If you spend any time hanging out with freelancers or reading writing blogs, the term LOI will eventually come up.

As the name implies, a letter of introduction or LOI is a short letter that writers use to introduce themselves to editors. It includes:

* A short salutation
* An overview of their skills and experience
* A list of relevant publications
* An expression of interest in working together

Here is an example of an LOI I’ve used to approach editors:

Dear Claire,

I hope all is well. I wanted to send a note of introduction and express interest in writing for XXX magazine.

As a freelance journalist with a decade of experience writing about health topics, I offer the experience and passion it takes to turn the latest medical studies, health statistics and trends into articles that are both informative and interesting to read. I’m skilled at developing fresh story ideas, interviewing top experts, crafting copy in a voice appropriate for the magazine and I never miss a deadline.

I understand the relationship between marketing and journalism and have a strong track record for meeting the needs of the client while producing content that is engaging for readers.
My work has appeared in popular newsstand titles such as Shape, Women’s Health, Family Circle, Natural Health, Woman’s Day and Arthritis Today. I’ve also contributed health article to numerous custom publications, including Costco Connection, Caring4Arthritis and Restore. Published clips are available at

I’d love to learn more about your freelance needs and hope we’ll have the chance to work together to bring health and fitness articles to readers of XXX.

All the best,

LOIs are often used in place of queries to approach editors of custom publications, trade magazines and corporate clients who develop their editorial calendars/content needs in-house and need writers who can turn those ideas into articles. (In contrast, editors of newsstand magazines and consumer websites tend to prefer specific pitches tailored to their publications).

Writers like LOIs because it’s much easier to write a brief overview of your background and skills than to research ideas that are tailored to specific publications. But I want to offer caution about letters of introduction.

Too often, writers take a blanket approach to sending them out. Instead of customizing an LOI, freelancers write a generic letter and send it out to dozens of editors in the hopes tha spending a little time to reach a lot of potential clients will lead to work. I think it’s a mistake.

I have several generic LOIs (for health, personal finance, food & beverage, etc) like the one above that I use as a template.  When I want to approach a new editor, I open the relevant letter and spend time customizing it to the specific editor/publication. For example, I look at the website and previous issues of the magazine, check out the editor’s LinkedIn profile an highlight relevant connections or commonalities (working with the same editor, attending the same college) and mention a specific article or familiarity with their clients. When the editor reads it, I want it to be obvious that the letter was tailored to their needs.

Remember, an LOI is not a one-size-fits-all approach. Editors need writers who can interview sources and put together compelling articles but editors also want writers who can come up with creative ideas. While an LOI can be effective — and a lot of freelancers love them — I believe that incorporating a few targeted ideas within an LOI is a more effective approach than hitting “send” on a generic intro and hoping it works.

An LOI should be one of the tools in your marketing arsenal. Your success rates will skyrocket when you take the time to tailor the letter to the editor and his/her publication.

If you’ve had success sending LOIs, I’d love to hear your tips for capturing an editor’s attention.