As a blogger, an email list is one of the most important things you need to have in order to grow your audience and if you ever plan to sell anything.
In this post you will learn the exact steps to start your very own email list from scratch. If you’re intimidated or think it will be too much work, don’t worry!
I’m breaking it all down and providing printable worksheets to help you avoid getting overwhelmed and frustrated. Hey, I work full time aside from my blog, I know how precious your time is.
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase by clicking on them, I will receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, that will help me continue to bring you valuable content. Thanks for supporting In Search of Sheila!
It seems like email lists are having a moment right now, as they should! A lot of bloggers are coming out of the woodwork, revealing that their biggest regret is not making an email list from the start. I’ll have to hop on that train and say the same.
List building takes a lot of time, patience, and perseverance if you want to see it grow. I’ve been blogging for over 4 years and just started my email list three months ago.
If you read this post, you learned about all my strategies to build my list to over 200 people, 101 of them signing up in 48 hours. To me, that’s a huge win, but now I’m focusing on growing it even more. Basically, the sooner you start one, THE BETTER.
How to Start an Email List in 4 Easy Steps Click To Tweet
Time to get down to the nitty gritty! For clarity, when I refer to an email list, I’m not talking about an “RSS Email Subscription.”
This is when someone subscribes to your blog and receives emails with the entire post in it once it gets published. I’m talking about an email newsletter subscription that is created and sent to your readers entirely by you.
Now that I got that out of the way, let’s get crackin’!
STEP 1: DEFINE THE PURPOSE OF YOUR EMAIL LIST
Over here at In Search of Sheila we like to do things with intention. Otherwise, what’s the point?
Ask yourself what YOU want to achieve with your list:
- Do you want to use your list to help you monetize your blog?
- Do you want to build trust with your readers?
Of course, you can send out BOTH weekly newsletters and sell products, it’s your list! But it’s important to have a clear purpose before diving in. This will save you from stress and keep you motivated.
STEP 2: SELECT AN EMAIL SERVICE PROVIDER (ESP)
There are many different providers out there, so I suggest doing a little research before choosing the right one that works for you. Here are the top two that I recommend:
My ConvertKit links are affiliate links, so I will earn a small commission if you sign up with them 🙂
I personally use ConvertKit because it’s built for professional bloggers and entrepreneurs.
They’re known for their automation system and email sequences, which are great for email marketing.
ConvertKit may seem a little confusing at first, but there are step-by-step videos that break it down.
The only downside is that there is a monthly fee, but it is 100% worth it if you want monetize your list down the road.
Here’s a sneak peek at the backend of my ConvertKit. This is my welcome series. ConvertKit is known for their robust automation system which is one of my favorite features. Makes my life so much easier!
- AWESOME for email marketing
- Great tagging and automation system (included with monthly fee)
- Free opt-in forms, landing pages, and pop-ups
- One person is counted as one subscriber no matter how many freebies they sign up for
- Easy to separate your subscribers into different groups
- Customer support
- Offers a free 14-day trial
- $29 a month for up to 1,000 subscribers (although a reasonable business expense)
- A bit glitchy since it’s a relatively new company that is growing quickly
- Few customization options for emails, forms, and landing pages
Automations or autoresponders are pre-written and pre-scheduled emails that are automatically sent when trigger by an action. In most cases, when a user subscribes to your list. Automations are ideal for a welcome series or sales funnel.
Overall I recommend ConvertKit if you’re planning to sell digital products and services as it’s totally worth the investment. You can try it free for 14 days by signing up HERE!
MailerLite is a budget-friendly option with a really nice interface and great customization features. Their automation system is referred to as “Automation Workflow.” They also have step-by-step video tutorials to help get you started.
Here’s the backend of MailerLite when you go to create a “campaign.” Its known for its drag-and-drop builder which makes it great for beginners!
- Free up to 1,000 subscribers
- Easy to design emails with its drag-and-drop builder
- Allows you to create opt-in forms, landing pages, and pop-ups
- Automation and tagging features
- 24/7 email tech support
- No plain-text emails (more likely to end up in the SPAM folder)
- Does not host PDFs — if you want to deliver freebies you’ll have to store them in Dropbox or GoogleDrive and then link them to your emails
- Difficult to manage subscribers as your lists grows (why most people end up switching to ConvertKit as their lists grows)
- No easy way to delete “cold subscribers”
HOW TO DECIDE WHICH ONE IS RIGHT FOR YOU
Here are a few factors to take into consideration when deciding between ConvertKit and MailerLite:
- Your goals for your email list
STEP 3: CREATE AN OPT-IN FREEBIE
Once you select your service provider, it’s time to start getting those subscribers!
The best way to do this is to create an opt-in freebie to give people an incentive to join your email list.
Opt-ins and content upgrades are bonus content that’s FREE that people can get access to in exchange for their email address.
Think of it as an ethical bribe: your readers want info and you want their email address. Done and shut case.
Offering freebies are the easiest and most authentic way is to grow your list, in my opinion. And they are super easy and quick to make. Click here to learn how to create one your audience will love!
4. ADD SIGN-UP FORMS TO YOUR WEBSITE
Now that you created your freebie you want to add a sign-up form to your website so people can subscribe to your email list!
Here are the best places to add a sign-up form:
- Top bar
- Embed in your blog post
- Navigation bar
There we go! 4 simple steps to creating your email list. Here’s a recap of what we covered:
- Determine the purpose of your email list
- Select an email service provider that works best for you
- You have ideas for opt-in freebies to get people to sign up for
If you already have an email list but haven’t exactly done much with it (no judgments here!) Grab my free List-Building Blueprint that outlines my 5-step framework to get your next 100 email list subscribers!
Inside you will learn:
- My 5-step framework to get your next 100 subscribers
- What you need to be focusing on when you create your opt-in freebies
- How to get people to actually sign up for the freebies
- Newsletter ideas! Because once you get those subscribers, you need to shower them with love