Inspiration strikes at funny times. Often, it strikes me late at night, when I’m in bed almost ready to fall asleep. This often leads to late nights on the computer crafting email pitches. But when inspiration strikes, you must listen.
For part-time freelance writers, email prospecting can be one of the most useful tools for landing new clients. Many of you hold down full-time jobs during the day, making cold call pitching or in-person prospecting difficult to do during business hours. But email prospecting is also a fickle beast. Emails are so easy to ignore (I should know, I delete dozens of PR pitches every week from my inbox), but if done right, they can get a prospective client’s attention in a hurry and help you make a solid impression.
Here are six tips I’ve learned over my freelance career that have led to better response rates:
1. Give in to Inspiration When it Strikes
I don’t know why my brain works the way it does, but three times in the last two weeks, I’ve been laying in bed trying to get to sleep, and a prospective client has popped into my head, along with a cute/clever one-liner, subject line or “call to action” I can use to get their attention. I used to shrug off these ideas and tell myself I’d do it tomorrow, but often the idea would later escape me. Not anymore. When I get an idea, I act on it.
Your inspiration may strike you at different times. While you’re getting dressed for work. At the gym on the treadmill. In line grabbing some lunch. Wherever or whenever it strikes, listen to it and at least write it down so you can act on it later. Carry a small notebook with you to jot down ideas you get throughout the day.
2. Do Your Research
The Art of War teaches you, “Know Thine Enemy.” Along that same vein, it’s imperative to “Know Thy Potential Client.” Dig into the company’s background. Find information about campaigns they’ve done, articles they’ve written or newsletters they’ve put out. The more you know, the more ammunition you’ll have when you go to write your pitch email.
3. Personalize the Message
Successful email prospecting is all about grabbing someone’s attention. There’s no better way to do that then personalizing your message. Writing up a form email and sending that out to everyone you prospect is an easy way to get your messages sent straight to the trash. Form emails are very easy to spot. But a personalized message that speaks directly to the potential client will have more impact and have a way better chance of not only getting opened, but getting read all the way through.
4. Use Your Personality
Clients aren’t hiring email messages. They are hiring people. Real, flesh-and-blood people. So let your personality come out a little bit in your message. Riff a little bit in your first draft. Say what you’re thinking. Exactly what you’re thinking. Then go back and clean it up.
I scored a meeting with a potential client a few weeks back who told me she gets 10 to 15 emails just like mine every week pitching her for work. The only reason she responded to mine, she said, was because I made her laugh in my email. Be different.
5. Offer Value
The worst thing you can do in your email pitch is sound desperate. Yes, you need to work. Yes, you want to land a client. But don’t let your desperation come out in your pitch. Instead, spend your words convincing your target how you can make THEIR life better. What can you offer them? A chance to get some of the extra work off their desk so they can focus on more important tasks? Identify some value you can offer, then bold and underline it to get their attention.
Make your emails more focused, more effective and less boring and you’ll start getting more bites in your inbox. Reel them in, and you’ll start landing more clients.
Have questions about email prospecting? Ask them in the comment section below!
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Welcome to my blog
This little corner of the Internet is for anyone who's looking to start a freelance business while holding down a real job, wondering how to jump from part-time freelancing to full-time or looking for freelance writing information in general.
My name is James Patterson. You can learn more about me here.