Do you have a list of clients you’d like to work with? If you’re wondering how to approach them, cold email – i.e., an unsolicited email sent without prior contact – is one way freelance proofreaders can reach out to (and win) new clients. In this post, we’ll show you how to:
- Write a subject line that catches the eye of prospective clients.
- Address the recipient personally to make a stronger first impression.
- Customize your message to reflect each recipient’s needs.
- Use a call to action to persuade the recipient to take the next step.
- Develop a follow-up strategy in case there’s no reply.
Check out our tips below for more on how to cold email potential clients.
1. Write an Attention-Grabbing Subject Line
Your potential clients are likely busy people. So, how can you persuade them to open your email? A catchy subject line might help your message to stand out. To do that:
- Keep it concise (a maximum of 60 characters or 10 words).
- Avoid vague language so the recipient can instantly see why you’re emailing.
- Use an action verb (e.g., “Improve your writing with expert proofreading”) or a question (e.g., “Why is it important to hire a proofreader?”) to hook the reader.
- Avoid ALL CAPS, exclamation points, and spammy or clichéd language.
You can also use online tools to test your subject lines before clicking send.
2. Address the Recipient Directly
You need to know your email will be seen by the right person. If you’re emailing an individual, such as a self-published author with a public email address, that’s simple enough. But if you’re emailing a company, there are two things you’ll want to do:
- If possible, identify the email address of the person responsible for content at the company, not the generic company email, then contact them directly.
- Address them by name rather than using a generic salutation like “Dear Sir/Madam.”
As with the subject line, this will help prevent your emails getting lost in an inbox.
3. Tailor Cold Emails to Each Potential Client
Starting with a cold email template saves you time. However, it’s important to tailor the content of each email. In terms of the body of your email, you will want to briefly set out:
- Some of the key features and benefits of your services, explained in terms of the recipient’s needs (i.e., how proofreading or editing can benefit them specifically).
- Any relevant experience or expertise in the same field as the recipient. You can also include reviews or testimonials from past clients on similar projects.
- Why you’d like to work with them in particular. If it was a blog post that has caught your eye, mention it. A colleague recommended you reach out? Mention that too.
Before emailing, then, do some research on your potential client and look for ways you can tailor your template to fit their needs. Try to keep this short, too! Ideally, your initial email should be under 200 words, so you may need to pick the most relevant details.
Don’t forget, too, that you can link out to your website, social media, etc., if you want to point the recipient to extra information about your services, experience, or specialisms.
4. End on a CTA
End your cold email on a call to action (CTA), giving the recipient a clear next step to take. One simple option is to suggest a call or meeting. For example:
Are you available for a 20-minute online chat next Wednesday at 2 pm? If that doesn’t work, feel free to email me at this address and we can schedule another time.
You can also provide a calendar link so they can schedule a meeting straight away.
Alternatively, everybody likes something for nothing. For example, you could offer a free or discounted sample to gain their trust and showcase your abilities.
In either case, end your email by giving the recipient no excuse for not responding. After that, add a friendly sign-off, proofread your message, and you’re good to go!
5. Plan Your Follow-Up Emails
Sometimes, emails get lost in a full inbox. But that doesn’t mean you give up! Instead, you need a plan for what to do if the recipient doesn’t respond:
- After 1–4 days without a response, write a second email checking in again. Look for a different angle on your original message here. You can also reply to the previous email you sent to remind them of your initial contact.
- After another 4–7 days, write once more. This time, keep it even shorter, summarizing just the key points of your message and the CTA.
- After another week, send one more reminder, this time emphasizing what they’ll be missing if they don’t respond to create a sense of urgency. Alternatively, you can try contacting another relevant person at the same company (e.g., if you tried the content manager at first, you could try the marketing manager instead).
Typically, three or four follow-up emails without a response is a sign to move on: if the recipient doesn’t respond by then, they are unlikely to suddenly reply with a “yes” for the fifth email, so make sure you don’t end up harassing them. And if they say “no,” simply thank them for their time, ask them to keep you in mind for the future, and move on.
Becoming A Proofreader
One thing that can impress potential clients is a proofreading-specific qualification. And with the Becoming A Proofreader course in your back pocket, we’re sure you’ll find more people keen to take up your services. Sign up for a free trial of the course today!