Over the past few weeks, I have been getting some fantastic questions from readers, and I’ll slowly be trickling through and responding to each.
The first question comes from Tristan (by the way, I love your WordPress theme – start blogging!):
Would you consider doing a follow up article on cold emailing techniques?
Cold emailing is certainly not the most fun activity, but it has landed me quite a few opportunities, especially in my early days as a freelancing Instructional Designer. First off – You need to get over yourself if you aren’t already. Take all of the fear and shame out of the idea of cold contacting prospective clients. Ain’t no shame in that! Back in the old days, businesses did this all the time, and businesses still do door-to-door, which is similar, but a lot more difficult. A cold email is how I landed my role at a university, which had I waited for a posting and applied traditionally, would have been looked over for one of the 100+ over-qualified applicants with more experience.
I had a great conversation with a friend a few months back. He was looking to break into the Technical Writing scene and wasn’t sure how to do it. I encouraged him to do some cold emailing, but he was nervous about what he would say. This happens when we’re anxious about whether we’re capable of doing the job. So my second piece of advice is to exude confidence from every fibre of your being. You enjoy what you do and you know (or are pretty darn sure) you can do what you’re saying you can, so just own it!
Now, when it comes to specific techniques, I took several approaches:
- I created a canned, but modifiable, email that could broadly address any individual or organization. Once developed, I modified it based on who it was being sent to. Key elements included: introduction of me and my background, explanation of how my expertise might work for the individual/organization, link to my portfolio, attachment of my resume, and a thank you for taking the time to read the email.
- I researched the heck out of the people I was cold emailing. This is important because it sets your email apart from anyone else who may be cold emailing, which in my experience, few people do this nowadays, so you really want to show off your best self because you’re already putting yourself out there. After researching, I modified my email appropriately.
- I followed up! In most cases I followed up 2-4 weeks following the email.
One great thing about cold emailing is that often times, prospective clients don’t realize that they need their services, so when they’re offered (and explained clearly and without jargon), some folks will have an “Aha!” moment and realize that you’re just what they’ve been looking for to resolve a problem that has been plaguing them and/or their organization.
I will say that cold emailing may not be as fast as other means in terms of securing gigs; the university didn’t contact me until a year and a half after I emailed – how they still had my email, I don’t know, but they did, and I’ve been here ever since! However, those are the techniques that I used, and I hope that this information can help you.