If you’re a blogger, online marketer, coach, author or basically any profession that requires you to have an online presence, you must’ve heard all about the importance of having an email list. And I stand behind that because I’ve seen what growing my email list did for me and my blog.
This post is a round-up of actionable steps that you can take to start, manage and grow your email list!
Step 1: Do your research and pick an email service provider
I compare some of the most popular choices in this post, and yes, there is a PROs and CONs list for all of them because I am an email marketing nerd.
I first started out with Mailchimp because it was the only service that was free at that time, but recently moved to Mailerlite (which I strongly recommend) and I talk all about why I made the switch and how that helped me triple my email list in this post.
But here is what you need to know about Mailerlite: It’s free up to 1000 subscribers which is perfect if you are just starting out, it offers free everything (landing pages, pop-up and sign-up forms, and my favourite, free automation) and their customer support can walk you through basically everything if you reach out.
Another premium service that is worth checking out is Convertkit that is especially popular amongst bloggers.
Step 2: Sign Up to your chosen email provider
Once you have made a decision, make an account with your email service provider and fill out and confirm everything you need to so you can get started.
For Mailerlite you need to confirm your domain name for example by having an email address such as firstname.lastname@example.org.
Step 3: Get a PO box
With email marketing come anti-spam laws that regulate that at the end of your every email should be an option for your subscribers to opt out (this is added automatically by all email service providers) and your home address or personal PO box.
If you’re like me, you probably don’t want your home address to be flaunted online for everyone to see. So the safest option is to get a PO box registered to you and add that as your address.
Most PO boxes have a yearly cost, so I suggest looking for one that has a pay as you go system. This way, you only have to pay if you receive mail there. (If you are from the UK, UK Post Box is a free option that you can use.)
Step 4: Create your first sign-up form
Once you are all settled, it’s time to create those sign-up form that people can fill out to join your email list.
Come up with something catchy and intriguing to lure people in. For example, if you go with the generic “Join my newsletter and get updates” and “Subscribe now” button, you might not get the best results and appeal to people on a very personal level.
So why not create a sign-up form that is totally in line with your brand (Mailerlite allows you to customize the colors, fonts and buttons of all your sign up forms as well) and go for something like “Join the girl-boss bloggers squad” sign-up form and “Let me in” button.
(It’s not a confirmed fact, but having something fun and inviting as the button will increase your chances at getting subscribers.)
Take a look in my sidebar to find my general opt-in form.
Step 5: Create your first opt-in
If you are not familiar with email marketing terms, an opt-in (also known as a lead magnet or content upgrade) is a freebie that you offer to your website visitors to entice them to join your email list.
It can be anything from access to a resource library (I have a landing page set up for that that you can see here if you’re looking for an example), an ebook, a PDF, a checklist, printable, email course, audio file, exclusive video or anything else that is relevant to your audience and their needs.
If you don’t know what to offer as an opt-in, take a look at your top three most popular posts so far and think about what your readers will love based on that.
Some random ideas will be: If you have a travel blog and your most popular post is about your trip to Italy, offer a “Perfect Day In Rome” itinerary with a map as an opt-in. If you have a lifestyle blog but your most viewed and commented posts are the ones about home décor, offer a “10 Pieces Of Furniture That Cannot Miss From Your Living Room” checklist.
The ideas are endless and to create digital freebies and now easier than ever. I use a free service called Canva to design and create all my free ebooks, checklists and printables.
And don’t worry! You don’t have to have any design experience because they provide free templates to start you off.
Step 6: Display your sign-up forms and opt-ins
Now that you have your opt-ins and you created sign-up forms for them, it’s time to make sure your readers can easily find them so that they are more likely to sign up to get them.
(If you have created multiple opt-ins, make sure to create different sign-up forms for each, and split your subscribers into groups based on that so you know what their interests are. This will come in handy when you want to send out emails later.)
There is no right or wrong place to display your sign up forms, but a mistake I see bloggers make often is not drawing any attention to their sign-up forms.
I have my resource library advertised as an opt-in in three different places on every page and I include all my individual opt-ins in all the relevant posts, after writing a sentence or two before, to let people know of the amazing freebies I am giving away. (Mailerlite has a WordPress plug-in that makes this so easy! You simply select what sign-up form you want to display, and they put it in anywhere in a post).
I also have a pop-up opt-in page that invites people to join my email challenge, and that pop-up alone has gotten me over 200 subscribers. (Pro tip: Delay the pop-up by at least 60 seconds and let people get a sense of what your website is about first!)
So don’t be afraid to put your sign-up forms out there, and draw attention to them when necessary.
Step 7: Set up an automated Welcome Sequence
Once you get people on your list, you will want to introduce yourself and make them used to receiving and opening emails from you. It’s a proven statistic that welcome emails have the highest open rate out of all the emails you are ever going to send, so don’t miss out on this opportunity to make an impression. (No pressure!)
By setting up an automated email sequence, you can make sure that every person that signs up gets an email (or a number of them) from you, without you having to manually send them out every time.
So start working on your welcome email and consider having a few more emails going out after that (make sure to allow plenty of time in-between them) if necessary.
Just introduce yourself, let them know what they should expect from you, your blog and your emails. Also make sure to include a photo of yourself so that they feel like they can connect with the human behind the emails as you begin building that trust with them.
You can also direct them to your best blog posts, invited them to follow you on social media and ask them something about them and opening a conversation between you and your readers.
Step 8: Be a regular in your readers’ inbox
Once you have this system automated and you’re starting to see a decent amount of people entering your email list, it’s time to start building that connection with them and become a regular in their inbox.
A lot of people are good at growing their lists but never end up using it because they don’t know what to send to their lists or are afraid that people are going to unsubscribe. Don’t be that person!
Start sending out regular emails (I wouldn’t recommend sending out more than 1-2 emails per week), providing value for your readers and using it in your favor as well.
Use your emails as mini-blog posts to share your knowledge, findings and experience or direct people to read your blog posts (try not to send out an email for every single post you post, as that might get boring quickly).
Treat your email list as a girl/boy you have a crush on. Give it attention (but not too much because you don’t want to scare people away), offer gifts once in a while (if you add a new opt-in to grow your list, make sure to send it to your existing subscribers as well for example), talk about your life and experiences and ask questions in return and share pieces of content that you think they might find interesting.
Want to know how to use your email list to get more blog traffic? Get a copy of my new ebook! The last chapter is dedicated solely to email marketing!
Step 9: Get creative and add more opt-ins
Now that you have everything set up, you can always go back and focus on growing your email list. The best way to do that is to keep coming up with quality content and freebies your target audience just can’t say no to.
I like to have an opt-in for every main category of my blog (and I make sure to advertise it in all the posts that go in that category) and come up with some more exciting lead magnets once in a while such as my free blog traffic course for bloggers.
Some of my opt-ins get 10-20 subscribers, while others get up to 300-400. So experiment, see what your audience loves, and don’t be afraid to give new things a try.
Step 10: Get more attention to your freebies & grow your email list
You worked hard on your freebies and you know your dream reader is going to love it! So many it’s time to stop creating and start promoting!
One simple way to do that is to get more blog traffic because math dictates that the more people are going to see your sign-up forms, the more will actually sign up. If you’re looking for tips to boost your blog traffic, check out my eBook on the topic.
Another high-converting method is to create landing pages for your opt-in, because people are less likely to be distracted and more likely to sign up. I create my landing pages with Mailerlite for free (see an example here) and I make sure to promote them often on social media.
Some ideas would be to create graphics and add them to your Pinterest, be active on Facebook groups and link to your landing pages when relevant, and Tweet about them as often as you can.
You are now armed with everything you need to go out there and conquer the tricky world of email marketing! So what are you waiting for?
Do you still have questions? Leave them below and I will make sure to get back to you!