The Ultimate Guide to Email Marketing for Creative Entrepreneurs

 

Email marketing is all the rage these days and with good reason. With Facebook and Instagram constantly changing their algorithms, it can be difficult to keep up with the changes and stay front of mind for the people we are trying to reach. 

As a Squarespace web designer, I have grown to love email marketing and the power it can have in tying together the various marketing efforts that I do to run my business. 

In this post I’ll share some of the reasons why you should be using email marketing for your creative business, how you can set up your email marketing systems, and finally what you should be sending to your email list to keep them engaged! 

Ready for it? Let’s go!

Why Email marketing?

Do you remember the day Instagram glitched? The panic that spread through the creative entrepreneur community when you realized you couldn’t share with your followers, and then the feeling of helplessness when you thought about what would happen if Instagram actually shut down for good?!

You might have heard it before, but I’ll tell you again: You don’t own your social media followers.

If Instagram went down tomorrow, all those followers would be gone. You’d have no way to reach those people, and you’d be lucky if those people remembered you and your work enough to try to find you on a different platform. 

With email marketing, on the other hand, you own that list. If you’re with one email marketing provider and you’re not loving it, just download your list and move it somewhere else! Do you know any other marketing techniques that will let you do that?! 

Didn’t think so!

Beyond just the practical aspects of owning your list, my absolute favorite part about email marketing is the fact that these people have literally invited you into their inboxes. In some way or another, they are basically saying “Hey, I’d like to know what you’re up to. Please email me!” 

How insanely cool is that?!

So, now that we know some of the value of email marketing, how do we go about setting this up in our business?

How to set up your email marketing systems?

Getting started with email marketing doesn’t have to be difficult or expensive. There are tons of options out there to help you get started with email marketing for your creative business. 

Getting started with email marketing can be broken down into three simple steps: 

Step 1: Choose your email marketing software

Like I mentioned earlier, you’re not locked into one email marketing software forever. You can choose one now and switch later down the road if your needs change, so don’t spend too much time trying to figure out which one is right for you. 

Most small business owners find that they can easily benefit from one of the free options out there when just starting out, and might switch to a paid software once their list grows and their email marketing gets more complex.

If you start researching email marketing softwares, you’ll quickly realize there’s a jungle of them out there, so here are a couple of popular options you can consider:

MAILERLITE*:

The personal favorite over here at Hygge Design Co. This is the email service provider we use after switching from MailChimp. Mailerlite is very intuitive when it comes to creating campaigns and signup forms, and has been great for keeping track of all our subscribers in various lists based on interests. Our absolute favorite thing about MailerLite is how easy it is to set up welcome sequences that actually make sense! I love a good visual, and MailerLite does such a great job at this.

Cost: Mailerlite is free up to 1,000 subscribers. Sign up here for free and get a $20 credit on your account!

*yes, this is an affiliate link!

MAILCHIMP:

MailChimp is another popular entry-level email marketing service provider. This may be the most well-known list building service for those just starting out, and can be a great option to get familiar with building your list, setting up emails for your subscribers etc.

Cost: MailChimp is free up to 2,000 subscribers.

CONVERTKIT:

ConvertKit is one of the most popular list building services for those that have outgrown the free versions of MailerLite and MailChimp. ConvertKit is known for its great tagging and organization, which helps you send your audience more tailored newsletters and offers.

Cost: ConvertKit starts at $29/mo (up to 1000 subscribers), and will cost $49/mo for 1k-3k subscribers.

Step 2: Create your opt-in freebie or lead magnet & simple welcome sequence:

Freebie, content upgrade, opt-in incentive, lead magnet, etc. you’ve probably heard all these buzz words floating around. They all mean basically the same thing and refer to the thing you get in exchange for giving up your email. 

In the early days of email marketing, it was enough to just do the Michael’s Method (anyone know what I’m talking about here?). You know when the cashier at Michael’s asks you for your email list as if you have to give it up in order to finish your transaction. 

Today, on the other hand, we are being bombarded by email lists everywhere we go, so most of us have gotten a little more restrictive on when and where we hand it out. 

To encourage people to sign up for our list, we usually have to give them something in return. That is where the opt-in freebie or lead magnet comes in. It is basically some sort of really good content that our readers can only get in exchange for handing over their email to us. 

Examples of opt-in ideas could be:

  • Workbook

  • Checklist

  • E-Course

  • Guide

  • Step by step instructions

  • Free graphics

  • Email subject line workbook

  • Quiz

The key to making a great opt-in that converts is to make something that is so good people would be willing to pay money for it. When I attended the Creative at Heart Conference, I got to listen to Davey Jones from Davey and Krista talk about opt-in freebies, and he mentioned it should basically be so good that it hurts a little to give it away for free!

An effective opt-in freebie meets the following criteria:

  • Helpful content that solves a problem for your reader

  • Valuable for our audience

  • Relevant to the product or service that we offer

For the email marketing strategy to reach its full potential, it’s important to create an opt-in freebie that is relevant to the product or service we offer, as it will help prime our audience to be sold to later down the road. 

For instance, if you’re a photographer trying to attract newly engaged couples, a “What to wear to your engagement session” guide will be much more relevant for your audience than a “7 day Meal Planning Guide”.  Kind of bad example, I know, but you get the idea!

Once you’ve created your opt-in freebie, you’ll also want to set up a simple welcome sequence. When you’re first starting out with email marketing, this does not have to be overly complicated. It’s enough to create one simple email where you thank people for signing up, remind them of who you are and what you do, and maybe lead them to some of your best resources!

As you grow more confident in your email marketing, you might find that you set up multiple opt-ins and welcome sequences depending on the areas of interests of your audience, or maybe you grow your email welcome sequence to 6+ months like Jenna Kutcher, but keep in mind it doesn’t have to be that complex when you’re first starting out!

Step 3: Set up opt-in forms on your website:

Once we’ve got our email marketing software picked out, our relevant freebie created, and our welcome email set up, it’s time to connect our email marketing software to our website. 

Depending on what website host you use and which email marketing software you chose, the steps might look a little different, but don’t worry! A quick Google search should pull up some step by step instructions for setting up your email marketing on your website. 

If you’ve ever heard of the rule of 7, you might know that your audience may need to see something seven times before taking action. This means that it’s probably not enough for you to just pop your signup form in your footer and expect amazing results!

Here are a couple of places you can put your sign up form:

  • Footer of your site

  • Above the fold on the home page

  • Sidebar of your blog

  • Within your blog posts

  • At the end of your blog post

  • As a pop-up with a timer

What to send to your email list?

A lot of creative entrepreneurs are very busy and struggle with knowing what and when to email their list. When starting out with your email list it can also feel a little awkward, or even scary, because you keep telling yourself who would even care about this?!

Let me be honest with you for a second. I used to be scared of emailing my list because I feared people would unsubscribe. 

Yes. Now that I’m actually writing that, it sounds pretty ridiculous. 

If you don’t engage with your email list, it is basically useless. You want people to be able to depend on you through consistency in your email marketing, build trust by being helpful, and increase the front-of-mind factor by showing up regularly so when the time comes to book whatever service you offer you become the obvious choice!

Emailing your list doesn’t have to be difficult, and it doesn’t even have to be much extra work. My own email marketing newsletters typically include a snippet from a recent blog post I wrote with helpful content relevant to my email list. I’m a web designer and Pinterest strategist, so a lot of my content revolves around how to create effective websites, when to rebrand your business, and Pinterest marketing tips. 

Here are a couple of ideas you of things you can send to your email list: 

  • Newly engaged series - set up a sequence for newly engaged couples all about wedding planning where you can easily pitch your own services

  • Monthly newsletters

  • Weekly newsletters or blog post reminders

  • Sale reminders

  • New item roundups 

Tip: still not sure what you can send to your list? Take a look through your own inbox and see what kind of email list emails you actually open. What resonates with you and why? Don’t copy, but use this knowledge to better your own email marketing strategy. 

How often should you email your list?

How often you should email your list will depend on the kind of product or service you’re selling. If you’re in a time-sensitive industry like wedding photography where the time from research to booked is critical, you may need to show up almost daily for a couple of days. 

If you’re in a more ongoing industry like family photography, web design, online shop, etc. weekly or bi-weekly newsletters might be a good choice. 

Whatever you choose, make sure it is something you can consistently stick to, and make sure you’re showing up frequently enough for people to remember who you are!

Alright, y’all! I know this was a lengthy blog post. In this post I shared why you need an email list for your creative business, how you can set one up, and what you should be sending to your list. 

Do you need some help with all this online business stuff?

 Don’t worry, my friend, you’re in the right place.

Take a look at the web design services below to see how we can get your website and email marketing up and running!

* this is an affiliate link, which means I may get some benefit at no extra cost to you!

 
 
Ida Winstead Pinterest Strategist

Oh hey! So glad you stopped by. I’m Ida - a Pinterest manager & Squarespace designer for wedding professionals. Fueled by coffee and puppy snuggles, we love to have fun over here.

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Email marketing for creatives
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