I remember the first week after I got fired from my shitty full-time job.
I had known I wanted to start freelance writing full-time for a while, but I was pretty clueless about how to ACTUALLY make it happen.
All I had was a pretty basic freelance writer website.
I mean, I knew my website was a good first step, but it obviously wasn’t great.
So, after I built it, I kept asking myself:
How the heck am I going to find enough freelance writing opportunities to pay the bills (and support my Whole Foods addiction, of course) as a newbie with zero connections?!
It didn’t take me long to figure out the answer to that question:
Once I slapped my freelance writer website up online, I used
Leads to find potential clients and started sending cold emails every single day.
So today, I want to share the EXACT STEPS I used with you.
Let’s dive right in so you can start makin’ it rain, mkay?
I created a freelance writer website that CLEARLY stated my niche (specific area of expertise).
My website might have been kinda thrown together, but I at least did one thing right:
I picked a niche, defined that niche clearly in the website copy, and included samples that showed off my expertise in that niche.
(NICHE, NICHE, NICHE. I know. I’m saying it a lot because it’s IMPORTANT.)
Anyone who landed on my site could immediately tell that I specialized in B2B technology content.
Seriously. Defining my niche (B2B/Tech) clearly on my site was a big factor in the success I found cold emailing. You need to define your niche on your site too if you want cold emailing to work for you.
Anyone who visits your site should be able to tell what kind of writing you specialize in right away when it loads.
I downloaded leads from LimeLeads based on my target audience.
When you define a niche, you’re also defining your target audience (the people who want your content).
For example, my niche was B2B technology content, so my target audience was IT companies and software development companies.
That knowledge is what allowed me to get good leads from LimeLeads.
Limeleads is website that includes a database of contacts (sorted by industry) that you can download for a fee (this link will get you a 10% lifetime discount!). When you download your leads, you get lots of info about each one, like the company website, the primary contact’s name and email address… everything you need to write a good cold email.
Let’s walk through how it works. Head over to the LimeLeads website right now.
Now, take a scroll down to the footer section of the home page and click on “database.” This is where you’re going to search for your target audience. The database page looks like this:
See that little search box on the left side of the screen with “Industry” right above it? That’s how you’re going to make the motherfucking magic happen, my friend.
Go ahead – try typing your target audience into the search bar (and don’t be afraid to browse through the industries below the search box if you can’t find what you’re looking for).
My target audience was IT service providers and software development companies, so let’s say that’s your target audience too for the purpose of this example. Since LimeLeads doesn’t have the “IT service providers” or “software development companies” as industry labels, let’s search for something a little more vague: “computer.”
Awwwww yeah – there’s your target audience:
“Computer-related service companies”
Click on that and you’ll get this screen:
Now you can see a preview of the data available for you to download if you decide to buy some leads.
And it gets better. You can even use the left toolbar to narrow down your search based stuff like the city, state, or contact title (hint: you probably want to search for a marketing manager!).
[If you do decide to buy some leads, here’s my lifetime 10% discount link for LimeLeads again.)
I started sending cold emails like a crazy person.
When I first launched my freelance writing career, I avoided content mill sites like Upwork. Instead, I put all of my effort into building a portfolio website, marketing myself on social media, and trying to find clients.
Since I didn’t have connections or a client-generating website yet, that meant sending a shitload of cold emails.
Effective? Also, yes.
Now, don’t get me wrong. You can’t expect to email 100 companies and get dozens of responses – especially if you don’t know how to write a good cold email.
But for me, cold emailing ended up being a numbers game.
I knew that, if I kept emailing my target audience and continually improved my cold emails based on the responses I was getting, my efforts would pay off eventually.
And they did.
I’m looking at my PayPal income reports for May 2015 (my FIRST full month as a full-time freelance writer) right now, and I made $825 that month from 3 different clients that I found on LimeLeads.
At the time, I couldn’t believe it!
I know $825 isn’t much, but it’s far more than I expected to make in my first month of cold emailing – especially considering that my website was so simple and my portfolio wasn’t the best.
I could have made even more because I was way undercharging at that point.
But I eventually learned how much to charge.
I kept improving my website and my portfolio over time.
I figured out how to use social media to get clients.
And my income started to grow pretty quickly. In August 2015 (my 4th month of full-time freelancing!), I made over $5,000 from copywriting and blogging alone.
Now, I don’t really cold email anymore because my freelance writer website and social media profiles generate leads for me.
But it would have been much more difficult to get to that point without the cold emailing strategy I used early on. Working with those first few clients allowed me to get real experience and better writing samples, which led to more clients.
Don’t get me wrong, though. It was hard work.
I sent a loooooooot of emails to people who didn’t respond at all.
And you will too. But you can’t get discouraged.
Because as long as you’re a good writer, have your niche clearly defined on your freelance writer website (SO IMPORTANT that you do this!), and focus on emailing your target audience (as opposed to emailing all kinds of businesses), you should be able to make this cold email strategy work for you.
So get out there, and start kicking ass.
And if you need help writing cold emails, just click the banner below.
You’ve GOT this shit. ☺
By the way, I was NOT PAID by Limeleads to write this blog post — I just think Limeleads is awesome for freelancers starting out and benefitted a lot from using it myself!
Also, I want to mention that this post includes affiliate links (you’ve probably already figured that out by now). And I also want you to know that I would never recommend something here if I didn’t really think it could help you. Because that would make me kind of an asshole.