This blog post is the fifth in a series of eight adapted from a talk given at TOS-Con 2021. Learn more about TOS-Con here.
Craft Your Elevator Pitch
Many career coaches and professionals have a lot of different things to say about how you should build and deliver your elevator pitch, which is basically a brief sales pitch that you can deliver during an elevator ride with a potential client.
Of all the thoughts and suggestions I’ve heard on this topic, I’ve found Michael Zipursky’s the most helpful. Zipursky is a well-known consulting coach who offers a lot of valuable advice. He suggests formatting your elevator pitch this way:
“I help [a specific kind of client] to [do a specific thing] so that [they can achieve a specific goal]. Over the past [period of time], I’ve used [a specific process or strategy] to [achieve a specific result] in [a specific period of time].”
To make this format clearer, here’s the elevator pitch I use for the writing coaching side of my business:
I find aspiring writers who are serious and disciplined, and I help them practice the fundamental tenets of clear, persuasive writing so that they can stand out in a marketplace saturated with mediocre writers. Over the past eight years, I’ve used a proven six-week system to help more than 150 writers triple their income within six months.
This format works because it gives your prospective client a crystal-clear image of exactly what you can do for them—and they can receive that information in thirty seconds or less.
The pitching process varies widely by industry. Crash.co has some great general advice about how to pitch yourself to clients.
Get It in Writing
Every time! Draft a work agreement and customize it as needed for each client. Once you’ve got a client on board, do no work without a written agreement that clearly outlines the scope of work, due dates, pay, and other important policies. There are many pre-written work agreements for freelancers available online; these make good starting points. If your work is especially complicated or prone to litigation, pay a contract lawyer a few hundred bucks to write one for you.
In the next installment of this series, I’ll cover the 70/30 principle and the value of underpromising and over-delivering.