Cold emails are one of the best ways to get leads as a freelancer in 2024. But in order to get people to open your pitches in their inbox, you need the right cold emailing formula. In this article we look at the winning strategies, supercharging your lead generation!
All successful freelance cold emails share the same elements.
Think of these as building blocks that you can shuffle around, based on your email marketing goal.
As you can see the key to a winning cold email as a freelancer is to almost always include certain elements
These elements are:
What differs is HOW you shuffle around these building blocks.
Let's take a look at a number of different ways you can do this!
This template puts great emphasis on being direct.
After the intro we get straight to the offer part, meaning that we do not waste the time of our
Here's an example.
The best cold emails provide proof.
This template gives additional emphasis to that by putting the case study first.
These type of emails work really well when you have tangible results to showcase. This means real numbers, like "We recently raised MRR for a company by 62% by using the..."
This one is about finding common ground.
If you can get the pain point right, people will FEEL that you understand them. And potential clients will love you for that.
Hitting client pain pints are one the best copywriting tricks to build trust fast with new clients.
This is a provocative template.
It can come off quite sales-y if you start with a question. But if done right, it can cut across a lot of red tape.
For example, a freelance writer could start the email with "Have you noticed that your competition is driving leads via a great blog?"
Questions work, because they get straights to the point and places those little nagging hooks in our mind, wanting us to find out what happens.
All cold email that converts has this one thing in common: they talk about value.
This approach tries to bring this value proposition to the forefront, by including as little elements as possible. Short, straight to the point.
Pitching new clients is a tough job. You only have a couple of lines to retain attention, build trust, and get them to actually ACT on the call to action.
Effective cold emails have this one thing going for them: they are human.
Us humans are social creatures, we like to form connections with other human beings. This formula does that job well by implementing a PS section. This makes your email a little bit more approachable, little bit more human, adding a humanizing, "oh I forgot to mention" touch.
So far we have been talking about the winning formula when it comes to doing cold email pitches.
But one key element of cold email campaigns is the subject line.
In fact, getting the subject line right (and thus, your open rates right) can easily 2x your success rate with cold emails.
A good email subject line is short, feels personal, and gets the client's mind going.
Here are three examples of a high performing subject lines:
I recommend that you experiment with these, and see what gets you the best open rates.
Peter's take—how I got my big break with cold pitching
When I started my freelance business I only had limited funds. And thus, limited time.
Basically I had a 1 month's worth of money on my bank account. I was not smart, to be honest.
The decision to start cold emailing basically saved my ass.
I sent out about 500 emails in the then emerging escape room niche, offering my SEO services, and it worked! I got about 15 calls out of that initial run, and landed a staggering 10-ish clients.
So here's my take: Cold email can be one the cheapest & fastest ways to get freelance work.
When business owners working with or hiring a freelancer—or even engage with one in the first place—trust plays a huge role in what they decide about your initial outreach.
We already talked about how case studies help with trust building.
But your email signature also plays a huge role in this.
A good email signature will portray you in the best possible light, helping you win new business. It is essentially your wingman.
What makes an email signature work for you is:
You can easily create a free signature with tools like Hubspot's email signature generator. Here's an example of a killer freelance signature.
Finally, let's talk about mindset.
Because this is one of the biggest mistake that I see new freelance entrepreneurs make. They do not approach cold emailing in the right state of mind.
So let's get things clear:
You are not here to ask for a freelance job. You are here to help.
I see sooo many freelancers placing themselves below the client, basically begging to be noticed. This puts you at an immediate disadvantage: you communicate that you are not an equal, and that you need charity work. Meaning: you are not an expert.
What you need to adopt is called the consultative selling.
It's basically a fancy term saying that you should ask questions. Because as a freelancer, as a consultant, you are here to HELP the client.
So whatever cold emailing writing you are doing, remember this. You are on equal foot with the business owner.
You are a team, ready to tackle a problem. Their problem, and that has value.
A good open rate for cold emails typically falls between 30-50%, though this can vary depending on industry and audience. But certain subject lines can get this to above 80% (however, if you are just about to send your first cold email ever, don't set this as a target. 40% is already great.)
A good reply rate is generally considered to be around 10-15%. And yes, we include stuff like "not interested" in the reply rate, not just the positive replies.
Personalized cold email increases the chance of a response. This could include using the recipient's name, referencing relevant information about them or their company, and tailoring the content to their specific needs or interests.
The length of emails should be concise and to the point, generally ranging from 50-125 words in a cold email. Each sentence should be its own line. And be brutal about weeding out filler phrases, words. Every word should have a purpose.
Yes! Always do this with potential leads! Verifying their email addresses is a must have in order to avoid hard bounces, and to preserve the integrity of your email account. We don't want Google or any provider to ban your business domain. There are services that can help with this. Here's a free option to do this, but what I really like is Debounce.
Bounce is tough. If you send emails to non-existent email addresses, your emails will "bounce". This is bad, because your email provider will flag your email account as spam. Make sure that your bounce rate is below 3%.
Up to you really. A truly cold email is like meeting somebody on a blind date. It's all about first impressions and authenticity. So, I encourage you to be "you", meaning if you feel that memes are on-brand for you, go for it! But if you feel that using memes or emojis are forced, than it's probably not for you, and that's OK!
Cold email outreach performs well in big quantities and over time. I would suggest to try at least 300 emails in your initial test run, and with such a quantity, you can run a simple, one-variable A/B test as well.
Yes! Send your first email following up your initial outreach after 2-3 days. You can a second round as well, a couple of days later.