15 Easy Ways to Start Email Marketing

Once the clients that you worked so hard to attract have found you, give them a reason to stick around and really get them to know how valuable you will be to them.

How? Create a relationship with email marketing.

For freelancers, creative entrepreneurs, mom-bosses, girl-bosses, whatever you call yourself, you have a genius set of skills that are unique to you. There are lots of people doing what you do, but one way to stand out from the crowd is to ask for permission to continue the conversation in their inbox.

I know. I know! Don't shoot the messenger, but I reformed my own non-email-marketing ways!


When I would read other blog posts about the power of email marketing and how EVERYONE NEEDS A LIST, I would yell at the computer screen something like: "Not EVERYONE needs one! Especially not a graphic designer! Leave me alone!" …Something like that.

But, I noticed that nobody came to my website. It was a trampoline for crickets.

I had a nice portfolio, content, a contact page, an about page, but no helpful printable or download that would encourage and entice my audience to happily hand over their precious email address.

I didn't want to go down a rabbit hole that I knew took commitment. The dreaded C word!

However, against the advice of my negative inner voice that wanted me to just give up, I signed up with MailChimp. To be honest, I had that account for a while before I actually started collecting emails...like for 3-5 years. I am not really sure. 

I am a firm believer in baby steps, but when it came to blogging and email marketing, I didn't even get out of the crib until 2 years ago. That was after 13 years of being a freelance graphic designer, with a website!

The Recipe

  1. THE PLATFORM | Choose between *Mailchimp and *ConvertKit for your email service provider. The difference? Mailchimp is great for those just starting out because it is forever free for up to 2,000 on your list! I started with it at the beginning of my email marketing days and loved it. However, as I got more serious about my email marketing plan, I had the need to create automated sequences, and more robust campaigns. I was launching my e-course for freelance graphic designers and Mailchimp just didn’t work as well for that, so I had to move my list over to ConvertKit. I am happy that I did. I pay $29 per month, but it is worth it because unlike Mailchimp, you don’t have duplicate, triplicate or quadruple subscribers because they opted in several times. ConvertKit is list driven, not individually driven, so I have stayed with them.

  2. CREATE AN OPT-IN FREEBIE | Create a simple, but effective, checklist, cheatsheet or worksheet that will take away a frustration that your perfect-for-you audience is having. They have a problem getting from point A to point B and you present them with an immediate, FREE solution. In exchange for that printable, they have the option to give you their email address. Check out my blog post about Opt-In Freebies. This will give you a deeper dive into what is also called a content upgrade.

  3. WELCOME SEQUENCES | Create a welcome email. If you are new to doing this, Brittany Berger can tell you everything you need to know in this blog post.

  4. THE POWER OF YOUR VERY OWN CONTENT CALENDAR | Fill out a super simple content calendar using Trello. To make a simple board for your email content, create a card named: 1. BRAIN DUMP or EMAIL CONTENT IDEAS, 2. OUTLINE + DRAFTS 3. IN REVIEW 4. SCHEDULED 5. PROMOTED. Add details to a card under each list. If your brain works well with lists and mock sticky notes, Trello will work for you. If not, google calendar, google spreadsheets, google docs, or Asana are great alternates. Everyone is different, just find what works for you.

  5. GET BLOGGING! | Having a blog is a major piece of the puzzle! Create short and sweet blog posts to start. It is like riding a bike and takes getting used to. Don't be hard on yourself! Write about what comes so easy to you, that you can't believe others don't know how to do it. Break all of your expert knowledge into teachable bits. Use Pinterest

  6. SET UP PINTEREST PIN GRAPHICS TO DRIVE TRAFFIC TO YOUR WEBSITE | Grab a template from Canva or Creative Market and create a Pinterest graphic that goes at the top of your blog post. This will get pinned on Pinterest (which is a search engine) and will lead potential clients to your website. That is where you want them!

  7. ENTICE YOUR AUDIENCE TO CLICK AND OPT-IN | Include an image of your content upgrade or freebie into your Pin Graphic, and link the image to your ConvertKit email thread for that particular freebie. Each freebie will have their own thread. When they click your image, the sign-up box will appear for them to take action.

  8. THE PROOF IS IN THE PLANNING | A little planning makes the entire process easier. If you create a plan that works for you, you are more likely to implement it.

  9. WHAT ARE YOUR GOALS FOR GROWING AN EMAIL LIST? | Write down your first goal and each step that goes into accomplishing that.

  10. LISTS + TIMERS FOR THE WIN | Set a timer for 25 minutes and conquer that first step. Then the second step, Then the third and so on until that first goal is accomplished. After 25 minutes. Take a break for 5 minutes. Get a drink, use the bathroom, stretch. Whatever you need at the end of those 25 minutes. Then reset the times and go to the first step of the number 2 goal...and so on and so on.

  11. STOP TRYING TO GET CLIENTS + GIVE VALUE TO BUILD TRUST | Give value instead of just waiting for business to come knocking because you are a good person and with strong creative skills. Share successes, failures and insider tips. If you don't have them personally, research some. Pinterest is my favorite tool for this!

  12. SEE WHAT YOUR COMPETITION IS DOING | Everyone can freelance, but to make money doing what you love, you need to treat it like a business with 4 walls and a door. Adding email marketing is a layer that your freelance business needs to grow stronger, because your connections will be stronger. Join a successful freelancer's email list and take note of the process. This helps you see what different freelancers do from start to finish. Once you have these notes, you can model your email marketing after theirs. DON'T COPY! Learn. Pay attention to the language they use, the types of emails they send, what is included, what their welcome email looks like and how often they send an email asking for the sale.

  13. USE SOCIAL MEDIA TO WORK WITH YOUR EMAIL MARKETING PLAN | Choose the platform where your target audience hangs out the most. I know that this seems like a difficult answer to get, but if you are in Facebook groups, on Instagram, or work Twitter like a boss, start with what you are familiar with. Create social media posts using Canva that are split up into these topics, each week: 1. A BLOG POST 2. A PROMOTIONAL ITEM FOR YOUR BIZ 3. OTHER PEOPLE’S BLOG POST THAT COVERS A TOPIC THAT SOLVES A PROBLEM FOR YOUR AUDIENCE 4. AN OPT-IN FREEBIE 5. BEHIND THE SCENES PHOTO - include a short back story about the picture. Everyone loves a peak behind the scenes of your office, you shooting a picture, you out and about in your town, and/or you working at your desk, to name a few. This builds trust big time! And, last but not least, a quote that will make your audience go, “YES! She gets me!”

  14. BE OPEN TO CHANGE + ADVICE OF THOSE THAT HAVE BEEN IN YOUR SHOES | The biggest hurdle I had to overcome was my own resistance to the things I didn't want to do, but knew would help with my growth. And it did! I have over 200 subscribers with the most growth happening in the last nine months.

  15. USE PROFESSIONAL LOOKING EVERYTHING! | Use photography that is high quality and makes a heart to heart connection with your viewers. Pair that photography with high end templates that compliment your brand, including email header designs that are easy to customize, social media graphics, and pre-made quote designs for a strong brand presence that easily encourages email sign-ups! My friend Elle from the *Styled Stock Society has lots of resources for creative entrepreneurs that are looking for feminine, professional images and even gives ideas for using her images on platforms like Instagram.

    In the end, email marketing is absolutely #1 for helping me transform and grow my business. Believe me, I kind of went into this kicking and screaming! I look back and see how much my confidence has grown! Find your people and love them hard with free or discounted digital products that only your email list gets. Don’t forget to tell them that in the sign-up content for your opt-ins. Just decide what works for you and offer that. You are in the driver’s seat! How awesome is that?!

If you don’t know who you are marketing to, how to find them; you need package pricing and other crucial details that many creative business owners leave out of their planning, you will want to grab your Client Clarity Guide! Email marketing is a piece of the puzzle that helps online businesses thrive, but without the information you can discover in this free workbook, you will be fighting an uphill battle.

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* These are affiliate links which means I get a little something for referring you, but I only recommend resources full of value, that help save you time and money! Go get em! If you have any questions at all, pop them in the comments below or say hello through my contact form.

Do you struggle with email marketing? Have you been putting it off? Let me know in the comments below!