In this week’s Epic Interrogation with the stunning Vail Joy of graphic design studio FutureNoir, Vail talked about generating interest in your sites by sending emails directly to contacts about your new projects or services. Since this is a technique I use to spread the word about Steff Metal and generate new business, I thought I’d discuss it further.
Do you have “dream clients?” Maybe you think it would be awesome to design a t-shirt for TUK, or you’d love to collaborate with a certain musician. If you’re a writer like me, creating website copy for sites like Clockwork Couture and Actual Pain would be awesome fun.
Those jobs aren’t just dreams – they do exist, but right now, the companies and individuals are using someone else, or not doing the job because they can’t afford it or haven’t found the right person yet.
The right person is you.
Mother Metal would always say to me “You never know, unless you ask.” Asking got me a writing gig at alt clothing company Lip Service, at a time when they weren’t considering hiring new writers. Asking got me my highest paying and most regular copywriting gig. Asking got me guest posts on major blogs. Asking got my husband to agree to go out with me
So how do you turn those dream clients, customers and commissions into real clients? You ask!
I have a file on my computer called “dream clients”. In it I keep a long list of businesses I’d love to work with. Beside some of them I include notes of what I could do for them – for instance, I might stumble across a website selling beautiful gothic wedding dresses, but say the copy is crap. I write notes about what I could do to jazz it up. Or maybe I find an awesome music site, and I realise they’d be even MORE awesome if they had a blog, so I write that down.
Your notes will obviously depend on what kind of creative work you do. For example, an illustrator might find a writer she admires and write down an idea for a children’s book. Or a dancer might find a musician and write down an idea for a choreographed piece for one of his upcoming music videos or live shows. A comedian might come up with a brilliant idea for a t-shirt design for a particular designer … do you see what I mean?
Some of these ideas a full-on collaborations – while others are simply work for hire. They might be large project, or tiny ones. Your best bet to build up a rapport with a dream client is to pitch something small and low-risk at first.
Now, write an email to your dream client. This is not a form letter, but a quick, snappy and highly personalized email. Begin by using their correct name (I ignore most would-be contacts who address their emails to me with “Dear Sir”), and telling them how you discovered their site, how long you’ve been a fan, of what you love about their most recent project. A little flattery (as long as it’s sincere) never hurts.
Then lead into your offer. I write a sentence explaining who I am, with a link to my website, then state my reason for emailing. I might use the notes I’ve made in my Client Dream file, or I might have a more generic offer.
Dear Gnarly Gothic Corsetry Shop
The new collection is stunning! I’ve seen a lot of nautical-inspired corsets popping up recently, but not many show your level of detail. I love the anchor-print damask! I blogged about your collection on my gothic wedding planner site.
You probably don’t know me, but I’m Steff Metal of http://grymmandepic.com and http://steffmetal.com. I’m a freelance writer and marketing copywriter/consultant for alternatve businesses – just like you. I’m writing to let you know I’m offering a special price (10% off my normal rates) to new clients this month.
If you want your catalogue copy updated, your site search-engine-optimized, your blog resurrected or your press release awesomeified, I’d be happy to help. If you’ve got any questions or would like to see samples / testimonials, don’t hesitate to contact me at email@example.com.
Thanks for your attention, and have a wonderful day!
Now send a variation on that letter to all the folk on your “Dream Client” list, making sure to personalize each one.
Now you wait.
Not every company/person will reply. Some will get busy and forget. Some will have no need of your services and simply delete your email. Of those who reply, some might not have the budget for new projects right now, some won’t feel you’re a good fit for their company, and some might even tell you to bugger off.
But some will shower you with profuse thanks and demand to know where you’ve been all their lives. Send twenty emails and you might get one or two new clients, but those new clients might refer two new clients, and before you know it, your chest-deep in work and wondering how best to send me chocolates of thanks (hint: my favourite is Whitakers).
Pursuing your dream clients helps you to shape the creative business you want, as well as generating new interest in your creative biz and getting your name in front of people you’d love to work with. The payoff might not be immediate, but it will come.
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