• Advice

How freelance pros increase their response rate

So you’re looking for a new gig. You’ve shaken your network’s tree and seen what fruit falls. Now you’re sending out inquiry pitches left and right…

… and receiving very little response.

It’s hard to get a gig when you can’t even start a conversation, and it feels cruddy to shout into a void. So how do get your pitches noticed? How do you up your response percentage?

1. Be personal

Potential clients can smell a boilerplate pitch a mile off, and nothing is more off-putting than the whiff of a TO WHOM IT MAY CONCERN in what is, theoretically, a personalized message.

Make sure you’re addressing somebody specific; if you can’t figure out who that is, do some research. If you CANNOT find a specific human to address, make sure you’re at least contacting the person/department in charge of hiring. Keep your pitch personalized, and you’ll be far less likely to end up in a Spam/Trash folder.

If you have any contacts within the company or have a recommendation, further personalize a pitch by mentioning your contact right away (i.e. John Smith recommended I speak to you…). The name-drop, as inelegant as it may seem, can upgrade your pitch from blind outreach to friend-of-a-friend outreach.

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2. Be brief

Long pitches are a trial for most decision-makers; they’re often fielding multiple requests a day. They skim, rather than reading in depth. They want to know exactly what you’re offering… and fast.

Make sure that your pitch doesn’t end up categorized as a tl;dr. Keep content brief and to the point, and focused around the fundamental questions:

Who are you?
**What **are you offering / contacting them about?
Why is it important / unique?


**How **can they continue the conversation (contact information, your details, next steps, etc.)?

Add just enough information to whet their appetite; opt for quality instead of quantity when including samples. If you’re emailing, try to avoid attachments (they tend to set off Spam filters). If you can, hyperlink to any extra information (like a larger portfolio or website) or offer to provide more details in a longer conversation. Remember that a pitch is just the bait. It may take patience to reel in a potential client.

3. Make it easy

Imagine you’ve been offered a couple of bucks to take an online survey – tempting, but it’ll take a few minutes to complete. Odds are that you’re much, MUCH more likely to do it if it’s framed as low-effort, if it’s made as easy for you as possible. People like rewards… but they particularly like easy rewards.

Make pitches easy to understand. More importantly, make it ridiculously EASY for clients to take action.

Eliminate extra steps and minor snags – even the extra click of a mouse can cost you a potential client. Outline exactly how they can take action:

I’d love to discuss how you can break into this market; email me at to set up a meeting!

Look how many companies have achieved wild success simply by being the most user-friendly option! Be the Apple of freelancers; make it clean, simple, direct, and e-a-s-y for your clients to respond.

A certain percentage of pitches (especially blind pitches) will fly off into the ether, never to be heard from again. However, using these tricks will make your pitches MORE likely to get a response – and that starts a real conversation.

Kate Shea lives and works in New York City, where she consumes an inordinate amount of Sriracha daily. You can catch up with her on Twitter at @katerone.

Kate Shea Kate Shea lives and works in New York City, where she consumes an inordinate amount of Sriracha daily.