I am a freelance web content writer and that's what I do for a living. I love to write about topics related to technology, business, etc.
You're struggling to find work. You've been trying for months but with no luck. It's time to get proactive and start seeking out new clients that are looking for freelancers just like you!
In this article, we'll go over some tips on how to write a good cover letter that can help you stand out from the crowd. So let's get right to it!
Know that the cover letter is the first thing potential clients will see when they look at your job application
First, it is essential to understand exactly what a cover letter is and its use.
A cover letter is a short document that introduces your resume and can be sent to potential clients or employers when applying for freelance jobs, especially online. They were mainly physical letters delivered by mail in the past, but today, most people use emails because of how quick and easy it is to send them out.
Your cover letter is an excellent opportunity to let potential clients know who you are and why they should hire you. While the letter isn't technically part of your resume, it does give people an impression about what kind of person you are before they even read one word on your professional document.
In Upwork, for example (an online freelance platform), you have to answer specific questions before submitting your job application.
The cover letter is the first thing potential clients will see when they look at your resume, so you must make a good impression right out of the gate!
Include an introduction paragraph that briefly explains who you are, what you do, and why they should hire you
Most freelancers don't realize it, but the introduction paragraph is the most critical part of a cover letter. The introduction paragraph is sometimes called an "elevator pitch," because you want to be able to communicate your value proposition in the time it takes for someone to ride an elevator with you.
A good cover letter should do three things:
- Introduce yourself and what you do.
- Highlight how those skills will help you solve the client's problem.
- Explain how you prefer to work with clients.
Here are some examples of introduction paragraphs that effectively "hook" potential clients:
- I am an award-winning designer who specializes in creating websites for small businesses. I create buzz through my blog, writing about online marketing techniques and new design trends. When clients hire me, they can rely on my expertise and experience to give them the web presence to attract more customers and increase sales.
- I am a copywriter who has been helping businesses get found online since 1996 (wow—that makes me feel old!). I have helped small businesses like yours stand out from the crowd, build their brands, and connect with customers through compelling copy.
- I am a web designer with over ten years of experience creating websites for small businesses, non-profit organizations, and entrepreneurs just like you. I've worked hard to develop expertise in three specific areas: (a) beautiful design that tells your story, (b) creating responsive sites that look good on all devices, and (c) ensuring your website is easy to manage.
Note that in each example, the paragraph focuses on a specific area of expertise. For instance, when I write for an agency or client who wants to attract more customers through their website, my introduction paragraph highlights:
- Why design is critical.
- How responsive design solves one of their biggest headaches.
- How easy it is to manage and update their website.
You can write a different introduction paragraph for each position or type of client you're targeting. Just make sure that the one you choose highlights why they should hire you right away—and what makes your skills unique compared with other freelancers in your industry.
Make sure to include any relevant experience or skills in your cover letter
Of course, a solid introduction alone isn't going to cut it, and you need to follow through with a solid list of your relevant skills and experience.
In this part, you can detail what steps you took to achieve success in the past related to the job posting.
For example, if one of their requirements is a minimum number of years of experience with Excel, include that and other examples from previous positions or internships.
The main thing to remember is that you want your cover letter to reflect who you are and what you have done so far. Don't hold back on any skills or experiences, and include details of your previous positions or internships when appropriate! Finally, you can end by reiterating your interest in the position and why you think you're a good fit for the job.
Don't use contractions in your cover letter
A common mistake that I often see in cover letters is the use of contractions. While it's ok to do in casual writing, you should avoid using them for a professional letter as they make the application look unprofessional and hint at a lack of pride in one's work.
Using contractions can also be confusing when reading through your cover letter, especially if there are several instances where one is used incorrectly or not at all.
A few examples of common contractions used in writing are "can't," "isn't," "would've," and so on. It is essential to know when it's appropriate to use them or not, as otherwise, you risk coming across as unprofessional!
You might think this is not an issue, but it can be a deciding factor in whether or not your application is successful, so it's crucial to keep this in mind!
Be brief - don't ramble on about irrelevant information or things that aren't related to the job posting
Be concise. Your cover letter should be no more than a few paragraphs, not pages long. The employer wants to know why you're the best fit for the job; they don't need an essay on your life story or what makes you tick (unless, of course, that's directly relevant).
The first paragraph needs to include a sentence about yourself, why you're writing, and what position you are applying for. There shouldn't be any fluff in this paragraph, no irrelevant information or statements that don't relate to the specific role.
The second paragraph should include a summary of your relevant experience both in work and education - if done correctly, it can show how well suited you would be for the job.
The final paragraph should be a conclusion; summarise what you've written and why you're the best candidate for the role. You can also include information about how to contact or follow up with you and other relevant details such as availability, etc.
As a rule of thumb, cover letters should be no more than three paragraphs long.
Make sure your cover letter is tailored to the specific role you are applying for
Your cover letter shouldn't be too generic, but it shouldn't be written specifically for one particular job. There should, however, always be a direct correlation between your resume/CV and what you've written in your cover letter.
For example, if your experience matches precisely with what the employer is looking for in a candidate, make sure to highlight it and include why you're suited to this particular role!
It's also essential that your cover letter reflects what they say about the job on offer. For example, if their website or job posting mentions something such as "dynamic startup environment," note how much you value working at startups and share an example or two of why you think that's important!
Write using your own words - don't just copy and paste the exact text for every job application
Don't be tempted to cut and paste your cover letter each time. While it might save a bit of time, this can come across as lazy. It also shows a lack of interest in the specific role you're applying for, which most employers look out for.
If you don't think it's appropriate to write a cover letter with different text each time, at least personalize your writing to directly relate to what they are looking for and how well suited you would be for the job.
Use a formal tone - this sets the right mood for someone reading over your application
With few exceptions, a cover letter should be written in a formal tone unless you know for a fact that the person who'll be reading it prefers otherwise. This is because it's a document sent to someone who typically works in an office setting.
A formal tone shows respect and professionalism while also making sure you can convey yourself properly. When you're applying for a job, it's easy to let your emotions get the best of you. Remember that you're not sending a simple message to your friends. Instead, treat it like one would with any professional communication and keep things formal.
People who review applications are in positions of authority, so it's essential to show them that you're capable and prove yourself. For example, suppose your application is submitted casually, and the person noticing this finds it unprofessional. In that case, their perception of you will be less favorable than if they had seen an application written with more professional language.
Let's wrap it up!
It's a tough market, so be sure to use these tips and tricks in your cover letter. What do you think of our list? Did we miss anything important? Let me know!
And don't forget that networking is one of the best ways to get new clients as well. Make connections with other freelancers who have similar skills sets or work on projects that are relevant to yours. You never know when they might need someone like you for future jobs! With all this information fresh in mind, it’s time to put your new knowledge into action and write an awesome cover letter. Good luck and happy job hunting!
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Daniel Edulan Melana