The Perfect Email Subject Line for Freelancers to Land Projects

Congratulations, you’re just crazy enough to enter the treacherous waters of cold emailing. Whether you’re a seasoned freelancer looking for a new opportunity, or a small, confident fry working to break into the world of freelancing, the first and most important lesson to learn about cold emailing is that you need a competitive edge to make it.

​That being said, don’t be discouraged. In one poll by DiscoverOrg, 78% of business decision makers scheduled a meeting with someone based on a cold email or call. It’s hard to do, but not impossible– and it can be incredibly effective for growing your revenue with the right strategy in place. All you need to do is stand out from the crowd, and that begins with making the perfect entrance: the perfect email subject line.

​Read on to learn 3 guaranteed-to-work headline formats that will charm more cold prospects more often.

The Power of a First Impression

No matter how fancy your credentials, no matter how many great ideas, and no matter what case studies you attach– write a bad subject line and no one will bother reading what you have to say. This is where most freelancers and sales people miss the mark. According to Hubspot, 33% of email recipients will open an email based on the subject line alone.

Writing subject lines like these will probably not get you the open rates you deserve:

  • Freelance Web Developer
  • Content Marketing Assistance
  • Logo Design Professional
  • Quality Recruiting Services
  • Social Media Done Right!

If you want to rise above the noise in an overflowing inbox, you’ll need to be a bit more creative. Fact is, no matter how much experience, knowledge, and even talent you have, It’s incredibly difficult to get a prospect to work with you if you can’t demonstrate your value first.

​Whether that value is $10,000 ROI, a hell of a lot of knowledge, or a remarkable idea, you need to put your prospects needs first and show your willingness to serve rather than gloat.

​In other words, Stop selling yourself, sell RESULTS.

​And that, friends, should be the crux of your thinking as you get it together and learn to nab killer clientele.

Before You Write: Research Your Audience

It doesn’t make sense to cold email just anyone. You should have a good idea of the kinds of clients you’re looking for, and find the right people based on some preliminary research.

You can use tools like Linkedin, forums, or job boards in your industry to seek people that you know you can help. Remember, being helpful is the name of the game, so having a good idea of what need you can fill is the ideal launching pad for your proposal. The more you can custom-build your headline to fill their needs, the better your proposal will convert.

The Anatomy of a Perfect Subject Line

So, what makes the ideal subject line?

​The answer will largely depend on the type of business you’re targeting and what you have to bring to the table. In general though, you’ll want to do 4 key things:

  • Personalize: Emails with the recipient’s name in the subject line have a higher click-through rate.
  • Keep it Simple: According to ContactMonkey, over 40% of emails are opened on mobile, which typically allows 4-7 words
  • Focus on The Benefits: Intrigue your prospect with the results you can help them achieve.
  • Hint at What’s Inside: Be consistent with your title to avoid duping your readers. You don’t need to be overly telling, but you should give a clue as to what your email is about
  • Don’t Forget Your A.B.T (Always Be Testing): Figure out what’s worked for you already, refine it, repeat it.

Winning Freelance Headline #1: The Investigator

The investigator is all about diving deeper into your prospect’s needs and sharing your knowledge about them. A great Investigator subject line shows your prospect 3 things:

  • You’re know them
  • You’re not just a one-size-fits-all type of freelancer
  • You’re ready to dive further into the research/work
  • You’re interested, and you want to help.

There are few occasions where being creepy is a good thing, and this is definitely one of them. This type of post is a great way to build a relationship with a new client, start with something that piques interest by showing your knowledge about their challenges, or by showing them that you’ve already done some research and want to learn more. A great example of a web design business doing this is Satori Design, based in Philadelphia. 


  • I Have Something Better Than <Insert Name of Tool You Know You’re Prospect is Using>?
  • We Audited Your <Website, social media pages, sales, etc.>, Here’s What We Found
  • 3 Reasons <Insert name of your prospect’s app/website> Needs a New Developer…
  • Congrats on <Insert a win that your subject recently posted about>. What’s next?
  • Hey <Name>, Did I Just Find a Huge Hole in Your Recruiting Strategy?

Winning Freelance Headline #2: The Mastermind

The Mastermind subject line is all about showing your prospect that you have a plan. Showing them a customized strategy is a great way to increase conversions on your emails. Make sure you not only give away a blueprint in the subject, but take ownership of it.

Tons of people offer advice, and you want to make it clear that you’re not sharing a generic blog post– you have a plan that’s ready to execute. Be careful with this, though.

Making big, bold, exciting promises may not charm your audience. A shocking 69% of email users mark messages as spam based on the subject line alone, so try to avoid the spam-bot lingo


  • Hey <Insert Name>, I Want to Help You <Goal>. Here’s How.
  • My 5 Step Strategy for Doubling Your Autoresponder Click-Through Rates
  • 3 Changes That Can Triple Your SM ROI..
  • Here Are 5 Blog Posts I Would Write If I Worked for <Insert Business Name>
  • 3 Ways I Could Steal Sales From <Insert name of a known competitor>

Winning Freelance Headline #3: The Spark

An ironically disengaging title like, “Need to Boost Your Engagement?” is flat out boring. The Spark is built to generate intrigue, whether it be through exciting statistics, humor, reverse-psychology, or plain-old mystery.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be incredibly creative to do it. Let’s re-work the engagement example above and add some sparkly data that highlights the benefits of our hypothetical service:

“How I Helped One <Related Niche> Business Get 10x More Engagement in 6 Months” Much better, isn’t it?

Here are some more examples of a Spark subject line:

  • They Couldn’t Believe The Results…
  • One Post Says It All…
  • You Aren’t Lazy Enough
  • Panic (credit: Mequoda)
  • • Their CFO Could Only Say “Wow...”
  • You’re Not Ready for More Sales


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  • Don’t sell yourself, or even your services. Sell your results.
  • Make sure your subject lines are personal, results-driven, and unique.
  • Some subject line formats you can try include:
    • Asking the right question
    • Giving a relevant ‘How To’
    • Sharing a useful list
    • Creating intrigue through mystery

Now that you have your formula for a great subject line, don’t forget this one crucial point: it has to reflect what’s in the email. Don’t be sleazy, lest you suffer the slings and arrows of a spam mark-down.

You’ll have to keep working the charm before you can expect for your cold emailing to work.

Luckily, we can help with that too...