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Email Marketing for Freelance Web Designers: Unlock Six-figures

Many small businesses. Especially freelancers. Ignore email marketing altogether. So, how do you get started with email marketing for freelance web designers?

I get it, it’s tough out there.

Social Media and other platforms “crush it” for getting new clients. Or so “the gurus” say!

Because of this, people completely overlook retention tactics. Me included.

And that’s where email marketing comes in. It allows you to keep in touch with previous customers. Even if that’s only once a month. It puts you “top of mind”, again and again.

“Phil has just emailed me! Oh yeah, he did an awesome job on that last project. We’re struggling with ‘X’ at the moment. I’m going to reply to see if he’s busy or not”

There are many “rules” when it comes to marketing. One that sticks in my mind is: “It’s easier to sell something to someone who has already bought from you. Who knows, likes and trusts you.”

Depending on which study you read, the following figures change. That said. I still think the ROI on email marketing is unreal.

“For every $1 spent on email marketing, people make between $35-$45 back.”

No other “tactic” gives you so much back from your efforts.

That’s why if you want to run a successful freelance business. It’s a good idea to start focusing on email marketing.

For both getting new customers and getting more and more repeat work too.

So how do you get started with email marketing for web designers?

Let’s dive in!

Email Marketing For Web Designers: A Case Study

I’ve already touched on the return on investment that email marketing can bring you.

$1 spent. This could mean returns of up to $45.

Yes, a lot of this data will include eCommerce. And services that aren’t as complicated as web development builds.

However, I’ll give you a real-world example from my career, which will hammer the point home.

I spend around £10 a month on an email marketing tool.

And I make sure I send out an email every Thursday morning. Which I’ve labelled “Thursday Thoughts”. This takes me an hour or so to write and schedule.

One day, a previous customer replied to an email. Asking if I was still doing consultancy work. They had a new project and wanted a software system to be designed and documented. This was going to be used by other software developers to build the final product.

I ended up charging £1000 for 2 to 3 hours of my time.

Not only that.

The project is now live and growing. They are applying for Venture Capital to scale the software even further. I’ve been listed as an ongoing advisor and have been given a small percentage of business in return.

Money and I now own a small part of a growing business.

All from a single email.

Email Marketing Is Only For Large Businesses!

A lot of big companies use email marketing all the time. And people think it won’t work if you have a small list of contacts, or work for yourself.

Not true.

A large organisation will do an “email blast”. “We’ve launched a new product, go buy it”. They then rely on a small percentage of people to purchase that product from the email.

For you as a freelancer, that won’t work, you may not have the numbers to do this.

However, you can make it more personal. Not from a reader’s point of view, but from yours.

You can let them know what you’ve been working on. What you’ve learned, and how the client benefitted. And how the reader can apply what you’ve learned too. To help them avoid the pitfalls and mistakes that you’ve learned the hard way.

This sounds counterproductive. What I’ve found is instead of them solving the problem themselves. They will reach out and ask you to do it.

It’s a win-win.

They benefit from being able to solve a headache by hiring someone who has proof that they can do it.

You benefit when getting to work on a new project without having to spend hours on social media and doing cold outreach.

Building Your Email List: The First Steps

I’m not going to lie to you and say that it will be easy.

Starting from scratch will be hard. You will make mistakes and you may not see any results for a while.

But it’s worth it.

The best way to start is by getting a “weekly newsletter” up and running.

A lot of the successful content creators I follow have one. As do the “business influencers” that seem to be all over social media too. Even the smaller communities I’m in. Many of the people I see who are starting in business. All set up a newsletter.


Because it works. The return on investment numbers I have been banging on about exist. And it works across most if not all industries too.

That’s the great thing about freelancing. You already have the topic that you’re newsletter will be about.

It “builds authority”, this means you know what you are on about.

Starting From Scratch

Starting, you may not have many people you can email.

I’d recommend adding all the contacts that you worked with on previous projects to your list. Then send them an email explaining that you’re starting a newsletter. Saying that you’ve emailed them because you have worked with them in the past and thought they may be interested in reading it.

The key part of this email is to give them simple instructions and an easy way for them to unsubscribe.

That will be scary. And you won’t like seeing people unsubscribing.

But you need to get used to this.

It’s better to have a list of 10 people who want to hear from you every week, than a 1000 people who ignore your emails and never open them.

Give Away Your Knowledge and Experience

So, you’ll need to start growing your list.

The best way to do this is to package up your knowledge and experience into a download.

eBooks have become far too popular in my eyes but are still worth testing out. I’ve found checklists and templates are great alternatives to eBooks. They are more actionable and can be easy for people to use and get value from them in a short space of time.

One example could be an eBook, titled: “The Top 10 Most Common Mistakes I See Small Business Owners Make In Their First Software Build. And How To Avoid Them”

This will also give you a lot of content that you can use to promote your eBook. You can talk about each point and then share the link so people can download the guide.

You’ll give this away in return for their email address.

Yes, it will be a slow burner. But you’ll be building up a valuable list of email addresses and giving them loads of value upfront.

Tools of The Trade

I’m not going to go into a deep analysis of each email marketing tool out there.

And a word of warning. I’m going to be doing some blatant self-promotion in a second.

Some tools are great if you only care about sending a newsletter. Others are more of a one-stop shop for all your email marketing needs.

For me, I use MailerLite. I have used the software for years and found it the easiest to use.

So much so, that I’ve got a course on Udemy called MailerLite Masterclass. I run through how I use MailerLite for my blog and in the start-ups I’ve launched.

The main reason I like MailerLite is:

  • Best delivery rates in the industry year-on-year
  • Different tools to help you build your list
  • Excellent automated email workflows
  • Simple email scheduler

Again you may have other things you want to consider.

The most important thing is to spend a bit of time using one or two email marketing tools. Then pick one and stick with it.

Getting into the habit of sending emails is better than having the “perfect tool to send the emails”.

Crafting Your First Campaigns: Tips and Strategies

If you’ve got your email marketing software set up. And have a few contacts in there ready to email.

What do you do next?

How do you start and plan out your email content?

How Often And What To Talk About

This can be hard to figure out.

Are you worried that you won’t have enough things to discuss in your emails?

I would start by sending one a month until you get comfortable with email marketing.

What you’ll find, is you’ll get better at coming up with ideas. And then writing value-filled emails about that idea.

So, what do you focus on in each email?

I’d spend an hour or so, writing a list of all the projects that you’ve worked on recently. Even go back to your first-ever project.

Then list what you did, and what 1-3 things you learned. And what was the biggest win for the client?

You’ll find that you will end up with 2 or 3 email ideas for each project. If you learned 3 things from working with a client. You could create a mini-series about what you’ve learned.

Make It Personal

You should know the full names of the people you’ve added to the list.

If you can add their first name into the “Hi” line at the start of the email. It gives it that little personal touch.

Personalising emails can be an art in itself. I’d recommend doing further reading on how to personalise an email campaign. But don’t spend too much time on this. More so if it’s stopping you from sending out that first email.

Getting Someone To Read Your Email

You could have written the world’s best email. But if no one opens it, then, it’s useless.

This comes down to the subject line. Again there are a lot of amazing resources online that can help you learn how to craft email subject lines.

Here are the two things I tend to focus on.

Write the subject line as if you’re emailing a close friend.

Now, I’m not telling you to be rude or unprofessional. But it will be more casual and to the point.

For example: “Finished reading this, thought you’d like it”

If you got an email with that subject line, from someone you know well, you’d open it straight away. So you need to think about structuring your email marketing subject lines in the same way.

The second thing I try to do is to spark curiosity so they can’t help but open it.

In the example above, I do this. But, this doesn’t always work, as you may need to provide some context as well.

You could try sending an email with the subject line: “New software tool levels the playing field for small businesses”

If they are a small business owner. They won’t be able to resist clicking your email.

It will take practice.

But the great thing about using an email marketing tool is you will be able to see open rates. And test different subject lines too.

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

You will do this.

I still do this all the time.

You’ll end up sending an email with spelling and grammar mistakes. Or it doesn’t read well and looks shit on a mobile or computer.

The best way to avoid this?

Send yourself a test email before you schedule sending it. Then read it on a few devices using a few different email apps.

You won’t be able to catch every mistake. But make sure it reads well and is readable on different devices.

Asking People To Take Action

A lot of people recommend having clear calls to action. To get the reader to do something.

In my opinion. You don’t need to have a call to action in every email. It may not feel right, or be relevant to the email.

If you do, make sure they are clear.

I structure my email signature to include links and calls to action. Then if someone decides they want to take action, you’ve given them a few options.

Consistency Is Key

The last thing.

Stay consistent.

There’s no point stopping and starting with email marketing. It’s like most things, you need to develop a habit.

And that’s the great thing about email marketing tools. You can schedule your emails to go out at consistent periods. Even if you’re freelance work impacts how often you can make time to write them.

As I said earlier in the post. It’s better to commit to sending an email each month and sticking to it. Than always stopping and starting.

Once you get good at coming up with ideas and writing emails. You can always up it to say two a month, even every week.

It’s all about consistency.

Conclusion: Email Marketing for Freelance Web Designers

There you have it. My thoughts on email marketing for freelance web designers.

As a freelancer. Unfortunately, it’s on you to do everything. Sales and marketing, promoting you and your work. As well as doing the work.

It’s key to develop ways to get new and repeat customers, that give you the highest return on your investment. Without spending too much time each week.

That’s why email marketing for freelance web designers is so important. It’s proven to give the biggest ROI on your efforts.

Remember, start emailing and develop consistency. Then, layer on ways to grow your email list.

You will get good crafting emails which will help you land more and better paying clients in the long term.

If you want to learn more about how to get up and running using an email marketing tool. Check out my Udemy course, MailerLite Masterclass. I run through how to get emails on autopilot. Set up automation flows. And, more advanced topics, helping you grow your freelance business.

Wait, want more tips & tricks? Yes, please!

Who Is Phil Hughes

I am a coder, content creator & software consultant for start-ups and FTSE 100 companies. I am obsessed with productivity, self-improvement, and building a lifestyle business.
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