Wednesday, February 26, 2014

the Freelancer's Guide to Email Etiquette

I haven't been freelancing for very long... but I have been freelancing! I think freelance writing is one of the best things I've ever done for myself. It's the best way for me to use my talents and be fulfilled at the same time. I just love the thrill I get from people wanting me to write for them -- that feeling never really goes away! 

That being said, there are some things to freelancing that I've learned the hard way. Mostly, if you are doing freelance writing over the Internet for a company or person very far from you, rules of email etiquette. Here are the top 5 things I've learned so far!

1. Reply quickly. 

Business owners, social media coordinators, and marketers are busy people. They don't have time to sit around waiting for an email response. If they email you, asking you to write for them or pitching a project idea, reply as soon as you can -- even if you're reply is: I'm at the grocery store, I'll write a longer reply in 15 minutes! It matters... really. 

2. Email as often as you need to. 

Early in my freelance career, I was contacted by a woman launching a new website. She wanted me to write some materials for her, rewrite parts of her website, etc. It was really exciting. I wrote an article for her, sent it along, and... no response. I sent her an email. She replied that she would get back to me. I moved on and forgot about it. Now I realize: I should have emailed her again! I should have kept pestering her! That's a project that slipped away from me! Business owners are just like you and me: they can be forgetful. Sometimes, something gets left off their to-do list. It never hurts to send a polite nudge. 

3. Keep your emails short.

Sending a potential client a long-winded response to their project proposal isn't a great idea. They don't have time to read you wax poetic about it for 3 paragraphs. I try to keep my emails to one paragraph long -- no more than, say, 8-10 sentences. Give them the short-and-sweet of what you plan to do. End with: If you want me to elaborate, let me know or give me a phone call. It's as simple as that! The shorter it is for them, the quicker they can get back to you and get to work! 

4. Don't, um, pester.

You know how I said to email as often as you need to? Yes, that's true. But don't pester people. You should reply ASAP to proposals... but if you don't hear form someone in three hours, that's not an excuse to send them another email. Remember: they might be busy, just like you, and just because they aren't as good at replying to emails doesn't mean they haven't heard you. Now, if it's been a day or two, email again asking for a quick reply to confirm they've gotten your previous message! 

5. Be polite. Always.

People will be rude sometimes. Don't return the behavior. If you get shorted on money or someone cancels a project halfway through, if a client doesn't like what you've written or acts like a crazy person... it's no excuse to be rude, even if they are! Be polite, be genuine, and accept the things you can't change about people. Taking the high road always makes you seem more professional and that is a positive impact on your reputation! 

Do you have any email etiquette tips for freelancers? 

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