How to build an email list fast. What does that even mean? Today we look at how you can encourage people sign up for your list, even if they might be on the fence about you.
If you want your list to grow, you have to make it a priority and the sooner you start, the sooner you will know what works for you, and more importantly, what does not.
This post was originally published June 12th, 2018 and has been updated to be current with new information. This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure is here.
Welcome to Fearless Affiliate.
My name is Irma and I help new bloggers to learn the ropes. There is a lot to take in that first year of blogging, from choosing a niche to changing your mindset from worker bee mentality to that of successful entrepreneur.
I like to focus on practical information and positive thinking, so if that sounds good to you please sign up for my weekly newsletter of tips and free stuff for bloggers.
Are You Ready To Get Your List Started?
I can help! Get my 21 Email Marketing Hacks to help you start email marketing right from the start. It’s in the Resource Library. Sign up now and check it out.
But Email Is so Complicated!
It seems that way in the beginning. When you take the time to set up automations and a welcome series, it may seem like…well, work.
Admit it…a lot of blogging feels that way.
But your business needs to connect to visitors and buyers. There are no successful companies who don’t make regular connections with their customers.
If you want to make a real connection with your “fans” you have to jump in and give them a way to talk to you.
Your subscribers will give you ideas for content. And they will ask questions.
This is your cue to create products that can help them. People will tell you what they want from you! What could be easier?
This is one of the connections.
Another connection is you helping your subscribers learn more through your weekly newsletter. And this is the most important connection.
If your goal is to help people, the easiest way to do that is to create products that can help people, based on what they need.
Get A Decent Theme
But not the same one everyone else has.
My theme is Generate Press, and it was only $49. There is a free version as well but the Premium version is better for online sellers.
Generate press is a very lightweight theme, that is customizable in the same way as Gutenberg and Elementor.
GP is not bogged down with plugins or extra features you will not use.
Instead, you can add code for all the functionality you could ever want. There is a lively Facebook group that will answer any questions you have.
I set up my theme with basic customizing and left it at that. When I need to add something, I watch a YouTube video.
Benefits of Generate Press:
- Secure and stable
- Less than 10kb, so a small footprint
- Top-tier speeds due to the lightweight, clean code
- Not bogged down with bloat – extras are not there unless you want them there
- SEO optimized
- Accessibility ready
Getting A Fully-Functioning ESP
You hear “the list is king” from everybody. Because it’s true. Your list is your people.
You own your list.
So step one in getting a list started is choosing an email service provider (ESP).
Some ESP’s are: MailerLite (recommended), ConvertKit, Aweber, Constant Contact, MailChimp and others.
When I first tried email marketing, I went with MailChimp because it was free and I was experimenting.
I tried setting it up to my liking, but I got lost quickly. And the opt-in forms were plain and uninspiring.
I found MailChimp to be user-unfriendly
So I switched to MailerLite, which is much simpler (recommended product).
MailerLite is also popular among bloggers because it offers the same options as the pricey products like ConvertKit, but without the pricey tag.
You can do everything you need to connect to your peeps using MailerLite tools:
- automations (setting up emails to go out on a schedule) and
- embedded forms (the opt-in forms you use to capture subscribers)
- choice of send times
- detailed send reports
MailerLite is free for your first 1,000 subscribers.
ConvertKit starts at $29 for your first 1,000 subs. Ouch.
Related Post: How To Use MailerLite
Remember, your subscribers belong to you. Social media may come and go, but your list is yours forever.
An important goal for serious online marketers is to have an expanding email list.
If you want to earn money from ads on your site, you need visitors giving you page views. Ad money is just the first stop on the passive income train.
Ditto for affiliate products…you need a lot of people coming into your funnel just to get one link click.
Are you trying to start coaching or a membership site? You also need tons of traffic.
List building is different
Once you get subscribers, most of them will stick around to keep getting your content.
Some will grab your freebie, hang around politely, then unsubscribe. To them: buh-bye.
But the faithful? They are going to read your stuff, buy your stuff, and help promote your stuff.
Creating and promoting your own products is where your real destination is.
If your goal is to earn an income to replace the money you earn at your 9-to-5, then email marketing is the way to go.
Because who is going to click your links? Random visitors?
That’s not a business…it’s a daydream. Sorry to be harsh but it’s true.
Every single blogger I’ve read about who was making full-time income in their first year did it with their own products.
Create your list > create your products > promote to your list. Because if you have 500 people on your list, you have 500 potential buyers.
You have no idea what the random visitors who come to your site want. A freebie? Ideas for their own content?
Or were they looking for something and Google sent them to you by mistake?
So let’s attract some subscribers to build your list.
Use A Customizable pop-up
Find a pop-up that allows you to customize when it pops. MailerLite offers this.
Set it for 45 seconds after someone lands or when they get near the bottom of the blog post or are about to click away.
In theory, if someone is on your site for 45 seconds, they are likely looking around and if they like what they see they are a good candidate for an opt-in opportunity.
Make sure that yours is optimized for mobile users.
Be sure to include your best benefits on your pop-up.
- List your popular freebies
- If you offer coupons for first time subscribers, list it.
- Or list any other benefit that encourages sign-ups like regular contests.
Place Your Opt-in Forms In The Right Spots
It is imperative that you give readers multiple opportunities to sign up. I didn’t believe this until I went from one opt-in forms on my home page to three on every blog post.
Boom! I increased my subscribers rapidly. So choose a few of these spots:
- Above the fold. As soon as your page loads, visitors can see an invitation to sign up
- In the footer. Some people do scroll right to the bottom, so invite them in as well!
- The top and bottom of every blog post.
- In your navigation menu – a “subscribe” tab or “proven tips”. Link to a landing page opt-in form.
- In the sidebar if you do not have one in the header/footer. At the top, so visitors see it right away.
- A Pop-up before they leave
- If you have a “Feature” box in your header
You want to make it extremely easy for people to sign up, so your opt-ins should be everywhere!
Give your readers some information on who you are, and what you are about, and how you can help them as well as inviting them to stay awhile and look around!
Create An Enticing Opt-in Incentive
There are a lot of choices for these, so the sooner you start trying some out, the sooner you will discover what resonates for your people.
- The “next steps” of a popular blog post
- A cheat sheet – break a large post into manageable tips
- Create a short e-book – 5 to 10 pages, including covers and intro
- Make a spreadsheet to go with a post
- Video training/tutorial/walkthrough
- Webinars or audio recording
- An email course/challenge – one lesson daily, 3 to 5 days max (longer courses can be paid products)
- Printable planner pages or inventory checklist
You want your content upgrade to be highly relevant.
The easiest way to discover what is relevant to your subscribers is to check your Google Analytics.
Look at your last 3- and 6-month data to find your popular posts. Expand on that content.
Related Post: Google Analytics Tutorial
GDPR rules say that you must be clear about what you are offering and that you cannot make signing up mandatory to get a free item.
You can offer it as a bonus for sign up.
Testing Opt-In Incentives
Create the opt-in forms and give them a few months to work, less if you use paid ads to drive traffic.
If you don’t have much traffic you won’t get decent data. You don’t want to waste time creating incentives, so give your data time.
Yet another reason to start email marketing now.
Once you get incentives in place that work, the system runs by itself. All you need to do is promote it.
Having multiple opt-ins means that you bring in new subscribers from different areas of your website.
You can monitor the sign-up data through the dashboard of your ESP.
Start with a basic opt-in form that offers your newsletter and exclusive content.
Then create an opt-in that is specific to a blog post, like a cheat sheet that helps to expand on the post.
If you are offering a free course, you can also include useful free printable items that are included with the course as extra incentive.
Also, be discriminating with which posts you create incentives for.
We all have posts that interest us more than visitors. Be sure to create opt-in gifts that interest your visitors.
This is important if your website has been evolving from one main niche topic to another. These things happen.
So choose which topic you want to gain traffic from and use a popular post from there.
Creating content upgrades/incentives takes some time and consideration.
If you cannot put that time in, then just create a nice opt-in to your newsletter and place the code within your most popular blog posts until you can do more.
FYI: If your content upgrade does not work out, DO NOT DELETE IT. You can repurpose your cheat sheets and printable items into an e-book later on!
Write Your Email Newsletter
The idea here is to not only attract subscribers but to keep them and hopefully have these loyal subscribers share your content.
Your newsletter is the best place to share stories that show your humanity.
Show your subscribers how you get your brainstorms, or what motivated you to do something risky that resulted in something amazing.
You can share links to other websites with great, useful content.
If you know of other bloggers whose niche aligns with yours, share links.
Or share links to free workshops on topics that you have blogged about but are not an expert (yet!).
You can share links to affiliate products that you think your readers might find helpful.
You can share struggles, and ask for feedback on what they want to read. Get real and get personal (within reason) and start a dialogue.
Use Proper SEO
Good SEO = Google shares your content. Google shares = more traffic. More traffic = more sign-ups. win-win.
So the better your SEO, the more potential sign ups you will get.
Related Post: 10 Easy SEO Wins
SEO is what will bring traffic in on a steady basis over the long term, and we all want this.
You also want to practice the proper use of keywords and avoid stuffing them into every sentence.
Most bloggers can write a blog post and the keywords just happen naturally.
Be sure to have them in the title of the post (the H1), and within the first paragraph. Use synonyms for H2 titles.
While we are on the subject, go back to your old posts and update anything that needs it in regards to SEO.
You can do this anytime that you learn something that you may have missed when you first started your website.
Change the date of the updated post to the current date before hitting “update”
I make a note on updated posts of when the original publish date was, just as an FYI. Some people bookmark posts and it can be a surprise when the content changes.
This allows your already crawled and indexed post to remain indexed. After you update be sure to get it re-crawled.
Share Your Posts and Incentives on Social
Grab social sharing plugin and go ahead and say yes to show the number of shares that the post has.
I am using Social Warfare on my WordPress website.
Related Post: Social Warfare (review post)
When I switched to Social Warfare, it transferred all my social shares over from another plugin.
On some of your posts, you will see the share numbers go up and up and up.
These are posts that you want to consider offering a content upgrade for.
Make it easy for people to save your posts to Pinterest or to visit you on Facebook. You can follow me on Pinterest.
And, go to Facebook, Twitter, and any other platform that you can share your posts making sure to give your readers plenty of ways to sign up for your newsletter and bonuses.
These tips will help you get more traffic, and by extension, more subscribers. Try as many as you can.
The great thing about blogging is that you can try anything and everything, and the results make your website 100% unique. No one else will give your message quite like you will.
Blogging is work, no doubt about that.
For me, it is the most enjoyable work that I have ever done.
It can also be super frustrating. But I love it! I am learning more about who I am and my ability to problem solve…daily.
I am still reading books and watching videos on list building, and as I garner some aha moments, I will share them with you!
And once we are past this, some new challenge will arise and take up all of our time. Isn’t life great? I think so 🙂
Please share this post with others who may benefit and sign up for my FREE weekly newsletter of exclusive content, tips, and free stuff for bloggers, including my Copywriting checklist.
Happy Blogging and follow me on Pinterest.