Isn’t it strange how we writers sometimes get completely lost for words when it comes to querying potential clients? After all, many of us write thousands of words each and every day, yet the fountain of inspiration dries up like a raisin in the Sahara when it comes to the task of trying to convince other people to hire us.
And that’s no surprise — it’s a delicate art, after all.
What you are really saying with your query email is: “Hire me. You need me. You want me. And I’m the best there is.”
Doesn’t sound so convincing when you put it like that, right? No wonder it’s so hard to approach all of those companies!
What’s more, we worry that any company is going to be suspicious of anything which has a whiff of marketing about it, leading them to slam their finger down on the mouse button and cast our emails to the very depths of their spam box.
But here’s the thing: the query email is the one thing you don’t need to worry about too much. Of course, you want to put some time into it and get it right. But this is one thing where you need no invention, creativity, wit, wisdom, metaphors, similes or anything else that would make your old English teacher so proud.
Because as long as your query email contains a few important pieces of information it stands a good chance of getting noticed, if the company you are contacting is remotely interested in the possibility of hiring a writer.
Not all emails will generate a response. The majority, in fact, will be politely ignored. Your job is to appeal to the companies who may be interested in what you’ve got to offer before they get bored and trash your email.
And with these five pieces of information included in your email you stand a better chance of doing just that.
1. A Name
Not your name (although you’ll want that in there somewhere as well), and not any old name, but the name of the person who matters. I can’t tell you who that name belongs to. But it’s certainly not ‘sir’ and it’s not ‘madam’ either.
To get your email past the first hurdle, address the contact by their name. Find out via their website who you need to write to, whether the manager, the marketing guy, the head of human resources or anyone else.
If you can’t find a name, call them up and ask. You could be really devious and pretend to be someone else, or you could just say that you are looking for the person in charge of hiring freelancers.
If you can’t find a name, you can always address your email to the ‘Company Name Marketing Team’ or something similar. At least that shows that you actually know who they are, and compared to the mountains of spam they probably receive every day that is usually enough to get past the first barrier.
2. A Bit About You
The key word here is a ‘bit’. Not an essay. Not a page. Just a bit. Try to imagine that you are standing across the road from your company. It’s a busy road filled with traffic, and in a few seconds they are going to catch their bus and disappear. What are the most important things to tell them in these few seconds that you can explain quickly and clearly to get their attention?
Once you’ve worked it out, that’s what you want to put in your email.
If you can, always try to include information about yourself which will not only be useful for the client, but will make them think: ‘There could be something in this for me’.
Remember, they don’t care about you in this email. Later on, if they enquire further, they may well want to find out more about you. But right now, imagine that the person you are contacting has absolutely no interest in you unless it helps them in some way.
3. How You Can Help Them
This is the big one in the query email, and it should be spelt out for your contact in large, clear letters.
If you are providing SEO web content, extol the benefits of having content on a company website, or the power that a well-written blog can have for their business, or the increasing importance of the search engines.
Whatever you put here, keep it short and sweet. Everyone likes to hear about the potential benefits to their company, but don’t go on about it for too long.
4. Link to Your Website
Here is your chance to cram all the information about you, your specific services, your personality, your rates and everything else that you feel is important into one tiny sentence.
Simply include a link within your email to your homepage, or a page on your website which has been specifically set up to welcome new clients and provides them with everything they need to know in a well-written landing page.
This is a great way to keep your email shorter, show that you have a nice-looking, professional website, and provide interested parties with everything they need to know before they decide to hire you without the need to cram your email full of too many words.
5. Call to Action
The call to action is simply where you tell the contact what, in an ideal world, you would like them to do having reached the end of your email.
You could invite them to call you on the phone, to reply to your email, or to check out your website or social media profiles, whichever action you are hoping they will perform.
If you want to, suggest that they get back to you with a brief immediately, and this may appeal to those wonderful clients who are just sitting there waiting for a good writer to turn up and help them out with their latest project (they are out there, believe me!).
So there you have it, five simple factors that you should include in your query emails. Is this the one and only way to do it? Of course it’s not. It’s just the way that I have done it for a few years and found to be very effective.
Despite the relative ease of compiling your query email, do take some time over it. Make it good. Make sure there are no mistakes in it. This is how you are going to be getting new clients for however long into the future, and it deserves a bit of your time getting it just right. Then when you’re happy, start to send it off, and simply wait for those replies to come in.