4 simple emails to build your client list (today!)


One of the hardest parts of business is finding clients and making sure you're always booked. One friend who is awesomeeee at making sure she always has clients is Whitney Ryan. 

Whitney is a copywriter and content coach, and she's taking over today to teach you how to use 4 simple emails to build your client list. Take it away, Whitney!

One of the best parts of being a creative entrepreneur is the work. 

Unlike your friends with a j-o-b, you get to decide which projects you take on, which challenges will stretch you creatively, and which tasks are the best match for your skill set.

One of the worst parts of being a creative entrepreneur? Finding that work.

When you dreamed of becoming a freelance designer (or a freelance copywriter, in my case,) we didn’t fantasize about sweaty palms at networking events. Awkward sales conversations. Struggling over how the heck to install a Facebook tracking pixel.

And hey, networking events and social media can be great ways to find new clients. But there’s also a beauty in getting back to basics. 

Finding clients doesn’t have to be complicated or anxiety-inducing. It can really be as easy as sending a few simple emails. 

Email 1: The Referral Ask

When it comes to traditional jobs, nearly 80% are found through networking. Apply this same logic to your business by tapping into the power of your network to find your next client. 

Send a personal email out to friends, family members, and/or past colleagues updating them on what you’re doing now. Share a couple sentences on the type of work you’re doing and what kind of clients you’re looking to take on. Then, ask if they know anyone they can connect you with.

Why it works: Positive social proof leads to a sense of trust

According to a recent Nielsen survey, 82% of Americans seek recommendations from a friend or family member when considering a purchase. We’re much more likely to buy if we know someone we trust approves. 

Your mutual connection is essentially vouching for you. They’re telling your new prospect that you’re a quality referral, which skips you about five steps ahead in the client-getting process.


Hi [[firstname]],

I hope this email finds you well and [[include a personal detail or two, if you have one.]]

I’m writing to you today excited about a new direction my business is taking. As I’m evolving as a designer, I’m discovering how passionate I am about branding. There are many areas of design I feel drawn to, but branding is the clear sweet spot between where my skills lie and what brings my clients the most value. 

I’m looking to take on new branding clients for October and beyond, and I was wondering if you know anyone who is looking to stand out in their field with new branding. It is a six-week design process from start to finish and needless to say, I would take extra special care of any anyone you refer. :) 

Do you know anyone who would be a good fit? I’d like to contact new referrals by 9/30 for a consult call. If you know anyone, please reply to this email and let me know!

Thanks [[First name]], I look forward to hearing from you!

- [[Your name]]

Email 2: The Special Opportunity

The Special Opportunity email is one that you’ll send out as a mass communication to your email list. And don’t worry, you don’t need a big list for this to work!

In this email, pick one of your services or packages and position it as a special offer. Instead of saying “I’m freaking out because I don’t have any clients booked for next month!” this email makes your offer look like a rare occurrence that people should take advantage of.

Why it works: Scarcity = desirability (PLUS opportunity to follow up)


Hi [[firstname]],

I’m opening up a limited number of spots for my Personal Branding Experience next month and I wanted my lovely subscribers to be the first to know! 

If you’ve been daydreaming about creating a brand that feels just like you and makes customers swoon, this is perfect for you.

But don’t wait — there are only a couple spots available and they always get snapped up quickly! Click the link to learn more: [[link to your website]] 

[[Sentence or two about what they should do next if they’re interested (book a consult, reply to this email, etc.)]]

Hope you’re having an awesome day!
[[Your name]]

Presenting your offer to your list in this way makes it feel special and exclusive. People are much more likely to click to learn more when there’s a sense of urgency or scarcity.

You can also take it a step further by contacting the subscribers who clicked your “learn more” link. Most email service providers like Mailchimp, Aweber, or Nesha’s favorite, ConvertKit allow you to do this. 

Send a personal email to the people who clicked. Say something simple like: 

Hey [[firstname]], 

I noticed that you clicked to learn more about my Personal Branding Experience in my last email. I’m excited that you’re thinking of designing a swoon-worthy brand! 

Do you have any questions about my package or my work? I’m happy to answer any questions or hop on the phone to talk about working together.

Looking forward to hearing from you!
[[Your name]]

People will be impressed by your follow-up skills and will appreciate the personal touch. It also keeps the sales ball rolling by pursuing the leads who have already put their hands up and shown interest.

Email 3: The Dropped Prospect

Do you have a list of potential clients who never turned into actual clients? Most of us do. 

Somewhere along the line, the ball got dropped / someone got cold feet / a new Harry Potter book came out and priorities got thrown out of whack. (...Only me?)

The truth is, just because a prospect wasn’t ready to sign on the dotted line before doesn’t mean they won’t be ready now.

Why it works: Adding in additional touch points helps close the sale

Studies have shown that 80% of sales are made after the fifth touch point. Yet most of us (90%, in fact,) give up after the fourth time contacting a potential client.

Some clients are ready to say “yes” right away. Others need to be wooed. 

Now is the perfect time to keep wooing those dropped prospects. Trust me, it’s not pushy in the slightest. (I am totally not about pushiness when it comes to copy!) It’s simply good sales strategy.


Hi [[First name]], 

Are you still looking to redesign your brand? I saw this article and thought it would be a great resource for you: [[link to helpful article related to their problem]] 

Would you like to chat this week about moving forward with your redesign?

[[Your name]]

Email 4: The Double Dip

This one’s not technically building your client list, since it’s reactivating past clients. But it definitely helps you secure new projects, which is what it’s really about, right?

One of the best assets available to a creative entrepreneur is her past client base. The happy, satisfied clients who loved you and the work you did for them.

A simple email asking how they’re doing and what they’re working on can start a conversation about new projects. I’ve used this approach many times where a client says “omg, this is such perfect timing! I have a launch coming up and need a copywriter!”

And at the very least, it keeps the relationship with that client alive. These emails have been known to spur referrals, too!

Why it works: Past clients already know, like, and trust you


Hi [[firstname]],

I was thinking about you and realized it’s been a while since we last spoke. (How it is September already?!)

So I wanted to check in and see how you’re doing. How have you been? What’s new and exciting with life? How’s work going?

Hope you’re doing great and looking forward to catching back up.

[[Your name]]

Two final tips ( + 2 free tools)

Pay attention to detail

Remember, these emails reflect who you are — and by extension, the quality of your work. So make sure you don’t have any typos or clear grammatical errors.

If you’re not a grammar queen, no worries! A free proofreading tool like Grammarly can catch any glaring errors. Just copy and paste your email draft into Grammarly before you send it out to make sure it’s typo-free.

Make it personal

In order for people to work with you, they want to get a sense of who you are. Lately, I’ve been loving WiseStamp for a free way to include a personalized email signature.

By sharing your photo, a little about you, and links to your content around the web, your email signature can give potential clients a taste of who you are. This makes it easier for them to say “yes” to working with you.

Get to steppin’!

Those new clients aren’t just going to waltz into your office. (How great would it be if they did, though?!) It’s up to you to make it happen.

This week, commit to sending out ONE of these emails. Just one! 

Pick the email that feels the most comfortable and start there. Once you build momentum by sending one, you can tackle the others in the coming weeks.

What other methods do you use for finding new clients?

Which of these emails feels like the biggest opportunity for you right now? Which one are you going to tackle this week?

What is your #1 struggle when it comes to finding new clients? Leave a comment and let me know!

For even more emails to get new clients, check out Whitney’s free training on email autoresponders.

You’ll learn the 5 mistakes most people make with email marketing (and how to avoid them) and download her cheat sheet with the 7 magic emails that turn new subscribers into customers...automatically! 

Whitney Ryan is a copywriter + content strategist who’s loved sharing stories since Mrs. Sawin’s first-grade writing class. Armed with a background in psychology/marketing and over half a decade creating copy for small businesses, she turned down a position at a top online marketing agency to start Whitney Ryan Copy + Content. She uses her business as an excuse for reading too many blogs and spending too much time on Pinterest. She also loves vegetarian cooking, traveling to new places, minimalism, and long Chicago walks with her 10-lb poodle-mystery-mix Brody.

Nesha Woolery

I build beautiful brands & websites for passionate entrepreneurs!