Running a Newsletter for Your Existing Clients: What You Need to Know
Once you've got a newsletter set up to bring you in new clients, you may start to think about what else you can do with the newsletter format to promote your freelance business. One of the options worth considering is sending a newsletter to the clients you've already landed.
The logic behind this is clear: if you've knocked the socks off of a client already, that company may be more than happy to work with you again. But you need to remind them that you are available and point out the services you offer, particularly beyond what you've already done. A newsletter can provide a useful reminder to past clients of your existence.
Of course, you have to be targeting a specific niche of clients if you really want to make sure that your newsletter is effective: it's much harder to create a broad newsletter that appeals to every client who has ever hired you to design a website than just writing for those clients who operate ecommerce sites. When it comes to newsletters, narrow is good.
Ask for Permission Before Signing Anyone Up to Your Client Newsletter
It’s easy enough to ask when you’re on-boarding a new client: you can just mention your newsletter as something you’d like to make your new clients aware of as a standard part of the process.
Receiving payment from a client isn't the same as getting permission to add them to an email list. Your past clients probably look on you favorably, but you can burn through a lot of social capital very quickly by sending them email newsletters they haven't asked for.
It's easy enough to ask when you're on-boarding a new client: you can just mention your newsletter as something you'd like to make your new clients aware of as a standard part of the process. You can make it a strongly suggested step in the process of working together, even integrating some of the process into your newsletter with an automatic responder that can send out the same messages to each new subscriber.
But the process is a little more difficult when you're inviting clients who you haven't talked with in a while. It can be a good move to contact them and reintroduce yourself, before jumping into pitching your email newsletter. You have to make it clear what you're offering to people who have worked with you in the past before you'll be able to get them interested in subscribing.
Survey Your Clients and Readers
Since you already have a relationship with the people that you'd like to create a newsletter for, take advantage of that fact. Ask them what they want and need in terms of more information.
Conducting even a basic survey can give you quite a bit more to work with in planning out just what you'll cover in your newsletter. You may find that there are specific ways that you can help your clients get more use out of the work you've already done for them or help them plan out the next projects that they may be considering.
You can ask questions that go far beyond content, too: ask about what other publications they find useful, which in turn can help you learn about what formats appeal to your clients. You can also discover what lengths actually work for your clients: they may not have the time to dive into a particularly long newsletter or they may value something that's obviously worth the time they need to put into reading it.
Don't just rely on what your audience tells you in surveys, though. After you've published a few newsletters, take a look at the data on what's working. Test different approaches and discover what really works with the type of people you want to reach.
Use an Email Newsletter to Simplify Your Work
One of the benefits of using an email newsletter to stay connected to your clients is that you can use it to update them on information they need to know. If, for instance, you need all of your clients to be aware that if they're going to bring you any new projects for the month, they've got to do it by a certain date, you can just send an email to all of them. Of course, you want to make a point of only sending information that your clients will find useful.
With the added advantage of auto-responders — sequences of emails that are automatically sent to any new subscriber to your mailing list — you can streamline the process of getting a new client set up by sending them your contract and the other information that's necessary to get the process of working together through your newsletter software. It makes the whole process much easier to manage.
You do need to warn your new clients that those emails are coming, though. Of course, this approach doesn't work for any emails that you only want to send out to one client — but most of us have sets of emails that we have to send out to every client we work with.
Offer a Reminder of Your Availability
But if you keep reminding your clientele of your availability, you’ve got a better chance of landing each project as it comes along.
Having a list of people who have already proven their willingness to pay for your services is invaluable. Your past clients are likely to want to work with you again, particularly if you've done your job correctly. But sometimes they will need a reminder: unless you're working with an agency or another type of client that will have regular on-going work for you, they don't need a freelancer's help on a regular basis. They may very well hire the freelancer they've spoken to most recently every time they're ready to start a new project.
But if you keep reminding your clientele of your availability, you've got a better chance of landing each project as it comes along. A newsletter serves that purpose. Just by sending out a regularly scheduled newsletter that will be interesting to the clients you've worked with in the past, you're reminding them that you exist and that you're happy to work with them again.
Announce Sales and Special Deals
When you can give your past clients a reason why they need to hire you again right now, you are creating a situation where they have to act quickly. This means that you aren't facing an open-ended situation where they can put off a creative project indefinitely. You're giving them an incentive to take action.
People are usually more likely to act (including by making a purchase) if there is a deadline by which they need to do so. That reality, combined with the nature of newsletters, means that you can create special deals that are available for a limited time, which will potentially bring in some business for you.
You want to be as specific as possible with with these sorts of sales: put as many limits on them as you need to ensure that you're still making money even if every single client you've worked with in the past signs up.
You also want to create an offer that clients who have worked with you relatively recently will be interested in. For instance, if you've redesigned a client's site in the last few years, you probably aren't going to interest them in a completely new design so soon. But you might offer to design matching social media avatars, headers and other items. Offering something a little different than you usually provide will also make it easier for you to set a price that seems like a deal to your clients but also seems fair to you.
Justify a Higher Price
As freelancers, sometimes we have a hard time increasing our prices, as much because we don't feel that what we're doing is worthwhile as because we have to justify them to our clients. But there's an upper limit to the number of hours we can work for each client. Offering something beyond just the hours we can work can be one of the easier ways to increase what you feel comfortable charging.
There are plenty of premium newsletters out there that subscribers pay for. If you can create a newsletter of that quality for your clients, and roll the price of subscribing to it into your fees, you may be able to command a higher rate for your work.
This can't be the sort of professional newsletter that catches up your clients on what you're doing or what you need from them, of course. It needs to be something that they would otherwise be interested in paying for — it has to tell them how to expand their business or save money or something equally valuable.