Having created some content and a few web sites, you may get a few views when people find your material by searching for keywords related to your content. You certainly can’t just rely on people finding your content through random searches though. E-mail marketing is a key method of getting interested people to start viewing your web content and to continue receiving content from you. This way you can send all those juicy images, video links, web site addresses, and blog posts directly to folks who won’t think you’re sending spam.
Your current (and hopefully satisfied!) clients are the best source of e-mail addresses for your new e-mail list. By asking any current or prospective clients for an e-mail address and permission to be placed on an e-mail list, you are gaining subscribers without any need for any extra marketing efforts. These people will have already personally interacted with you as a professional, so you already have their trust. Your e-mail marketing to these individuals will keep your image fresh in their minds so that they will be referrers of your services (or brand advocates, if you want to use marketing speak) if they know of anyone else in the future who needs your help.
You can practice making your first e-mail list at http://tinyletter.com. This service makes you comfortable with the process because its interface is mostly like a web e-mail program. You upload a small list of e-mail addresses or you can manually enter e-mail addresses of people that want to receive your newsletter. Then you type a simple e-mail, send it off, and you can also send replies. Because it’s an e-mail subscription list you’re creating, but you use it like regular personal e-mail, Tinyletter is a perfect stepping stone to more professional tools.
If you want to keep a small e-mail list, but bump up the prettiness, try using https://www.smore.com next. This service is geared for making colorful online flyers that you send to recipients on mailing lists. It’s ideal for attorneys that want to use a mailing list to announce to special invitees an upcoming speaking engagement or an event that your firm is hosting or engaging in. With the free plan, you’re limited to 200 people on your list, and can only have 5 flyers at one time. For modest local gatherings that you want to promote, this is an excellent way to get the word out to people that you know. You can see a clean-looking example of a legal seminar announcement at https://www.smore.com/q51q.
Tinyletter is produced by http://mailchimp.com, and Mailchimp is a service to use when you have a larger e-mail list. The interface in Mailchimp is more like desktop publishing software, so your e-mails can be laid out in all kinds of creative ways including pieces of content you’ve already made. Advanced features offer reports that let you track your e-mails to discover what your recipients did with them and what e-mail designs get the most favorable responses. As long you have less than 2,000 subscribers and send less than 12,000 e-mails a month, the service is free. You can view a few sample e-newsletters that a law firm produced with Mailchimp at http://us4.campaign-archive1.com/home/?u=3b0e3bbd0bf183f95d731c45d&id=ff41cea705. Notice how they range in variety from one big Christmas card image to a full text newsletter. Mailchimp also produces lots of guides at http://mailchimp.com/resources/.
Integration with Gmail is the big priority with http://www.flashissue.com. With this service you can make mailing lists directly from your Gmail contacts, and design newsletters in a drag-and-drop manner from within your Gmail window. It has free features that many other e-mail service providers charge for, like the ability to track your e-mails with analytic reports. Flashissue also will automatically find and insert articles into your newsletters, based on the keywords and topics that you provide. The one drawback is that your limits on sending e-mails is based on whatever limits G-mail itself places on sending e-mails. But as you’ve seen, every one of these services places similar limitations on sending e-mails through their free plans anyway.
If you plan on eventually learning some web programming, then http://www.sendicate.net will offer you plenty of room to grow. On one hand, it will take your content and automatically format it with whatever design template you pick, the same way that old-school Microsoft Publisher will format your content in whatever template you pick. At the other extreme, if you don’t want your newsletter auto-formatted, there is a developer section at https://www.sendicate.net/docs/templates which is a reference guide on writing the code for your own templates. You can have up to 500 subscribers on the free plan. Feel free to try a few of these services, but remember to look in every service for a standard way to exporting your e-mail list to a format like csv, as Sendicate will let you do. This way, when you settle on a service that you like, you can import your subscribers from any other service you’ve tried out.
There are some big cautionary notes on venturing into coding your own newsletter e-mails from scratch. Even most regular web page programmers don’t like to make e-mails with web page code in them, because web pages that serve as e-mail newsletters have to be re-formatted in a special way to make them readable by e-mail programs. There are many sites like http://www.emailology.org that try to help developers come to terms with making e-mail newsletters look like attractive web pages, so you can see how hard it is. If you have the urge to learn a bit of web programming, it’s best to practice by adding some HTML code to one of your side sites that let you modify the code. Or, if you’re brave enough, you can eventually learn to make a few small code changes with your main web site WordPress template that you’ll get into soon enough.