Remember that time when you posted something on Facebook, and all the people who liked your page raved about it and clicked right through to your website? Yeah, that memory is fading pretty fast. Or how about that time when you had how ever many MySpace friends and you thought you had totally made it? Tumbleweeds, right.
There is no guarantee that any external platform will stay the same forever. In fact, most of the evidence is to the contrary, and no matter how stable Instagram might seem right now (breathe!), there really are no guarantees that it will go from strength to strength, or even that it will be around in 5 years. The only thing that is guaranteed is that if you actively build your email list, you will always have a way of communicating with your clients.
Now, you might be a more service-based business owner, such as a photographer, and dismissing newsletters as something only online businesses should be doing. But if you do, you are seriously missing a trick. Being able to stay in touch with your clients is a powerful thing, and it will allow you to forge stronger, more long-lasting relationships, plus give you a natural way of promoting your services and get more work.
9 super simple things you can do right now to get started.
1. Sign up for a free account on MailChimp
MailChimp is free up to 2000 subscribers, so you’ll probably have a quite a bit of leeway until you have to start thinking about upgrading or using another, more robust system. Plus, it’s very easy to set up and use, and comes with ready-made templates you can use for your newsletters.
2. Create your list
To begin with, you can just create one list that everyone goes on. For most that will probably be enough in the long term also, but if you ever branch out to different services or products, you can either segment your list so you won’t have to email everyone about stuff they might not be interested in, or you can create completely separate lists if you are planning on running an email course for example for only those who purchase it.
3. Create a sign-up form for your site
It would be ideal to create a new page on your website, which tells your customers about the benefits of being on your list. You can create the actual form with the help of MailChimp’s integration tools. There are also many plugins that will let you integrate with MailChimp and other mailing list providers. Our sign up page is just a regular WordPress page, with a sign-up form by the Chimpy plugin.
4. Make it easy for people to sign up
Along with your dedicated page, you should have other sign-up forms around your website. The sidebar of your blog is a good place for one. There are lots of different WordPress plugins for creating forms that hook-up with MailChimp, and you can even have one that will add a tick box to your comment area, so people can subscribe when they are commenting and have filled in their details already anyways.
You can also try a service such as SumoMe. Not only does it give you the simplest way to help people share your content, with its social sharing buttons (See them on the left there. Yeah? Well, click on one!), but it has other free features, such as a scroll box, which will pop up when a visitor scrolls down on your website or blog. They can then opt in to sign up for your mailing list before continuing on their journey across the interwebs.
Bottom line: the easier it is to sign up, the more likely they are to do so.
5. Create a lead magnet
If you want to give people more of an incentive to sign up to your list, you can create a little gift, aka a lead magnet, that they’ll receive when they sign up. It should be something that either adds value or is somehow relevant and irresistible for your target clients. To begin with, you can just have one lead magnet, which you can set MailChimp to send automatically in the ‘final welcome’ email. If you want to create multiple lead magnets (which is always more efficient going forward), you might want to use something like LeadPages, which is a paid service specifically for building landing pages and automating your lead magnet delivery.
A lead magnet could be anything from a checklist on how to prepare for a photoshoot, a discount code, to a video of you talking about the process of working with you, the options are pretty limitless. For example, the lead magnet on this blog post is a Worksheet on creating content for your mailing list. You wants it, right? Grab it at the bottom of this post.
6. Create a welcome email
Your welcome email should make your customers feel, well, welcome! Let them know what they can expect from you in the future, and don’t forget to upload your lead magnet if you are sending it in this way.
7. Communicate with your list
Once you have people on your list, think of ways to give value to them. Don’t just email them when you want to sell stuff, predominantly communicate with your list to give them something extra. Things you could do: exclusive glimpses of work in progress, behind the scenes videos, your thoughts on topics that relate to your customers, your tips and advice that solve specific problems for your customers. Also, encourage your subscribers to send replies to your emails to show you listen.
To summarise, I put together this pretty infographic on how to get started with a mailing list.
As promised, you can download this free Mailing List Content Worksheet to help you start coming up with ideas that will keep your mailing list subscribers happy!
As an Inspire Your Inbox subscriber, you can download this worksheet from The Library.
(Hint: you can sign up in the green box at the top of this page, or if you're already a subscriber, you'll find the password at the bottom of every email).