If the fortune is in the follow-up… then how do you follow up? If you’re using any kind of email strategy to find writing clients, there are a few different follow-up approaches you can take.
There’s not necessarily one right way to follow up, but there are definitely things not to do!
I’ll go over the spectrum of recommendations in this post and offer you a few quick templates you can adapt, too.
The most important thing is to DO SOMETHING! Keep testing and see what gets you the best results.
How Many Times to Follow Up
You need to follow up at least once. But once is usually not good enough to get very many responses. People are busy, people are forgetful.
I recommend committing to follow up at least twice for every cold email, though I personally reach out three times before I stop.
If I haven’t heard back after three times, they might be ignoring me, and that’s okay! No response is a response. But if I don’t have a response from someone after three times, I’m done.
Some people say to follow up as many as ten times. That seems mega mucho to me, but maybe it works for some of the more aggressive types. They don’t always do this by email. Some of them count their ten times as friending on Facebook, commenting on posts, joining the person’s email list, etc. That’s a little more palatable I suppose.
When to Follow Up
This can depend on what you are applying to or pitching. If you’re responding to a post or job board ad with a specific time frame included, for example, “give us two weeks to decide,” then don’t follow up before two weeks!
If there’s no specific time frame or you’re pitching someone directly, I suggest waiting one week before you reach out again, then waiting another week before following up for the second time if you don’t hear back. Per this schedule, you’d wait one more week before following up for the third (and last, in my case) time.
You can also try out an every-two-weeks approach to the above schedule, and see how that works for you. Maybe it will work better, maybe not, but it’s worth trying out if you’re not getting many responses with a one-week approach.
And this may go without saying, but just in case you haven’t experienced this yet: there will be times when your prospect says now isn’t a good time and then they suggest a timeframe for you to get back in touch (say, in 2 months or “at the first of the year”). If that happens, confirm that you will check back in then, set yourself a reminder somewhere so you don’t forget, and then do it.
Reminders might live on your pitch tracker, on your calendar, with the Boomerang app in Gmail, or whatever works for you. I recommend that you do all of this tracking and reminding digitally, because it’s so easy for this stuff to get lost in the paper notebook or scratch pad that so many of you love. (I’m with you on the paper love. But it doesn’t work for this stuff. Possible exception: paper calendar but ONLY if you’re consistent.)
Tips for Following Up
1. Be polite, not pushy. Don’t be grumpy or demanding. Strike a helpful tone, such as “Hey, just checking in! Let me know if you have any questions about how I can help you.”
2. Tell them when you’ll be back in touch. You can end your email with “If I don’t hear back from you, I’ll be in touch in one week.” Then do that! Put a reminder in your calendar for when you said you’d follow up with them, and keep your word.
3. Let them know when it’s the last time. “I assume your priorities have changed. I would be happy to discuss this or any copy project in the future. Please feel free to reach out any time.” This may spur them to action if they do want to work with you but have just been lazy about reaching out to you. But you can only use this if you’ve had an interaction with this person about an actual project.
4. If they came to you, try the 9-word email. It doesn’t have to be exactly 9 words. The point is that it’s short and gets right to it. “Are you still looking for a freelance writer?” “Do you still need your sales page written?” “Are you still looking to outsource your email copy?”
If you have any questions about this, come join my free Facebook group, the Ink Well Guild. We can help you remember to be upbeat in your cold pitch email follow-ups, as we do it, too!