Is one of your New Year’s resolutions to market your freelance writing business more? You’re not alone – I’m sure that’s at the top of every freelance writer’s list.
The problem is a lot of us run out of the usual suspects (friends, former colleagues, trade association connections, etc.) in a few months. Cold-calling, or rather, cold-emailing, is what I do to fill the gap. And, I’m not talking about spam.
The first step is assembling a list. This is an ongoing process, at least until you have enough regular clients and referrals that you can ease up on the cold pitching.
My best source of leads is a simple Google search. I type in (city) digital marketing agency, (city) SEO agency, or (city) web design. I put a local city first – the closest big city to you of any decent size. Then, I gradually spread beyond that.
Other good sources are various chambers of commerce and other industry groups in your area. I have found some good connections through Meetup groups – go over to Meetup.com, and type in (city) networking, digital marketing, etc. This saves some time, as you already have the person’s name, probably their job title, and the company they work for.
In an Excel spreadsheet, I cut and paste the firm’s name into the first column. The second column is blank for now – that’ll be for the contact name. The third column is also blank for now – that’ll be for the email address. The fourth column contains their website URL. Succeeding columns will contain the dates I followed up with them.
Now that you have the list, start going through the websites you collected. You are looking for the person in charge of content marketing, or something similar. With a small firm, you may have to settle for the owner’s name. Put that in the second column. If you can find their email address, put that in the third column. However, many websites now have contact forms so you might need to put that link in the third column instead of an email address.
Once you get fifty or so, start emailing daily – I shot for 25 or 50 a day when I was starting out. This is why you need so many – cold-calling is a numbers game. I do it first thing in the morning so it’s out of the way and I don’t have any excuses.
In the headline, I put: “Content for (name of company)”
For the salutation, I use the person’s first name. If they object to the informality, then we probably are not going to work out anyway. Your mileage may vary. Here’s the rest of it:
“I’m seeing if you need help with your content marketing for (company). I have __ years experience writing for Huffington Post, ESPN.com, Village Voice and more. Hundreds of thousands have read my work there, on my blog, or one of my fourteen books. Please ask for clips – I’d be glad to forward pertinent ones. I am sure I can help you out, too. Services include blog posts, newsletter writing, landing pages, and more. I’d love to help you with your content marketing needs.”
Go with whatever social proof you have – if necessary, do some free guest posts to get some clips.
In the next blank column of your spreadsheet, write down the date of the initial email. If they respond, I will put a Yes in the next column, signaling I don’t need to follow up with them.
For follow-up, I borrowed the 3-7-7 method from Bamidele Onibalusi. If I haven’t heard back in three days, I follow up with another email. Then, again, a week later, with the last followup another week later. If I still haven’t heard from them after four emails, I put the information in a tickler spreadsheet. I then send them the first email again in six months, after double-checking to make sure the contact info. is still correct.
Since each email is personalized, I’m not spamming anyone. I never send out mass, impersonal emails. While it takes more time, personalization will yield far better results for you…and you won’t get accused of spamming.
That’s all there is to it – just keep emailing, and don’t get discouraged. It works, I promise.
- Cold Calling: Seven Strategies to Take Away the Pain By Freya Shipley
- Pitch The Big Publications Like You’re Worth It…Because You ARE! By Darlena Cunha
- TANTALIZING SUBJECT LINES! How to Make Almost Anyone Open and Read Your Email/Blog/Article
- Opt-In Email Lists – A REALLY Bad Marketing Idea By Richard and Angela Hoy
- Unsolicited Promotional Email Plan
- Is It Okay To Query By Email?
Mikey Chlanda was born in and raised in New York City (born 1961 – ). He came to Yellow Springs to go to Antioch College. When Maples (the college fire department) found out he had been an ER Tech in a Manhattan emergency room, they made Chlanda join. Chlanda fell in love with the fire service and after college, he joined the village fire department, retiring as a lieutenant. After an injury forced his retirement, he turned to writing. His first book, “Maples: A History of the Antioch College Fire Department” is a history of the only student-run fire department in the world. He writes for Huffington Post, Writers Weekly, ESPN.com, Forbes.com, and more. Mikey splits his time between Yellow Springs and Cincinnati, Ohio, but wishes he could be in New York City.
His fourteenth book, “Burning Revenge”, a fire department based murder mystery, is available for pre-order on Amazon.com. You can contact him at facebook.com/mikeychlanda, mikeychlanda.com, or email@example.com
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Peek over the shoulders of highly successful freelance writers to see how they earn thousands per article! The query letter is the key!
In these pages, you'll find real query letters that landed real assignments for national magazines, websites, and corporations.
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