One writer recently asked me about how to reach out to trade publications and companies.
Unlike magazines, where you pitch a story idea in a query letter, it’s hard to know what sorts of articles this other kind of prospect would like.
The writing work you want may not even be articles, but web pages or brochures.
A query letter is out
You’ll need to find another way to connect with these kinds of prospects.
“Would it be acceptable to simply write and introduce myself and mention I am a freelance writer?”
Well, yes it would, Virginia. This marketing approach is called a letter of introduction, or LOI.
While the basic premise is fairly simple, writing a successful LOI isn’t all that easy. We all know how many emails we get.
To get a positive response and a writing assignment — rather than a quick trip to the “delete” folder — your LOI needs to be creatively written and compelling. It needs to quickly hook your recipient and convince them you are the writer they should hire.
In other words, you need to warm up your prospects. You need to make a connection with them that makes them feel comfortable hiring you.
How can you do that?
My four best LOI tips
1. Get a referral. Ed Gandia, coauthor of The Wealthy Freelancer,says he gets nearly 70 percent response rates on marketing emails he sends that have a subject line like this:
<Prospect’s friend’s name here> sent me your way
No other method gets as strong of a response, he tells me. So it can really pay to get out and do some old-fashioned, in-person networking to make more connections who might refer you. Or tap your social-media networks to see who might know someone at a company you’re targeting for a reach-out.
2. Do your homework. Another way to create a ‘warm’ connection is to research the company or publication you’re targeting. Then, in your LOI, you can mention something you noticed — an interesting article, or maybe the lack of case studies or a strong “About” page on their website.
3. Target relevant niches. Your best bet is to send LOIs to publications or industries where you can show some similar work experience — or, barring that, some relevant life experience. For instance, I’ve been able to get a lot of gigs writing legal content because I was once a legal secretary. Ditto for insurance, which my dad sold, so I sort of grew up around that industry and had at least a vague idea how it works. Of course, the ideal is if you can show similar writing work and talk about the results you got for a previous client in their niche.
4. Copy their style. Take a look at the writing style this prospect uses, and then hand it right back to them in the style of your query. Soak up their tone — is it casual? Snarky? Businesslike? — and then use it in your LOI.
Need help with your LOI? Get tips on the forums in here…