Distribution Lists and Databases: A Primer for Freelancers

Written By: Lyn Blair

Self-marketing is a freelancers meal ticket. Promoting yourself through e-mails is one important avenue for self-marketing. Did you know you could set up your contact base to send one e-mail to numerous prospects? Or you could send one e-mail to all the freelance partners in your business network at the same time?

Microsoft Outlook (not Outlook Express) has the feature to do just that.

There are two Microsoft mail management systems. Microsoft Outlook is designed for business use, and Microsoft Outlook Express for personal use. MS Outlook has organizational tools like distribution lists, mail merges and more that Outlook Express doesnt have. Therefore, were using MS Outlook. I recommend using MS Outlook for your freelance business.

One of the features in the MS Outlook program is called “Contacts”. According to MS Outlook 2000, “Contacts are defined as: “The contacts folder is your e-mail address book and information storage for the people and businesses you want to communicate with. Use the contacts folder to store the e-mail address, street address, multiple phone numbers, and any other information that relates to the contact, such as birthday or anniversary date.”

Let’s assume you’ve created your contacts. In each individual contact you’ve included all the important information, such as: name, address, e-mail address, phone numbers, web page address etc.

The easiest way to access Contacts is through a contacts shortcut.
Heres how to create a contacts shortcut.

Making a Contacts Shortcut in MS Outlook

1.On the left side of the program, theres a column, called the Outlook bar. At the top of the column it says Outlook Shortcuts. Point the cursor on the background of the column. Right click and a pop up window will open.
2.Select Outlook Bar Shortcut. Another window will pop up offering you choices. Select the file card icon with Contacts written beside it.
3.Click OK.

Now you have created a shortcut for your contacts base. If you look in the Outlook bar (the column entitled Outlook Shortcuts), your shortcut will appear as a Rolodex icon with Contacts written beneath it.

Suppose you want to e-mail all your client prospects a self-marketing letter.
Lets make a distribution list.

Making a distribution list in MS Outlook

1.Click on the Contacts shortcut icon to open your contacts database.
2.Click on File (at the top of the program, located on the menu bar). A box will open up.
3.Click on New. (Another box will open.)
4.Click on Distribution List. (A file card will open.)
5.In the Name box, type the name of your group, for example Client Prospects.
6.Click on Select Members. Your address book will open.
7.Select the client prospect names from your address book. Youll see them being added below in a list, consisting of names and e-mail addresses.
8.If a name isnt in your address book, you can still add it to your group list now. Click on Add new. Fill in the name and e-mail address, and then click on OK.
9.When you finish compiling your list, click on the Save and Close icon.

Now youre ready to e-mail your self-marketing letter. In your e-mail, click On To: and your address book will open. As you scroll down, youll see, Client Prospects. Point to it and click. Client Prospects will fill in the To: space on your e-mail. However when your clients receive the e-mail, it wont say Client prospects. Clients will merely see their names along with other individual names to which the email was sent.

Thats all there is to it. Making distributions lists will save you time. Have fun!

About the Author

Lyn Blair is a copywriter and graphics designer in the Los Angeles area. She is Assistant Editor of Freebird-zine
and also contributes articles. She recently launched her freelance business and web site at: www.lblairenterprises.com Contact Lyn
at blairenterprises@earthlink.net

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