Horkey HandBook Blog

How to Write Pitches that Get Noticed (Easy Tweaks that WILL Make a Difference)

Renee Davis is a freelance writer with a fabulous sense of humor. When she noticed that her pitching process was all over the place, she decided a system was in order.

So Renee came up with the 3P Pitch System: Personalized, Professional and Provoking and she’s here to share that exact system with y’all today. It’s time to supercharge your pitching and get more freelance writing clients.

Are you pitchin’ like a boss, only to cringe three seconds after hitting the Send button? Or spending hours pitching and getting no responses?

Same here.

Frankly, it was becoming a habit. I’d simply get in the zone and flake out, apparently.

Before I knew it, I’d sent off a batch of pitches, having forgotten to include at least one important thing for each of them. Sometimes I forgot my bio and most times it was—of all things—my resume! Hmm, that probably had something to do with the lack of response to my pitches.

Why is it that I couldn’t remember what I’d forgotten until after my hard work was hanging out in cyberspace? Usually, my mental checklist is pretty solid. However, I admit there are some many days when I’m convinced I could hide my own Easter eggs!

Part of the issue is that my pitch has evolved. The more I hone my pitching skills, the more strategic goodies I want to include. That means there’s more to remember.

Good thing I’m in love with checklists! In fact, I purposely put too many things on a checklist, just so I can have more stuff to cross off!

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Don’t you do that?

No? Really?

I see an intervention in my future…

I’m not claiming to have pitching all figured out. But, with Gina’s pointers and lots of research, I have discovered some tweaks that I feel sets my pitch apart. It’s my hope that you’ll find a nugget (or two) that you can incorporate into your upcoming pitches too.

When thinking of an effective pitch, I see it in three parts. Let’s call them the 3 Ps in a Pitch: Personalized + Professional + Provoking.

1. Personalized

One for You, One for Me

Before the actual body of the pitch, the first thing I do is BCC (blind carbon copy) myself. By BCC-ing myself, I’ll receive a copy in my inbox. When I see it, I’ll be reminded to move the copy to my Friday Follow-up Folder. It will patiently wait for me in there until, well, Friday—hence the name.

It’s just easier for me to have a designated follow-up day once a week.

You’re Subject to Approval

Most of the time, I’m replying to a Craigslist advertisement. The subject line is already placed within the email when replying via Gmail. When I enhance that given subject line, my rate of response goes up.

For example, if the generated subject line reads, “Blog Post Writer,” I enhance it to read “Blog Post Writer-Resume & Samples Attached.” For a transcribing gig, I’ll change the given subject line from, “Transcriber Job” to read “Transcriber Job-Experienced Pro, Resume Included.”

I’m not deleting the given subject but just adding to it, to set apart my email from the myriad of other replies that the potential client might receive.

Note: There are times when this is a no-no. For example, when there is a specific instruction given from the potential client about what should be included in the subject line.

To Paste or Not to Paste? That Is the Question…

Immediately following the subject line enhancement, I include my resume. I promise you that if I don’t do it now, it won’t get done. If I wait to attach my resume at the end, eight out of 10 times, it won’t happen! Then I’ll look like a real doofus, sending a pitch that promises my resume is included when it isn’t.

God forbid I look like a doofus.

If no clear direction is given whether to attach or paste the resume, I have been known to do both.

I always follow the rules. If they want it pasted, I paste it. If they want it attached, I attach it.

Location, Location, Location

I’m a firm believer in catering to the potential client. If the advertisement gave a contact name, I make sure I’ve used it in my opening greeting. It makes it personal and shows that this isn’t just some form-letter email.

In her freelance writing course (included in The #FullyBookedVA System), Gina instructs that you should mention where you saw the ad. Potential clients or employers value this information, and it tells them that you like details.

If you have a line included in your go-to pitch that you usually paste into the email, make sure that it doesn’t read Craigslist when it should read Indeed, for example. That is something I’ve forgotten to change before hitting SEND.

2. Professional

Simon Says: Follow ALL of the Directions!

Once you’ve completed Gina’s Freelance Writing for Virtual Assistants course, you definitely know what should be in the body of your pitch. However, I just reviewed one of the lessons and realized I need to do some additional fine-tuning. Turns out that I needed a pitching refresher. (I encourage you take a minute to review Gina’s pitching guidelines.)

Once you’ve included the actual body of your pitch, keep in mind that this is another chance to make sure you’ve followed specific instructions. It’s one more opportunity to show your prospective client that you are a polished professional. For instance, if the advertisement requested that you send three samples as links, then be sure to send exactly three samples as links.

If you haven’t already invoked the power of Grammarly, in addition to spellchecking, do so now. It’s free, although you can upgrade to a more complex checker. I use the free version. It comes along behind me as I write my emails, calling attention to the slightest of errors, and making my email a hyper-polished one!

3. Provoking

What Happens in Vagueness Stays in Vagueness

In a nutshell, effective pitching is marketing yourself in the best way possible — one that will evoke a response.

I remember reading that when writing a cover letter, most applicants simply don’t ask for a reply (much less ask for the job).

Nothing wrong with it,  but most of us will include a vague closing of, “I look forward to your response,” or “I hope to hear from you soon.” Does this sound like your closing remarks?

Mine too — at least until last month when I changed things up a bit.

I realized that despite the time and effort that was going into my pitch, I’d fade away at the very end, politely excusing myself from the email. It was almost like I was saying, in my tiniest and most quivering voice, “Um, well, uh, if you have time, maybe you could write me back…uh…pretty please?”

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not talking about being a bull in a china shop.

However, it’s really unfair of me to complain, feel sorry for myself, and scour the web for a Voodoo curse I can invoke because I didn’t secure the client—not when I didn’t even bother to ask the client for a response. I hadn’t even asked for the job!

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

As I learn more about marketing myself, I understand that I’ve been putting my best out there, but I haven’t been bold enough. I absolutely HATE selling anything, especially myself. I’m quite humble and introverted.

However, if I’m going to succeed and make the goal of my “why” a reality, I have to put the trepidation and timidity aside.

I should really be conveying a sense of confidence, urgency, and providing a CTA (call-to-action) — all of which are shown to provoke a response, more often than not.

I would certainly do this if I were writing sales copy for a client’s product or service, wouldn’t I?

Wouldn’t you?

It’s. No. Different.

Out with the Old, In with the New

I can’t tell you it will make a world of difference for you. What I can tell you is that I’ve started to receive more replies since I’ve incorporated the following changes to my closing paragraph.

Take a look at my old-school, vague, go-to closing example:

Again, thank you in advance for taking time from your schedule to review my qualifications. I hope to hear from you very soon.

Sincerely,

Renee Davis

 [yawn]

BEHOLD the new and improved closing example:

(I actually portray myself as if I really do have confidence, am in great demand and am worthy of a response!)

Again, thank you in advance for taking time from your schedule to review my qualifications. I hope to hear from you very soon. I plan to complete the proofreading of an article for Parents.com tomorrow. I will then have a nice block of time in my schedule to devote solely to you and your writing needs.

Can I look forward to a reply of how I can become a part of your extended team as your new copywriter, Nick?

Sincerely,

Renee Davis

[insert headshot and bio]

The second sentence not only conveys that I’m in demand, but lets the potential client know that in addition to copywriting, I also provide proofreading services. This could potentially lead to securing other types of work.

I’ve told the potential client I have time to devote solely to their needs. This is sure to thrill them, right?

Also, I’ve alluded to the fact that there’s a sense of urgency in filling the void in my schedule. Maybe this prompts the reader to respond and to respond a little faster? Additionally, I’m letting the reader know I am available to start immediately.

Pretty bold for a meekly-mouthed introvert, huh? I’m actually scaring myself!

Ask and Ye Shall Receive

Most importantly, I have confidently asked for the response, not simply hoped for one. Essentially, I’ve asked for the job. Note the psychology. I’ve again used the contact person’s name in an effort to suggest a connection.

I’m still my subtle self and have just really stuck a toe or two outside of my comfort zone.

Perhaps a less introverted self would write an even bolder closing question?

Maybe one day.

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words

Lastly, don’t forget your headshot and your bio. Most people like having a face to go along with a name. It also burns you into their memory. When I started adding this to my pitches, the response rate increased. I don’t have a fancy headshot, as I’m camera-shy and frugal. I just used my iPhone and positioned myself so that it didn’t scream SELFIE.

Don’t let not having a professional headshot keep you from adding this personalized, professional and response-provoking touch to your pitches.

Go for It!

So what are you waiting for? Go on out there and start pitchin’ like a boss.

Find out if being a virtual assistant is right for you with our mini-course

I hope you’ve found a few tweaks that you’d like to incorporate in your future pitches.

Ready to learn how to pitch like a pro and land those best-fit clients? Join The #FullyBookedVA System and let’s do it! 

How to Get Your Pitch NoticedEntrepreneur and former educator, Renee Davis is a wife, mother, and writer-for-hire. She is an indie author and owner of Scribalocity LLC. The native Floridian survives on caffeine and Christ and resides in the Sunshine State with her son, husband, Boston Terrier, and two chickens. A self-proclaimed beachaholic, Renee is most comfortable with sand between her toes and laptop in hand; however, she spends most of her time at her desktop, wordsmithing into the night —swimming only in coffee.

Photo source: Creative Commons via LeadPages

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Gina Horkey

Gina Horkey

FOUNDER & CO-OWNER

Gina Horkey is a married, millennial mama from Minnesota. Additionally, she’s the founder of Horkey HandBook and loves helping others find or become a kickass virtual assistant. Gina’s background includes making a living as a professional writer, an online business marketing consultant and a decade of experience in the financial services industry.

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