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Is cold pitching worth it?

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When I went back to freelancing last fall, I spent my first month cold pitching. I had never tried this method when I was freelancing prior and wanted to give it a go right off the bat. And (spoiler alert) it got me nothing but maybe four rejection emails and a mostly empty inbox. 

What is cold pitching?

Cold pitching is when you reach out to a person or a company without having any prior connection to them. It’s kind of like applying to a job at a company that you don’t have any connections to — except in this case, there’s no job (or maybe no job that you’re aware of). You’re simply reaching out to see if someone needs help and is interested in working with you. 

The pros of cold pitching 

  • You’re putting your name and portfolio out there. You never know, someone might happen to be looking for a writer/designer/etc. or know someone who is and pass your info along. And if they’re not currently looking, they might be in the future and reach back out to you.

  • It can help you build confidence. Part of the reason I struggled with freelancing my first time was because the thought of cold pitching (or even warm pitching) terrified me. I was new enough into my career that I didn’t feel confident in my skills or know how to market myself. Even though nothing came of my cold pitching this time around, I will say that it helped me feel confident in talking about myself and also helped me face my fear of rejection, which has been a big hurdle of mine!

The cons of cold pitching

  • People may find your emails spammy. The unfortunate truth is that cold pitch emails have a reputation of sounding spammy. I've been on the receiving end of many of these, and I get it! It is helpful to use a template when sending cold pitches, but you also need to be personable. It's a fine line, and it's been frustrating when I've gone the extra mile to ultra-customize my cold pitch emails only to receive the “take us off your email list” response. No matter how you word things, some people will always look at these type of emails as spam.

  • Having no prior connection is a risk. I get it — everyone needs to start somewhere. But if you’re reaching out to somewhere who you have absolutely no connection with at all (not even a referral), that’s a risk. You don’t have anyone to back up your work ethic and your expertise.

  • It can easily make you feel defeated. While cold pitching can build confidence, even if you get nothing else from it, it can get discouraging and draining to put in so much effort to feel like you’re getting nowhere. I think cold pitching can easily burn you out if you let it or are relying on it as your main way of finding work. 

How do I find clients? 

I shifted to what’s called warm pitching. This is when you reach out and pitch your services to people you have a connection with. These people know me and are much more willing to consider working with me or remember me if something comes up. I’ve also gotten many referrals simply by putting my name out there to those I know, which has been great! (I’m hoping to do another post in the near future on tips for finding freelance work, so keep an eye out!)

So is cold pitching worth it? Personally, I wouldn’t start there or rely on that as your sole method of landing clients. Start first with the people you know — former coworkers, friends, family. If you have extra time, hit roadblocks, or have a specific company in mind you’d love to work with, then I think cold pitching might be worth implementing. 

If you’re a freelancer, what are your thoughts on cold pitching? Have you tried it? Connect with me on LinkedIn and let’s chat! I’d love to hear your thoughts!


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