Advanced Freelancing

Learn more about freelancing and owning your business and your time from six-figure freelancer Laura Briggs.
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Feb 10, 2020

It's rare that I find someone else whose advice on freelancing I really trust. But that's not the case for my guest today. Because it's very easy to take and trust her advice. My guest today is Abbi Perets. She wants moms to know you don’t have to choose between kids and career.

She's the coach and mentor moms turn to when they're looking to break into freelance writing and earn great money from home on their own terms. She combines nearly 20 years of experience freelancing for some of the world's biggest companies with first hand knowledge, having five kids of her own, including one with special needs.

She understands the unique challenges moms face every day and has created programs specifically tailored to meet those challenges and empower moms all over the world to have it all. And importantly, we talk in this episode all about how to send great pitches, some of the mistakes that people make when pitching, and how you can avoid those mistakes.

Welcome back, everyone to another episode of the Advanced Freelancing Podcast.

My guest today is one of the few people that I would trust with giving you freelance advice. The list of people I do not trust is way longer. But I am so excited to have Abbi here on the show because she really knows what she's doing. She gives authentic advice. And she's helped a lot of other freelancers, specifically writers, grow their business.

I often feel like people ask me, “Oh, have you worked with so and so? What do you think about this person's courses?” And I feel like all too often I'm saying run away. It's so nice to have a couple of people that I actually do trust. So if somebody asked me advice, I'm happy to be like, “Oh, yeah, you need to go learn email sequences from this person.” It's so awesome to be able to have you on the show. We have a lot in common. We think the same with a lot about business stuff, but I'd love for you to give us a brief introduction, who you are, and what you do right now.

All About Abbi

She runs Successful Freelance Mom. And she is a mom of five kids, including one with special needs. She has worked as a freelance writer for 20 plus years. And today, she still does freelance writing work. And that's something that's really important to her. She still does the work with clients. So she’s not talking about theory that she learned in that work 20 years ago.

Today, she teaches moms how to get started in freelance writing. And she has a couple of courses that are very general on how to get started in freelance writing. Then some of that are very specific and geared towards doing a specific offering a specific service, email sequences to course creators, and she loves it. She loves every second of it.

Abbi hit on something that's one of my pet peeves too. 

And that is somebody who freelanced once 10 years ago or sold one project on Upwork. It's not that they don't have valuable information to share. But I do question whether that's relevant.  We could like just make this like 30 minutes on what we don't like about other people. But I hate to seem that negative, but it's true. 

Because what happens is, and Abbi probably sees this with a lot of her core students, by the time someone comes to you, they might have already looked at or purchased something from someone else and been disappointed and it they’re jaded.

It crushes me because they're very concerned about working with anyone else again. They have these beliefs or ideas about how things should be or have to be because they heard it from somebody else.  And then it didn't work for them. So there's such a mindset thing, especially when you start about all the confidence that it takes and fake it till you make it and being damaged by one person.

My advice...keep looking.

I guess my advice on that would just be that you purchased a product a software worked with somebody, bought their course, bought their ebook, and didn't love it, so keep looking. That person is not the only authority. I would even say that if you bought something of mine and it didn't resonate with you, go find somebody else who teaches that might be able to help you. I just think it's so important that listeners know that because that's always been one of my big things, too.

I don't feel like I can authentically talk about what it means to freelance today, if I'm not at least doing that. I have several clients, right. It's so cool that Abbi has it set up the same way. And I definitely want to talk about email sequences. But what we're hoping to focus on in this episode is pitching.

I'm sure Abbi has seen it. I've seen it. Our clients have seen it. So many pitches are terrible and awful. The sad thing is you can avoid almost all of this. So I asked Abbi to talk about a top two or three things that she sees people doing over and over again that are just wrong. We’re talking wrong on the level of, “Yeah, don't even send the pitch. If you're doing this, just wait until you've got it refined.”

“Hi. I’m a freelance writer.”

Abbi thinks that a thing that someone teaches on the internet that is wrong, is do not start your pitch with “Hi, I'm Abbi and I'm a freelance writer.”  Because guess what, we know who you are. Because it's 2020, she has email, and it says your name right up there! And you probably say in your subject line something about whatever it is that they're looking for in a writer. You don't need to waste anyone’s time. 

She thinks that a lot of people don't realize how much email some of these editors get in an hour, forget about a day. Literally hundreds of emails. They don't have that eight seconds that you've stolen it from them. And in pure resentment, they're just going to

click “Delete”.

That's it. Exactly. And especially if you're pitching on a platform like Upwork, where the client is soliciting a writer or a graphic designer, it's obvious that if you're replying to the post, you do that thing. So you don't need to recap it.

“I’m really good at it.”

The other one that drives me crazy is when people say, “I'm a good freelance writer. I'm really good at it.”   I would hope so. Because you shouldn't be in business if you're mediocre or bad. People still put it in there. You should only say things like, “I've been doing this for five years.” if there's some specific reason that the five years really matters.  Because it's not enough!

Abbi is right about people having such a limited attention span. And if you put the good stuff about you at the bottom of the email, they’re never gonna get there. They're just going to delete it right away and you lost your chance with that editor or with that potential client. So that's definitely a good one. I totally agree with that.

Track your email.

Then this is a little admin thing surrounding the pitching, but Abbi always tells her students to track the email that they're sending. And she does this. She did this with everything. First of all, if she’s sending an email to her husband, she wants to know that he opened it and read it so that he can't tell her late, “Oh, I know I was supposed to do that.” Yeah, you did. Because you read the email, cookie. So I saw you open it six times at work.

Track everything you sent. Because if you see that people are opening your email and you're never getting response, something about your pitch is not resonating with them. They're not giving you a chance.

On the other hand, if you see that it's being opened multiple times, and especially in different locations, then you can tell a pitch is being forwarded around the office, being discussed, maybe in working meetings, that kind of thing. That's a great time to follow up and say, “Are there any Additional questions I can answer for you?”

So just an admin thing around emails. It gives you a sense of how your pitch is being received. And if it's being opened at all, if it's being open and never read again, or if it's being open multiple times. Track your email.

Getting flagged as spam.

That's so good!  Because there's so much information you can get from that. And you don't want to wait until you've sent 40 or 50 pitches and aren't getting any responses. Because I've even seen freelancers who are sending pitches, and for whatever reason, there's something about their email address that's getting them flagged as spam.

So it's not that the pitch is bad, but seeing that in the tracking that no one is even opening it. That tells you that there's something wrong there. Maybe your email address doesn't seem professional enough, or it's reading like a solicitation and the spam filter is catching it. So there's a chance to fix some stuff there.

Email Tracking Software

I know that HubSpot allows you to track up to 200 notifications. So I think that's every time someone opens an email per month for free. I know about mail track as another tracking tool. What do you recommend that freelancers use for tracking?

Abbi has been using Streak which is a free Google Chrome extension. It works with Gmail. And so Streak has a paid version. You don't need the paid version. The paid version is for really a team of people who are doing multiple project management type tasks. The free version is unlimited in how many emails you can track per month and whatever. And it is robust!

So for Abbi, it works exceptionally well.  She uses it herself. And she recommends it to her students.  She loves it.  And there's nothing like Mailtrack. She thinks it puts those little track my mail check at the bottom of every message. So Streak has nothing like that. It's not infallible, but nothing is and it's really, really good for what you need. I can't think of any use case for a freelance writer where  this wouldn't be a good fit.

That makes a lot of sense because I agree. I installed Mailtrack to try it and it drove me crazy. I felt like it was buggy and it put at the bottom of every email that it was being tracked.  Sometimes you don't necessarily want your prospective clients or current clients knowing that you're tracking your email or their email.

It's nice to have that as a secret tool in your arsenal to be like, “Hey, John Smith opened my email 21 times. This is the perfect time for me to write a custom follow up because obviously, there's something about it that got his attention.” But you don't really want to show all your cards with that. So I love that idea. It's so simple to do. It probably does not add any more than a handful of minutes to your pitching process.

A basic misconception.

I think another misconception that people have and we'll talk about this later is that it's as simple as sending a pitch and a client opens your email, reads it, writes back, and goes, “Sure send me the contract. Let's do thousands of dollars of work together.” A lot of the business is in the follow up.  You're setting yourself up for success with that.

Follow up from day one by tracking it just makes it so much easier for you. I see people have these complicated spreadsheets that show when they contacted people. You don't need all that. Use the free version of Streak, get all the benefits of it, and don't add more stuff on your plate. So that's great.

Abbi would also say, if you're not using Gmail, there's so many great tools built right in. They've even got this new, little nudge feature. If you sent an email a couple of days ago, and you haven't had a reply, it'll pop it back into your inbox and say, “Hey, you didn't get a reply to this. Do you want to do anything with that?” So I wouldn't necessarily take Google's advice every single time and immediately send a follow up three days later, but I do love the snooze feature, for example. So she will often snooze that and say, “Hey, remind me again 10 days from now.” Because that's the point where she does want to follow up and she does want to take a look.

Is your email address unprofessional?

So again, on the admin side, we talked about your email address might be coming off as unprofessional or getting flagged as spam. If it's an address, It's definitely getting flagged as spam. If it's a address, it's 100% getting flagged as spam. It is 2020, get your own domain name and get a personal email address.

It's not that expensive. I feel like Google charges $6 a month for that. I know I just put one of my websites on the year long plan with Squarespace. And it was one of the bonuses that came with that. A year of professional email. So at the bare minimum, you should be using something @gmail. com, you can probably get away with that if you don't want to deal with the hassle yet or not ready to invest. But it's such a small and easy thing to do to get that or

Even if you don't have the full website setup yet, you can still leverage that email address.  It comes across a lot more professional because we've all received those annoying emails. Usually it's from SEO services. At least that's who targets me. And it's so obvious that it's a poorly written pitch. I mean, it starts with Dear Sir every time. Which I'm just like, “No, that's not accurate.” But you don't want to come across like those people. You don't want to be the fly by night, template pitch that has no rationalization to it. So try to stand out! Little things like your email address can make a big difference. They really, really can.

And that's going to bring Abbi to her next point. 

I mentioned these things that feel like templated pitches. So she’s all in favor of templates and systems and processes that save you time. But they shouldn't ever feel like templates and processes and systems that you created to make your life easier and to not really care about your clients.

So she has a couple of  rules for business or rules for life or just things that she lives by core values. Don't lie. Don't send an email you'd be embarrassed to show people in your real life. These are basic things to Abbi, but a lot of people don't bother to follow them. So if you are a person who follows them, you will stand out.

One of the things that she thinks about a lot and that she talks about a lot is that you should genuinely care about your clients and the people who you work with. You should really care about them. And you should think of them in a sense, as your friends. Yes, you want to have a professional relationship with them, but you should think of them as people whose well being you care about, whose time you want to protect. So don't send them crap that you'd be embarrassed to show people in your real life when you're emailing someone. 

Put some effort into it.

Even if it's a pitch, and even if you are using a template, put some effort and thought into it. She uses, for example, a tool called a TextExpander tool. There are different versions of this. The one that she uses is literally a $4.99 one time fee app. And it makes her life so much better because she can say of all of these templated responses that she can call up with just a keystroke or two, but then she always goes in and personalizes them.

So the part that doesn't change is the service that she offers. Every single client who she works with gets the same offer, because that's the service that she offers. So it's an email sequence, it costs this much, and if you want a sales page, it's this much. But what she’s pitching to them, why she’s reaching out to this particular client, that's going to be the part where she’s going to put in that personalization.

Be honest.

And she finds that it's most effective, again, if you're honest. If you actually looked at their website, and there was something about it that spoke to you and made you say, “Wow, I want to work with this person.” Or if you're on Upwork, or a site like that, and you see a posting, what made you apply to that posting? And please don't tell me it's that they're offering a lot of money. That's not a good reason. There should be something beyond that that is pushing you to reach out to this specific client and not that one. So talk about that.

And don't be afraid to let some of that passion come through. She thinks it makes pitching much more enjoyable for you as the person who's writing the pitch. And it certainly makes the person who opens it and reads it feel much more engaged with you if you're starting off by saying, “Wow, I looked at your website and your involvement with this organization, or the way you're approaching this, or the people you're serving…” Whatever it is, talk about the pizza thing that jumped out at you and got you excited.

Absolutely. There's way too much generalization in some pitches. And it always surprises me, especially when I see that in responses to an Upwork gig. Because you're competing against other people there. If you're cold pitching somebody, they might have other freelancers that are cold pitching them, but most likely not at the same time as you sent your message on LinkedIn or your email.

Use personalization.

But when you're on Upwork, it's essential to have some level of personalization and a lot of times people will say, “Well, how do I know what that is? I can't see the client’s name. They didn't include their link or Upwork won’t allow them to do it.” Look for the clues that the client has left you in the job description if they are hiring a virtual assistant and it says, “I'm looking for someone who's super organized and a great communicator.”

That's the personalization you put into the pitch. Not saying, “I'm a great virtual assistant.” Lead with, what it is about your communication.  Is it a feedback comment from a previous client that said you were the best communicator they'd ever interacted with? Is it the fact that your organization spills over into your personal life and your friends are envious of your closet? Share things that speak to that level of personalization even when you don't have a ton of information.

I think it is an important sticking point that comes up a lot with beginners as well. It's easy for more experienced freelancers to pitch. They've got all of this background, past clients, testimonials, and referrals. If I knew, what the heck do I say in my pitch so that it's honest, like you mentioned, but not making promises that aren't true or not giving away necessarily, “Hey, you might be the first client I'm ever going to work with. How do you get a that in a pitch?

Confidence is key.

Abbi is definitely a huge fan of honesty. So she would never say you should claim to have experience that you don't have. But she also doesn’t think that you need to open with, “I've never done this before.” So you want to strike a balance.  One of the sentences that she loves, and she wants to give credit where it's due, her friend Lauren Golden uses this sentence and teaches this sentence, and that's, “I'm confident that I can do this for you. I'm confident that I can do this thing that you need for you.”

Tell them the process.

If you make your pitch about the outcome, that you're going to deliver the results that you're going to give your client, then you're driving that conversation. So it's not going to be about samples, clips, and experience. It's going to be about what you are going to do for them. Sometimes it can be very helpful to talk about the process you're going to follow to get the work done. You might say something like:

“Hey, if we work together, we're going to start off with a kickoff call. That'll be about 45 minutes. Here's what I'm going to ask you on that call. Here's the information, I'm going to need to see from you. After that, it'll be about a 10 day turnaround time for me to do the work. During that time, I'll update you every other day by email, or I'll work in a shared google doc.”

Whatever it is, talk about your process that makes you sound like you know what you're talking about. You have a process, you're laying it out for them, and you're making it really easy for them. Your clients don't necessarily know how this project is going to run. Because just like it might be the first time you're doing it, it might also be the first time they're outsourcing like this.

So if you step up, and you say, “Hey, this is how this will work.” You take a lot of pressure off them. Think about it like this. If you're going to renovate your kitchen and you hire a contractor to come and renovate your kitchen, you’ve probably never renovated the kitchen before. So hopefully you hire a contractor who's perhaps done this once or twice, but every contractor has to start somewhere. So maybe this is that. But if he tells you, “Hey, okay, on Tuesday, we're going to come and we're going to demo. You're not going to have cabinets or counters or whatever. It's going to take two weeks after we measure for the things to be built and made. Two weeks later, you're going to have wood boxes in your kitchen. And then I'm going to come three days after that and do the countertop.” At least you have some sense of what's happening. Even if he's never done this before, and it's his first time and it's your first time, you feel a little bit more confidence in the process.

Abbi thinks it's also okay to say to a client, again she wouldn't open with this, but she thinks it's okay to in your discussion, say, “Hey, I'm still nailing down my process on this, which is why I'm going to slightly discount this project or, which is why I'm doing this for x amount of money, when in the future, I plan to charge this much.” I think that that's an okay thing to say, when you're starting out if you really want the work, you really want this particular client, and you feel like this is your end.

Telling the client the process adds accountability.

I love all of those ideas. And I especially like explaining what the process is going to be like for the client. Because the other thing that's great about that, if you're just starting out, you've kind of set up your own loose accountability there by saying, “”Okay, we're going to start with the kickoff call.” So if I get this project, I need to be organized for that kickoff call. How am I going to block my schedule for that 10 day delivery period to make sure that I meet the deadline and the process that I've already presented to the client? I think clarity helps a lot. And clients want to be thinking about that end process of where you can take them. I love the idea of saying that I'm confident I can do this.

Talk about your experience.

Another one that I recommend is saying, especially if you have past experience, even if not freelance related, “I rely on my blah, blah, blah degree in web design to help my freelance clients.” or “I rely on my five years of experience working as a nonprofit to now serve in a consultant role.” So that's absolutely true. If it's accurate for you because you are relying on that experience. That's the passion and the interest in the background that potentially brought you to the type of freelance work you're doing today.

So I completely agree. Do not lie. Do not say these are the kinds of results I get for my clients if you don't have any results yet. You don't need to say things like that. Of course, when you get to the more experienced freelancer point, you absolutely want to start adding those things into your pitches. Great comments and feedback from clients, amazing results, big name clients you've worked with. But please don't feel as a beginner like you have no chance if those things are missing from your pitch.

Because I think you're just relying on a little bit different approach. But that doesn't mean it's not valid. And you have to think about the fact every freelancer started with no experience. So many people have found a way to break in and they are just a couple of steps ahead of you. That's really important to keep in mind.

So two things...

One is you might be new to freelancing, but you have a lot of other experience. Abbi said she can't tell you how many students she’s had who come to her and say, “I have two doctorates, and I've been the president of Uganda for seven years. Do you think I'm qualified?” She said she’s like, “Yeah, I feel like you can probably handle writing. Yes, I feel like you will be okay.”

So don't discount the 10 years of corporate experience that you have in any writing work or freelance work that you've done.   Anything that you've done in your past that relates to what you're trying to do now, counts.  It matters. It's real experience. Every Freelancer starts somewhere right? Everybody has a first project.

She loves to tell her students it's not only does every freelancer have a first project, every brain surgeon in the entire world has to at some point, picked up a scalpel and sliced into someone's brain for the first time. And she feels like not to belittle what we do by any means. But she feels like brain surgery is just a little more complex than most freelance writing projects.

My goodness, Abbi just gave me a flashback.

In my husband's third or fourth year of medical school, he rotated with a surgeon.  And the guy was more than ready to throw him into gastric surgeries with no experience.   My husband was like, “Yes, I've been trained to do this. I understand the theory of it. I know what that process should be. “ But he's like that first time that he goes, “Okay, you tie this up.  You close this out and you do the sutures.” 

Everybody gets over that hurdle, no matter what your line of business or your passion is.  So keep that in mind.  Continuing to push yourself and get over those hurdles, especially as you expand your business too.   Me and Abbi have both had the first time we coaced somebody, the first course we created, which by the way, mine sucked.   So it’s going to be okay. However, if the first thing you create, the first thing you do, the first pitch you write, is maybe not a home run, that's okay. Because sometimes I think it's about that confidence of sending it out.

Sometimes I hear especially from freelance writers that they're like, ”I'm going to take the next five to six months to write.“ And I'm like, “No, you're good. Like you don't need to spend six months workshopping this.” Sometimes it's just about maybe you don't send that first pitch to your dream client. But getting over that hurdle is so, so important.

Following up.

So let's talk about following up because this is really where your pitch can go from an email that happened to get read to now we're talking about potentially closing a deal. A lot of freelancers often ask me and I give them the answer that they hate, which is it depends if there is a specific formula for following up. I think there are loose guidelines around when and how you follow up.  So I was curious about Abbi’s thoughts on “you've sent the pitch, we tracked it, we see it's being opened, it's possibly being forwarded around” what now? 

Abbi says follow up is so critically important.

She follows Ilise Benun of Marketing Mentor. got it. And she did a podcast episode or an email or something about how somebody was trying to get on her podcast. Abbi had emailed her multiple times. And she said, “I feel like she probably thinks she's bothering me, but I happen to know I'm really busy and every time she emails I'm like, Yes, I meant to go and look up her stuff and I haven't had time yet. If she keeps following up, she's going to get booked in that slot.”

So we write all these stories in our heads about how they must have hated it or they would have replied, but the reality is people are busy. They're spending far less time thinking about you than you think they are. No one cares about you very much. So the act of following up is really important in and of itself.

How and when do you follow up?

So how and when Abbi typically advises to follow up is if after two weeks if you've seen that that email has been opened multiple times, it's a good time to follow up. But how do you follow up? Abbi doesn’t forward the old email. Don't do that. To her, that's weird. She would do a new email with a new subject.  You can even say following up, put a dsah, and then your original subject line. And that's something that she likes to do personally.

And then, “Hey, I wanted to follow up with you. I'm sure you're busy. Here's how I can help you…” Hit the high points. Here's how I can help you be less busy. And here's how I can take some of this load off of you. I want you to think for a second about the one behind the one. There's the thing that business owners say like, “I need social media management, right”. But what they mean is “I need more clients. I need more money.” That's what they actually want. So speak to that want behind what they actually want to get from this relationship. I can help you grow your business, I can help you whatever it is that you're offering to do for them. Hit the high points and make it super easy for them to get back to you.

It's not, “Hey, you can call me at this number.” Nobody wants to pick up the phone anymore. Put a calendar link right in there and make it super easy for them, click here, book a time with me, I will be happy to take care of everything for you and give you all the answers you need. Take this project off your hands, get it done, and get it delivered. You can even say something like, “I'm currently booking work for whatever next week, two months from now…” Whatever it is that you're trying to project in your business that can sometimes push people into that response.

If your email hasn’t even been opened.

Abbi thinks that if you've seen that an email hasn't even been opened and it's been two weeks, then she would definitely send it with a completely different subject line because it wasn't ever opened. So ignore that first subject line.  It either wasn't interesting enough to them or it never made it to the inbox or they have a lot of email and things get lost. Whatever. forget about it. Come up with a new subject line, something that you feel might hook them in and get them to open your email. You can use the same text of the email if you want to, although I would read it over to make sure that there's nothing in there that's getting it filtered into spam. Just give it a once over.

And if you see that something was opened once and then never opened again, it still could be worth a single follow up. In that case, I would kind of make a note to yourself that this is the last chance for this guy because you feel like he's not interested.  And it’s fine that not everybody is going to be interested in you. And that's okay, too.

Make the follow up different than your original email.

I love all of that. And one of the things that I really want to hone in on, which is what you talked about, is this idea of making the follow up be a little bit different than your original email.  Not forwarding the same email and not saying, “Hey, again, here's my website with my samples.”  Remember, these people are busy. If they didn't look at your samples from the first time around, or even if they did, they don't want to see that again. So you're getting into the psychology of it all right? Who is this person?  They're busy, but obviously there's a need and a want here because they opened my email five times. So how can I hit home with that? 

Another place where people get stuck a lot is the multiple follow ups.

And I think that's important to do. Because sometimes you will hear from clients that you haven't heard from in weeks, months, sometimes even years.  And they will appear out of nowhere. Even if you've never worked with them.

There was someone that I wrote a proposal for, that they didn't accept, but they forwarded my name to somebody else who contacted me out of the blue. Because I had kept following up on the proposal that they never signed and went for. So I like to think of it as you're opening all these doors, then leave them open for as long as it makes sense.

Don't do the follow up of like, “Hey, just following up on this.” That's appropriate if they have a proposal or a contract that is pending a signature. Then you can be that directive, like, “Hey, I just want to make sure my invoice gets paid, that you saw this contract and scope before you agree with it.”  But make it more personal. When you're still at the pitch level or you're trying to get them on a call or something like that. I think a lot of people kind of miss that.

Creeper status.

Now, after the first couple outreach efforts, I get a little bit of creeper status going so I will start googling the company and the person I'm emailing. I will look for articles or new studies that came out that were relevant to their business. And I will say something like, “Hey, I came across this article on email marketing, and how the ROI on it is, blah, blah, blah, dollars for every blah, blah, blah dollar you spend. I instantly thought of you because I know I've sent you previous information about email marketing and I really feel like for your audience segment. It could be key.”

If the CEO was recently received an award or was featured in an article, use that as your follow up like, “Hey, I saw this. This is super cool. It's part of why I'm so pumped to potentially work with you.” So make it a little more personal. I think that every client and potential client hates when people say, “Hey, following up.” or  “Hey, checking in on this.” over and over and over again.  Because you're making it all too easy for them to just say, “No, not right now.” There's no incentive for them to take any action based on those kinds of statements. So you want to prompt them. This is what you're missing if you don't work with me, “Hey, I'm really passionate about your company or you or your industry.” Something that's personal that makes them go, “Man, if we are gonna outsource it, it's gonna be to this freelancer because their follow up game is solid.”

Abbi shared that if you want to go an extra step, send a video pitch. 

This is something a lot of people are going to hear this and be like, “I'm not doing that.” But Abbi encourages you to think about it. She has students who have had an enormous amount of success with video pitches. They will literally use Loom, again free Google Chrome extension that’s super easy to use. Even if you've never used it, you can be up and running in 45 seconds, because you're a human with a brain.

You go to their website and you can talk about them and like, “Oh, my gosh, I love this stuff about you.” Or you could take that article and say, “I'm reading this article, and I'm just thinking about you. This line in particular really speaks to me and reminds me of your company, because XYZ.”

Number one, not everybody is sending video pitches. Number two, it is clear that you made this effort specifically for that client. It catches their attention.  And Loom loads things so nicely with this preview right in the email. People are like, “Huh, what's that?” And they click and you don't want to go on for 17 minutes. But if you do like a two- three minute video, that's something that has a real impact. And you get a notification when they've watched it. So another nice tool for “Oh, hey, they watch this.” You know you are going to stand out in their mind.

We're writers, because we're introverts and whatever. Get over it. They're not looking at it to judge your makeup or whatever. They care much more about themselves. So take the time, make this little video pitch because it makes such a difference.

I can't even tell you how many clients I've landed, or at least opened the lines of communication, because I sent a one or two second video.  It's really your chance to show that you're a human too. You're not just a taskmaster who does projects and turns them in. You're a human being. And you have a personality. You care about their business.

I also worked with an online business manager for about two years. And it was from an Upwork pitch. But she went one step beyond to Google my name and made me the two minute video that says, “Hey, I went and looked at your website and as your OBM here, the three things that I would change that I don't think are working as well as they could.” No one else even spent the five minutes today to check out who I was and where I probably needed the most help. And so that led to a two year contract for her.

Make it personal.

So anytime I can do something that's a little bit personal like the video, going that little one step beyond the follow up.  Another one of my favorite follow ups is pitch the person then connect with them on LinkedIn. I did this yesterday.  And I was pitching a speaking gig. I wrote the custom pitch to the conference organizer. Five minutes after sending it, I sent a connection request on LinkedIn.

And said, I like to add a note section connecting I said, “Hi there, I'd love to connect with you because blah, blah, blah.” But then I put at the end, “Also, I just sent you an email on 2029 friends. Looking forward to connecting.” And because people still tend to check their LinkedIn, which might not always be 100% true on email, that's another great way to follow up or keep that conversation going or ground somebody whose email inbox is bogged down to go searching for your name.

Add a note to connection requests.

Abbi loves that I sent a personal message with my LinkedIn request. Because sometimes you can get dozens if not hundreds a day. And when they don't have a personal message, she’s not necessarily going to bother to approve them. Because she doesn’t know who you are. She doesn't know anything about you. And she doesn’t know if you're a good connection for her.  She’s very selective with her LinkedIn connections. Because when she puts out content on LinkedIn, she wants it to be showing to people who actually may engage with that content.

So if it's somebody who has taken the time to write her something personal, she will almost always accept them even if they're outside of that immediate market. She thinks, “Okay, this person made the effort and told me why they wanted to connect with me. Sure.” But if you don't bother to do that, then you are missing out on a chance to connect with people.

I leave my connections for the longest time in purgatory on LinkedIn if I can't figure out who they are and what they do.  This is especially true if you don't send the note. Also, your tagline on LinkedIn is extremely big.  Someone the other day tried to connect with me and their tagline was “Making dreams come true.” And I thought, what does that mean?  And what industry are you in?

Some of the people that I connect with, not just connects with, but gets right back to them immediately, are those who are like, “Hey, I saw your TEDx talk.  I loved Episode 90 of your podcast.” It's like, “Oh, yeah, this person actually knows who I am. They're not just randomly clicking people you might know and adding connections for whatever reason.”

So if we think like that, I guarantee you marketing managers and busy entrepreneurs think like that, too. So it doesn't even have to be related to the service that you pitch. It may be you saw them deliver an amazing keynote and you comment on like, “Hey, you really killed it on that stage. You did an amazing job.” You're much more likely to open that line of conversation and communication. So I think that's so important and underutilized.

Abbi has also had students of her who will sign up for her free email course, they'll like her Facebook page, they'll join her group, and then on LinkedIn, the message will be something like, “I swear, I'm not a stalker.” So you know, it took five seconds to write that. It made her laugh. And she gets it. She knows you want to follow her in these spaces. That's totally cool with her. She is there for it. She’ll even reply to something like that like, “Haha, I don't think you're a stalker. It's awesome. So glad to connect.  Let me know if you're finding everything you need.” And now we have a conversation going so. So there are definitely ways that you can do that and it's such an easy way to stand out from the crowd.

Just give them a nudge.

So to close things out, because I feel like we could talk for hours, say you're in the process of following up, you've suggested the call, and they haven't taken it. Do you have any tips for how to nudge that person into getting them on the phone? Because I feel like that's where so much business is done. How do you nudge that person without being annoying? How could it be most effective at sort of prompting them into that action step of the phone call?

Abbi would definitely start with her calendar link. And if that hasn't been clicked on, if that hasn't resulted in the follow up, then she might, in her next follow up, propose two times. She would say, “Hey, I'd love to get this on the calendar. Would Tuesday at 3:00 or Wednesday at 10:00 be better for you?” Then if one of those works, then she'll send that calendar invite.

There is no foolproof system.

It is a little bit tricky there. She doesn’t have a great foolproof system. And she doesn’t think there is a foolproof system for every situation. For example, her calendar link is linked to a zoom call. Which is a great little setup, but some people may be intimidated by the calendar link in general and by the idea of Zoom. So maybe make it a little bit easier. “Would it be easier for you if I called you at 10am on Wednesday?”

Think about the person.  If you're speaking to someone of a certain age, they may be less comfortable with some of the technology. And if you're speaking to someone who's not in a technology field, they may not be comfortable. Another thing that she ran into was some corporate clients can't access some of those zoom things on a corporate network. So be cognizant of that and say, “How can I do this? How can I make this easier for you?”

I love that and giving them a reason to take the phone call, even if it doesn't end up going further with business. Maybe there's a question they have around content marketing, or maybe you have a couple of recommendations that aren't giving away the farm, but allow you to get some of your insight in there, and really get them to see you as an expert.

So when people are busy, there has to be a reason for the phone call. Your link cannot be a 45 minute thing that you're scheduling. Keep it to 15 to 20 minutes if they're definitely interested. And they've written back saying, “Yeah, we really need someone to help with XYZ service.” You can expand it to 30 minutes. But you want to watch your time too so that you're not giving away too much and it's not leading to business. But definitely give them a reason for that phone call to make sense.

Get them thinking.

Right now we're in q1, a lot of companies have met and decided their budgets for the year. That might be a good opportunity to be like, “Hey, I'd love to hear about your content marketing and traffic goals or email newsletter goals to close out quarter one and kickoff q2 strong.” That gets them thinking about it.

And If you've hit the right employee or that's on their list of things to achieve, there's more of a chance that they're at least willing to talk to you, especially if it makes them look good if you're going to give them a tip or if you're going to propose an easy solution. You may say, “Hey, your email newsletter is not converting, I know because I'm a customer and these were the problems I encountered with it.” They're much more likely to hire you. And you also can make that employee look good when they go to their boss and say, “Hey, I've got some excellent feedback on how we can improve this. And I found the professional who can help us to accomplish that and knock it out and start seeing better numbers.” 

More Abbi later.

I love it. This is not the last Abbi will hear of me because I have so many things to pick her brain about. We're definitely going to try to have her come to a live training in my facebook group specifically about email sequences.  Iit is kind of in the freelance writing world like writing emails for other people.

Abbi’s Facebook Group is amazing. 

Another one of my pet peeves with the online world is Facebook groups where, especially writers, love to pile on each other or critique other people's rates or be negative or write comments like “You'll never achieve your dreams.” Abbi’s Facebook group is not like that.

I also strive for that to not be my Facebook either. But I would if you're a writer, even if you're experienced, I would strongly recommend joining her facebook group because it's a very supportive community and people write actionable tips in response to questions.  They don’t write supervague, like, “Hey, I can offer you a phone call.” You're going to get good answers to your questions.

Thanks for tuning in for another episode of the advanced freelancing podcast. For more freelance advice, get a copy of my book Start Your Own Freelance Writing Business—available now! Buy it from Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, and more.

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