Letters of introduction (commonly called LOIs) can be intimidating for freelance writers. It can be hard to find the exact words to interest and entice potential clients. And if you don’t get many replies to your LOIs it’s easy to feel that no one wants your services and give up. But I’ve found that writers are going wrong with their LOIs. What we should be doing instead is simple.
What freelance writers get wrong with letters of introduction
Letters of introduction (LOIs) are exactly what they sound like: They are a letter (an email) you send to introduce yourself to a potential client.
When I first started sending out LOIs, I spent so much time composing what I thought was an enticing introduction to myself and my services (you can read one of sample letters of introduction here), but I’ve actually realised that I had it wrong.
Even though that example isn’t terrible, I now think it’s too long.
Mistake #1: Making your LOI too long
Can I be honest here?
Sometimes writers can … well … wax lyrical.
We can get carried away and before we know it, we’re 4 paragraphs in and we haven’t even mentioned how we can potentially help the client.
I’ve learnt that the key to a great LOI is to get in and get out as quickly as you can.
You want to introduce yourself, articulate the value you offer, mention your experience/skills and get out of there.
Most potential clients are busy.
They don’t necessarily have time to read through a long email that details all your accomplishments and why they should engage your services.
Most potential clients know within a sentence or two whether they’re interested in what you have to offer.
Here’s an example of an LOI I sent to an editor (via LinkedIn) who I hadn’t worked with before.
You can see that is very short.
A sample letter of introduction for freelance writers (that worked!)
And you know what?
That editor got back to me a week later with a commission.
As you can see from my LOI I didn’t even mention wanting to pitch to her.
Sometimes just connecting with the right person and introducing yourself is enough.
Mistake #2: Sending out a couple of LOIs then getting discouraged
Sending out LOIs and getting replies is a numbers game.
The more you send, the luckier you’ll get.
If you want to earn a great income from your freelance writing, then regularly sending out LOIs needs to become part of your routine.
You don’t have to spend too much of your time tailoring very specific LOIs.
If you don’t have a niche (and believe me, I don’t think freelance writers need one), you need a couple of stock standard LOIs that you can send out to potential clients as part of your regular marketing efforts.
Trust me when I say these do not have to be long or detailed.
Yep, it’s that simple.
If you’re sending an LOI via email then you’ll need to include a little more information, but again, keep it brief.
And if you are including a little more information, the key is to concentrate on the value you offer the potential client rather than on your skills and services.
The aim of an LOI is to interest a potential client or editor enough that they begin a conversation with you.
I think sometimes the temptation is to overcomplicate it, but actually it’s pretty simple.
Reach out, start the conversation and see what happens.
Oh and definitely don’t make
Mistake #3 – Not following up on your LOIs
Be persistent and polite.
Keep following up.
Every 2 – 3 months touch base with them.
Even if you don’t hear back.
Even if someone who showed interest in you goes quiet.
Sometimes I think I need to create a keyboard shortcut for “Just checking in” or “Just following up” but you know what? Following up works.
Last year I got a huge job from someone who I had sent an LOI to three years prior.
And I kept following up.
And following up, and following up, and (yes) following up.
Then when they were ready, so was I.
Do you send out regular letters of introduction? And do you follow up?