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A freelance career in the creative arts
A freelance career in the creative arts

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3 Pitching my idea

There are a number of reasons why you might need to pitch (‘sell’) your idea to individuals or organisations, such as when you are looking for financial support, bidding for work, or raising the profile of your product or service with potential customers.

Many people feel uncomfortable with the idea of pitching, afraid of putting themselves out there and being rejected, and this feeling could potentially be stronger in a creative individual who has invested very personally in a product or project.

Founding Chief Executive of Creative England Caroline Norbury (no date) explains:

When you participate or buy into (either financially or emotionally) a creative product; whether it is a piece of music, clothing, sculpture, a film, a game or a building, you don’t just buy the product, you buy into a story, a journey, a set of decisions that have been made about ideas, values and emotions the creator either wants to express or wants you to feel.

Although it might feel daunting to share your personal journey, it could actually work really well, allowing your USP to come across clearly and with passion.

Pitching can take place both formally and informally. You might give a presentation to potential funders (formal) or attend a networking event where you end up speaking to someone who could become a key supporter of your work (informal).

One type of informal pitch is the ‘elevator pitch’. You can find many resources online that discuss what an elevator pitch is and how to make a good one. You might like to find a few videos on YouTube to get an idea of the guidance given (here are some examples: video 1 [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] ; video 2; video 3).

Most elevator pitch advice will recommend keeping it brief, from 30 seconds to a minute in length. Although that might seem too short to include everything that’s great about your business, remember that this is an introduction, and if you can catch your listener’s attention, they will want to continue the conversation. That’s when you can expand and answer any of their questions.

You have already been thinking about some of the vital elements of your elevator pitch in other sections of this course, such as your unique selling point and your audience so now it’s time to have a go at putting them all together!

Activity 3 My elevator pitch

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes

Imagine you are pitching your idea, product or service to a potential funder, client or group of customers. What are the key messages you want to get across? Remember – you have two minutes maximum to get your message across.

You might find it useful to refer back to Activity 3 in Week 4 – the XYZ formula.

Write some notes, bullet points or even a script in the box below.

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Even if you aren’t yet ready or don’t need to pitch your idea on a more formal or public basis, practising it and refining it will be a really helpful exercise. As well as preparing you to talk about your idea whenever anyone asks you about it, you’ll find that being clear on what you’re doing and why will boost your own confidence.

If you’re pitching for investment or work on a specific project, you will usually have longer than two minutes to make your case. For example, you may be required to write a detailed funding application (you’ll find out more about that in Week 6) or give a presentation. There are some key things to think about when making a persuasive presentation. Watch this video from Expert Market for some useful advice.

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What story could you tell to promote your creative freelancing business?

When you’re pitching for work in a creative environment, for example as a graphic designer, Turner (2015) offers the following top tips:

  • Don’t hide your personality – clients like to see it and sometimes it will seal the deal.
  • Consider the relationship – you might need to adjust your pitch depending on how the relationship started, e.g. whether it was via a referral (they may not have met you) or through networking (you may already have started a conversation).
  • ‘Make ‘em sick, make ‘em well’ – Turner (2015) quotes this advice from Paramore Digital suggesting you should first tell your clients about the issues they have and then ‘cure’ those issues with your creative solutions.
  • Leave a fun, lasting impression – for example, you might leave a gift item with a relevant message or slogan on it. Try to be imaginative so you can stand out from the competition.

Now that you have an idea of what you want to say and how you want to say it, you need to look for opportunities to connect with your audience.