How to get started with email marketing and get your first subscribers
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Email marketing is amazing (read Why every blogger NEEDS an email list to find out more). But how do you get started? How do you get your first subscribers? Let me take you through it step by step how to get started with email marketing and get your first subscribers.
Choose an email service provider
You can’t do email marketing without an email service provider! I mean… imagine if you had to email 1,000 subscribers from your personal email account? Crazy, right? And almost certainly illegal… so don’t do that!
Fortunately, there are lots of lovely email marketing services who will make it a whole lot easier to send out your weekly newsletter. These are names like MailChimp, ConvertKit, MailerLite, Mad Mimi etc. etc.
The two I have experience with are MailChimp* and ConvertKit*. They are both good, but ConvertKit definitely has the edge for me.
MailChimp* is OK if you are looking for a no frills solution. It’s free for the first 2,000 subscribers and it’s relatively simple to set up a basic sign up form and email newsletter. However, it does have several drawbacks. The main ones being that it is hard to offer multiple different opt-in offers on your website, you cannot create a welcome sequence on the free plan and it is not really designed with bloggers in mind (too many features bloggers don’t need and not enough of the ones we do need!).
ConvertKit*, on the other hand has a lot more bells and whistles – you can do a lot more with it! The great thing about ConvertKit is that it was made with bloggers in mind – so it has all the things that bloggers need… and none of the stuff we don’t need! ConvertKit is far easier to use than Mailchimp and it allows you to quickly and easily do amazing things with automated sequences, landing pages, sales funnels and content upgrades.
There are two versions of ConvertKit:
- The Complete Plan, which costs $29** for up to 1000 subscribers and allows you to have unlimited everything: create unlimited landing pages and forms, send unlimited newsletters, create unlimited rules, email sequences and visual automations… It also allows you to manage your subscribers easily with tags, segments and custom fields… Plus you get free migrations and premium support. Why not test it out? Get a free 14 day trial* of the complete plan!
- The Free Plan, which is FREE for the first 1000 subscribers! With the free plan, you get almost everything you get on the complete plan, except you don’t get access to email sequences and visual automations, free migrations or premium support. If you are just getting started with email marketing, this might be a good place to start… then once you find you need the extra bells and whistles, you can very quickly and easily upgrade. Sound good? Find out more about ConvertKit’s free plan*
READ MORE >>> ConvertKit vs MailChimp – which is best for YOUR blog?
READ MORE >>> 26 reasons why ConvertKit is the best email marketing service for bloggers
READ MORE >>> A beginner’s guide to ConvertKit + VIDEO TUTORIAL
Get sign-up forms on your site
Whether you choose to go with MailChimp, ConvertKit or someone else (I’d love to know in the comments if you have had a good experience with another email service provider!), the next thing you need to do is create some sign-up boxes to put on your site for people to sign up for your emails.
Most email service providers make this pretty straightforward. Simply follow their instructions to create a box, form or landing page, then copy the code and place it on your site.
But here’s the most important thing: DON’T just create ONE form, stick it in your sidebar and think you are done! If you really want to maximise your subscribers, you have to put sign-up forms in MULTIPLE LOCATIONS… here are some ideas:
- On your home page (preferably in more than one place – e.g. at the top and the bottom)
- Your ‘About me’ page (if someone’s taken the time to read all about you, there’s a good chance they may also want to subscribe to your list)
- After every post (if someone has taken the time to read all the way to the bottom of a post they are the kind of person you want on your list)
- In the post itself (so many people will never ever read to the bottom of your post… so try and include a form or a link to a landing page higher up within the text of your post)
- A landing page (make one of these and then you can link to it from anywhere…in the text of a post or page, your social media bios, bios on guest posts, your email signature…)
- Your sidebar – well you might as well do that too – just don’t expect to get much response from that one…I think about 0.01% of my subscribers come from my sidebar!!
There are also other ways you can do it. Sometimes your blog theme may have subscription boxes which you can use to capture email addresses. These tend to look really good as they coordinate with the overall design of your site and there is less manual coding to be done as your theme developer has done it all for you.
If you want to go down this route, I can really recommend the themes by Restored 316*. Both my sites use these themes (Easy Peasy Foodie is on Divine* and Productive Blogging is on Refined*) and I use the pre-coded boxes a lot as they look great and are very quick and easy to set up. You can see an example in my sidebar, in my sticky header, and at the bottom of this post.
You can also use a third-party app to create really great looking signup boxes, popups and more. For example, I use OptinMonster* on both this site and my Easy Peasy Foodie site…which is just AWESOME!
Not only can you make some really gorgeous regular signup boxes, but you can also make popups and set them just the way you want them…. AND they have a couple of stupidly AMAZING features – firstly, ‘MonsterLinks’…which create a popup when the reader clicks a link…
And the other one is ‘Exit Intent Popups’, which only trigger when a reader goes to leave your site… so no annoying popup in their face when they are trying to read your latest post (I personally HATE that) and a nice timely reminder to stay in touch, just when they are leaving – perfect. (Move your mouse as if you are just about to leave this site, if you want to see this in action. Head over to easypeasyfoodie.com and you can see it over there too.)
Send your subscribers something… anything!
Getting sign up boxes is a very good first step, but it’s no good if you don’t then actually send your brand-new subscribers some emails. The very best thing to do is to send them an automated welcome series…or better still a free gift (AKA Opt-in Offer, AKA Content Upgrade, AKA Lead Magnet) and then a welcome series.
But when you are just starting the most important thing is to get into a habit of regularly sending your list something on a regular basis.
And there are lots of options here. You could send them a quick message every time you send out a post, or a weekly newsletter, or a monthly newsletter…
Whatever you choose, it’s important you pick a schedule and stick with it. Email works best when it’s regular and predictable. So, if you choose to do a monthly email, then maybe every 1st of the month, or every second Friday. If you choose to go weekly (which is usually better), maybe 4pm every Friday or 8am every Monday… whatever you think will work best for your list. And remember this will be quite different depending on whether your readers are say, business owners, or mothers of small children, or students, or retired people. In the early days it might be worth trying a few things out, but once you’ve found a formula that works, stick to it.
Another alternative is to go with an automated email. This is very easy with both MailChimp and ConvertKit as you can set up an automated RSS campaign which will automatically send your latest post out to your list every time you post on your blog. Or you can set this up to go out weekly or monthly too.
To be honest, I wouldn’t say an automated email is the BEST solution – a more personal bespoke newsletter that adds extra value will always be better. But if you simply do not have the time, then an automated newsletter is MUCH better than no newsletter!
READ MORE >>> What to put in your email newsletter
READ MORE >>> How to set up an automated email newsletter with Mailchimp
READ MORE >>> How to set up an automated email newsletter with ConvertKit
The importance of a great subject line
One little thing that will make a BIG difference though, is subject lines. One thing that has my head in my hands daily, is when I get an email in my inbox that says ‘[BLOGNAME] Weekly Newsletter’ Nooooo! No one is going to open that! OK maybe your mum and your partner and your best friend. You subject MUST be something exciting enough to make your subscriber want to open that email and see what’s inside.
It could simply be the subject line of your latest blog post, if that’s what your email is about… or it could be something a bit intriguing, like ‘Have you ever thought this?’ or ‘Why I’m boycotting Facebook’ or it could be something really simple… like the name of your latest recipe.
A great tool for this is CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer… it’s FREE and it’s totally awesome, as it gives you a score based on how good your subject line is…and tells you how you could improve it.
So, there we are…the absolute basics of how to set up your email list. But there is so much more you can do… from creating an opt-in to encourage people to join your list, to creating a welcome sequence, to actually making money from your list…
Next we are going to look at What to put in your email newsletter.
Other posts in the email marketing mini-series
- Why every blogger NEEDS an email list
- 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
- How to grow your email list with a free opt-in offer
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!
**Prices correct at 17/08/20
I’m so grateful I learned about ConvertKit from you a few months back. It’s the easiest tool I’ve ever used for email marketing.
Yay! I am so happy to hear that. ConvertKit is just amazing isn’t it? So intuitive and user friendly! Eb 🙂