I've written before about letter of introduction, or LOIs. A strong LOI is an essential weapon in any freelancer's arsenal, and you may have more than one. (For example, I have an LOI I use for possible ghostwriting gigs, another for possible speaking gigs, and other for general freelancing gigs. Each highlights a different area of my expertise and experience.)
In some instances, you'll know something about the market or client you're pitching, and you can customize your LOI to reflect that fact. But what about when you're pitching "blind" and have no info about the market? Then you just "dance with who brung you," so to speak, and highlight your qualifications that are likely to make you stand out from the pack.
Here's an LOI I sent to a post on craigslist seeking health/wellness writers. This pitch resulted in multiple assignments for a custom publisher. My comments are in green:
Dear Sir or Madam:
I’m replying to your craigslist.org ad seeking experienced writers who can cover health and wellness stories. I’m sure you’re inundated with responses, so I’ll keep this brief. I’m a full-time freelance journalist who specializes in health, fitness, nutrition, and wellness pieces; my work has appeared in more than 50 national magazines including Self, Fitness, Muscle Media, American Health & Fitness, Shape, Woman’s Day, Redbook, and Family Circle. I’ve attached two recent articles to give you a feel for my writing style. [Pretty simple, yet effective. I've described my relevant background and attached the two writing samples the ad requested. This lets the editor know that I'm good at following directions!]
I’m a skilled researcher and writer, and know how to translate complicated health topics into “plain English” for a lay audience. I’m also an ACE-certified personal trainer, and speak and consult about subjects ranging from time management to goal-setting to getting (and staying) fit. (That's the "BodyWise" part of my business.) I enjoy helping people make positive changes in their lives through my work as an author, journalist, and speaker. [The ad is looking for writers who can write about health and fitness and my background as a personal trainer gives me a unique perspective on the subject. If I was pitching a parenting magazine or business magazine, I'd probably omit this. Also note that I make no mention of my book-writing or ghostwriting experience. It's simply not relevant for this LOI, and I want to keep it short and sweet.]
What else should you know? I’m reliable, professional, and easy to work with, and strive to give my clients just what they want. It sounds like I have the background and experience you’re looking for, but if you have any questions about my skills, please let me know. [I always have a paragraph like this in my LOIs. When I pitch a ghostwriting client, I mention my sense of humor and my pleasure in collaborating. Here I'm letting the editor know that I'm just the kind of reliable freelancer he's looking for.]
Many thanks for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.
Readers, what do you think? Do you like this LOI? How do you pitch yourself when you have to pitch "blind"?