When you start out blogging you might feel like email lists aren’t all that important. When you’re only getting less than a handful of views a day on your blog what’s the point in wasting time setting up an email list and newsletter? Well, I’m going to attempt to demystify why so many successful bloggers bang on about how important it is along with some tips for how you can have a successful newsletter once you’ve got people subscribing.
Why email lists are so important
When people visit your blog you have no idea if they are loving or hating your content. But if someone fills in that subscription box you can be fairly sure that they want to hear more.
It’s the online blogging equivalent of asking someone for their number. If they give it to you you’ve now got a super special direct line to contact that person whenever you please. They said yes, and your blog subscribers said yes too. Hurrah!
Now you’re not just relying on someone catching your content on social media where a simple case of not being online at the right time could mean they miss your post. You have a direct line to their email box to be able to pop up with a quick little hello, looky what I’ve got for you.
The people that subscribe to you are the people that are truly interested in your content and what you’re doing. They’re not just casual readers that pop by every now and then, or readers from organic search results that just want a single piece of information and maybe never return. They want to be seeing your content so much that they’re giving you a way to reach out to them.
They’re your team of supers. These are the people that are more likely to be sharing your content online, checking in with your blog, engaging with you in the comments or on social media or even buying products that you offer. They’re the start of your community.
Aside from anything else, pretty much all successful bloggers say that they wish they had started growing their email list from the start. Seeing as it’s coming from the mouths of people who’ve achieved the dream there’s got to be something to it right?
What is a email list?
Now we’ve covered why you should setup an email list, let’s talk about what an email list actually is just incase you’re not sure.
Basically, it’s a list of names and email addresses of people that liked your blog enough to go ahead and hand over that information.
This is your holy grail list of people. It takes two seconds to follow someone on social media and that unfollow button is just a heartbeat away. The email list is worth way more to your blog than your social media followers and you should treat them as such. Of course your subscribers can hit that unsubscribe link on the email or relegate you to the spam folder, but if you treat your mailing list well then hopefully that shouldn’t happen.
Having multiple email lists
In some cases you might want to run multiple mailing lists so that you can be sure you’re not flooding your subscribers with irrelevant information. For example on this blog we talk about different but related topics. My readers that are all about blogging probably don’t want to be bothered about things relating to youtube and vice versa. Using multiple lists allows you to target your subscribers and only send them information that is relevant to them.
For example if you sell some kind of product, you’ll probably want to have a different email list for those subscribers than for your subscribers that only read your blog and never purchase anything.
If you think your blog would benefit from multiple lists then it’s worth dealing with that before you start. You don’t want to have to try and sort your subscribers into different lists later on down the line. If you’re just batch sending out your newsletters to every subscriber without worrying about whether it’s relevant to them you might find that your emails start to go unread because they’re not targeted to the right people.
How often should you email?
This is a tricky one. You don’t want to be that blog that is constantly bothering their subscribers every single day, but you don’t want to leave it so long between newsletters that your subscribers have forgotten who you are and are left wondering how you got their email address.
A lot of bloggers fall into the mistake of only sending out newsletters when they want something, for example they have something they want to sell. This is poor form and your subscribers will start to feel like you’re just all about the up sell and making cash. Treat your subscribers like friends, you need to give before you can get. You should have a higher percentage of newsletters going out that offer your reader value for free than newsletters offering value for a price.
Initially it’s going to be about experimenting. Most newsletter platforms offer stats so you’re going to be able to see how many of your newsletter readers decided to click through to your blog from your email. Test it out, start with biweekly emails, then switch to weekly and see if you get different results. Obviously in the beginning this is tricky. If you only have two subscribers it’s not a big enough test group to get any meaningful data. But it’s something to bear in mind as your list grows.
You’re really looking to find a nice balance. My advice would be to focus on value. Each time you’re constructing your newsletter really think about whether or not the email is offering any worthwhile information to the reader. Are you giving them a reason to click through to your blog? If not then you might want to consider easing back on the frequency of your newsletter so that you can make sure that each email is really worth it.
When should you start sending newsletters?
Even if there is only one person on your mailing list make sure you’re sending out amazing emails to that person. There shouldn’t be a minimum amount of subscribers that you’re trying to reach before you start, you should start right away. When your email list is small you’ve got a great opportunity to have more one on one conversations with your subscribers, you can find out what they like and don’t like, what posts they’d love you to write. These people are your audience so do a bit of market research and see what comes of it.
A post is not a newsletter!
One of the biggest mistakes I see with bloggers is that they send out an email every time they write a new post. Some blogs commit the bigger sin of sending out the full content of the new post in the newsletter! If you’ve been doing that you really should stop, there’s no reason for someone to visit your blog to read the new post if they can read it straight in their email box. They have no incentive to click through.
Here’s the thing, when bloggers publish posts they tend to promote them everywhere all at the same time. Think how annoying it is for your subscribers if they’re seeing you promoting your post on twitter, facebook, pinterest, instagram, and straight to their email boxes. It’s too much.
Instead of sending out a newsletter for every post, think about condensing it into a weekly or monthly round up. That way there’s going to be more meat to your newsletter, and more chance that the reader is going to spot a post that they want to read.
You shouldn’t use your newsletter like an rss feed. You can include links on your site to platforms that notify your readers every time you publish a new post, so there’s really no need to do that from your newsletters.
Aside from that, newsletters should be a bit more personal. If you’re just sending out a notification email every time you publish a new post it’s going to feel very automated. Your subscribers are generally looking for something more than what they could get from your social media platform.
Media kits are not something you’ll likely be worrying about for a little while, but your subscriber numbers tie into it so I figured it’s worth a mention. A media kit is basically a little kit (or pdf) that you send out to companies that want to work with you, in other words, they want to pay you to post something about them on your blog or social media, or maybe they’re thinking of sending you PR or inviting you on some fancy schmantzy day out. Whatever the reason, your media kit is where you’ll be letting them know the all important figures like blog monthly views, subscriber counts and social media numbers.
Basically, the higher the numbers the more likely a company is going to want to work with you, and the more money you’ll be able to earn from the opportunity.
Ok lovelies, I will be doing some future posts about the types of emails you might want to think about sending out because I know that can be a bit tricky when you’re starting out, so keep your eyes out for those coming up!