The cold outreach mistake too many freelancers make

I get an email or a private message via social media at least once a month from a freelancer doing this. It’s absolutely doomed to fail.

The one I got today (anonymised) on LinkedIn:

Thanks very much for connecting, Philippa.

Based on my vast experience in [a particular niche], I would be very glad if you could see whether I can cooperate with you.

If so, count on me. I am ready to work on specialized texts and it will be a pleasure to work on projects with you in the future.

I can provide my CV so that you can take a look, if you prefer. I am looking forward to cooperating with you.

Hope you have a wonderful day!

Best regards,

Similarly, a Twitter DM I recently received:

Hi, I am [name]. I apologize for entering your space, but I am looking for a job as an online Freelance Proofreader or Writer. I don’t know if you could be of help.

I get these all the time. Can you spot the obvious flaw in this approach?

It’s not that these are almost certainly copied and pasted (though they are). And it’s not that they only talk about themselves (though they do). And it’s not even that they don’t tell me the benefits of hiring them (though they don’t). 

It’s that instead of approaching publications or businesses that might hire them, they are approaching a fellow freelancer. 

Sure, as a freelancer I have outsourced overflow work to other freelancers at times. But not because they’ve blasted me a DM that they probably sent to 150 other people within the hour. It’s because I have a relationship with those people, trust their work, or trust their reviews on the odd not-awful freelancing site. 

But the majority of the time, the people who are going to hire you are not going to be your fellow freelancers. Why would they? Why would I work hard to recruit new clients to pass that work on to somebody else? Why would I trust somebody I didn’t know and who didn’t send me writing samples and who could be anybody, frankly?

If you spam fellow freelancers with work requests, you will annoy them and you will not get any work out of it. Honestly. 

I mean, don’t spam anybody. But when you do (thoughtfully, carefully) do some cold outreach, target it to the people who might actually have a chance of hiring you. 

Image credits: Dev Asangbam and Gemma Evans


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