Expert advice from a six-figure freelancer on how to write a Letter of Introduction that lands content marketing clients.
Looking to break into the lucrative world of content marketing writing? A Letter of Introduction is the key.
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of places for writers to find content marketing clients: job boards, LinkedIn, through agencies, via websites such as Contently that match writers with businesses, and of course, by contacting potential clients directly.
With the exception of websites that allow you to put up your portfolio and let clients find you, most of the time you’ll need to be proactive about contacting potential clients and finding work. You do this by sending a Letter of Introduction—a brief email introducing yourself, mentioning your clips and credits, and outlining why you’d be a great fit to do content marketing for this business or agency.
A strong Letter of Introduction can be the difference between getting thousands of dollars’ worth of work within a week and never hearing back from anyone.
How to write a Letter of Introduction
If you’ve never written an email that sells you and your writing services, it can be feel daunting. Here’s what to include in your Letter of Introduction to increase your chances of landing content marketing clients.
1. Your writing experience
You may be a new writer, but if you’re sending an LOI, you need to convince the person you’ve contacted—whether that’s an agency or a potential small business client—that you can produce the work.
You can’t do this if you have no writing credits. So if you’re a new writer with no clips, I recommend networking and finding clients in other ways (through Contently, for instance) before you start sending out dozens of LOIs.
2. Your business and content marketing experience
Ever written brochure copy for a corporate client? Blogged for the Indian restaurant down the road? Put together a case study for an animal rights organization?
That’s all experience you should highlight. If you’ve ever written for a business or worked for an association, pick the most relevant experiences and highlight them—even if you did the work for free. There’s no need to point out your volunteer status; what matters is that you did the work, and that you did it well.
3. Your understanding of their business
Enough talk about you. Let’s talk about the business. When you send an LOI to a small business or a corporate client (this doesn’t apply as much when pitching agencies), the one and only question they’re really asking is: What’s in it for me?
Make sure you provide a good answer to that by making it clear that you understand what problem they’re trying to solve and what need they’re filling through their business. This could be as simple as referencing some of their older content and explaining how it helped you (if you’re the target market), or pointing out that no one else seems to have the same unique selling proposition (USP), which really helps them stand out in the market. Compliment them, but be sincere.
4. Your understanding of their needs
One of the best ways to make your LOI stand out and get immediate responses is to do as much research on the company as you can and find a couple of areas where they can do better. I’m not a big fan of the “you suck at this and I can fix it” approach, but I do sometimes point out obvious areas of lack that I’m sure the business already knows about and likely wants to improve.
Some brands get a lot of cold pitches from writers, and most of those aspiring freelancers don’t do their research, so showing you put in the time and effort to really learn about the business will set you apart from everyone else.
For instance, you might find the content marketing strategy for a budgeting app you use has a lot of information about creating and sticking to budgets, but not enough on how to organize those savings you’re creating through budgeting. By proving that you understand their needs, not only do you demonstrate that you’re interested in what they offer, but you highlight the fact that you’ve invested time in learning about their business and are keen enough to come up with solutions. Especially when you’re new, this can get your foot in the door.
5. Your niche
When it comes to content marketing, it is essential to choose a niche. Businesses don’t just hire freelance writers, they hire writers with expertise in a subject—their subject.
A writer who specializes will always win assignments more regularly than a writer who writes about “everything.” While writing skill and reporting ability are more valuable for journalism, deep knowledge of a subject and the ability to convey it is the prized skill when writing for businesses and brands.
My rule of thumb: When connecting with individual clients or corporates, mention one or two areas of specialization that are relevant to their business. When contacting agencies, give them at least three or four niche topics you can write about so they have an easier time placing you within their existing client base.
6. An invitation to connect over the phone or Skype
While freelancing is accomplished over email, business is frequently done over the phone. Most editors I know absolutely hate having to answer phones in the middle of the workday. On the contrary, most entrepreneurs cannot understand why you’d waste half a day with emails flying back and forth when you could easily pick up the phone and sort it out in less than ten minutes.
I suggest giving people options and letting them choose what works for them. If they prefer email, continue on. But if they’d rather discuss working together on the phone, make sure you’ve offered them the option. This helps make their job easier, and makes them more willing to work with you.
An effective Letter of Introduction can be the sharpest tool in your content marketing toolbox. Even better, once you’ve written a good LOI you know works and can get results, all you need to do is tweak it for new clients.
You write it once, and you reap the rewards repeatedly. That’s why it’s important to get yours right from the get-go.
In my book The Freelance Writer’s Guide to Content Marketing, we go in depth with the different types of content marketing clients, and how your Letter of Introduction needs to be different when approaching them. Grab a copy here.
Natasha Khullar Relph
Founder and Editor, The Wordling
Natasha Khullar Relph is an award-winning journalist and author with bylines in The New York Times, TIME CNN, BBC, ABC News, Ms. Marie Claire, Vogue, and more.
She is the founder of The Wordling, a weekly business newsletter for journalists, authors, and content creators.
Natasha has mentored over 1,000 writers, helping them break into dream publications and build six-figure careers. She is the author of Shut Up and Write: The No-Nonsense, No B.S. Guide to Getting Words on the Page and several other books.
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