You’ve probably read a lot about creating an email list. And when I say a lot, I mean a LOT! Personally, I’ve found most information out there about email marketing and email lists to be contradictory and confusing, especially for bloggers.

Because of this, I’ve decided to do a series of posts about email lists and marketing. Starting with today’s post – The Whys and Hows.

Email List

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So, Let’s Start with What

Ok, “What” wasn’t in the title of this post but it makes sense to include a little bit about what an email list is.

This is fairly straight forward.

It’s a list of email addresses that you have collected by people giving you their contact information. This is usually done through a “sign up” form on your site (I’ll cover more of this later in the week). People usually sign up to your email list because they are interested in what you are blogging about or selling (if you have products and services) and want to hear more.

Next Up, Why?

Why do you need an email list? An email list is the perfect way to reach out to your readers directly and keep them up to date with everything you are doing. This can vary from letting them know when a new post has been published to when your next course, book or product is going to be launched. You can send weekly or monthly newsletters or one-off emails asking for help or feedback from your loyal fans.

There’s a long list of reasons why you, as a blogger, need an email list. The most important of these reasons are:

You are in Control

One of the best things about email marketing is the fact that it’s yours – you have total control over the content, the design and how often emails are sent. This means that you’re not restricted to a certain graphic size or colour scheme. You can create emails and sign-up forms that match your blog’s branding. You can really make your emails your own and make them stand out from all the other emails landing in your readers’ inboxes.

You can create emails and sign-up forms that match your blog’s branding. You can really make your emails your own and make them stand out from all the other emails landing in your readers’ inboxes.

Not only do you have control over how your emails and sign-up forms look but, your email list is the only thing that you “own” outside of your blog. Social media channels are all owned by other people which means that they are subject to change without warning. Algorithms change. Trends change. Settings change. And you can’t control any of this. Your email sequences aren’t going to change you unless you change them.

The other downside to not having control over Social Media channels is that they get hacked and/or disappear mysteriously. Sometimes Facebook doesn’t like the name of your group or Instagram thinks you’re violating their terms of use and, before you know it, your account has been deleted and your following has gone.

Now, I’m not saying that your email service provider won’t have terms of use that you might break (please don’t!) or the company might disappear (hopefully not if you use one of the bigger ones!) but, you can back up your email list.

Your Readers are in Control

Ok, so your readers aren’t in control of what you send or how your emails and opt-in forms look but, your readers will have chosen to opt into your mailing list. On that basis alone, they should be super excited (and grateful) for everything you send through to them!

This means that the chances of them actually reading the content of the emails is much higher than when you post random Tweets or Facebook updates. Emails are personal and targeted to your readers, and your readers alone.

If you set up a more complex email list – using things such as tags/segments – your readers can choose which types of communications they receive e.g.  if your blog covers DIY as well as blogging tips, they can choose to only receive emails in respect of DIY and not blogging. By letting your readers choose exactly what they want to receive, you are reducing the amount of “unsubscribes”…well in theory anyway…

Emails are Direct and Personal

Pretty much everyone has an email address and most of those people check their inboxes regularly. I know I do. In fact, I probably check my emails at least once an hour!

Your wonderful, sparkling email will land in their inbox and will be addressed directly to them, it might even start with “Hey *First Name*”  if you want things to be really fancy and personal! It’s very rare that people will ignore emails in their inbox forever. Your email will sit there, in their inbox until they read it (or delete it!). Why does that matter?

Well, think about Social Media and how quickly things move. And how impersonal they are. That Tweet you just wrote isn’t targeted at a single person, it’s just out there in the Twittersphere for everyone to see. If someone does see that Tweet, chances are that they will simply scroll past it – deem it as irrelevant to them. Emails, on the other hand, are clearly directed at the recipient and therefore relevant to them.

This means that your email content will get seen by lots of people whereas your Tweet will get lost in someone’s Twitter feed within a matter of minutes and might not be seen at all.

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They Make Great Sales Tools

I will hold my hands up and say that about 98% of everything I have invested in for Flourishing Freelancer has been through a recommendation from another blogger or solopreneur. Every single course that I have registered for has been as a result of an email I’ve received for being on someone else’s email list.

Emails are a great marketing tool when it comes to selling things. I don’t know what it is for everyone else, but for me, it comes down to three things. Firstly, the email is right there in front of me, I haven’t had to spend hours looking for whatever it is that’s being offered to me but it’s still offering something that I’m interested in. Secondly, it’s a recommendation coming from someone I trust. I only sign up to the email lists of people I trust as an authority or expert in their niche so, when they recommend something, I trust their judgment. Finally, there’s usually some sort of incentive within that email. Maybe it’s a discount or there’s a limited time in which the offer is available. Whatever it is, it gives me more of a reason to make a purchase than simply stumbling across a sales page somewhere online!

So, How? (In Theory)

First thing’s first, you will need to sign-up with an email service provider and create an account. There are a lot of options out there for you. The most popular amongst bloggers are:

There are pros and cons for each provider…far more than I can fit into this post. You can access the full post on which email service provider is right for you here.

Once you have an account that’s right for you, it’s time to get some contact details.

How do you get those email addresses onto your list? Good question my friend! The “simple” answer is that you collect them. One at a time. There are no shortcuts to this I’m afraid. Well, actually, there is. You could buy email lists but I would not recommend this. Depending on how, when, where and who, this could be illegal. Plus even if it wasn’t, those people won’t have signed up to your list willingly. Chances are, they’ll unsubscribe the second you send the first email out. Not what you want at all.

Some people will sign up to your email list simply because they like what you say on your blog. Others will be interested in receiving information on the products and services you sell. But, most people will only sign up if there’s something in it for them!

You’ve probably seen it a lot – free downloads, ebooks, cheat sheets – things being offered in exchange for your email address. These free things that attract readers to sign up to your email list are called “lead magnets”. One thing you need to ensure is that our lead magnet is linked to the content you create. If it’s not, there’s a risk that they will sign up to get the freebie and then unsubscribe when they realise that your emails generally aren’t something they’re interested in.

So, that’s the basics of what an email list is, why you need one and how you create one (in theory). Tomorrow I’ll talk about setting up a MailChimp Account and adding a sign-up box to your blog.

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