Marketing 101 for Freelance Writers #16: How to Get Prospects Warmed Up

Carol Tice

How to warm up freelance writing prospects and turn them into clients. Makealivingwriting.comOne writer recently asked me about how to reach out to trade publications and companies.

Unlike magazines, where you pitch a story idea in a query letter, it’s hard to know what sorts of articles this other kind of prospect would like.

The writing work you want may not even be articles, but web pages or brochures.

A query letter is out

You’ll need to find another way to connect with these kinds of prospects.

“Would it be acceptable to simply write and introduce myself and mention I am a freelance writer?”

Well, yes it would, Virginia. This marketing approach is called a letter of introduction, or LOI.

While the basic premise is fairly simple, writing a successful LOI isn’t all that easy. We all know how many emails we get.

To get a positive response and a writing assignment — rather than a quick trip to the “delete” folder — your LOI needs to be creatively written and compelling. It needs to quickly hook your recipient and convince them you are the writer they should hire.

In other words, you need to warm up your prospects. You need to make a connection with them that makes them feel comfortable hiring you.

How can you do that?

My four best LOI tips

1. Get a referral. Ed Gandia, coauthor of The Wealthy Freelancer,says he gets nearly 70 percent response rates on marketing emails he sends that have a subject line like this:

<Prospect’s friend’s name here> sent me your way

No other method gets as strong of a response, he tells me. So it can really pay to get out and do some old-fashioned, in-person networking to make more connections who might refer you. Or tap your social-media networks to see who might know someone at a company you’re targeting for a reach-out.

2. Do your homework. Another way to create a ‘warm’ connection is to research the company or publication you’re targeting. Then, in your LOI, you can mention something you noticed — an interesting article, or maybe the lack of case studies or a strong “About” page on their website.

3. Target relevant niches. Your best bet is to send LOIs to publications or industries where you can show some similar work experience — or, barring that, some relevant life experience. For instance, I’ve been able to get a lot of gigs writing legal content because I was once a legal secretary. Ditto for insurance, which my dad sold, so I sort of grew up around that industry and had at least a vague idea how it works. Of course, the ideal is if you can show similar writing work and talk about the results you got for a previous client in their niche.

4. Copy their style. Take a look at the writing style this prospect uses, and then hand it right back to them in the style of your query. Soak up their tone — is it casual? Snarky? Businesslike? — and then use it in your LOI.

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  1. Damien Elsing

    Some great ideas there, Carol. I would never have considered putting the referrer’s name in the subject line but it makes sense to establish the personal connection even before they open the email. I guess one can get pretty creative with exactly how strong a referral it is too!

  2. Mellissa Thomas

    Thanks for sharing this, Carol. It falls right in line with what Ed discussed on the open call. I’m glad he shared a little about the “Warm Email” strategy, because I can tell you I’m an introvert to the bone, so cold calls terrify me.

    An LOI is more easily attainable, especially with the tips you share here. I especially thank you for that final tip: “copy their style”. I honestly never would’ve thought of that for an LOI, but that’s a pretty cool idea.

    • Carol Tice

      I’ve never done cold calls, either — just not my style. To me, no one marketing strategy is the answer for everybody. It’s whatever you’re willing to do consistently. I think that’s LOIs for a lot of writers, since writing IS kind of our thing, yes?

      That final tip is key. Giving them their style back at them shows you have the skills to write for them.

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