How To Start an Email Marketing Business? | Ultimate Guide, Opportunities, and Tips

April 20, 2024

Here’s how to start an email marketing business:

  1. Learn the basics and crucial aspects of an email marketing business
  2. Identify your target market and their needs
  3. Determine your email marketing services and solutions
  4. Focus on in-demand and profitable email marketing skills
  5. Finalize your email marketing service rates
  6. Develop a solid business and financial plan
  7. Form your business contract and internal policies
  8. Register your email marketing business
  9. Create a website or social media profile
  10. Develop a dynamic marketing strategy
  11. Maximize free and paid email marketing software and tools
  12. Connect with email marketing experts globally

Email marketing has the highest ROI of all online marketing methods today. According to Litmus, emails generate $36 for every $1 spent on average, and 87% of brands say emails are critical for success. This is why email marketing is listed as one of’s most in-demand skills for 2024

Email marketing is a great business to start because good email marketers can earn big profits while only working a few hours a day. Some successful freelancers on Reddit say they make $100 - $150/hour from email marketing. Superstar email copywriter Chris Orzechowski says he can make $974,000/year working only 5 hours a day. However, email marketing is a very difficult skill to master. According to Hubspot, only 21.5% of marketing emails get opened, and only 2.3% get clicks. Email marketing requires a deep psychological understanding of your target audience. It requires sharp, vivid, and empathetic writing. Finally, it requires meticulous organizational skills for your email lists to be successful. 

Knowing how to properly start an email marketing business is the first step to success. In this email marketing guide, we’ll cover all the best practices to get a head start for your email business. We'll cover how to identify your target market and choose your services. How to develop a dynamic marketing strategy. And how to connect with other email marketing experts in the field.

How To Start Email Marketing Business? (Ultimate Guide)

1. Learn the Basics and Crucial Aspects of an Email Marketing Business

Learning email marketing basics your critical first step. Do this by taking free, cheap, or premium courses.

Free Email Marketing Courses

  • HubSpot's Email Marketing Course
  • Simplilearn's Advanced Email Marketing
  • Google's Think Outside the Inbox

Free email marketing courses will teach you the basics of managing email lists, automating email marketing campaigns, copywriting, how to get email addresses. Free courses may not go as in-depth as premium coaching options. But, taking one will help you decide if email marketing is for you.

Cheap Email Marketing Courses

  • Udemy's Copywriting and Growing Your E-mail Lists ($84.99)
  • LinkedIn's Writing Emails People Want to Read ($24.99)
  • MailChimp Academy (Free for MailChimp users)

Cheap email marketing courses give you more lessons, examples, and better structure. Cheaper courses sometimes focus on one aspect of an email marketing business, such as how to get emails, copywriting, how to set up email automation, rather than the entire business. There are plenty of these courses for under $100.

Premium Email Marketing Coaching

  • Alex Cattoni's Launch Files ($1,997)
  • Neville Medhora's Copywriting Course ($97/month)
  • Copy Hacker's Copy School ($497/month)

Premium coaching programs cover all aspects of email marketing businesses. These programs usually come with personal coaching and a private community of fellow students. Both can give you an enormous boost in starting your business. Premium programs usually cost over a thousand dollars, so you'll need to commit.

2. Identify Your Target Market and Their Needs

Identifying your target market is a crucial step to starting an email marketing business. Do this by:

  • Choosing an industry you’re involved in, like your job, a hobby, or something you're interested in. You’ll already know the frustrations of your clients and the specifics of the business. You could also sign friends or acquaintances as clients. This is a low-stakes environment that allows you to build a strong portfolio.
  • Pursuing businesses that benefit from email, like healthcare / pharmaceuticals, technology, finance / FinTech, start-ups, and solar energy. Finding gigs for these industries will be easier because these businesses send out emails often. They'll also have the highest profits for you. 
  • Starting out as a general email marketer then settling for the niche that is most profitable and enjoyable. At the start, you may have to charge less and work on projects you don’t like. However, this is a great way to try different niches. Once you find the right fit, focus on becoming an expert in that field.

After choosing an industry, you can go deeper by creating specific services that revolve around your clients' needs, like copywriting or email design. Ultimately, specializing in one industry may allow you to charge higher rates in the future.

3. Determine Your Email Marketing Services and Solutions

Determine the services you'll provide clients early on. Email marketing services range from copywriting to directing the whole marketing strategy. Decide how much you’re going to offer. Adding more services to your plans allows you to charge significantly more.

  • Copywriting is the most basic form of email marketing. It involves write the email content for your clients only. Expert copywriters like Linda Formicelli can charge up to $250/hour. However, the average UpWork copywriter only charges $51/hour. Writing agencies like Expres Writers charge around $475 for a 5-email sequence.
  • Email design entails creating beautiful graphics for the emails. Most email designers specialize in one platform, such as MailChimp or Klaiyvo. Or they design using html. The top-rated Fiverr email designers charge $50 - $145 per project.
  • Email automation is a technical service that requires familiarity with email software. It allows companies to send automatic email sequences. Simple automated email services on Upwork cost around $100 - $250 per project.
  • Email scrubbing is a data analysis service where you remove any bad email addresses from your client's list. This includes invalid, duplicate, and inactive emails - which can be in the thousands. By scrubbing the list, these companies can enjoy lower bounce rates, improved credibility, a better reputation, and increased customer engagement. Freelancers on Fiverr charge as low as $20 to scrub a list of 10,000 emails.
  • List segmentation entails separating all leads into lists, according to where the customer is in the sales process. Each type of lead triggers a different sequence, depending on whether that prospect is cold, warm, ready to buy, or even former customers. List segmentation improves open and click-through rates. There aren’t any standalone list segmentation services, but it’s included in many email marketing packages.
  • Landing page creation is another common email marketing service. These pages work best when they compliment marketing emails. Aside from writing the copy on the landing page, you'll also need some technical web page building knowledge. Fiverr prices for landing pages vary from $90 to $490.
  • Lead magnet creation helps your clients get more qualified emails. Do this by creating an enticing offer in exchange of an email. This can be a free pdf, a discount coupon, or a checklist. Lead magnet creation costs depend on the size of the project.

  • Marketing strategy management includes identifying the target audience, finding and nurturing leads, converting them, then getting them to come back. This is a very high-level service. Pricing is always custom, but services usually cost more than $2,000/month.

Email marketing may be more profitable for you if you add specific services. However, it takes time to learn the skills required. Most email marketing businesses have several employees handling different services. So, consider offering one service until you have it mastered, and then adding another.

4. Focus on In-Demand and Profitable Email Marketing Skills

Focusing on in-demand and profitable skills ensures you won't have hard time landing good-paying clients. Email copywriting, landing page creation, and email automation are the three best skills to learn for an email business. When combined, you can provide a super valuable package to clients.

  • Copywriting - Learning email copywriting is the vital first step to starting an email marketing business. Sending marketing emails without good copywriting falls flat, resulting in low opens, clicks, and sales.
  • Landing Pages - Once you’ve mastered email copywriting, learning how to build landing pages will increase your value. You can now provide a full sales process for your clients. 
  • Email Automation - After learning how to build landing pages, marketing automation will be the cherry on top. You’ll be able to create a fully automatic sales process for clients!

5. Finalize Your Email Marketing Service Rates

Package pricing, monthly retainer, project-based pricing, single service pricing, and hourly rates are the pricing models you can use for your email marketing business. Each comes with pros and cons. 

Package pricing works by offering tiered packages. For example, you can offer a “bronze” package of 5 emails and 1 landing page, a “silver package” with 5 emails, 1 landing page, and email automation, and a “gold package” with 5 emails, 1 landing page, email automation, and a lead magnet. Package pricing makes it very easy to upsell clients. 

WHAMWorkspace Email Marketing Prices

Monthly retainer is a fee that clients pay you to work on their site every month. Projects like developing a new email campaign, fixing their email list, or building landing pages work great like this. Having a monthly retainer is a great way to get a regular stream of income from loyal clients. 

Inbox Army Email Marketing Prices

Project-based pricing is essentially package pricing without the tiers. It’s more flexible than the packaged prices, allowing clients to customize which services they need and which ones they don’t. It’s difficult to set fixed prices for project-based, since each client is going to need a distinct set of services. 

Express Writers Email Marketing Prices

Single service pricing means setting a price for each service you provide. This makes it easier for a small business to buy, since the prices are lower. However, single service pricing can be confusing to advertise, especially if you offer many services. 

Upwork Email Marketing Prices

Hourly rates are the least common pricing model for email marketing businesses. This is because it’s very difficult to scale and get more clients if you’re paid per hour. However, if you’re still unsure how to price your services, starting with hourly rates will help you gauge how much you should be charging per service. 

6. Develop a Solid Business and Financial Plan

Developing an email marketing plan by visualizing and creating goals is a great way to avoid getting overwhelmed. A clear business plan ensures that you stay on the right track right from the get-go. Think about your goals, then create weekly, monthly, quarterly, and yearly email marketing goals that all point towards your goal. 

Sample Email Marketing Business Plan

  • Long-Term Goal: Build a 7-figure agency with a medium-sized team
  • Weekly Goal: Finish this guide and set everything up
  • Monthly Goal: Get 2 - 3 test clients, build portfolio/case studies, have a clear vision of what you want your agency to look like
  • Quarterly Goal: Learn 2 - 3 new skills, learn how to outsource tasks to freelancers, make at least $5,000/month
  • 1-Year Goal: Have a fully functioning email marketing agency. Make at least $20,000/month, hire 1 - 2 employees, or have contacts with reliable freelancers.

You'll also want to work on your financials by opening a business bank account, setting up payment channels, and creating an accounting process for your business. Doing this before money comes in ensures everything runs smoothly. You can choose between doing all your accounting yourself, using accounting software, or hiring a bookkeeper. 

  • Do-It-Yourself: Trying to handle everything on your own can be a cost-effective option. It means you won't have to spend money hiring others or buying specialized software. However, if you're not experienced in accounting, it can be challenging. You'll have to figure out how to create proper invoices, organize a payment system through your bank, handle tax calculations manually, and manage all your business finances independently.
  • Accounting Programs: Accounting programs makes your life easier by handling many tasks for you. It helps you make invoices, take payments, figure out taxes automatically, and generate financial reports. While there are free options available, the better ones usually come with a monthly cost of around $20.
  • Getting a Bookkeeper: Getting a bookkeeper on board can really ease your load. As your business expands, accounting can get trickier. With a skilled bookkeeper handling all the numbers, you can concentrate on other aspects of your company. In the US, the typical wage for a bookkeeper is around $24 per hour. However, you can also find freelance bookkeepers online who charge as little as $11 per hour.

7. Form Your Business Contract and Internal Policies

Forming a clear business contract protects both yourself and your client. Here’s what you can include in your business contract:

  • Scope of Work: This section outlines exactly what tasks you'll perform for your client. You can also mention any tasks you won't handle in this section. Remember to include your email marketing strategy.
  • Timetable of Deliverables: Show your clients what they'll get and when they'll receive it. Set realistic deadlines and mention if you need anything from your client to finish your work.
  • Revisions Policy: Specify how many revision requests clients can make and how much they can change without extra charges.
  • Payment Terms and Deadlines: Clarify when, how much, and where the client should send payments. If you require full payment before delivering the final product, mention it here.
  • Termination Clause: Detail the procedure for ending the contract to protect yourself from clients canceling mid-project.
  • Approval to Share Partnership Details (Optional): An optional section that allows you to share your partnership and showcase the work. Some clients may prefer confidentiality, so make sure it’s easy to opt out of this section. 
  • Legal Disclaimer: Protect yourself from unmet financial promises or any damage your work may cause to the client's business.
  • Signatures of Both Parties: Formalize the agreement with signatures from both parties.

You should also prepare internal policies. Whether you plan to hire employees, outsource some work to freelancers, or partner with other businesses, you need clear policies that determine how these partnerships will work. Having these ready before your business grows allows you to scale smoothly. 

8. Register Your Email Marketing Business

Registering your email marketing business is essential if you want it to be legitimate. Doing this also provides you with many benefits like:

Increased trust from potential clients - some people may check to see if your business is official before working with you

Lets you open a business bank account - you’ll need a business bank account to accept payments without getting flagged

Avoids back taxes and penalties - failure to register your business may cause back taxes and penalties

The process for registering your email marketing business is different for every state, district, and county. Talk with a local lawyer to find out the exact steps in your area. To give you an idea, here’s how to register an email marketing business in California: 

  1. Secure your business name by registering it with the Office of the Secretary of State

  2. Next, register your business with the Secretary of State

  3. You'll also need to get an online business permit from your city or county

  4. Get an Employer Identification Number (EIN) for your business

  5. Open a bank account specifically for your business transactions

  6. Don't forget to file and pay all the necessary taxes for your business!

9. Create a Website or Social Media Profile

Building an online presence through a website or social media is a great way to build trust with potential clients. It’s also a great place for people to learn more about your business and the services you offer. Throw in some of your previous clients’ testimonials and success stories, and your website will help make closing deals easier. 

  • Page builders like Squarespace and Wix allow you to create simple websites with minimal technical skills. They use drag-and-drop page builders, so you can create beautiful web pages without touching a line of code. Using page builders is great for simple websites with only a handful of pages. If you plan to use your website as a “brochure” for your business, these will be a great option. 
  • WordPress is the most popular platform for building a website. It's slightly more technical than page builders, but you still don’t need to know how to code. You will, however, need to learn how to get web hosting, set up themes, install plugins, and manage content from the WordPress dashboard. WordPress is more powerful than website builders. It’s also a lot better if you plan to use your website as a marketing tool with SEO. 
  • Social media platforms like LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram are a great place to show that your business is alive and up-to-date. They’re also a great place for getting inbound leads, and keeping existing customers updated. Before creating social media accounts, it’s a good idea to do research first and find out where your target audience likes to hang out. For example: executives like using LinkedIn. Older entrepreneurs are active on Facebook. The younger generation tends to use Instagram.

10. Develop a Dynamic Marketing Strategy

The best marketing strategies for email marketing businesses include email marketing, network building, strategic partnerships, social media, influencer marketing, and SEO. 

  • Email is the ultimate marketing strategy for email marketing businesses. Not only is this your primary skill, but it’s also a great opportunity to demonstrate to your potential clients what you can do for them. 
  • Attending networking events of your target audience is a high-converting marketing channel. People are already looking to exchange business at these networking events. Showing up and preparing a simple pitch can easily land you clients.
  • Partnering up with related businesses helps both of you reach more clients and offer more services. Businesses like SEO, website development, or social media agencies are great for this. This way, if either of you finds a potential client that you can’t help, you can easily refer them to your partner.
  • Social media is a great place to showcase your expertise. Posting snippets of your process, tips for email marketing, and case studies builds trust for your brand. If you’re comfortable on camera, posting on YouTube is also a great way to drive clients to your website. 
  • Influencer marketing works by paying a popular person in your niche to promote your service. This is a very cost effective way to reach many people. You may even provide free services to this influencer so that they can display the results of your campaign to their followers. 
  • SEO in the marketing space is extremely competitive, which is why many look for alternative solutions. However, if you do diligent keyword research, you’re likely to find a few untapped angles you can go for. Done right, SEO can give you consistent organic leads. 

11. Maximize Free and Paid Email Marketing Software and Tools

To increase your efficiency and accuracy, you should use free and paid email marketing tools like:

  • An email automation tool
  • Email analytics tools (shows open, CTRs, & conversion rates)
  • An email design tool
  • CRM (Customer Relationship Management) software 
  • Lead generator tool
  • Landing page builder
  • Email scrubbing tool

There are lots of all-in-one email marketing software available, so you don’t have to use multiple tools at once. You’ll find that there are tools available to fit your every need. Here are some of the best ones:

HubSpot (Free)

HubSpot is popular for its powerful CRM. This makes email segmentation super easy. Their free plan also offers 2,000 emails a month, 10 email lists, design templates, and reporting included. They also have paid plans which include a lot more tools.

MailChimp (Free)

MailChimp is a popular email marketing platform. Their free version already allows you to build landing pages, A/B test emails, segment lists, target ads, and more. Their free plan only contains up to 500 contacts and 1,000 emails. However, many people upgrade their MailChimp account since it’s one of the best tools in the market today.

Constant Contact (Starts at $20)

Constant Contact is another popular tool that offers list segmentation and email tracking and reporting. They also have social media integration, which can be useful depending on your niche. Their plan starts at $20, with many options to scale up.

ConvertKit (Start at $29)

ConvertKit leans heavily into the lead generation, opt-in, and landing page aspects of email marketing. Their email marketing tools are very visual, making it great for beginners. ConvertKit also offers integration with WordPress and Shopify.

Active Campaign (Starts at $9)

Active Campaign has all the essential tools you’ll need for email marketing, and they also include an email scrubber. This way, you can easily spot which emails are inactive, and you can remove them from your lists!

12. Connect With Email Marketing Experts Globally

Connecting with email marketing experts through online communities like the Email Geeks Slack Community, or offline events like Unspam Conference is great for staying afloat. Email is an ever-changing industry. Talking with the top email marketers will expose you to the most effective technologies, strategies, and practices.

Online Communities

  • Email Geeks Slack Community

  • Women of Email’s Website

  • r/EmailMarketing on Reddit

  • The Email Marketing Show Community on Facebook

Offline Events

  • Unspam Conference

  • GURU Conference

  • Inbox Expo

  • Email Innovations World

5 Opportunities of an Email Marketing Business

  • More People Using Email - Despite the rise of social media and messaging applications, email is not slowing down. It’s still seen as one of the main ways to communicate online. According to Statistica, there were 4.26 billion email users in 2022, and is expected to grow to 4.73 by 2026. 

  • Increased Marketing Spend of Businesses Worldwide - Email marketing will hit $26 billion by 2028. And according to HubSpot, 38% of brands are increasing their budget for emails. That’s why getting into email marketing is a great idea today.

  • Scalable Business Revenue - Email marketing is a business that’s not too difficult to scale. There are thousands of talented copywriters, designers, and automation experts looking for work. You won’t have a very hard time putting together a team and scale bigger than you imagined.

  • Low Overhead Expenses - To get started with email marketing, all you really need is a good automation tool. With several free and cheap options, there is very little overhead for email marketing businesses. This is unlike other digital marketing methods, where there is a constant need to spend to get results. 

  • Email Automation - Email automation tools dramatically reduced the amount of work email marketers need to do. With good tools, you can set up systems for your clients that will bring in revenue on autopilot for them and yourself. 

What are the Biggest Challenges of an Email Marketing Business?

Building an email list, consistently getting clicks, and avoiding spam folders are the biggest challenges for email marketing businesses. Building a high-quality email list is very difficult. People are becoming very hesitant to sign up for mailing lists because of potential spam. They hate it when they’re added to mailing lists without their permission. That’s why you have to come up with an enticing offer to get them to sign up. 

Once you get people to sign up, there’s no guarantee they’ll engage with your follow up emails. Average marketing email campaigns only have a 21% open rate, and only a 2.3% click through rate. You have to write amazing headlines, hard-hitting copy, and provide amazing offers to keep your open and CTR rates high. You also have to find the perfect frequency for your mailing list. If you send emails too often, people will find you annoying and unsubscribe. If you send emails too far apart, people will forget why they subscribed. 

Ensuring your emails don’t end up in spam folders has always been an enormous challenge for email marketers. Today, there are many lessons on how to avoid this, but still no way to guarantee landing in the main inbox. 

How Does an Email Marketing Business Work?

An email marketing business works by writing emails, setting up automation systems, and helping nurture and convert leads for clients through emails. The exact email marketing process differs on what the client needs. 

For clients without a mailing list, the first order of business will be to build one. For clients with a mailing list, segregating the emails should be the first step. Once you have a segregated email list, you’ll then want to start sending them different emails. For colder prospects, sending emails to build brand awareness will help them warm up to you. For hot prospects and former customers, sending emails to keep them in the loop and announce any sales is a great way to keep them warm. 

You’ll also want to build email automation systems. When someone signs up for a lead magnet, you’ll want this to trigger a set of emails designed to get them from the lead magnet into a loyal customer. It usually starts with a welcome email. Then followed by a few building brand awareness. And finally, a transactional email asking them to buy a product. 

6 Tips To Make Your Email Marketing Business Successful

  • Mix Your Email Types - Email is a great way to let your client base know you’re having a sale. However, you’ll also want to mix story-telling and branding emails. You want to build trust with an email subscriber, not just spam them with offers. 

  • Use Trendy Subject Lines - One email marketer on Reddit says using trendy subject lines almost doubled their open rate from 13% to 22%. He said they had to find the right balance between professionalism and humor before things clicked for them. 

  • Find the Perfect Timing - Studies show that the best time to send emails is on Tuesday at 9 - 11 am. However, the best time may differ for your industry. Performing tests to find the perfect timing and frequency for your email marketing makes a big impact. Your open and click-through rates will get significantly better. 

  • Only Talk About One Thing - “Confused prospects don’t buy anything,” says one email marketer on Reddit. According to him, making sure that every email only talks about one subject is vital for getting people to buy. 

  • Email Automation - Email automation tools dramatically reduced the amount of work email marketers need to do. With good tools, you can set up systems for your clients that will bring in revenue on autopilot for them and yourself. 

  • Use Personalization - The best email marketing companies always use the receiver’s name in the email. According to Campaign Monitor, personalized emails get 26% more opens, and they generate 5.7x more revenue than generic emails. 

How Much Money Do You Need To Start an Email Marketing Business?

You need $0 to start an email marketing business. All you need is a laptop to get started. There are countless free email marketing software that you can use when starting out, and you can use social media to find your first clients. However, as your business expands, you’ll want to buy proper email automation software. This can cost anywhere from $20 - $100 a month depending on your needs. 

Is Email Marketing Still Profitable?

Yes, email marketing is still profitable because of the high-demand for good emails. Email is still one of the most used mediums for online communication (4.26 billion users), and it has a huge market share ($26 billion). 87% of brands say email is critical for success, so there’s a very high demand for good email marketing companies. 

Is Email Marketing One of the Top Ways To Make Money Online?

Yes, email marketing is one of the top ways to make money online because of its low starting cost, high demand, and high profitability. New agencies can get started with very little money, and already charge good prices. One new email marketer on Reddit said he’s charging $500/month for 3-5 emails a week + a 15% commission on new revenue for his first client. However, it is a high-skill business in a competitive market. Without great copywriting skills, you may end up never landing a client. 

Local Lead Generation - Another Profitable Online Business Idea You Can Consider

Another profitable online business model you should consider is local lead generation. Like running an email marketing business, local lead generation also comes with high profit margins, typically ranging from 85% to 90%. It also requires very little initial investment, around $100-$500. But unlike email marketing, it's far less competitive and much more passive. 

Local lead generation works by building websites and ranking them on Google. Once they rank, you rent them off to local services businesses like towing, tree trimming, or plumbing. These local services are more than willing to pay $500 - $3,000/month because your website can drive countless leads to their business. Finding these local businesses is easy. There are 41,702 ZIP codes to choose from in the USA, and hundreds of local service businesses all looking to get more leads!

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Ippei Kanehara

$52K per month providing lead generation services to small businesses is for digital hustlers, industry leaders and online business owners.

His #1 online business recommendation in 2024, is to build your own lead generation business.

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