The 4 Basic Must Haves – #3 How to Build Your Subscriber List
If you missed the first two Must Have elements for building your platform as a blogger, writer or entrepreneur you can read them here:
*This post contains affiliate links
Today we are going to talk about the infamous List – your list of email subscribers, your raving fans who love your stuff and want access to all of it!
Why Do I Need a List?
We all ask this question when we are just starting out. Some ignore it and put it off for a long time, even people who have big followings on social media.
This is why you need a list of subscribers:
Social Media platforms own your list of fans on those platforms! If one of them pulls the plug and disappears tomorrow they can take every single fan you’ve worked hard to keep instantly. Yeah. Scary thought, isn’t it?
An email subscriber list is YOUR list. Yes, you use a host like MailChimp, Aweber or ConvertKit to connect with your list, but you can download and save your list.
Isn’t sending people emails outdated? Nobody reads emails anymore!
WRONG! That just isn’t true. I admit to being one of the “I hate all those emails” clubs, but as you will learn in a bit, emails WORK and people DO read them.
Why People Subscribe
Think for a minute about who you have subscribed to and why? When I thought about this it was an AHAH moment for me as a business owner.
You likely subscribed and gave your email address in return for something – a coupon, a freebie or download. If you bought something online, you likely had to share your email address too.
The thing is – you receive something of value when you subscribe. So, when we flip the table and are wanting to encourage people to sign up to our list – our fans are expecting something beneficial in return.
Encouraging people to sign up is relatively easy. Easier than you think. If you need some ideas of what you can offer people to encourage them to sign up and receive awesome stuff from you down the road (your products and services), you can check out this list of incentives.
An incentive is a reward people receive when they sign up. It could be an ebook, a downloadable pdf guide, a list like the one I just mentioned, or a mini course. The possibilities are endless for what we can offer in exchange for fans signing up for our awesome stuff.
Make It Worth It
Sometimes people will make an incentive and then wonder why nobody is signing up. The two main reasons why people don’t subscribe are because what you are offering doesn’t resonate with everything else you do, or it isn’t valuable enough!
Make it worth it!
Make your freebie so cool people can’t pass it up! Like my list of incentives – it’s really handy for anyone needing to build a list, plus when people sign up for it – they get tagged and ushered into my free mini-series that helps writers/bloggers/entrepreneurs on related topics.
Wait? You Can Tag Subscribers?
Yep. It’s one of the features in Convertkit (*affiliate link). I started out with MailChimp’s free program but it didn’t work well for me. I have more than one niche and I needed to be able to keep subscribers separated based on why they were signing up.
In Convertkit, not only can I tag people based on their subscription preferences, but I can have multiple sign up forms (that integrate with my website), as many segments (mini-series) as I want; I can also automate how subscribers flow from a sign-up form through various segments and when. Plus, I can resend emails to people who don’t open them the first time.
These are features I really love and it makes keeping my niches easily organized and helps me serve my customers.
What Can I Do with a Subscriber List?
All sorts of stuff!
Some of the ways I use my list:
– Weekly and Monthly Emails
– Niche related (Send important info/content to just one group of subscribers)
– Product Launches/Holiday Advertising
– Bonus Features (Perks not given to anyone else)
– VIP programs
– Share more personal, behind the scenes info.
– Ask fans questions and get feedback
– Respond to common questions
– Repurpose old content
– Direct people to: (website/blog, product, social media, wherever you want)
– Connect with and better serve your customers
Again, in ConvertKit, you can tag subscribers and redirect them at any time. My segments are set up to be automatic, they roll out based on when you sign up. Then I can send out my weekly broadcast on the set date I want subscribers to receive it. I also have segments automated to carry subscribers from one series to the next – so if you signed up today – I have 6 months of great content already set up for you to receive. I set it up once and then only look at the reports occasionally.
How Often Should I Email My Subscribers?
That is entirely up to you! I know people who email their main subscribers daily, weekly and/or monthly.
I have most of my content set up in segments – based off why they signed up in the first place. Then I send out a monthly newsletter with current events, upcoming news, a Here is What You Might Have Missed list.
When there are holidays or events going (like when I am speaking at an event or about to launch a program or run a big sale) I email appropriately.
I am not a fan of lots of emails – one of the main success principles I teach is effectiveness – get your message clearly written, and send it a few times (over a week, month or extended time frame).
Figure out what you want to say (and why), and the purpose for sending the emails in the first place.
Is it to connect with your fans, to share something fun, good and/or useful? Are you wanting to encourage them to venture to your website or a product?
Keep Email Content Balanced
Remember to keep a short term and big picture perspective with growing your list.
The idea is to get and KEEP subscribers who will enjoy and benefit from what you are sending them.
My subscribers know they will get a monthly newsletter – maybe two, these are the ones that that will keep them informed about upcoming events and deals. They know that every mini-series they receive, they will get 5-8 emails over the course of a few weeks, packed with great tips to help them and increase their motivation. In those 5-8 emails, I mention a product maybe 3-4 times, and only after giving them something useful in the same email.
When you are offering a sale or doing a launch, yet you always over deliver – you will keep your fans that aren’t interested in buying. In other words, you won’t annoy them and you will build your integrity and respect with your subscribers (which will likely convert them down the road).
How Big of a List Do I Need?
That depends on your goals and the purpose of wanting a list in the first place.
I know people who have small lists – less than 500, and they make a full year’s salary from only their list.
I know people with giant lists of over 500k, and yes, they make a lot of money, but only from a small percent of their list. In other words, they only convert a small percentage of their subscribers.
Don’t get caught up in how big your list is – stay focused on providing great emails, content and service with the subscribers you do have.
Where Do I Begin?
Check out the main email subscriber hosts and see which one meets your needs best. MailChimp has a free version. If you want to try a month at ConvertKit for free, click that link. I have also heard good things about Aweber.
I would start by:
- Writing down the purpose and goals of having a list of subscribers.
- Then make a list of what you currently have to offer them, both as incentives and for content to share.
If you need ideas for things to share because you are really new at it all, use this list of 10 Things to Share to get you started.
- I would map out your first 2-3 email segments.
Example: If I emailed to my writer subscribers this mini blog series on the 4 Must Haves, it would look like this –
Email #1 The 4 Basic Must Haves for Writers and Bloggers (overview)
Email #2 Websites
Email #3 Social Media
Email #4 The List
Email #5 Professional Email
Email #6 Bonus Tips
Email #7 Incentive or mention to join FB group or webinar
I highly recommend looking at your overall goals and what you are creating and planning for the next 6 months or year in terms of your blog and products/services. This way you can plan out great times for sending subscribers info on certain topics (like food bloggers will send out their best holiday recipes for each holiday). You can even buy or print out a yearly calendar to help you pinpoint certain times when you will want to focus on events/launches.
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