Want More Freelance Writing Clients in 2024? Do This

By Sean Ogle •  Updated: 01/02/24 •  8 min read

Let’s get straight to the point.

The key to success in freelance writing? Following up.

If you’re proactive, you’ve likely been sending cold emails and have a list of potential clients. However, many stop short. They apply for a job, don’t get it, and then decide freelance writing isn’t for them.

This approach misses a crucial step.

Sending email follow ups.

Keep reading to learn more, or check out the video:

The Reality of Cold Emailing

Doing outreach right means going through your spreadsheet, sending a minimum of five to 10 personalized cold emails daily, aiming to build personal connections and get new clients.

Yet, there’s a common mistake even diligent freelancers make: ignoring the follow-up.

Surprising Statistics

Many assume that no response to the first email equals no interest. So they send one email, hear crickets, call it a day, and move on.

What if I told you that you’re missing out on the vast majority of potential clients with that approach?

Check out this chart:

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There are some pretty mindblowing numbers in here:

And here’s why sending follow up emails matters:

So what does this mean for you?

If you give up too soon, you’re leaving opportunities, not to mention tens of thousands of dollars, on the table. The challenge is to persist without becoming a nuisance. How do we strike this balance?

Let’s dive into it.

The Art of Effective Email Follow Up

When you reach out via cold email, the odds of your prospect needing a freelance writer with your skill set at that exact moment are slim. Here’s where persistence and time come into play.

Sure, sometimes your cold emails will strike gold immediately, but that’s not the norm.

However, many potential clients will need to hire a writer in the future. That’s where your persistence pays off.

Remember, the goal of the first email isn’t necessarily to land a client immediately. It’s about staying relevant and top of mind for when the need arises — which may be months or even years down the road.

I’m not gonna lie to you. I get so many crappy emails.

They’re not personalized. Perhaps they were written by AI, and then you get follow-ups like every day that are also not personalized, and it drives me crazy.

Those people give a bad rap to the people who do it properly. Everyone ‘hates’ getting cold emails, and those people are why!

Personalization Makes a Difference

So where can you actually stand out? Personalization. It can make a huge difference to the reader. If I get an email where I see someone has taken the time to learn about me and the site, I’m way more likely to respond.

That doesn’t mean you have to spend hours personalizing. It can be five minutes. Start with the first sentence or two. That’s honestly all you need. So many people send out bad, generic emails that even a tiny bit of effort helps you rise to the top.

Staying on the Radar Without Being Overbearing

In most cases, when you’re following up, you’re actually doing the other person a favor. People email me all the time, and then they’ll follow up. Some of them do a good job at it. Some of them do a terrible job.

If I’m at a point where what they’re offering isn’t something that I need, or it’s not a really good opportunity for me, I’ll ignore it. I get too many of those emails to respond to every single one. But if that person follows up on a regular basis, there’s a good chance that I’ll be interested somewhere down the line.

And rather than having to go out and find someone for what I need, I’m way more likely to connect with the person in my inbox sending me thoughtful emails.

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A Follow Up Strategy That Works

Alright, so let’s dive into it. Here’s the five-step process for actually sending follow-ups that get responses.

Step 1: The Initial Cold Email

Begin with a well-crafted, personalized cold email — often called a letter of introduction or LOI. Put thought and effort into this first contact. It’s your introduction and sets the tone for future interactions.

Here’s how to approach LOIs.

Step 2: The First Follow-Up

If you don’t receive a reply within four to five days, follow up by replying to the same email thread. This reminds the recipient of your initial message and makes it easy for them to remember who you are and why you emailed them in the first place.

Starting a new email might get lost or overlooked. And then you’re back at zero again.

Step 3: Keep It Short and Personalized

Your follow-up should be brief — just one to two sentences. It’s a friendly check-in. You understand they’re busy, but I wanted to check in and see if they’re interested.

Don’t assume they are, or try to close the sale in your follow-up.

You’re just here to respect their time, and I hope to connect to see if you’re a fit.

And close it with my secret weapon, the easy out.

This approach is non-intrusive and keeps the door open for future communication.

Step 4: Avoid Automation Pitfalls

Automation can be tempting. But resist the urge to set automated follow-ups that pester people every couple of days.

One of the most annoying things is when you get a cold email, and then for the next five days in a row, the person floods your inbox with follow-ups.

I hate that, and chances are, your potential clients will too.

The old tactic was to follow up right away. Now, I suggest holding your horses for a few days.

Step 5: Establishing a Follow-Up Cadence

Timing is key. And this ties in with the last few steps, but it’s pretty important.

Set up a timeline of when you’re going to follow up. These are guidelines, figure out what works best for you.

After your initial follow-up:

  1. Send the next follow-up a week later.
  2. Then, wait two weeks before the subsequent one.
  3. Follow with a month gap, and then
  4. Extend to a quarter.

This schedule ensures you’re checking in regularly but not so frequently that it becomes annoying. It also helps give enough time that things may change.

Say you’re a copywriter looking for work.

You send your first LOI at the start of a year, but the potential client doesn’t have any needs. Spreading out your follow-ups every few months or quarters may be enough time for the client’s situation to change and need something.

When they were all set in January, in May, they may suddenly need someone to write some website copy. Instead of having to put up a job application and go through that whole process, they remember the person who emailed them about work (you). Now it takes them two clicks to connect.

You can also schedule follow-ups around certain times of year that just feel a bit more comfortable to write an email.

The start of the year is a great time. Wish people a happy new year and casually say you’re available for work. Do the same at the start of the summer or into the fall. With these emails, you can start off keeping it positive and focused on them while still staying top of mind.

Different Ways to Track Follow-Ups

So, there are a couple of ways to go about this, and there’s no right or wrong answer; it’s what works for you.

Some people prefer to just use a manual spreadsheet and track it that way.

But, I think there are automated services that work a lot better.

Personally, I really liked the tool Streak for Gmail. It essentially turns your Gmail inbox into a CRM, and it’s free to use.

With it, you can track when you send emails, see if they’ve been opened, and even add little notes to remind you of when to follow up later or save an article or new portfolio piece you’d like to share in a future email. Plus, if you get a little cadence set up, you can set reminders to let you know it’s time to send out the next email.

So it’s a pretty cool tool that you can do a lot with and makes keeping track of your follow ups really easy.

Don’t Ignore Email Follow Ups!

The whole point of this post was just to say follow up.

You’ve done all the hard work building your portfolio and writing samples. You’ve got a lead, researched the person, and spent time crafting a thoughtful email.

Don’t let all that effort go to waste! Spend the extra few minutes to write a follow up and create a schedule to send more.

That’s going to give you the best shot to get on that person’s radar and hopefully land the gig.

Sean Ogle

Sean Ogle is the Founder of Location Rebel where he has spent the last 12+ years teaching people how to build online businesses that give them the freedom to do more of the things they like to do in life. When he's not in the coffee shops of Portland, or the beaches of Bali, he's probably sneaking into some other high-class establishment where he most certainly doesn't belong.
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