I read multiple blogging resources that told me I needed an email list but I wasn’t convinced. I wondered, “Would an email list benefit me as a Christian blogger? Would it be worth the time commitment? What would I say in my emails? How often would I need to send them?”
Despite the number of “experts” telling me I needed a list, no one answered these questions. Eventually, I started my email list anyway and discovered the answers for myself.
Over the next few weeks I will share what I’ve learned in this list building series. Today we start with the basics of building your email list.
Why Have an Email List?
The purpose of an email list is to build a community that belongs to you. The reality is, your Facebook page or Instagram account could be shut down at any time and all those followers lost forever. But with an email list, you always have a way to communicate with your readers.
Now that begs the question, why should I connect with my readers beyond blog posts? At the most basic level, you want to share your new blog posts. These days it’s unlikely even your biggest fans will regularly check your blog for a new post. An email can inform your readers when a new post is live.
If you blog for fun, with no intention of ever making money, then honestly there isn’t a need to cultivate relationships with your readers beyond new post notifications. Therefore, you can set up an RSS campaign, which sends out your newest post to your list automatically.
However, if you ever want to monetize your blog, then you need to build and nurture your email list. Email marketing is one of the most effective ways to make money either from affiliate marketing or selling your own products. I won’t go into the details of email marketing here, but you need to understand the key to success is trust. And trust is built intentionally over time.
How Big Should my List be?
The size of list you need depends on your goals. If your main goal is covering your blogging expenses, then you don’t need a huge list. You can sell effectively to a small list and make money.
A large list should be your goal if you want to make a full-time income from blogging, or you want to publish a book the traditional way. (Publishers like to see large and engaged email lists.)
Your goals should also determine how much time and effort you put into building an email list. If a large list and a full-time income is your goal, you will need to spend significant time building, nurturing, and selling to your list. Keep this in mind as you design your list building strategy.
*Quick note on growth. Explosive growth is the exception not the norm. Building your email list will take time! A good conversion rate is between 2-3%, so if you have 2,000 monthly visitors (not page views) and get 40 subscribers a month, you are doing well.
How to Get People to Subscribe?
People are protective over their email address. In order for someone to invite you into their inbox, you need to offer them something in return. You may have heard this referred to as a freebie or opt-in.
What you offer is entirely up to you. Here are some ideas: short guides (think how to), workbooks/worksheets, Ebooks, printable art or bookmarks, mini e-courses, checklists, resource list, tips lists, coloring sheets, photography, and quizzes.
Whatever you offer, make sure it attracts the right people, i.e. your ideal readers. The right opt-in incentive will result in lots of subscribes and few unsubscribes. The wrong opt-in will either result in few subscribes, or lots of unsubscribes.
Need help coming up with the perfect opt-in? Grab my free guide, Grow Your Email List on Autopilot. I’ll take you step-by-step though choosing your topic, format, and marketing. (I used this exact process to set up my main opt-in, which brings me around 100 new subscribers each month with little to no work on my end.)
How often should I email my list?
Let me start by acknowledging there is no right or wrong answer to this question, only different ways to do it. Therefore, I am going to share three of the most common frequencies along with the pros and cons of each.
3 most common frequencies:
- Once a month. Pros: Good for those with limited time because it’s only one email a month but still often enough for people not to forget about you. Cons: It will take you longer to build trust with your subscribers. (Mainly a concern if you are planning on doing email marketing.)
- Once a week. Pros: Keeps you regularly in your readers inbox. Allows you to offer lots of value to your subscribers. Nurtures them for when you are ready to sell. Cons: A weekly email can be a lot of extra work.
- When you have a new blog post (different than an RSS feed). Pros: These types of emails usually highlight the new post and drive traffic to your site. Cons: If you don’t write a new blog post for a while, your subscribers won’t hear from you.
*When I asked bloggers in my Facebook Group how often they send a newsletter, a handful said they just switched to twice a month. This new trend may continue emerging because it hits a good balance between once a week and once a month.
Now that we’ve covered the basics of building your email list, including why you should have a list, how big of a list you need, how to get subscribers, and how often you should send an email, we will move into the emails themselves. (Click here for part 2!)
I’d love to hear from you. Where are you at in the list building process? What part of today’s post did you find most helpful?