Email Script: How to respond to creative inquiries
by Chris Wilson
As an artist, illustrator, designer, or any other visual freelancer, your inbox is part of your day-to-day. The emails you send and receive everyday can range anywhere from replying to creative inquiries, back and forth communication between you and a client on current freelance projects, negotiating your rate for your next freelance job, discussing revisions, getting paid on time, or simply sending a thank you.
Most of the time when artists send emails, they stick to these two email misconceptions:
1. Keeping emails short It’s okay to write long emails. Potential clients will read your entire email no matter how long it is as long as it applies to them, it addresses their needs, and helps solve their problems.
2. Simply answering questions You may get creative inquiries where the only thing the sender is asking is, “How much do you charge?” But if you simply send a reply stating your rate, you’re not establishing the value behind why they should work with you. You’re just competing on price with a handful of other creatives they sent the same email to.
When you know how to write compelling emails, it means you’re able to effectively use key psychological principles with email in an authentic way that can grow your business. Resulting in emails that get opened, read, and replied to even by the busiest creative decision makers.
However, the most powerful email script you can have in your tool belt is an effective reply to any creative inquiry. When you receive a creative inquiry, there is a multitude of things you have to ask yourself before you respond, but the three main ones are:
● Is this client qualified to work with me?
● Can they afford to pay your rates?
● Is this project aligned with my interests, style, and values?
The goal of all of your creative inquiry replies is to boost their confidence in hiring you by establishing the value you offer.
Here’s what an effective email response to a creative inquiry looks like -
Subject:Re: *LEAD NAME, let’s get started on your illustration
Hi *LEAD NAME,
Thanks for getting in touch with me, I’d be happy to help you with your magazine illustration. Recently, I *MENTION A RECENT PROJECT, CASE STUDY, OR ACCOMPLISHMENT [This “qualifier” is what generates confidence in hiring you.]
I’d love to chat with you about the possibility of doing the same at for you. I just need just a few more details about your project (timeline, intended usage, and a better understanding of your creative vision, etc.)
As you know, there are many possibilities for illustration - from a small black and white illustration to a full color spread. My illustration project rates start at *YOUR PROJECT RATE MINIMUM.
Do you have 10 minutes for a quick phone or Skype chat Wednesday at 11AM Pacific?
Thanks, *YOUR NAME
Your goal in these beginning stages is to establish your value by mentioning a recent successful case study or accomplishment you’ve had on similar projects. This way you’ll avoid competing on price with the other creatives they sent email inquiries to.
Remember, the number one concern a potential client has when they are hiring a visual creative is “Are they going to make me look good for hiring them.”
So it’s your goal to establish confidence in your work, so they won’t second guess your rates or in hiring you.
Determining their budget
By stating, “…illustration projects start at $_____,” you’re filtering out those who don’t meet your minimum budget requirements. This way you don’t go through the process of generating a proposal only to find out their budget was crazy low.
Also, you aren’t trying to get an immediate sale in this first email. This will come later.
Because you want to avoid having them make a decision in hiring your based on price.
When you establish your value first, you’re price is a triviality. You can use any of the following qualifiers to help establish your value:
● Recent successes and/or case studies from past clients.
● Your education if you came from a notable school
● If you’re just starting out and don’t have any past clients, you can create a personal project that showcases your work in the same context someone would hire you for. So if you want to do magazine illustrations, you can create a 10page magazine of your work laid out in magazine format.
A call to action
At the end of your email it’s best practice to include a simple, but direct call to action to schedule a chat at a specific time. You’re making it as easy as possible for them to further discuss their project.
NOTE: When you’re on the phone with your client, never feel pressured to name a price right then and there. If they ask your for a specific price, you can say-
“I’d love to give you a price, but I’d feel more comfortable reviewing my notes and giving you a more specific proposal. Giving you two or three options at different price points.”
This way you can use more effective pricing strategies like offering different packages priced at different tiers. So they’ll compare your prices against your own prices and not against your competition.
The success of your client’s project hinges on your design, illustration, or photography.
The visuals you create have a massive amount of selling power. It determines how your clients product fits with an audience. In most cases, your visuals are the biggest factor in how your client will be able to generate revenue from their project.
So when you respond to a creative inquiry, remember to establish your value by showcases past successes, do your best to inquire about their specific needs, and include a specific call to action.