Winning clients as a freelancer means having to send well-written proposals, which typically will have to include your portfolio and a cover letter. As with any job application, your cover letter is very important—it’s the first thing a potential client will read from you and decide from there whether they’ll look into you and your work any further.
Also, the moment a freelance job is posted on most platforms on the internet, it becomes visible to thousands of people who are just as or even more skilled than you. If you’re just starting out, how do you set yourself apart? Here are some tips to help you write a cover letter that stands out against the competition.
As already mentioned, a client who posts a job online will definitely get a lot of replies. It can be overwhelming for them to go through a sea of emails, so you need to stand out and show you can provide value on the get-go, i.e. your subject line (or title if the platform calls for it) as well as your first two sentences.
Your subject line or title is the first thing the client sees when they look at your proposal, so make sure you show you are ready to work and help them solve their problem right there. Some examples to consider:
Then, your first one or two sentences need to immediately answer the question: “Can this individual help me solve the problem I have?” After all, that’s what they’re asking themselves as they open your email. Below is an example:
“I saw that you are looking for a content writer to create content for your blog. This sounds like an amazing opportunity and I think we may be a great fit to work together.”
Even if the client hasn’t asked for them yet, it doesn’t hurt to add links to relevant work samples in your cover letter. The keyword here is relevant. The client may not care about the amount of work showcased in your portfolio—but they will care about whether you have the experience to help them solve their problem, so send your work in a way that communicates that.
It may be wise not to link to your entire portfolio just yet, as they’re too busy to sift through emails from all the other applicants. Instead, select one or two projects to share that may be related to their project, and describe how you can apply your experience from the projects to theirs. The client will appreciate that you lessened their work by simply putting only relevant information in the email for them.
Of course, if you’re just starting out, you may be limited in this; but if you don’t have any relevant samples at all, then you probably shouldn’t be selling yourself to someone else just yet. You may want to focus instead on building your portfolio with 2-3 items in a specific industry that you can share by writing a blog or building sample websites later on.
Now if you already have a portfolio up your sleeve but you’re new to a particular platform and looking to get a few clients to build upon, you may want to offer a small discount. Something that communicates “See, I have relevant experience, but none on this platform, so if you feel that I could help you, I’ll do it for a 10% discount.” Win-win.
If there’s anything clients hate, it’s a generic, copy paste proposal with nothing but a portfolio link and a Resume.pdf. They know if your cover letter is being sent to multiple prospects, so you need to show genuine interest in their project.
Since you’re most likely not going to know everything about the project with only the job post, asking one or two questions to clarify things is most ideal. This will not only show your genuine interest in their project, it almost communicates your proactiveness.
At the end of your letter, be sure to mention how the client can best contact you or where they can go if they want to find more information. Provide your phone number and email at the very least, and perhaps a link to your website or portfolio, LinkedIn profile, etc.
Ultimately, think from the client’s point of view when writing a cover letter. You need to remember that your cover letter will be their first impression of you, so immediately communicate that you are the best person to hire because you can solve a problem they have.