Cold Calls- Calling some random company and telling them that they should pay you to do something that they never asked you to do and might not even need done.
Is this really necessary? According to the big dogs on the block, it's essential to make cold calls to get new clients coming in and to get work that pays a fair rate. The big dogs, of course, being this guy, this guy and another guy whose blog I read.
I think that the whole cold calling concept is necessary for specific types of copywriting if you don't know anyone in the industry and don't have any samples to show anyone. In that respect, it's a carryover from when print copywriting roamed the Earth unchallenged by the digital gods that later came to power.
Nowadays, I don't see any reason that anyone would have to make cold calls. Yes, it's probably necessary if you want to go after the big names to get something impressive for the old resume. It's probably necessary if you want to get away from Web writing but don't actually want to work for just one company. If neither of these is your goal, cold calling is never necessary for a few reasons, namely:
People online rarely want to see a resume anyway. They mainly just want to see writing samples and to have a vague idea about your experience. If they do want a resume, it's to see your educational credentials and number of years of experience, not to see that one time you wrote this flier for LG and it rocked pretty hard.
There is no shortage of Web work. The amount of work is actually pretty overwhelming at times. There's no reason to look for off-Web work unless you just want less work and want to work harder to get it.
There's the skin crawlage factor. Imagine having to call people you don't know over and over again, trying to make yourself sound like someone they need even when you don't know if they need anyone. Imagine being turned down over and over again by people who don't know why you even called them because they never advertised a position and don't know who the heck you are. Yeah. Fun times.