How to Start an Email Marketing Business
Do Business the Right Way
Starting an email marketing company from your home is a great way to capitalize on strong writing, data and marketing skills. Good email marketing campaignsare measurably effective for businesses of all sizes. They are also an overwhelming idea for small business owners, who are unsure about the technology and terrified of alienating potential customers, making someone with expertise in this field a valuable asset.
Below, we’ve done the legwork for you to provide a free guide to starting a home-based email marketing business today.
Not interested in starting an email marketing business? Visit our generic Start A Business Guide.
What Does an Email Marketing Business Do?
An email marketing company is hired as a consultant by a business to work with email automation software using email lists that customers have opted into. This is distinguished from spam marketing, which works on email lists that customers have not opted into.
Email marketers create email marketing plans, design and implement campaigns, and nurture leads through written communication. Email marketing provides high return on investment for businesses, so it is very popular. Done with integrity, email marketing delivers targeted messages to a willing audience, driving revenue in an easily measured way. Additionally, the effectiveness of email marketing is only growing. The ROI for email marketing is estimated to be $32 for every $1 spent.
Steps to Starting an Email Marketing Business
Create a Business Plan for Your Email Marketing Business
Before you get started, you’ll need an idea of what resources you’ll need—and how to monetize your business in a practical way. We’ve answered the biggest questions about clients, costs, and profits below.
Who is the target audience?
As a freelance email marketing consultant, you will need to understand your target audience. It will not be companies that are so big they employ their own people to handle their marketing needs. And it won’t be companies so small they don’t think they need email marketing services. You’re going to be charged with finding those companies that understand the value of email marketing and have maybe tried it themselves, but don’t have the time or technological expertise to fully realize its potential. These will probably be successful local and regional companies with a defined and growing brand.
How does an email marketing business make money?
Email marketing consultants typically charge an hourly fee for campaign design and then a monthly fee to implement marketing strategies. Good email campaigns start with a list, which customers have freely signed up for. This might start with a monthly newsletter, which has been designed to reflect the business’s brand, can be viewed on all devices, and optimized for ease of purchase. Data from this campaign can then be used to further segment lists by customer engagement, etc, further personalizing future emails.
Email marketing companies then, as part of the monthly charge, generallysend a certain number of emails. If the number of emails sent exceeds that allotted amount, a per email fee is charged.
Email marketing services are often bundled along with other digital marketing services (such as social media marketing and landing page creation). So you’ll need to decide if other digital marketing services are elements that will also be a part of your business model.
How much money will it take to get started?
The start up costs for an email marketing business are very low. All you’ll need is a laptop and a marketing platform like ConvertKit, ConstantContact, EmailOctopus, or Hubspot. These platforms charge a monthly fee (ConvertKit, for example, cost $60 per month) and charge a small fee for each email sent. You’ll also need an excellent web page of your own from which you can market your services.
How much does an email marketing business make each year?
As a one-person email marketing consultant business, you could expect to make as much as $60,000- $80,000 per year.
How much should I charge?
Most email marketing consultants charge an hourly fee of between $125-$200/ hr for designing campaigns and writing emails. Additionally, a monthly fee of between $30-$100/ month is charged for executing those campaigns and reporting analyzed data.
Select a Name for Your Email Marketing Business
Have a great name idea? Before you start marketing and branding your business, you’ll need to ensure your name is available. Most states prohibit or restrict businesses from adopting names that are already in use. Even if it’s legally allowed, a copycat name puts your business at risk of a lawsuit.
See if your business name is available in your state with our Free Business Name Search.
Trademarks and Domain Names
Plan to trademark your business name? You can see if the trademark is available on a website like Trademarkia. It’s also a good idea to see if the domain name is available, which you can do on websites like Network Solutions and GoDaddy. Even if you don’t plan on putting together a website right away, you can buy the domain name to make sure no one takes it in the meantime.
Choose a Business Structure
Should you form an LLC? A sole proprietorship? Your choice of business structure will affect many aspects of your business, from liability to taxes.
Sole Proprietorships & General Partnerships
If you don’t file any paperwork to legally form a different kind of business—you have a sole proprietorship or general partnership. Essentially, these are “default” business structures. A sole proprietorship has one owner, and a partnership has multiple owners.
These structures have a few initial benefits. They’re easy, fast and cheap to start and maintain. However, the limitations and risks of these business structures quickly become more apparent as your business grows. In both of these business types, you are your business, legally speaking. Your company’s legal business name is YOUR name—so you’ll need a DBA to operate under any other name. Any business debt is YOUR personal debt. If anyone sues your business, they are suing YOU personally.
LLCs & Corporations
Limited liability companies (LLCs) and corporations are business entities formed at the state level. The entity is legally separate from its owners, meaning the owners are not personally liable for the debts and obligations of the business. As a separate entity, the business also has multiple tax election options. For example, both LLCs and corporations can choose to be taxed as S-corps if they meet the requirements.
LLCs and corporations are not quite as simple and inexpensive as default structures. LLCs and corporations come with formal requirements like state reports. They also have more fees than default structures, such as formation and annual report fees. However, the benefits of an LLC or corporation—especially liability protection and tax flexibility—are significant.
Legally Form Your Email Marketing Business
If you opt for a sole proprietorship or general partnership, there’s no formal paperwork to file to legally create your entity—you just start selling your product or service. However, you will not have anyliability protections or tax flexibility.
LLCs and corporations are formed by filing paperwork with a state agency, typically the Secretary of State. To start an LLC, you file articles of organization. To start a corporation, you file articles of incorporation. In most states, you can file these forms online or download a paper form from the state’s website.
Whether you’re forming an LLC or corporation, your articles will require certain basic information about your business, such as your company’s:
- business address
- registered agent and office
- business purpose
- members/managers or directors/officers’ names and addresses
- number and type of authorized shares (for stock corporations)
You’ll also need the signature of someone authorized to sign on behalf of the business, along with the state’s filing fee. Fees vary by state but are typically between $100 and $200. If you hire Northwest to form your LLC or corporation, we complete and submit your formation paperwork on your behalf for just $100 plus state fees.
Create Internal Policies and Procedures
It’s important to put your company’s internal policies and procedures in a written document, especially if you’re starting your business with others. Partnerships have partnership agreements. LLCs have operating agreements. Corporations have bylaws.
These documents look a bit different for each kind of business, but they serve the same general purpose. They ensure there’s a clear path forward for any major issue that may arise, from changes in ownership to closing the business. LLCs and corporations also typically need an operating agreement or bylaws in order to open a bank account.
Get an EIN and Register for Taxes
Nearly all LLCs and corporations will need to request a federal employer identification number (EIN) from the IRS. If you file corporate income taxes, have employees, or file certain franchise taxes, you must have an EIN. An EIN is also a common requirement for opening a business bank account. Most businesses can request an EIN by filling out the IRS’s online form.
Your EIN is for federal taxes—but you’ll likely have state and local tax obligations as well. You will most likely need to set up an account with the state’s Department of Revenue, and you may need to apply for a state tax ID or a sales tax license as well.
Learn more about how to Get an EIN for your business.
Open a Bank Account
A business bank account keeps your personal finances separate from your business finances. For LLCs and corporations, keeping separate finances is essential for maintaining liability protection. To open an account, LLCs and corporations typically need to bring to the bank a copy of their articles, their operating agreement or bylaws, and their EIN.
Obtain Required Licenses and Permits
Many businesses will need a business license to operate. Licensing information—as well as any zoning requirements or other permits—can usually be found on the city or county website.
If your home is part of a homeowner’s association, you’ll also be subject to any of their restrictions for home-based businesses. Some areas may also require home-based businesses to obtain a Certificate of Occupancy (a document certifying the property owner has given the business permission to operate).
Next Steps for Your Email Marketing Business
After your business is up and running, there are a few additional steps you may want to take as you grow:
- Get online: With your domain name, you can create a business website. You can hire a professional or use a website-builder like Wix or WordPress. You may also want to invest in online ads through a program like Google Ads.
- Hire employees: Hiring employees requires quite a few steps. You’ll need to collect W-4s and I-9s from employees, report the new hires to the state, set up withholding, pay for unemployment insurance, distribute any required documents and notices to employees, and display wage and safety info in the workplace. Employer.gov is a good place to start, followed by your state’s tax or labor office.
- Get business insurance: While LLCs and corporations protect you from personal liability, you don’t want your business to go bankrupt in the face of an accident, injury or other disaster. At minimum, it’s a good idea to look into general liability insurance. Home-based businesses can sometimes add insurance onto their homeowner’s policy.
How Do I Know If Email Marketing is Right for Me?
What’s it really like to work in a email marketing business?
As an email marketing business you will need to have high level understanding of at least one email platform, like Mailchimp. You will also spend a lot of time designing and writing the emails that go out. So your writing skills need to be sharp. You’ll also need data skills that will allow you to onboard large email lists, segregate them, and analyze the data that responses to those emails produce.
Additionally, you will need sharply-honed customer service and sales skills that you will use interacting with your own clientele and keeping them informed of your work and successes.
What does it take to succeed in the world of email marketing?
Because there is so much unethical and spam-heavy email marketing out there, you will need to spend time building a reputation that sets you apart. You’ll want to demonstrate you can add real value by strengthening bonds with willing potential customers and providing a measurable rate of conversion of those potential customers to paying customers.
Ready to Form an LLC or Corporation?
Northwest Registered Agent is here to help with all your small business ideas and needs. Answer a few simple questions about your business, and we’ll prepare and submit your formation paperwork to the state. We also provide your new business registered agent service, free business forms and guides, and much more.