I want to apply for PhD admission, but I have no research experience; never published any research paper or had any research assistantship during my Master's (although I did have a course assistantship for a semester and finished it 1 semester earlier). The professor I am intending to ask for supervision and research is involved around coding and I can make a good portfolio of projects about it (i.e. industry experience after Master's, GitHub profile, etc.).
What should I mention in my email to professor to convince them that I would be a good fit for their research and fellowship?
Should I contact a professor first and then apply to the program, or should I apply first and then contact professor about it?
The university I am intending is a private university in central US with very high reputation (one in top 30 in Forbes US list).