Email may be a fifty-year-old technology, but it’s still an incredibly useful marketing tool. Billions of people use it not only for communication, but to subscribe to news and other information. It’s incredibly inexpensive to create and send, especially compared to other types of marketing. Done correctly, email can help you build a close relationship with your clients so that they’re willing to trust you with more freelance work on a regular basis.
You may be scoffing right now, thinking of all the spam you receive in a given day. No one is going to sort through all the junk that lands in their inbox on the off chance that some freelancer has sent them something worth reading. That’s true and, in fact, if you just start sending people emails that they don’t want, you could easily wind up in trouble for sending spam.
But there’s a major difference between sending spam and sending newsletters. Your prospective clients need to choose to receive your email newsletters, taking the first step towards building a long-lasting relationship with you. But why would they bother doing so?
You’re Offering Good Content
If you want people to sign up for an email newsletter, you’ve got to offer them something valuable that they can’t get anywhere else. For most freelancers, that means offering some sort of resource that your ideal clients will find invaluable. Don't bother starting a newsletter without offering value to the reader. Good content, released on a regular basis, is an essential part of a quality newsletter.
Good content, released on a regular basis, is an essential part of a quality newsletter.
There’s a certain element of reputation that goes along with operating an email newsletter. Do it right and you’ll soon be known as the publisher of that impressive newsletter, who happens to also offer amazing freelance services. Do it wrong and people may say that you don’t know anything about the field you’ve chosen to work in, whether or not that’s the case. The quality of your newsletter will always reflect directly on your professional reputation.
The Value of an Email Address
As you offer a free email newsletter, you’re giving away good information and regular updates — but you’re getting something of value in return. You’re getting an email address, along with ongoing permission to keep sending messages to that address. That’s an incredibly valuable asset these days. Just being able to access someone’s inbox, without immediately being sent to spam, means that you have a significantly higher chance of being able to sell the recipient something. After all, you can’t sell anything at all if buyers don’t know the service even exists.
But you’ve got an even bigger opportunity. When you’re able to keep sending messages to someone, you can build a relationship with that person. It’s easy for a prospective client to turn down a cold call because he doesn’t know the person on the other end of the line. But when that same client knows the freelancer in question has great skills, did some amazing projects in the last month and has already helped him for free, it’s so much harder to turn down an opportunity to work with that freelancer.
Even though your email newsletter will hopefully go out to thousands and thousands of people, you can make the recipients feel like they know you personally. You will want to make yourself available for direct email, but that’s not even that necessary to create this sort of relationship. Rather, it’s the sort of information that you share in your newsletter and the way you do it. You can write in a way that your readers will quickly come to identify with you, personally. Much in the same way that soap opera characters seem very real to the people who watch soap operas regularly, you can seem more real to your readers just through being identifiably yourself on a regular basis.
It’s an interesting reality that some people will subscribe to an email newsletter much in the way that others might bookmark a website — it’s a way to remind yourself of someone you may want to work with down the road or make them easier to find in general. Such sign-ups are invaluable: they may not be ready to start a new project with you today, but they’ve made it incredibly easy for you to win them over.
Being Able to Sell to Your List
It’s the irony of building an email newsletter that you put the newsletter together in order to make it easier to sell your services to prospective clients, but you can’t sell too often to the list of people your newsletter goes out to, or they’ll unsubscribe from your newsletter. You have to walk a very careful line to avoid being too overly promotional, while still making sure that your newsletter is worth the amount of time you invest in it.
But that doesn’t mean that you can’t bring sales in directly from your newsletter. Even subtle reminders of the availability of your freelancing services (like mentioning what you did for a client in a particular situation) can inspire a reader to contact you about a project. You don’t always need to publish a big push to bring in new work.
There are times that doing so does make sense, of course. If you’ve got a good email list, occasionally noting special rates or packages you’re offering is entirely logical. You’ll want any such promotions to be inline with your overall content, of course, so it appeals to the readers who have already subscribed to your newsletter.
You may even find that you can sell something other than just your own services to your email newsletter. You can create your own products that work with the services you offer, as well as sell other people’s products as an affiliate.
The Long-Term Life of a Newsletter
Creating an email newsletter means that your freelance business will have a valuable asset, something that makes it easier to grow in the long run. You can always get new subscribers to your email list who can, in turn, become your clients. You can create a steady stream of paying work, perhaps enough to partner with another freelancer or start an agency.
You never know: your newsletter may turn into something even larger than you’ve ever expected.
You never know: your newsletter may turn into something even larger than you’ve ever expected. If you’re writing about a topic that readers find valuable, you can quickly build up a significant audience. It’s not unheard of for a marketing newsletter to get big and receive offers from companies with more money and fewer followers. Sponsorship or advertising can both bring in money for newsletter publishers.
Of course, you have to be sure that any promotion that you might consider running for another company won’t compete with the services you offer. It’s generally considered best to keep advertising to a minimum in your own marketing content, if only because a reader might click away from your site and become distracted from the purchase you need them to make. But if you ever find yourself in a position where you’d like to move away from freelancing or reduce the number of new clients you take on, it’s well worth keeping your options open.
Making Your Email Newsletter Fit with Your Goals
There are plenty of ways to benefit from publishing an email newsletter, particularly when you have services and products of your own to promote. But since most freelancers have to be careful of what resources we invest where, it’s worth taking a close look at your goals and how a newsletter might fit with them.
If you have particular types of clients you want to move towards working with, an email newsletter written specifically for those types of clients makes sense. It can be an easy way to build up the right relationships even before you’re ready to start taking on their projects. But you’ll need to write a very specific type of newsletter to attract specific demographics. You’re not going to be able to write anything that universally appeals to anyone who might ever consider hiring a freelancer.
Email newsletters should be tweaked in light of other goals, too: if you want to expand your business so that you can bring in subcontractors easily or even build an agency, you want to craft a newsletter that reflects that goal. A regular publication can also prove to be a way to test people you’re considering bringing on to your team. Interviewing another freelancer or hiring them to write an article for your newsletter can be an opportunity to test their skills.
Make your email newsletter do the things you need it to. The format is a flexible one: the only real rule is that whatever you send has to be in an email. There’s plenty of room to experiment and build the newsletter that will bring you a steady stream of the clients you want to work with.