Are your email pitches not receiving the replies you want? 

Are your proposals on freelance bidding websites disappearing down the black hole of rejection? 

Do your letters of introduction (LOIs) fail to interest editors into replying?

If you answered yes to one or more of the above, you should probably take a step back and take a long, hard look at the email/pitch/proposal you send to prospective clients and editors.

I received a message on LinkedIn from Richard Brandt of FreelancePro.Me - a fantastic alternative for freelance writers who do not have a website. Richard and I share a group on LinkedIn and are mutual followers on Twitter. The message was an invite to join their platform, which is still in private beta.

In this post, I will discuss the message Richard sent me and we’ll see why his message is perfect. I am sure he wouldn't mind the extra publicity either. :)

I do not doubt that the message was sent to several other freelancers. Despite that knowledge, I find his email an extremely powerful display of good structure, right words and perfect CTAs. I’ll attempt to explain how the principles his email uses can be used to help us freelance writers effectively ‘convert’ our communication with clients and editors. Let’s start…

1. Personalized Subject Line: Richard starts off with ‘Hello Urooj’. Now, this is clearly a mass-mail. Despite that, he has taken the time to personalize the message. That initial personalization sets the tone for how the recipient views the rest of your message. Think back to the pitches, bids and proposals you’ve sent in the past. What was your subject line? Did it say ‘Story Pitch’? Did it say ‘Re: Writer Wanted’? Or was it some other generic, forgettable line?

Badly written subject lines and salutations may break your chances of getting assignments. Professional freelance writers recommend including the working title of your story in the subject line. Salutations should also be personal, if possible – ensure you can get hold of the email id of the editor concerned. Sending pitches to editor@xyzmagazine.com is generally a waste of time.

2. Short Introduction: He then introduces himself. We can clearly notice two things here – it is short and direct. Do not launch into a series of paragraphs that detail the rise (or lack thereof) of your freelance writing prowess. Nobody wants to read all that – at least not right in the beginning of the email. One line of introduction – short, simple and direct.

3. Why this email: After introducing yourself, let the recipient know why you are writing to them. Again, keep it short, simple, direct. Some of the best formal emails are those that are brief. So strive for brevity.

4. What’s in it for me: We are all selfish in our own ways. Every recipient wants to know what’s in it for them. Tell them what value you can give them. Richard’s second paragraph does that. When you write your proposals, tell your prospective client what they’d get if they hire you. When you pitch stories to magazines, tell the editor why the story will fit their target audience.

5. Call to Action: He ends the message with a quick CTA. The CTA should be simple, direct and convenient. Do not tell the editor to go to your website and then to download the samples you’ve attached there in pdf format to get an idea of your freelance writing skills. Instead, attach your samples in the body of the email or give direct links. Also, try to include just one CTA per email. Make it easy for them and you’ll see your conversions go up.

6. Thanks: Always thank the recipient at the end of your email – shows that you value their time. They probably get a barrage of emails and could have chosen not to read your email, but they did. And that alone deserves a thank you.

7. Sign off: A ‘sincerely’ or ‘best regards’ followed by your name conclusively ends the email. Include a signature too – one that lists your contact information and website and social media links.

The seven points above had to do with how you should structure your emails. There are two more takeaways for freelance writers in Richard’s email.

8. Show emotion: Notice how he says he’s ‘delighted to invite me’. Use of specific emotions at strategic points within the body of your email can help you steer the conversation the way you want. Be careful though, do not go overboard.

9. Make the recipient feel special: Notice the ‘one of the few freelancers’. This might not be true, but it makes me feel special and I’d be willing to go the extra mile, because I now think that they chose to invite me from among the millions of freelancers out there. Before you shoot the email, take a few moments to think how you can make the other person feel great and special and include it in your body text.

What do your emails generally read like? Is there something you do above and beyond what Richard has done to make your communication more impactful? Share your thoughts and opinions in the comment box.

Liked this blog post? Please tweet to share it with other freelance writers. You can subscribe to this blog using one of the two options given in the sidebar and get my blog posts right in your reader or email inbox. 

Liked this blog post? You can subscribe using one of the two options given in the sidebar and get my blog posts right in your reader or email inbox. 

Author: Urooj Kazi is a professional freelance writer. To hire her, visit this website's Contact Urooj page.  



10/14/2012 14:54

Great example and analysis, Urooj. I also like the fact that the email has no fat on it whatsoever - no spare words. The shorter the better, especially if you are sending the email to someone you don't have an existing relationship with.

Derek Halpern did a video recently about his experiences with sending emails as well: http://socialtriggers.com/email-influential-people/

10/23/2012 10:35

Thanks Damien!

Thanks for Derek's link too. I recently attended one of his webinars (he'd co-hosted it with Carol Tice) - fantastic guy.

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05/20/2013 02:35

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08/07/2013 02:39

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