You have all the necessary qualities required to become a successful freelance writer! …And yet paying writing gigs seem elusive and uncertain.
Ever since you made that big decision to start writing full-time, you’ve sent approximately a million emails to thousands of business entities; however, the responses have been demoralizing.
Have you ever thought: “Maybe it’s my initial approach that’s turning clients off?” I know it’s a hard pill to swallow, but it very well could be!
What if you could introduce yourself in a professional manner — if you could really stand out from the crowd in a way that it’d be impossible for the potential client to ignore your pitch? What if you could write a killer email that leaves the corporate client of your dreams begging to hear more from you?
I know. Sounds tough! But let me tell you: it’s entirely possible (and easy!) to write professional emails that will be well-received by business people. All you need to know are the necessary freelance writer “etiquettes” and use them in your email to make it truly professional.
Below, I’m going to share my tips on how to create an outstanding impression with your very first email. You’ll learn the ins and outs of writing a professional email that will impress even the snobbiest corporate client out there.
And, if that’s not enough, as a reward for reading my entire article, you’ll get a proven email template I’ve used successfully throughout my career. Let’s do this!
Getting Your Email’s “Tone” Right
You know what they say: First impressions are lasting impressions! The way you initially approach your potential client is a HUGE deciding factor when it comes to getting hired for the gig.
Learn how to write effective business emails as early as possible in your budding freelance writing career — they’re essentially the first “sample” of your writing skills your client base will experience, long before they commit to clicking the link to your official website, clips portfolio, or social media profiles.
A decent email subject, formal body paragraphs, and an expert sign-off are the key elements that’ll make or break the hard work you’ve put into your writing.
The Email’s Subject
Before your potential client has the chance to “meet” you (via your email’s body), they’ll read your email’s subject line.
Your subject line is your FIRST “first impression” — the hook! — that will either coax the client into reading your message… or land you in their inbox’s Junk folder without a second glance.
As a professional, I receive a massive chunk of promotional emails each week and more than half of them go unread, immediately deleted as soon as I see them. That’s because their subject lines were, quite frankly, tragic (in terms of being relevant to me/my business) and I was reluctant to waste my time going through them in-depth. Don’t make their mistake — especially when you’re pitching yourself as a competent business writer!
Your dream client will most likely send your email straight to the Trash if your subject line is something like “Hey there! Can we talk?” Notice how the tone is very casual and non-specific. It gives off a feeling that you don’t seriously value your recipient as a prospect. While that subject line can work for closed accounts where both you and the client know each other well, this is a big “no-no” for early communication.
Apart from being formal (or semi-formal, depending on your target client/business), a successful subject line needs to tell the reader who you are and what you have to offer.
Your email’s subject line is your first selling point and it should maintain a professional tone of voice and clearly state what benefits you can provide your client with.
Let’s assume you’re a technical writer composing your first email to Client X who is a giant in the telecommunication sector. Consider the previous example and with a little tweak here and a touch there… You can actually put up something along the lines of “My well-researched blog posts can increase your brand recognition.” This new subject line is loaded with information that’s difficult-to-ignore and carries just a hint of persuasion. The reader now knows what you do, how you can add value to his organization with professional content. How good is that?
The Email’s Body
A good subject line is expected to make your receiver open your mail and read it. With that in mind, make sure they have something amazing to read once they get to your email’s body!
The goal is to ensure your entire email is read and an action is generated as a response. To achieve this, the body of your email should be carefully structured to elicit a positive reply — from addressing the client to the very last word.
Never go straight into your email’s body paragraphs without a proper salutation to the reader. Words like “Dear” or “Hello” are good introducers before the receiver’s name.
Using salutations like “Dear Mr. Boris” or “Hello, Mr. Boris” are more acceptable (while still welcoming/personable) in the corporate sector than the more informal “Hey there” or the completely impersonal/robotic-sounding “Dear Sir/Madam.”
If the name of your prospective client is unknown, or you have multiple intended receivers, then you can simply write “To whom it may concern.” However, this is not ideal and, whenever possible, you should do as much digging as you can for your recipient’s name before opting for the ol’ TWIMC greeting.
Furthermore, the body of your email should be the elaboration of the context you have already covered in your subject line. If we refer back to our example, the email body should cover that you are a professional writer (who), that you’re an expert at penning blog posts (what), and that you help companies strengthen their brand (benefit).
All’s well that ends well and your business email must end with a concrete conclusion in order to see things off the way you want.
The most positive outcome you can expect from an email is that the receiver will reach out to you with further queries regarding what you’ve already sent. To attain this, you’ll need to have a specific point at the end of your email that works similarly to a call to action facilitator.
For example, dropping a line like “Please let me know if we can further discuss the topics I’ve shortlisted for your blog” is going to generate interest from your client as you’re offering to provide him with a solution without asking for anything more than a response on his end.
Last, email notifications can be irritating to many overworked business owners. In my experience, I’ve found that adding a final line subtly acknowledging the client’s busy corporate lifestyle is usually appreciated. Try adding an ending line which clearly states that you meant no disturbance and, rather, simply wanted to add to their business’ overall value. “I understand that you’re extremely busy, and I hope my email hasn’t caused any inconvenience” acts as a perfect painkiller for such circumstances.
My Successfully-Tested Email Hacks
Now you’ll learn some lesser-known factors that are key elements of a well-organized email.
These are features which are minimal in appearance but are key to making your email a piece of absolute professional art.
You don’t need to be dexterous to manage these procedures in the correct manner; but, if you’re able to do so, you’ll more likely to be considered someone who is truly skillful in the art of professional communication.
Use a Personalized Email Address
One of the reasons Lauren Spear noticed my pitch for this article was my personal email ID.
Lauren confided in me that, when she first started LittleZotz Writing back in 2010, the competition was slimmer and her firstname.lastname@example.org email address was perfectly acceptable. And, while she’s kept that address for LittleZotz Writing (its been her recognized/trusted email for over a decade!), she opted to invest in a personalized/professional email address — email@example.com — to market her new website (established Oct. 2019), HorrorFam.com!
As Ms. LittleZotz herself noted, the market has changed drastically in the past decade. These days, a regular Gmail or Yahoo extension not only looks less professional, an address along the lines of cutebloke1987@live is also more likely to land in the spam folder.
Even if you cannot afford a personal email ID, try to make your third-party hosted email address look professional and relevant to what you do. Addresses like JennaWrites@gmail or BobBlogger@yahoo are much better than the “cutebloke1987” example above.
However, it’s always in your best interest to get a customized email ID. In this case, buy a personalized domain name and set up an email with it. Consider the money spent on optimizing your email ID as an investment. You can use Google’s G Suite or Webmail from your hosting provider for a dedicated email service.
The Order of Recipients Matters
Do you know the variations between a To:, a CC: and a BCC: when sending emails? Simply put:
- The ID of the main intended receiver of the email is kept directly in the To: bar
- Other receivers who’re not the direct targets but who may play a decisive role and need to know the context of the email are generally kept in the CC: bar and,
- You can opt in for the BCC: bar for any email ID you do not want others to view.
In our example, your contact point at Company X is the direct recipient in the To: bar and his supervisor can be comfortably put in the CC: bar.
It’s often a good idea to put the lowest-ranked person first in the order of email IDs if you include several email IDs in the same bar. For example, if you intend to put both your contact person at Company X and his supervisor in the To: bar, then you should put the subordinate’s email ID first.
This makes things more convenient in the sense that everyone in the email loop gets an understanding of the level of hierarchy among each other. Furthermore, such orders can also point out the intensity of targeting you have referred to; that is, the person who appears first on the list is the most desired person from your end.
Know Your Target Client/Business and Stay Relevant
Keep irrelevant topics at bay and don’t dig in too deep in your first email. Leave room for a follow-up! If you say everything about yourself and what you do in your initial email, you remove that shred of intrigue that inspires a reply.
Double-check the information you’re providing your potential client and what, in return, you’re asking from them. Make sure you know the pain point of your reader and offer an appropriate solution for it. Otherwise, you might end up pitching to someone who isn’t actually in need of your services.
For example, you’d look a tad foolish if you wrote to Lauren Spear for a “job” at LittleZotz Writing when her FAQ Page clearly states that LittleZotz Writing is a one-woman operation and that she has zero need for employees. Rather than waste your time (and hers!) detailing your credentials as a potential hire, you could save yourself an embarrassing misstep by doing your due diligence ahead of time and send her a warmly-welcomed guest post pitch instead! (Or, by focusing your efforts into finding a business more suited to your skills who will hire you).
Doing some research beforehand will not only allow you to be more prepared to write a convincing email body for your target client; it will also save you the annoyance of wasting precious time and effort on a futile prospect.
Include an Email Signature
As discussed earlier, the greetings and sign offs in a business email are miles apart from those used with a personal one.
I’ve already covered greetings, so let’s discuss your signature.
When signing off, it’s best to keep things simple and use phrases like “Best regards” or “Sincerely” before writing down your name.
This brings us to the last — but extremely important — element of your business email: Always include your signature at the end. An email signature is your opportunity to create additional exposure for yourself and make you more memorable/credible. Your email signature may include (but is not limited to) your name, your website, and/or your logo.
Wrapping Things Up…
Keep in mind that although an email is just one of the many communication tools at your disposal, it’s perhaps the most vital as it’s an accepted and convenient means of approaching a new client.
Business emails are less complex than a formal proposal, less nerve-wracking than a cold call, and generally more well-received than an SMS message.
By writing your business emails properly — with a clever subject line, suitable greetings, relevant core message, and a responsive sign off — you can become a true master of writing emails that generate leads.
As promised in the intro, here’s your sample email template. This email has been written to address a scenario where you’re replying to a circular you’ve seen on a job board. Make full use of this. Good luck!