Nowadays, EVERYONE talks about the importance of collecting email addresses and building your email list if you have your own business.
But there are two things people don’t really discuss when it comes to having a mailing list:
- WHAT exactly you should include in your mailing list (which you can find out the answer to by clicking HERE)
- WHO exactly should have a mailing list—which is what we’re going to talk about today!
Should you have a mailing list, as a freelancer?
At this point, having a mailing list is a fundamental part of my business. But the most important reason for that is, I now sell products in the form of two courses and a book (with more of both to come!).
However, back when I focused primarily on offering freelance writing, editing, and social media management services, I didn’t have a mailing list—and I was still able to grow an incredibly successful freelance business without one.
If you sell products, you pretty much need to have a solid mailing list.
…But if you sell services, it’s not quite so simple.
Just as you don’t necessarily *need* a blog to run a successful online business (more on that topic another day!), you don’t necessarily *need* a mailing list to have a successful freelance business, either.
A mailing list has the possibility of taking your business to a whole new level, but only if you’re willing to put the time and effort into it, to prioritize it, and to do it right.
Curious about getting started with your mailing list?
Here are 5 steps to take BEFORE you jump on the mailing list bandwagon:
1) Figure out why you want to have a mailing list.
Is it something that you just feel like you *should* do, but you don’t really know why?
It’s okay to start with something like, “I want to have a mailing list to grow my client list.” BUT, if that’s where you’re starting, then I want you to dive a little deeper with it. Why do you think that having a mailing list is the best way for you to grow your client list? How do you think it’s going to help you get freelance clients?
2) Identify what you want to include in your mailing list.
Will it be a weekly newsletter? A monthly newsletter? Or will you not stick to a schedule at all?
What kind of content will your newsletter entail? Make sure it’s content that resonates to your ideal client and NOT to your peers (a classic mistake that too many small business owners make).
For example, if you offer freelance writing services, you might want to have a newsletter where you provide one practical tip each week for how subscribers can improve their own writing.
Don’t worry—this isn’t going to make you, as a freelance writer, obsolete! On the contrary: this kind of strategy will enable subscribers to see that
a) you know what you’re talking about, and your tips really WORK, so therefore you are an expert as a writer, and
b) writing takes up a lot of time and energy that they probably don’t have, so it would be easier to hire someone to do it for them.
Having a mailing list to get freelance clients is a long game.
Still not quite sure what you want your newsletter to be all about?
Click here for tips and ideas on what you could include in your newsletter!
3) Pinpoint how you will convert your mailing list subscribers into clients for your freelance business.
Now that you know the “why” and the “what,” you need to understand the HOW of it all. If you don’t clearly articulate this part to yourself, then your mailing list is going to be an epic flop… and a HUGE waste of your time and energies (and probably money, depending on the email marketing provider you choose).
If you want to have a mailing list so as to build your client list and get freelance clients, and you’ve already figured out what it is that you want to include in your newsletter, you’re going to need to be able to take it a step further and figure out how exactly the content is going to resonate with your subscribers and encourage them to hire you for contract work.
I recommend coming up with some goals/milestones while you’re focusing on the “how.” That way, you’ll be able to assess how well your plan is converting subscribers into clients, and refine your messaging and planning if it doesn’t quite work out as you’d like the first time around.
4) Come up with a marketing strategy for your email list.
It’s not enough to slap a subscription box on your website and call it a day. People need to have a REASON to sign up for your list!
This means that not only do you need to tell people what they’re going to get when they sign up for your email list (and you’ll probably want to create a useful opt-in freebie as an added incentive), but you also need to let people know that your email list even exists in the first place—which means promoting it on social media, on your blog, in guest posts, etc.
And if you don’t already have a following on social media or if you don’t have a blog as part of your business, it might take you a lot longer to build up your email list.
That’s okay! You can still put together a great marketing strategy, even if you don’t want to have a blog for your freelance business. But the point is, you should definitely have some kind of an idea for how you are going to get your mailing list subscription form in front of the eyes of your ideal client, AND an idea for how you’re going to get them to actually sign up for your mailing list once they’ve seen that it exists.
— Sagan Morrow (@Saganlives) August 24, 2016
5) Be honest with yourself about the time commitment of email marketing, and be realistic about whether or not this is something that’s a good fit for you.
Email lists can be a fantastic marketing tool and a great way to connect directly with your ideal client.
But it’s in part because it’s so fantastic that it is also a huge amount of work.
After all, you need to continually market your mailing list to people so they’ll actually get on your list… and once they’re on it, you need to constantly create new content for that list AND, over time, convince those people to hire you for their freelance projects.
Having a mailing list is a long game when it comes to marketing. Email marketing can be incredibly effective for getting clients—but it’s not something to rush into or to just do because *everyone* tells you to. Email lists are NOT a requirement for running a successful service-based business.
So… do you think you should have a mailing list? Do you think it would be the right choice for you, your business, and your target client?
Do your homework first to see if it’s a good fit for YOU and your business! I’ve created a handy cheat sheet for you to help you get started with your mailing list: