Pitching for business as a freelancer: is hard copy letter better than email?


It might sound counterintuitive (in other words, a daft idea) to write to prospective clients on paper, through the Royal Mail, when it’s so much easier and cheaper just to email. Who sends letters these days? Who goes to the time and expense of printing off letters, stuffing them in envelopes, buying stamps and walking to the postbox?

I suppose it’s precisely because sending business letters has become unusual that I’m planning to do it. It was a journalist friend who gave me the idea, actually; she had postcards printed detailing her skills and sent them to editors in her field of expertise – and got a couple of commissions as a result.

Real letters are no longer the norm, and it’s possible that makes them somehow special and worth paying a little more attention to. That’s my theory, anyway, and from feedback I had on LinkedIn I’m not the only one to think so.

Paper + pen = new business?
Paper + pen = new business?

An editor of a US newspaper said he gets up to 500 emails per day and it takes him just five seconds to hit ‘delete’. He thought a traditional letter would in most cases at least get opened by a secretary. “A stamp is a small price to pay for the potential benefits,” he commented.

Two others who replied to my question mentioned the ‘personal touch’ that a letter brings; one wrote “reading a piece of snail mail that has value is actually kind of fun and special” and the other said: “I love getting letters” and suggested enclosing a letter inside a greeting card for added impact.

There was a further suggestion from someone else: sending a postcard instead of a letter – with branding on the front and a personalised message on the back.

Not everyone was in favour, of course. Objections to the idea included the time and expense, and the possibility that the letter might not ever get to the right person.

“I’d stick with email,” concluded one comment.

Who’s right? We shall see. My new business stationery (designed by Mancinism Design) has been ordered and when it comes I’ll embark on Project Snail Mail and will report back in due course about the results, if any!

In the meantime, here are the links to the LinkedIn discussions on the subject, if anyone wants to read more.

Professional Paid Journalists group

UK Freelance Writers group

Picture credit: nongpimmy at Free Digital Photos.net 

4 thoughts on “Pitching for business as a freelancer: is hard copy letter better than email?

  1. WSW says:

    Way back in the Dark Ages when I was still doing this, it was my belief that anything that set you apart from the rabble was useful. You can always follow up with an email and a link. Thanks for the good thought, Sue.

    1. WSW says:

      At some point, notifications of your posts stopped appearing in my email, then they started up again. WordPress works in mysterious ways its wonders to perform.

  2. Sue Fenton says:

    Same here – I haven’t had a notification of a new post from you for ages, but am still technically ‘following’ your blog. Just went to sign up via email and it said OK but didn’t ask for my email address. Good ol’ WordPress. Will give your flash fiction a read sometime – I keep hearing about flash fiction but shamed to admit I dunno what it is. Off to the pub now to pick up the belongings I left there last night, which included a chocolate muffin, for reasons to dull to go into.

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