The initial email response to qualify your client. You're trying to find out if they have the budget range to afford you, along with a reasonable time frame. You don't want to send your calendar link at this stage since you may not find the client is a good fit.
Finally, you want to make sure that you are speaking with the ultimate decision maker for the project. Ideally, you don't want them to take your proposal to someone else for approval.
Thanks for reaching out about [project name]. Before we schedule a call, would you mind answering a few short questions to help me understand a bit more about what you need:
- What prompted you to reach out today? In other words, why are you looking to start this project?
- Do you have a budget you’ve set aside for this project? And is it over [$10k]?
- Is there a hard deadline (e.g. an event) that you need this project completed by?
- Are you the owner/decision maker of this project?
- Optional: How did you find out about me?
If it sounds like we're a good fit, the next step will be to book a time for an informal 30-minute call so we can meet and discuss your exact project requirements and the ways I could help you. If you have a calendar link you’d like me to use, feel free to send that over - otherwise we can use mine.
Thanks and looking forward to hearing back,