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Is It Okay For Freelance Writers To Call On Businesses In Person?

cold calling

Hi Anne,

I’ve been a reader of your blog for ages and really appreciate the advice you give myself and fellow writers. I was hoping you could help me with something I’ve been wondering about.

I’m a freelance copywriter who’s relatively new and in need of more clients. Networking with friends of friends and cold calling have only gotten me so far.

Is it appropriate to go into a store or business and say something like, “Hi, how are you im a freelance writer may I speak to your store owner or marketing manager or can you help me get in touch with them?”

Is there some method that I’m missing?

Thank you!


Hi ER,

Congratulations on making cold calls. I think that’s one of the best ways to get work, but many writers hesitate to use it. Check out Cold Calling Telesales Tips for Freelance Writers and How to Build a Cold Calling Script for Writers to see if you can pick up any tips.

Yes! It’s totally appropriate to cold call in person.  Polish your script, bring business cards with your website, and maybe a small portfolio of samples.

Your goal is to get an appointment with the person who can actually hire you. That rarely happens on the first visit. If you can get the name of that  person and perhaps some idea of the best way to reach them. Then you can follow up with calls at the appropriate time.

You might consider sending an email or even a postcard following both your visit and your cold calls.

I suspect you’re not missing much, unless it’s the persistence and discipline you need. Your marketing has to be consistent, week in and week out to be truly effective.

Keep doing what you’re doing. Try some in person cold calling and see how it goes. Do more of what has worked and you’ll soon have more clients.

What’s your favorite marketing tool?


Image: Attribution Some rights reserved by edenpictures


{ 16 comments… add one }
  • Mitch Mitchell September 8, 2012, 7:25 pm

    Good advice; tough advice to follow. lol I’m working on my mental state lately when it comes to my overwhelming aversion to cold calling. I hate that it’s necessary, but when sales and marketing letters don’t work, that’s the way one has to go.

    • annew September 10, 2012, 1:08 pm

      I’ve had some aversion problems too… have you tried cold calling yet? Here’s a challenge. Five calls a day for five days… bet you are at least encouraged and maybe even hired.

  • Amandah August 31, 2012, 5:57 am


    Congratulations on having the courage to ‘cold call’ businesses! Most freelancers wouldn’t dream of doing this.

    I agree with Brianna Sue that it’s important to have a business and marketing plan. As long as you have these completed, you shouldn’t have a problem selling your writing services. Good luck!

    • annew August 31, 2012, 10:13 am

      what kind of business plan? what kind of marketing plan? Not one that’s used for raising money, I suspect.

  • Brianna Sue August 30, 2012, 7:48 pm

    Before you set out on your freelance adventure, you need a business plan. A business plan is a detailed document describing what you plan to do, what you need to do it and how you plan to succeed.

    Like any business, you’ll be selling a product or providing a service. In either case, you’ll need someone to purchase them. If you’re not willing to market yourself, to “cold call” on people you don’t know and experience rejection in its many headed forms, then freelancing probably isn’t for you.

    • annew August 31, 2012, 10:12 am

      True, although I like one page business plans.

  • Cathy Miller August 30, 2012, 3:51 pm

    Love that positive spin, Lori. It’s why you;re the Queen of Worthy Writer. 🙂

    Great read, Anne, on Cold Calling.

    I understand where you’re coming from. Allena. I think it is a sign of respect (respect for the individual’s time) to schedule time to talk, but I think you can use that in your opening. I know you’re busy so I’d like to leave my business card and some samples of my work. Then follow up. You’ve shown respect for their time and confidence in your abilities.

    • annew August 31, 2012, 10:11 am

      Yes, if you can actually get to the right office, leaving a card and then calling can work wonders.

  • Kathleen K August 30, 2012, 3:50 pm

    Cold calls are great. It is one of my best Marketing tools.

    • annew August 31, 2012, 10:11 am

      Good to hear!

  • allena August 30, 2012, 3:40 pm

    Ok? Yes. Advisable? Fruitful? I just don’t know. Here’s why:

    I worked as a secretary for a tax acct eons ago. All cold callers were turned right around at the door. My bff is a communications manager for a bottling/distributor. She refuses to see cold callers. My SIL is an event planner at a convention center, but she started as the receptionist. Again, cold sales were always told to leave their items with her. Other SIL works for professional medical center…botox, vein care, etc, huge place. Again, no dice without an appt.

    When I asked these people their opinion, it was investigating this question for myself, same reasoning. I decided it was likely going to be a waste of hours and gas, and concentrated on warming prospects up first with calls/mailings/email/LinkedIn

    . Exceptions would be: you have time on your hands to do this….you live in a much denser area than I (less time and driving around), lori’s practice of attending conferences where those barriers and billable hours dont interfere with getting to your prospects (and where they are all together) seems like a much better “cold” approach. Or, at least, warm them up first.

    • annew August 31, 2012, 10:10 am

      Allena, the way I would do this now is locate a block or two of truly small businesses… and work that block. I think you’re right about large medical centers and other places like that – phone calls and appointments are the way in.

      • Allena August 31, 2012, 11:19 am

        That would work, especially if it was a dense block. I know you need just one client to pay off your hours, too, if it’s a decent client. I had a writer write to me about this kind of marketing and she ended up with one account from the day-long effort- proofreading the menu board for a hair salon. It was maybe a $50 job. 🙁

        PS- My first comment was written on the good old Droid, so please excuse the abbreviations and typos all!

        • annew September 4, 2012, 8:53 am

          Another possibility from this type of canvassing is article ideas.

  • Lori August 30, 2012, 1:54 pm

    The question itself points to how nervous new freelancers are to approach businesses. You have to shift that thinking – you’re not bothering them. You’re about to offer them clear value that can help improve their business communications. Start by not apologizing for getting in touch. Instead, use all the fake confidence you can muster to tell them why they can’t live without you.

    • annew August 31, 2012, 10:08 am

      Well said, Lori and you’re right, the question is revealing.

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