I wish I thought about having a side hustle while in school not just for the extra income but also for the experience, skills and portfolio pieces. More importantly building a clientele, which was one of the biggest things I was missing when I started freelancing. With that I would have gotten off to a better start. I wasn’t focused on selling products and didn’t know anything about email marketing. This is why it’s so important to build your email list before you need it.
Before I get into why you should be building one, let’s define what a list is. Your email list is a group of people that has shown interest in what you have to say, what you do and/or have purchased your products or services. It is against best practices to purchase a list or sell your own email list to anyone.
Why You Should Build Your Email List Before You Need It
If you have been using social media in the last year or so, then you know how “sometimey” it can be. There have been long stretches of hours when both Facebook and Instagram were down. If you are only building your business on their platforms, then you’re out of business for those hours. This is why you need an email list – something that you own. You do not own Facebook, Instagram, or any social media platform.
If they choose to close down tomorrow, all of the followers will be gone. You will not have a way to get in contact with them or sell to them. When you have an email list, then you can control the what, when, and how you communicate with your clients or customers.
Tools you can use
There are tons of email marketing services out there – MailChimp, Aweber, Mad Mimi, Constant Contact, and iContact just to name a few. Some offer free trials so you can test them out before making an investment and others have free plans, all which comes with different restrictions. What I have learned during my research is that you should find a service that is right for you at your current stage of business.
Write down all of the features that you are looking for and compare services and prices. You can always switch in the future when your needs changes. Will it be a pain to do? Yes, but at least you are not wasting money right now trying to Keep up with the Joneses.
All you need is something that is easy to learn, you can set up yourself, and that will allow you to scheduled emails out to your list plus not hurt your pockets. And this is the exact mindset I took. I realized that I didn’t need all of the “bells and whistles” because I didn’t have anyone on my list. This is how I ended up choosing Mad Mimi but earlier this year I switch to MailerLite (referral link) in order to learn some new tricks. I’m happy with my choice because as my list and business grow, it will grow with me.
So how can you build your list and what do you send to them?
First off, if you already have clients and customers (no matter the amount) then you have a group of potential people for you list. Before you go copying and pasting emails into a system, it’s always best to ask for permission. Again, don’t run the risk of getting marked as spam.
Companies frown upon this and will close your account if your emails are marked as spam too many times. For future clients and customers, simply give them the option to sign up by adding a link in your email signature, or adding a checkbox at checkout. You can always share the link on social media or somewhere on your website. Remember this – the money is in the list.
Therefore, it’s highly important and beneficial that you build your email list before you need it. Here are a few tips to get you started.
- Before your site goes live (when people can access and view it) create a coming soon page. Add the ability to capture emails from people who would like to be notified of your launch.
- Create an opt-in offer in exchange for receiving emails. For example a worksheet, a chapter of your book, or audio recording.
- Have at least 3 offerings. Some people may want first access to coupons codes or tips and resources you don’t share anywhere else.
Lastly, once you have a list, no matter how small, always stay in contact with them. Full disclosure, I’m bad at this myself. You don’t want people to forget that you ever signup for your list. They will likely unsubscribe or worse mark you as spam.