As September begins, everyone is back at work, making it the ideal time to start reaching out and finding more publications to publish with. That makes it the share insight from expert freelancers who have made their livelihoods by knocking on doors and locking in clients.
In an online #FreelanceHacks discussion HackPack gathered Susana Mendoza and Chris Goldenbaum to share their advice on how to be more professional in your outreach to new clients and turn those potential leads into re-occurring commissions!
Here are the key lessons we learned:
Know your selling point
- Begin by identifying your key value propositions and then search for clients in those areas
Susana suggested that if you happen to be a native Spanish speaker in Lebanon. Reach out to all international departments of Spanish-speaking media!
Cold Calling. Where to start?
- Begin with identifying the right decision maker who could commission you. Keep a focus on job title — commissioning editor, international editor, etc.
- Start with the publication’s websites and shoot for a phone number or email
Susana believes calling is the best weapon. This allows you to provide an immediate expression, humanize the emails and receive insight into how the publication works. Plus responses are immediate.
What if you can’t identify the decision maker?
- If the right person isn’t readily available, search via LinkedIn to find someone working at the publication. Reach out to them via LinkedIn or whichever social media they tend to use.
- Or if you have a name but no social media accounts, use the publication’s email format to predict their email address, ie email@example.com
What do you include in that first message?
- Who you are, a few examples of your work and what you are specifically needing from them
- Ask them who the right person to speak with is and get their contacts
- It can take a long time to identify the decision maker, even longer to get a response. Don’t be thrown off, persevere!
- Provide value with every message. Two to 3 quality story pitches (that actually fit the publication). It will also encourage them to respond.
Chris: Just because your pitch matches the publication’s interests doesn’t mean it fits them— the editor may have a different focus. If the editor has an investigative journalism background while the owner is more of anactivist and supports the environment. YOu need to adjust for both of their interests.
Building a long-term relationship
- You did your first project, now what? Wait no more than 1 week until you start suggesting more projects and pitches.
- Ask them for the specific day they prefer to receive pitches. Send weekly.
- If you need a reason to follow up, ask for the link to the completed story and then see when they are interested in receiving pitches
- Demonstrate a desire for a long-term relationship, publications prefer to not have one-off projects
Who to Avoid
- Money. If the client seems to avoid discussing budget or negotiating the price, it probably means the amount is low and they want to get you committed before talking about the amount
- Exposure. If the client talks about their ‘future’ and where they are going and how it will be great ‘exposure’ for you…avoid them. That’s just a fancy way of saying, ‘our pay sucks’.
- Communication Style. How do they write emails, do they demonstrate politeness and concern (how are you, etc.) or are you the last of their concern?
You’re at an Impasse
- Communication isn’t going anywhere? Just go to their superior and get to the main decision maker. Avoid going to the news director first. They will likely just defer you to their minions. Sometimes it helps, sometimes it doesn’t.
Keywords for finding pitch requests
Social media can be a powerful tool to find the right decision makers. Here are a few suggestions to help you get started!
Twitter is great for finding pitches based on keywords. Try:
- Pitch / Pitches / Pitching
- Accepting pitches
- Accepting stories
Facebook on the other hand tends to be about finding the right active group. Take a look at:
Both groups are very active and you will find editors/producers posting jobs on a daily basis. What’s also cool about both groups is that they are very international, so it may also serve as a tool to connect with journalists from all around the globe and find useful resources that way. The main difference between the two is that “find a journalist” is more specific for journalistic jobs, while “Producers/Fixers” also involve professionals that are more active in the film, documentary industry.
Want more? Watch the entire discussion.
Or join us for the next #FreelanceHacks — Safety in 2020 and Beyond
One Tuesday per month, we gather 2–3 great experts to share specific ways that freelancers can grow professionally, care for their own safety and earn more revenues.
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