How I Exploded My Freelance Writing Sales in 3 Months (It’ll Work for You, Too)

Carol Tice

Happy writer skyrocketing to successBy Paul McCormack

I wanted more clients, and more revenue.

My sales in 2012 were respectable, but nothing spectacular. Unfortunately, since launching my freelance writing business in 2005, I really hadn’t figured out how to market myself.

In order to grow my business, I needed a plan.

Would cold calling work? How about direct mail? Neither approach appealed to me.

If I was to do something on a daily basis, I needed to pick a cost-effective process that I could sustain, and didn’t make me nauseous (I hate cold calling).

After careful research, I selected just two marketing strategies that I felt comfortable using on a daily basis.

Here’s what I did…

Letters of introduction — they really work!

In October, I spent about two weeks in the Freelance Writers Den learning all I could about letters of introduction (LOIs).

The Den includes a forum where other writers post their LOIs for review. I’m not ashamed to say that I read all of them, and made notes on what I liked and didn’t like about each one.

Later that month, I started sending my own LOI to prospective clients.

Since October 2012, I’ve sent 120 LOIs. The response rate so far is around 45%.

That’s approximately 50 responses to a “cold” sales letter.

From those responses, I’ve landed ten new clients, with at least another ten prospective clients that will likely engage me in the next 6 months.

Sure, I made some mistakes along the way, but I learned from them!

If your emails don’t generate responses, revise and try again. I constantly refine my LOIs.

They’ll never be perfect, but it doesn’t hurt to focus on improving your approach.

Also, remember that LOIs arrive uninvited. Make it easy for prospective clients to read and take the next step.

Don’t sweat it if they don’t respond immediately, they’re likely buried under all the work they may end up sending you!

Existing clients like your work — ask for more!

In addition to sending LOIs, I revisited my existing client roster in order to pitch new writing projects.

For example, after reviewing an existing client’s website, I found out that they had launched a new blog two months prior (shame on me for not noticing sooner).

I sent a quick email asking if they would like me to write for their blog. They immediately responded asking me to write at least one, possibly two posts a month for the rest of the year.

Never overlook the chance to “up-sell” existing customers.

Since you’ve already written for them, you understand what they like and don’t like – use that information to your advantage.

By contacting my existing client with pitches for new services, I landed five new projects. What’s not to like?

That’s it!

No more complicated than picking just two approaches that didn’t give me hives, and I could commit to on a daily basis.

Since I joined Freelance Writers Den and began using these two strategies, I’ve landed 20 new projects, all of which paid at least $1 a word.

You can’t control if or when a prospective or existing client will respond to your marketing efforts.

However, if you take the time to learn and implement just two marketing strategies that you believe in, good things will happen.

Paul McCormack is a freelance writer based in Atlanta, Georgia, specializing in anti-money laundering, banking, cyber security, fraud, and intellectual property theft. Visit McCormack Writes to learn more.



  1. Willi Morris

    Paul, the topics you write about are hot! Love them. Will definitely start doing more LOIs. Great plug for the Den, too!

  2. Janet Thomson

    Cold calling “gives me hives” too! LOL…Paul your LOI response rate is awesome, I should study one of yours — hint, hint. I’ve had great luck with querying, but plan to master that LOI real soon. I want to break into some legal publications this year.

  3. Coco

    Awesome. Thanks for the shot of confidence and clarity, Paul. This is a great rundown of your attitude and actions. I am stoked to see how well this worked for you and feel confident that you’ve done nothing extraordinary that won’t work for me, too. Great post!

  4. Melissa

    This is a great post. A very helpful idea for those looking to increase their clients, potential clients and their income. Thanks for sharing!

  5. Paul McCormack

    Thanks for taking the time to provide feedback! I love the fact that I can help other writers succeed.

    Like I said, carefully pick your marketing approaches, and learn everything you can about them (Might I suggest the Den as a starting point :).

    Above all, make sure that you really believe in the marketing approaches you’ve selected and go for it!

    It’s just that simple!

    Paul McCormack

  6. Alex Sheehan

    I love the point about up-selling your current clients. It’s not always obvious to them that they can ask you to do more work for them, such as writing for the blog as you mentioned in your example. Even if they haven’t started a new project yet, be sure to let them know that you are always available for more work. Or better yet, make suggestions to them before they even think of it themselves.

    • Paul McCormack

      I’m glad you agree! I’ve learned never to assume that the client knows about the full range of the writing services I offer.

  7. Erica

    Paul, I like your approach. Cold calling gives me the hives too and I love the alternative. And your attitude that your LOI is always a work in progress but that you send it out even when you know you’re still working on it.

    Cold calling scares me. But a LOI? I could do that.


    • Paul McCormack

      Great to hear. You don’t have to send lots of LOIs to be successful either…

  8. Lori Ferguson

    This is *such* a heartening post, Paul! I, too, have an aversion to cold calling, but I’ve been working to master the LOI. I’m delighted to hear that you’ve had such a good response rate. Mining past clients is also an excellent suggestion. Just popped it onto my ‘to do’ list for this afternoon. Thx for sharing some of your successes!

    • Paul McCormack

      Best of luck, I’ll be blunt – if I can do it, so too can you!

  9. Darnell Jackson

    This is excellent Paul that’s why I have been referring people to get this training.

    I keep telling people its hard as hell to know what you just don’t.

    Its always better to learn from someone who knows what they are doing.

    It’s the little things that make the biggest difference like how you present yourself for the first time to a potential client.

    • Paul McCormack

      I completely agree Darnell. I made some horrible mistakes in my first batch of LOIs.

      After I joined the Den, and took the LOI training class, I learned why no one responded!

  10. Olatunji Femi

    Hello Paul,

    Honestly have been hearing about writers DEN i think is high time i check it out to stop denying myself of some improvement tips. there’s nothing as interesting as ensuring that one updates his/her self regularly.

    • Carol Tice

      If you’re interested, as I write this around 10 am PDT Friday, there are only 50 seats left before we close, FYI to all!

    • Paul McCormack

      Olatunji, I don’t receive a commission or referral fees if you join the Den, but I strongly suggest that you sign up.

      The monthly membership is an investment in your writing career. Put forth the effort, it will pay off!

  11. Jacob Arvin

    It seems like your strategy for freelance writers is much more effective for those who specialize in a particular niche, such as yourself who focuses on security-type writing projects. It would seem to be harder to apply for general content-mill writers, who are just browsing freelance sites like Elance, no?

    • Carol Tice

      There aren’t many great clients on there, Jacob. All the money is in finding your own clients and staying off bid sites and job ads that thousands will respond to.

  12. Anita

    Thanks for sharing your story – a good reminder of how hard work pays off.

    • Paul McCormack

      Happy to help. The hard work did pay off… It can pay off for most writers if you know your audience and perfect the LOI.

      I’ve actually cut back on marketing as clients now come to me! How nice is that! I still market, and always will, but I don’t send out 100+ LOIs a month.

  13. Holly Bowne

    This post was GREAT! Nice, succinct, and totally doable! I’ve just started along an aggressive LOI path (because those don’t give me hives) since finishing the last Bootcamp a couple of weeks ago, and I love the encouragement you’ve given here, Paul. Just knowing that maybe it IS possible for me to “explode my sales” before the end of the year without cold calling is inspiring. Thank you so much!

    • Paul McCormack

      That’s great to hear Holly. Stick with it… If you believe in your LOI, clients will too!

  14. Anthony

    You have good points Paul.

    I better brush-up on my LOI writing techniques and reach out to more prospects.

    Nice of you to point out about a blog launched by your existing client and your initiative to ask them if they need your services for it.

    It reminded me to be alert on developments like this.

    They are opportunities worthwhile to pursue.

    Thanks for sharing this.

    Valuable post.

    • Paul McCormack

      Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

      You might want to establish a Google Alert for each of your clients. That way, you’ll receive notification(s) of a new blog or initiative etc. It’s worked for me in the past… Best of luck landing more work.

      • Anthony

        I’m not really familiar with Google Alert.
        How does it work?


        • Paul McCormack

          Here you go!

          Google Alerts are email updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.) based on your queries.

          Enter a search query you wish to monitor. You will see a preview of the type of results you’ll receive. Some handy uses of Google Alerts include:

          monitoring a developing news story
          keeping current on a competitor or industry
          getting the latest on a celebrity or event
          keeping tabs on your favorite sports teams

          • Anthony

            Thanks for taking the time to give us a briefing.
            Really valuable.

            I’ll apply what I have learned here.

            Keep it up!

      • Carol Tice

        As it happens, that’s what I do!

  15. Patrick Hearn

    “Also, remember that LOIs arrive uninvited. Make it easy for prospective clients to read and take the next step.”

    What exactly do you mean by this? And who did you send LOIs to, if I may ask? I often hear about this working, but I’ve never worked in any industry. I’m a student fresh out of college with no work experience; I literally have nothing to offer trade magazines.

    • Paul McCormack


      My LOIs are unsolicited and design to establish a connection, rather than sell a particular article, or idea. Therefore, if I want the recipient to read the email and take the next step, it must be easy to read and understand.

      I send LOIs to corporations. If you want more info on LOIs versus query letters, check out the rest of Carol’s blog. Also, the Den is an outstanding resource for writers like you!

      Paul McCormack

  16. Debra L. Butterfield

    Your post came at such an opportune time for me. And this is prospecting I can stomach. Thanks for your advice!

    • Paul McCormack

      Fantastic! If you commit to just 5 LOIs a week, good things will happen…

  17. Tony Nguyen

    Hi Paul,

    Just another great post of you which I find it really does suggest important tips for freelancer writers like me. The idea of revising and resend letter of introduction is pretty good which I might resend mine one to some clients that did not respond to my email in the past. Thanks again. Keep on your amazing job mate.

  18. Tiffany

    Excellent success story Paul. 🙂 Every dollar invested in a den membership is worth its weight in gold (probably more!). It’s good to know that we as freelance writers have options when it comes to marketing. What works for one person may not work for another, so we should all pick strategies that utilize our strengths.

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