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The Mistake 75% of Freelancers Make on Their Pitch… And How to Fix It

What I’m going to tell you should seem like common sense. But you’d be surprised at how many freelancers make this huge mistake.

It’s a tip that could take your freelance income from hundreds of dollars to thousands every month. If you’re already making thousands of dollars from your freelance work, then you likely know what I’m about to share. That fine, it’s always good to have a reminder.

About two weeks ago, I posted an ad for a freelancer on For one my of sites, I wanted to compile a list of 100 websites and blogs in the subject area, along with their contact information. It’s straightforward work and not terribly difficult. The project does, however, take time and attention to detail.

Now you might think that I would just give this job to the lowest bidder. After all, it doesn’t take a lot of experience to search the web and copy email addresses into a spreadsheet.

But I — along with many other people who have experience hiring freelancers — rarely go with the lowest bidder. Time and again I’ve learned that you get what you pay for. What we are looking for is a signal that someone is interested in the project, can do the job, and cares about the end result.

This is where most freelancers go wrong. Not only do they not signal these qualities… they usually signal the exact opposite.

For this project, the vast majority of responses I received were canned replies that are spammed out as quickly as possible. It’s a shotgun approach. If they can get a job on 1% of the responses, it’s considered a success. Frankly, I’d be surprised if even 1% of these replies actually get a job:

(Note: Names blurred. I’m not trying to embarrass anyone, just prove a point.)

bad freelance pitch

bad freelance pitch 2

If you want to make serious freelance income, you can’t follow this approach. It’s a sure way to get your pitch ignored. The good news is that by taking the time to do a few simple things can make your pitch stand out instantly.

Here are some tips on standing out when crafting a freelance pitch:

1. Cut out the boilerplate responses
No, you don’t have to lovingly craft a hand-written note for every pitch you submit. But you do have to put some time and effort into your response. Be sure to mention the specific project and some of the details about it that you know. It’s glaringly obvious when a freelancer is blasting out responses that don’t even mention the actual project.

2. Do the job before you get the job
If it’s a small job, think about doing the job first, and then submitting a proposal. I once commissioned a freelancer to create a graphic, and I included all the details in the posting. One person actually created the perfect image and sent it to me in his pitch (with a watermark attached). That won me over instantly and it was the quickest money he ever made.

3. Care about what you’re doing
The biggest grind about freelancing is figuring out where your next job is coming from. I know that most freelancers would rather pull out their teeth with rusty pliers than have to write another unsuccessful pitch. You have to care about what you’re doing. I promise that when you care about your pitch, it shows through. And when it shows through, you’ll be more successful. Take the time to re-read that pitch. Make the effort to make your proposal stand out. It’s worth it in the long run.

Have more tips on making your freelance proposal stand out? Let us know in the comments below.

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