Ahh, the ‘List’.
As a writer, building your email subscriber list may not (yet) have become paramount in your quest for an engaged audience.
But if you spend any time online, and particularly within the marketing community, you will hear this important proverb ad nauseam:
The money is in the list.
Building an email subscriber list is one of the best ways to ensure the long term success of your business.
How Does This Apply to You?
Building an email list is arguably the most important element to building a following and getting your message heard. It is the most direct and cost effective way to communicate and engage with your fans and subscribers on a personal level. The bigger your list, the bigger your online marketing asset–and the more interested publishers are.
A large Twitter following, significant traffic to your site, or an active Facebook community is great, but an email list is better. Here’s why:
- You own your list. If Facebook deletes your fan page or Twitter kicks you off, you are effectively kicked out of the conversation. You don’t own the content, and what’s worse, if you don’t have an email list, there is no way to contact your followers to let them know what happened.
- Blogs, websites and RSS readers can disappear. Once you have an email list, you can always stay connected with your audience and keep them informed of what you are doing.
Here are a few more benefits to building and maintaining your email list:
- The conversation via email is personal, direct and private. It provides an excellent medium for staying in touch with your readers.
- It’s cheap, cost effective and everyone online has an email address.
- You will always have a way to communicate with your audience. Pat Flynn of the Smart Passive Income Blog and Jeff Goins at GoinsWriter both had issues with their sites recently. They were able to communicate to their readers via email and mitigate what might have been significant and expensive consequences.
- Use your email list to broadcast every time you have a new blog post and send a surge of traffic to your site.
- Inform your readers and fans of a book launch, new product or freelance service and provide a link to your sales page.
Here’s a tip: Subscribe to successful authors, marketing gurus, popular self-publishing blogs and so on to get a free marketing lesson in each email you receive.
- Look at the subject line for their email. Did it catch your attention or intrigue you? Did you open the email? Why?
- Analyze the copy used in the body of the email. What was the tone they used? Was it conversational or salesy? Was there a ‘call to action’? (Were you asked to do something, like click on a link? Did you?) How did they get you to take that action?
So, If the Money is in The List, Should I Use My List to Sell?
Use your email list like you use social media–as a way to connect further with your readers and fans. Interact and inform your readers; don’t constantly promote and sell.
Use your own experiences as an email recipient to define what is great content. Spammy, hard selling is out. Remember, as with everything involved in building your writer platform, you are trying to build trust in you and your brand. It only takes one click to unsubscribe, so make it worthwhile for your reader to stay.
If your subscribers trust that your newsletters or updates provide awesome and unique content (and are not just filled with shameless self promotion), your open rate will increase and your subscribers will be happy to spread the word about you–and what you have to offer.
Provide a call to action or link that directs your reader back to your site where you are promoting your book launch, speaking engagements, new post or other events and services. Keep it conversational, engaging and have a single purpose or action.
Think quality, not necessarily quantity, and consider managing your readers expectations by letting them know when and how often to expect emails from you. By attracting relevant pre-engaged visitors (for example, through guest posting, social media and great on-site content) and providing the most useful information you can, you should see a steady rise to your email subscriber list.
If you haven’t yet, I’d love it if you signed up for YWP’s free updates and the Quick Start Guide! Why not try out the process first hand? 🙂
One of the biggest oversights many writers make in their book marketing efforts is not starting an email list right from the start. In fact many successful online entrepreneurs have stated that waiting before developing their email lists was a big mistake they made early in their careers–and a costly one.
Don’t wait for perfect. It’s tempting to put off list building until your site is tweaked to perfection, you have a killer “ethical bribe” (more on this below), or you finally have a book to market. It also might seem easier to just work on your social media strategy and leave list building for a later project.
The problem is, that building your email list is just too important to ignore.
Online marketing strategist, Derek Halpern of Social Triggers urges those of us marketing online to stop promoting our social media profiles at the expense of our email list. He notes that “email marketing crushes social media marketing”, and he uses some statistics from his own extensive platform to prove his point.
With this in mind, move building your subscriber list to the forefront of your book marketing efforts and ensure it has a prominent position when developing your author blog or website.
Please note: Some affiliate links are included below. 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!
Step 1: Make an Unforgettable First Impression
- Keeping in mind that “perfect” is an unreachable goal, try to present your brand and author blog in the best possible light. Site design, aesthetics and your branding should be unified and cohesive. Your website should be free of errors (even top bloggers, writers and marketers have the occasional spelling mistake, but do your best to fix any problems with your blog).
- Get a good email service like Aweber which allows you to send email newsletters. I use Aweber and it is by far the best option in my opinion. I am most impressed with the ease of use and level of customer service. Plus you also have the ability to manage several lists from different websites under the same account, if you choose.
- Create a hook or “ethical bribe”. An ethical bribe is a freebie, something (of value) you give away in exchange for your reader’s email address.
Some marketers and bloggers refrain from the free giveaway model because they don’t want people to join their email list just to receive the freebie. They prefer that readers join because the blog resonates with them and leaves them wanting more.
The quality of your subscribers is far more important than the number of subscribers. The more people on your list who are genuinely engaged with what you have to offer, the better. Consider both options and choose what best fits your brand strategy and your views.
Step 2: Create an Awesome Sign Up Form
- Create a sign up form in Aweber. Include the benefits the reader will receive from opting in, like free updates, exclusive tips or promotions, or your free giveaway.
- Ensure your form fits with your overall design, and doesn’t just blend in. Make it pop! It should be very clear to your reader that signing up is an action you wish for them to take.
- Place your form at any point on your site where a visitor is likely to be engaged in your content: minimally, at the top of your sidebar, at the bottom of all your articles, and on your about page.
Set up a page on your blog that contains a link or allows the reader to download your free gift.
Step 3: Have a Dedicated Page for Your Free Gift (optional) and Sign Up
- Create a page that is dedicated to nothing more than obtaining email sign ups. Consider giving your reader a list of reasons why they should sign up. For ideas, you can check out YWP’s Updates page.
Ideas and Tips for Growing Your Email List
Although there are many ways to begin growing an active and engaged following through your email list, here’s a few clever ways that are easy to implement right away:
- Add a sign up prompt at the end of your book. The perfect time to ask a reader to sign up for more is after they have turned the last page of your book, and they are looking for more!
- Include calls-to-action on almost every page of your site. Remember to include email sign up boxes or forms on your homepage, your About page, and after each post.
- Create remarkable email content. Not only will this help keep your subscribers, but it will also increase the likelihood that they will share your emails with their friends, family and colleagues.
- Add a sign up link to your everyday email signature. You can even include a reason to subscribe.
- Include a link in your bio when guest posting. If a reader is engaged enough in your content to read your bio at the end of your article and link back to your site, make sure they are linking directly to your email sign up page!
- Add a sign up tab to your Facebook author page. This way, you can encourage people to sign up right from your Facebook page by adding a custom icon to your mailing list tab.
- Collect emails at offline events. Conferences, meet ups, speaking engagements and other promotional events could provide great opportunities to gather email addresses.
- Have a simple call-to-action at the end of your newsletter. Word-of-mouth is a valuable tool for growing your email list, so try adding “Did you enjoy this email? Maybe your friends would too!” at the end of your email or newsletter.
Building your email subscriber list is a key component in creating and maintaining a ‘captive’ audience. By following some of the tips above, you will grow an accessible, thriving fan base that will be the cornerstone of your successful writing career.
For an even deeper dive into email list building techniques, check out Part 1 of the five part Email List Building Series: The Power of an Email List (And Why It’s a Must).
Did I miss anything? Any more tips for writers trying to build their email subscriber list? Please share in the comments below.