My $3,000,000 Cold Outreach Framework

Nicolas Cole
June 18, 2024

When it comes to increasing your income as a ghostwriter, most people know they need to get more clients.

Yet, the vast majority of people sit around waiting for clients to land in their inbox. They rely on word of mouth marketing to get client referrals or hope their warm lead content creation will attract new clients. Don’t get me wrong, these are both important ways of finding clients. But they aren’t reliable. You can’t control who sends referrals your way. And you can’t control who sees your content (the algorithm does)

The one method you have more control over than any other: cold outreach.

When I was building my multi-million dollar ghostwriting agency, 80% of our work came from cold outreach.

Scaling my ghostwriting agency above the LA Hills.

So why don’t more people do cold outreach?

People are scared they will sound “salesy” in their cold outreach.

Let me tell you something: this is a big lie in our society.

And I’m sorry someone, somewhere, told you that “sales” means being a money-grabbing sleazeball. Anyone proficient in sales will tell you the key to selling anything isn’t actually to “sell.” It’s to educate.

This reframe will transform the way you approach your cold outreach.

Because if you see sales as “selling,” you have to do a lot of persuading to get the other person to take action. Whereas if you approach sales as education, and the person becomes aware of a problem they now feel is important to solve, they will persuade themselves.

Think of this education as making friends at scale.

Let’s dive in to how this works (and how to land your next client):

Step 1: Find your leads

So after you’ve defined your niche and your ghostwriting service, the first question to ask is:

Are the people I want to work with reachable?

This might seem obvious. But so many freelancers and solopreneurs give up on cold outreach because they think the people who will pay them top dollar for their services are unreachable. And of course, you’re going to struggle if you’re just targeting household names.

So when you’re first starting out, don’t target:

  • Creators with MILLIONS of followers
  • Celebrities
  • Jeff Bezos

These people aren’t reachable.

Instead, focus on these archetypes in your niche:

  • Recently funded startups
  • Creators with smaller audiences
  • Small to medium-sized businesses

Basically, anyone who probably won’t be drowning in DMs.

Your messages are more likely to get noticed, especially if you follow the playbook below. And one pro tip: message people on their “secondary” platform. So if you’re targeting a YouTuber, don’t message them on YouTube. Message them on LinkedIn.

Now, where do you find these leads? Start with these 3 places:

  • Social Media. So many of my clients at my ghostwriting agency came from just opening up X or LinkedIn and searching for the keywords related to my niche. Once you do this, you will see how many people are actually out there (hint: there are thousands of clients out there waiting for you).
  • Crunchbase (or another business database). There are millions of businesses in the world and they all need a ghostwriter to scale their message, attract leads, and sell more products or services. These databases are a gold mine.
  • Google Maps. Like I said, every business needs a ghostwriter. So start pounding the pavement and look in your local area. Are there people you know who could use a hand with their marketing? Drop in and say hello!

Alright, on to the next step.

Step 2: Are they making money?

In order to hire you, the person (or business) needs to have money.

But more importantly, they need to be able to rationalize spending money in order to make more money—which means they need to have some sort of revenue-generating vehicle.

Here’s who to focus on:

  • Entrepreneurs or businesses with cash-flowing businesses (looking at their company website, it should be obvious how they make money).
  • Entrepreneurs or businesses who have recently raised a bunch of money (you can find this in the news or in Crunchbase).
  • Creators with a paid product, course, or community (check out their social media or sign up for their newsletter).

Ok, now you’ve identified your leads, you need to figure out how your ghostwriting service can help them.

Step 3: Are they “failing in public”?

Take your service and think about the problem it solves and whether this lead is suffering the consequences of not solving this problem.

For example:

  • Who is most likely to need an Instagram ghostwriter? Somebody trying to build a following on Instagram and failing at it.
  • Who is most likely to need a book ghostwriter? Somebody who is churning out articles on Medium but doesn’t seem to be pulling it together into a book.
  • Who is most likely to need a ghostwriter for their newsletter? Somebody writing on X or LinkedIn but failing to capture any email addresses and not building an audience they own.

Look for people who are either TRYING to do the thing you want to help them do, and failing—or people who SHOULD be doing the thing you want to help them do, but aren’t.

Ok, now you have semi-qualified the target client, it’s time to make contact.

Step 4: Make contact with the Free Work Pitch

There are two strategies when it comes to cold outreach.

Strategy 1: The Direct Pitch

This first way is the most common. Have you ever received a message like this?

“Hey! Are you struggling to build your audience on LinkedIn? I’m a ghostwriter and I’d love to chat about how I can write for you and grow your audience!”

Very few people respond to these types of messages—and it should be obvious why. Nobody wakes up in the morning, stretches their arms, lets out a big yawn and says to themselves, “I can’t wait to buy something from someone I’ve never met before on the Internet today.”

And yet, this is the approach the vast majority of people take with sales (from solopreneurs and freelancers to thousand-person enterprise sales teams).

Strategy 2: Educate the prospect with a Free Work Pitch

The goal of your initial outreach messages is two-fold:

  • To provoke curiosity
  • And to educate the lead on the problem they have

Do this by finding a way to help each person you contact for free.

It doesn’t have to be some big project or anything. But I like to reach out to people I feel I can help—and then demonstrate the ways I can help in some way. In your initial message, ask a question related to the problem they are having and then follow up or respond with some “Free Work”.

Here are some examples:

  • If I wanted to land LinkedIn ghostwriting clients, I would look for people trying to write on LinkedIn but aren’t doing a very good job. To get the conversation started, I would send them one of their recent posts and give them feedback on it. I might even re-write a section (or all of it) to show them how they could improve next time.
  • If I wanted to land YouTube ghostwriting clients, I would look for people investing a lot in their YouTube channel but whose videos weren’t quite hitting the mark. To get the conversation started, I would send them one of their recent videos that didn’t get a lot of views along with a script rewrite. Then I’d record a Loom of myself talking over the script I wrote, explaining all my recommendations and how they could execute this same sort of video better next time.
  • If I wanted to land newsletter clients, I would look for people with businesses who either didn’t have a newsletter OR had started a newsletter but were clearly failing at it. To get the conversation started, I might go so far as to write an entire newsletter for them—for free. Just so they could see the difference between what they were currently doing and what they COULD be doing.

See how powerful this is?

You are way more likely to get a “yes” if you use this approach rather than sending 100 DMs directly pitching the client.

Step 5: Free Consulting Sales Call

Over the course of my ghostwriting career, I have worked with nearly 400 different clients and taken over 1,000 sales calls.

Here’s another reframe I’d like you to internalize: The best sales calls are actually Free Consulting.

Imagine the prospective client you’re about to talk to just paid you $1,000 for the hour. How would you approach the call? Would you introduce yourself and then immediately start pitching your service? Of course not!

All of your focus would be on helping the client:

  • “What problems are you experiencing?”
  • “What have you tried in the past?”
  • “How much money is this problem costing you?”
  • “What would make your life easier?”
  • “What outcomes do you want to generate?”

And then at the end of the conversation introduce how you solve these problems with your offer.

The whole key to sales—how you remove the pressure from the client, and how you remove any pressure you might put on yourself—is to get OUT of a “sales” conversation and into a Free Consulting conversation.

The whole conversation should be a win-win for both you and the client. They get a ton of free value and you get to listen to another business owner’s pain points, helping you refine your offer in the future. Treat every conversation as a learning experience.

On to the final step!

Step 6: Ask For The Money (And Always Follow up To Seal The Deal)

If you’ve framed the problem correctly (educating them vs “reacting” to what they think they want), you will be able to command premium rates—even if you are brand new to ghostwriting.


Because you’ve made it easy for the client to say “Yes”:

  • You have shown you understand their problem
  • You have shown that you know what you are talking about with some Free Consulting (and know how to solve the problem)
  • You have a dedicated service to generating the outcome they want right away

Which means the only step left is to ask for the money.

Now, some Sales Calls don’t always end like this. Sometimes the client wants to go away and think about the investment. The key here is to keep following up, over and over again, offering free advice and consulting so you stay top of mind with the client and continue to show how valuable you are.

Boom, that’s it!

This is how I attracted more clients and scaled my ghostwriting agency to $3,000,000—but anyone can use this strategy, even if you’re just starting out as a ghostwriter.

Happy client hunting!

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