My winning cold email template

Without a doubt, the most important tool in my freelancing toolbox is the good old fashioned cold email. Sound crazy? Maybe a little bit. But it’s either this or rely solely on your networking skills and referrals. I would literally never pick up the phone and call someone out of the blue to ask for work (or call anyone at all for that matter), but I have zero qualms about sending out an email to a stranger. What’s the worst that can happen? They just don’t hire you, that’s it. That’s as bad as it can get. You already don’t work for them, so really you have nothing to lose.

Here’s how I use my cold email template to snag freelance work.

Be selective

You aren’t just anyone and you don’t want to work with just any company. Find the people doing the work that either excites you, is exactly in your wheelhouse of experience, or both. For me, that’s finance, social justice, art, food, and music.

I have never worked in the health and wellness industry and barely believe anything it tells me, so I would never pitch to an essential oils company. It just doesn’t make sense and they probably wouldn’t hire me anyway.

Keep an eye on the new companies that make you stop and say “oh, that’s cool!” Those are the people you’ll have the most resonance with.

Find your person

Shamelessly stalk people on LinkedIn. Look for someone in leadership and start there. If my assistant passed a prospective freelancer’s email on to me, I might read it. If my boss did, I’d respond that day. Start at the top.

Stand out from the crowded inbox

Really Good Emails is a great source for…really good emails. Read up on a few and study your own inbox. We are all bombarded with garbage all day long, so you need to stand out. There is nothing that makes you stand out more than relevance. Relevance, in this case, is exactly what you can do for them and why they need it. Drop that in the subject line.

Get to the point

Unless you’re emailing your mom, keep it brief. A quick intro, a quick elaboration on the subject line, a few examples of your work, and a CTA. That’s it!

Follow up

Don’t be afraid to be a little annoying. Follow up with an even more brief version of your first email and a number to get ahold of you. No more, no less. No begging, no negging, no ghosting, no pleading. This is not personal, this is business.

This is how I do it

Big Finance Company is doing really cool stuff in the fintech world and they’ve come across my radar a few times. I’m into what they do, how they do it, and would like to work with them.

I stalked them on LinkedIn and found the CMO (jackpot!). I connect with him and every other c-suite person I can find on LinkedIn.

I find his email address and get to work on crafting my cold email.

Big Finance Company has a ton of educational materials on its website, but no videos. And their site copy is kind of meh. I have experience writing copy and short-form financial content—that’s my relevant hook.

I have done it, have examples of my work, success metrics, and an action plan. Here’s my email:

To: dustin.vanells@bigfinancecompany.com

Subject: Would love to turn your content library into a video series

Body: Experienced content strategist and writer interested in working with you

Hello,
My name is Nicole, and I’m a Content Strategist and Copywriter living in LA. I’m reaching out because I’m a big fan of Big Finance Company and all that you do.

I’d love to learn more about any opportunities available for us to work together. Turning your short-form educational content into a video series is a project I’ve been eyeing for a while.

I’m attaching my resume here, but the best example of my work is the current Swell Investing site.

Looking forward to working with you,
Nicole Sara Sivens

Does it always work?

Of course not, but no one can respond to an email you don’t send. Shoot your shot.

Here’s the template

To: headhoncho@acoolcompany.com

Subject: {thing you can do for them]

Body: Experienced [job you do] interested in working with you

Hello,
My name is [name], and I’m a[your job] living in [your city]. I’m reaching out because I’m a big fan of [cool company] and [all that you do/that one initiative].

I’d love to learn more about any opportunities available for us to work together. [Idea for a project] is a project I’ve been eyeing for a while.

I’m attaching my resume here, but the best example(s) of my work is/are [your website or a previous client’s website]

Looking forward to working with you,