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 many of us are doing LOIs wrong. And 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 piece of communication you use 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.
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, establish your skills, sell your value and get out of there.
Sometimes you may only need to introduce yourself.
Most potential clients are so busy that they don’t have time to read through a long email that details all your services and why you think they need to engage you.
Most potential clients know within a sentence or two whether they’re interested in what you have to offer.
Here’s a recent example of an LOI I sent out on LinkedIn to an editor I hadn’t worked with before.
A sample of a freelance letter of introduction
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.
I feel like I’m a bit slow on the uptake, because Jennifer Gregory wrote about the importance of a short LOI back at the start of 2017.
Sending out LOIs and getting replies is a numbers game.
You don’t want to waste too much of your time tailoring very specific LOIs when (let’s face it) loads of people won’t even reply to your email or your connection request.
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.
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.
Do you send out regular letters of introduction? Are your LOIs short or long?