from home, self-starters, self-employed, small businesses and the ‘gig economy’, we’re all hustling for opportunities.
A carefully crafted email pitch or cold mail to a contact may just be the thing that keeps you in work – especially if you’re working from home, or based at home, and email is the vital method of you booking in and securing future work. Learn the mastery of the perfect email pitch with these following ten steps!
1. Find the correct contact
Who are you pitching to? Is it a generic email for a team? Chances are that may not even be opened, let alone seen, but if you can uncover who the direct person is that you need to contact to get something within their eye line you’re far likelier to land your pitch.
2. Follow the rules, if set out
If you’re pitching to somewhere that receives an endless supply of pitches from freelancers, like a media organisation, they may have direct guidelines or rules for pitching. They may stipulate what they require, the length, the date for submissions and other information to help you tailor a successful pitch.
Don’t draw outside the lines here, if the place you’re pitching to has preferences they would like you to adhere to, follow their direction and don’t try to outsmart your competition or use tactics to get ahead of the pack –– you may be de-selected or blocked from sending pitches in the future.
3. Timing is everything
Receiving an email pitch at 4:30pm on a Friday afternoon probably has the least likely chance of being opened or read, let alone considered. Plan your time to pitch accordingly - bearing in mind there may be a time difference - but in general, plan for the pitch to arrive between 8am and 10am local time in the inbox of the place/person you’re pitching to. Monday and Friday are more difficult days to get pitches seen, so aim for Tuesday through Thursday for a better chance of success.
4. Include the recipient in the subject line
A recent Adestra report found that emails with the intended recipient named in the subject line are more than 20% more likely to be opened than ones that don’t include this. So personalising a cold email pitch in the body is absolutely essential, but consider it for the subject line, too.
A Convince and Convert report also found that 35% of email recipients open emails based on the subject alone, so taking time to really craft your subject line is essential.
5. Personalise it
Be polite, friendly and warm - you’re essentially digitally door-stopping someone who hasn’t invited you into their email home - so bear in mind you’re an uninvited guest here, but if you truly believe you could add value, a little personal touch and the slightest charm may help. However, buttering up with unnecessary platitudes also isn’t a great approach.
Tailor your greeting by mentioning the person by name. This goes without saying: spell their name correctly. If in doubt, check it and check it again. This is an instant turn-off if you get it wrong. Then, personalise your own greeting by introducing yourself very briefly. Who are you, and what do you want?
6. Do your research
Following on from your greeting, demonstrate your knowledge of the place or position you’re pitching to.
If it’s a magazine that only deals with electronic music, demonstrate that you’ve read or at least have an awareness of the limits of what they cover. This is a great introduction to your pitch, remarking on something you seen published or mentioned within your recipient’s remit or product and beginning your pitch by offering a unique opportunity or slant that aligns to their target market similarly to what you saw elsewhere. This is crucial as a mis-judged pitch will be instantly deleted at that point. Don’t pitch blindly, do your research and be direct, instead of vague.
7. What problem are you fixing?
Think about it –– a pitch is essentially a request to hire you to add value or to solve something, almost always the latter. You’re pitching expertise or an idea that will add value, answer a question or provide something that the person or team you’re pitching to needs. So ascertain what it is that you’re solving by pitching yourself, your insights or your skills.
Then, spotlight why you - over one of your competitors - might be the perfect person to take on this project or role. What makes you different and edge out from the crowd? Perhaps a unique insight or combination of skills? This isn’t a job interview, though, so keep your justification of why YOU and your pitch are worthy of commissioning very succinct. Re-read it and edit it if it’s rambling on a little too much.
8. Visual architecture
Make your email ‘scannable’, which means a quick glance over the structure of the mail will give the recipient the prompt they need. Visually, make sure your email is spaced enough, easy to read, easy to jump between parts –– so don’t clump it all in one 500-word paragraph. White space helps reading and understanding hugely, so the more white space surrounding the short email the better.
9. Keep it short, succinct, sweet
For the body of the email, wield caution here, and you may agonise over wording and length to really sell your point home. But, don’t labour the point –– make it clear and concise. Think along the lines of bullet pointing and how each bullet point is short, snappy and to-the-point. Outline your idea, your value, your turnaround time, your costs (if applicable at this stage) and any other top line information necessary. Essentially consider: what? why? when? how? and who? If you have that covered, alongside some brief background on yourself, you’ve covered the basics.
10. Follow up
Haven’t heard anything back? Don’t take offence, it happens, and this is something you’ll get used to. Sometimes, pitches don’t land, no matter how beautifully crafted your proposal was. Other times they simply slip through the net or get forgotten about, and recipients need (and sometimes appreciate) a prompt just to alert them to your pitch once more. But don’t chase immediately; allow a little breathing space and send a very brief, very casual prompt a week or 10 days later just to gently follow-up to gauge interest.