If you’ve been around the blogging block, you might have heard that building an email list is important. So important in fact that taking time to start and build an email list is one of the best, long term investments a business owner can make in her business.
There’s some finesse involved. It’s important to start to build an email list at the RIGHT time in your business and there are some tricks, tips and techniques to creating opt ins, sign up boxes and emails that resonate with your audience.
List building and writing emails that engage readers is my super power. I love connecting with my readers and guiding them towards content that helps them and at the same time benefits me. At the time of this writing, over 72,000 readers have entrusted me with their email address and I’m excited to share some of my secret sauce to building a subscriber list here with you today.
Grow a List is Pillar 3 here at Creative Blogger Blueprint. The first pillar is to Start A Blog, because, of course, you have to start somewhere. Next, in pillar two, we promote.. that is we get the word out that we have amazing content. And then while we continue to work those two things… creating amazing content and spreading it out the world… we move on to Pillar 3: Build An Email List. All the important steps leading up to Pillar 4: Make Money Blogging!
Let’s dive in to list building!
Why Build An Email List?
From a purely business standpoint, an email list is an asset you control. You own it. It is not affected by social media or search engine algorithms. You can email your audience whenever you want.
An email list is a way to capture a visitor to your website and encourage them to return again later. Most website visitors come to a website from a search engine (Google or Pinterest, for instance). Something catches her eye and she goes to your site for something specific. And then .. she leaves, often to never return again.
If your email signup form is enticing enough, she might decide she’d like to see you again and give you her email address.
Once someone is on your list, you have an opportunity to drive traffic from your email to your website or to share offers and products you think they might enjoy–all of which can end up putting money into your pocket.
List building is a huge opportunity to cultivate your true fans. Your people. Your target audience. You interact with them and create a more personal relationship and that is more beneficial to both you and them. For you it’s an opportunity to learn more about what your people love and enjoy–so you can give them of what they want.
It’s also an opportunity for you to amplify your business growth. For your reader it’s an opportunity to get to know you better in a more personal way. The reader also has an opportunity to learn about things they might enjoy from someone they trust. They may start out as just a subscriber or potential customer but, through your marketing emails and relationship building they become loyal customers.
What is an Email List Anyway?
An email list represents people who liked your blog and signed up to get periodic updates by email.
What Do You Send To Your Email List?
There are several important communications you will want to send your readers. Here are the most popular:
A Welcome Series. A welcome series of emails tells your new subscriber a bit about your site and yourself and what they can expect. It is a way for a new subscriber to gradually get to know you over the course of several emails (and days). It is really like building any relationship. Like a real life friendship, you spend time getting to know each other before you plan a bigger commitment to spend time together.
Your Weekly News and Updates. Odds are, this is the real reason your subscriber gave you her address in the first place. She wants to know what’s happening in your online world, your latest blog post, design or product. You likely have great content coming out all the time you want to share! It is really important to email your list on a regular basis, even if you are just getting started. I recommend new bloggers start with a weekly email.
Special Offers. Call them promotional emails, content marketing or marketing emails, promotional emails can be very lucrative for you and you can do so in a comfortable non-salesy way. Like a good friend, when you see a good deal, you want to let your friend know about it, right? Same goes for your audience. Promote those affiliate links or other things you think your target audience might be interested in.
A Funnel For A Product or Affiliate. Similar to special offers, your email list is probably interested in your latest, greatest product! In fact, your newsletter subscribers are often your main buyers, so why NOT give them the VIP treatment by sending them through your sales funnel!
Can I Just Use my Gmail account to Email Subscribers?
Short answer: No, do NOT use Gmail for list building. Your personal email account is not set up for emailing large numbers of people. It also does not contain the legal safeguards that are required. Subscribers must knowingly sign up for your email list (and yes, you may have to prove this someday). Subscribers also have the right to unsubscribe and you must provide an actual location whereby they can contact you. An email provider does all these things for you.
What is the Best Mailing List Service?
It’s important to choose the right mailing list service for your business. Deliverability is important, but also important is the customer service and ease of use. I have yet to see a free email service that does these things well.
I recommend Convertkit and Mailerlite. I personally use Convertkit and I love the forms and layout there. Everything just works really, really well.
Mailerlite is another great option, and less expensive than Convertkit. You can find a comparison of Mailerlite vs Convertkit on Crochet 365 Knit Too.
How Much Does It Cost To Build An Email List?
Both Mailerlite and Convertkit offer a free plan for up to 1,000 subscribers. I recommend new bloggers start with one of these excellent platforms. Once you have 1,000 subscribers, you likely are making enough to cover the cost of an email list. Other mailing list services may cost less, but offer poor deliverability and features. It really is an example of ‘you get what you pay for’.
Things to Know Before You Sign Up with an Email Provider
Before you sign up for an email service, you need to get a few things together. Here’s what you will need to start a mail list:
A Domain Email. A domain specific email has your domain after the @. So, for example: [email protected] Your blog host should provide this to you at no cost. Be sure to reach out to them for help if needed.
A Mailing Address. It’s the law. You must provide an address..and please.. do NOT use your actual home address! Most bloggers get a PO Box for this purpose but check with your email provider to see if they offer a PO Box as a customary service.
Consent. Your subscribers must give consent to be on your mailing list. Make sure your sign up boxes clearly indicate what they are signing up for. This also means you should not “buy” an email list. Nor should you automatically put buyers of your things ON your email list without their consent.
How to Get Email Subscribers
Ahh.. the great mystery! Or so it seems to many bloggers. When I first started blogging, I thought that if I put a signup form in the sidebar of my website, my audience would see my amazing post, notice the sign up box and think ‘oh YES.. let’s do THAT!’ Needless to say, that is not an effective method of getting new subscribers.
There is an art to successsfully placing email opt in forms on your site that appeal to your readers. Readers rarely hand over their email address unless you entice them with something they want.
But.. what do they want?
The secret is to create an irresistible freebie that every member of your target audience wants and then to give it to them, for free, when they sign up for email updates.
This still sounds mysterious, you say? LOL. Of couse coming up with the perfect freebie can be challenging and often involves trial and error. I cover all the nitty gritty details in my upcoming email course.. so stay tuned for that!
When Do I Start Emailing My List?
It always amazes me when bloggers go through the effort to build an email list and then never actually get around to emailing their readers!
Your email is an asset, not a trophy. It’s not a bragging point of acquisition that you have X number of subscribers and a huge audience. Instead your list is fluid. People subscribe and love you, or they unsubscribe and don’t. But they can’t even make that decision if you don’t send them emails!
Your readers have no idea if you have 5 email subscribers or 50,000. If you follow my secret sauce to email writing, your reader will often think that you are writing ONLY to them anyway! So it’s important to build the habit of sending regular emails to your subscribers, even if there is only one of them! You need to practice to get better.
Be mindful that Growing A List is Pillar #3. You build a list AFTER you start a blog and promote it to your target audience. We all have limited resources.. limited time. So it’s really important to work effectively and efficiently, especially at first. While it might seem like you’re “missing out” by NOT putting a sign up box on day one of your website, you really do need to focus all your energy on content creation and traffic at first.
For some people, they are ready to work on email list building in month one or two of their blogging journey. If you desire a money making blog, I recommend bloggers start to build an email list by the time your blog is 6 months old.
How Often Do You Email Your List?
It’s important to email your readers at regular intervals so you build that relationship. You don’t want to be a fair weather friend who only emails when you want something of them. And you also don’t want to overstay your welcome by emailing them constantly either.
Most bloggers find a weekly email to work best. I started with a weekly email and currently send an email twice a week. I send on the same dates and times and my readers tell me they actually LOOK for my emails because they enjoy reading them so much.
What in the World Do I Actually SAY in My Newsletter?
A lot of people freeze up when they think about what words to use and they just don’t know the right things to write to engage with their readers.
Writing emails that connect with my readers is my super power. I enjoy it. I’m good at it. My readers constantly email to tell me so.
I’ve developed a system, a formula for success, if you will, that really works to engage my reader. My readers often mistakenly think I am sending them each a personalized email, just for them. I teach all my ways in my upcoming course.
Here are a few tips to get you started:
Talk To Your Aunt Nancy. I have an Aunt Nancy. Maybe you have someone else. That person in your life that you can just be honest and real with. Maybe you text all the time or maybe you send emails now and then with this person. Or maybe you just talk on the phone. In any case, before you start to write your emails, imagine your Aunt Nancy and talk to her.
Set Your Goals Ahead of Time. Decide your goals for your email. Do you want traffic to your site? Do you want to sell something? Know your intentions before you start.
It’s Not About You. It is never about you. You may talk about you, your life, what’s happening. You can guide your reader where you want to guide them. But you always, always present it in a way that it is about them.
Be Mindful. Write. Read. Rewrite. The words you choose are important and the work you do with your email is important. The email I send out to my readers is often different than my first draft. I choose better words. I delete a great deal if it doesn’t add to the narrative of the email. My emails may read as inspiring bits of goodness but they are well crafted to convey exactly what I want to say in order to achieve my goals.
Be Yourself. It’s tempting to imitate another blogger you love and her writing style. But be you instead. Your writer’s “voice” will come as you write more and more emails. So do your best and the next time it might come easier and before long you have your own voice and style your readers love.
How Can I Learn To Build A Better Email List?
Wondering about the nitty gritty? Does it feel overwhelming and so much to learn? How to attract your target audience and loyal customer? What to put in an opt in form and where it goes? How to organize an email list? How and when to do everything?
I’m working on a course to teach you all my deep dark secrets to rocking an email list. We’ll cover:
- The Rule of 3’s (and it’s not what you may think)
- Rise & Repeat and other time saving tricks
- Words that Sell
- Unselfish Selling
- Amazing Opt Ins
- Building Amazing Connections with Your Reader
If this sounds intriguing, stay tuned.. information coming soon!