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How To Pitch For Freelance Copywriting Work In An Email

Updated on March 17, 2011

So you've heard on the grapevine that there could be a freelance copywriting job in the offing, but how do you get your foot in the door without your potential client thinking you a pushy so-and-so?

The answer:

1) Do your research and do it well

2) Work out how to sell to the decision-maker

3) A pitch-perfect introductory email

Research, research, research

Look upon this initial contact with a potential client as a part of the job itself (if you win the business you can sneakily cost in this additional time). You need to be performing to the best of your writing abilities and proving conclusively your ability to write compelling copy by getting a 100% response rate to your speculative email.

Obviously - find out the name of the person who makes the decisions and their email address. No point writing to an info@ address.

Now look for clues - you need to find an 'in' with this decision-maker. Glean as much information as you can from the contact who gave you the heads-up on this potential job. Read the company's website closely. Check how their website is performing on Google.

Establish your target audience

Ask yourself:

  • Who is the person I'm writing to? What's their method of doing business - formal, approachable? Is this their money on the line or do they just need to impress the boss?
  • What are their responsibilities? What do they want from me - web traffic, conversions, user engagement?
  • How big is the company? What kind of budget might they have to spend on this?
  • What is (or should be) their brand tone of voice? How can I emulate this in my approach?
  • Can I see evidence of the involvement of pro copywriters already or are they likely to need persuading of my value?
  • What 'quick wins' can I tempt them with?

Blow them away with a pitch-perfect mail

Please. Spell their name correctly. Spell their company's name correctly. Your spelling and grammar should be perfect throughout, but then you knew that already, right?

Make sure you send your mail from a business email account. is not likely to impress. Even if you don't have the readies for a website, a domain name with hosted email is less than the price of a beer.

You need to prove your copywriting chops in the email itself so tone of voice is all important. By all means be businesslike, but reflect their brand's tone (or the tone you believe they should have). Keep it fresh - avoid cliche. And keep it short. Don't lay all your goodies out for them to sift through at their leisure, make them want to call you - urgently!

How do you do this? Demonstrate your potential value. You have information that they need. You have methods of which they can only dream. Dangle success and money carrots in front of them. Of course, you'll need to be able to follow through on your claims when the job comes in... but that's up to you.

Here's a speculative email I put together today which received an immediate positive response:

Hi xxxx,
Xxxxx passed your details on to me and mentioned that you were looking for some assistance with the copy on your website.
I've done some initial research on your site:
The site copy is working well on a purely SEO basis, but I feel that you could perhaps be missing out on conversions. As you will know, copy for the internet must strike the delicate balance between feeding keywords to search engines and exciting a positive response from a human audience! A move towards sharper, sales focused copy would pay dividends in the long-term.
I understand that Xxxxx is in the process of a redesign. This is the ideal time to revamp the copy, preserving the aspects that work on your current site yet ramping up the stickiness.
You may understandably be reluctant to leap in with both feet with a new supplier, so I've identified a few 'quick wins' that would push up your traffic from organic search and pull in additional sales. I've costed these at £xxx. If you're interested, I'd be happy to explain in more detail.
You can see a list of my clients here:

I wouldn't recommend coping this straight, as it was written with a specific person in mind. I found a bunch of videos online of him discussing his business, so I was able to get a fairly well-rounded idea of his preoccupations and formulate a tone of voice that would appeal to him directly. Notice that I went in with a small ask initially - the tantalising prospect of some 'quick wins'. He came back with a brief for an entire rewrite of the site and regular newsletter work. Nice.

Hope this helps someone get a foot in the door with some new clients. It'd be great to hear from you about your pitching experiences. Perhaps you have other successful ideas? 


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