How to Write a Freelance Pitch for Writing

I’m a freelance writer and editor outside of my 9-5. I’ve been doing it for a few years now. I love freelancing because it gives me more opportunity to refine my writing skills. Part of freelancing, unlike a traditional job, is selling yourself over and over again. So I’ve had to construct a cover letter, or freelance pitch, to do so. Generally, I work off of a master template that I have written. It’s short. I kept it that way because I’ve hired freelancers to do work for me before and I didn’t bother to read the long cover letters I received. If you can’t keep it concise, I get the sense that you’re not a very skilled editor (I was looking for an editor for my first novel).

My freelance pitch front loads my credentials to show that I have formal writing education. If you don’t have formal writing education, no problem. Just start with your experience. If you have no experience, get on it. Start a blog and write on it regularly. I’ve landed a good amount of jobs because of my blog. Clients have told me numerous times that they visited my site and read my articles. You don’t have to be a pro blogger or even have many readers. All that matters is that you show consistency and you show that you can write.

After I’ve listed my formal writing education, I jump right into what I do for work. I’m an API technical writer and I highlight this because it shows that I write professionally. I also list my previous experience as a PI: “Previously, I was a private investigator for three firms in California and composed over 500 investigative reports.” I add this because it shows that I have research and analytical skills. It also shows that I handled quite a few cases on my own.

I end with a quick summary of my independent writing achievements: “I’ve also worked as an editorial intern for a news publication, written two fiction books, and maintain a personal blog.” This portion is important because it shows that I write even outside of getting paid! I write because I’m a writer – not always because someone is paying me to write.

Here are some more ideas that can help you pitch yourself for freelancing gigs:

Be picky about who you pitch to.

Just like everything else in life, not every client is a match -whether it’s to your skill level, communication methods, or the terms you will agree to – you’re going to have to be a bit picky going in to avoid burning yourself out. In my experience, I’ve had a lot more success sending cover letters for freelance jobs that I felt a connection to. For me, it’s not about sending out as many pitches as possible, but being selective. I read the tone of the job listing. Does this person seem reasonable in their communication and sense of timelines? Do they understand the value of writing or are they looking for filler that’s anything but Lorem Ipsum?

Tweak your pitch/cover letter master template. 

The whole point of the freelance pitch master template is not to throw it out to every job listing that exists on the Internet. It’s to serve as a starting point so that you’re not drawing a blank every time you go to pitch. You’ll save a lot of time by copy and pasting. Then look back at the job posting. What drew you to it? Are there other experiences and interests you have that are relevant to this job? List those. I once wrote 50,000 words for a French cat care website, and I got hired because I’m French and I’ve extensively volunteered with cats. I landed another job by professing my love for philosophy and art history to a Berkeley professor.

Manage your online presence.

If you don’t have one, start a blog. You will at the very least need a personal website, but a blog is better (for a writer!). Like I mentioned earlier, I’ve landed jobs because of my blog. I just toss in a link to a specific article I want potential clients to read. Write about whatever you want. I write on a wide range of topics including issues with the current workplace norms, my ideas about social media, creativity (we are all innately creative), and my writing process. Just show that writing is not just a job for you.

Honor your creativity.

If you’re obsessed with writing like I am, that incredible creature of creativity nags at you to get to your desk, chair, floor, and scribble or type something. It’s a lifelong relationship and I’m infatuated. And because I love writing, I treat it with respect, because I want the relationship to last. So I nurture my writing. I let her have her time. She wants to write an article about freelancing immediately after getting off of work? You bet I’m going to honor her and sit down and type like a furious court transcriber. She wants to write a cringy poem? Hell yeah, I’ll bring that to life. She wants to take a break and sulk about the wire-bound unpublished novel I stick by my desk? Okay, but not too long, there are many more words to get out of this head.

Your freelance pitch is just an introduction to you, so it’s best not to lean too heavily on it. Add your education, credentials, and any other information relevant to the specific job post, but keep it concise. People want to see the work. They want to see that you know how to write – and well.

I always sign off with my full name (because, Google me please) and my website. I encourage potential clients to see for themselves and not to rely on me saying “yeah I went to college and I’m a technical writer”.

If you’re just starting out (or have neglected to display yourself online as a writer), build yourself up. Create a trail of writing around you. Blog. Take an online course. Practice. Assume that rightful identity of writer.