TL;DR: We sat down with Jessica Hawks, business coach and entrepreneur, to discuss growing your email list—and your business. Read along for practical advice and actionable tips.

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Meet Jessica Hawks

Jessica is an online coach who supports and empowers young entrepreneurs to become virtual assistants and online business owners. She coaches her students to scale profit (in the virtual assistant industry) and ethical, sustainable business savvy. Jessica has been featured in top publications, including Business Insider and Yahoo! News

Oh, and she uses Flodesk to grow her business and help her clients grow theirs! Jessica has been immensely successful in booking out calendars, boosting her bottom line, and helping her clients increase theirs, which is why we were thrilled to pick her brain and share insights with you. Find her on Instagram or at

Ready to harness the power of your email list to increase your bottom line? Jessica has the answers!

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How should I use social media and email marketing in my business?

Email marketing and social media can be your marketing dream team if you take the right approach. But Jessica reminds us that they serve different purposes, so you should treat them as such. Here’s her advice:

  • When you’re first starting, take time to think through your marketing plan. You don’t want to spread yourself too thin by jumping on every social media platform, committing to email marketing, and trying every trending marketing tactic.

  • Find a healthy balance between outreach content and retention content. Typically, social media is outreach (trending content, reels, short videos), while email marketing is retention content (longer form and more educational).

  • The inbox is highly personal, so your content should be more intimate. People who subscribe to your list already know and like you, so treat it as your chance to build trust. Emails have a longer shelf-life than posting to stories, so you can ensure your subscribers actually see your high-value content instead of getting lost in the fast-moving world of social media.

  • When you have someone’s attention, you want to hold onto it. By linking forms to your social media channels, you can capture your audience’s attention and grab their email to keep engaging them in the inbox.

  • Use social media as a channel to direct viewers to your inbox. You can do this using opt-in forms or by creating freebies.

What is a freebie, and what kind should I create?

Often called a lead magnet, freebies are typically free resources, such as downloadable content, that viewers get in exchange for their email addresses. They provide valuable information to viewers while showing off your knowledge. You can get creative with your freebie, offering anything from ebooks and templates to how-to guides.

Freebies also let potential clients know they don’t have to pay you to learn from you. While you don’t want to give all your knowledge away for free, sharing a few lessons from your ebook can build trust and authority and encourages them to purchase from you down the road. 

Here’s what Jessica does:

  • She shares a freebie that shows her audience available options for working online.
  • She offers a few paid marketing courses and uses a Pinterest board freebie to drive viewers to sign up for her classes.

  • She uses workflows in Flodesk to send valuable content to her subscribers.

  • She creates freebies that funnel her audience further down the funnel toward purchasing what she’s selling down the road.

What freebies should I offer?

Before you contemplate the content you’ll create, Jessica suggests asking yourself what questions your audience asks repeatedly. She took this approach and uncovered common questions before designing a freebie tailored to her audience. Ask yourself:

  • What expertise or knowledge can I share?
  • Does my audience ask the same questions over and over? What are they?
  • What content does my audience consume most? Do they like videos, PDF guides, or social reels?

Jessica leverages templates as freebies often because they let viewers use them immediately. Educational content is relevant, but downloadable templates allow your audience to get to work fast, whether building social posts or a Canva graphic for an email. Try these!

  • Notion templates
  • Onboarding templates
  • Pinterest templates
  • Social media templates
  • Business proposal or invoice templates
  • Masterclasses (video content)

How often should I email my subscribers?

Have you ever been overwhelmed—or worse, annoyed—by the sheer number of emails a brand you subscribed to sends? We expect email bombardments during holidays like Black Friday, but it can become irritating quickly if you go overboard.

Instead, Jessica focuses on her subscribers, ensuring she avoids overwhelming them with multiple back-to-back emails. She views her outreach through their eyes. For her subscribers, an email a week feels right. But when Jessica is about to launch a new course or wants to ramp up sales during the holiday season, she follows a different cadence: three emails a week spaced over three or four weeks.

During her launch phases, Jessica:

  • Focuses on creating varied content instead of constantly selling to her subscribers or sounding repetitive.

  • Answers questions her subscribers may have about the new course, like when it starts, the price, and sneak peeks at the content within the class.

  • Invites her audience to respond to emails with questions to build trust and foster a personal connection—this also allows her to gather data to tweak future emails.

  • Warms her audience up to the launch by spacing emails out over a few weeks.

Keep your audience in mind and ask yourself if you’d be happy or annoyed receiving the number of emails you plan to send.

What emails do you send when you’re not selling something?

Jessica views her email subscribers as her close group of friends—people who said they’re interested in her content and trust her not to abuse their inboxes. She takes this seriously and uses email as a way to connect with her audience using longer-form content that she can’t use on social, like:

  • Personal content, like what’s happened in her life recently or vulnerabilities
  • Topics relevant to her niche
  • A hot take on an industry topic or trend
  • Content her subscribers won’t get on social. Make your subscribers feel exclusive!
  • Resources
  • Monthly newsletters, including content like motivational playlists or articles she found interesting

You don’t have to pack your emails with everything, and in fact, you shouldn’t. Break your content into multiple emails, like an email with a work playlist and a quick blurb about how you like to grab your Airpods, turn on the playlist, and work at your local coffee shop.

What emails can my e-commerce-based business send?

Just because your e-commerce store focuses on sales doesn’t mean every email needs to share that focus. Instead, humanize your brand so you don’t get lost in selling your goods. People—especially your subscribers—want to connect with you more deeply. Give them what they want by sending:

  • Emails with content sharing your struggles as a business owner
  • Emails promoting personal video content that discusses why you got started or where your passion for your product or craft came from
  • Emails with time-lapse videos or GIFs of you making your product
  • Emails sharing how-to content, like how to style your best-selling earrings

How do I get subscribers to read my email, top to bottom?

In our go-go-go world, it’s normal for subscribers to skim through emails. Jessica recommends shifting your mindset from wanting viewers to read the entire email to breaking things into bite-sized chunks. As attention spans have fallen off in the age of social media, people want to get to the value quickly and move on. Keep this in mind when building your emails.

  • Lengthy blocks of text are overwhelming and not skimmable. Use a mix of text, images, collages, testimonials, videos, GIFs, or graphics to create a visual and easily digestible email or newsletter.

  • What grabs your attention and makes you read everything? Your audience might like the same things, so it’s worth testing what works. Review engagement rates and iterate to make improvements.

Can I use Flodesk to get clients and as a tool to provide email marketing services for my clients?

As a business coach and entrepreneur, Jessica started using Flodesk Email to help her clients grow their businesses. As she got more comfortable, she started using Flodesk to grow her own business.

Jessica learned Flodesk inside and out to offer her clients a beautiful, branded experience for their email marketing efforts. Many of her clients knew they needed email marketing but didn’t have time to learn or execute it. If you’re in the same situation, Flodesk is a great option to elevate your email marketing and impress clients with your emails.

Not offering email marketing services? Flodesk works well for individuals looking to engage and nurture their subscribers while growing their lists.

How do I re-engage subscribers when I haven’t sent an email recently?

Jessica has simple but powerful advice: don’t overthink it. While your business may be the center of your world, very few people are sitting around thinking about why they haven’t heard from your brand recently. So, when you’re ready to come back from a hiatus and re-engage, Jessica’s advice is to:

  • Get vulnerable with your subscribers on why you’ve been gone. Have you been struggling, or did you need a break? Let them know.

  • Create a video with a personal message to build a deeper connection with your audience.

How do I create a balance between copy and images in an email?

Flodesk offers a dozen layout blocks to make it easy to create a beautiful, well-balanced email. But if you want to create a more custom look, Jessica has a pro tip: use Canva to upload images into a template, tweak the design to match your style, and then upload it into Flodesk as an image block. 

Use both text and image blocks for optimal balance (and to avoid the spam folder).

How do I write compelling subject lines that get subscribers to open my emails?

Getting subscribers to open your email is half the battle, and a personal and fun subject line can do the trick. Jessica uses highly personal subject lines and injects some fun using emojis. But emojis aren’t for everyone, so she suggests testing what works (and doesn’t) and then doubling down where you see the highest open rates.

Use personalization (merge) tags to insert your subscribers’ first names in the subject line, too!

What should I do when I see a spike in unsubscribes from my email list?

A few unsubscribes are nothing to worry about, but if you start getting a lot of them, look at the frequency of your email sends. Are you sending an excessive amount of emails that are frustrating your subscribers? Jessica also teaches her clients to ask these questions:

  • Is the content I’m sending repetitive?
  • Are my subscribers uninterested in my content?
  • Am I being human and building connections?
  • Am I spamming my subscribers?

Pro tip: Keep an eye on your analytics to see how your content’s performing and iterate as necessary.

More from the 2023 5-Day Growth Challenge

The challenge is packed with valuable tips, from leveraging Instagram to build your business to finding clarity to set impactful goals. If you missed them live, check out the recaps below!