One of the biggest challenges in the freelancing industry is how to get work. Many newbie freelancers are usually quite excited to get into this industry but they soon become disheartened and discouraged when not enough work is working in.
However, what I have realized, especially this year, is that there are different ways to go about client acquisition.
Sure, we are all used to getting work from freelancing sites such as Upwork, PeoplePerHour, Fiverr and transcription sites such as Transcribeme, Gotranscript, Rev and the rest, but with a little creativity and willingness to get out of our comfort zone, we’ll discover that there is lots of work out there.
I actually got two clients via the Q and A site Quora this year. But that’s a story for another day.
Early in 2016, I started reading up on cold pitching. Cold pitching simply means approaching people (and this can be done via email or phone) and letting them know about the services you offer.
Freelance writers do this a lot but I personally believe not enough transcribers are taking advantage of cold pitching.
Unfortunately, I didn’t take action then, as I was working on another project. However, when Bamidele began his challenge: Earn Your First $1,000 As a Freelance Writer, I decided to go full throttle into cold pitching.
I sent a couple of emails (40 actually) and finally got a response.
I couldn’t help but blurt out, “Ajhule ala carte!” (which in French means, “I can’t believe this actually works!”) Seriously though, that was encouraging. I knew then that cold pitching was something I wanted to continue doing.
My target clients so far have been podcasters but you can target law professionals, and the clergy as well, especially those who post their video sermons online. Institutions for the deaf might need your services as well. You can type out audio lessons for them or caption their movies (videos).
How did I go about it though? Here are my cold pitching tips for transcriptionists.
Understand your potential client
Just because you are reaching out to strangers doesn’t mean that you send out random emails to anyone. That could see you fail terribly, not to mention your email ending up in the spam folder.
Find out as much information about your potential clients as you can.
Visit their website and social media pages to find out more about them. You can also glean, sort of, their personality when you do this.
Some of the clients out there are very vibrant and have a sunny disposition, so to speak, while others maintain a very business-like persona.
When you take note of such things, you then know the type of email you need to send, i.e, the corresponding tone.
Visiting their website, especially their About Us page, will also help you know who to specifically send that email to.
Since you want to be hired as their go-to transcriber, sending an email to the person in charge of advertising doesn’t make much sense. Instead, you want to send the email, for example, to the founder of the podcast.
Sometimes you will be hard pressed to find any email address and have to use the Contact Form in this case. More details below on the same.
Stand Out Via The Subject Line
With online professionals getting a gazillion emails every day, especially those whose websites have ranked well on Google, how do you ensure your email stands out?
There are several recommendations when it comes to which subject line to use.
From the psychologically teasing, “Do not open this email” to “Hoping to help” to my favorite which is “Hello Sandra,John, Derrick” etc. People love the mention of their names and they will be prompted to open your email due to this.
(See other yummy subject lines from Hubspot here)
However, do not make the mistake of having a boring introduction that will lead to them hitting the back button.
To avoid this, you can mention one of their podcasts that you found interesting or thought-provoking. That way, the prospective client will see that you had a real interest in their site.
I also realized that some prospects had no idea why transcription of their audios was important. So answer that question in your email. You can mention that Google bots aren’t able to crawl videos and podcasts and therefore text comes in handy in the growth of traffic.
Transcripts also provide a great user experience for their readers.
Seeing that the client has no clue who you are, apart from the social media profiles you have (hopefully) provided, how do you establish trust? How do you prove to the client that you are indeed a great transcriber who can save them time and money?
This is where your blog or freelancing accounts come in handy.
Include a link to your Upwork profile (or any other site that shows your reviews and portfolio). If you have a blog (which I recommend you have if you want to get seriously serious with your freelancing career) point your clients to your Hire Me page.
It’s not enough to say that you are a great transcriber who will be a good addition to their team. Show and prove that you are.
Use email miners
At times, you will find potential clients who have not provided their email addresses anywhere. Don’t turn back at that point as there are wonderful tools such as Hunter that can find emails addresses for you.
Hunter.io is a browser extension that will instantly help you find email addresses on most sites you visit.
It’s a great tool that will save you loads of time. There’s also a cool tool that does the same called Lusha.
Here is another tip that concerns cold pitching.
Most of the prospects you email will not reply to your email.
But that doesn’t mean that you should stop there. Following up is key.
It needs a certain kind of balance. Follow up too soon and you end up looking spammy. Follow up late and your email won’t have the same effect.
There are several schools of thought when it comes to following up. Some bloggers recommend you follow up after two weeks, while others, like Bamidelele, recommend a 3-7-7 formula: three, seven and seven days.
Others feel that following up after a week is ideal. I happen to be in this group. I usually follow up after a week, and send the last follow up email a week after that.
Second, keep in mind that a follow up isn’t a repeat of the previous email. That would be the shortest way to the spam folder.
Be courteous and let your client know that you had sent a proposal offering transcription services. Quote the email subject and date if possible.
In the follow-up email, ask your client to inform you if they don’t need the services. A fact in your face is better than waiting forever for a ship that will never reach harbor.
If they ask you to email them at a later date, set a sensible schedule. If they give you an estimate like “in a month”, don’t email them after 2 weeks or after 4 months.
Put On An Iron Vest!
Finally, a bitter fact…
In this cold pitching journey, you will be sure to meet some hostile people. Remember we’re approaching strangers and some of them might not even have an idea what transcription entails.
I actually received a hostile email from one client after sending one follow-up email. That stung a little bit!
Keep in mind that even after sending follow-up emails, you might never hear back from some prospects. Accept and move on 🙂
So yeah, cold pitching is easier said than done. It’s hard work but I find it thrilling!
I have sent tons of emails that were never answered. On the other hand, via cold pitching, I have signed up three clients.
It turned out to be well-worth it as these are all podcasters and therefore a long-term gig. Another thing I noticed is that some of these podcasters tend to have a backlog of work, i.e, previous podcasts that they would like transcribed.
The same thing can happen with Pastors that you pitch to.
The importance of a website to showcase your work is something I can’t downplay. Show your prospects that you are a good fit and that you should be their go-to transcriber.
As I said before, creating trust is quite hard between two strangers and a good portfolio comes in handy.
Therefore, what should you do?
I recommend you start your blog and use Hostgator as your hosting service. I have been their customer for the past four years and I can’t complain. Their prices are pocket-friendly as well, and I only pay $11.95 per month for hosting.
So go forth and start cold pitching!