This post may contain affiliate links. For more information please see my disclosure page.
Alright, so you started your blog, it’s up & running, or maybe it even has been for a while. But, now your ready to take the next step. You are ready to start taking blogging seriously, and hoping to earn a bit of income in the process.
I get that. I hear you.
So today, I want to talk about the one thing you need to focus on if you really want to earn a serious income from your blog.
No, it’s not affiliate marketing. No, it isn’t creating your own courses or products. No, it is not advertisements. And while those things are awesome ways to make money with your blog, one thing I always suggest is actually focusing on building your email list above it all.
You might be thinking, wait what?! But just hear me out with this one!
So while there are many ways to make an income from your blog (affiliate marketing, ads, selling products and services, creating ebooks, etc.), you also need to promote, promote, and promote some more to see big results.
So want to know where the big, successful bloggers have the most success with their marketing efforts? Yup! You guessed it! EMAIL. MARKETING.
Not Social Media. Not Content Marketing. Email Marketing!
So if you want to truly start growing your blog, and making some $$$ in the process, the place I suggest you start is with your email list.
Whether you are a brand new blogger with 5 posts, or having been blogging for years, you need an email list!
Need more convincing? No problem, before I jump into HOW to start a successful email list, here are 5 reasons having an email list is a MUST as a blogger:
1 | An Email List Helps You Grow Your Traffic
By collecting email subscribers from the beginning, you can send sneak peeks of your newest blog posts, and start building up a relationship with them. When you are sending them emails with links back to your blog, you’re giving them a reason to head over and read your latest posts! By having them click on a link to your blog every week or so, you are creating a new follower and someone who will become a return reader. If they are enjoying your posts, they may even begin to pin them or share them on social media. If people start sharing your content, that brings in new readers and more traffic!
2 | An Email List Helps You Build a Relationship of Trust with Your Readers
If someone likes your blog and content enough that they actually decide to subscribe to receive emails from you directly, then you need to take that seriously. Your job is to show them why they should let you keep that special access into their inbox on a regular basis.
So how do you keep your subscribers? You build a relationship of trust with them and provide them with kick ass emails full of value. You should also do things like address them by their first name, ask them direct questions, and share information about your own life.
Your emails should feel much more personal to a subscriber than to someone who is simply reading a post on your blog.
Trust plays a very important role in creating a community of readers who will buy your products or services, click on your affiliate links, and simply become regular readers of your blog. Having an email list is a great way to create and build a community of trusting readers.
3 | An Email List Helps You Make Money
Your email community should be the group of people who receive that little bit extra from you. This includes things like freebies, exclusive information not found on your blog, a more personal look into your life, exclusive offers to your products and services, etc.
By providing your readers with a ton of FREE value, when you launch a course or product, they are more likely to purchase! Why? Because they know how amazing your free stuff is, so imagine how awesome your paid stuff is!
Whether you sell physical or digital products, or are offering a paid course, an email list is your biggest asset for making sales and filling up your courses. Again, it comes down to that relationship building and that trust factor; your email subscribers have a lot more confidence in purchasing something from you than someone who randomly lands on your website. This is simply because they have gotten to know you and grown to respect your expertise and knowledge.
4 | Your Email List can Help You Learn More About Who Your Ideal Audience Is
Your Email list can help you figure out who your audience is and who is reading your blog. This is an important factor to blogging because if you recognize who your audience is, you can tailor your content to fit their needs. This will help you gain more traffic, subscribers, sales, etc.
A great way to find out who your audience is, is by emailing a survey to your email subscribers.
This helps you gather the relevant information you need to tailor your content and services/products/courses to fit your audience. You can use a service such as Typeform to create free surveys to insert into your emails.
5 | An Email List is a Great Way to Utilize Affiliate Marketing
Once you’ve created relationships and built that trust with your subscribers, you can begin to introduce affiliate links into your emails.
Your email list is 10x more likely to trust your product recommendations and click your links than someone who just stumbles across your blog. Just be sure to only promote products you use and love. Also, you don’t always want to include affiliate links in every email or send a billion emails about one product. You should always include a disclaimer to let your readers know when you are using affiliate links as well.
Want to learn more about affiliate Marketing and how I made $469 in affiliate income in the first two months of starting my blog? Check out this awesome post.
One last thing I want to mention is the fact that your email list is 100% YOURS. These people are signing up to YOUR email list and allowing you to have access to their inbox ANYTIME. Whenever you want to reach out to these people, you can. Period. Let that sink in for a second. So, what is the difference between that and Social Media? Well, for one, Social Media follows algorithms, so even if you post something on your Social Media with 5000 follows, there is no guarantee even ⅓ of those people will actually see that post.With an email list, you can literally put anything you want right in front of their eyes at the click of a button! Second, unlike your email list, your social media platforms do not belong to you. You may have thousands of followers, but what if your account gets shut down or what if the whole Social Platform goes away? You simply cannot depend on Social Media the way you can an email list.
Okay, so have I made my point yet?! Are you ready to actually get started in building your own email list? I think you are!!!! Today is the day!
So, I am going to walk you through all the basics to get you started, step-by-step.
HOW TO START AN EMAIL LIST IN 6 EASY STEPS
STEP 1 | RESEARCH & CHOOSE AN EMAIL SERVICE PROVIDER
So the very first thing you need to do is decide what email service provider you are going to use. There are a large variety of providers out there to choose from, but some are definitely better than others or more popular than others.
So, if you have done any research previously, two big names you have probably stumbled across are MailChimp and ConvertKit. So, I am going to focus on those two and explain the pros and cons of each.
I will be super transparent in saying, I currently use Convertkit as my email service provider of choice, but I have also used MailChimp in the past. I highly recommend Convertkit if you are planning on taking your email list seriously and using it as a strategic way to grow your blog and your blog’s income. Let me explain why!
So, the reason MailChimp is a really popular email service provider is because it is free until you hit 2000 subscribers. Yes, that was what sucked me in as a new blogger too, but just wait until I explain why I switched to Convertkit.
I originally started my email list with MailChimp (with my first blog) simply because it was free and it seemed to be a popular choice when I was researching. But, just because something is popular, it does not been it is the best option. I believe MailChimp is popular because it is free.
I personally found MailChimp extremely hard to use and not user-friendly at all. I was always googling how to do thing such as automate emails. I created a free course for my audience that was to be delivered over the span of 6 days, and it took me FOREVER to figure out how the hell to do that. I spent WAY too much time building a FREE course, and it should have taken me a few hours (not including creating content of course). I also just dreaded sending weekly emails to my subscribers because it was such a pain in the ass.Because of this, my email engagement was very low, and my list was not responsive to anything I was sending them let along selling them.
Next, while it was great to not have to pay until after 2000 subscribers, I ended up hitting 2000 pretty quickly. It seems like a big amount as a new blogger, but if you create a dynamite freebie that people want, you will hit 2000 subscribers EASY.
So, maybe you are thinking, well I will just switch email service providers once I hit 2000 subscribers, and sure, that is definitely an option, and that is actually exactly what I did. As soon as I hit that 2000th subscriber and found out I had to pay for MailChimp, I started shopping around. Why pay for a service I didn’t even find user-friendly or beneficial?
That is when I found Convertkit, and I wish I had just used them from the beginning. Convertkit is super user-friendly and was actually designed with bloggers in mind. It has a visual automation set-up, sequence builders, tags so you can segment your subscribers into groups, and so much more.
You see, when I switched I had to literally export all 2000 subscribers from MailChimp and Import them into ConvertKit. I then had to re-create all of my sequences and automations, add subscribers where they needed to go, etc.. It was a headache, and one of the reasons I think starting with Convertkit from the beginning is a better option (if you can swing the small monthly fee). I actually talk all about why I believe investing in your email list is one of the top 3 investments you need to make as a new blogger in THIS POST.
I also want to add that when I re-set up my free course on ConvertKit, it took me 20 minutes. So much more user friendly!!!!
Side Note: If you are interested in going with ConvertKit as your email service provider, you can grab a FREE 14 day trial to try it out before you commit. Click here to get started!
I also have a detailed tutorial on Convertkit & how to use it! You can find it HERE.
STEP 2: CREATING AN EMAIL MARKETING PLAN + STRATEGY
Now that you have your email marketing service provider set-up, you need to create a plan of action and some clarity on how you want to utilize your email list.
Some quick questions to consider are:
- How many emails do you intend to send per week, month, etc.
- Do you plan on eventually selling products, services, courses, to your list?
- What is your ultimate goal for creating an email list? What do you hope to achieve?
It is important to be as consistent as possible. For example, I try to email something to my list once a week, typically on Thursdays. If I have nothing particularly interesting to email them about, I will skip a week, but I always try to plan ahead to prevent that. As long as you are providing lots of value for your list, they will not mind that you are emailing them weekly. At the very least email your list something really great once a month. I recommend more, but if you can only commit to once a month or bi-weekly to start, then that is fine. Just don’t email randomly every few months out of the blue, because your list will NOT be engaged, and they will most likely not open any emails that you do send.
STEP 3: BRAINSTORM & CREATE AN OPT-IN FREEBIE
Now that you have some direction and a plan, you need to brainstorm & create an awesome freebie to offer that will entice people to sign up for your email list.
Creating an awesome opt-in is how you GROW your email list. You will want your opt in to be relevant to your ideal reader, and be related to your overall blog topic/niche. For example, I blog about blogging, and provide tips to new and aspiring bloggers. If someone comes to my blog for blogging tips, and I have a meal planning template as a opt-in freebie, that person is pretty unlikely to opt-in, because they were originally looking for blogging tips. Now, if I have a free course on starting a blog, they are a lot more likely to sign up for that!
Below is a list of different types of opt-in ideas you can tailor to your readers and offer in exchange for their email address:
- List of tips
- How to video
- Short e-book
- Cheat sheet
- Free stock images
- Worksheets or Workbooks
- A Free Course
- Access to an Exclusive Resources Library
A great first step is to add relevant opt-in freebies to a few of your most popular posts. They are already getting traffic, so rather than just putting opt-in’s in your new posts, or on your homepage, utilize the posts that already have traffic. This will help you get subscribers right away.
Not only will opt-in freebies help you grow your email list initially, but you can use them to your advantage in other big ways as well. You can get creative and tailor your opt-in’s for specific product automation sequences (also know as Sales Funnels)
If you decide to go the route of creating your own products or courses, you can use free opt-ins to capture those who may be interested in your course/product by having them opt-in to a freebie that is related. By creating a freebie that is similar, but just a smaller, free version, you know that person in interested in that specific topic. Their email then gets put into the Sales Funnel Sequence and emails promoting your paid course or product are strategically sent to that person, making it more likely for them to purchase!
A great example would be creating a Free Checklist for Starting a Blog. Someone who is interested in starting a blog would then provide their email in exchange for the Checklist. I am going to assume that person is obviously interested in starting a blog right?! Now, I would have it set up so that when that person opts-in to get their free checklist, their email goes to my pre-created Sales Funnel Promoting my new Course all about Starting a Blog! You are grabbing your ideal audience, and sending them relevant emails, and hopefully making sales, on auto pilot!!! All from one free opt-in.
Related Reading: 10 Opt-in Ideas to Explode Your Email List
Once you have some relevant freebie ideas, you will need to physically create them. There are a few different tools you can use depending on what you are offering.
I use Canva to create all of my free digital downloads (checklists, workbooks, ebooks, etc.). I use Teachable to create most of my paid courses, but if I am offering a free email course, I usually just use the Convertkit Sequence feature to deliver the course over a span of however many days (typically 5-7). The last tool I usually use is Google Drive to store my freebies, and then you can use the incentive feature in Convertkit, or simply add the file or link in your email that is delivered to your subscriber.
STEP 4 | CREATE YOUR OPT-IN FORMS
Once you have your freebies created, you need to create opt-in forms to insert into your blog posts so that people can sign up and receive your incentive + join your list. You can use the opt-in forms from your email service provider, or use a plugin (SumoMe, Poptin, opt-in monster) or third-party website such as LeadPages to create customized opt-in forms.
You can also include an opt-in form within your sidebar. You can create this for your most popular freebie incentive, or for resource page access.
STEP 5 | CREATE A WELCOME SEQUENCE
Now that you have started building your email list, you will need to create an automated Welcome sequence. Your Welcome sequence is your first point of contact with a new subscriber, so you want to engage them and show them the benefits of staying subscribed to your list. I use the sequence + automation feature with Convertkit to set up my sequence.
Rather than diving too deep into the importance of a welcome sequence, I am going to direct you to this post: How to Create a Killer Welcome Sequence for Your Email List.
STEP 6 | MAKE A PLAN
One thing that has allowed me to be more successful with my email marketing strategy is planning ahead and setting a schedule for when I will send my subscribers emails. I also plan out the content of my emails at the beginning of every month so I have an idea each week what I want to write about or send my list.
So what are some things you can send your email list? Well here are a few ideas:
- A Free Resource
- An Email Promoting a Product or Course
- Your Newest Blog Post
- A Weekly Tip
- A Round Up Email (You can do your most popular posts, your favorite products, your favorite books, etc).
- A Survey or Questions for Your Readers (Usually aimed toward improving your blog in some way by gathering their feedback)
- A Personal Story about you that your readers may relate to
- 10 Things Your Readers Might Not Know About You (When your readers get to know you better, they become more loyal and are more likely to share your blog, and invest in your products and courses).
At the beginning of each month, I like to plan out the content for each weekly newsletter I plan on sending to my list. And, if I have time, I try to write out my newsletter at least the week before, and just have them scheduled to send out on the day of the week I choose (a great feature in Convertkit). This keeps me consistent and organized!
So, there you have it! Follow those 6 easy steps and you will have your own engaged email community up & running! Have questions or comments? Leave me a comment below!