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.
While LOIs are fairly simple, there are lots of mistakes that freelancer writers make when pulling them together.
This post was updated: May 2020
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], the LOI needs to explain how what you offer may be able to help them.
Between 70 – 80% of my LOIs get replies.
Even if the response is a ‘no thanks’, I see this as a positive sign. Because they took the time to reply to my query.
I would say around 20% of the LOIs I send out get a positive response.
What’s a positive response?
It ranges from a potential client wanting to schedule a phone call, requesting more information, or asking me to touch base 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 an immediate yes is not the point – the point of these letters is to start a conversation.
And unlike a query letter to a traditional publication, you can send lots of these letters at once.
And usually you only need to do 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 this:
Clients want to know that you understand their business or organisation.
They want to know that you understand their problems (or their audiences’ problems)
And they need to know how the content you’re creating will help solve their problems.
What does an LOI need to contain?
LOIs for freelance writers or content marketers need to include a brief description of your background.
It’s important that you only include what is relevant to the particular client.
You’ll need to cover 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
When I started freelancing, I focused on sending LOIs to non-profit organisations with a health focus.
Each Friday afternoon I would send out between 5 and 10 LOIs to these organisations.
I would 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
In the past I have sent out LOIs whenever I saw an organisation or opportunity that caught my eye.
But once I started freelancing full time, I started sending out regular LOIs.
And I saw the need to keep track of who I was approaching and when.
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!
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 at least 50% of my income now comes from corporate work.
But I don’t just rely on LOIs to attract corporate clients.
Some of my business comes through word-of-mouth, some through web searches, others come through agencies.
For me, that’s the smartest way of freelancing.
That way you ride out any bumps that may be happening in a particular industry.
In 2017 almost all of my freelancing income came from one particular media company, but now only about 10% of it does.
There have been 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 other options.
4. What should a letter of introduction for freelance writers look like?
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 did a big batch of work for them.
You can see that I’ve highlighted my experience working with children. I also 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.
What’s 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, but it still gets me responses.
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. 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.
It’s definitely not as detailed as some , but this kind of LOI has worked really well for me so far.
Do you send out regular LOIs? What has worked for you?
A really great post Lindy. I haven’t got up the courage to send out an LOI yet, but you have definitely inspired me. I like that you source work from different areas. I have been stuck trying to work out where on earth to start, so it’s encouraging to know that I don’t just have to do one thing.
Thank you CJ! I think LOIs take less courage than pitching to editors – once you’ve got a basic LOI that you like then it is the gift that keeps on giving! You definitely don’t have to do one thing – follow the topics/niches that interest you and you’ll find your way.
I know I need to do this and I will do it. A LOI is going on the top of my list after May’s client work is done and dusted. Thanks for the reminder.
Once you do your LOI it only then needs a few tweaks Jennifer before you send it out to different prospects, so go well in June!
Wonderful article, Lindy! I use the personalized note with my connection request as my LOI. Because LI doesn’t give you much space, I have to keep the LOIs short and sweet, so my aim is to get people interested enough to look at my profile, where they can read about my background and experience. Here’s an example:
Dear Abigail (if I may),
I hope you won’t think me brazen for contacting you out of the blue. One of my indexing specialties is cookbooks, so I thought we might be a good fit.
I would be honored to connect with you.
Thank you Carol! I like the idea of writing a snappy LOI that entices people to look at your profile to learn more about you.
What great useful information, thanks a bunch. I’m in the process of pivoting from working in journalism full-time to having a freelance life. I’ve sent out a few LOI and got one on-going gig doing health and wellness articles, and a few one-off projects. I’m hoping to keep building up by targeting more businesses now. I’m def a believer in the LOI now.
Hi Neisha, thanks so much for your comment. I hope you’re finding it to be a smooth transition? That’s a fantastic hit rate from your LOIs – well done!
Thanks so much for posting your results. I’m going to use 20% response rate as a benchmark to calculate how many LOIs I need to send out! Can you tell me what % ended in paid assignments?
Hi Ruth, thanks for your comment. That’s a good question about what % ended in being commissioned – I would say of that 20% who responded, it would be around 5-7% that went through to landing paid work.
I like reading your posts because they encourage me to really start my freelancing business. I recently lost my part-time job, which has meant I have more time to focus on my freelance writing. I haven’t sent out any LOI’s yet but will defo start this week!
Thanks for your comment. Best of luck as you start sending out your LOIs. Remember that it’s a numbers game and you’ll be fine. Let us know how you go!
What about LOI of freelancer having zero experience
It’ll be important to build up so that you have a least a few clips/examples of your work to show potential clients before you send out an LOI. Do you have any writing samples you can show them?
Thanks Lindy. Following on re the less experienced. What is the protocol regarding content that I have had published but I’ve no byline. It was through a marketing company and I have written pieces that have appeared on their clients’ sites. Can I supply links or is that breach of copyright?
I need to say that I’m not a copyright expert, but if you’re simply providing links to articles that you’ve written, I think that’s fine. If you want to be absolutely sure, you could always check with the marketing company.
I could not access the resource link you mentioned in point 1. Can you share it again?
Thanks for letting me know and apologies. I’ve fixed it up in the text but you can also access the LinkedIn resource here
I am so glad to have come across your blog. It is so informative and it is I’m finally able to see some light at end of the tunnel. It has been two months since I have started freelance writing and I’ll be honest, I felt completely lost. But I know understand where to begin my work. Thank you so much!
Thanks Shruti! Welcome to The Freelancer’s Year community!
Hope you’re really well. Just wanted to clarify that LOIs aren’t so much needed when freelance writing for say magazines? For example, I wouldn’t write a LOI as you have described in this article in a pitch as such?
That’s right – LOIs are predominantly used for corporate/business organisations rather than magazines and newspapers where you’d send a pitch. Hope that helps,