Let me start this post by saying I’m not an online marketing expert! I do however love to share the things that have worked well for me so that you, fellow small biz owners and fellow designers, can see if it’s something that might work well for you too.
I always say, take advice but don’t follow it blindly. Use your head to work out if things are going to make sense for your business and disregard anything that doesn’t feel right.
With that said, let’s dive in!
Depending on what stage you’re at in your business, 50 new email list subscribers might sound like tonnes, or it might sound like not a lot at all. To me, getting this number inside of 24 hours was novel because my email list had been growing by around 50 per MONTH previously.
Let's start with some background info. This year (2020) as well as offering brand design services, I want to set up a digital product shop. I know that the way I’m going to make a digital product shop a success is by having more traffic land on my website and getting more people onto my email list to launch new products to.
In previous months, I’d been going with the flow - not blogging super regularly, or pinning my blog posts to Pinterest more than once, so I think that 50 per month was a perfectly fine number.
When I do send emails out, my list is relatively engaged, my open and click rates are above industry standard and I often get lovely replies from readers.
I was happy with the growth in terms of how it helped with selling my brand design services. When you’re selling a service you can obviously only take on a certain number of projects a month - the traffic I was getting to my website along with my growing Instagram following was the right volume to be booking out my services a few months in advance and so I didn’t need to work too hard on getting more traffic to the site.
With a digital product shop, the price of the items I’m selling is going to be lower than the cost of the services I provide. This means I’ll need to sell more to make it worthwhile especially if I want to scale back on the 1to1 client work a little in order to take a maternity leave (baby due late June 2020).
The key to growing a thriving email list is to provide value many time before you try to sell or ‘make an offer’. Free downloads are a great way to offer something that’s jam packed with value as a reward for signing up for regular updates from you and that’s the approach I took here.
I already had one free guide for small business owners, but it had been out in the world for a whole year slowly building my email list on auto-pilot for me. It was high time I created a new one to build some momentum up. I have a secondary audience of fellow designers and they’re a super engaged lovely community of people on my list and on Instagram. I know that when my digital shop launches I want to have products specifically tailored to them as well as products for non-designers. Planning my shop was a great time to get more of these people onto my list ready for when I launch.
One mistake that business owners often make when putting together free downloads or creating products is to create things they think their audience wants. Often what you think they want and what they actually want is totally different and so it’s important to listen and pay attention to what people are telling you, or ask specifically what it is that they want.
I often get DMs or replies to my emails from designers asking me questions about all things from the design process through to working with clients. One question that comes up time and time again is “how do you find clients?”. In fact I got this question from 3 different designers in the space of a day or two and so I knew it was something I could create a short guide about to offer as a freebie for signing up to my list.
If you're interested, you can get the freebie yourself by clicking below!
It didn’t take long to put together and I honestly just talked about my experiences in the first year of running my business - what I had done to start to build my client base up.
The aim was to share enough information but to not share too much so that in the coming months I can maybe create a more in-depth guide that is a paid for product.
I created the guide on the Sunday within a couple of hours, then I sent it out to my current email list on Monday morning with a button to click to be segmented off into a separate designers list. When subscribers clicked the button, my email software was set to automatically move the subscriber over, and it took them to a landing page to download the guide.
30+ people swapped over the my designers email list so I knew a little bit more about them. But these aren’t the new subscribers I'm talking about.
On the day I sent the email out I shared on Instagram stories that I had created this new guide for designers. I added a poll to my stories to see who was interested in receiving it as a new subscriber. The response was am overwhelming YES - people were interested. So I set up a new subscriber page for people to sign up directly to the new segment of my email list.
I shared about it on Instagram stories a few times throughout that day and on my grid, and it resulted in 50 brand new signups that day! This is the power of creating something that people actually want and need and TELLING PEOPLE about it. I have around 4K Instagram followers that I’ve worked hard to be engaged with and helpful to as often a possible so of course this helps, but it’s still powerful on whatever scale to deliver what people have specifically asked for.
After nearly a week of the new freebie being live I now have 120 subscribers to the designers email list including those 30ish that moved over from my main list. This really was a bigger result than I was expecting and I’m so excited about sharing more value in the coming weeks and creating products following on from that in the near future.
Here’s what you can takeaway from this for your own business:
Know your audience. Survey your current email list if you can and/or ask questions/polls on Instagram stories.
Keep track of questions you get asked by your customers/clients/followers.
Make something your audience already wants.
Questions that get asked over and over are a good basis for creating freebie downloads but try not to give everything away so that there’s the possibility of creating a more in depth paid for version in the future if you’re planning to include digital products in your business model.
You don’t need to create a freebie for everything! One or two is enough, leave ideas for paid for products.
Talk about your freebie more than once! Not everyone will see everything you post so you need to share things like signing up to your email list more than once. I shared my offer various times throughout the day, building interest from the beginning, asking if new people wanted to sign up. When people say YES, deliver on that shortly afterwards by telling them how they can sign up to keep their interest piqued.
I added 50 subscribers in 24 hours, but that doesn’t mean that happened every 24 hours after that. These things naturally slow down so make sure you keep sharing your free offer periodically.
Use Pinterest to get it out there too and add signup links throughout your website and blog posts in prominent positions (like the one I’ve added below 😉)