There are lots of important things to do when growing your blog, but one of the most important is to have an email list.
An email list is exactly that…a list of email addresses that readers of your blog willingly give to you.
Why is an email list important?
There are several reasons that you should have one.
First of all, an email list is a way to make a CONNECTION with people who are interested in what you have to say. I love hearing from readers by email and I respond to every single one who emails me.
Sometimes they have a comment and sometimes they have a question. But whatever they have to say, I always respond and try to give them the information that they are looking for.
Why? Because that’s what it’s all about. We are blogging to CONNECT with people, to give readers something that will help them in some way.
That is my favorite thing about blogging…the people…and it should be yours, too! Cultivating community with your audience helps you to grow your blog into the vision that you had for it in the beginning.
The people who give you their email addresses are invested in you and your blog. They like reading your blog and they want to continue to be a part of it. You can consider them to be your supporters and your most interested, most loyal fans. They are your TRIBE.
Also, if you are planning to monetize your blog, your list is the obvious place to start.
The people on your list will usually open the emails that you send them, and will actually consider buying a product from you when the time comes.
You also need an email list is because it gives you a list of devoted readers that only YOU control.
Giving all the control to someone else is never a good idea…in any situation!
Depending only upon Google, Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter or Instagram for connection with your audience is risky. You are taking a chance on something that may not be available in the same capacity for bloggers in months or years to come.
Giving all the control to someone else is never a good idea (in any situation)! There is always a risk that something may change and that those streams of traffic could eventually disappear completely.
Algorithms can change, rules and regulations can change, and there is nothing that can you can do to reverse it. Therefore, having a mailing list that you control is crucial.
So how do we impress our readers enough so that they actually want to give us their email address?
Sometimes, and only sometimes, readers give you their email address to be kept informed of when you publish a new blog post or to receive your newsletter. This is called an email opt-in. Read HERE for more about opt-ins.
But even though you have readers engaging on your site, offering them a newsletter is usually not enough to get them to subscribe to your blog.
A better way to get a reader to part with their email address is to give them something that they really need in exchange for it. When you create an opt-in for your readers, it should be something of value that they can actually use.
What you give them for free is a “content upgrade.” Your reader gives you their email address, then in exchange, you give them something for free.
Many times the most successful content upgrades are not the most in-depth or the most valuable, but the ones that readers find to be the most helpful.
Ideas for content upgrades:
1. Free downloads
You can give free printables and templates, calendars and planner pages, and many other things that your reader would find useful. Printables are easy to create using Microsoft Word, Photoshop, Canva and PicMonkey.
A checklist works well at the end of a “how to” post. The checklist lists the tasks that were discussed in the post so that the reader can check off the item as they complete it.
Create a PDF that relates to your post and asks questions that gets the reader thinking. The reader then can come up with answers and apply the results to a problem or a situation that they are facing.
A cheatsheet lists items in your blog post and gives a shortcut or quick way to use.
If your blog post is a list, make your upgrade more of the same list. For example, write your post titled “10 tips” and give them 10 tips but then offer 25 more as an upgrade.
6. A quick start guide
This is a way to teach your reader how to quickly do something that was discussed in your post. This can be a pdf with graphics or images that show how to do something.
7. Swipe files
A swipe file is a collection or group of items such as headlines, post topics, strategies, etc. to help the reader come up with ideas or even a collection of stock photos or graphics that could be used in a blog post.
8. Resource list
A resource list could be a list of blogging tools, a list of stock photography websites, a list of fitness exercises, or whatever fits your niche.
A workbook is usually a pdf containing several separate worksheets of related information.
A tutorial gives your reader detailed instructions on how to do something. This could be in simple pdf form or video.
11. PDF of your blog post
Make it easy for your readers to print your blog post to use for quick reference.
12. Exclusive blog posts
Create a blog post that only your subscribers receive. Show your subscribers your appreciation and how much you value them by giving them something exclusive that nobody else gets.
You can create an ebook by adding to the information in your blog post and then offering the entire thing for download.
14. E-mail course
An email “course” is simply a series of emails that you send to your mailing list every few days or once a week. In these emails, you teach them something that they are interested in learning. Choose a subject that you know interests your readers and that relates to your niche.
15. Inspirational email
You could give your readers an email series of how you have grown your blog and include growth stats and income reports.
16. Free chapter of ebook
If you are an author and have written an ebook, offer your subscribers the first chapter for free. If they are interested in reading the rest of your book, they might just become paying customers!
17. A free product
This doesn’t have to be an actual product that you send to the readers, but a download of something that you consider to be valuable. For example, I saw where someone was offering free access to a library of resources, a free printable planner, etc.
18. Coupons for your paid product
If you are selling a product, offer your subscribers a coupon for a percentage off of the retail price.
Now that you have decided what your content upgrade will be, what next?
CREATE OPT-IN FORMS:
Choose an email service that offers opt-in forms. There are several to choose from.
Decide where to put opt-in forms on your site. Place them in several areas such as your header, sidebar, footer, and at the end of each post. You should have a helpful content upgrade at the end of every single post because if a reader reads all the way to the end of your blog post, then he or she is an engaged reader.
You want to offer that person something closely related to your blog post. If they have found the post interesting and helpful, then they would probably want your content upgrade.
You have to give your readers what they want and what they need in order to win them over.
CHOOSE AN EMAIL SERVICE:
There are a number of email marketing services available for bloggers.
I started out with MailChimp but I must admit that I had a glitch with the program that I could not overcome. Because MailChimp was not recording all of the subscribers, I had to cut them loose.
I mean, that’s what I had them for, right?
So I moved on to ConvertKit and haven’t looked back since. I love ConvertKit because it is so user-friendly.
ConvertKit allows you to create as many sign-up forms as you need on your site, quickly and simply. Each form shows awesome analytics with conversion rates so you know which ones are performing well and which ones aren’t.
The advantage to having multiple opt-in forms on your site is that it allows your reader to select exactly what they need.
If they choose more than one thing to opt-in to, their email address is added to your list only one time. Very organized! Love it!
ConvertKit offers several different types of opt-in forms, some more elaborate than others. They also swear that pop-up forms, even though we hate them, convert more than the other forms and there is an option to create those forms as well.
Another great service that I use is Sumome. Sumome provides all kinds of opt-in forms as well such as the Smart Bar across the top of my page which brings me many new subscribers every day.
Sumome can be connected to your ConvertKit account and enables all email addresses to be imported and collected into one place. What a timesaver!
The most important thing to remember:
Your mailing list is what personally connects you to your audience and your audience is KING. Appreciate them, connect with them and treat them like gold, for without them, you, as a blogger are nowhere. The readers are why we do what we do…always put them first.