Writers tend to be a shy group, and making cold calls to get new clients might just equal the joy of having your teeth drilled.
In other words, you’d rather not. By writing a letter of introduction first, it can make it easier to do. Not just that, but a letter can also be a nice follow up when you’ve met someone briefly and aren’t sure if they have a need for your services. I’ve found letters of introduction to be extremely helpful in getting freelance clients.
What Is It?
First, the basics. A letter of introduction is a one-page correspondence piece that highlights a writer’s achievements and background. The letter should be short and to the point, and convey that the writer is looking for work and believes he or she can assist the recipient of the letter.
Letters like these can be emailed or sent. So even if you’re going to email a contact, it’s not a bad idea to firm it up like a more formalized letter.
You can use a letter a couple of different ways. First, it serves as an icebreaker for contacting a client. You could first send a letter to let the potential client know that you’d like to speak further about freelance work. This letter would end on an open note, with a promise to call the client again at a later time.
A second purpose for the letter is to obtain freelance writing work directly. This type of letter will highlight the writer’s work history and also make a bid for future work with the client.
I’ve used this when I knew a client’s needs well enough that I could make a pitch on what they were missing in the way of writing coverage. In this case, I would come right out and say that I’d like to write X, Y, and Z articles, and I would give specific article titles as a pitch. I’d then follow it up with links to where I had written something similar for someone else.
You have to address these letters to the right person in order for them to be effective. So that takes some digging. But you’re a writer, and digging for facts is what you do. So this should be no problem.
How to do this? Look on their website first, but even if you find a name, call the company to make sure your contact info is current.
Then, in the first few lines, state why you are writing. For example, “I wanted to get in touch with you regarding blogging for your organization” or “I wanted to offer my freelance writing services to you in times of heavy workload or during the vacations of your staff.”
The second paragraph should immediately talk about your experience. A writer should make this succinct and directly related to the work he or she is trying to obtain. For example, “I have worked for ABC Company and XYZ Firm, which also produce truck engines” or “I have worked with organizations similar in size and scope to your firm.”
The next paragraph should list specific tasks that the writer has been successful with. These can be an paragraph form, or in the form of bullet points. Typical points could be:
Wrote press release for ABC Company to initiate PR campaign
Helped XYZ Organization create a white paper outlining their new technical product
Drafted direct mail copy for HGH Corporation
Ask for the Job in the Final Part of a Letter of Introduction
To wrap up the letter, highlight why hiring you would be a great idea. Perhaps you can get up and running quickly, thereby reducing training costs. Or maybe a writer can take over the workload during times when the company is understaffed. Each writer has a different benefit he can provide for a company to hire him.
Finally, close out the letter with a promise to follow up with a phone call. Always end any correspondence with your website address, so potential clients can find out more about you background and experience. Then, don’t forget to follow up!