One of the best advice I’ve learned back when I was still a new freelancer is that writing well-thought out, comprehensive, and personalized cover letters is, in many ways, essential when looking for freelance work.
Why? Because competition for freelance work is fierce. If you want to get noticed, you need to write a cover letter that can really catch the client’s attention amidst thousands of cover letters from other qualified applicants.
The cover letter is your key to getting your client’s attention for the simple reason that clients read and look for specific things in your cover letter. If it does not address their requirements, the client is likely to skip your cover letter and move on to those of other freelancers.
One way of writing effective cover letters is to keep in mind what the client would look for in your cover letter. Let me point out five important things clients would look for in a cover letter:
The client is addressed. This is the first of many ways to keep the client interested in what you have to say. Cover letters that start with “Dear Sir/Ma’am” or “To whom it may concern” can easily detach the client from your application. Take the time to find out who’s hiring, the company he or she represents, and address the cover letter directly to him or her.
A personal touch. I have a friend who hires freelancers for specific projects, and many times she has to deal with generic, lifeless cover letters with no personal voice in them. Clients don’t appreciate laziness, much more being written to by someone with no sensibility, so take the time to write a cover letter and add your personal (and professional) touch to it. Write it in such a way that you’d even read it aloud in this way if you were to recite it to your client. As for my friend, she’s rejected all the applicants who sent those lifeless cover letters.
Your understanding of the required skills. The most important thing that clients look for in cover letters is a freelancer who knows the skills needed for the project and, more importantly, who knows what he is talking about.
A freelance writer can easily say he knows blogging, SEO article writing, and copywriting, but he doesn’t know the principles behind good web copy or the value of SEO when incorporated into an SEO article. As such, I highly encourage freelancers to apply for jobs they’re particularly interested in and have the skills and knowledge for it.
Specific reasons why you should be hired. It’s good that you mentioned your 2-year background as a freelancer, but focus now on its significance.
Try to specify reasons why you, a 2-year freelance graphic artist or a 5-year freelance developer, should be hired for this project. What is it about the project that you believe you are the best freelancer to handle the task? List at least 2-3 reasons, and maybe 1-2 links of previous work in your portfolio.
Professionalism. It’s good to add a personal touch to your cover letter, but slang, lightheaded talk, and bad communication (i.e. grammar lapses and typos, will lead to rejection instantly. Show the client you are a professional, a freelancer with real knowledge, skills, and who can communicate his ideas compellingly.
There are, of course, many more important things to take into consideration when writing cover letters to clients, but keep these five in mind as these give much importance to the value and worth of the freelancer.
I myself have applied these tips into my own cover letters, and it has worked several times for me regardless of how much my professional fees for the project were. If it can work for me and for other freelancers, I’m sure it can work for you.
For further reading on how to write good cover letters, check out these articles: