Mailing Lists, Getting Subscribers and Where to Start with Your Newsletter
When you’re coming onto the online business arena you are bombarded with all these things to do: get a great brand, build an email list, be active and consistent on social media, blog... it can quickly get overwhelming.
The feeling can leave you paralyzed with “there’s so many things I need to do I don’t even know where to start” and then you either: don’t do anything or try to figure it all out on your own, which is tough.
I know the feeling, because I’ve been there. I feel like I'm still there most days, but I’ve been able to get more focused.
Before we go over newsletter content and getting subscribers, let's go over a brief little review for why having a mailing list should be one of your top priorities with having an online business.
3 Reasons why having an email should be one of your top priorities:
1. The people on your mailing list invited you into their daily life. Being in someone's inbox is having the ability to contact them personally, knowing they will see your offering. Because everyone checks their email, whether they open the email is another story.
2. Your mailing list is full of potential customers who want to hear what you have to say. You're list is made up of people who are willing to buy a product or service from you because they trust you.
3. Out of any social media platforms, your mailing list is under your control. So if you website crashes, or if Facebook kicks you off their platform, you still have your mailing list.
Getting into the nitty gritty.
Now that we have the importance of a mailing list out of the way... how do you even get started? What do you write about? How do you get people to sign up?
All very important questions and I hope to answer all of them here for you:
How to get people to sign up:
Give them an incentive.
An incentive: (def) something that incites or tends to incite to action or greater effort, as a reward offered for increased productivity.
People need a reason to sign up for your list. I’ve heard it said that your giveaway should be worth $100 so that you’re giving your members something that's truly valuable. And that can look different for everyone, but the point is to make it worth something to them.
Examples: A downloadable pdf of how to dress and do your make-up for your photoshoot, a code to enter a gallery page that is for members only, a collection of photoshop actions, or secret behind-the-scenes exclusives only for your subscribers.
The options are endless, just make it something you would pounce on if the tables were turned. I offer a monthly styled stock photopack that my subscribers can use however they want, in blog posts or for their social media, to help grow their business. Whatever it is that you decide to offer, make sure it's quality, it's worthwhile, and that it's easy for people to sign up when they come across the opt-in option.
• Make it quality
Take the time to put your brand’s logo in the email, choose colors and fonts that are in line with your brand. Try not to just whip something out in 5 min, put some thought and care into your offering so that it can benefit your subscribers.
• Keep your audience in mind
You’re writing for your audience and the things you put in your newsletter should be a reflection of their interests and wants. Get to know them and find out what they want and how you can help them achieve their goals.
Writing a newsletter is tricky. You want people to be excited when your email comes so how do you make your newsletter something people can’t wait to open?
Choose a style
Choosing a style of how to write your newsletter doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time to develop your voice but here are a few styles to think through that you could implement in your newsletter to give you a starting point:
• weekly: run down of the week / things you've been learning
• personal: thoughts on life, business, relationships, eating well, etc.
• action steps, encouraging to take action with tips and insights
• heartfelt, a mini blog post about life with encouragement and insight
• your top 5: top things that are trending or on the current landscape of your industry
• informative: letting your subscribers know what’s coming up / exclusive deals and promos
• encouragement: quotes, inspirational briefs for motivation
• freebie: every so often give your subscribers something that's special and valuable to keep your subscribers wanting more
Any one of these styles can be mixed and matched to fit your personality and business to best relate to your audience. I encourage you to try new things with your list until you feel like you’re in the groove. It may take some time but it’s worth it to make sure your newsletter is a representation of you and your brand.
For my list, I use several of those styles from tips and freebies to personal thoughts and encouragement. I make sure that what I share is in line with my brand which is to help and inspire business owners and bloggers to have a professional and beautiful brand to communicate the right message to their ideal audience.
The main thing you want to ask yourself is "how is this benefiting my reader / audience." You don't want to send an email for the sake of sending an email. It's important to think of your audience and subscribers as people who are wanting to learn from you and be encouraged from your content. So keep that in mind as you continue on.
Brand your content
Branding goes beyond a logo and colors, it touches every area of your business and it should be that way with your email too.
You don't have to go over the top with images but I would also suggest adding your logo to your newsletter. It makes it more official and put together and also solidifies your branding.
Choosing a Platform
There are several platforms out there for when you're ready to start your email list:
Awebber, Mailchimp, Convertkit, Infusionsoft are the main ones that come to mind. There are pros and cons to all of these. The main thing is to ask yourself what your list is being used for. If you're simply trying to grow your list from 0-100, I would recommend starting with something that doesn't cost money.
If you're like me, beginning your business doesn't come with a lot of start up cash. But thankfully you can get a lot done on free accounts with email service providers and other processes.
Mailchimp has a free account option that is a good starting ground for beginning your list. This is what I did. Although they don't provide auto-responders on the free account, you can still get a lot done with what you are given.
Mailchimp also offers beautiful templates and you can customize it to fit your brand perfectly. Although there is a little learning curve, the more you use it, the easier it gets.
Convertkit is, in my mind, for someone who has a steadily growing list with multiple opt-ins options. And due to the fact that you have to pay a monthly subscription, I would wait to go with Convertkit til I got to the point where I was getting subscribers daily and keeping up with everything was too much.
Although Convertkit lacks a little bit on the creative / design side it makes up for it with a very easy-to-use interface. When you go to the dashboard, you can immediately see which opt-ins are performing well and which ones aren't. You can also use auto-responders and email sequences, which is incredibly useful for the busy business owner.
Keeping your subscribers
Having a newsletter is like blogging. It’s better to be consistent.
I’ve joined lists that I've been excited about then after six months I realize I haven't heard from them in 3 months of that time. That can make it seem like you don't care about your readers and that your list isn't important.
If you want your subscribers to feel connected and engaged, don’t leave them high and dry once they got on board.
Some of the best newsletters I'm subscribed to happen on a certain day of the week. This is a best practice. Keep your newsletter to the same day (or days) of the week so that your subscribers know when they can expect to hear from you. Reliability increases trust.
I don’t know about you but I’ve subscribed to email lists for the freebies and when I received them, they weren’t that great. Disappointing to say the least.
Make your newsletter quality so that your readers will feel lucky they got it for free, or so excited when they get your email. Providing quality content gives your readers a reason to stay and fosters excitement to hear from you.
Make it personal
One of the newsletters I'm subscribed to is from John Lee Dumas's Entrepreneur on Fire and just this week I received an email that was so encouraging to new businesses I felt compelled to say thanks. So I replied to the email thanking John and I was shocked but I received a reply to my email thanking me for my thank you. I was floored but it also made me a bigger fan than I already was.
Being available to your audience with writing back can make a huge difference in how your readers relate to you, perceive you and can turn them into even more faithful fans.
I always add some personal life in my newsletter to be relatable and because I want to come across as someone who, hopefully, my subscribers would want to chat with in real life. And with the emails I receive I enjoy getting to know the people behind the businesses. This is personal preference, but finding out how to be relatable to your readers and creating an actual relationship is important.
A business owner I follow is Emily Thompson from Being Boss and she does something called "3 for 30" which is where she picks 3 people at random on her email list and does a 30 minute phone call with them (I’m not sure if it’s every month or every other month). She's said on her podcast that this keeps her in tune with her readers and their needs. Doing something like this keeps your readers feeling engaged and special. Reach out and be helpful and you will have a raving fan base.
If you've been on the fence with starting a list, I encourage you to go for it!
What's something you struggle with the most with your email list?
What is something you really like about the emails your subscribed to?
What are some giveaways or freebies you can incorporate to make your list more appealing?