Email lists are a really important part of running a successful blogging business. I truly believe that you need to stop worrying too much about social media and instead focus on building your email list: It’s going to stay with you no matter what algorithm changes happen, or what social media fads come and go.
That group of people on your list are going to be your biggest fans and your most important customers. You are building up a really engaged audience on that list. Very different from the blog reader who clicks over from Pinterest, stays for 50 seconds, and bounces off again.
And let’s be clear, email lists aren’t just for people who sell digital products. You can use them to drive traffic to your blog (therefore increasing your ad revenue), to sell affiliate products, to sell your actual products (you might have an Etsy shop or whatever), and to use as a negotiating tool when pitching brands for sponsored work.
So bottom line: email lists are important. And therefore, your email service provider is too.
While I haven’t used every email service provider out there, I have used a few and haven’t found one that is as packed with blogger-friendly features like ConvertKit.
Why I Love ConvertKit:
While there are a few little things I would change if I could, I have honestly loved using ConvertKit from the moment I started with them.
Forms & Landing Pages
One of my favourite things about ConvertKit is how crazy easy it is to setup places for people to sign up to your list.
Within ConvertKit you build sign-up forms that you embed into your blog (if you use wordpress they even have a plugin so you don’t have to copy/paste any code).
To create a “form” (ie. a sign up box) you upload a photo (optional), some text about what the opt-in incentive is, customize the colours, and boom: you’ve got yourself a great looking sign-up form. Then you edit the settings so that it automatically sends the opt-in incentive to your new subscriber, and maybe puts them into a sequence of some kind (up to you!).
You can see here that they have different template options for the form, so it can be as much or as little as you want.
This is an example of one of my ConvertKit forms (and yes, you can actually get on my email list if you want by filling it out – I’ll send you a sweet plug and play newsletter template you can use!):
Similarly, you can build landing pages right in ConvertKit. So if you want to create a whole page that is dedicated to promoting a product of yours, you can. They don’t have a ton of landing page templates, which is something I hope they add to down the line. I would love it if they would have more templates similar to what you can find through LeadPages.
But even still, it only takes 15 minutes to put one of these together and you can edit them to your colours and overall aesthetic. Super easy!
Here is one of my landing pages I created in ConvertKit – very simple but effective.
In ConvertKit you have the ability to create an unlimited number of “tags”.
What this means is that you can tag subscribers based on their interests. For example, in my own account I have some subscribers that have signed up to my list to be able to use a coupon code in my Etsy shop. I will tag those as etsy customers. I also have another tag setup for people who have signed up for local workshops – I have them tagged as “ottawa” (where I live). Or two of my biggest tags are just “The Sweetest Digs subscriber” (for all of my subscribers who opted in on my DIY and home decor blog) and “Bloggers” for folks like you who would have opted in to my list from this site.
Here is a quick snapshot from in my account. You can see that I have a whole bunch of opt-in’s that I created for my blog, The Sweetest Digs, and that they are tagged as a “The Sweetest Digs Subscriber” when they opt-in. You can also see “GBC Subscriber” further down, which are subscribers to this site. And like I said above, I have the Etsy tag, a local tag, and more. The sky is the limit here.
By having all of these tags, it means you can send seriously customized emails. For me, if I want to run a promo for my Etsy shop but don’t want to send it out to my whole list, I can easily segment the list and send it just to those who will be interested. Or if I’m hosting a local workshop, I can send that email to just my local subscribers. Or if I’m sending out a blogging tips newsletter, I just send that to those tagged as bloggers.
It’s such a useful tool!
This is the money. I have come to LOVE sequences. Also known as “email funnels”.
The idea is that you create a sequence of emails – so whether it’s an email course, or a series of emails that eventually sells one of your products or an affiliate product, or a welcome/onboarding sequence. Then when someone opts in to a certain form that you setup as being the “funnel” for this sequence, every new subscriber automatically goes into the sequence and is sent those emails. You can set up when they get the emails (ie. 1 day after subscribing, 5 days after subscribing, etc.) and you can connect multiple opt-in forms to the same sequence.
Sequences are AMAZING for creating passive flows of income. If you sell any kind of product, create an opt-in related to that topic and then write up a sequence that eventually leads the subscriber into a potential sale.
I have a friend who has a sequence like this set up for her de-cluttering eBook and it generates on average about 2 sales a week, just through her sequence that she only had to set up once. She has multiple spots throughout her blog where readers opt-in for a free printable related to de-cluttering, and then she has a few more emails that send around de-cluttering in general (including another freebie), and then in the end she has a promotional email for her eBook. She is generating trust and credibility through the sequence, and so the customer feels more motivated to buy her product at the end.
Similarly, I have a sequence setup that takes customers through a funnel ending in an affiliate product promotion. That really cranks up my affiliate revenue every month because it is consistently generating sales.
Here is what it looks like in ConvertKit when you go to write a sequence. You just write as many emails as you want for the funnel, connect it to an opt-in form, and then you’re golden.
The automations feature in ConvertKit is kind of like your rule-book. You can create all of these “rules” that tells the system to do certain things at certain times.
So if someone opts-in to Lead Magnet #1, you can tag them with a few tags and send them directly into a sequence. Or you can create a rule that says those who opt-in to Lead Magnet #2 are automatically sent a welcome email. Or when someone buys a product from you, they are tagged with X, so you know not to send them promotional emails regarding that product anymore.
You can see, there are lots of triggers and rules you can setup:
This level of automation is incredible. I love the whole “set it and forget it” approach because who has time to go in and do these things manually when you are trying to run your online biz?
So you know how people will opt-in to multiple places on your site? Like in one spot to get a printable, and then in another to get a free eBook or something? Well, some email service providers will charge you double because they are list-based versus being subscriber-based. So that subscriber that opted in to 2 or 3 different things on your site – you are paying for him or her 2 or 3 times!
Not ConvertKit. They recognize the email address and won’t ever double-charge you. They are “subscriber-based”, which is awesome.
When I first switched over to ConvertKit from Mailchimp, I felt like my emails got ugly. That they were missing all the pretty colours, pictures, and styling of my previous emails (which was really easy to do in MailChimp). However, I also quickly noticed that my emails got a higher open rate and click-through rate without all that stuff.
The more images and HTML you have in your emails, the more likely it is to get put in people’s spam boxes because it looks like a promotion. Not good!
ConvertKit on the other hand is setup so that your emails make it into inboxes. They have a whole deliverability team dedicated to this. It’s also why the emails you create in ConvertKit generally just look like a normal email that you would get from a friend. No fancy stuff.
Take your images out of your email and you’ll see your click-through rates go up. It’s weird and counter-intuitive to me…. but it works!
Sure it would be great to use a free email service provider forever, but as you build your list and need more functionality, you are going to have to pay for an email service. I find the ConvertKit rates extremely reasonable, particularly when you consider all of the features it comes with.
I used to have LeadPages AND my email service provider, and I’m slowly moving away from needing LeadPages at all. I’m switching everything over to ConvertKit forms and landing pages, and won’t need to renew my subscription with LeadPages this year (hundreds of dollars per year saved!).
Maybe you don’t use any other software providers right now, but you bootstrap the delivery of your opt-in’s. Or have some big complicated system for keeping your subscribers organized. ConvertKit will save you all that headache and time. Totally worth the investment. Spend that time on other elements of your blogging business that will help grow your income.
So that’s that. My honest review of ConvertKit. I’m clearly a fan;) The other thing I like about this company is that you feel really connected to it. They have a face behind the product, a very accessible customer service team, and great support in their Help forums.
If you are thinking about building your list, or want to make a switch from your current provider, I’d say go for it. Sign up here!
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