This entry is part 6 of 11 in the series How to Start a Blog

Once you get your blog up and running, it’s time to start putting together an email list. The sooner you get started, the better. Because an email lists allows you to reach out to your audience again and again, this is one of the most important steps you will take to make your blog successful in the long run. Your list has the potential to increase traffic and sales as you inform users that you have something of interest and value to offer them. Here are the steps for how to set up an email list for your blog.How to Set Up an Email List for Your Blog

Why Use Email?

A growing, engaged email list is one of the most valuable and important aspects of your blog. I recommend you start an email list right from the very first day your blog is created.

If a reader comes to your website, that person is there and gone again. You have no way of reaching that person again. But if a person joins your email list, you have the potential to reach that person time for years to come.

Email subscribers are far more important than social media likes or followers and your time is far better invested in growing your email list than in trying to promote a social media account. Those of us who have been blogging for awhile see that social media changes constantly. Yet you own your email list and decide when, how often, and what you send to your email subscribers.

Your email list is your people. If someone cares enough to give you their email address, they are saying they want to hear more of what you have to say. In today’s busy world, that’s something important!

How Email Service Works

Before I started blogging, I didn’t understand that your email list is run by a separate company from your website.

There are a number of different email service providers available. All have strengths and weaknesses but will help you accomplish sending regular emails to your readers. Choosing one email provider doesn’t mean you are stuck with that company forever. I’ve moved my entire list over to a new company without too much hassle. Choose the company that makes the most sense for you as a beginning blogger.

Now that there are anti-spam laws, it’s important that you follow certain guidelines. Never send blog email through G-mail or another regular email provider, even if your email list is small.

A physical address is required on every email. If you don’t want your home address to be at the bottom of every email, you will need to get a P.O. Box. One email provider company, ConvertKit, allows you to use their physical address, which is a great perk. (ConvertKit is the email company I use and I love it, but it’s not free.) 

You are also required to include a clear way to unsubscribe on every email you send.

Here’s how to set up an email list for your blog:

  • Determine which email service you want to use. Two of the most popular options for new bloggers are MailChimp and MadMimi. Both are free when you first start out and charge a small fee as your list expands. There are also a number of paid options that offer unlimited emails per month. Be sure to read all details and policies before making your decision. I started my email list with a MailChimp free account. As my email list grew (over 2,000), I switched to the MailChimp paid account. Now that my list is quite a bit larger (10,000+), I use ConvertKit. ConvertKit is for the more serious website owner, but the perks are outstanding. Learn more about ConvertKit here.
  • Create a signup form. Make the form visible to your visitors and make sure it includes all of the information you need to collect. Some ways to present the signup form includes using the Subscribe Now graphic, opt-in checkboxes, plug-ins and icons.
  • Advertise everywhere. Put your subscribe page in the sidebar, at the top or at the bottom of your home page. Place a link to the sign up page in your blog posts and make it accessible through your social media accounts.
  • Make it interesting. If you want people to subscribe to your emails, then you must offer them something in exchange. For example, offer a monthly newsletter or send out reminders when new posts are updated. If you sell services or products on your blog, offer everyone on your email list special discounts and free downloads. I’ve had the best success with getting subscribers when I offer free printables. These don’t need to be super-fancy! In fact, some of my more simple printables have been the most popular and successful.
  • Decide if you will send an RSS feed to your subscribers. An RSS feed sends your blog posts to your subscribers in an automated way. All email service providers will walk you through how to do this. You can choose to send the whole blog post or just a portion so that reader need to click to your site to finish reading the post. RSS feed emails used to be very popular but are on a stark downward trend. If you plan to make income from your site, ideally you want readers to come to your website where you will host ads. Also, Amazon does not allow links in emails so if you plan to monetize with Amazon links included in your blog posts, you cannot use RSS feed.
  • Consider keeping email design simple. In years past, many of us created fancy emails with colorful header displays and a newsletter look. While this is appealing to look at, the reality is that many email companies have started to sort these types of emails and mark them as spam or promotional, and your readers will never see your fancy newsletter. It goes against what may seem logical, but often the most basic emails are the ones that get the most views, so my advice is to keep your emails very simple. Don’t waste time creating a fancy email that will only land in your readers’ spam folder.

Now that you have started your email list, be consistent and deliver on your promises but don’t spam your subscribers. No one wants to receive mail every day especially if it’s mostly advertisements. Limit your sales pitches and only send out emails when you truly have something of interest to share. It’s also important to make your newsletters and other information mobile friendly to reach more subscribers.

If you are serious about building an email list and ready to invest in making your blog all it can be, there are two helpful resource I highly recommend. The first is this email course by Heather at Life of a Homeschool Mom completely invigorated my email list growth. (Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a homeschooler for this to apply – I don’t homeschool.) My email list was stalled out at 3,000 email subscribers. I was adding people to my list but getting just as many unsubscribes. Since taking her course, in 6 months time my list is now at 10,000 and growing by at least 50 new subscribers every day. Get Heather’s email course here.

The second is Elite Blog Academy. I won’t kid you – this course is expensive, but it will put you on the road to building a high-quality blog that will bring you enjoyment and income for many years to come. The course only opens once a year, but you can join the waiting list for Elite Blog Academy here.

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