How to Write the Perfect Cold Email Subject Line

How to Write the Perfect Cold Email Kylie Lobell on CreativeLive

As a freelancer and entrepreneur, your success depends entirely upon how hard you work.

Your career involves a lot of self-motivation, as well as an inherent drive to be at the top of your field.

Along with meeting your existing clients’ needs, you have to constantly be on the look out for more prospects that might be able to give you business. Becoming a successful freelancer means you also have to sell yourself and your services. That’s where reaching out with cold emails come into play.

Though it may seem intimidating, cold reach out emails are one of the most valuable ways that you’re going to increase your workload and income.

The following are some tips for perfecting your cold reach out emails.

Write an Enticing Subject Line.

Your subject line must be interesting, otherwise your recipient won’t be compelled enough to even click through.

According to a Fast Company study of 1,000 cold emails, short subject lines that pique your recipients’ curiosity are more effective than longer, more specific ones. Short subject line emails also yield a higher click-through rate of 51.2 to 48.8 percent, and an even higher rate of reply of 66.7 percent compared to 33.3 percent with those of longer subject lines.


Here’s an example. If you’re a writer emailing an editor at Seventeen Magazine for a possible feature assignment on a new photo messaging app, your subject line could look like:

“Is this the new Snapchat?”

“Do teens really need another photo messaging app? (Answer: yes) ”

“The next generation of photo messaging apps is here.”

“The next big photo messaging apps for teens: have you heard of FunChat?”

Tip: Using a catchy, sample headline for your potential piece, in the subject line of your email will show the person you’re reaching out to that you know what you’re doing.

How to Write the Perfect Cold Email Kylie Lobell on CreativeLive Research Subject Line

Do Your Research.

It pays off to be personal and research whom you’re targeting. If you’re emailing an editor at Seventeen, you’d want to sign up for Media Bistro’s Avant Guild to find out exactly who to pitch, when to pitch it, and what he or she is looking for in a pitch. Many brands have monthly editorial themes, and if you don’t reach out with a topic within that theme, you may never hear back.

As for the tone of your email, be as respectful as possible. You shouldn’t come off like you’re simply emailing this person to get something out of him or her. Seek to provide value. State why you’re emailing up front, and remember that it never hurts to start (and) end the email by complimenting your recipient on his or her work.

Have a Killer Pitch.

This goes along with doing your background work and research. You need to prove your value to your recipient. Why should he or she listen to your pitch? What makes you different than the plethora of other people reaching out on a daily basis? How can your service improve some aspect of his or her company? There’s an art to crafting the perfect pitch.

Let’s go with the Seventeen Magazine example again. Your pitch would have to match the magazine’s tone, and have the potential to drive page views to its website. Here’s what you might say in the first paragraph of your cold reach out email if you’re looking to write for the magazine.

“Hi [Editor’s Name],

It seems as if there’s a new app for teens launching every minute, but only a few have real longevity. FunChat, an app launching on October 1, is set to disrupt the text messaging industry by offering its users the opportunity to have group video chats, take filtered Instagram photos, and send money to one another with the click of a button. Bascially? Everything teens love about social in one place. Would you be interested in a feature on FunChat?”

Why this cold reach out email template works: Up front, you’ve shown why your pitch will appeal to Seventeen’s demographic and that you’re offering the magazine an exclusive pitch on an innovative product. Every company in every niche wants to be the first one to know about a new idea; you have to demonstrate that you can offer them insider knowledge and keep them at the top of their game.

Include Your Credentials.

We’ve got the introduction part down. Now it’s time to show why you’re the best person for the job.

After your pitch, you need to include your experience and what kind of work you’ve done in the past. If social media numbers matter in your industry, place those in your email, too. Here’s an example:

“I’ve been published in Teen Vogue, Tiger Beat, Pop! Magazine, and I’ve covered the apps beat for Rolling Stone and Popular Science. Here is a link to one Popular Science article I wrote about SnapChat, and here’s a link to another piece of mine for Teen Vogue on makeup application tips.”

Your goal is to get an editor to feel like the want and need to publish your piece.

Follow Up.

Don’t be discouraged if you don’t receive a response right away. People are busy, emails get lost in inboxes, or your recipient might be waiting to follow up with you when his or her company is ready. Wait at least seven days to follow up via email, and don’t nag the person. Simply say, “Just checking in,” or “I just wanted to make sure you received my email.”

Seek to provide value in your follow up email, by offering a brief outline of the topics you’d want to cover in your post, and asking if it’d be better to reach back out next week.

Cold emails are one of the backbones of your business. Though they may seem nerve-racking, they’re necessary, and can have a huge payoff if done right.

Whether you’re just starting a freelance business, or looking to grow your existing client base, download our free eBook, The Freelancer’s Roadmap and accelerate your business.


Kylie Ora Lobell FOLLOW >

Kylie Ora Lobell writes for brands, blogs, and print publications. She covers content marketing, digital marketing, and runs Kylie's Tips for Writers, a blog about writing.