Whether you are in the start-up stages of a creative business or growing it to the next level, knowing how to establish new working relationships is a key skill every creative hustler must develop. This is especially true for service-based businesses like freelance copywriting, event planning, photography, coaching, and more. In some cases work may come through referrals or a short-term project can turn into a long-term client relationship. Your website, portfolio, and personal brand may all be working in your favor and clients are coming to you for projects. In other cases, you can find yourself needing to proactively pitch work to new clients. Here is a simple four step plan on how-to effectively cold email and get hired for your creative work.
Step one: find the work
Step one is a no-brainer, right? First you have to find people or businesses in need of your services. There are several ways to go about this. Here are a few points of reference to get started:
Search general job boards online. You may already know a few where would-be clients post jobs for hire in your career niche. Proactively search for work to pitch here.
Associations and networks. Do you belong to an association or referral network in your industry? Often times a perk here is an job board visible to members-only.
Step two: research the client
Between finding the work and submitting your proposal or cold email pitch, this is an important step not to be missed. Do your research on the client. Try to anticipate the needs of the client and position your creative work as a solution.
For example, as a freelance copywriter you may come across a job-for-hire of a business owner in need of copywriting for a website sales page. After researching the client, you see that you can offer more value by providing the sales page content and a package to revamp additional pages on the website along with copywriting for an email marketing campaign. Plus, you see that a customer of this business is a previous client. With that research, you can now customize your cold pitch to create a better sales opportunity for yourself and include a testimonial reference from that previous customer.
Step three: a pitch that gets you hired
Since you’ve done your research, you will have an easier time personalizing the pitch. Along with being personable, be sure to keep it professional and to the point.
Another tip to get noticed and be memorable is simply to show your best work. Instead of sharing a general portfolio, you might curate one to two examples of your work that fall most in line with the job the client is hiring for. You might also explicitly mention a company or brand within this business’s industry that you have worked for within your email.
Since we’re talking cold emails here, there’s also something to be said for a crafty subject line. One study of 1,000 emails, by Fast Company, found that short subject lines that created curiosity or provided utility were the most likely emails to be opened. So there you have it, keep it short and attention grabbing. Nix the generic “proposal for x job” subject line.
Step four: follow up
Remember to follow-up after your initial pitch. The key to following up effectively and in a professional way really comes down to two things: when and how-often. If for example you have submitted a proposal to a business that explicitly implied in a job posting that they will reply to all proposals within one week, you might follow up exactly then. After one week, once. Keep it courteous and brief.
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More articles to craft the perfect pitch
Blogroll call! Here are more great articles on writing the perfect cold email to pitch your creative work.
How I used cold emails to find freelance writing opportunities, from Jorden of Writing revolt
How to write a cold email that will get a response, from Alissa of Everything's not OK and that's OK