An email newsletter is an important tool for growing a graphic design business. It is one of most effective ways to spread the word-of-mouth on what type of work you are doing and looking for. Here’s what it takes to create and maintain one.
If you’re going to send a newsletter, you obviously need people to send it to. Even if you are just starting out, chances are you already have a small group that can be the makings of a mailing list. You should include:
- Current and past co-workers
- Other graphic designers (and illustrators, photographers, etc)
Unless someone asks to be removed it’s a good idea to include every email address you’ve got, as you never know who will get you your next job.
Organize and Maintain Contacts
Once you’ve collected your list of contacts, it’s important to keep them up-to-date and organized. How you do this will most likely depend on what software or web site you are using to send out your newsletter, as it is usually easiest to use the address book built into that system. Online mail services such as Yahoo and Google as well as software packages such as Outlook and Mail (on the Mac) all have ways to organize your contacts. Be sure to include all the information you have, such as full name and mailing address, and to add new contacts as soon as you get them…you don’t want to be searching through old emails on the day you want to send your newsletter.
Determine the Content
A newsletter should serve to remind people about the services you offer and to show those services at work, and should include the following pieces of content:
- Subject: The subject of the email is the first thing your contacts will see. Include your name (or company name), an obvious term to let them know it’s a newsletter, and if you want, a very short blurb announcing what is in this “edition.” A good example of a subject (for the fake company “Creative Designers”) is: “Creative Designers Update: Book Designs and CD Packaging.”
- Introduction: Your newsletter introduction should be short and to the point, serving as a greeting and a brief overview of what you do.
- Recent Work: This is a key component to your newsletter. List the recent jobs you have completed, with brief descriptions and links to examples of the work in an online portfolio (which all graphic designers should have!).
- Upcoming Projects: If you have any, include upcoming projects so your contacts know you have even more work in progress.
- Closing: Finish with a short sign-off. Include your name (or company name), contact info and web site URL. Mention that more of your work is available online (if that is the case). This is also a good place to thank clients or anyone who recommended you for a job, if you feel like adding a personal touch.
Format the Content
How you format the content (they way it is displayed to your audience) may again be determined by what system you are using to send your newsletter. If you know some HTML and want to format your newsletter that way, most email programs will support that, but be sure to test your mailing first to several contacts on different mail services. You may even use HTML to include some images directly in the email, but again, this should be tested. The more complicated your design gets, the more issues that can arise as you view your newsletter in different software programs and web sites. If you wish to keep it simple, using formatting such as all caps for titles to break up your content. Regardless of the method, it’s important that the newsletter is easy to scan and read.
Now that you have created and formatted your content, it’s time to send your newsletter to your contact list. Be sure to test it out first (to yourself and a few others), and once you are confident that it will display correctly in a variety of email platforms, hit that send button!
There are software packages and online services that make the entire process easier, if you wish to invest some money in your newsletter. MaxBulk Mailer is a Mac software package that helps you organize contact lists and send HTML formatted emails. Emma is an online service that offers design templates and detailed statistics to track who is receiving, opening and clicking the links in your newsletter. These are just a couple of the many options.
The last decision is to determine how often to send your newsletter. Mailing it out quarterly will keep you fresh in people’s minds without getting annoying. Any less than that and you risk someone not thinking of you when they are asked if they know a designer. If you find yourself with a lot of work, consider sending it out more often, though more than once a month is probably too much. No matter how often you send it, mailing a newsletter consistently is a great way to get more work and keep your contacts up-to-date on your design business.