9 min read
If you’re just starting your freelancing journey, I’m sure you’ve been asking yourself,
“How do I even begin?”
You know you have marketable skills and are ready to take on clients, but how do you actually go about getting those clients and keeping them around?
As a freelancer, one of your main objectives is to get your name and work in front of the right people. You need to build an audience you can pitch your services to, and you need that audience to constantly grow without needing a lot of hands-on time since you’ll hopefully have your plate full with client work. To do that, you need to look to email marketing.
Email marketing is the best, most cost effective and time saving tool for a freelancer to build their own business with. If you’re looking for a way to reach a wide audience and still maintain a level of personal touch, you’ve found your solution here.
If you haven’t looked into email marketing yet, but are interested in learning what it is and how it can help you grow your freelance business, here are a few benefits of email marketing:
As an online entrepreneur, your business is in your email list. It’s your life’s blood. It’s how you stay in touch with your audience. That means the bigger your email list, the more people you can reach to pitch your services, convert readers to clients, and create raving fans that tell all their friends about you.
Knowing your audience’s habits, interests, and reactions can change how you run your business. Email marketing can help you do that. With the right email service provider and know-how, you can not only find out what links are being clicked in your emails, you can also see which readers are clicking which links.
With this trackable information, you can do things like gather your readers into interest groups, send targeted content, and continue to mold your message until you find one that fits just right.
If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it a hundred times– getting permission to be in someone’s inbox is a privilege. That email subscriber has given you the keys to speaking directly to them with no ads or algorithms to get in the way. If you can treat your readers like a friend and show them you care, you’re much more likely to eventually have them as a client.
And unlike social media (whose rules and owners tend to switch around often), email doesn’t change. With the exception of faster speeds, email has been doing the same job for over two decades, and it will keep doing that for a long time.
One of your main goals as a business owner is obviously to grow your audience, which will hopefully increase the number of people who buy your services. With great email marketing, you can increase your visibility by creating raving fans that share your valuable content with their friends and colleagues.
Now, none of this will happen overnight, so you need to consider email marketing as part of your long-game. But if you’re really passionate about your freelance work and want to make it your career, your long-game is essential for success.
Like I said earlier, email marketing is an absolute must for freelancers who are ready to grow their business. The whole process of email marketing can seem a little complicated and confusing at first, but to understand the basics of how email marketing will help you grow your freelance business, all you really need to understand is what a sales/marketing funnel is and how to use it.
Think of a sales funnel as the journey your customers take from casual website browser to subscriber to customer to repeat customer. It’s how you get people from your website to your email list to becoming your client.
The top of your funnel is all about raising general awareness. It’s wide at the top because you’ll be directly talking to the most people at this stage.
This usually starts when a reader visits your website for the first time and fills out an opt-in form. Instead of pitching in these emails, it’s best to start laying the groundwork for building trust with your new subscriber.
Email series and content you would send in the awareness stage:
As the funnel narrows you will inevitably lose readers who aren’t fully interested in your topic. That’s totally normal and fine because as you lose those readers you know that the ones that stick around are at least somewhat interested in your topic and what you offer.
These readers are searching for an answer to their problem whether that’s needing a writer for their website copy or needing help with SEO. Because you know there’s an interest in what you do, you can start teaching them about your topic to help them see you as an authority. If they see you as an expert now, they will come to you when they need a solution to their problem later.
Plan to send regular emails during this stage to nurture your subscribers. Most people won’t buy at first glance. You have to let them get to know you first and then they’ll start to trust you.
Email series and content you would send in the interest stage:
The funnel narrows again as you lose some readers who have found a different solution or aren’t ready to take action yet. At this next stage, the ones who have stuck around are trying to decide if you are the right solution to their problem. They’re asking themselves if you are the one to help accomplish their goal.
This is when you can really go big on pitching your services. Let them know what you do, how it can solve their problem, and why you're the right person to make it happen for them.
Email series and content you would send in the decision stage:
Download our pitch email template
The readers who make it through this final stage are the ones who turn into clients. They’ve bought into your services or products and now it’s time for you to follow through on your promises.
Email series you would send in the action stage:
What content you use for your emails and how you string them together for your funnel will all be decided by where and how your readers find you and subscribe to your list through an opt-in form. So make sure to consider how much your reader already knows about you and your topic, what type of information they are looking for, and ultimately what service you want them to hire you for.
For instance, a sales funnel for a new subscriber who doesn’t know much about your topic (let’s say freelance ghostwriting) should be filled with basic educational information and could lead to an eBook you’ve written titled “What to know before you hire a ghostwriter for your blog.” By reading that eBook, your new subscriber can learn what ghostwriting entails and if they’re ready to hire one, a.k.a.- if they’re ready to hire you.
But in general, the formula for success in email marketing is simple. Send your readers quality content full of valuable information. And then repeat.
Also remember that no matter how great your email content or freelance services might be, if you don’t know your audience, none of that will matter.
If email marketing is about building a relationship with your audience so you can be seen as an expert, that relationship needs to go both ways. Knowing who your audience is will help you truly understand their pain points, what their goals are, and how you can help them overcome their obstacles.
So before you start filling their inbox with what you think they need to know, make sure you know what they want from their business and their lives. That comes from finding the right audience and in the process, asking them what they need.
Do your research on them. Find out where they’re hanging out, join conversations they’re having online and on social media, and get to the root of their problem. If you can do that and create freelance services tailored to fix that problem, you’ll start building a solid roster of clients in no time.
I know it can be tempting to overlook email marketing as a freelancer. I get it– you’re busy, you’re building a company, you’ve got client work and deadlines. But the truth is, if you want to expand your client base, grow your income, and have a successful freelance business, you will eventually need to pick up email marketing, so why not start now?
Start building your own sales funnel this weekend. Pick a point where your reader becomes a subscriber and create an educational and engaging journey for them to follow to become your newest client.
Download this issue of Tradecraft as a PDF to read and reference at your own pace.