But before we do, lets take a look at what weve accomplished so far:
In Part 1, The Power of an Email List (And Why Its a Must), we discussed why building a targeted and invested email list of subscribers is hands down one of THE most important things you can do to ensure the long term growth of your writing career.
We pitted email vs. social media (email with the win!), and outlined the huge advantage of building your email list early.
And we discovered how creating meaningful relationships and sharing valued content with your subscribers builds trust and increases your influence allowing you to create an army of book buyers and promoters.
In Part 2, Create a Sign Up Incentive That Knocks Their Socks Off, we looked at the psychology behind the right freebie, and if bribing people to sign up affected the quality of subscribers.
We recognized the need to know and understand as much as possible about the people we are trying to reach in order to design an opt-in that delivers.
And to get the creative juices flowing, I shared a monster list of incentive ideas for writers, as well as the tools needed to create and promote your shiny new opt-in incentive.
I included a free PDF download of the flow from sign up to follow up message, as well as cautioned you about the importance of being legally compliant when obtaining email addresses from your subscribers.
In Part 4, Finally! Ideas and Tips on What to Send to Your Subscribers, we answer the question: “What do I actually email my subscribers?”
Again, we discuss the importance of identifying who you are trying to communicate with as well as the key to an easy conversation.
We learned how to create well-crafted and smartly targeted email content, and I shared loads of tips and ideas on the types of content you might send to your subscribers.
Phew! Thats a lot of ground covered.
If youve come this far, you should be well on your way to growing a supportive community and a list of engaged subscribers.
How to Take Your Email List Building to the Next Level
In order to move from a trickle of new subscribers to a flow (or *fingers crossed* a tsunami), there are three things we must do:
1. Optimize Your Website to Capture Leads
Most writers assume that traffic or increasing their website visitors is the first thing they have to address in order to jumpstart their list numbers.
But sending visitors to your site, just to have them leak away because you haven’t plugged all the holes, is a waste of time and resources.
Before you start driving traffic back to your site, make sure that you have set your site up to convert as many people from casual visitor to intrigued subscriber as possible.
How do you do that?
Just like when hosting a dinner party, you want to be ready and welcoming. The last thing you want is for your guests to arrive while youre still in your robe and bleaching your mustache. 😉
To help make your author website more presentable, try the following resources:
Once youve tweaked your website to appeal to your target readership, the next step is to implement some of the list building strategies weve uncovered over the course of this series.
To make it even easier, here is a free checklist of 54 Ways to Build Your Email List for Writers (which includes both email content AND opt-in incentive ideas):
2. Increase Targeted Traffic to Your Site
After you have ensured that your site is ready for visitors and that its optimized to convert the “right” visitors into subscribers, its time to open the traffic nozzle.
Ha! If only it were that easy, right?
Traffic building is another post (or book) entirely, but heres a short list of strategies and resources that will help you start to increase the number of visitors to your site:
- Guest Posting – One of the number one ways to build your readership, especially when you’re just starting out. Here is an excellent and comprehensive tutorial on The Power of Guest Posting.
- Social Media – Check out Frances Caballo’s site Social Media Just for Writers or learn more about social media strategy with Rebekah Radice.
- Increase your use of images, video and other media to attract new readers that prefer to absorb info in different ways. Learn how to create images that grab attention.
- Back of Book Calls to Action – Clearly, those who have made it to the end of your book are engaged. In most cases they are looking for even more from you, so don’t waste the opportunity to let them know what else you have to offer. Drive these people back to your author website, and ideally, onto your mailing list. Here’s an article with more back of book call to action ideas.
- Don’t neglect keywords and SEO – not the most enticing subject for most authors, but a little SEO-optimizing can go a long way in increasing visitors to your site. I use the Yoast WordPress SEO Plugin to help (here’s a set up tutorial) and I also have a few SEO basics under my belt: Learn How SEO Works.
- Use Click-To-Tweet to make it even easier to share great content – Great content that’s easy to share with others helps spread your message and ideas even further. And the further your reach, the bigger the opportunity you have to draw those people back to your website for more. Here’s an easy-peasy video walkthrough for using Click-To-Tweet, or you can also try a plugin.
- Reference Your Content and the Content of Others – By referencing your own content in new posts, you can draw readers to other content on your site, as well as give search engines a nice signal about those older posts. Referencing other peoples’ content is a great way to earn links, social media mentions, and friendly connections with those you reference increasing your traffic as your network grows.
3. Tweak and Refine As Needed
As your author blog and writing career blossoms, your audience may shift and change. Different projects may attract different audiences, or a new series might expand into a direction you hadnt anticipated. So be prepared to make adjustments.
You may find it necessary to tweak or change your opt-in incentive, test the placement of your opt-in forms or re-evaluate the relevancy of your email content.
Although much of your mail list building can be automated, dont fall into the trap of assuming its a set-it-and-forget-it tool that will build your community for you.
The key is to have your finger on the pulse of your readers needs and wants, and to make sure that you are consistently delivering content that they find entertaining and valuable.
Pro List Building Ideas
Your site is optimized, you’re implementing strategies to boost traffic to your site, and you are aware that you must adjust or pivot to meet the needs and interests of your growing audience.
But now that I’ve convinced you that your email list is one of THE MOST important aspects to building a thriving and successful writing career (I have, haven’t I?), you want MORE.
So what else can you do to take your list building to the next level? What tactics can you employ to skyrocket your email list?
Talk to Other List Holders and Collaborate
Beat the bushes to find other writers with audiences similar to the readers you seek, and discuss ways that you can work together to develop your lists. (This usually works best when you have similar list sizes.)
Get on their email lists, and encourage them to join yours. Cross promote each others newsletters, opt-in incentives or special projects.
You can even send an email to your list of your “favourites”, including only the most relevant and entertaining email newsletters for your particular audience. Make sure to outline the benefits youve found from being on these particular lists (and be sure to let the list holders know that you’ve done so).
Organize a Joint Event or Giveaway
Running a joint event often gives those that participate significantly more bang for their buck.
Each member can contribute one or more freebies that lead to their specific email sign up page making the overall “prize” for the subscribers much more appealing.
Everyone promotes the event by email and via their social media networks, collectively building momentum and multiplying their reach.
Create a Contest or Challenge
One example of this in action is Nathalie Lussier’s 30 Day List Building Challenge.
The challenge was originally designed to focus on list building activities over the course of a month, but has grown into a more robust video mini-series with a members area, and a place where you can report back and discuss your results with the group.
The concept behind this challenge could be applied to almost any activity that you would like your audience to take action on, and works exceptionally well for non-fiction and children’s book authors.
Contests can help build excitement and encourage participation from your audience – which leads to a more engaged community.
Develop a Product Bonus or Bundled Offer
Is your opt-in incentive the perfect compliment to another writers project, course or topic? Or could you easily create something that adds value by solving a specific problem not addressed by that author?
If you’re a fiction writer, consider bundling several novels that will appeal to the same targeted audience.
Collaborate as above, and promote these “special offers” to not only your own subscribers, but to others who may find your offering uniquely valuable and of interest to their community.
Build Up SEO on Your Dedicated Sign Up Page
This strategy won’t drastically increase email sign ups, but it will help to steadily build your list.
Create a landing page that focuses solely on email sign ups. Include key words and phrases that people will use to search on Google and make sure that you answer the reader’s question, “Whats in it for me?”.
Encourage people to share the page using social media and use the page link in your Twitter profile, Facebook bio, Pinterest pins, promotional materials and in your back of book calls to action.
Offer a Special, One-Time Broadcast
Create a sense of urgency by sharing something that is time sensitive, and that only those on your list will receive access to.
This could be a teleseminar, a webinar, a Q and A session, or a live Google Hangout. Whatever it is, it’s imperative that people get on your list now to get this insider information, or they miss out.
Create a Guest Post Specific Landing Page
Often writers link to their website homepage within their guest post bio – big mistake!
Why? Because your homepage is typically the busiest, most distracting page on your site.
You’ve already managed to attract their interest (they’ve read your guest post), and take action (they’ve clicked your bio link) why scatter their attention, when with just a little nudge (a relevant opt-in incentive) you may have them subscribing to your list?
Plus, there is an implicit endorsement that a guest post on a higher-profile blog gives you. Leverage that endorsement and welcome those readers with a tailor-made message.
Roll out the red carpet by personalizing the experience, thank them for reading, and show them the value of being a part of your community.
Include Content Upgrades
One of the more technically difficult and time-intensive strategies to implement, content upgrades can also be one of THE most effective ways to boost your subscriber count.
Instead of creating just one opt-in incentive, you create post specific bonuses for every blog post you write (or as many as you can muster).
You offer this incentive as a featured download or bonus, and your reader must enter their email to gain access to the freebie.
And the reason it works so well, is because most of us won’t do it.
Creating a bonus for every article requires more time, the set up requires a bit of tech savvy, and the most efficient process requires you to shell out about $30 per month for software.
But, if you’re serious about building your list, and you understand the enormous impact on sales that having a ready-made fan base can make, including content upgrades in your posts is a no-brainer. Especially because so few are willing to make the effort.
Some bonuses might include:
- a simple checklist of a how-to post
- a video version of the post
- a Q and A or more in-depth look at a specific point in the post
- additional and relevant resources
- a bonus chapter
- a PDF or mini ebook of the post
The simplest way to set this up is to use your email marketing service along with LeadPages software. I’m still working on setting things up with Aweber, but here is a very thorough explanation of the set up process using Mailchimp: The Complete Guide to Setting up Post Specific Bonuses with Mailchimp (save yourself $300/month).
Still With Me?
If you find this daunting, take a breath. Remember, these are advanced list building strategies that you can start incorporating after you’ve honed your skills on the easier to implement strategies listed throughout this series and within the 54 Ways to Build Your Email List checklist.
And as your community grows, so will your book sales.
Having a targeted and eager list of subscribers ensures that an audience is already waiting for your next book. 🙂
As always, I’d love your feedback, so please share your successes (or stumbling blocks) below.
(Please note: Some affiliate links are included above. I will earn a small commission if you buy from one of my links, at no extra cost to you. This helps Your Writer Platform continue to provide loads of free, quality content. I appreciate your support!)