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Monday, August 4, 2014

How to Write a More Effective LOI (Or, Why to Forget the Kitchen Sink)

Hi, readers--I'm back! I enjoyed my monthlong blogging hiatus but I'm back and you can count on a new post every Monday like usual. I've posted before about the importance of a strong LOI (letter of introduction); it's very likely the most effective weapon in your freelance arsenal. 

However, some writers tend to "kitchen-sink" the LOI and overwhelm the potential editor or client by listing all of their accomplishments, credits, experience, background, you name it. I suggest a narrower approach, focusing on one specific area that is most likely to appeal to the client instead. Here's an example: this is a actual LOI I sent out earlier this year that led to work. (My comments are in blue in brackets.) 

Dear Dan:

First off, it was a real pleasure meeting you at ASJA this year. I’m writing to remind you of my strengths (or at least some of them), which I hope you’ll keep in mind for assignments. [Typical opener if I've met the person already; always use your "in" early in your LOI.]

As I mentioned when we met, I’m a long-time freelancer who’s written for custom publishers including The Magazine Group and McMurry as well as 50+ national magazines including Self, Health, Family Circle, Woman’s Day, Continental, Fitness, and ShapeI’m also an ACE-certified personal trainer and Les Mills Body Pump instructor, so I “walk the walk” so to speak when it comes to writing about fitness and health. [Although I'm a former lawyer, I didn't mention this here--it's not relevant to him. nor do I mention my ghostwriting/coauthoring work, or the fact that I'm a motivational speaker, or that I own a small press. I don't want to detract from my identity that is most valuable to him--that of an experienced fitness/health writer.]

I’m an experienced researcher and easily translate complicated health and fitness topics into “plain English” for a variety of audiences. I’m also happy to come up with story ideas; working with clients as a personal trainer gives me access to an almost unlimited list of ideas and new angles to take even with evergreen subjects. [No, you typically don't suggest an idea with an LOI, but your willingness to do so will make your editor happy.]

What else should you know? I’m reliable, professional, and easy to work with, and strive to give my clients exactly what they want, on or before deadline. I’m happy to send clips, pitch story ideas, or tell you more about what I can offer. [Again, I'm keeping this short and sweet.]

Thank you so much for your time, and I hope to hear from you soon. 

Sincerely,

Kelly James-Enger

**Want to see more LOIs that worked? I include real-life samples in both Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer's Guide to Making More Money, Second Editiona freelancing classic that helps both new and experienced writers boost their bottom line, and my latest book,Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition, which shows how to break into the ghostwriting/content marketing field.