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Freelance Writers: Should You Consider Direct Email Marketing?
By William Ballard, Freelance Writer and Author
Picture this: It’s Monday morning. About 9am, you check your email to find that you have four new clients rushing to talk to you about their projects. You pick up the phone to call the first one on your list but before you can dial the number, the phone rings. It’s a client asking for a rush order at $2,000. After getting the details, you make your calls and before the hour is up you have secured another $3,000 worth of work. Sound impossible? It’s not if you get busy with the easiest marketing method available: Direct email marketing.
This is not the sort of spam that you get in your email, or mailbox, every day, so relax. This is targeted direct email to businesses that let them know you exist. It’s similar to cold calling but without the actual phone call. It's cold emailing.
While you can certainly purchase an email list, it isn’t difficult to make your own and it’s far more useful to you in the long run. In fact, I would highly recommend you do not purchase an email list. It will likely be full of fake email addresses anyways. It will also likely result in your emails getting in the “spam” folder of the recipients, instead of in their actual inboxes where you want them to be.
Less than an hour of effort and you will have a perfectly crafted list full of strong leads dieing to work with you. While most businesses need freelance writers, different types of businesses have different types of needs. By creating your own email lists you can easily set up categories so that you can send the same email to everyone on a particular list and have it be timely and relevant to their actual needs. Understand that a generic letter will be deleted! But on the other hand, a targeted email will be read.
This is important: If you are emailing them with timely information that fits what they need, it will be a service to them, and you’ll be far more likely to receive a good response.
Google is a big help in growing your email list. Pick a city or town and Google your target audience. We will use small businesses for an example. For this example, you are going to target them to use you as their writer for their business brochures. Google can give you a list of every small business in a particular area, and you can also just make a list of the local small business in your area that you like and frequently shop at, or do business with. Visit their website and you will be able to find the name of the owner or marketing director (depending on the size of the business.) You will also find their email address.
You always want to try to get the email address of the person who does the hiring. The generic company address should be your absolute last choice! These generally go to a secretary, or customer service manager, who will delete anything that isn’t of immediate importance to their specific area of knowledge.
Once you have the email address and the name of the hiring person, input the information into a mailing list. There are several programs available and everyone has a favorite.
If you are wondering how many emails to collect: all of them! Try and get an email address for every small business in your area. You will be repeating this process for other industries later so you can skip them for now.
Make sure that while you are gathering this information you add in the physical address as well. This will come into play later. Most mass email programs allow you to input name, address, phone number and email. You want all that information for your records.
After creating your list of small businesses in your area, you are done with that particular area in regards to small businesses. Later when you expand to another geographic location you can either add the new companies to this list or create a separate list.
Now it’s time to craft the email itself. As a writer you don’t need help with this but please keep it to the point and be brief. Make sure to include your name, phone number and link to your freelance writing website.
Where many writers fail in both cold calling and cold emailing is that they spend a lot time telling the potential client how great they are at writing without letting their writing speak for itself. What the writer should be telling the potential client is how their business will be improved by allowing the writer to help them. Whatever you choose to write, be sure and focus on how hiring you will make their job easier and more profitable.
After you have crafted the email, close it and take a walk. Go get something to eat. Give yourself at least 2 hours before you return to it and read it again. Once you are certain that it's perfect, set up the mailing system to send it.
Do not send it immediately! The best email campaigns are designed to land the email in the prospects inbox at the beginning of the workday. For most companies that is 8am. Set up the email to go then. This will have it more likely to be seen first thing in the morning when your potential client gets to work but before they have a chance to get busy. In case you were wondering, any day of the week is fine but I prefer Tuesday. The reason for this is that Monday is the crisis day. This is the day when new projects are dropped in the laps of people who have to figure out the logistics of getting them done. If they need help with the writing, your Tuesday email is timed perfectly.
The final question people ask is, about how often you should send emails out? Some say weekly, I disagree! Every other week is enough to keep your name and writing services in front of potential client without seeming to badger them.
Follow these steps for every industry and region that you target. By setting your email list up as industry specific, you can send a single email that is the perfect fit every time. In other words, you can target four industries and send out hundreds of emails by writing four specific emails. That’s about as easy as marketing is going to get.
Now go set up your direct email-marketing list and get started in earning a full-time living as a freelance writer!
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About the Author
William Ballard is the author of, “My List of 21 Things You Need to Know About Self-Publishing” and "3 Steps to Blogging Success: Discovering Your Passion, Finding Your Audience, and Developing an Income Stream (Article Series)".
He has been writing professionally for over 10+ years and has much experience within the industry, both in publishing and in freelance writing. He has successfully self-published over 10 books and eBooks. Visit his Amazon Author Page to see list of his most recent projects.