Writing a cold email for a job (what NOT to do)

By Rob Williams

By sheer circumstance, I’ve been in the unusual position of seeing thousands of cold emails sent by freelancers looking for work in the last 3 years.

Because of this unique situation, I thought I’d share a pattern I’ve noticed. It’s actually more than a pattern, it’s a full-blown template.

Freelancers everywhere are sending an extremely ineffective email to clients hoping to find work. It’s not working. They’re not hearing back.

The email looks something like this:

SUBJECT: I’m a freelancer interested in your project.

I’m Robert Williams, a freelance developer. I’m based in Temecula California and I want to work with you.

Let’s stop here for a second. Do you feel the screen sucking the energy out of your eyeballs? That’s boredom.

This email is showing you a complete lack of thought.

Instead of considering your problems, this email is yapping about itself.

Who cares about what some rando on the internet (who’s probably a bot) wants? I care about myself, as do all email readers.

Yet they persist:

I’ve been developing award-winning WordPress sites since 2004. I’ve had many clients around the world and have created a wide variety of sites. My development skill set includes: wordpress, html5, css3, responsive design, php, jquery, and mysql.

Did you even finish reading that? Or did you see a list of skills and immediately skip it?

Brains tend to do that when they’re spoken to like robots.

But this isn’t written by a robot. Again, person after person continues to write this email.

Why? Because they want to feel big and on top. Thats why you list out your skills. Thats why you refer to your “great” clients and experience.

What you have to realize though is clients don’t care about PHP. Listing that skill doesn’t help the person reading your email.

The person reading only cares about themselves. The more you talk about yourself the more you make the reader feel unimportant.

To get to know me and my work better, I would encourage you to check out my website, as well as my LinkedIn profile:



Is anyone else as done as I am with clicking on some dumbass Linkedin profile? It’s just so much easier to delete the email and move on.

Also, here are three recent sites that I developed in WordPress: http://siteone.com http://sitetwo.com http://sitethree.com

If you’re looking to hire a WordPress developer there’s a pretty good chance you don’t know shit about WordPress. So, how will looking at some “recent” sites help you?

You’re probably not trained in design, development or anything else related to websites, but suddenly you’re supposed to be able to analyze a professional’s work?

It doesn’t really make sense.

Let me know if you think we might be a good fit. I look forward to hearing from you and learning how we can best work together.

I’m available to jump on a call sometime this week.

– Robert

And there you have it. Combine these together and you get the email that I think is at least partially responsible for your dry spell.

It always ends the same, with the freelancer asking the client to take the next step without really pointing out what that is.

What’s the point of a call?

Have you proven you can help me?

What does “sometime this week” mean?

What does being a “good fit” mean?

By not explicitly answering these questions you’re leaving the client (or anyone else you’re emailing) to fill this in themselves.

It really hurts your chances of hearing back.

If you’re not hearing back on the emails you’re sending, it isn’t because you’re a bad person or a lousy freelancer; it’s because of what you’re saying.

Let’s change that.

About Rob Williams...

I run Folyo which can help your remote company find the right designer in the next 7 days. I also host Freelance, a podcast about how you can be more effective at independent work featuring remote companies like Basecamp, Converkit, Highrise and more. If you're a designer looking for clients, you can also get a free 14-day trial of my referral newsletter today.

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