Freelancers’ Guide to Crafting the Perfect Elevator Pitch

When someone asks what you do, what do you say?

Most of us go for an uncommitted one word answer, or stumble when describing what we do – and this is a major missed opportunity.

If you don’t have a short, concise and natural-sounding pitch memorised, on the tip of your tongue and waiting to go, then you will be missing out on work and money.

Every freelancer should take the time to develop a short elevator pitch that clearly and concisely explains how you improve your clients’ lives.

In this article, we’ll look at how you can create your own effective elevator pitch for your freelance business. So let’s get started!

What is an Elevator Pitch?

In short, an elevator pitch, or an elevator speech, is a sentence or two long summary of your business. You can use it to quickly but effectively present what you do.

Many people think of formal networking events when they hear the term ‘elevator pitch’ but the truth is, if you create a good, natural sounding one, you will use it all of the time.

But let’s just quickly go through some stats – there have been reported 4.2 billion social media users at the start of 2021, and by spending almost seven hours per day, on average, the amount of content we consume on a daily basis is skyrocketing.

So it’s no wonder our attention spans are shrinking – now down to apparently just 8 seconds.

The harsh fact is that in today’s online world, you have 8 seconds at most to capture your viewer’s interest and get them to engage more deeply with you.

Whether it’s in person, on your website or on social media, you need to capture people’s attention, and you need to do it fast.

Why Do You Need An Elevator Pitch?

There are some obvious reasons why having an elevator pitch up your sleeve is a very good idea – such as when you’re introducing yourself to new people, reaching out to potential clients, or pitching yourself to be a guest on a podcast.

But there are now countless other places where an elevator pitch can come in really handy.

Think of your social media bios, your email signature, even your business card. Your elevator pitch can go on all of these.

This also touches on branding. You want to be consistent in how you present yourself across all platforms and mediums. This will help people to remember you, and to remember how you can help them.

So, to be able to successfully get yourself and your business out there, and get more exposure, you need to know how to craft the perfect elevator pitch.

But also, you need to be able to answer the simple ‘what do you do’ question with a professional, memorable answer, no matter who is asking you. In the freelancing world, opportunities can come from the most unexpected places, so you should always have an open mind and an elevator pitch ready for action.

Say you’re at a co-working space, or even a wedding, and someone you don’t know asks you what do you do – which answer sounds more interesting:

  1. I’m a copywriter.
  2. I write website content designed to turn more readers into customers.

The first option feels like you’re just another copywriter, whatever that means. It closes the conversation down.

But the second answer is much more engaging, and makes the other party want to know more. It hooks them with a story and opens a conversation.

5 Steps to Create the Perfect Elevator Pitch Based on a Storytelling Framework

Now you know why you would want one, it’s time to create your own.

It’s really easy to procrastinate with this and put it off. But do it now, it will only take you 15 minutes, but it can be a huge step forward for your freelance business.

You might feel like everything else on your to-do list is more important, or be afraid of putting yourself into a box – so you never do it.

There are many ‘perfect elevator pitch formulas’ a quick Google away. They can break the process down into steps making the process seem less intimidating.

The framework that I personally like and use is what Donald Miller calls a story pitch. This framework works great because it is based on storytelling and the in-built love of story that all humans have.

Donald explains much more about story pitch in his recent book ‘Business Made Simple‘, which is well worth a read and is jam-packed with simple but sound business advice like this.

1. Define the Problem You Help Your Clients Solve

Every service and product on the market is a solution to a problem.

Your services are not exception to that. As Donald Miller says, everything you sell is a ‘medicine’, and you need to work out the ‘pain’ that you are easing.

To do that, it pays to know your target audience well – better than they know themselves. That’s why market research is so important.

You can do some of your own market research relatively easily online. Go on Facebook or LinkedIn groups, or anywhere your target audience hangs out, and explain that you’re doing some research.

You can create a short survey on Google Forms or Typeform (the free version is enough for this), that won’t take them more than a couple of minutes to fill in and will give you some good insights. Ask questions that help you to define your audience’s problems and pain points.

You can also use this as a way to generate some leads. Offer a freebie in return, like a free website copy audit, for example. That will motivate more people to fill in your survey, while at the same time getting them into your funnel – so it’s a double win.

Once you have some answers, take a look at them and see what people are struggling with and how your services can serve as the solution to that pain.

You know you have defined the problem when you can unambiguously answer the question:

What specific problem does your business/service/product solve?

2. Agitate the Problem – How Does it Make Your Audience Feel?

Once you have a problem, you want to poke it a bit. Don’t go too far, but you want to be able to engage your audience’s imaginations and get them to understand that there is a real problem that needs solving.

To do this, you need to answer the question:

How does the problem (defined in the first step) make people feel?

If you don’t spell this out, they won’t see the real value of your solution. 

You might think this is unnecessary, as you have already defined the problem.

But remember, we are using the storytelling here, and for it to work like we want it to, we need to involve feelings and empathy. You need to get your audience to actually think about what you’re saying.

3. Position Your Business/Service/Product as the Solution

Now it’s time to show how you solve the problem we’ve set up with your services.

So you need to answer the question:

How is your business/service/product positioned to solve the problem?

If you have defined your core service, then this should be an easy thing to do.

Here’s an example, going back to our copywriter who specialises in website copy.

The problem your client might have is they are not generating sales through their website.

So your copywriting service is the solution to that – you write website copy that uses marketing principles to help websites convert better.

4. The Happy Ending

For the same reason you needed to agitate the problem, you need to finish your story pitch with a nice resolution – the happy ending.

In this part you explain what happens after your services have come to the rescue. Spell out the happy ending your services create.

To write the happy ending to your pitch, you need to answer the questions:

After the problem is solved, how does it make your audience feel? What do their lives look like now the problem has been overcome?

5. Putting it all together

When you’ve been through the steps described above, it’s time to put it all together. You can use this framework to create as long or short a pitch as you need.

I find it’s easier to start by writing a full paragraph. You can even use this paragraph on your website or in places where you have a bit more space.

But do then try to get it down as much as you can, no more than one or two sentences.

So if you need an elevator pitch for your business, which you can use whenever someone asks you what you do – put the four parts together and condense them as much as you can into one or two sentences.

You also want to make it sound conversational, so rewrite it a few times, and try saying it out loud. Try to make it natural and spontaneous sounding, something you won’t be embarrassed or self-conscious about saying to a stranger.

So for our copywriter, it might end up something like this:

“You know how annoying it is when you’re not getting any leads through your website. I write website content that uses a proven marketing framework to turn more readers into customers and make them more money.”

Or a freelance illustrator might say:

“You know how everyone is using the same boring stock images online? I make affordable and original illustrations to help businesses stand out and attract more readers and eyeballs.”

Or a freelance photographer could say:

“You know how it can ages to get your photos after a wedding? I send the to the happy couple their photos in less than 48 hours – so they don’t have to wait to share and enjoy them.”

You can easily use the framework to write a longer paragraph if you need one for your about page, for example. Whatever you do, just make sure you try to keep it based on those four elements – don’t be tempted to add more about your background, working experience at this stage – people don’t really care about that. They care about how you can make their life easier or help them earn more money.

If you decide to use this framework to craft your perfect elevator pitch, feel free to share it in the comments below, I’d love to hear them.

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