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What Agencies Really Want to Hear from Freelancers

Table of ContentsUpdated Mar 14, 2024

As an agency owner, my partner Lou and I have seen our fair share of pitches from freelancers over the years.

I’ll be honest – most of them end up in the trash pretty quickly.

But every now and then, a pitch comes along that pierces through our jaded, overly-pitched hearts and inspires us to take a closer look at the freelancer’s portfolio.

And in rare cases, we even invite them to join our team.

So, if you’re a freelancer looking to land more agency work, I’m here to share some insights and tips that I’ve learned from being on the receiving end of countless pitches.

Each pitch should include essentially 3 key elements:

  • Why Us?Β Why are you reaching out to our agency specifically?
  • Why You? Of all the freelancers we could hire, why should we work with you?
  • What’s Next?Β If we do like you, how do we move forward?

Let’s explore each of these in-depth:

Why Us?

Before you even think about hitting send on that pitch email, take the time to research the agency you’re targeting.

Visit their website, check out their social media profiles, and read through their case studies.

Try to get a feel for their unique style, values, and the types of clients they work with.

This will help you craft a personalized pitch that demonstrates your genuine interest in their work and how you align with their approach.

Ask yourself:

  • What do I love about this agency’s work?
  • How does their philosophy resonate with my own values and style?
  • Are there any specific projects or clients they’ve worked with that I find particularly compelling?

Use these insights to tailor your pitch and show that you’ve done your due diligence.

Why You?

Once you’ve established why you want to work with the agency, it’s time to highlight what makes you the perfect fit for them.

Focus on the value you bring to the table, not just your credentials or years of experience.

Consider emphasizing:

  • Your track record of meeting deadlines and delivering reliable work
  • The measurable results your work has achieved for previous clients
  • Your ability to be responsive and available when urgent requests come up
  • The exceptional quality and creativity of your work (let your portfolio do the talking)
  • Your deep understanding of the importance of client relationships and your commitment to creating designs that nurture those relationships
  • Your self-sufficiency and ability to produce top-notch work with minimal oversight
  • Your receptiveness to feedback and eagerness to collaborate and iterate based on the agency’s creative direction
  • Your enthusiasm for the agency’s distinct approach and your desire to contribute to their vision
  • Glowing references from past clients or colleagues who can vouch for your work ethic and team spirit

Remember, at this point, you’re still an unknown quantity to the agency.

Your mission is to show them how you can simplify their lives and contribute to their success.

What’s Next?

Let’s say you’ve managed to grab the agency’s attention with your killer pitch.

Now, make it ridiculously easy for them to take the next step.

Provide clear instructions on where they can view your portfolio or relevant work samples. Even better, create a personalized landing page or PDF tailored specifically to the agency to really wow them.

Then, suggest a concrete next step, like hopping on a phone call or grabbing coffee to discuss further.

Make yourself readily available and adaptable, showcasing your enthusiasm for working with them.

For example:

I would be over the moon to explore how I can contribute to [Agency Name]’s mission and work. If you’re open to discussing a potential collaboration, I’d love to set up a call at your earliest convenience. I’m available most weekdays between [Time Range]. Just let me know what works best for you, and I’ll make it happen.”


A Few More Pieces of Advice

If your pitch covers the three elements above, you’re going to be off to a great start. But here are some more pieces of advice that we think all freelancers should consider when sending pitches to agencies.

Don’t Sweat the Length

When it comes to pitching, many freelancers worry about the length of their email.

They think, “Oh no, it’s too long! They’ll never read it!”

But here’s the thing – as long as your email is engaging and easy to read, the length isn’t as important as you might think.

Focus on breaking up your pitch into digestible chunks, using short paragraphs, bullet points, and plenty of white space.

Make it visually appealing and scannable, so the agency owner can quickly grasp the key points without feeling overwhelmed.

Remember, if your pitch is compelling enough, they’ll keep reading – no matter the length.

Testing Email Length w/ Two Approaches

When it comes to pitching, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach.

What works for one agency might not work for another.

That’s why I recommend experimenting with two different strategies:

  1. The Two-Step:
    Send a brief, initial inquiry to gauge their interest. If they respond positively, follow up with a more detailed pitch that dives deeper into how you can help them achieve their goals.
  2. The All-In-One:
    Craft a comprehensive pitch right from the start, including all the key elements we’ve discussed – personalization, value proposition, and a clear call-to-action.

Test both approaches and see which one yields the best results for you.

You might find that certain agencies respond better to a more gradual approach, while others appreciate a thorough pitch upfront.

The key is to be flexible and adaptable in your pitching strategy.

Let Your Personality Shine

When you’re pitching to agencies, it’s easy to fall into the trap of using overly formal or generic language.

But here’s the secret – agency owners are people too, and they appreciate authenticity.

So don’t be afraid to let your personality shine through in your pitch.

Write in a warm, friendly tone that sounds like you.

Use humor (when appropriate), share personal anecdotes, and let your enthusiasm for their work come through genuinely.

Steer clear of clichΓ©d phrases or language that sounds like it was copied and pasted from a template.

The more you can showcase your unique voice and perspective, the more memorable and engaging your pitch will be.

Keep it Simple

When crafting your pitch, it’s tempting to want to showcase your vast vocabulary and industry expertise.

But resist the urge to pepper your email with jargon or overly complicated language.

Remember, the goal is to communicate clearly and effectively – not to impress them with your thesaurus skills.

Keep your language straightforward, concise, and easy to understand.

Avoid using fancy words just for the sake of it, and focus on getting your point across in the most direct way possible.

The agency owner should be able to read your pitch and immediately grasp who you are, what you offer, and why they should work with you – without needing a dictionary.

Pour Your Heart Into It

Crafting a pitch email can feel like a daunting task, but don’t approach it as just another item on your to-do list.

Pour your heart into it.

Take the time to really think about why you want to work with this particular agency, and what unique value you can bring to the table.

Let your passion for your work and your excitement about the potential collaboration come through in your words.

Infuse your pitch with personality, creativity, and a genuine desire to contribute to their success.

The more thoughtfulness and authenticity you put into your pitch, the more likely it is to resonate with the agency owner and stand out from the sea of generic pitches they receive.

At Some Point, Just Hit Send

It’s easy to fall into the trap of endless revisions and tweaks when crafting your pitch email.

You might find yourself agonizing over every word choice, second-guessing your tone, or wondering if you should add just one more example of your work.

But at some point, you’ve gotta take a deep breath and hit that send button.

Remember, your pitch doesn’t have to be perfect – it just has to be authentic, compelling, and clear in its value proposition.

Once you’ve put in the work to craft a strong pitch, trust in yourself and let it fly.

Don’t let the fear of rejection or the pursuit of perfection hold you back from putting yourself out there.

The more pitches you send, the more opportunities you create for yourself – and the more chances you have to refine and improve your approach based on the feedback you receive.

So hit send with confidence, and know that every pitch is a step towards landing that dream agency gig.

The Bottom Line

Landing agency work as a freelancer demands a targeted and personalized approach.

By doing your research, showcasing your value, and making it effortless for them to take the next step, you can dramatically improve your odds of success.

Remember, your pitch is a chance to showcase not only your skills but also your unique personality and passion.

So take the time to craft a persuasive message, and then hit send with confidence.

With persistence and a genuine approach, you’ll be well on your way to building thriving relationships with agencies and taking your freelance career to new heights.

I hope these insights from an agency owner’s perspective help you up your pitching game and land more of those coveted agency gigs.

Keep hustling, keep refining your approach, and most importantly – keep being your awesome, authentic self.

You’ve got this!

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Written by David Tendrich

Staff at

David Tendrich is the co-head of creative agency Unexpected Ways, as well as the co-founder of Reliable PSD: the first-ever PSD to HTML & PSD to Wordpress service run by designers, for designers. He co-runs his companies from Portland, Oregon with his lovely wife and biz partner, Lou Levit.

David's Articles

Reviewed & edited by Preston Lee, Editor at Millo.

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  1. This is great stuff, it’s always nice to hear an agency’s opinion an view.

    1. David Tendrich says:

      Awesome πŸ™‚ Glad you liked it

  2. Anni Wernicke says:

    Great tips, this will help as I continue to search for companies to work for. So far I have worked as an in-house designer or freelance for a variety of companies, but would like to branch into working for design agencies. I do have two questions.

    I am wondering about the ratio of offsite work vs needing to be able to work at a design agencies location.
    Is it still beneficial to send out promo packages?

    1. David Tendrich says:

      Hey Anni, glad you found this helpful πŸ™‚ Really appreciate you taking the time to say that.

      Sorry, I don’t quite follow your question. Would you mind re-phrasing?

      Thanks again,

  3. Liora Blum says:

    Very helpful advice and thanks for the list of good and bad, especially to hear it from the point of view of those who receive so many cold calls and emails.

    1. David Tendrich says:

      Hey Liora, so glad you found it helpful. Really appreciate your feedback πŸ™‚

  4. Fleur Augustinus says:

    is it reccomended to also put your hourly rate in the 1st mail? or first make them interested and then they will ask themselves?

    1. David Tendrich says:

      Make them interested, talk price later πŸ™‚

  5. Rhonda Page says:

    All good ideas. I hadn’t thought about it this way before. Thank you!

    1. David Tendrich says:

      Awesome πŸ™‚ So glad to hear that. Thanks for taking the time to share.

    1. David Tendrich says:

      Thanks, Minda. Hope it helped.

  6. Robbie Hyman says:

    Excellent article, David!

    I’m a freelancer myself, but I worked early in my career as a marketing manager for a few startups — and your post reminds me of the best pitch I ever received from a creative freelancer.

    The company was looking for a PowerPoint expert to help with executive and sales presentations, and as you’d expect pitch after pitch came in from applicants telling us how brilliant they were with PowerPoint. But one pitch came in as a PowerPoint presentation — using our company’s look and feel to create an original template.

    The words on this applicant’s slides were impressive as well, but that almost didn’t matter. This person had figured out that all we as the client cared about was whether or not she could add value to our company. And she did more than just tell us she could — she showed us.

    Great piece!

    1. David Tendrich says:

      Robbie, great story!! Love it.

      Thanks so much for sharing.

      So glad you stopped by πŸ™‚

  7. Great stuff David! Thanks for sharing.

    1. David Tendrich says:

      Thanks, John πŸ™‚ Means a lot