Pitching to clients can be a nerve-wracking experience for new freelance designers. What should you include in your pitch? How should you present it? What’s the key to pitching successfully?
Pitching doesn’t have to be complicated. There are a few key things you can do to increase the chances of your pitches being successful and winning more freelance graphic design jobs. Let’s get straight into it:
- 1. Understand the purpose of the project
- 2. Create a winning presentation
- 3. Build a relationship with your point person
- 4. Preparation is key
- 5. Be confident in your pitch
Tip #1 — Understand the purpose of the project
To create an amazing pitch, you need to understand the purpose of the project that you’re pitching. This means doing your research beforehand and making sure you gather all necessary information during the discovery phase.
You should understand the technical particulars of the project, as well as why it’s being done. What purpose does the project serve for the client? What are they hoping to achieve with it?
Finding these things out before you start working on your pitch is vital to success.
Ask your prospective client questions about what they want. Even if they send you a full spec of the project they want you to pitch on, ask questions to get to the heart of what each feature or function serves.
The better your grasp on the client’s needs, the more likely you’ll be to come up with innovative and unique solutions for them. And that kind of thinking will set you apart from any other designers competing for the same project.
Tip #2 — Create a winning presentation
Whether you’re creating an actual presentation or simply putting together a proposal, you’ll need to make sure that you’re presenting the information that will actually sell a prospective client on hiring you. What goes into a winning pitch?
Your qualifications are important. But you need to frame them in a way that shows a client why your background and credentials will benefit them.
Let’s say you’re pitching a series of social media images. Rather than just stating that you’ve created a certain number of images or the companies you’ve worked for, talk about the engagement your images have gotten for other clients. Or if you’re designing an email template, discuss how previous templates you’ve created have performed. The key here is to show the client why your experience will benefit them.
If you’re creating an actual presentation, be sure to keep it short and to the point. Don’t overload your slides with too much information. Couple the presentation with a more in-depth proposal that covers the same information in more detail.
If you’re creating a written project proposal, be sure to include the same kinds of information. Emphasize your strengths and discuss how you’ll apply those strengths to benefit this particular client’s project.
⚠️ A word of caution:
Avoid creating design mockups for the specific project in your presentation or proposal. There are a few reasons for this, but the most important one is that you shouldn’t be working for a client for free. At most, you might create a very basic mood board for your vision for the project, but don’t invest more time than that without a contract in hand.
Another key reason not to create mockups this early in the process is that you don’t yet have all of the facts and data from the client about what they want and need. You might create a design that they love visually, but that doesn’t serve the purpose of the project. You may then face resistance when making changes to better accomplish project goals.
The opposite can also be true: they may feel like you don’t understand their project if your mockup doesn’t address all of the needs they have (even the ones they haven’t told you about).
Tip #3 — Build a relationship with your point person
It’s a good idea to find out who the point person is for the client as early as possible. This person can be your greatest ally in getting the client on board with your vision for the project.
Work on building a real relationship with this person.
That doesn’t mean sucking up or schmoozing. It means communicating about their thoughts, looking to them as a valuable source of information about what the client actually wants, and how you can best serve the project.
Your relationship with your client’s point person can make or break a project. Effective communication with this person can make the entire process run smoothly.
A relationship that’s strained or tense can do exactly the opposite. So make sure you set off on the right foot from the beginning.
Tip #4 — Preparation is key
Go into any design pitch meeting prepared. That doesn’t mean you have to rehearse your presentation in front of a mirror or go to great lengths to memorize your client’s entire history.
All it means is that you should have a firm grasp of what they’re looking for and what you can provide to them. Keep notes handy if you feel like you need to. That shows preparation and that you’re taking their project seriously.
Be prepared for questions that may arise about your background, skills, or vision for their project. You’re likely to get questions about how you’ll accomplish things, why you think a particular approach is best, or how your experience will help keep their project on time and on budget.
If you don’t know the answer to something, don’t be afraid to tell them that you don’t know, but assure them that you’ll find out and get the answer to them as soon as you can. And then follow through on that promise.
Tip #5 — Be confident in your pitch
Last but not least, it’s important that you portray confidence in your abilities and vision for the client. When you’re confident in what you can do for a client, it reassures them that you’re capable of what you say you can do.
Don’t be afraid to tout your accomplishments, to provide them with facts about your experience and past results, or to tell them why your approach to their project will work better than other approaches.
If you’re just starting out, confidence may not come easily to you. There are a few ways to come across as confident even if you’re not feeling it entirely.
First is making sure that you’re comfortable with the material that you’re pitching. If that means spending an extra hour preparing or even getting a friend to let you practice pitching to them, it’s worth it if it means landing the freelance project.
How to win the freelance graphic design job
The good news is that the more you pitch, the more confident you’ll likely get in doing so—especially as you land more clients with your pitches.
Remember that even a “failed” pitch isn’t personal. Clients hire freelance graphic designers for all kinds of reasons, and just because they didn’t hire you this time around doesn’t mean they won’t in the future or that the perfect client for you isn’t just around the corner.
Long-term success is about building relationships with potential clients, and how you handle the pitching process is an important building block of those relationships.
Practice your pitch today and start browsing freelance graphic design jobs on Dribbble. You’ve got this! ■
About the Author — Cameron Chapman: Editor. Blogger. Author. Designer. Copywriter. Marketer. Entrepreneur. Speaker. Consultant. Coach. I wear a lot of hats. What most of them have in common, though, is storytelling.