If you’ve been blogging for five minutes, every blogger is telling you to start your 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 that an email funnel is a traffic source that 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 you want to take care of your list.
The first goal is to get to one hundred loyal subscribers.
So, 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 to start an email list for beginners.
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 not to be picky.
There’s so much information available you can’t possibly read it all.
People need incentive to sign up for your email list.
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 inbox.
Here is a list of questions to ask yourself to kinda feel things out and find a starting point.
- What can you offer as a bribe in exchange for an email address?
- What free information can give them to help them solve a problem?
- What specific problem can you solve for them?
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
The best advice I can give you is to keep it simple.
There’s no reason to offer everything you know for free.
A simple checklist for beginners will appeal to the majority of your audience and I found a simple ebook creator tool that can help you create them is literally seconds.
Watch the demo here.
How to create a lead magnet offer.
The lead magnet is a freebie.
Usually the first product you create and give away for free in exchange for email addresses.
It doesn’t have to be complicated, 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.
Save the really good stuff for those that subscribe, you don’t want people grabbing your epic freebie and then unsubscribing right away.
It needs to be extremely useful, informative, and valuable to your readers.
Think instant results, actionable information that 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.
You also only want the right kind of subscribers on your list and not people that aren’t genuinely interested in what you have to offer.
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 that even higher.
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 another tool for you 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.
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.
Then I started sending traffic directly to that page and use it as a landing page.
Now, 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 mistaking that they work.
But you’re probably wondering how to put this all together and how much it’s going to cost you.
How does absolutely free sound?
I use Mailerlite for my opt-on forms, and it’s the perfect solution for bloggers since it’s free up to 1000 subscribers.
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 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 opt-in freebies.
Once you have everything set up and ready to go, start promoting that freebie on your favorite social media.
PicMonkey is an incredible blogging tool for creating your own posts, pins, and shares.
Instead of just promoting your blog posts you can send people directly to your homepage or landing page.
All you need now is an email service provider to collect email addresses for you.
What is an email service provider?
It’s never a good idea to send mass emails from your Gmail 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.
Instead of going straight spam, the emails show up in the primary folder where it’s sure to be seen.
You don’t have to pay for this service either, it’s free!
There are a million providers to choose from, and out of the five that I’ve personally tried over the years, MailerLite is the best.
MailerLite has an easy “drop and drag” feature that lets you add as much or as little to emails as you want.
It’s also completely free up one thousand email subscribers.
Most companies have a thirty-day trial, and then they start charging monthly fees, with MailerLite you don’t have to worry about that.
Learn how to build a list at your own pace and by the time you get to one thousand email subscribers, you’ll know what you’re doing.
MailerLite will give templates to design the opt-in forms, but you’ll still need a design tool to create the product.
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 all 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 these 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 that 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.
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.
Tell them how excited you are that they signed up, and thank them for trusting you with their email address.
Explain what you write about and how it can help them.
Keep the focus on them and what you can do to make their life easier.
Make sure they get the freebie you promised and let them know how often to expect an email from you.
Committed to sending two emails a month until you get more experience.
Eventually, you’ll send one every week but you have to build up to that.
The welcome email to build trust.
This is the introductory email, and the free download or resource 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 all about them and how you can help them solve their problems.
Make sure they get the freebie that was promised in exchange for their email address.
If the link to this download is broken or not working, people will unsubscribe immediately, so make sure to doublecheck your links.
Every email needs a link to one of your blog posts.
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
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 that helps solve the 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 it’s 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 that can help them solve their problems, then they’ll have a good reason to invest in your affiliate products.
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.
This problem you’re having needs to be focused around the affiliate product 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 your direct affiliate link 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, explain the product, and even tell them who the product isn’t for.
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’ve established trust and positioned yourself as an 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 this email to 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.
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 that is clearly posted on every email you send out.
- Write a welcome email to thank subscribers for joining your list 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.
Every product you sell should have an email sequence.
That doesn’t mean every product needs a separate workflow.
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.