One of the ways that many freelancers get new clients is simply by asking.
And one of the ways to do that is to email companies and offer your services. To do this, an effectively written letter—similar to a cover letter you’d use to get a job—is all that you need.
Here are some tips to creating an effective solicitation letter that can yield to freelance projects.
Start with a personal greeting.
Sometimes you may not be able to get the name of a contact on a website. Try to get this by searching through LinkedIn, using the “advanced search” feature. This will enable you to search by position. Some titles you may want to search for include “Human Resources Manager,” “Art Director” or “Communications Manager.” If it’s a small studio, you can likely contact the President or CEO, but if you’re shooting for a larger company, they may have a human resources department that you may want to go through. Other companies have marketing managers that handle all of the outsourcing. Once you get a first name, you can start with “Hi Name” or “Dear Name” and go from there.
Sometimes if I can’t get a solid contact, I include a sentence in the opening or closing paragraph asking that if they are not the right contact, if they can forward the email on to the correct person in charge of contracting.
Devise a catchy lead.
When writing a cover letter, candidates are bound to use leads that state they are submitting their resume with reference to the name of a specific position. But here you can be a little more creative. Some types of leads you may want to draw upon include things like,
Are your marketing materials really working for you? If not, hiring a copywriter can make all the difference.
Get the most out of your website with the right tools and applications that increase sales.
Does your website look and feel like a winner?
From there, you would go into introducing yourself, including your first name and your position. Let the recipient know right off the bat who you are and what you can do for them. Also, let them know what you’re interested in by noting something like, “I wanted to make myself available to you should a freelance project arise.”
Summarize your credentials.
This email doesn’t have to be long, but it does need to state a little bit about what you do. Here is a sample paragraph from one of the emails that I use.
Currently, I am a copywriter, editor and proofreader living in New Jersey. I work with clients across the globe to deliver interesting, accurate content that meets deadlines. I am proficient in all major writing styles and have experience writing everything from website content and brochures to press releases and email newsletters.
Be sure to include the types of work you do.
You can also name-drop the names of your customers by saying something like, “My clients include…” One of the things I always do is state that I can work from my home office, and then I note that my office has high-speed Internet, phone and fax. In my line of work, it’s important for me to be able to communicate with clients when they are available, so I also note that I keep regular business hours.
Note any attachments.
In my case, I let the recipient know that my resume is attached if they are interested. This just goes the extra mile to show that you have a resume prepared just like any professional. See? You don’t need a resume just to get a full-time job. It can aid you in looking professional. When the recipient opens it and sees a stellar resume, you’ve just made sure you look even better. (Note: Work on your resume and make sure it is outstanding!) Sometimes going Old-School with resumes and hand-written notes can attract hesistant clients.
I also reference my website and include a link where they can learn more about my credentials and see clips of my work. They may click and see your website and be really impressed and instantly contact you or at least remember you when that project comes up that you would be perfect for. Any visual that can help you stand out more works. But don’t use a bulky email signature—something simple with all of your contact information works.
Include a strong call to action.
Now it’s time to let the recipient know how they can contact you. I always make it a point to let them know that even if they do not have projects available at the moment, I can be reached in the future and invite them to keep my contact information on file. Make your closing paragraph a few sentences and be sure to thank the recipient for his or her time.
It’s not rocket science, but by having an email to send out to contacts, you can probably keep your business visible--and you never know when the recipient may need your services. It's important to stay memorable. And in the best case possible, you will get an immediate response from someone who has been looking for you all along and wants to hire you right away!