← Back to Blog

10 cold email strategies to secure more freelance jobs

minute read
Craft and personalize winning cold emails in seconds using Bonsai.
Craft and personalize winning cold emails in seconds using Bonsai.
Try it free
Updated on:
December 12, 2022
December 12, 2022
Table of contents
Craft and personalize winning cold emails in seconds using Bonsai.
Discover Bonsai all-in-one business management software.

According to Upwork’s Freelancing in America 2018 report, “Americans are spending more than 1 billion hours per week freelancing.” But while it’s great that so many workers are enjoying the freedom and flexibility of signing contract templates with who they wish, many freelancers still struggle to command the kind of rates they need to earn a living.

As an example, take ClearVoice’s 2018 survey of average freelance writer rates, which found evidence of writers who consider themselves to be “experts” in their fields charging between just $1-20 per hour. And although every freelancer’s rate requirements will be different, the economics of earning a living at these rates – especially once tax requirements and office overhead expenses are taken into consideration – rarely makes sense.

If you want to join the ranks of successful freelancers, you need to invest not just in your professional skills, but in your sales skills as well. That means learning how to write a pitch, so you get comfortable with sending cold emails for jobs. Here’s how to do it with: 10 cold email strategies for finding new freelance clients

1. Do your homework on your recipients

One of the first mistakes many freelancers make is to spam as many contacts as they can find, hoping that at least some of the proverbial spaghetti will stick to the wall and result in new freelance contracts.

But cold emailing for jobs those who don’t need your services not only wastes your time, it leaves a bad taste in your recipients' mouths (which could affect your reputation and your chances of getting hired in the future). Rather than reaching out to just anyone, send email messages only to those who are genuinely likely to benefit from your services.

If you sell small services around $200 to $500 per service, you could build a small Shopify app using some free shopify theme templates as well as some of the best Shopify apps. Once your store is live, you could then add links to it in your email signature where clients could buy your services directly.

2. Leverage referrals, when possible

If you have happy clients on your roster, ask them to make introductions to any other contacts they think you could help. Even if they aren’t willing to make these connections, ask if you can use their name when reaching out. Then, use a template like the one below when you send your cold email for that freelance job.

Hello [name],

My name is [name], and I’m a freelancer specializing in [your service]. I just wrapped up a project with [name of shared contact], and thought it might make sense to reach out to you at this point.

Are you having any trouble with [pain point experienced by shared contact]? If so, let’s hop on a call to see if opportunities exist to work together.

Thank you for your time,


You can easily build and customize to your liking such proposal emails using Bonsai - start your free trial today.

3. Cold email recipients directly

As much as possible, avoid sending your cold email messages to generic email addresses. As Ryan Robinson notes:

“When I'm trying to land a new freelance client, I don't want to spend time convincing a gatekeeper on the company's HR or recruiting team that I'd be the best for the job – I'm going straight to the person who's going to be in control of the hiring decision.”

If you aren’t able to find a prospect’s email address by looking at their social profiles, email enrichment tools can help.

4. Don’t just personalize your cold emails … be relevant

According to some sources, personalizing your emails can increase open rates by up to 50%. But for best results, go beyond basic personalization, such as addressing the message to the recipient’s first name – and aim for true relevancy.

Freelance copywriter Laura Lopuch suggests that:

“Relevance shows your reader that you GET them. And by getting them, you’re a partner aligned toward success. You just might make their lives easier. And you just might make them more money.”

Try Bonsai for Free

5. Emphasize their pain points in your cold email

One way to establish relevancy is to use your clients’ language in when you send cold emails for freelance jobs to demonstrate that you understand their pain points.

As you talk to clients, make a note of the specific words and phrases they use to describe the issues they’re facing. Use this when building your cold email templates in order to prove your understanding of their challenges.

6. Prove how you’ve helped similar clients in the past

Show, don’t tell: If you have evidence of how you’ve helped similar clients in previous engagements or social proof in the form of testimonials or reviews, build that content into your cold email templates.

Nielsen data tells us that “92% of people will trust a recommendation from a peer, and 70% of people will trust a recommendation from someone they don’t even know.” Take full advantage of these benefits by sharing them early on with new prospects.

If you don't have this evidence or social proof yet, earning it is probably high on your list of priorities. But if you're like most freelancers, you spend more time than you'd like to on routine business tasks instead. If that's the case, consider using an all-in-one freelancing platform like Bonsai – you can even sign up for your free trial right now.

7. Stick to one CTA

Don’t ask prospects to visit your website … and view your freelance portfolio … and book an exploratory call with you.

Instead, keep it simple. One clear, easily-achievable call to action increases your odds of getting a response.

8. Add urgency, when appropriate

Urgency drives action. So, if you can, make recipients a time-sensitive offer through when you send your cold email for the job. For instance, if you’re a freelance marketing consultant, you could include a statement like the following in your messages:

“I’ve had an unexpected cancellation which has opened up some time on my calendar this month. But their loss is your gain! I’m offering a 10% discount to any new clients who book projects to be completed by [date].”

Don’t force something through if you won’t follow through on the limitation you describe (for instance, if you’ll offer that discount to new clients who book at any point). Faking urgency diminishes client trust and can backfire if they catch on.

9. Schedule multiple follow-up cold emails

Too many freelancers send just one single cold email for jobs… and then never follow up. That’s a huge mistake, given that follow-up emails often get a better response rate than the initial email.

  • One study saw an 18% response rate to the first email, 13% to the 4th, and 27% to the 6th.
  • You have a 21% chance of getting a reply to your second email if the first goes unanswered.
  • Another saw a 30% response rate to the first email and 14% to the 4th – even the 10th email in the sequence got a 7% response rate.

Rather than trying to remember to send each follow-up message manually, look for tools that allow you to automate the process by scheduling emails in advance.

Follow-up emails also come into play when chasing down payments for past-due invoices. Minimize extra effort by automating your reminders with Bonsai.

10. Stay GDPR compliant

The European Union’s GDPR statutes went into effect in May 2018 – and even if you don’t think you’re sending emails to EU citizens, it’s still smart to stay in compliance with the regulations.

There are three things you need to keep in mind when sending cold emails as a freelancer:

  1. You need to prove a legitimate reason for your contact – in this case, by describing exactly how your freelance services can support your recipients’ business goals.
  2. It’s a good idea to state exactly how you found their personal info and what information you’re using. If you’ve found their name and email address on LinkedIn, work that into your cold sales email.
  3. Delete their info if you don’t hear back within 30 days. Schedule any follow-ups to fall within this window. If you haven’t made any progress at that point, deleting their information will prevent you from holding personal info longer than necessary.

What other tips do you have for sending cold email as a freelancer? Share your experiences by leaving a note below, and sign up to try Bonsai for free.

Craft and personalize winning cold emails in seconds using Bonsai.
Related Articles