How to grow your audience with a mailing list
I’ll start this post about growing your email list with a full disclosure: I don’t have a large email list. I’ve had this website for two years, and though I know exactly what it takes to grow an email list, I’ve been spending my limited time filling my websites with great content, because what I really want to do is just write. Of course, just writing doesn’t bring money if you’re writing a blog—which is why I also freelance write (that’s what actually gets me paid).
In the last two years, without huge amounts of effort, I’ve grown my email lists to about 500 people across two websites (this one and www.marianamcdougall.com). In the grand scheme of things, that’s nothing. But it’s not that bad for someone who wasn’t trying very hard.
Growing an email list when you blog in multiple niches
As a multi-niche writer, growing an email list is a little bit more complicated, but not impossible. My recommendation if you have a multi-niche blog is to create separate email lists for each section or category of the blog. This is what I’ve done, and it works well so far, but you need to choose the right email marketing provider for this.
I used to be with MailChimp, but they count every instance of the same email address as a new subscriber. In the long run, this will cost you (more) money—because after you get to a certain number of subscribers, you have to pay, and I don’t want to pay 3-5 times for the same subscriber (since some of my subs are on several of my email lists).
I chose to go with ConvertKit, and I think that for a multi-niche blog, it’s probably the best option. It’s not free, and it can get pricey, but it does exactly what I need it to do. I’ve created separate email lists for each blog category, plus a generic mailing list for those who wish to follow the blog as a whole. And eventually, I’ll create email series that lead to paid products. While I haven’t had a chance to do this yet, I know that this is one of the best ways to monetize your blog if you don’t want to litter your website with bogus advertisements you have no control over.
Now that I’ve shared a bit of my experience, here’s a run down of how to grow your audience with an email list (a list of steps which I intend on following and reporting on in the future).
1. Choose your email marketing provider
There are many different providers for email marketing services now, each with its advantages and disadvantages. The majority of newbie bloggers choose to go with MailChimp, while many choose ConvertKit, Constant Contact, AWeber, and GetResponse, but there are many other options.
With so many to choose from, it can be overwhelming to choose a provider. It’s best to get as much information as possible to choose what’s best for your and your blogging goals. This post by WPBeginner will give you some good information, or this post from Hosting Facts is also good.
Before you decide on an email marketing provider, ask yourself: what is the purpose of your email list? If it’s to simply stay in contact with friends and family, then a free option makes sense. But if your goal is to monetize your website and grow your audience to a large following, paid services may work best.
2. Create your email sign-up forms and embed them/share them
After you’ve chosen your provider, you’ll need to create forms that your readers can use to join your mailing list. Most email marketing services offer their own contact forms; however, I’ve never been fully satisfied with the ones offered by the providers I’ve used to so far. So I joined another service, MailMunch, which gives a lot more freedom of design for both sign-up forms as well as landing pages, and it connects these pages and forms with the email lists from different providers.
3. Create an incentive for people to sign up for your mailing list
“Sign up for my newsletter or mailing list” doesn’t cut it anymore. The Internet is too saturated with people fighting for email addresses, and people are more and more drawn to minimalism not just for physical items, but for digital ones also. Inbox zero is proof of this.
To earn a place ins someone’s inbox, you’ll need to give them a very good reason to give away their contact info. That’s where the freebie or “opt in” comes in. Before you create your freebie, ask yourself this question: what’s the ultimate goal for your email list? If it’s to eventually sell something, you’ll need to align your freebie with what you eventually wish to sell. Which will require an email series.
4. Create an email series
People buy from people they know and trust. Nowhere is this more true than in the blogosphere. But people don’t immediately trust you just because you gave them a good incentive and they signed up for your mailing list.
It takes an average of at seven contacts for someone to trust you as a seller. So it only makes sense to create a 7-email series about a topic related to the product you wish to sell. Give away a tonne of awesome, free information in seven separate emails, and then ask for the sale.
Before any of this happens, you’ll need to drive people to your site.
How do you actually drive people to your site?
The freebie is how you get people to sign up for your mailing list; the email series is how you get them to stay, and the paid product is how you turn your email list into income. But how do you drive people to your website to sign up for the mailing list in the first place?
Driving traffic to a website is hard work and requires a long-term commitment. But there are things you can do to speed up the process. I’ll write another post about this in more detail, but for now remember that guest posting on someone’s website, contributing to a multi-author blog, or collaborating with other bloggers are all great ways to drive traffic to your site. SEO still works, too.
Have you started your mailing list yet?