Cold Contacting Prospective Clients

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on December 29, 2007 in Marketing
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Cold Calling - Credit: Steve WoodsCold calling or emailing prospective clients to offer your services can be an effective way to bring in business as a freelance writer. However, many writers are turned off by the idea because they lack confidence.

I haven't used cold contacting in quite some time, because I've been kept pretty busy with referrals and my own sites. I came across a company running a service I love, but their copy needs some major work - at very least with some proofreading. I have no doubt they would appeal to more potential users with some text touch-ups.

I'm going to send them a pitch email later today, with a sample paragraph or two edited, to see if they'll bite.

Consider this an early New Year's Challenge - Cold contact at least one potential client no later than the first week of January!

The worst that will generally happen is that they'll say no. Just be tasteful, and give it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised to find that a lot of people willing to pay for your services simply don't realize that they need you yet!

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.


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6 Comments

  1. Diana December 29, 2007 Reply

    How exactly do you go about this? Please don’t say phone. I’m not a phone person, so the idea of cold calling a company just terrifies me. I’m thinking email, but how do you approach the thing in general? Do you have a standard email you send? Any specific wording?

  2. Jennifer Mattern December 29, 2007 Reply

    I prefer email, and since I’m usually pitching online businesses, it works fairly well (although like I said, I haven’t done this in quite a while).

    There’s no specific template I follow. It’s best just to keep it short and don’t overload it with hype. You don’t want to be accused of simply spamming someone. In my case, I actually use their service, so I’ll be pitching my services based on the perspective of a user, and knowing the market they’re trying to target well.

    When I do any cold emailing like this, I try to include a brief sample. In this case, I’ll proofread / edit a few paragraphs from their site and include the new copy so they can take a look at the differences themselves… just something short; it’s not about doing spec work.

    Introduce yourself, list your qualifications relevant to them, tell them what interest you have in helping them, give your rates, and show them that hiring you can benefit them in some way (or better yet, stop them from losing users / customers / visitors).

    I wanted to do this tonight, but I think it’s going to have to wait. I found out I’m going out of town tonight instead of tomorrow night due to some pending snow here tomorrow evening. Lovely. Oh well. I should really have my new business writing site up before I pitch it anyway, so perhaps I’ll do that while I’ll away tomorrow.

  3. Diana December 30, 2007 Reply

    Have you actually landed clients by contacting them like this? It sounds like a good, professional approach, but I’m wondering how I would react if somebody would send me an email basically saying my website is terrible :) And what exactly do you do to find the prospective clients? Actually search for them or simply send an email when and if you run into a website that needs the help?

    By the way, this has nothing to do with anything, but I own the phone in the photo :)

  4. Jennifer Mattern December 30, 2007 Reply

    I’ve landed clients like that in the past, but I’m definitely out of practice. Now I tend to use that strategy more with past clients, by noticing they’re lacking something in their copy or PR efforts, and suggesting services. That’s usually quite effective.

    I remember, maybe a year ago, a colleague had some great luck with the technique. She was using a Webinar program (which she paid a good bit for), and she realized they had basically know tutorials on how to actually use the service, and it drove her nuts. She basically contacted them complaining about them having no help available, offered to write it for them, and got the gig. lol I think it really does help when you’re able to go to a prospective client with a legitimate consumer-oriented concern like that.

    I don’t search for clients to pitch, but it doesn’t mean you can’t do that. In this case, I just happen to like the company’s service, and noticed that it’s painful to dig through the writing on their site from a user side of things. I know they’re a serious company, and not something like an MFA site where they don’t necessarily care about the visitors, so they’re worth pitching.

  5. Jessica Mousseau December 30, 2007 Reply

    A lot of my work has come from doing this — and direct mail campaigns, all my marketing and PR studies have come in handy ;)

  6. Diana December 31, 2007 Reply

    Wow. Impressive. I really never thought about the idea of contacting people to let them know their website or materials needed help. I’ll keep this in mind in case I run into something when surfing or using a product.

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