Back from his summer break, John goes on a hunt for new web design clients. As he browses a job board, surprise! Dream Client is looking for freelance help. John knows that he needs to act fast. He puts together his CV and portfolio, dusts off his all-purpose cover letter template, clicks sends. And waits.
Three weeks later, he’s still waiting.
Godot won’t show up.
John’s story is every freelancer’s. We all have our share of applications that didn’t get a reply. And in many cases, it wasn’t our skillset that got rejected – but our pitch.
Cover letters play a huge role in marketing your freelance services.
Whether you’re sending an unsolicited message or bidding on a project, those few lines can mean success or crickets. And if you’re hoping for an all-purpose template to make your case … well, you’d better make friends with John. You’re going to spend a long time together on the waiting bench.
Want a shot at success with Dream Client?
In cover letters, personality and personalisation are key.
Cover letter mistake #1: Generic salutations
Nothing screams “template” like “To Whom It May Concern”. But Dream Client wants you to write to her – not to a faceless crowd. That’s why your message should be addressed to a real person. If you don’t have a contact name, online search (on Dream Client’s website, LinkedIn etcetera) usually helps. No luck? Go with a role-based salutation such as “Dear Hiring Manager”.
Cover letter mistake #2: The never-ending pitch
Excessive length is a terrible cover letter mistake – one that makes HR staff cringe and cry. To avoid information overload, source a few key points from your template and toss the rest. Remember: this isn’t about rephrasing your resume. Your goal with the motivation letter is to entice Dream Client’s interest. Three or four strong paragraphs focused on your key talents are usually enough.
Cover letter mistake #3: Not following instructions
Many job postings feature instructions for applicants, including cover letter specifications. If that’s the case, you know the deal: professionals are expected to follow instructions. If you fail to comply with requirements, how could Dream Client entrust you with her projects?
Cover letter mistake #4: Making it all about you
Most letters of motivation are “bags full of me”. But if you want to catch Dream Client’s attention, you’d better make it about her. Better yet: make it about how you can help the customer achieve her business goals. Use your cover letter to highlight top skills, and how these align with your customer’s needs and vision. Support your claims with meaningful facts. This will make your pitch more relevant, and increase your chances of getting noticed (and hired).
Cover letter mistake #5: No proofreading
Bad grammar, typos and inconsistencies are taboo. Lazy copy makes you sound lazy. And who could possibly hire a lazy freelancer? So, refrain from pushing the “send” button straight away. Make sure your letter is clear, concise, and easy to read. Use it to showcase your communication skills instead of praising them with clichés. Dream Client will definitely appreciate that.
I’m Alessandra, a copywriter and translator based in Turin. I help businesses narrate their ideas with the right form and substance formula. Because communication is alchemy.