This week sees an important step forward for me as a freelancer…
Yesterday I sent out my first email newsletter to some previous, current and (hopefully) future clients.
Was it a success?
That’s hard to quantify, my phone didn’t ring and I didn’t get any new job offers straight away but my client list is small and I expect this to be a slow-burning thing.
Why have I done this?
Email marketing is great way to stay in touch with people and it gives me a chance to make sure my clients don’t forget about me when there’s a sea of similar freelancers out there. I also like designing and sending email newsletters, I’m actively seeking clients to send email newsletters for so it makes sense that I should have my own. After all, you wouldn’t buy a website from someone who doesn’t have a website of their own so why would you buy email newsletter services from someone who doesn’t send their own.
Also, I’m hoping this newsletter will make me appear more successful/professional to my clients which in turn will hopefully lead to them considering me above other freelancers.
How did I do it?
I decided to use Campaign Monitor to send out my email newsletter. I’ve been a reader of their blog for quite a while and although I am aware of the competition (e.g. Mail Chimp) in the field, I felt as though I knew Campaign Monitor already based on their blog and this limited the risk in my mind.
How not to do it
Using campaign monitor was really easy.* At no stage in the process did I get lost or confused and that made the whole experience so much better.
In the past, I’ve worked with different (often free) email sending systems including bespoke PHP solutions and/or sending out in bulk via Outlook, but never a paid-for service. Both of these options were less than fantastic.
A handrolled PHP system may work fine to send out the emails but it doesn’t track stats/click-through/open rates nor will it handle bounces or email auto responders. That isn’t to say, that you can’t write your own PHP email newsletter system which does all of that, it’s just that it’s a really big undertaking and writing a system good enough may not be as cost effective as using a paid-for service.
* These guys haven’t paid me to big them up
Sending out emails via Outlook is just a terrible idea. Firstly, it is a nightmare actually getting the HTML designs to work in Outlook and once you do, those emails you send out will display completely differently on every other email client. A lot of people, who use Outlook at work think this is how you send out email newsletters but it is such a bad idea – often people will put everyone’s email addresses in the to field so every recipient can see everyone else’s email addresses which is not good for data protection.
I’m also embarking on an Adwords campaign. I am dubious how successful this will be but I feel it is worth experimenting with. I’m very much targeting locally (Manchester, UK) and hopefully I catch some new clients this way.
I’m hoping that the second year of my freelancing career will build upon my first year and this marketing offensive is the first stage of that growth. Wish me luck.