Using Social Media to Find New Customers: First Things First

Welcome to The GhostWriters’ first blog post.  We’ll be writing about improving your writing skills, how lawyers (and others) can take advantage of social media for business purposes, legal matters, small business issues, and anything else we think is important.  The post below originally appeared in slightly different form at

Email Etiquette: Remember the Basics of Good Business

As a freelance writer, I’m as interested as the next business person in discovering new ways to advertise my services, find new clients, and generally get my name out there.  Assuming it’s the right name, that is.

Over the past three or four months, I’ve received the same email in my business account every couple of weeks from a woman named Heather at a company called “”

“Are you a ghostwriter?” asks the subject line.  Why, yes, I am a ghostwriter.   I opened the first email feeling rather smug that my fledgling website and attempts at SEO had caught the attention of a potential client with almost no effort on my part.   Maybe this would be the beginning of a long and lucrative business relationship.  Maybe it really was “that” easy to expand my freelance writing business.

“Hey Melani,” that first email (and all subsequent ones) began.  And that quickly, with the omission of a single “e” at the end of my name, it was all over.

From what I could gather from a brief look at Thumbtack’s website, the company is a sort of on-line Yellow Pages; type your service need into the search box and up pop profiles from dozens of freelancers and small businesses that want your business.   A search for “ghostwriters” resulted in 150 providers supposedly in my area; most were located between 25 and 400 miles away.

I’m not knocking the service provides.  In this age of electronic marketing and digital communication, similar companies are everywhere, filling a need for small businesses and individuals who may not be able to afford expensive and time-consuming marketing campaigns.  But by spelling my name wrong in its message to me, Thumbtack immediately lost credibility and thus, my business.

In addition to being a legal and business ghostwriter, I also give seminars to lawyers and business people on how to build strong relationships with clients and potential customers by improving their writing and communication skills.  E-mail can be a powerful (and inexpensive and easy) way to communicate, if used thoughtfully and correctly.  The most important rule of email “netiquette” I teach in my seminar is that you should treat your emails as seriously as you do other forms of communication.   Ensuring that the name of your recipient is correct before you contact them should be a no-brainer.

These days, it seems like there is a new social media trend created every minute.  People are retweeting, sharing, posting, pinning and linking all day long.  With so many ways to communicate, mistakes become even more likely.  Therefore, double and triple checking everything you send out into the world wide web is a must.

Thumbtack did get one thing right: it used a simple, to-the-point subject line that got my attention.  It got me to open the email and see what it had to say instead of immediately hitting “delete” when I didn’t recognize the sender.   But getting a potential client to open your email doesn’t matter if the message inside is confusing, irrelevant or mistaken.   I’m sure Thumbtack didn’t intend to make me think that it couldn’t make the small effort of copying my name correctly off my website.  But that is the message I got, even before I had the chance to see what the company really had to say.   And that is too bad.


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