Writing Your Self-Promotion Letter

What’s the next best thing to hearing, “You’re hired”?

How about …

“I’m interested in your services. Can you send me more information?”

And if you have a well-rehearsed elevator speech like we discussed yesterday, your chances of being asked that question will improve greatly.

So today we’re going to work on what you’ll send them – your self-promotion letter or kit.

You’ll use this almost every time you engage with potential clients. Whether you meet them in person like in the example above, whether you approach them directly through the mail or by phone, or whether they find your freelance website.

What should your self-promotion kit include?

It can feel overwhelming when you’re starting out, but if you approach it like writing a sales letter, you’ll see there’s a really simple formula you can follow …

  1. Start with a headline and lead that captures the prospect's attention, makes a big promise, and answers the questions: what kind of freelancer are you, what can you do for them, and why should they hire you?
  2. Gather some proof to back up your claims – ideally in the form of testimonials and possibly samples. (Don’t worry if you don’t have either just yet – I’ll show you how to get them during the Build Your Freelance Website training program I’m hosting next month.)
  3. Brainstorm some unique benefits about why you are the best person for the job and what they can expect when they hire you.
  4. And then be sure you close with a very specific call to action that makes the potential client reach out and make contact with you.

The key with all of it is to be specific. It’s the only way you’ll stand out from every other freelancer in your field. Let the potential client know exactly what you can do for them so they know they’ve found someone who can do the work.

Remember, it’s not about how many skills you have. You don’t have to know every skill in your freelance niche. It’s about standing out from the crowd and letting potential clients know you are the person to hire if they’re looking for someone with the skills you possess.

Once you’ve got the basics down, the next step is to make sure you’re writing to the “right” prospects – meaning potential clients whom you’d actually want to work for, who value your services and are willing and able to pay you what you’re worth.

How do you do that?

Ed Gandia, successful copywriter and author of Writing Case Studies, recently wrote an article that gave away some great tips for writing self-promotion copy that ensures you’re targeting the right people …

#1: Preach to the converted. Make sure that your marketing materials (including your website) are written for prospects who already understand the value of hiring a freelance copywriter. Don’t try to sell the value of your profession. There are too many prospects who “get it” to waste time with those who don’t.

#2: Take a stand. Be clear about the type of work you do and don’t do, as well as the type of clients you work with. For instance, if your focus is B2B copywriting … say that! And if you have a specific specialty within B2B, make sure that’s also clear.

Also, if there are certain types of projects or industries you won’t even touch, let prospects know. For instance, I know a copywriter who clearly states on his website that he will not edit copy someone else has written. He even adds a bit of personality to this statement by asking prospects not to EVER call him with requests such as, “Can you just take a quick look at this document and ‘clean it up’ a bit?”

That language is a bit too aggressive for my taste, but it works for him. However you do it, just make sure readers walk away knowing what you’re all about (and what you’re not about!).

#3: Be explicit about what makes you different. Don’t try to be everything to everyone. There are many things about you that make you different enough from most other copywriters. You may not notice them at first, but they’re there!

Here’s an exercise that will help you bring those differentiators to the surface. First, do a personal inventory. Think about the following:

  • Background
  • Experience
  • Education
  • Skills
  • Track record
  • Specialized knowledge
  • Certifications
  • Achievements, accomplishments, awards
  • Aptitudes
  • Hobbies

Make a thorough list of what attributes you may possess under each category. And don’t rush through this exercise. Take your time. You won’t think of everything the first time.

Next, connect the dots. After a few days of adding to the list, take another look and start thinking of ways these attributes make you different from most others. Of course, make sure that those differences would be meaningful to your prospects. Or at least make the connection clear to the reader if it’s not obvious.

#4: Add credibility elements to support your claims. This could be in the way of samples, testimonials, clients lists, case studies, awards, and so on. Before they call you, prospects want to feel confident that you’re the real deal.

An impressive background, years of experience, and deep industry knowledge are all great. But if they’re not supported with testimonials or other credibility elements, they’re going to wonder how much of what you’re saying is true.

#5: Consider developing a specialty. You don’t have to be a specialist to be a successful freelance copywriter. I know many generalists who make a great living and prefer having a wide variety of clients and projects.

However, everything else being equal, it’s easier and more cost-effective to market yourself when you have a specialty. In virtually every profession, specialists tend to land a higher percentage of the prospects they go after.

Sure, they’re working with a smaller pool of prospects. But at the end of the day, what truly matters is how many of the prospects you talk with end up becoming paying clients.

Just make sure to pick specialties that are in high demand. So if you’re going to specialize by industry, pick industries or sectors that are growing and need a steady flow of written materials to market and sell their products and services. And if you’re going to specialize by project type, stick to those projects that are in high demand right now and will stay that way for a while.

And if you’re considering mailing your self-promotion package to prospective clients, I recommend you also check out the article Four Secrets from the Self-Promo Sales Letter that Earned Me $64,000, written by successful B2B copywriter and author of Writing B2B Video Scripts, Pete Savage.

In it, he gives you some very practical advice based on his own successful direct-mail self-promotion campaign that brought in $64,000 of new business in just 12 months.

And he only mailed the package once to 100 names!

If you have any questions about your self-promotion letter, or you’d like to share yours with your fellow AWAI members and me, add a comment.

And remember to sign up for my Build Your Freelance Website in Four Days webinar series if you haven’t already. Along with showing you how to put up your own freelance website, I’ll walk you through writing the content in much more detail, page-by-page, so nothing will be left in doubt.

Tomorrow, we’ll talk about one of the easiest self-promotion strategies around …

Getting others to promote you!

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Published: April 13, 2011

5 Responses to “Writing Your Self-Promotion Letter”

  1. Hi Rebecca, Since I have purchased the accelerated program, I am reading all your articles with intent and great excitement. I have learnt a lot from your writings. I am just going to finish the above program within a week. I have given a very thorough reading to the program, learnt the art to write a copy. Now my first job will be to market me and to write the self promotion letter. You have given a deep knowledge as how to write a self promotion. I will act as directed and hope to win.

    Mahesh Seelvi

  2. Thanks Rebecca for the in-dept lessons that have given me a clear understanding of how to go about freelancing. I now know what I need next: to come up with elevator speech and the self promotion letter.

    Efe Favour

  3. If I am a novice and starting my career, how can add credibility in the form of testimonial, client lists, awards etc. Please clarify...

    Guest (vamshi)

  4. If I am a novice and starting out, how can I add credibility elements to support my claims in the form of testimonials, clients lists and awards etc... please clarify...


  5. OK, Begin by checking-out Rebecca Matter's "Writing Your Self-Promotion Letter", link at beginning of this lesson.
    Why am I spending my time adding "my 2 cent's", here?
    THIS: I have over SIXTY years experience learning, using, and teaching Promotions of products and services. "You Can't Outsource Experience", Get It? But you can learn from other people's Experiences.
    1st, remove yourself from the equation and write about the person U think models the best promoter/salesman that U know. Get It?


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