Day 6: Develop Your Elevator Pitch

The idea behind an elevator pitch is simple: if you were riding in an elevator with your ideal client, could you explain what you do and how you can benefit your client before he gets off at the next floor? Now, I don’t recommend riding elevators just in case a prospective client is headed to the third floor, but having an elevator pitch can serve other purposes.

Elevator Pitches and USPs

We’ve already discussed unique selling propositions, which seem pretty similar to elevator pitches, at least on the surface. The biggest difference is the length of your elevator pitch: it’s important to be able to explain what you do in a very short amount of time, but many USPs can be lengthy propositions. Furthermore, an elevator pitch focuses on what you can do for a client, rather than what you do. That shift is crucial to your ability to market yourself.

So, start with your USP and try to put yourself in your client’s shoes. What would you want to hear if you were in the market for a freelance writer? Would you want to hear about readership, what a blog might do for your website, why one writer is better than another? Building a good elevator pitch starts out with brainstorming these follow ups to your USP.

Paring Down to What’s Important

Once you’ve got several ideas on what your value is to a prospective client, it’s time to craft the best of those ideas into a statement that can actually get a client interested in learning more. While there are a variety of ways to put together a successful statement, I’ve found that keeping it down to one or two sentences on what you can do for a client and how you do it is enough. A blogger for a retail site, for instance, might go with something along the lines of the following:

I keep your customers interested in your site in between purchases, by creating blog posts that highlight products. It’s cheaper than advertising even half as often.

In well under a minute, this hypothetical blogger can explain just what she does, far beyond saying that she’s a freelance writer. Both are definitely true statements, but one is far more likely to get a potential client interested. When a client isn’t necessarily looking to work with a freelance writer, such a specific description of what you can do can still help you find opportunities — maybe a prospect is looking to improve her marketing and your pitch can demonstrate your value to marketing pretty quickly.

Using Your Elevator Pitch

Once you’ve got a clear, concise statement on just what you do and why it’s worthwhile to a client, there are several places that it will be useful. Sure, you can make use of it the next time you’re riding an elevator, but it’s going to come in handy in other venues, as well.

  • Networking events, conferences, etc.: You probably attend at least a few events where you hand out business cards like candy, in an effort to connect. Your quick pitch can provide a fast introduction — and give your new contacts an incentive to follow up on your business card whether or not they think they’re in the market for a writer. If you’ve got something on your business card, like a tag line, that reflects your pitch, you’ll make that follow up easier.
  • Marketing materials: Incorporating elements of your pitch into your website, business cards and other marketing materials can be very important as you work on setting yourself apart from the many freelance writers also marketing themselves these days. If your website just announces your availability for freelance writing, it may not interest a client looking for more specific help. After all, freelance writing can cover a wide variety of services.
  • Sources: If you focus more on writing articles for magazines and other publications, having a solid pitch may look a little different than for other types of freelance writing — but it’s still important. You can still use your pitch to connect with editors and publishers every chance you get, but it can also be an opening line for a conversation with a potential source. Being very clear about what you write about can get a contact to suggest story ideas that you might not expect.

Got your elevator pitch ready to test out? Share it in the comments and get some feedback on it.

Just joining us? Check out where we started with Setting Your Goals!


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  3. Jennifer Halloran   •  

    Just catching up on your previous posts (hazards of a long holiday weekend) and just have to say “bravo”! This is really great info and, thus far, one of the best “how to launch your freelance biz” primers I’ve seen. Thanks for making it available.

    Since you asked for feedback in an earlier post, here goes — very well laid out, easy to read, contains the appropriate amount of depth into each topic without overwhelming the reader. (Do I sense an eBook in your future?) 😉

    As for desired topics — client attraction/retention is always a hot one. Also, any tips you have for streamlining the estimating and billing processes would be greatly appreciated.

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  5. thursday   •     Author

    @Jennifer, Thanks for your comments. I am thinking about an ebook in the near future — we’ll see how it goes! I’ll definitely have some information on client attraction and retention in the near future. On Saturday, I’ll post some information about how I handle estimating and billing!

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