Hello fellow freelancers!
So in this first installment of “the poor artists guide to advertising”, I am assuming we have all our other ducks in a row (check here and here to see what I’m talking about). This series is intended to be a guide on how to get yourself in front of prospective clients on the web. In the freelancing game we often can’t (and shouldn’t) wait for companies to post openings, and the standard resume flipping wont get it done. We need other tactics.
So on to the e-mail campaign! I have used the e-mail campaign a few times over the course of my freelancing career, and every time I wanted to go through one of those campaign services. That is until I realized I was broke. So I stopped to think how I was going to get it done, tried and messed up a few times, and here we are. I don’t know if I want to say my system is the best one, or the most far reaching. But it has and still does bring in clients, and I think that’s all we really want to get accomplished here anyways. So I will break down the steps as simple as I can, explain them and hopefully this article will help you get new clients for yourself. Here goes:
Step one: Find you audience.
This one is pretty simple. For the purposes of demonstration, I will be referring to my last target audience, the silk screen industry. You may have a different industry, but the one thing to remember is to target an industry. By doing this you define to yourself what you are looking for, and that’s important because if you do it right, you will feel overwhelmed and want to have a line in the sand.
Step two: find your targets.
This is by far the longest step in the process. Only because if you target the right industry, you will have tons of targets. And by targets I mean business owners. So my process for this was by figuring out my target range (America), Then separating that into a more manageable list (states, the major cities). Knowing how I wanted this broken down I got my list together (I actually used the main Craigslist directory), and started my search. So from here I went through every city and state looking up “custom silk screen shirts” on Google Maps. I would look for companies that had a web site (to find a contact e-mail) or e-mail listed, and then copied the e-mail to a directory, which in my case was Thunderbird (a lot like outlook). It took me two weeks to get this done.
You will see one of my older promos to the side to see what I’m talking about. Essentially what we are talking about here is an ad that you would copy into your page as HTML, showing off your wares. In the e-mail itself, I sliced the image so the button at the bottom took you to my site. Some important things you may want to think about doing though: First, upload the promo to your site (which you probably did already anyways), and then add a text link saying “can’t see the ad? Click here.” Or something like that. Also I added a link at the bottom for unsubscribing. For that I just made a mail box for it and had it forward to my regular mail. So with my promo built with all the little extras I was ready to go!
Step four: Mailing them out!
This one was the fun part. Getting out to your would be clients! For me this number was about 1500+. So the first thing I got was a lot of “message undeliverable” e-mail, which I suspected would happen. After that business started coming in. Now the warning: the reaction will be random. I have had it trickle in days to months after the campaign (I usually do one every six months per industry), and I have had it go completely berserk. In the beginning, using different tactics, I have even had no reply at all. But if you get enough e-mails on your list and are good at what you do, that shouldn’t be a problem here.
So that’s pretty much it. Depending on how disciplined you are, this entire process can be about a week or two. So here are a few things that I plan on trying next time out, and a few tips you should definitely listen to, which I will go over first.
- Once you have your list together, or add more to it, clean it up. I learned this one the hard way. I had a prospective client e-mail me and tell me he was going to use me up until he got the same ad e-mailed to him eight times. I couldn’t believe it and looked through my list. There it was, along with plenty of others. Yeesh. Who knows how many people I lost myself with that move. After that I made sure to check for duplicates.
- Always unsubscribe the people that ask for it! Remember these people all work in the same industry, so it’s not unbelievable that they may talk at some point. Also you want to stay off of spam lists, which depending on what service they use could get you dropped from a much larger group.
- Let them know you got the e-mail. Most people that are looking for a freelancer have more than one on their list. And if they are getting a hold of you it is probably because they aren’t happy with who they have now. Don’t put yourself on that list just for not getting back to them.
- Try different sources for finding targets. I never had much problem with Google Maps, but who’s to say YellowPages.com or Directory.com might not be what you are looking for?
- Try different promo types! If a campaign isn’t working, or not working well… try a different promo layout. Even if one is working ask clients what the draw was or what almost drove them away, That info will help make the next go around that much better.
Over all, this tactic takes a little up front work, but it is a tool I will always use to grab clients. I hope you found something useful in the first installment of “the poor artists guide to advertising”. I will be back to share more ideas on getting yourself out there, so see you soon!