Land more work with an excellent letter of introduction
If you are looking for content marketing, content creation or copywriting work, a well-crafted letter of introduction (LOI) might be just what you need to land great clients.
Letters of introduction for freelance writers
So what is a letter of introduction? An LOI is a letter you write to potential clients as a brief introduction to your services and [this is the important bit] how what you offer may be able to help them.
I mentioned in a recent post that around 90% of my LOIs were getting replies. Even if the response is a 'no thanks', I see this as a positive sign that they took the time to reply to my query.
I would say around 20% of the LOIs I send out get a positive response - that might range from a potential client wanting to schedule a phone call with me, to requesting more information or clips of relevant work I've completed or asking that I get back in touch in a month or two.
Unlike a pitch you send to a magazine or newspaper editor where you can get a yes straight away, I've never had an immediate yes from an LOI - but the point of these letters is to start a conversation. And unlike a query letter to a traditional publication, you can send bulk lots of these letters out with only minimal tweaks.
I have a standard LOI that I change depending on which of my specialities or niches I want to highlight – for non-profits I tend to emphasise my social work background and PhD, for prospective business clients I highlight my experience writing B2B content and link to an ebook I wrote for a big organisation.
The main thing is that clients want to know that you understand their business or organisation, their problems [or their readers' problems] and that you can create content that will help solve them.
What does an LOI need to contain?
LOIs for freelance writers or content marketers need to include a brief description of your background (only include what is relevant to the particular client), the type of content you produce (e.g. blog posts, white papers, case studies) and the publications or companies you have written for.
I am a fan of short and sharp LOIs. What you write has to be enough for them to a) open the email b) read it c) feel that it resonates with them and d) respond. You want it to be approachable, interested and not sales-y.
It's important that you comply with anti-spam rules when sending an loi - make sure you are familiar with your country's "spam act". Here is the link to the Australian Spam act
1. Create a list of potential clients
Lately I’ve been focusing on sending out LOIs to non-profit organisations with a health focus, so I’ve created a list of charities and organisations that I'd like to write for and who produce regular content.
Each Friday afternoon [and that probably isn't the best time to do it but it's when my writing brain is well and truly done for the week] I send out between 5 and 10 LOIs to these organisations.
I usually use LinkedIn to connect with them or to source the email address of the best person to contact.
(If you're keen to find high-paying clients on LinkedIn here is a resource I've created for freelance writers, content writers and copywriters. This resource has the EXACT scripts of what I said to land lucrative gigs).
2. Create a simple document to track your LOIs
I am not tech-savvy at all, and in the past I have sent out LOIs on a whim whenever I saw an organisation or opportunity that caught my eye. But now I'm freelancing full time, I have started sending out regular LOIs and find that it is crucial to keep track of who I've sent letters to and their response.
Below is a snapshot of the spreadsheet I use to track my LOIs – it’s simple but effective and at a glance I can see where I’m at.
And as you can see, there are a few that I need to follow up on from March and April! Ooops!
3. LOIs are part of a well rounded marketing campaign
Since I began freelancing full time I have made a conscious effort to diversify my income streams. I write feature articles for magazines and newspapers, but around 40% of my income comes from corporate work.
I don't just rely on LOIs to attract corporate clients. Some of my business comes through word-of-mouth, some comes through web traffic and searches, other clients come through agencies that I've signed up to. For me, that’s the smartest way of freelancing. That way you ride out any bumps that may be happening in a particular industry.
18 months ago almost all of my freelancing income came from one particular media company, but now only about 10% of it does. With so many changes in the media landscape, I wanted to make sure that if a particular publisher went under or cut back on their use of freelancers I still have lots of other options.
Below is a copy of a brief letter of introduction I sent to a content manager at a children's charity. I received a positive reply and will be doing some work for them in the next month. You can see that I've highlighted my experience working with children and mentioned that I'd written content for similar organisations.
Remember that the point of your LOI is to get some interest from potential clients. You want to deliver a letter that makes them want to take the next step - to have a conversation with you.
One thing I didn't do, and which Jennifer Gregory suggests, is to pay attention to the subject line. I usually write "Freelance writer query", which is not very compelling!
Sample letter of introduction for freelance writers
My name is Lindy Alexander and I am a freelance health writer and researcher based in Victoria.
I'm getting in touch to ask whether [organisation] ever uses freelance writers to help create web content to raise awareness and advocate about [issues and mission of organisation]?
My writing has been published widely in Australian newspapers and magazines. I’ve also written feature articles, blogs and discussion papers for organisations such as The Australian Breastfeeding Association and The Starlight Children's Foundation.
I have a PhD in social work from The University of Melbourne, and one of my passions is turning complex information into engaging and interesting content. I also worked for 10 years as a social worker in early childhood intervention.
Following is a link to samples of my feature writing: www.lindyalexander.net/portfolio
I'd be happy to discuss my experience and how I can be of help, if you're interested.
Thanks for your time Sarah, I look forward to hearing from you.
This may not be the absolutely perfect example of an LOI, and it's definitely not as detailed as some , but it has worked well for me so far.
Do you send out regular LOIs? Do you have tips to add that have worked for you?