As a new blogger who wants to monetize your blog, starting an email list for your blog is going to be the best decision you’ll ever make.
I neglected to start an email list when I started my first blog back in 2004. As a result, I didn’t make any money my first year blogging – even though I was publishing blog posts like a maniac! (You can read more about my blogging journey here.)
By far, my biggest mistake as a blogger was not building an email list sooner.
Fast forward to 2021, and I now make a six-figure income in large part due to my email list.
Skeptical about why you need to build an email list? Let me explain why it’s so important to start an email list for your blog.
Why you need to start an email list
You can turn a drive-by blog visitor into a lifelong fan
Blog visitors come and go, like a revolving door. Don’t believe me? Look at your Google Analytics and check your bounce rate*. It’s most likely in the 70%-90% range, right? That’s a lot of people who aren’t “sticking” on your blog.
*The bounce rate measures the number of visitors who visit one page on your blog and then leave.
To “stop the leak” and retain some of those visitors, you need to have a way to communicate with your readers again.
When you start collecting emails on your blog, you open a line of communication that you otherwise would not have had.
From here, the next goal is to convert that email subscriber into a fan of your blog. When you have a fan, you have someone more likely to buy something you create or recommend.
Email delivers the highest ROI (return-on-investment) than any other marketing channel and is 40x more effective at acquiring customers than social media (source). So, if you’re looking for a path out of the social media hamster wheel, email marketing is it!
You own your email list
You may have a big following on Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, etc. But what would happen if there’s an algorithm change and your followers can’t see your content anymore?
This has happened with most social media sites, which now make you pay to get better reach. For example, a Facebook page update only has a 5.5% chance of even being seen by people who like your page (source).
Worse yet, your account could be suspended (rightly or not) with no way to get it back. But your email list? It’s all yours, baby.
You establish trust with your readers
The key ingredient to making money with your blog is trust. When you have it, you will make money. When you don’t, you won’t make a dime.
Many have tried (and failed, me included!) to skip starting an email list and try to sell directly via a blog post.
If you want to market a product or service (even as an affiliate), that person needs to trust your recommendation.
When you email your readers value after value, you are establishing that trust, one email at a time.
Traffic comes and goes
Some days your blog traffic will be good. Other days, not so much. And what happens at midnight every night? The stats get reset to zero and you have to start all over again.
Traffic comes and goes, but your email list is forever, son!
If you lose a social media account, a good ranking in Google, or even if your site is down, your email list ensures your blogging business stays healthy.
You can sell to your list again and again
A typical email sales funnel starts with capturing the lead, putting them through an email nurture sequence, then converting them into a paying customer.
In a more advanced funnel, this paying customer would then receive a post-purchase email sequence to make additional sales from your existing customers.
When your email marketing is done right, your email list can be a fully-automated passive income stream!
Common objections to starting a list I hear all the time
I don’t have anything to sell
Why start a list when you don’t have anything to sell, you ask? Well, nobody has anything to sell when they’re a new blogger. In fact, you can be blogging for 3 years and still don’t have anything to sell. That’s okay.
You can still send your list product recommendations and earn a commission as an affiliate.
People don’t read emails anymore
You’re interested in email marketing, but you might be asking yourself: do people still read emails?
The answer is it depends. The likelihood of your emails being opened depends on the value you provide your subscribers.
If you send them a boring weekly newsletter, they won’t. But if you consistently provide immense value, then your subscribers will actually look forward to opening your emails.
I don’t know what to write my list
Nobody ever knows how to do anything until they do it. Rather than quitting before you ever get started, take the leap and give email marketing a try.
Writing to your email list is easier than writing for your blog because everyone on your list already likes you and wants to hear from you.
You don’t need to overthink what to write to your list. An email idea can be as simple as the first paragraph of your latest article with a link to the full blog post.
Seriously, your email list will become your blog’s best asset and will be your main source of income for years to come.
Ready to build your list? Here are the 5 simple steps to start an email list for free.
How to start an email list for a blog
Step 1. Sign up with ConvertKit
The first thing you need to do is to sign up with an email marketing provider who will collect the email addresses and send your emails for you.
I use and recommend starting your mailing list with ConvertKit. Let me tell you why.
- ConvertKit is free
ConvertKit now has a free lifetime plan. It’s not a trial and you don’t need to enter your credit card info. If you use this link to sign up you can:
– Create unlimited forms to add to your blog
– Create unlimited landing pages to promote your email list
– Send emails to up to 1,000 subscribers
While the free version is fine to start, you’re going to want to upgrade to their $29 per month plan to unlock the ability to send automated email sequences.
- You can hide your home address
US law says you need to put an address where you are reachable at the bottom of every email.
With ConvertKit, you can use their address, which meets the legal requirement of having a reachable address (source).
- It’s newbie friendly
ConvertKit was built by a blogger and is perfect for content marketers (also known as bloggers!). There’s no coding knowledge or design expertise needed, as they’ve got pre-made opt-in form and landing page templates ready to go.
Here’s a video showing you how to open a free account and set up your first form and landing page.
Step 2. Add an opt-in form on your blog
Once you’re signed up, it’s time to build your first email signup form and add it to your blog.
Follow these steps to set up your first form.
- Create a form
In ConvertKit, go to Landing Pages & Forms > Create New > Form > Inline
- Design your form
Choose a template, make your changes and save the form.
- Install the ConvertKit plugin
Back on WordPress, go to Plugins > Add new and search for the ConvertKit for WordPress plugin. Install and activate the plugin.
- Connect your account with the plugin
Next, you need to have the plugin be able to communicate with your ConvertKit account. Back in ConvertKit, copy your API key and API secret from your account info.
Then in WordPress, Go to Settings > ConvertKit, enter this info in the settings page, and hit Save.
- Select the form you just created
After linking your account with the plugin, you can set the form you just created as the default form. Doing so will make this form appear at the bottom of every blog post.
Step 3: Create a freebie to give away (lead magnet)
Now that you have email signup forms on your blog, you’re all set, right? Wrong.
Nobody signs up for newsletters anymore. Sadly, it took me a long time to figure this out.
When I got around to starting an email list, my first attempt was a simple opt-in form that said: “Subscribe for updates”.
How did it go?
I collected a grand total of zero emails my first year of blogging.
What I learned is that nobody wants to give up their email unless they’re getting something valuable in return.
It’s a fair exchange. You give them a freebie and they let you into their personal inbox.
Here are some examples of freebies (also called lead magnets) you can give away:
- Digital course
- PDF report
One of the simplest to create is a cheatsheet. Say you have an article on the top 10 ways to XYZ. For your freebie, just list the 10 steps, add a title at the top, and save the file as a PDF.
Need some more ideas for lead magnets in your niche? Google some blogs in your space and see what others are doing. If it works for them, it can work for you.
Step 4: Deliver your lead magnet and start growing your list
Now that you have your lead magnet, you need to deliver it to subscribers.
Here’s how to set this up.
- Back in ConvertKit, open up the form you created earlier.
- Click on the Mail icon. Make sure “Send incentive email” is checked.
- Click on Download and upload your freebie.
- Click Edit Email Contents to make changes to the incentive email.
Now, when readers enter their email address, they’ll be sent your freebie and be confirmed as subscribers to your email list.
Step 5: Use a list-building plugin to start building your list
If you want to grow your email list you’re going to need something more than a boring opt-in form in your sidebar.
What we need is full customization of the optin form and their locations.
Here’s why I recommend using a list-building plugin to grow your list:
You can set up beautifully designed opt-in forms on your blog without needing to be a web designer. Just choose a template, change the text and colors, and you’re done.
- Opt-in form types
In addition to sidebar, footer, and in-content forms, you can also add exit intent or timed pop-ups, welcome mats, top bar (ribbon), and slide-in forms.
- A/B testing
If you don’t test your forms, designs, and offers – you won’t know what works and what doesn’t. The best list building plugins have built-in A/B testing to help you build high-converting forms.
List building plugins give you a look at what’s working and what isn’t. In addition to showing you how each form converts, they show you what pages on your blog are getting the most subscribers.
What do you write to your email list?
I get it. You want to build an email list but you don’t know what to write your list. Here are a few suggestions for your email newsletter:
Blog post updates
Getting a visit to your blog is great, especially if you rely on display ads like Google Adsense.
When you email your subscribers about the latest updates on your blog, you get extra page impressions and more ad money in your puocket.
Regardless of your blog niche, there are tools and resources that you can promote to your list. Give your honest feedback and explain how this product has helped you.
One of the best things you can do with your email list is to keep your subscribers engaged. An engaged list means they’re opening and replying to your emails.
Email opens and replies help show email providers (Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc.) that your emails are not spam, which is vital to making sure your emails end up being delivered to the inbox.
If you’re struggling with coming up with ideas on what to write your list, I invite you to look at what Six-Figure List Toolkit has to offer.
With Six-Figure List Toolkit, you’ll never wonder what to write your list ever again.
Here’s what’s included:
- 52 done-for you email templates to power your email list for an entire year!
- 15 high-converting sales emails to never write a sales letter from scratch ever again!
- 3 complete email sequences such as: The trust funnel (4 emails), quick-close (4 emails), and cold subscribers sequences (3 emails)
Thanks for reading. If this post has helped you start an email list, please leave a comment below and save this post on Pinterest!
Until next time,