So you’d like to start sending out an e-newsletter, that is great, and I highly recommend it. The person who reads your e-newsletter is very different from the person who reads your blog. It is important before you start to understand that you just can’t start your e-newsletter with names you buy from a service or harvest from website or for that matter take off of business cards. There is criteria for the people to whom you can include on your e-newsletter list.
Second, the rule by the FTC, in very simplified terms, is that if you have a business relationship with a person, that means you have estimated something, sold them something, or chatted with them about one of your services or products then you can email them a promotional notice about your services. This does not cover you getting their business card at a mixer or from a bulletin board. There has to be a real “business relationship”.
The FTC clearly states that no emails that are harvested, even by hand, from the Web can be used in creating your new e-newsletter mailing list. There is simply no way around this no matter how creative you think you can be, you will still be in violation. With pretty serious fines for violations, it just isn’t worth the risk of trying to bend the rules for your benefit in trying to start out with a big list.
If your list is over about 1,000 subscribers you will trigger all the filters of any firm you are using to send out your e-newsletter. You may end up finding that they will allow the first email send, but then may force you to validate your subscribers, by double opt-in confirmation, all your subscribers for your second send or they may ban you all together.
It is by far better to build your list over time starting now from legitimate clients than to try to break the rules and start with a big untargeted list especially when you have so much to lose in regards to your reputation and a CAN Spam Act violation hanging over your head.