If you’ve been blogging for five minutes, every blogger is telling you to start an email list immediately and with good reason.
Building a healthy list takes time, especially when you’ve never done it before.
The reason it’s so important is an email list is a traffic source you own.
Unlike social media and Google, it can’t be taken away from you with an algorithm update.
Social media is unstable and can shut you down without notice; you don’t own your followers, they do.
When you have subscribers, they’re yours, and they can never be taken away from you.
How do I start an email list and get people to pay attention to me?
How are you going to get people to sign up?
What are your emails about?
What do you have to offer?
Who the heck are you anyway, and why should people sign up for your list?
Well, I listened to some excellent advice, and I want to share it with you to make this whole process a little easier.
How do I convince people to join my email list?
I had no idea how I was going to convince people to join my list or what I was going to write to them after they signed up.
I read everything I could find on how to do this, but there isn’t a lot about how to start an email list for the very first time.
Here’s the problem, the opt-in form can’t just say “subscribe to my list” or “get weekly updates.”
Maybe that used to work, but people are tightening up their inbox.
With all the options out there, we can’t afford to not be picky.
There’s so much information available you can’t possibly read it all.
People need an incentive to sign up for your email list.
The incentive you give to your specific audience is something they can use, something they can learn, want, or need.
An email opt-in doesn’t have to be complicated to be valuable, but you need to offer something in return for an email address.
It’s an exchange or trade, the email opt-in you offer is payment for being allowed into a subscriber’s inbox.
Here is a list of questions to ask yourself to feel things out and find a starting point:
- What can I give my audience in exchange for an email address?
- What specific problem can I solve for them?
- What free information can I give them to help them solve a problem?
There are many ways to create something simple and uncomplicated that people reading your blog will want including:
- Short eBook
- PDF Downloads
- 3 to 7-day Email Bootcamps
Don’t over-complicate this and keep it simple.
One of the most valuable pieces of information I’ve gotten from joining a list was a shortlist of ten words writers overuse.
It was so simple, but it completely changed my writing forever.
How to create a product your audience wants.
The idea is to give them a sample of what you have to offer.
Not too much, but just enough to pique their curiosity and establish trust.
It needs to be useful, informative, and valuable to your readers.
Think instant results, actionable information they can use and apply immediately.
The problem is when you have a new blog; you have to figure out what makes them tick, what makes them react, and take action.
Don’t be afraid to try new things, switch it up, and keep track of what works.
You’re looking for a minimum conversion rate of 2%, that’s two signups per 100 visitors, and with more experience, you can get even higher.
You’re going to need an email service provider.
There’s no way around it because it’s never a good idea to send mass emails from your Gmail or Yahoo account.
If you do, most of those emails will go to the spam folder where no one will ever see or open them.
An email service provider is what you use to stop that from happening.
Instead of going straight to spam, the emails show up in the primary folder where it’s sure to be seen.
Email service providers give you everything you need to start your list, including tutorials on how to build your list.
I use Mailerlite for my opt-on forms, and it’s the perfect solution for bloggers since it’s free up to 1000 subscribers.
Build your email list strategically.
If you have a few super popular blog posts, consider giving your audience a content upgrade, and don’t forget to give them every opportunity to sign up.
1. Blog post content upgrades.
Content upgrades have become all the rage lately, and it’s one of the simplest ways to grow an email list.
Take a blog post you’ve already written and offer a PDF download or bonus content they only get by joining.
These are designed for a specific blog post and an excellent idea for those epic guides or posts with lots of detailed content.
I also have a tool for you to try that can create a mini-ebook of your blog post in literally seconds. Watch the demo here.
2. Opt-in Boxes.
Almost every blog has opt-in boxes to collect email addresses.
These boxes go on every page and in every post to make it easy for people to sign up.
It’s one of the most versatile signup options since it can go almost everywhere on a blog.
If the post is long enough, you can add it to the top, middle, and bottom, making it very obvious and impossible to miss.
Instead of using a boring ‘subscribe to my list,’ use a freebie to attract the right kind of people and build your list faster.
3. Rethink the homepage.
According to Neil Patel, homepages are dying, in the traditional sense anyway.
People used to go to your blog, and the first page they see is your homepage.
Times have changed, and now almost no one ever sees it since we send traffic to individual posts.
I decided to take his advice and turned my homepage into a lead magnet. I started sending traffic directly to it, and it’s one of my highest converting opt-ins.
4. The controversial pop-up.
I’m still on the fence about using pop-ups because they’re annoying, but there’s no mistake they work.
You’re probably wondering how to put this all together and how much it’s going to cost you.
How does absolutely free sound?
With Mailerlite, you can customize the pop-ups so they won’t drive people crazy.
There’s nothing worse than a pop-up you can’t exit out of or keeps showing up when you’re not interested.
5. Stick the landing page.
The landing page is an entire page solely dedicated to collecting email addresses.
Like the homepage opt-in mentioned above, the only thing on this page is the email opt-in with no other distraction.
When you give people to many options, they get overwhelmed and end up doing nothing, so eliminate everything from this page except the lead magnet and opt-in.
Create a beautiful landing page with only two choices; they either signup or leave the page.
6. Promote your email opt-in incentive.
Once you have everything set up and ready to go, start promoting on your favorite social media.
PicMonkey is an incredible blogging tool for creating Pinterest pins, photo editing, and I use it for everything.
Instead of just promoting your blog posts, you can send people directly to your homepage or landing page to have them sign up immediately.
The hidden expense of starting an email list.
Email service providers (including Mailerlite) will require you to have a physical address.
If you don’t want to use your own home address, you’ll have to pay for a P.O. Box.
This is all part of the Can-Spam Act, and to legally send emails to your list; you need a legit physical address.
This can cost around $200 a year.
Every single email has to have an address on it where you can be contacted and an easy way for people to unsubscribe.
If they’re no longer interested in what you have to offer, you don’t want them to stay on your list, so make it easy for them to leave.
It keeps the list clean and open rates higher.
Once you have this setup, it’s time to create your email sales funnel.
Unless you’re Amazon, people don’t visit a site, see a product, and buy it on impulse.
Ok, sometimes it happens, but most of the time they want more information, more details, a reason why they should buy the product and how it will make their life easier.
In the time it takes them to read a sales email, they can go from absolutely not to I’ll take it.
The answers to all their questions and concerns are in an automated sequence that runs on autopilot.
It starts with the opt-in and ends with happy, informed customers.
- Converts traffic from your blog into leads
- Builds trust
- Solves a specific problem
- Turns leads into paying customers
- Finds true fans who love everything you write or create and they buy all your products
And this is all automated, do the work once and continue to benefit from it over and over again.
Here’s the best advice I got when I started my first email list.
When someone subscribes to your list, they expect to hear from you.
They gave you permission to contact them, and they expect you to help them solve their problems and recommend stuff to buy.
The first email is a welcome email.
Explain what you write about and how it can help them.
Add another link to the freebie you’re offering to make sure they get what was promised.
This will build the trust you need to get them to buy from you.
The welcome email.
This is the introductory email, and the free download or content upgrade is your icebreaker.
It will also have the highest open rate, so it’s your best chance at making a good impression.
In the welcome email you want to tell your new subscriber:
- who you are
- what do you talk about
- what can they expect from you
Make this email about them and how you can help solve their problems.
I personally hate long drawn out welcome emails, forcing me to read a life story to get the information I want.
I want action; I want to take action and get the results I signed up for.
Your subscribers don’t care if you had a bad day, they expect you to make their day better anyway.
Always add a link to a relevant blog post and redirect your audience back to your site.
One goal of building an email list is to send more traffic to your site. This will encourage them to:
- Spend time on your site (read a post).
- Leave a comment.
- Get to know you.
- Buy stuff you sell.
You don’t want to use affiliate links or try to sell them anything in the first two emails.
Send one to introduce yourself and one full of valuable information to help solve their problem.
I send a welcome email, and two minutes later, I send another one full of useful tips, tricks, and free stuff.
Send them to a blog post with affiliate links in it, but don’t be too pushy to try and sell to them on the first date.
You know what I mean, they need to trust you first.
The best way to get people to trust is to start talking and let them know that you know what you’re talking about.
Once they realize you’re a genius who can help them solve their problems, then they’ll have a good reason to invest in products you recommend.
Email #1: The problem.
You’ve given them a value-packed freebie, and trust has been established.
It’s time for you to tell a story about a problem you’ve been having and how you fixed it using this amazing new product or idea.
This problem you’re having needs to be focused around what you’re promoting.
You don’t need to mention the product specifically, but send them to a post that talks about it.
Hold on to any direct affiliate links until the next email.
Email #2: The story.
After you’ve established trust and build authority, it’s time to go for the “soft sell.”
Continue with your story that goes something like this:
- Here’s where I am
- Here’s the problem
- Here’s the solution
Use your affiliate link, name the product, and explain the product.
You’ll also want to talk about who the product isn’t for so you don’t sell things to people who won’t benefit from it.
Nobody wants angry emails from someone who feels duped or misled.
Email #3: The solution.
Now that you have trust and authority, it’s time for the call-to-action.
Summarize the story you’ve been telling and what the problem is, then talk about how the product or service you’re offering is the solution.
You don’t want your emails to be a novel.
People have short attention spans, so add links to the middle, end, and always use a P.S. recap for those who scan through to the bottom.
According to CoSchedule, it’s best to send emails on Tuesdays and Thursdays, early to mid-morning, but you’ll have to experiment and decide for yourself.
Email #4: Follow-up
It’s always a good idea to send a follow-up email to give people another opportunity to purchase and touch base with those that have made a purchase.
Sometimes people buy products and never make the time to use them.
When you talk about how the product works, it encourages people to take the time to figure it out.
Everyone appreciates a genuine follow-up email after they’ve made a purchase from you.
If a customer is satisfied with the first purchase, they’ll buy from you again and again.
Here’s what you need to start an email list:
- Have a blog. If you don’t have one yet, get started with web hosting and WordPress, it’s the most popular choice.
- Choose a free email marketing service provider.
- Understand the Can-Spam Act. You need a physical address clearly posted on every email you send out.
- Write a welcome email and start perfecting your email funnel.
Once you get the fundamentals of funnel building down, it’ll be much more fun for you to tinker with.
You’ll have a system and a plan to execute instead of frantically wondering what to do with your list.
You can add products throughout your subscriber’s journey using the campaign or segmenting feature in MailerLite.
I hope this gives you a better idea of how to monetize your list and remember, even if you only have five subscribers, it’s a great idea to start experimenting with funnels.