Video Production: How To Cold Pitch PROSPECTs Like A Champ (Updated for 2018)

Today, you're going to learn a new, not-so-easy way to cold pitch video clients, so pay attention budding filmmakers and videographers!


That's right.

If you want to blast hundreds of emails and get zero response, march on drummer boy. 

If you want to send fewer emails, land quality clients and 

  • learn leadership

  • get a better grip on budgeting

  • cast vision

  • fine-tune your pitching

  • did I mention practice your craft in the real world?

  • and get paid without racing to the bottom

then here's a detailed approach you can start right now in your video production. Everyone wants to be the next Hitchcock or the next Kubrick, but that doesn't come on a silver platter. 

If you want to tell stories of hope, charter schools in South Carolina, love, the life and times of Martin Van Buren, forgiveness, _________________, you need to beef up your sweat equity!


Step 1: Hire a VA (virtual assistant) on Upwork to find emails

Pay a flat rate always! You can pay $10-20 to find 50 emails, names, products/services, and company URLs. Store it in a Google Sheet.

Here’s a detailed guide on using Upwork for this end, plus there’s a Google Sheet for storing all of this info you'll acquire that you can use.

Tell your VA NOT to find emails to

  1. Pawn shops

  2. Churches & non-profits (note: if you really want to work with non-profits, be sure to check out Guidestar first)

  3. Chains like Mickey D's or Pep Boys

  4. Adult entertainment

  5. Money services

  6. Jewelry stores

  7. Clubs

  8. Golf clubs especially

  9. Media companies/photographers

  10. Anything else you want to add


Step 2. Email each person on your list

This is where people could get lazy and become slackers:

Send a personal email to each person.

Do not use Reply or other automated services like Reply until you are firmly established in your town as THE VIDEO GUY. 

I made the mistake of using Reply too soon, and it netted responses, but zero contracts. I'm not THE VIDEO GUY in Vegas, so...

Quality over quantity here gang. #LessonLearned

Jeff Goins said it really well: "Remember: No bureaucracy until you reach 1000 customers. Answer every email. Show up as much as you can. Be relentlessly helpful."

Record a quick video introducing yourself (keep it less than 30-seconds - these guys you are pitching are busy) - remember, it’s a cold email, and you have to break the ice quick. Use Screencastify for this (freemium service that works like a champ, even on the free side of things).

Send them another video in the same email as well, one that is REALLY GOOD and mirrors the personality of the company you are pitching. They need to see themselves in the video you are thinking of for them and they need know if it can solve a problem of theirs (need more customers, need more sales, etc.). 


Before you hit send, make sure you spell check. 

If you can't spell check (or are too lazy [which is worse] to do it), what does that communicate to your client if you're supposed to be managing a 4-5-figure budget of theirs?

Send that bad boy either at the end of the work day or early in the morning (your owner, CEO, CMO, etc. all probably start their work day ahead of the rest of the workers). 


Shoot, Mondays and Fridays are usually Moondays or "It's-The-Weekend" days, and you may be better off using an auto-scheduler like Boomerang to send cold pitches Tues-Thurs. 

Or stick to trial and error.

If they respond, it's either "No thanks," or...


Then it's up to you to SHOW UP.

But if you get no response...

Step 3: Star each email you send

Use a CRM tool (a tool for managing client relationships - I'm just now learning Streak) or use a simple system to know who to follow-up with: star each email you send and follow up!

  1. This is one way to make sure you have an easy index of which emails to follow up on.

  2. If they don’t answer, send a second email no sooner than 3 days later. 4-5 days later or longer are better.

  3. Repeat step 2 if necessary for a third and final email.

  4. Don’t nuke it. You can use the emails below in the bonus section to get you started with the follow up emails.

  5. You will run into people who are bitter, tactless, mean-spirited, or some combination of the above. That's just life. Expect it, show grace (ALWAYS), and move on. Need a pick-me-up? Watch this video.

Here's a #5 that I got recently:

I only emailed Pete twice, and the second email was days after the first, asking if his help-wanted ad was already filled (they needed a trailer cut together for a series). Plus, to truly qualify as spam, my message needed to be at least one of the following:

  • irrelevant

  • inappropriate

  • sent to a large number of people

Pete, and guys like you, you are always welcome at my home. My wife makes a mean enchilada pasta - it's a standing offer.

I used my email address when I reached out to Pete, which is why he blew up. The word church is a painful one for some people. I was in a band once, and my lead guitarist was staunchly atheistic. We got along famously though, and there was this one time I even remember seeing him add to a thread that Jesus seemed like a honorable dude. He couldn't stand church or religion, but Jesus was an honorable dude. 

How we choose to communicate our thoughts and words is indeed powerful, and that's another reason you should send a video of yourself to break the ice. It's disarming (usually - I sent a video intro to Pete, and he was still livid), and you need that since 

  • cold calls require lots of training and practice to be effective and if you’re a 1-man video band (Grant Cardone has a team to handle marketing, customer service, product delivery, etc. - you probably don’t), I don’t recommend ‘em

  • emails are super impersonal and easily ignored when unsolicited

NOTE: in case you ignored the bold text above, here's an addendum: Record yourself introducing yourself to your cold pitch.

Still not sold?

If you can’t overcome your fears at that stage, how will you ever pitch a studio or financier when your story calls for a large crew and a real budget? You can do this! Every time you pitch a client in your own backyard, you gain more confidence and experience - both of which you need to be the next Nolan!

Step 4: Get someone on the phone

  1. Offer a flat rate in the first phone call after asking a few questions. Do NOT beat around the bush for a second phone call to do this. Don’t waste your time or theirs! NEVER DO HOURLY RATES.

    → We have a calculator that solves the perennial problem of "What do I charge?" It can generate an instant quote for 99% of video production jobs. It saves hours of frustration, it generates ready-to-print invoices, and it allows you to quote what your time is worth with ease.

  2. Try to meet in person on your second point of contact if the price doesn’t blow their hair back. Lunch is a great way to break the ice and get to talking about hopes, dreams, families, and just connect as human beings. This step is important. We prefer to do business with people we trust - not just faceless internet entities.

  3. If it's a larger project, come ready with a detailed pitch. Don't know where to start? Check out the post with Diego Contreras - he offered up his pitch for you to learn from, and this fellow is someone who has pitched and directed BIG projects for GE. 

Oh, in case you skimmed (which is the vast majority of readers), here's a big, red summary of what you need from this section -

Never do hourly rates!

Step 5: Sign the contract

  1. Don’t nuke this one either, but before any work begins, make sure the contract is signed.

  2. Things to include in your contract:

    1. Delivery dates

    2. Watermarks until payments are made

    3. Method of payments

    4. Arbitration clause

    5. A clear correlation with your invoice which has line items for every little thing you will (and will not) do in their video that’s not super esoteric

      → For example, don’t mention “rotoscoping” on your invoice when “visual effects” works just fine - your client doesn’t care - they just want a good story that will double their sales or book 20 more clients.

    6. How many revisions you will do

If you want a solid contract that includes all of the above, you can build your own or use ours.

Step 6: Go make an amazing video

  1. Push yourself. Over-deliver. Give it your best, but also be flexible - learn to compromise (in life, in marriage, and in film/video) - as you want to tell *their* vision. Don’t internalize feedback/criticism too much and strive to find that middle ground between their ideas and your ideas. Remember, they are hiring you for your skill set and your share of the vision. Come prepared, but be open to their ideas.

  2. Offer (scratch that, GIVE) indefinite cloud storage of the completed video and color-graded files and audio. Find a way to over-deliver in your customer service.

Step 7: Send the original contract back

  1. The final step when the video is done is to send the contract back (you can use Cuda Sign for this part, just like in step 5) and have them agree that the work is done, no further revisions will be made, and their payment has been made in full.

  2. Include space for both of you to sign and date to “close out” the job. I learned this from my Air Force days, and if it's one thing the Chair Force motor pool is good at is paperwork.

  3. OR — if you’re paid your balance, that in effect closes out the job.

  4. Here’s what else you should do when the video is wrapped.

Alright, now you're ready to get your butt in gear and find some people to go serve!

To get started on your journey, here are a couple of bonus items for you:

  1. A template generator that you can plug and play the basic email info, like name, email, business, type of client, etc.

  2. A swipe file of emails you can use to follow up without being spammy!

  3. This entire strategy outline, as a printable checklist.

To get in on all of the wholesome, 100% GF goodness, download your bonuses here:

Which stage are you stuck on? Comment below!

Original: July 15, 2016; updated Aug 1, 2017; Nov 4, 2018

Jake the film guy

I want to encourage others and bring honor to the Almighty in everything that I do with film and video. My goal is to take the first 11 minutes of my tv pilot and seek out decision-makers who can further the conversation about developing it into a show. If my team and I can do that, then we can teach 100,000 other microbudget filmmakers how to do the same thing so that we might tell stories of hope to millions. In the meantime, I'm a son of the King, a family man, a lifelong student of film, and the author of two microbudget filmmaking books.