Professional Vs. Casual – What’s the Best Approach?

As I’m preparing to teach my first full-day seminar on successful freelancing (you can find more info on that here), I’ve been thinking about the approach I use in my proposal to potential clients. It was an email I received from another writer that made me think about it. The writer was introducing herself to me through the email in response to a referral from a mutual acquaintance. The email was a good mix of professional and casual, in my opinion. Here is the body of the email.

“I hope it’s okay that I am contacting you, but I wanted to at least introduce myself (virtually) and get my name in your thought process should you be looking for writers in the future. 
I am currently a freelance writer, but also work part-time for the XXXX Community Foundation. I enjoy the freedom working from home provides and am able to stay on task and complete my work in a timely manner from my home office.
If you are interested, I’d be more than happy to forward my background credentials and work experience your way.

Thanks in advance for your consideration. I appreciate your time and look forward to hearing from you.”

Since I do hire other writers to work for me and have helped several writers get started in their freelance career, I have the opportunity to read their proposals and evaluate their approach to clients. It has been very helpful for me in refining my own approach, which is a similar mix of professional and casual style as seen in the email excerpt above. If anything, I lean more towards the casual side.

The key in selecting your approach for each new prospect is to try and gauge their expectations. You need to always be thorough in providing enough information for them to make an informed decision, but still need to keep your proposals short and to the point. That’s one of the biggest mistakes I’ve seen in some prospecting approaches – too much information. Clients who have posted a project on a bidding site or have posted an ad for writers will get lots of responses. They don’t want to read through six lengthy paragraphs extolling your virtues, they want to know quickly and simply, why they should hire you and how much it is going to cost.

Casual or professional? A good mix of both, but lean more towards to casual, in my opinion. Most clients I work for are small businesses themselves, many of them one-man shows just like me. They’re looking for someone they can relate to on a personal basis and will give them personalized service. Show your personality in your proposals and initial contacts with clients and editors. Remember, they’re ordinary people,  just like you.

Would love to hear your comments