As a freelance writer, chances are you’re no stranger to pitching for work. After all, it is the bread and butter of our hustle.
But what about when it comes to pitching yourself in person?
Whether you’re rubbing elbows at a networking event or just talking with friends, do you know how to talk about what you do, the right way?
Enter the elevator pitch.
So, what the heck is an elevator pitch anyway?
In a nutshell, an elevator pitch, sometimes called an elevator speech, is a short (usually one minute or less) answer to the question “What do you do?”
My favorite example is to imagine that as you step into an elevator on the top floor and you’re suddenly face-to-face with your dream client. You only have until the elevator reaches the lobby to convince this dream client to take you on.
How, in just a short amount of time, can you best convey not only what you do, but why you’re the best person for the job?
What An Elevator Pitch Should Include
This type of speech should be short, succinct, and most of all, compelling.
To create the most efficient elevator pitch possible, be sure to include the following elements.
Define Your End Result
Who you are “pitching” to should dictate the contents of your speech. For example, is your desired outcome to network, land a job, or are you trying to explain what you do to friends or family?
I’d suggest crafting a few versions of your pitch that are geared towards different audiences, so you have something prepared, regardless of the situation you find yourself in.
While designed to be a short introduction, a strong elevator pitch should be detailed enough to explain precisely what you do and who you do it for, in as little time as possible.
Instead of answering “What do you do?” with a simple and nondescript “I’m a writer,” tell them what kind of writer you are.
For example, are you a copywriter or a technical writer? Do you primarily produce white pages or are you a fiction author?
The job description “writer” encompasses many types of writing so be sure to specify what your specialty is.
By being specific in your description, you come across as a niched-down professional, which is always a stronger position to come from than a wavering one such as, “I do a little bit of everything.”
If you’re not presenting this pitch to a potential client, being specific can also help invoke some confidence when talking about what you do to friends and family (more on that in a bit.)
Now it’s time to show just what you bring to the table.
Think about when you’re sending out written pitches. You always want to highlight your experience and your wins to the would-be client, right?
In this respect, an elevator pitch is no different. While no doubt a shortened version of a traditional pitch, you still want to convey the benefits you bring.
Aim to highlight problems your work solves, the progress you’ve helped clients make, or what sets you apart from other writers to help show the value of your work
Make it a Conversation
No one liked to be “talked at,” plain and simple. Remember that first and foremost, this is a conversation.
Try not to blurt out your first few lines then immediately switch the focus over to “What about you?” once you’ve explained your position (which is probably your first instinct).
The goal is to pique interest and elicit further questions about your work. You want your “audience” to be genuinely interested in you and what you do.
Include a Call to Action (Optional)
As with a written pitch, ending with a call to action is an excellent way to level-up.
If the person you’re speaking with is someone you’re interested in working with or networking with, be sure to leave an opportunity for further conversations.
For example, after the initial conversation, ask if it would be okay to contact them in the future to discuss projects or exactly how you can help their business down the line.
When To Use An Elevator Pitch
The beauty of this kind of speech is that it can be used almost anywhere and for many reasons.
I’ve used one in a store where I spoke with a manager and ended up landing a gig writing up a post for them. I’ve used it literally in an elevator with a co-worker while I was transitioning to freelancing full-time.
Elevator pitches can be a great tool not only for landing gigs but in everyday life too.
Have you ever found yourself struggling with talking about your writing work to friends or family? Having a well-fleshed out pitch can help.
Come holiday season, my pitch helped me explain my alternative work path to my family with clarity (and confidence.)
Using an elevator pitch can help you explain what you do with detail, confidence, and best of all, ease!
Tips for an Elevator Pitch
Break it Down
There’s no need to overthink your elevator pitch. Remember that this is a semi-informal way of introducing yourself and what you do.
While you may have an end goal of subtly selling yourself, think of it more as a conversation than a pitch to take some of the pressure off.
If you find yourself forgetting your “lines” just remember these three main points:
- What do you do?
- Who do you do it for?
- What are the benefits?
Grow Your Confidence
I get it, talking about yourself may not be your cup of tea, and that’s okay (and you’re not alone!). It can be even harder to talk about yourself and convey confidence in your craft at the same time.
Being confident is one of the biggest struggles among freelancers, especially when you’re just starting out. With time and experience, your confidence will grow.
Trust in the process.
If you’re new to freelancing or not-yet full-time with your business, it may feel extremely uncomfortable presenting yourself as a professional writer. Just starting out and introducing yourself as a writer can feel scary and even at times, fraudulent.
Note: That feeling has not completely gone away for me, not sure if it ever will, but that’s okay!
That feeling is called imposter-syndrome and is the absolute bane of any writers existence. Do not give in to it! Keep practicing your speech, and in no time it’ll feel like a casual conversation.
Practice, Out Loud
As with many things, practice makes perfect. In the case of elevator speeches, you’ll need more than a traditional read-through.
Practice giving your speech out loud as many times as you need until you feel comfortable giving it. Even better, enlist the help of a friend to act as your audience and give you feedback.
Overall, elevator pitches are a great way to grow your network, land jobs, and discuss your business with confidence. It takes a minimal amount of time and effort on your end but can pay off in spades.
What are you waiting for? Go pitch yourself!