Paying clients are the lifeblood of any successful service-based business. You’ve heard this right? But how do you get clients when you are starting out?
Well my friend, I will be straight up and honest about it: it involves serious hustle and stellar conversations that seal the deal.
I am here to talk about the “stellar conversations that seal the deal” portion of this formula, and we’re going to learn how to do that with email. The truth is that while you will eventually have potential clients knocking down your door, and yes, to the point where you will have to turn down some work, when you are starting out as a freelancer, you have to do some serious outreach.
The Cold Email Script That Got Me My First Paying Client
Last year, I started a freelance career as a social media manager for local businesses in my area. I truly did not know how to go about getting the first client into my business. Until one day, while I sat at work, my husband forwarded me a link from Craigslist. Someone looking for a blog writer.
I was like, “Sure, I can write blog content. Let me reply to them.”
I did. But they never got back to me.
However, on Craigslist that same day, someone had put up an ad for a social media manager for their business. I obliged and sent them the following email.
My name is Gertrude and I just saw your ad on Craigslist for help with social media. I would be very happy to help.
I maintain my own blog at myonlinebizjourney.com and I have grown my social media presence mainly on Twitter, Pinterest and Periscope by providing unique content and making sure I interact with my readers on a daily basis. I currently receive 3500+ page views per month on my blog and growing.
I know I am a great fit for your social media needs and I am located right here in San Diego so we can meet up personally when the need arises.
Which social media platforms were you thinking of using ?
I certainly am proficient at using social media scheduling software like Buffer and Hootsuite, hashtag usage and SEO keyword relevance like you mentioned in your ad.
I look forward to hearing back from you & possibly getting the chance to help you with your needs.
Later that evening, this was the response I got back from the ad poster.
“GERTRUDE…You sound amazing! I was checking out your blog and must say that…your writing, your knowledge about nerdy things, and that you love soccer… well, we need to talk.”
(This epic response is dedicated to nerds everywhere. If you consider yourself one, I am giving you a virtual fist bump right now.)
I spoke with her a few days later over the phone and she became a client a short week later. She has since referred several paying clients to my business. #winning
Why did this cold email script work so well?
Let’s do a breakdown shall we?
I introduced myself immediately and told them why I was contacting them.
People generally have a short attention span. So if you don’t state exactly who you are and why you are getting in touch with them in your cold email script, you could lose them in the first 10 seconds. We don’t want that.
I immediately showed them “proof” that I could help them with their problem.
I had not had a social media client up until this point, but I had built my Twitter, Pinterest and Periscope following from the ground up. Your potential client is looking for an eager person who will deliver results. They generally don’t care about how long you’ve been in business as much as they care about the results and solutions you can deliver. Make sure your email clearly highlights those.
I mentioned why I would be a great fit for them.
This is very important in business. This is especially important when you’re answering an ad. Read the needs of the potential client and address why you and your particular service meet their specific needs.
I then went into specifics of some of the stuff the client had mentioned in their ad was important to them.
In my case, it was important to my potential client that I knew how to use scheduling software for social media, was knowledgeable about hashtag usage and how to research SEO keywords. I mentioned that I was proficient at that. This once again reassures the client that you CAN do what you say you can do and that you in fact read about their needs.
Freelancer Quick Tip: Keep a general cold email script written and ready to go for these kind of outreaches and then modify it based on the needs of the potential client. This will save you time every time you go to write a new potential client. Gmail’s canned responses is a great tool for this!
With all that being said, where do you go to find people you can reach out to anyway?
I usually go under the “gigs” section and look for people that are searching for assistance with the services I offer and then email them. You could also create your own listing and have people get in touch with you that way.
Ever since Facebook famously changed their algorithm reducing organic reach, a lot of business owners have taken to Facebook Groups as a way to connect with their audience. But a secondary benefit of Facebook Groups is that it is an excellent place to find people who are looking for freelancers.
Freelancing Sites Like Upwork
I will be honest with you. A lot of folks on Upwork are looking for people they can pay dimes to do $10 work for
them. So you can add this to your outreach mix but if it gets overwhelming and seems like you’re
not getting great results, this could be the reason.
Local Business Meet-ups
This is certainly an untapped resource BUT if you work it well, local business meetups can be a great place to meet potential clients. Meetup.com is a wonderful place to get started with this.
Contena.co for Writers
If you are a writer, Contena.co is a great place to find all kinds of writing gigs that can pay you handsomely. They have a paid version that is SO worth it.
Strategic blogging, vlogging and podcasting can keep you top of mind in your client’s heads. Don’t underestimate the power of it.
When it comes to freelancing, I have learned one thing: you are going to have to do some serious initial legwork. For many freelancers, this is sending out a cold email script to someone you have never met. It can be scary if you are an introverted person, but I promise it will pay off if it is done right from the start.
Here’s to writing yourself a cold email script that will get clients scrambling all over you for your services!