Email lists are having a moment, and as a blogger I’m sure you’ve read over and over again that you *NEED* to have one.
When I started blogging in 2010 email lists weren’t really a thing – you had RSS feeds where each of your posts would pop into the reader’s email inbox, but it was all automated and you didn’t have to produce extra content for it. Then newsletters slowly became more popular, and now NOT having an email list is practically shocking.
I did the RSS thing, then this half-assed newsletter where I’d send something kinda terrible out every few months, and then finally in 2015 I realized I needed to really do this whole list thing. And damn if I’m not kicking myself for starting earlier.
1 / You Own It
With social media platforms, you can build up your audience like crazy, but then one day the algorithm changes and all of a sudden only a small portion of that audience actually sees your stuff. Or your account could get hacked. Or maybe that platform goes away all together. Or your blog might go down. You just never know.
With an email list though, that bad boy is ALL yours. You own that list and can pop in on your readers there whenever you need to.
2 / It’s a Direct Line of Communication
Getting an email is SO much more personal than seeing an update on social media or a new blog post. It’s more like getting a little love note from a friend.
Having such a direct line of communication is an amazing tool. You know your readers are probably checking their email multiple times a day (unlike social media or your blog itself) and will see your email no matter what.
You can also ask for feedback via email way easier than with blog posts or on social media. Ask your list what they would like from you. Ask them to take a survey, or ask their opinion on something. It’s a great way to figure out what kind of content you should produce and what potential products you could develop in order to serve your audience better.
The biggest thing about an email list is that you want to be providing them with TONS of value. They should be your VIPs – getting all the insider scoop and be the first to know about everything.
3 / You Can Build Stronger Relationships
Because email is such a personal form of communication, it is a great way to build a really strong relationship with your audience.
Make sure you personalize those emails (after all, they signed up to hear from YOU, so don’t be shy!). Elicit conversation by asking them to hit reply and tell you what they think. Respond to them when they do write to you.
All of those things help to foster a meaningful connection and trust. You want to cultivate an engaged and loyal readership in that list – people who are going to be your biggest cheerleaders and who can’t wait to read what you have to say. Plus, building up that trust and credibility? Well when you have a product to sell, well that’s gonna convert into more sales. We all like to buy from people we feel like we really know and like.
4 / It’s Your Best Sales Tool
Your email list is going to be your absolute best sales tool. It’s the most effective and targeted way to make sales, and get your product or service seen.
Once you have an email list setup and you have a product to sell, you will want to create a “sales funnel”. Basically this means that you get people to sign up to your list by offering some kind of opt-in incentive, and then walk them through what you can do for them that will help them.
So let’s go through an example. Say you had an opt-in incentive which was a design guide to decorate a room, and your product is a course on how to decorate your house or a service like design consulting, then you would want to create a series of intro emails that give the reader lots of value but also pitches them (in a non-sleazy way) what you’re selling. You might send them 2-3 emails on various tips on how to decorate, but then also 1-2 emails that pitch your product.
There is a whole art to creating sales funnels, so google around for more info on that if you want to do further reading!
[FYI – I use (affiliate link) ConvertKit as my email service provider because the ability to create email funnels is ridiculously easy!! Plus you can create opt-in’s, segment your list, landing pages, and all kinds of cool stuff.]
5 / It’s A Monetization Asset
Beyond selling your own products or services, you can also monetize your email list in other ways. You can insert a display ad right into the email or even use affiliate links – like “latest faves” or directly in the body of your email. Just be clear on the rules of whatever affiliate program you’re using (Amazon for example doesn’t like you to use affiliate links in emails) and you always need to make it clear that affiliate links have been used.
If you are working with brands on sponsored campaigns, offering them a mention in your newsletter can help you drive up your sponsored post fee. If the brand knows that they are going to get a mention in front of 500 or 5000 eyes on email, well that’s a huge asset.
If you want in on my insider email list (fo real, I share all kinds of VIP goodies in there!), sign up here.
My best advice? Grow your list with intention.
This is my one caveat when it comes to list-building.
Be intentional about why you are creating your list and who you want on it. Even if you don’t have any products or services to sell yet (that’s cool!), think about what kinds of products you might create in the future and who might buy them. You need to be really clear on your target market and make sure you are getting those people on your list.
Just having random people sign up to your list for all kinds of various opt-in’s will build your numbers, but it will be a disjointed list that doesn’t have a common theme. You’ll likely get a lot of unsubscribes and be at a loss for what type of product to create since everyone’s interests will be really different.
You want to make sure your opt-in freebie relates to the end product you will be trying to sell. For example, if someone signs up to your list because you offered a free meal planning printable, then it wouldn’t make much sense if down the road you were trying to sell them interior design services. They don’t really connect well, you know?
Plus, if you have this great targeted list and build up that community, then it will be much easier to know what to write about in your newsletters. Because you know what those people are interested in, you will be able to come up with lots of ways of providing them value.
As always, you need to think of your blog as an overall brand and biz if you’re going to be successful at building it up into a super profitable gig.
So how about you guys? Do you have an email list yet? If not, what’s holding you back? If you do, what’s been working for you in terms of list growth and other newsletter strategies?
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