Create an email strategy & Content Calendar

Content is king, queen, and the whole royal family, so you need to plan your email marketing content with the same care you give to blog content. 

Remember that your email list is about building a relationship with subscribers – not a hard sell. In this track, you’ll think strategically about aspects of building your email list. Open a document to keep track of your answers. This will be the start of your email marketing strategy.

First, the answer to a common question:

Activity 1: How big should your email list be?

This question probably doesn’t matter so much at the start, but if your list gets big, you’ll care more about having a list that’s engaged and interested. 

My take:  quality is better than quantity. 

Learn more about what’s possible here:  How to Earn More Money With a Small Email List

Activity 2: Promote your email list

We’ll look at promotion more when we get to social media, but there’s never a bad time to promote your list, and that’s all you have to do today.   Here are some ways you can do this:

  • Update your social media bios by adding a link to your email list. MailChimp provides a custom URL you can use for this. If you haven’t got a social media account, don’t worry. We’ll look at that in the social media section, then you can come back and do this activity.
  • Share a link to your email list on your social media profiles. 
  • Remember the instructions for creating an email signup form? Add another signup form to your site. For example, if you added one in the sidebar, or footer, try adding one at the bottom of a popular blog post.

And you can also share the link to your actual list on your social profiles..  Grab yours, share it in the comments, and share it on at least one social media site.

Activity 3: Email strategy: Know your audience

When we worked on your website, we discussed who your audience was and what kind of content you wanted to reach them with. 

That’s pretty much the same for email marketing. Remember that you’re not talking to people like you, you’re talking to potential clients.

And you’re combining value for them with value for you. 

Question for you:

  • Who is your audience for email marketing? 

Use the Hubspot Make My Persona tool to figure out their main characteristics. This will help with all your marketing.

Activity 4: Email strategy: timing

Now you know who you’re sending to, there’s another question. How often are you going to email them? 

I know many people say at least weekly, or a couple of times a month, but I’m going to be honest with you – I’ve never been able to keep up that pace. Be realistic about how often you can email, then set a schedule and stick to it, because it’s important for subscribers to know what to expect and look forward to your emails. 

Again, I tend to fall down on this when I get busy, but just because I’m not following best practice, doesn’t mean you should copy my bad habits 😉 I will say that whenever I’ve done it right, I’ve seen the results. 

Here’s some science on email marketing to help you decide: 

Question for you:

  • Now that you’ve had time to think about it, how often will you email your audience?

Activity 5: Email strategy: What do you want subscribers to do? Your CTA

Always have a goal in mind: some action you want your readers to take. That might be following a link to an article on your site, or making a purchase, and it’s your call to action (CTA).

Learn more about the CTA in this article: How to Create the Perfect Call to Action (11 Examples)

As a freelancer, your CTA might ask subscribers to:

  • Grab a freebie you’ve created that shows off your expertise
  • Click through to one of your best pieces of content
  • Book a free consultation to talk about your writing job

Remember, a lot of your emails are about nurturing a relationship and providing value, not a hard sell. The hard sell is a major turnoff, but providing useful information over time can win you business in the long run.

Question for you:

  • What do you want people to do when they read your first email?

Activity 6: Email strategy: plan your email marketing calendar

Now that you know how often you want to email your subscribers, it’s time to plan out your content. This may change during the year, but it’s a good starting point. Think about:

  • Holidays and observances you can tie promotions to
  • Questions people ask about your business that you can answer
  • Products and services you want to promote
  • Blog content you want to share

Here’s a helpful guide from Aweber:

And this CoSchedule guide has useful info too:

Put your initial thoughts in a calendar or in a document, listing possible content by month.

Then pick one piece of content to work on for your first email. We’ll look at that in the next track.