12+ Common Email Mistakes No Freelancer Should Ever Make

Contacting potential clients directly by email or phone is a great way to find gigs…if it’s done correctly.

Unfortunately, too many freelancers (and others) don’t know how to use email effectively. They fail to realize that email is a form of business communication. They make numerous mistakes and expect their emails to be effective.

Recently, Mihaela Lica Butler chronicled a common mistake in her post, Why “Hi There” in Emails Will NOT Get You Far. But that’s not the only email mistake freelancers make.

In this post, I list more than a dozen common email mistakes that no freelancer should ever make.

Common Email Mistakes

How effective are your emails? If your answer is “not very,” you may be making one or more of these common email mistakes:

  1. Unsolicited mass emails. Do you create one email and then copy it to dozens of email addresses? Most people can tell when they receive a mass email, even if you’ve hidden the addresses of the other recipients. In fact, this is one type of email that usually ends up in the spam folder.
  2. Not doing your homework. If you want your email to be effective, you need to first learn about your intended recipient. I’ve received a number of emails that leave me scratching my head as to why the sender ever thought I would be remotely interested in they sent.
  3. Getting the name wrong. Be very careful about details in emails. An email with the wrong details leaves a bad impression. Make sure that you use the correct name of the person you are sending the email to. There’s nothing more embarrassing (or damaging) than misspelling a name or sending an email to the wrong person.
  4. Too many mistakes. Typos and spelling errors count. Your email is a reflection of your freelancing business. If your email is full of mistakes, a prospective client may assume that your work will also be sloppy.
  5. Not coming to the point. Most people are busy. They don’t have time to read long, drawn out explanations in emails. If you want the recipient to respond, stay focused on one or two main ideas. Use short, concise sentences to convey your message. Format your email so that the reader can scan it quickly and easily.
  6. Not considering mobile devices. It’s increasingly common for people to check their email on their mobile devices. According to the post, Nearly 3 out of 4 People Delete Emails that Format Poorly on Mobile Devices, from Susan Gunelius writing on Corporate Eye your email should consider mobile devices.
  7. Being too casual. Your email represents your business. It should be professional. Many freelancers are far too casual with their email communications. While a long-time client may appreciate a casual tone, you should use a more formal tone for an initial client email–at least until the client becomes more comfortable with you.
  8. Writing in the heat of the moment. Many freelancers write and send an email when they are angry or upset. While it may feel good at first to send an angry email to a client or prospect, such an email almost never has a positive impact on a freelancing business. Write your emails when you are calm.
  9. Unclear subject line. The subject line of an email is very important. In fact, it can determine whether the recipient reads your email. If you have a vague or unclear subject line, the recipient is likely to delete the email without even opening it. Your subject line should be interesting enough that the recipient wants to find out the email is about.
  10. No call to action. As with any marketing document, it’s important to explain what you want the recipient of the email to do. Don’t make them guess. If you want them to purchase something, invite them to do so. Make it easy for them to follow through by including a link right in the email.
  11. Making it all about you. As with any marketing communication, an effective email should focus on the needs of recipient. Don’t simply list features of your service. Explain how those features will help the reader. If the prospect realizes you understand what they need, they are more likely to be interested.
  12. No contact information. If possible, you should provide more than one way to contact you. Make sure that your contact information is current. Also, be sure to explain clearly who you are and why you are contacting them. Include a link to your freelancing business website or even provide a phone number where your client can reach you.
  13. Bonus: Not using an email signature. Email signatures are a great place to include contact information and a line about your freelancing business. Yet, many freelancers fail to set up this convenient tool.

Your Turn

What tips do you have for writing effective emails?

Share your ideas in the comments.

Comments

  1. says

    Great article as always, Laura!

    I think I do pretty well with most of the points… I do have to remind myself to not be too me-centric or casual (#11, #7) and I only just recently started using an e-mail signature (#13), but it’s comforting to know that I’m “on point” with the rest of the bullets. :)

    Sharing this. It’s a great reminder too us all!

  2. says

    Hi Laura

    I must admit I find myself writing in the heat of the moment – most of the time I delete the message without sending it though.

    Its amazing how much better it makes you feel just by typing it in the first place though.

  3. says

    I’m definitely guilty of #10 – no call to action. But I’m getting better at it. That’s the point, right?

    Do you recommend using a plugin or whatever for your email signature (like SigBuzz)?

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