How to cold email a freelance lead

in Selling Guides

I’ve gotten to see a lot of client introduction emails over the past couple of months. I’ve realised that most freelancers don’t how to introduce themselves properly. There’s really only one thing to say to a potential customer the first time - why do you want to work with them?

The goal

Sales aren’t made in the first contact with a customer. They’re teased out over a few interactions, where you learn as much as you can about them and their goals.

Your goal of an introduction email is to pass their bullshit filter. This means showing that you spent time getting to know who they are, and what they want. And why you’re capable of delivering the results they’re after. That’s it. They don’t need your life story, or your price list, or a detailed work proposal.

Cold email

It’s better than a cold call for a lot of reasons. But it is not a good way to sell. Make sure you learn who you’re talking to, and using their name in the subject or header of your email. The first question you have to answer here is, “Is this email spam?”. Personalisation will help you pass.

Find out what they do in the business and how their business works. Most of this can be learned through their website. If they have a blog, read it. Tell them what you like about their business, and why you want to work with them.


To a customer with a specific problem, a portfolio is not all relevant.

Send them a specific case study and tell them how its relevant to them, what the results of that project were and why you think you can do the same for them. Bonus points if you can include that customer as a referee.

Give-away something

All businesses want a competitive edge. You can be theirs by showing you have insight into them and their industry. Such as, mentioning a recent change in regulations in their industry and asking their opinion on it. Or going through their website and suggesting any immediate improvements they could make. Obviously, don’t be petty, make sure it’s useful feedback. And be careful not to make assumptions about their business.

Call to action

Communicate with your client how they’ve asked to be communicated with. If you’re leads are sourced online, this is going to be mostly by email. Don’t insist on using other forms of communication because you prefer it.

Be specific about next steps,
let them know your availability and suggest a day and time they can agree to immediately. Don’t make them think, suggest a next step and make it easy to say “Yes”.

Here’s the kind of cold email I’d like to receive…

Hi Mitchell,
I came across your post looking for a copywriter and thought I would be a good fit. I like the biz model behind Workroll, much prefer it to commission based sites like UpWork.
I noticed you’ve already written a lot of content aimed at advanced freelancers. Have you thought about trying to convince people to become freelancers to begin with? A lot of people are scared to make the leap, maybe we could help them?
I wrote a particular piece for smashing magazine about a year ago that you might like. It was “How to make your start-up first hire”, and was aimed at start-ups.
I write content that is easy to understand, and helps increase engagement with customers. Most importantly for you, I’m very productive and can write 2 or 3 new pieces a day if required.
I’m free tomorrow at 2pm (BST) for a quick chat if you’re around? My phone number is…
Thanks, Dave.

And don’t forget to follow up!

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