Getting Ghosted? Use This Writer’s Script to Break the Silence


Getting Ghosted? Use This Writer's Script. Makealivingwriting.comGetting ghosted by freelance writing prospects?

It happens. And it’s happening a lot more during the COVID-19 craziness.

Some businesses have closed or downsized. Editors and marketing directors are scrambling to adjust to a different publishing environment.

And even without a pandemic in process, there’s a million other reasons you might be getting ghosted by a prospect that sounded promising.

  • What can you do if a hot prospect goes quiet?
  • How do you follow up without sounding desperate or pushy?

The right answers to these questions can turn dead ends into paying gigs.

Ghosting happens to everyone, even to top-earning freelance writers. You might think you did something wrong, quoted too high, or said something offensive. But that’s almost never the case after a positive call with a prospect.

Want to know how to handle getting ghosted? Here’s the script to break the silence.

The classic getting-ghosted scenario

You have a great discovery call. On the call, you listen and ask pro questions. You make sure their budget meets your pricing. Then you customize a proposal, check it twice, send it over, and… crickets.

Sound familiar?

For the next two weeks, you tell yourself, “patience is a virtue.” And you stay busy with other work and regular marketing. But how do you find out what’s going on with that prospect that seemed like a perfect fit?

Here’s what NOT to do:

Don’t do that smarmy sales email thing and fire off a message like: “Hey I sent you this 2 weeks ago and haven’t heard from you.”

No one likes to be nagged.

Not sure what to say in a follow-up? Swipe this script

Instead of the nagging follow-up, here’s the script I’ve been using to reconnect with solid prospects after getting ghosted;

Hi [Name],

Can you believe we’re halfway through April already? I’m booking projects to the end of second quarter, and I wondered if you wanted me to reserve time to write X for [company Y.]


Does it work? This exact script prompted responses from several leads I’d sent quotes to. They thanked me for following up, assured me they were still interested, and let me know when to expect to hear back.

3 reasons this script works

Wait, what? Just sending a two-sentence email is enough to reconnect with a freelance writing prospect after getting ghosted? Yes. There’s three key reasons this script works:

  1. You commiserate with how fast time is flying by. No nagging or accusations.
  2. You’re trying to be helpful by giving them a heads-up to reserve your time before you’re booked.
  3. You offer a gentle deadline reminder that the end of the quarter is approaching. They may need to show progress on their initiatives to higher-ups by certain deadlines, so this reminder can bump the project up their priority list.

Want to write your own follow-up? Here’s how:

Follow-ups should be friendly, conversational, and helpful. Shift your thinking from ME to THEM

  • Instead of thinking: Why won’t they get back to ME? I want them to book ME. I need them to pay MEEEE
  • Think about: What’s going on with THEM? How can this email help THEM? Be specific when possible.

Here’s what I mean: For one new connection, I noticed that he was new with the company. So I mentioned it like this:

Hi [Name],

I see you just started with [company X] in January – congratulations! You must have your hands full with planning right now.

Let me know if I can help when you’re ready to execute your marketing strategies.


He got back to me and let me know that they were focused on an event, but that their regular marketing needs would increase in the second quarter. That’s exactly the information I needed to know when to reach out again.

Where to look for specific company information

As a writer, you should be good at research, right? Get curious and peek around. Sometimes the simple act of clicking on someone’s LinkedIn profile is enough to prompt them to respond to you.

Here’s where to look for clues about what’s going on with your prospect and the company:

  • The prospect’s LinkedIn profile. How long have they been with the company? Where else have they worked? What have they posted? What have they commented on?
  • The company’s LinkedIn page, website, press releases, and blog.What is the company posting about? Do they have a big event going on?

Still getting no responses? Try these 6 troubleshooting tips:

  1. Check your timing. Don’t send follow-ups to a company that’s gearing up for or at a major trade show. Check the company’s LinkedIn posts to see if it’s a busy time for them.
  2. Amp up your proposals. Every proposal you send should be branded and customized. Does yours stand up to the competition? Get feedback on your proposal by reaching out to your inner circle of fellow writers.
  3. Refresh your online presence. When your prospect takes a closer look at your LinkedIn profile and website, will they be more or less interested in working with you?
  4. Re-evaluate your expectations. When entering a new niche or trying to break in to a competitive market, your response rates might be lower than you hoped.
  5. Widen your target. You should have more than one persona that you market to. If you’re hitting dead ends with persona A, try marketing to persona B for a while.
  6. Know when to move on. In most cases, getting ghosted will have nothing to do with you.  If you’ve ever worked in a corporate environment, then you know that all kinds of things can derail projects:
    • There’s a new VP who’s all about video, and cancels all case studies
    • The company was just acquired and needs to go through rebranding
    • Sales in the previous quarter were soft, and now all projects need an extra approval layer (and these are just a few examples of things you have no control over). If there’s no concrete action you can take, such as adding updated samples to your online portfolio or revising your LinkedIn profile, then just move on.

The secret to becoming a fully-booked freelance writer…

Never let getting ghosted get in the way of marketing. Keep reaching out to new prospects. Stay positive. Sometimes, not getting one project means you’re available when a bigger, better project shows up.

Getting ghosted by freelance prospects? Let’s discuss in the comments below.

Karen Smock is a Montreal-based freelancer who specializes in B2B marketing copywriting, technical writing, and corporate communications.

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  1. Kevin Carlton

    Hi Karen

    Virtually all my leads are inbound via my website or LinkedIn profile.

    They’re expressing an interest in me rather than me in them. So I used to be reasonably confident that, after several message exchanges and a couple of Zoom calls, these would likely become paying clients.

    But, over the last year or so, things have changed and prospects mess me around far more than they used to. And it’s been a big cost to my business.

    However, I used to think it was both selfish and a waste of valuable time to do other marketing while leads like this were hotting up. Because you’re also kinda messing the prospect around too – potentially leading them on while you’re looking elsewhere at the same time.

    But, as with Carol, I now won’t wait around for an answer. At the moment, you simply cannot afford to do so.

    • Angie Mansfield

      Definitely don’t think about it as messing them around, Kevin – marketing all the time is crucial to keeping your business afloat. If a prospect doesn’t get back to you soon enough and you’re fully booked, that’s on them.

  2. Joey Held

    These scripts are great – thanks, Karen! Maybe I can casually share these with a few nagging sales emails I’ve gotten…

    • Karen Smock

      Hi Joey, I’ve thought of that, too – offering my services to salespeople who send me terrible emails. Be sure to share results if you end up trying it!

  3. Beth Black

    Karen, I appreciate your great tips in this article. What do you think we should do — if anything — about clients who have gone silent during the lockdown? I was on an assignment through a talent agency, writing for a business that will likely suffer horribly from the looming economic crisis. While I miss the weekly paycheck (a sweet situation for a freelancer), it seemed they needed help more than I did. So, I came up with some ideas to help market their products — with timely relevance. There’s been no response to a query email. So, I’m wondering if there’s some better way writers might market themselves as useful to businesses rebuilding after disaster.

    • Carol Tice

      Beth… I’d say the key is not sending one query and then sitting back and hoping they respond. This is a time to be sending 100-200 pieces of marketing a month, to companies in industries that are thriving or booming during this recession time, to have enough inbound leads to be sure you stay fully booked. Lots more details on this in my new e-book, The Recession-Proof Freelancer. As I write this, it’s 99 cents on Amazon, and by Tuesday we’re hoping to make them price-match to free – but this weekend, anyone who buys and reviews at 99 cents and forwards me their receipt gets a ticket to a group coaching call with me on Tuesday. 😉

    • Karen Smock

      Hi Beth, Some companies are just completely overwhelmed right now and there’s likely nothing you can say that will put hiring a freelance writer at the top of their list. I’d say to follow Carol’s advice and keep marketing widely.

  4. Katherine Swarts

    We are an impatient world, aren’t we? I number myself with those who feel “ghosted” if they don’t get a reply within six hours. (No, I do NOT rush to follow up the next day, but I know people who have. I also know people who have gotten unexpected replies–and contracts–from prospects they wrote once six months earlier and hadn’t heard from since.)

    One thing that’s helped me during this “waiting room” season is getting outdoors and watching nature take its normal spring course. Incidentally, I know people who complain that their bird feeders are being “ghosted” because they haven’t learned that the habits of feathered customers change with migration and nesting seasons. It definitely helps to have some knowledge of who’s active where, and what they need, at both predicted and unpredicted times.

    • Karen Smock

      Katherine, I like your comparison to feathered “customers” – companies have seasons and habits as well, and it’s not always about whether or not they like the seed mix we put in the feeder : )

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