Okay, I lied.
That’s because you should NOT be emailing people cold and pitching them.
Seriously. Knock it off with the cold sales/pitch emails.
C’mon. You know what I’m talking about. It’s probably happened to you:
You publish a new blog post about, say, the best books for entrepreneurs.
Next thing you know, your inbox is flooded with emails like this:
Apparently, because you wrote about business books ONCE, you now are looking for every post ever published that OTHER people have written about business books.
But that isn’t enough. If you don’t answer, you’ll be harassed with weekly emails asking if you saw the FIRST email.
Why? Well, there’s a number of reasons, but we’ll start with one:
You need to develop a relationship FIRST. If I don’t know who you are, the chance of your pitch getting through my filters (real or mental) is very low. But if you came from a place of wanting to establish a real connection, I’ll be much more likely to let my guard down.
Reach out. Connect. Move your focus from YOU and what YOU want to THEM.
Here’s an example:
Let’s say you have a web design business serving e-commerce companies. You read a Business Insider profile about someone who would be a PERFECT client. You want to email them and tell them, “Hey, I can help. Hire me!”
Don’t do it.
Sure, you’re telling yourself that you are coming from a place of offering value (because you want to HELP them.) But honestly, you’re not. You’re coming from a position of “Me. Give me money.”
There’s a better way.
Stop thinking of the transaction (they give you cash, you provide service.) Instead, think in the long term… that you want to develop a strong, robust, value-based network of professionals.
I wrote a sample for you. (Download a TEMPLATED version that will walk you through how to update it for your own outreach here.)
Great profile on Business Insider last week!
I particularly appreciated the point you made about how technology is changing the face of e-commerce, and what you see as trends for next year. I totally agree that online retailers who don’t keep pace will face huge challenges.
I’m a web designer with many clients in the retail space, and I’ve heard many of the concerns you spoke about in your profile. Would you be open to hopping on a call so I can get to know more about you and your services? I often come into contact with people who may be looking for your expertise, and I’d love to be able to refer them on if they’re a good fit.
Would next Wednesday afternoon work for you to chat for about 15 minutes? Feel free to suggest a time, or to send me your online calendar if that’s easier.
See the difference? It’s all about you helping them — with no expectation. It’s a true offer of no-strings-attached value.
Of course, somewhere down the line you are hoping they might hire you. Or refer someone to you. But that’s NOT what you’re leading with.
Lead with value, not with an “ask.”
P.S. Do NOT email me with fifteen other blog posts about pitching that you’d like me to link to.
I just got off the phone with a smart lady who thinks she might want to become a copywriter.
The world needs more smart copywriters. 🙂
This article will list some great resources for you if you’re interested in pursuing the path of the paid pen.
BUT… before you go out and buy a new Macbook Pro and a carton of Epson ink… there are a few things we have to get straight.
1. What kind of writer do you really want to be? Many people lump all writers together under one category of “copywriters,” but a copywriter, in the strictest sense, is someone who writes SALES copy:
That means direct sales pieces (postcards, sales letters, sales emails), sales pages, advertisements of all sorts… the list goes on.
And because you’re directly responsible for SALES, you’re usually compensated at a higher level than general content creators who write blog posts, reports, lead magnets, or even books.
So… what do you want to write? What topics would you like to write about? What type of content would you like to create? What do you NOT want to write (that’s often just as important!)? Do you want to write for the web? For publications? For company blogs? For radio or podcasts? It’s all open.
2. What skills do you have? Do you have experience writing video scripts or social media posts or books? What about checklists or articles or even legal briefs? All of that will help you find positions that others might not be qualified for.
And I’m not just talking about writing skills… you might have a background in medicine, or technology, or law, or a lot of experience in researching, all of which will give you a leg up in the job market. Yes, there’s a big need for writers… but to be paid at the higher levels, you’ll need a specialty to call your own.
3. What skills are you willing to acquire? If you want to be considered for the most lucrative copywriting positions, you’re going to need some specific training in sales writing. AND online sales writing is different than other types. You’re going to need to educate yourself through books, courses, or other training (see below for my suggestions!).
I’m thrilled to be able to regularly charge $1,500 – $2,000 or more for email sales sequences or sales pages… but it didn’t start out that way. I spent seven years studying marketing and testing, tweaking, and honing my craft with my own business. And I’ve then spent the last two years writing hundreds of thousands of words for my clients, producing some very real results.
I’ve read books, articles, and blogs, taken classes, and deconstructed other successful campaigns, pages, and emails to see what works… and I still do this! My education is never ending.
Once you’ve answered those questions, you’re ready to start trolling the job boards (see below) to apply, apply, apply.
How to Write Copy That Sells: The Step-By-Step System for More Sales, to More Customers, More Often by Ray Edwards (Not the most creative or innovative approach, but he’ll give you a great grounding in the basics.)
This book will teach you how to write better: Learn how to get what you want, increase your conversion rates, and make it easier to write anything (using formulas and mind-hacks) by Neville Medhora (I appreciate Neville’s straightforward approach. Not fancy, but it works. Definitely the 80/20 approach to becoming a better writer.)
No B.S. Direct Marketing: The Ultimate No Holds Barred Kick Butt Take No Prisoners Direct Marketing for Non-Direct Marketing Businesses by Dan Kennedy (One of the first — and best — books on sales writing. All his books are terrific.)
#fastlain feature: “Flop or Fly.”
I get a lot of email. (100+ a day!)
I delete most of it, but a few grab me. Every week I will be announcing 5 winning and losing email subject lines, and why they worked or flopped. Stay tuned to soon start to seeing a pattern — and to review your own subject lines with a more critical eye.
Why it works: This is a perfect example of using intrigue/curiosity with surprise, while still hinting at the value to come.
How you can use this: We’ve talked before about layering – value + curiosity + surprise = WORKS.
From: Ryan Lee/Freedym
Why it works: I had to open this — we get so many emails about the BEST of this… the TOP of that. But this turned the common hook on its head and I bit!
How you can use this: Be unexpected. Disrupt people’s expectations by turning the ordinary, the expected, upside-down.
From: Jiffy Lube
Why it works: Another great layered subject line: Personalization plus “what’s in it for me?” was a winning combo. I knew exactly why I should open. And I did — even though I don’t use Jiffy Lube!
How you can use this: You don’t have to be cutesy. Be direct. If the offer is good, people will read.
Why it works: RueLaLa does a great job of funny (or “punny”) subject lines that relate to current culture but in a tongue-in-cheek way. A great approach for a retail site.
How can you use this: What’s a quote or song lyric or movie title you can draft off of?
From: Paper Source
Why it works: Like RueLaLa, Paper Source does “fun” really well. They were able to combine a current event (Father’s Day) with a sale in an unexpected way. Well done!
How you can use this: If it fits your brand, don’t be afraid to play a little bit. It adds personality and interest.
From: Paradise Valley Neighborhood Email List
Why it flops: Explain yourself! If it’s new, obviously I’m not going to know what the acronym stands for. Government agencies are notorious for this – thinking we can read their acronym- and jargon-addled minds. We can’t. BORING. CONFUSING. BAD.
How you can avoid this: Put yourself in your audience’s shoes. What information do they need to understand what you’re talking about? Don’t assume they have the same level of knowledge you do — they don’t.
My rewrite: “BE PREPARED with our new emergency updates.”
From: Internet marketer
Why it flops: Don’t ask a question that people can answer with an emphatic NO.
How you can avoid this: Um, don’t ask a question that people can answer with an emphatic NO.
My rewrite: “Time for a podcast website? Here’s how to know…”
From: Internet marketer
Why it flops: It screams “spam.” In the email itself the person offers to send you $ for making a time to chat with him – but it sent my BS filter so far into overdrive that I don’t believe him.
How you can avoid this: Don’t try to be tricky. Just be upfront about your intentions. It’s okay to be clear and open.
My rewrite: “Would you be open to this…?”
From: Internet marketer
Why it flops: The typo in the subject line kills it for me. Looks like spam. Plus, the “gift” in quotes makes me think it’s not REALLY a gift but a sales pitch.
How you can avoid this: Focus on WHAT’S IN IT FOR THEM. Not on the fact that it’s YOUR birthday (no one cares). Proof for typos — ALWAYS.
My rewrite: Not sure what to do with this one! I’d lead with the value you’re providing — not with a pseudo-gift.
From: Internet marketer
Why it flops: I can’t decipher what this means. Am I being asked to compare leads? Or does comparison lead to despair? Or something else?
How you can avoid this: BE CLEAR.
My rewrite: “The sure-fire path to misery.”
The upshot: Internet marketers apparently need to up their games. I’m available for consults. 😉
Got your own submissions? List them in the comments below!