learn the business of blogging – always free
If you’re just getting started with blogging, you may have done a bit of research and learned how important email marketing is for bloggers. As bloggers, we need to protect what we own.
I never advise people to invest too much into social media upfront. Social media networks should be tools to supplement your blog, but I don’t think going all-in on Instagram or Facebook is a good idea. Instead, focus on platforms you own – namely your blog and your email list.
Many bloggers say “The money is in the list.”
Why? Because email marketing is kind of like a mini social media platform that you own. It’s a direct channel to your most loyal fans.
Nowadays, everyone and their mother wants your email address. So if one of your readers gives theirs to you, you can be fairly certain that they trust you and like your content.
You can recommend products to them, discuss interesting content from around the web, and share more intimate details that you don’t want to post publicly on your blog.
In short, email marketing for bloggers can be used to develop a close-knit relationship with your readers. That in turn, can be monetized. Or, it could just assist with your brand engagement.
What is Email Marketing?
Email marketing is the practice of using email to generate interest in a brand. In our case, email marketing for bloggers means using email to communicate with our fans and blog readers. It’s a relationship-building tool that we can use to generate traffic to our blogs, share information directly in the body of the email, or recommend products and articles on the internet.
When a reader joins your mailing list, it means they love what you’re doing and they want more of it! They don’t want to miss out on your posts and they want to stay in touch. Use that to your advantage.
How to Start a Blog Email Newsletter
Now that you understand the basics of email marketing for bloggers, let’s get you set up with creating an email newsletter list for your first blog.
Mailchimp and Mailerlite are the two most popular email newsletter platforms for hobby bloggers. These email service providers offer a generous free tier plan so beginners can get started with email marketing without spending money. They allow you up to 2,000 and 1,000 contacts respectively free of charge.
If you’re ready to dive in and invest, then ConvertKit could be a good option for you. This email service provider offers advanced features and many of the industry’s top bloggers use it to manage their lists. I think it’s a bit too expensive for me, and instead, I use an email service called Sendy for one of my larger lists.
Going with a free email service provider is totally ok as a beginner! You can learn as you go and upgrade to a paid plan when you’re ready.
If you aren’t sure which email newsletter service is right for you, then I’d recommend going with Mailchimp. They are by far the market leader in the email newsletter space and they have a ton of documentation for beginners. Plus, many plugins work with Mailchimp, giving you even more customization options.
You can sign up with Mailchimp right here.
Don’t be alarmed if they ask you for a physical mailing address. This is required according to US consumer protection laws.
The Mailchimp left-hand toolbar will include options to view your Audience, Campaigns, and Automation. They even prompt you to create a Welcome email, which is a great idea.
What is a Welcome Email?
A welcome email is an email that is sent out shortly after a new subscriber joins your list. It’s a great way to send a personalized message thanking them for joining your list and sending them a few links to popular content on your blog that may interest them. You can also encourage them to follow you on social media.
The quickest and easiest way to get a subscribe form on your website is to use a plug-in. But first, let’s talk about where you should put your email opt-in form.
Where to Place Your Email Opt-in Form
There are many different areas of your blog to place your email opt-in. There are also different ways for it to appear to your visitors. Slide-ins, pop-ups, and scroll-triggered email opt-in transitions have all become very popular in recent years.
Static Email Opt-in Locations
Here are a few ideas for where you can place your email opt-in code.
Dynamic Email Opt-Ins
- Exit Intent Popups
In my experience, the email opt-in form at the very top of a blog converts the best. That’s why I use the plug-ins MC4WP: Mailchimp for WordPress and MC4WP: Mailchimp Top Bar on my newer blogs to get my email list rolling. These plugins use the Mailchimp API to create a sticky top bar plugin that asks visitors for their emails. It remains there as my readers scroll down and I have been quite happy with the conversion rate. Best of all, I don’t need to mess around with any coding to install the form on my site.
Another great plugin to use is Add Widget After Content which lets me add a custom widget directly to the bottom of my posts. For that plugin, I simply use a shortcode through MC4WP to create a subscriber box.
What to Email Your Subscribers
Now you’re probably wondering… what on earth do I email my subscribers? When I was a new blogger, I had NO idea what to email my followers. I started out by setting up an automatic RSS email trigger to go out once a week. What this does is pull a list of the most recent posts on your blog and emails them out on a day that you choose. It doesn’t repeat posts from the previous week and it sends nothing if there are no new posts. This works out really well, and I still use this method on one of my bigger blogs!
Other times, I want to send something more personal, like a life update. If a holiday is coming up, I may create a special newsletter dedicated to that holiday and include all my posts related to it so that readers can check it out in time.
The best thing to do is subscribe to other bloggers’ email newsletters so you can be inspired and get ideas from them! I subscribe to dozens of email newsletters just so I can see what other bloggers are doing and what they are sharing. It’s a great way to stay on top of email marketing trends!
Pay attention to your subject line if you go the manual route. Just like the title of your blog post is super important for click-throughs, the subject line of your email is really the determining factor of someone’s decision to open your email or not. Create an engaging subject line so that your subscribers are enticed to open the email and read what’s inside. Do not send an email called “Blog Name Newsletter” !
Mailchimp is great for new bloggers because it’s free. It will probably take you some time to reach the 1,000 subscriber limit for free accounts so you don’t have to worry about money right away. Email marketing does have a cost though if you want to continue to reach your list. This is a good thing though – it means you own your data and you own your list. The reason why social media is free is because you are the product.
Luckily, email marketing is very inexpensive. I paid $60 flat for the email software program I use and a few pennies each month to Amazon who sends out my emails through AWS.
So, don’t sweat the long term costs! By then, you’ll be making money anyway.
I hope this post gave you a better idea of how you can use email marketing for bloggers to leverage your audience engagement! Email marketing is a fantastic way to reach your audience in a different channel. Stay tuned for more tips on how to grow your email list, whether it’s worth it to offer a “freebie” in exchange for subscribing to your mailing list, and how to make sure you’re abiding by the rules of your affiliate programs.