How to Get Remote Freelance Jobs with Direct Response Email Outreach

This tutorial will help you get remote freelance jobs at promising startups by using direct response copywriting and mass email outreach. I’ll show you how to do everything from start to finish. Give yourself about an hour to complete this tutorial.

Introduction

I help people get full-time remote jobs, but sometimes people don’t have enough experience to compete with others applying for these jobs. In these cases, I recommend they try to get remote freelance jobs.

Working remotely on a freelance basis allows you to earn money as you build your portfolio. 

But how do you get these opportunities? 

You can use freelance platforms like Upwork, but platforms like this take up to a 20% cut of your rate. A better way to get opportunities—or, a way to complement the opportunities you receive through freelancing platforms —is to reach out to hiring managers directly.

The best hiring managers to reach out to are those at startups. These types of companies have more flexibility and less restrictions in place that allow them to hire freelancers faster.

In this tutorial, I will show you how to efficiently find and contact hiring managers at startups that are most likely to give you freelance work.

Prerequisites

Before getting started, create accounts with the platforms and tools listed below if you don’t already have accounts with them.

Free tools we will use in this tutorial include:

  • AngelList to find startups that are looking for someone with your skills
  • LinkedIn to identify the hiring manager at the startup
  • Voila Norbert and Hunter to help us find the hiring manager’s email address
  • Google Sheets to create a list of hiring managers, their emails, and other information
  • Gmail to draft an email with variables (e.g. placeholders for names of hiring managers and startups)
  • Yet Another Mail Merge to send emails to every hiring manager in one click (choose the individual install option)

You will also need a one-page resume. If you need help creating an effective one-page resume I show you how to do this in the free remote job course. You can also just use my resume as inspiration. Keep it short and sweet.

Step 1: Find a startup to contact

You want to find hiring managers at startups that are actively seeking your skills. The best way to find these types of startups is to use job boards. 

You can use any job board but I highly recommend using AngelList. Only job listings featured at startups are listed on this site.

Note: Startups that have open job listings are often willing to hire someone on a freelance basis until they find someone to bring on full time. And, in some cases, they end up hiring the freelancer for the full-time role. This happened to me a few years ago.

To get started, go to the jobs section of AngelList. 

For our purposes, you don’t need to complete your AngelList profile. We’re just using the platform to locate relevant startups and hiring managers.

At the top of the job page, you’ll see two search fields for job title and location. Enter the name of your profession and the location of your country and any other country that is relatively close and speaks the same language as you. 

For instance, I am located in the United States but I will also add Canada since it’s in a similar time zone and mostly English speaking.

In the location field there is also a dropdown with remote options. Select the option that says Include remote jobs.

With this search criteria, AngelList shows me 1,533 startups that are actively seeking people with my skills as a content creator!

Now, keep the tab with AngelList open and open a new tab in your browser.

Step 2: Identify the hiring manager

Make a copy of this Google Sheet by selecting FileMake a Copy.

Note: After making a copy, you can delete the sample data I added later on and add your own data.

Now, let’s go through the opportunities we found on AngelList.

Find a startup that has a job listing that matches your area of expertise. 

My area of expertise is content marketing and this startup looks interesting to me:

Note: The higher-than-average salary also indicates that they’ll be able to pay me close to my market rate.

When you find a good startup, click on the startup name. 

A new page will open that gives you an overview of the startup. This page will also show you the startup’s website in the right-hand column.

In a new tab, open LinkedIn.

Enter the name of the startup or startup’s website in the search field and select the startup’s LinkedIn profile from the dropdown.

On the startup’s profile, click the link that says See all employees on LinkedIn.

The page that loads is the page where you will look for the immediate hiring manager. For instance, since I am a content marketer, the immediate hiring manager would be the head of marketing, Maya Nijhawan.

Here we have successfully identified the immediate hiring manager! Contacting them directly will be more effective than contacting someone in human resources.

Step 3: Find the hiring manager’s email address

To find the hiring manager’s email address, log in to the tool Voila Norbert.

Enter the full name of the hiring manager and the domain name of the startup. After this, click the green button.

Note: If the tool finds the email address and is certain that it is correct, a green dot will appear next to the hiring manager’s name. If an orange dot appears, the tool is not certain but pretty sure that the email address is correct. If this tool can not find the hiring manager’s email address, try using a different email finding tool like Hunter.

Now, open your spreadsheet and add the company’s name, company’s description, hiring manager’s name, and email address to the second row.

Your spreadsheet should look something like this:

Step 4: Find more startups to contact

Find at least four more startups and hiring managers to contact by repeating Step 1 through Step 3.

When you’re done, your spreadsheet should look something like this:

Step 5: Write your outreach email

Open Gmail and click Compose.

In the New Message box that appears, leave the Recipients field blank. 

For the Subject field, write the following: What do you think of this [your job field] idea?

Replace [your job field] with the type of work you want to do for the company. For instance, since I am a content marketer, my subject line would read: What do you think of this content marketing idea?

For the main email message, write the following:

Hi {{First Name}}!

I see you’re looking to hire a [job title] and think I can help you gain some early momentum on a freelance basis while you look for the right full-time candidate.

Since I love what {{Company}} is doing, I took some time to research ways I can help. We can talk about all of my ideas later, but here’s one for you to review now:

{{Idea}}

Does this resonate with you? If so, please let me know a day and time that works for you to discuss. I can make myself available whenever!

[your first name]

P.S. — My resume is attached and you can find me on LinkedIn here.

Note: Leave the curly brackets {{ }} as is and replace the normal brackets [[ ]] with information that is relevant to your own outreach. Also replace the “here” link with a link to your own LinkedIn profile and attach your resume.

When you’re done, your message box should look something like this:

You can close this message now. It will automatically be saved to your Drafts folder in Gmail.

Step 5: Create project ideas to send to startups

Instead of emailing hiring managers a generic cover letter, we’re going to email them what I call an idea-first cover letter. This type of letter is more effective at capturing attention and getting a response.

To complete the idea portion of the email template we created in Step 4, you need to come up with one good project idea that you believe will improve the company. To do this, perform some brief research on the company. Don’t spend more than 5-10 minutes on this.

After your research, write your idea. Make it specific and succinct. Don’t exceed three to four sentences, or one short paragraph.

Here’s an example of an idea I created for the first company on my spreadsheet, Trio.

Investing your checking balance is a novel idea and we should show why it’s also a good idea. We can do this with a post called “The Returns of Investing Your Checking Balance” that shows what happens to a real checking balance of $5,000 over a period of a few weeks with Trio (with screenshots, video, etc). I’m happy to use my checking account!

As you create your idea for each startup, add it to the Idea column of your spreadsheet.

When you’re done creating your ideas, your spreadsheet should look something like this:

Note: I used generic ideas for the other four startups on my spreadsheet because I’m only doing this as an example. Be sure to make your ideas original and specific to the startup!

Step 5: Send your outreach emails

To send all of your outreach emails in one click we will use the tool Yet Another Mail Merge, also known as YAMM. This is a Google Sheets add-on.

Before moving forward, make sure you have the “individual install” version downloaded from here and connected to the same Google account that’s linked to Gmail and Google Sheets.

Go back to your spreadsheet and click the Refresh button in your browser. 

When the spreadsheet refreshes go to Add-onsYet Another Mail Merge. Then select Start Mail Merge.

In the window that appears, click Continue. You do not need to sign up for a personal plan or pay anything.

In the next window, enter your full name in the Sender Name field and select the subject line for the email we created from the dropdown in the Email Template field.

To see what an email will look like before sending it to the hiring managers at the five startups, click Receive a test email.

Check your email inbox for the test email. YAMM should fill in the placeholders with data from the first row (i.e. the first startup) in your spreadsheet.

If everything looks good, go back to your spreadsheet and click the button that says Send 5 emails.

A success message will appear after your emails send. A new column will also be added to your spreadsheet that shows the status of your emails.

You can view all of the emails that were sent in the Sent folder of Gmail.

Next Steps

If you’ve made it this far you have successfully reached out to five startups without needing to send five individual emails. This approach to outreach for getting remote freelance opportunities will save you a lot of time and give you the opportunity to contact more startups.

As a next step, create a new tab in your spreadsheet and fill it in with even more startups and ideas. Sending your email to a bigger list will increase your chances of getting opportunities!

Get Flexible, Full Time Remote Work

I created a free remote job coaching service and community called Flexers that helps aspiring remote workers get hired as fast as possible. It includes a 12-lesson course, access to a private LinkedIn group, personal support from me, and more.

Learn more and sign up here.

One thought on “How to Get Remote Freelance Jobs with Direct Response Email Outreach

  1. Well done Rob. Some great use of automation and the importance of value. I’d recommend using the tool Phantombuster for prospecting information as well. 👍

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