Perfecting the Cold Email


Monetizing your Social Media Presence for Outdoor Photographers


Lesson Info

Perfecting the Cold Email

- [Colby] So the cold email. So, the difference between cold and hot. I prefer cold, but mostly more temperature-wise. A cold email is essentially the idea that you don't have a relationship. So, you are the person that's introducing yourself. A hot email is essentially where you've established a relationship, so you're sending an email back to someone that you already have connected with before. So, the cold email is where most people freak out a little bit. You feel very uneasy about reaching out to people you don't know, maybe you feel uneasy about talking about yourself, promoting yourself. But I can tell you that if you really want to do this work, you have to learn how to get comfortable with it. You may not necessarily talk about yourself in the third person, but definitely be comfortable with talking about the successes that you have and talk yourself up. Sell yourself. So, the key elements of a cold email. One is research. Research who you're reaching out to. Don't just sit th...

ere and say, "Hey, I want to reach out to CreativeLive." So, don't just go out there and check out CreativeLive, as an example, CreativeLive on LinkedIn, and say, "Hey, I want to do this product." Or you heard about CreativeLive and then try to figure out who you are going to connect to. Research who the company is, what they're doing. Research about what's hot or what's trending, if they came out with new products or services lately, because those are the things you want to mention in your cold email. You want to let people know that you have an idea of what they do. Preparation. You want to prepare your cold email in a manner that you've gathered your research, you've formulated some ideas, you've taken the time, and the effort, and the energy to put all of this stuff together. You want to reach out to the correct individual. So, using LinkedIn to sit there and say, "Is Kenna the perfect person for me to pitch this idea to?" Maybe it's someone else. Take your time in studying exactly what people do. LinkedIn is wonderful, because they sit there, and if we clicked on Kenna's page, it would give a description of what she does. And a lot of people on there will give a description of what their job is currently, including sometimes they'll have awards or they'll have merits or stuff that's best salesperson of the year, manager of this account, yadda, yadda, yadda. And I'm like, "Thank you for that information, it's very helpful." And a follow-up. Follow-up is big as well, I don't necessarily go over it. I'm trying to show you guys how to write a cold email. But following up after an email, not the next day, not within an hour and be, "Hey, have you read this email? I sent you an email." Highly recommend not doing that. Give it a week usually, maybe a little bit more, but follow up absolutely. Follow up even if it didn't happen. It's great to follow up. You can follow up a couple days if they've responded, a couple days later and say, "Hey, thanks, really great. Looking forward to hearing back from you, I appreciate the conversation. I appreciate the interest in potentially working together. Have a great weekend." That's fine, but only if they've reached back out and said, "Hey, let's do something." So, find the right people to talk to. That's where the really benefit comes out of LinkedIn. So oftentimes for me, I have a large social following, I get tons of engagement, so my number one source to go to is usually social media marketing managers. So for this screenshot, this is an actual company that I blurred out, that I searched through and said, "Hey, maybe I want to pitch an idea or a marketing campaign to this company." So, I put in the name of the company, I said "social media manager, social media community manager, digital marketing, social media junior manager." I have a lot of people I can reach out to and connect with from this one company, and it tells me where they're located. I live just outside New York, so I probably want to pick one of those people, because if it is something that's interested and blossoms into something, I can go in person very easily. It's good information to know. So, key elements of the cold email. This is actually just an email that someone else had sent me, but I just thought it was interesting to put here. So, relatively short but detailed, you want to give enough information, where you're letting people know, again, that you know what they're about, and an idea of what you're expecting, or what you're wanting out of a conversation, but you don't want to divulge all of your cards. You want them to reach out back to you, because A, that lets you know that they're truly interested. And B, no one's going to read something that's super-long anyway. So, you reach out to them with a really big pitch, and it's a couple of pages, or it's a long 5,000-word email, people are getting through the first 150 and then they're deleting it. Make sure it's grammatically correct. Again, for those that know me, it's irony that I'm saying this because, I'm notoriously a bad speller, but I always try to double-check and if it's something super-important, I usually have my wife read it. Needs to prove you've done your research. Again, make sure that you are including information about their company or what they've been doing, so that you show that you actually have invested time into it. Makes a difference, small thing, makes a big difference. You propose the idea, idea of working together. Again, you're not sitting there and saying, "I have this wonderful idea and here's all the details. You say, "Hey, if you're interested in something like this, if you're interested in creating relations, if you're interested in letting me help you, I'd love to talk to you more about this." Five, open things up to a future conversation. Again, that's the idea that you're sitting there and you're giving people some information, you're letting them know that you're interested in talking to them, you give them a little bit of backstory about who you are, and you're allowing the conversation to continue if they're interested. So, let's look at an actual email that I had sent out, LinkedIn email, or LinkedIn InMail is what it's called. So we start things off with the right person, obviously, that's important. You send it off to the janitor of a company, not going to make good choices for you. So you have a short introduction. This is something that I had written back in October 23rd of 2015, it says, "Hey, my name is Colby Brown, I'm a photographer, photo educator, and author based out of Boulder, Colorado. On top of being an advocate for the Windows platform for creative professionals, I'm also a social influencer with reach across multiple social platforms to extend to close to four million followers." Straight to the point. Not bragging, I'm giving some backstory and information. Evidence of Market Research. "As a huge fan of the touch and pen stylus approach to both photo and video editing, the new blank caught my eye when it was announced earlier this year, and while I currently use a blank, the space for the two and one professional hybrid space has recently got a lot more crowded with the blank, comma blank, and new offering from blank as well. The space is right for excitement within the photography and professional digital arts, to pull things away from the typically focused conversations that are common in this industry." Have a backstory with a positive approach so then say, "While I have worked extensively with large marketing firms such as blank on global marketing campaigns." See how I worked in a little bit of my past history in there? "I was pleased to find out that blank was representing blank's interest in U.S. markets after it split from blank. As I have heard great things about your company, if this message is sent to the wrong individual, please consider forwarding this to those working with so and so account." Opens things up for the future dialog at the end. "If there's any interest in finding a plausible ways to work together to let my followers know more about the blank, and how it compares to the competition, please do let me know. Cheers, Colby Brown." #GoodColdEmail. This is what it should look like. This in itself is probably a couple of sentences longer than it needs to be, but it provided enough information to be direct and to the point. I was obvious with what I was after. I was honest about doing my market research, letting them know, I was able to slip in some history about myself, not just that I have four million followers, but that I have worked for some major marketing firms on big projects without having to name-drop too much. And then I open things up at the end to sit there and say, "Hey, if you are interested in something like this, I would love to further this conversation." This is how you write a cold email. Now, yes, I've been doing this for 11 years, and there are very rarely anymore that I don't get a response. But I've been doing this type of stuff for a long time, and it works. Not every time. Sometimes it's not the right time for a company, sometimes you will find the wrong person, sometimes you say the wrong thing, but experiment with what you think is going to work for you. But in general, this is what you should be looking for. - [Kenna] So, from Tiny Paws, what would you write if you were starting out and you didn't have that backstory, and the experience? Would you focus on maybe some ideas that you have or how would you go about that? - Well, if you have no business experience, you have no past clients, you're starting from zero, then yeah, go with a positive. Anything you do, you're trying to go with the positive. I would say that you want the idea that you do want to showcase something, give some sense of a history, whatever it is, play up that element, or that idea, but you want to showcase that you can create stuff. You can do something for them. Again, you don't need to brag. That's what we wait for the pitch to put together a proper idea. You're simply trying to sit there and say, "This is who I am, this is what I've done, or at least a little bit of what I've done. This is why I'm interested in you, and let's have a conversation." And so they can play up anything that they've done in their past they think that'd be good. I think including ideas, you don't want to include too many. I prefer to be broad because I don't like to give good ideas away. Maybe they're like, "That's a good idea, but I want to work with some other dude." I don't want to do that. But if I just want to sit there and say, "Hey, I would love to work with you and do something that's different." But yeah, either way, for Tiny Paws, recommends that they focus on the positive and they try to find something to talk about that they have done. Or go do something and then utilize that. Even if it's pro bono, it doesn't matter if you've been paid for. These companies don't know, they're not going to sit there and say, "Well, what did you get paid for that?" Go do some work. Go go do some pro bono work, get a portfolio, get some things that if they do ask for more information, you can provide it. Every once in a while, I still get, "Can you send me some ROI, which is return on investment statistics, "On what you did for a certain campaign?" More times than not they don't, because of the big brands I've worked with but every once in a while, it still happens. So I still need to provide that. And so the same thing could happen if Tiny Paws was like, "Hey, I did this and this." And they're like, "Oh, can I see some of that work?" And then have it ready. You can't lie. It's not about lying, it's about putting things in a positive light. It's being very open and honest and making things short and direct. - [Male] Do you do most of your cold pitching, or cold emailing via LinkedIn, or do you actually email? - Well, anything that's an email, most of the time, I already have the connection. Or if I don't have the connection, I have a connection that has the connection. So sometimes I'll have someone else introduce me, in which case, I obviously can sidestep LinkedIn. So I want to do a product, or I want to work with you on this. My colleague knows you. Hey, can I reach out to the call and say, "Hey, I'd love to pitch this idea to Sony, Microsoft, whoever. Do you know someone in their marketing department"? "Oh, yeah, sure, it's this guy." Connected. LinkedIn is generally, for me, is for that cold. It's rare that I have the connection outside of LinkedIn and that it would be a cold email. I'd almost always request an introduction so that it became a hot email at that stage. - What if you found the email elsewhere, and then emailed them rather than email them on LinkedIn? So you cold email? - It's still a cold email. I don't necessarily know where I'd necessarily find their email but I understand what you're saying. Yes, essentially... - Do you prefer LinkedIn? - I prefer LinkedIn, but there are times when LinkedIn doesn't work. So someone looks like they have an active account, but I never hear back. And I can look in, and when you send an email you can tell when other people have opened it. So you can tell if it's been ignored or not. In which case, yeah, sometimes you have to do the extra work and then you find it somewhere else. But then I'm sending pretty much the exact same email, or I might throw in an extra line in there so that if they ever do log back in, they're not spammed with both to now say, "Hey, I sent you something on LinkedIn." And then at the very end, "I sent something out to you on LinkedIn as well but I didn't hear back, which is why I'm sending it here." And it's in the footer.

Class Description

Social Media is a powerful marketing tool, but how do you leverage yourself to gain the attention of new clients or potential sponsors? Colby Brown covers how you can find ways to monetize using various networking platforms. Whether you’re interested in finding clients, becoming a brand ambassador, or selling prints this class will give you the tools needed to make strides in getting your network to work for you. You’ll learn: 

  • The significance of getting verified and how to find the right target markets for your business 
  • How to use ads to expand your business on Facebook 
  • The hidden value of LinkedIn and how to utilize it for sponsorship or brand influencer work 
  • How and when to pay to expand your reach


Linea Broadus

Colby's class was packed with great information for landscape photographers! From writing pitches to marketing with social media, he clearly explains how to achieve personal business goals. Thanks, Colby!

Beatriz Stollnitz

I was fortunate to be in the live audience for this course. If you (and I !!!) take the time to truly absorb the content presented and put it in practice, this course will pay for itself over and over and over. It is rare for someone at Colby's success level to be so open about the financial aspects of what they do, and the details of how they do it. Highly recommended!

Esther Beaton

There were 2 benefits from this course. First was the straight info from Colby - very specific - on how to write cold emails and pitches, how to find prospective clients, where to sell work, etc. Second BIG benefit was his stress on our individual creativity to achieve new revenue in this new age of the photography boom. Oh, and there's a 3rd: use social media; you almost can't go wrong.