What is an LOI?
I chatter on all the time about “LOIs,” as if every nurse in the world knows exactly what it is. But, of course, that’s preposterous! So allow me today to do something I’ve been remiss about: explaining exactly what an LOI is and when to use it.
Meet the Letter of Introduction
In freelance content marketing writing, a Letter of Introduction is your way of reaching out to a prospective client to say, “Hey there! I can help you with your content writing.” It’s that simple.
If the idea of sending a brief email to someone you don’t know makes you feel squeamish, rest assured this is standard industry practice. Content directors need freelancers, and they either proactively search them out on the web or LinkedIn, or they find them when an LOI pops into their inbox.
Many prospects, in fact, welcome LOIs from nurses because it can be difficult to locate clinician writers on the web or LinkedIn. Many prospective clients probably feel thrilled when an LOI turns up from a nurse writer because it means the prospect doesn’t have to spend hours trolling the internet for a writer with a clinical background.
Two Types of LOIs
When I talk about LOIs, I’m primarily referring to “cold” Letters of Introduction. That is, LOIs sent to people you have no professional connection to. These cold LOIs represent the most basic type of direct outreach you can perform as a freelancer.
Sometimes you’ll receive a friendly response to your cold LOI, but the prospect will say something like, “We don’t have a need right now, but we’ll keep your information on file.” This converts the prospect from “cold” to “warm.” In other words, you now have established a professional connection with the prospect, so they cannot be considered “cold” any longer. I mention this because “warm LOIs” should be more personalized than the cold variety.
How to Write a Cold LOI
I’ve blogged before about how to write a five-sentence LOI that gets results, but it’s worth talking about it again.
In general, a cold LOI should be very brief and quite generic. I always recommend personalizing it with the recipient’s name, when possible, so it doesn’t feel like a random email blast. And if, in the course of your prospecting, you’ve managed to discover some specific types of content the prospect publishes, then slanting the LOI slightly in that direction can only benefit you. However, do not spend lots of time customizing every cold LOI you send, because that’s a waste of time.
Having said all that, a basic cold LOI should:
- Focus on the prospect’s potential content production problems and how you can solve them
- Introduce who you are, with a few words about your nursing credentials and writing background (if you have any)
- . Include a call-to-action (CTA) that states the best way to reach you to discuss how you can help the prospect with their content needs
That’s pretty much it. A simple LOI from a nurse writer who only has sample clips from a nonprofit might go like this:
In conducting some online research recently, I came across [organization name’s] excellent breast cancer blog for patients. As a nurse writer, I wanted to reach out to learn how I might help you produce that content to help patients and keep [organization name] top-of-mind for breast cancer care.
My extensive nursing experience allows me create content that informs readers about their health condition, while my content writing skills enable me to simultaneously position [organization name] as the top choice for breast cancer care. I have written content for [insert name of nonprofit you volunteered for] and would love to collaborate with your team, as well. You can view work samples at my website [link directly to your work samples page, not the homepage; if you have specific, relevant samples, say something like, “You can check out these three samples I produced that are very similar to the content you’re publishing” and then offer links that go directly to those samples].
Kindly reply to this email to tell me how I might help you continue to produce such excellent blog posts for your patient audience. I look forward to hearing from you.
Now…remember how I said not to waste too much time customizing cold LOIs to the individual recipient? And yet, in this example, I did just that by referencing a “breast cancer blog for patients” and also inserting the specific organization name multiple times?
Generally, when you’re prospecting, you can quickly review the types of content an organization produces. During that process, simply note down what that is – so you can easily customize the LOI to that extent. In this case, it was a hypothetical breast cancer blog for patients. This type of personalization will win points from prospective clients because they can see you’ve actually studied what their organization publishes.
On the flip side, though, you could make the above example more generic (quicker to send out en masse), by removing the specific references to “organization name” and simply substituting “your organization” or “your health system” or whatever makes sense.
Once you’ve crafted a cold LOI, the key is to send it out as often as possible. This is a numbers game, so get emailing!