How Do I Send a Truly Effective Cold Pitch?

Ah, the cold email. It’s a blessing, but also a curse. It’s such a devilish thing, either leaving you whooping with joy with a new client, or sobbing quietly because no one even so much as replied.

The cold email. What are your secrets?

How Do I Send a Truly Effective Cold Pitch?

Cold pitching to score clients can be inherently ineffective.

The first thing you need to grasp about using cold pitching to score clients is it is inherently ineffective. My best attempts usually only get 4 replies for every 10 emails, and the replies I do get aren’t guaranteed to be successful client acquisitions.

But when you’re sending out 10 emails a day, 4 days a week, the effectiveness starts to make itself known. Eventually, you start attracting interest.

All of this is for naught, however, if you’re sending out bum emails. You can send hundreds of cold pitches a day, but it’s all a waste of time if you don’t do it properly. We’re going to change that.

There are, in my opinion, only four main parts of this whole cold pitching business worth worrying about. These parts being the Recipient, the Subject Line, the Email, and the Follow Up.

It’s time to put your learning caps on, kiddos.

Part 1: The Recipient

The Mistake:

If you’re new to the cold emailing game, or you don’t know any better, you’ve probably been sending your emails to this first email address you can find, usually something like [email protected] or [email protected].

You want your pitch to get to the decision maker – the one who’s going to want to hear from you. You’re not going to get much attention by sending emails to the general email address.

The second thing most people fail to realize when it comes to recipients is that they are not born equal. Meaning you can’t just spam whatever company you come across.

The Fix:

As a freelance writer you want to talk to the person who makes decisions about working with freelancers, or the person in charge of content. In a small business, this is the owner. Otherwise, it’s the head of marketing.

Scout the company website to find out who the decision-maker is and if their email address is listed. If it’s not, use a badass tool like Email Hunter to find it.

But more importantly, you should only be emailing companies who might actually use your services. Snoop through their website and social media, checking to see what kind of written content they use.

If a company seems to be in need of your services, great. But if they don’t then you’re probably wasting your time emailing them.


Part 2: The Subject Line

The Mistake:

Subject lines are what decides if your email gets opened or not, so you can’t screw this up. If you’re using a spammy subject line, or one promising wild success if they hire you, you’re doing it wrong.

The Fix:

Be honest, be clear, and be direct. My most effective subject line has always been, “You guys in need of a kickass writer?”

I don’t need to trick them into opening my email, because based on the techniques I shared with you in Part 1 I already know they could use some written content, and they probably know that themselves.

I know they probably need a writer, I realize they probably know this themselves, and so all I need to do is be direct. If your target actually needs your services, the subject line is easy.


Part 3: The Pitch Email

The Mistake:

This is where most people screw up. Understandable, but easily avoidable.

You cannot, I repeat, cannot send the same cold email to everyone.

Not only is this kind of spam emailing incredibly ineffective, it’s also immediately apparent to whoever reads it.

But the most crucial thing about cold pitching is to be a fricken human. Don’t, under any circumstances, go into ‘sleazy salesman’ mode. That sucks big time.

It’s time to learn how to write a good damn email.

The Fix:

Start off by greeting them by their name, not with “To whom it may concern,” or some other rubbish. That’s just weak cheese. Treat them like a person!

Then briefly mention (max of two short sentences) how you found their website, as well as delivering an honest compliment about their business. Hey, there’s no harm in buttering them up.

Now it’s time to get basic.

Instead of starting your sales pitch, just talk to them. You’re a person and they’re a person. Just talk. Tell them what you do and how you could help them. Be cool, man!

After that it’s time for a killer Call to Action. Still being a human, tell them to get back to you if they’re interested. That’s all that’s needed. Without a CTA, though, the odds of them replying are slim.

An email like this usually works well:

Hi Daniel,

I found your website when I was trying to find out more information about wet shaving. I have to say, your FAQ pages were really descriptive and helped me out a lot. 

While I was browsing your website and store (cool web design by the way) I saw you guys had a blog. That’s awesome! I couldn’t help but notice though that it’s a bit low on content, which kinda sucks. I write blog posts for companies like yours all the time and I’d be happy to lend a hand.

You seem like a pretty cool dude, and I’d be psyched to work with you and your company. 

If you’re interested in doing epic things together be sure to get back to me. Stay awesome!


[Insert Email Signature]

You see what I did there? I was human. You can be too!

Part 4: The Follow Up

The Mistake:

It’s all well and good to send the best cold email of all time, but if you ignore a basic human fact it’s not going to mean much. The fact in question? People forget, people get distracted, and people miss things.

If you don’t follow up with every single email you send out then you’re making a major mistake. People forget to reply, people get distracted too quickly, or they just miss your email in their inbox. It happens.

And if you’re not following up every time then you’re not accounting for this. A big no-no!

The Fix:

The amount of replies I get only after having sent a follow up email is proof of a person’s inability to focus on everything all at once. Don’t rely on your emails getting seen. You have to make them be seen!

My follow up emails look something like this:

Hey Daniel,

I sent you an email last week about your company and how I think we could work together on some cool stuff. If you’re interested be sure to get back to me soon.

Stay awesome, and thanks for giving me the time. 🙂


[Insert Email Signature] 

It’s as simple as that!

The #1 Takeaway?

Don’t send out spam, because not only is that not cool, it doesn’t get you clients.

Find companies who could honestly use your services, email the right person, talk to them like they’re your neighbor, remind them, and before you know it cold emailing will actually become worth it.

Cold emailing – it’s easier than you think.

Damien du Preez is a freelance writer. He operates out of Cape Town, South Africa and you can follow him on Twitter as @DamienJDP for some sage wisdom and plenty of swearing.

Leave a Reply


Thank you, Damien, for helping me realize that I’ve been making the cold email part of my client acquisition process so much harder than it should be. I used to panic about what I would say and would stick to a template that didn’t do very well. It’s about time I mixed things up a bit. Thank you as well for lifting my spirits!Reply to Lisa
Hi Damien, I was wondering and searching out different websites for some cold pitching stuff. Now, I think I got something beyond my needs. This post is very informative and helpful for cold pitching. Thank you for help!Reply to Waqas
Am a newbie looking for all sort of information regarding cold pitching and this will surely help! Thanks.Reply to Norman
Hi Damien, I just loved that informative and helpful, actionable post on cold pitching. Know what? I have not yet got my hands on cold calling prospects, not a single time. I’m not sure about the companies that I should cold pitch to. I write about health & wellness, lifestyle, and travels. But I don’t know about the health and wellness brands or travel business. Can you give me a couple of companies names and how to pitch them? Thanks for such an amazing source of help to all of us freelancer writers.Reply to Taseer
Thank you for these great tips, Damien! I’ve been cold pitching since December (of 2016) and I’ve never had much success. I now know what I was doing wrong and will fix my mistakes for future cold emails. Thank you so much for your help!Reply to Lisa
Thanks for this Damien. It was really helpful.Reply to Irene
Hi Damien: Thanks so much for your helpful tips on cold pitching! I applied your tips to a pitch I made to two different companies this week and they both replied pretty quickly with a “yes”. You’re right about following up part too. That’s a key step.Reply to Rosemary
Great post, Damien! I can see now why my cold pitches haven’t hit the mark in the past so I’ll definitely be putting these tips into action.Reply to Sally
Damien, What a great post with actionable tips. I haven’t done much cold pitching, but when I do I’ll be sure to follow your tips. Thanks!Reply to Elna
Wah! What a great piece there. I’m sure will succeed in cold pitching if I follow these tips. ThanksReply to Grace
Damien du Preez Thanks for the compliment, Elna, and I’m glad you found it useful! Always a pleasure to work with you on Freelancer FAQ’s. 🙂Reply to Damien