Getting Work

How I find email addresses for cold emails

I got a response to my cold email within the same hour.

List of email addresses for the theguardian.com domain

Sending cold emails—i.e. emails to people who don’t know you—can help you expand your network and find others to collaborate with. It can even get you work. (Which is why it’s one of my recommended methods for getting freelance clients ASAP.)

But how do you find these people’s email addresses?

Here’s my process, which I recently used. (And I got a response to my cold email within the same hour!)

1. Use Hunter.io

Hunter.io is an amazing tool for finding and verifying people’s email addresses. There are other tools like it, but this is what I use. I’m not a heavy user so its free plan is good enough for me.

I have Hunter’s Chrome extension installed. So, I’ll go to the website of the organisation to which the person belongs. (E.g. If I want to find the email address of someone from The Guardian, I will go to theguardian.com.)

Then, I run the Hunter Chrome extension to get a list of all the email addresses it can find for that website domain.

List of email addresses for the theguardian.com domain
(All these email addresses are publicly available on the web by the way. Hunter isn’t doing some shady hacking or anything.)

Hunter also provides a confidence score out of 100% for each email address it finds. The higher the score, the more likely the email address works.

So, if the list has the email address of the person I want to reach, then great! I can email them right away.

2. Make a smart guess

If that person’s email address isn’t on the list, I’ll start guessing it.

Hunter’s list is helpful here. Because if it shows that the email addresses of other people in that organisation follow a certain format, then the email address of the person I want to reach likely also follows the same format.

In the case of The Guardian, the format would be: firstname.lastname@theguardian.com

3. Verify the email address

Once I’ve guessed an email address, I’ll try to check if it’s correct.

I’ll use Hunter’s Verifier tool, which can assess how likely an email address is to work.

Hunter's Verifier tool verifying that the zoe_carver@apple.com email address is valid

Alternatively, I’ll put the email address into the To field of a new Gmail email. If the profile icon next to the email address turns into someone’s photo, then it likely works!

Check out the profile picture next to Chris Clarke’s email address, for example:

Chris Clarke email address and profile picture

4. Send that email and cross your fingers

These verification methods aren’t foolproof.

Hunter’s Verifier tool may not be able to confirm whether the email address works. This could happen if the email address’s domain accepts all emails regardless of whether the email address exists.

Also, not everyone will have set up a profile picture for their email account.

At this point, I’ll try other variations of the person’s name for the email address (e.g. firstname@domain.com) and go ahead with the one that I think is most likely to be correct.

That’s what happened when I sent my cold email recently. After my checks, I still wasn’t 100% sure that I had the right email address. But I sent the email anyway and hoped for the best. And I got a reply within the same hour. :’)

Try this process the next time you want to send a cold email! And make sure your cold email’s contents are killer, too. I’ll leave this lesson for another day.

For now, Happy Chinese New Year in advance! Wishing you lots of joy and may you huat for a long, long time!! 🐉 HAHAHA okay, I will show myself out.

More freelancer news

Need free invoicing software?

One of my contacts started freelancing recently. To be “cost-efficient”, she did up her invoice manually (instead of paying for invoicing software, presumably).

I don’t know how her invoice turned out or how long she spent on it. But if you want to save money, try using free invoicing software!

I cover 5 such tools in this blog post for Make.com.

Of the 5, Wave is my favourite—I used to use it and I love its clean, user-friendly interface. But now, you won’t be able to sign up if you aren’t based in the US or Canada.

So if you fall into this category, I think Zoho Invoice might be a good bet. (For what it’s worth, Wave also directs you to try Zoho if you aren’t eligible to sign up.)

Some US independent contractors may be reclassified as employees from March

(“Independent contractor” is basically another name for a freelancer or self-employed person who provides services)

From March 11 onwards, some workers in the US may be reclassified from “independent contractor” to “employee” depending on the nature of the work they do with a company. And if so, they’ll be entitled to employee benefits like minimum wage and overtime pay.

Factors that affect how a worker is classified include:

  • The nature of the resources they have invested
  • The chances for profit or loss
  • The permanence of their working relationship

US platform companies like Lyft and Uber also say the change won’t impact their business for now.

Learn more about the news here.

This post was first published in my email newsletter on 1 Feb 2024. If you liked it, you can sign up for my newsletter here:

Tan Siew Ann
I’m a freelance writer for some of the most amazing software businesses in the world. On this blog, I share tips on how you, too, can run a sustainable and meaningful freelance business. Let’s forge your freedom. 💪

Leave a Response