The beginner's guide to email marketing

As a solopreneur, I was resistant to the idea of creating an email list. I didn't think I needed one, I wasn't sure anyone would be interested in it, and I'm just a solopreneur – not a small business or church that has a lot of information to share.

But, I finally took the plunge. And I'm so glad I did!

There were too many articles and stats that were proving how effective email marketing is for a small business! Social media is a great resource for connecting with your audience, but with Facebook's algorithm being as funky as it is, not everyone will see all your posts. And, emails are considered more personal – in their inbox, rather than in a stream of posts.

And you know what? It WORKS. I doubled my list after a few weeks, and got a few new projects. Not mind-blowing results, but it's working!

My friend Leah wrote this post last week about why you need to have an email list and how to grow it. Now that you're totally convinced to set-up an email list, I'm going to cover the basics of setting it up. 

1. First, you'll need to choose which platform you want to use. Personally, I use MailChimp. It's free up to 2,000 subscribers (and I'm not anywhere near that number yet!) and has a clean design, making it so easy to use. But, some other popular options are Constant Contact, iContact or Aweber

2. Decide what you're going to send out. A monthly newsletter? Weekly blog? Maybe if you're a church you different email lists: Weekly Devotion, Prayer Concerns, Monthly Newsletter, etc. It's important to set a schedule now, so you can stick to it. If you hope to just "send it out every once in awhile," you will forget about it or be inconsistent. Being inconsistent or bombarding people will emails is a quick way to lose readers! The key thing to remember is to provide value.

Related: The ABC's of freelancing

3. Create a freebie download that new subscribers can receive for signing up for your list. (Note: This may not apply to a non-profit or church.) The most common type of freebie that I've seen is a check-list that is relative to your clients. For instance, my freebie walks people through simple steps they can take to make their brand cohesive online. One thing to be aware of: some people will sign-up for your freebie, download it, and unsubscribe from your list. It happens. 

4. Now that you've decided on a platform, made a plan for your content, and have a freebie for new subscribers – what's next? We need to get people signed up. But, you can't just tell people, "Sign up for my newsletter!!" because they're going to wonder, what's in it for me? Tell them what kind of content they will be getting, and how often. Your audience needs to know that you're not just going to spam them. Here are some ideas for advertising your email list:

  • Put a sign-up form on your website
  • Link to it on your social media channels and blog
  • If you have a physical office, put a sign-up sheet at the front desk
  • Call or email current clients, business partners, etc. 
  • NEVER just add someone to your email list

5. Make sure your email is well-designed and easy to read. Use 1-2 legible fonts at a reasonable size. Avoid overly bright colors – you don't want them to compete with your content. Use dark text on a light ground, rather than the white text on a dark background. Have a hierarchy within your email so your reader knows what info is most important. Stop using clip-art, and use quality stock photos (see my list). 

Pinterest sends out some really great emails. You can see this one and many more great examples at

Pinterest sends out some really great emails. You can see this one and many more great examples at

Now you're ready to get rockin' and rollin' with your email list! 

Do you have an email list? Have any questions about email marketing? Leave a comment below!

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