No matter what kind of freelancer you want to be, almost everyone should spend some time thinking about, and developing a plan to build their email list.

Occasionally you might hear that email is dead, or that GDPR has killed email.

This is wrong. Email is here to stay, and it remains one of the most effective ways to make money online.

Building your audience

As a freelancer, you need to be a good marketer too.

You need to find the people who are likely to buy from you, and then demonstrate the value that you can offer to them.

An email list is the best way to do this.

While social media platforms can be great – you’ll often find that you’re wasting time, or talking to other freelancers in an echo chamber.

Your efforts will also be at the mercy of the social media companies. A single algorithm tweak can destroy your business.

And look at the dangers associated with putting all your eggs into one basket. There is a lot of talk about TikTok, for example, soon being banned in the US, as well as other countries.

Email keeps you, and your subscribers in control of the process. If you’re providing value to them, they will keep opening your emails.

Why you need it?

As a freelancer you can use your email list to stay in touch with old clients, find new ones, and develop automated processes to build your reputation and reach.

I always recommend developing some kind of a side hustle too – whether that’s a digital course, an ebook or a passion project.

Without having built an audience of email subscribers, these businesses are unlikely to be successful.

It’s best to build the audience before you build these products – then when you launch, you can serve their needs, and build momentum.

How to build your audience

If you’re starting from scratch, the idea of building an audience of subscribers can be a little daunting.

In reality, it’s very achievable, by following a few simple steps.

The purpose of your emails should always be to provide value and help your audience.

So you need to give them something to sweeten the deal.

This is called a lead magnet, and it’s a great way to grow your list.

You create a piece of content or a downloadable, which you know will appeal to your audience.

You just ask for an email address in return for access to it.

You’ve probably seen this all of the time.

For example, I have one aimed at new freelancers right here. I have created a useful checklist to help new freelancers get going. They just have to subscribe to get access to it straight away.

This is a fair deal, and once they have subscribed, it’s my job to keep them subscribed by providing useful, valuable content to them.

Remember the user can easily unsubscribe at any time, so you need to wow them with great content to keep them.

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How to get subscribers

So that’s the basic idea of how it works, but let’s break the process down into steps.

1 . Create a lead magnet

Remember the audience you want to attract is the people who are likely to buy from you NOT other freelancers offering the same service you do.

So here are a few examples for freelance writers:

  • 5 ways to improve your travel writing
  • How to outsource your writing to grow your business
  • How writing an help you to grow your business

Or for graphic designers:

  • Why all businesses should think carefully about their design
  • Downloadable social media templates
  • 7 Steps to creating great social media graphics in Canva

The key is to create content that actually helps people – don’t just pitch to them.

2. Find an email service provider

Once your lead magnet is ready to be shared with the world, you need to choose a service to send your emails with.

Most start with Mailchimp, which can be a great option because it has a very capable free version.

It’s great for experimenting with. But once you start to grow, and want to keep organised and automate things, it is a bit limited.

If you have a little budget, I’m really enjoying using Flodesk. It’s a smaller player in the market, but it’s simple but powerful, and setting up automation is very easy and intuitive.

You can get 50% off a subscription with this link.

There are plenty of other options out there, so do a little research to find out what will work for you.

3. Create a landing page

You now need somewhere to send interested people to, where they can give you their email in exchange for the lead magnet you have created.

Most email service providers offer this functionality. You can build a simple web page – often using the provided templates – and send your traffic there.

If you want to be extra slick, and increase visitors on your website, you can also create and add forms to your own website.

4. Share your landing page

Whether it’s on your own website or a dedicated landing page, the next step is the same – share your landing page far and wide!

Put it on social media, write a guest post about it, and if you have some budget, consider advertising it.

Remember nobody is doing you a favour here. You should have created some useful content, that your target audience will find genuinely useful.

If you’ve done that, and you’re sharing it to enough people, you will start to get sign ups.

Advertising is an effective way to grow this list fast, but you need to know what you’re doing, or get help, to avoid wasting money.

5. Deliver on your promise

People are protective over their email and their time.

If you share a poor lead magnet, you will immediately blow their trust, and you’ll see a lot of unsubscribes.

Make sure your lead magnet delivers what you promised.

And then keep on delivering great content to your audience. Over time you will build a real relationship and trust.

Which will translate to sales over time.

Always remember to give your subscribers value – make it worth their while, and genuinely try to help them.

The sales will come eventually if you do this, but they should be a by-product of the process.

An engaged list of email subscribers is one of the best assets you can have as someone trying to market something.

So don’t rush this process, and experiment to see what works and what doesn’t for you and your audience.