Confused about email marketing? Then you need my step-by-step beginner’s guide to email marketing for bloggers, plus get your hands on my free 30 Day Grow Your List Challenge!
Email marketing is a hugely important part of blogging. While blog posts and social media will attract casual readers to your blog, email marketing will keep them coming back and turn those casual readers into raving fans!
Sadly, all too often email marketing is neglected by bloggers – pushed again and again to the bottom of the to do list… or done badly…
Putting a box which says ‘sign up for free updates’ in your sidebar and then sending out automated emails every time you publish a new post, with ‘My Latest Newsletter’ as the subject line, is not going to cut the mustard in the 2020s!
You need to create opt-in offers (yes, plural!) a welcome series and write a bespoke newsletter each week if you truly want to take email marketing seriously.
But if you do, the benefits are HUGE!
If you take email marketing seriously, you will:
- Keep your readers coming back (without email marketing, so many will never ever come back)
- Turn casual readers into raving fans who will then naturally promote your blog to their friends and family
- Grow your blog and your social media channels
- Be able to make A LOT more money with your blog (there’s a reason why they say the money is in the list!)
A little unsure where to start? I know, I get it. Email marketing can seem confusing and overwhelming (which is why it ends up getting shoved to the end of the to do list all the time, right?)… which is why I’ve got your back…
… in this beginner’s guide to email marketing for bloggers I will show you step-by step exactly how to get started with email marketing and take advantage of all these benefits.
Plus don’t forget to sign up to my free 30 Day Grow Your List Challenge!
Step 1: Choose your email service provider
The first step is to choose which email service provider to go with. There are lots of options for bloggers: names like MailChimp, MailerLite, ConvertKit, Drip, InfusionSoft, Mad Mimi. And they all have their advantages and disadvantages.
My personal favourite, is ConvertKit* because it:
- is incredibly easy and intuitive to use
- makes it insanely easy to create professional looking and high converting sign-up forms, pop-ups and landing pages
- allows you to create multiple opt-in offers without complicated work-arounds
- makes sending out blog newsletters as easy as sending an email to a friend
- makes it super easy to create a welcome sequence, education sequence, sales sequence or a sequence for whatever you need a sequence for!
- offers a super cool visual automation tool to allow you to visually plan out your subscriber journey (or just link up sign-up box to a welcome sequence)
- allows you to use tags, custom fields and segments to keep track of your subscribers and make sure they get sent the right thing at the right time
- gives you all the tools you need to grow your email list (and your income!) FAST!
READ MORE >>> 26 reasons why ConvertKit is the best email marketing service for bloggers
READ MORE >>> ConvertKit vs MailChimp: which is best for your blog?
READ MORE >>> A beginner’s guide to ConvertKit
Step 2: Create a free opt-in offer
Here’s the cold hard truth: NO-ONE WANTS TO ‘subscriber for free updates’. PERIOD.
OK, maybe I am being a little harsh here… there are the odd few (your mum and your best friend, for example) who will happily sign up for free updates, but not many.
If you really want to grow your list FAST and grow it with the RIGHT people, you need to create a freebie to give away in exchange for your readers’ email addresses.
But here’s the good news…
It does not have to be some big complicated freebie. In fact, the BEST freebies are quick one page cheatsheets, checklists, worksheets and printables. People want a quick win, not a great long ebook!
And it doesn’t have to be professionally designed either… almost all of the freebies on Productive Blogging were designed by me (I am so not a designer!) using basic tools like Word, PowerPoint and Canva.
Create a free gift you know your readers will love and get it out there into the world. (Pssst. Want to see an example? Download my FREE 30 DAY LIST BUILDING CHALLENGE!)
Step 3: Create a sign-up form
Now you need a way for your readers to get their hands on that freebie and for you to collect their email addresses. To make both those things happen, you need to create a sign-up form.
Go into your email marketing platform (ConvertKit, MailChimp, Mailerlite…) and create a new form. Make it visually attractive with an image, a strong call to action. And, super important, the button should not say ‘subscribe’, but rather something much more compelling like DOWNLOAD, GIMME, SEND IT TO ME or YES PLEASE!
An example of a good sign-up form…
An example of a bad sign-up form…
A good email marketing service, like ConvertKit*, will let you automatically send out your freebie as soon as someone enters their email address and clicks on the ‘subscribe’ button.
You can simply upload your freebie into ConvertKit, while creating your sign-up form, and write a brief ‘incentive email’ that will be sent out to your new subscriber as soon as they have signed up.
When the subscriber clicks on the download button in the incentive email, their freebie will automatically download AND this will also automatically confirm their email address and add the subscriber to your list.
Other marketing service do not have this option but will instead automatically send out a ‘confirm your subscription’ email when someone hits the ‘subscribe’ button. In this instance you can send out a link to the freebie in your first welcome email (see Step 5).
Step 4: Embed the sign-up form on your blog
Now it’s time to put that form on your blog and start getting email subscribers! To do this, you’ll need to grab the embed code…
…then head over to your blog and paste the embed code into a blog post or a widget space.
To embed the code into a blog post, simply select a Custom HTML block and paste the embed code into it – like this:
(If you are still using the classic editor, simply paste the embed code into the text editor.)
To embed the code into a widget space, simply got to APPEARANCE > WIDGETS, select a Custom HTML widget and drag it into the correct widget space (e.g. your sidebar), then paste in the code and hit save.
Step 5 Create a welcome sequence
You are missing a trick if you don’t create a welcome sequence for your new subscribers… Something as simple as creating a short series of emails welcoming new subscriber to your list can DRAMATICALLY improve your open rates and click rates, as well as SIGNIFICANTLY reduce your unsubscribes.
A welcome sequence is like the email marketing equivalent of showing a new friend around your house…or a new colleague round the office. A good welcome sequence should welcome your new subscriber to your list and show them around the different features of your blog… for example each day could introduce your new subscriber to a different main category on your blog and highlight your best posts in that category.
In addition, if your email marketing platform does not allow you to send an incentive email (see Step 3), your first welcome email should also include a link to the freebie your new subscriber signed up for.
Once you have written your welcome sequence, the final step is to join your welcome sequence up to your opt-in form. If you are with ConvertKit* this can be done with a simple automation:
If you are with a different email marketing platform, you may need to do something slightly different – check the platform’s help documentation for exact instructions.
READ MORE >>> How to create an automated welcome sequence: step-by-step
READ MORE >>> Free Welcome Sequence Swipe Copy
Step 6: Promote your freebie!
This is the step that so many bloggers fail to do and a big reason why so many bloggers do not get as many sign-ups as they should.
Once you have created your freebie, embedded on your blog and set up your welcome sequence, you should promote your freebie EVERYWHERE!
On your bloG…
You should put sign up forms for your freebie in multiple different places around your blog to make sure it gets seen by as many readers as possible. For example:
- On your homepage (as near the top as possible)
- In your sidebar
- In your footer
- In your menu bar (a custom URL that links to your landing page)
- At the end of every blog post (ConvertKit have a fab plugin* that will do this for you!)
- As a pop-up (set it to exit intent so you don’t upset Google)
- As a stand-alone landing page (so you can link directly to your freebie from your social media channels, menu bar etc.)
You should also embed your sign-up form, or link to your landing page, in as many relevant blog posts as possible. See for example in this blog post how I have put 2 sign up forms for my 30 DAY LIST BUILDING CHALLENGE as well as several text links to the landing page.
Off your blog…
You should also promote your freebie on your social media channels and anywhere else you can think of. For example:
- Facebook: posts, bio, pinned post, groups (check if allowed), CTA button (on the right under your header)
- Instagram: posts, stories, bio, highlight
- Twitter: tweets, bio, pinned tweet
- Pinterest: create multiple pins and pin them to all your relevant boards
- Your email signature on all blog related emails
In each case, link to the dedicated landing page for your freebie.
READ MORE >>> How to use Pinterest to grow your email list
Step 7: Start sending regular newsletters
It’s no good attracting all those lovely subscribers onto your list, sending them your lovely freebie and then leaving them hanging…
…to keep your email subscribers warm and engaged, you need to send a regular newsletter – ideally once a week – to share your news, highlight new posts on your blog, remind them of old posts and keep them updated with interesting news, opportunities and info from your niche.
There are a number of options here: at the most basic, you can set up an RSS newsletter which you can configure so that every time you publish a new blog post, your email subscribers will automatically get an email from you with a summary of that post.
In all honesty, this is not the best option: it’s old-fashioned, impersonal and prone to going wrong. But if it’s that or nothing, then an RSS newsletter is definitely better than nothing!
However, a much better option these days is a bespoke newsletter which you write each week. It really doesn’t have to be long… just a few paragraphs will do. It should only take you about 30 minutes per week, but it will make all the difference.
For more help with what to write, head here >>> What to put in your blog newsletter
Step 8: Create multiple opt-in offers
Don’t just stop at one freebie! The best way to grow your list FAST is to create multiple freebies. The more freebies you create, the more opportunities you have to attract someone onto your list.
Let me give you an example from Productive Blogging…
Maybe Visitor A arrives on Productive Blogging and sees an opt-in offer for my FREE DIY SEO AUDIT… Visitor A really wants to learn more about SEO and grow their blog traffic, so that opt-in offer really appeals to them. They sign up straight away.
Now let’s suppose Visitor B arrives on Productive Blogging and sees the opt-in offer for my FREE DIY SEO AUDIT. Now Visitor B is brand new to blogging and doesn’t even have a blog yet. Visitor B has no idea what SEO is, so they are definitely not going to sign up for an SEO audit. However, Visitor B sees that I have a free mini course that teaches how to start a profitable blog… that’s definitely up Visitor B’s street, so Visitor B signs up!
Finally Visitor C arrives on Productive Blogging. Visitor C has a well-established blog and has already bought my SEO Jumpstart Course, so neither of the first two opt-in offers really appeals. HOWEVER, Visitor C is feeling overwhelmed by #allthethings right now, so when Visitor C spots my Blog Smarter Not Harder ebook, Visitor C immediately signs up for that.
As you can see, if I only had one opt-in offer, I would only have got 1 of those visitors onto my email list. But because I have multiple opt-in offers, I was able to get all 3 to subscribe!
Now imagine multiplying that effect by 10, 20 or even 30 opt-in offers and all the people who visit your blog and you can soon see how having multiple opt-in offers can grow your list FAST!
Step 9: Make money from your list
You have no doubt heard the adage that ‘the money is in the list’ or the fact that for every subscriber on your list you should be making $1 a month…
…but how do you do this?
Well, the hands-down best way to make money with a blog is by creating and selling a digital product… for example: a course, an ebook, printables, menu plans, an app…
But what if you don’t have a product to sell?
Well, you have a number of different options:
- You could create a product to sell
- You could ‘sell’ an affiliate product
- You could sell a service (e.g. VA services)
- You could use the size of your list to negotiate better rates for sponsored posts
- You could use your list to grow your blog traffic and make money with ads
READ MORE >>> How to make money from your email list
READ MORE >>> How to create your first online course – 10 step plan!
Free 30 day List Building Challenge
Want to take action on this post and start growing your email list TODAY? Want to finally cross ‘sort out email marketing’ off your to do list? Then sign up for my FREE 30 DAY LIST BUILDING CHALLENGE!
- Why every blogger NEEDS an email list
- Which is the best email marketing service for your blog?
- How to grow your email list FAST with an opt-in offer: step-by-step
- What to put in your email newsletter: 11 ideas to really connect with your subscribers
- How to create an automated welcome sequence for your email list
Don’t miss a thing!
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*This blog post contains affiliate links, this means if you click on a link and go on to buy the product I recommend, I will get a small commission, but you will not be charged a penny more – thanks in advance!