By KeriLynn Engel
When I first started freelance writing full time, I was sending out email letters of introduction (LOIs) left and right, sometimes dozens in a week.
Some writing gurus will tell you email marketing is just a numbers game. But if youâ€™re sending out a ton of LOIs and still hearing crickets — like I was — you need a new strategy.
So I created a more targeted and streamlined LOI strategy. Now I spend only a couple hours a week sending LOIs, and my response rate has more than tripled, from less than 5 percent to 15 percent or more. Hereâ€™s what I did:
Get prospects in your email inbox
The first step is to save time by setting up a system where prospects are sent to you automatically — prospects with a high likelihood of needing a freelance writer.
Press releases are a great source for finding those prospects, so I started by subscribing to them via RSS feeds. Try VCAOnline.com for venture capital and private equity news, or PRWeb for press releases organized by industry. Companies that just got VC or angel investor money are often ramping up marketing, and companies that put out press releases have a marketing budget — and those releases often bring news of company expansion that might trigger more marketing needs.
Copy the URL of the RSS feed by right-clicking on the RSS symbol and choosing â€œCopy link URL.â€ Now head on over to Blogtrottr.com, a free RSS-to-email service. Paste the URL into the field, fill in your email, and choose â€œDaily Digest.â€
To prevent inbox clutter, I have a filter set up in Gmail that labels all my press releases â€œProspectsâ€ and sets them to skip my inbox so I can look at them when I choose.
Qualify your ideal prospects
Now youâ€™re rolling in prospects! A few times a week, you can peruse them for ones that seem like a good fit.
The ideal prospect is a business in your target niche that just got millions in new funding, because you know they can afford to hire you. If the press release says theyâ€™re spending the new funding on marketing, that’s a bonus! Mention it in your LOI, and point out how you can help them.
Sleuth out contact information
Find the name and email address of the person in charge of marketing — it may be listed right on that press release. If not, go to their website and look for their management team. Look for the marketing manager, chief marketing officer, or anyone with â€œmarketingâ€ in their title or job description. Next, youâ€™ll have to hunt down their email address, if itâ€™s not listed on the website.
Write a short & sweet LOI template
A person is less likely to read an email when they donâ€™t know the sender, so you want to get right to the point. Hereâ€™s my super-short, no-pressure template:
Just saw the press release about [some good news]- congrats!
My name’s KeriLynn Engel, and I’m a professional freelance writer specializing in [niche]. I wanted to reach out to see if you have a need for any written marketing materials like [list examples]. (Optional short sentence here about your experience in the industry or suggestion about what their marketing is missing that you could provide.)
Letâ€™s chat if you’re interested. Just hit “reply” or call me at 800-555-5555. Thank you,
[Email signature with your portfolio URL.]
Consider providing a phone number
Including a phone number in my LOI boosts credibility: not many spammers provide phone numbers! But I donâ€™t want unknown callers using my personal number. Instead, I use a free Google Voice number. They can leave a message, and I can call back at my convenience.
By spending just a few hours a week on this strategy, Iâ€™m in constant negotiations with new freelance writing client leads. Last month, I signed a couple of new contracts and was able to let go of my lowest-paying client, which feels great.
What do you put in your LOIs? Leave a comment and share your tips.