How to Start an Email List For Your Blog (and Make Money With It)
This post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may receive a commission if you use them. I only recommend product I use, love & trust.
If you’ve been putting “starting an email list” on the back burner for months – guess what today is…the day you’ll finally (confidently) start your email list.
AKA the day it got alot easier to get more traffic, more sales and more raving fans for your blog. (Haven’t started your blog yet? Click here for a free step by step tutorial.)
Let me explain,
You see, 80% of people who visit your blog once will NEVER return (Eeep).
(Don’t believe me? Check your Google Analytics.)
It’s not because your writing stinks, your blog is ugly or because you’re not worthy.
The problem is there are 75 million other bloggers also trying to help readers create yummy dinners, dress better for less or eat social media algorithms for breakfast.
So the only way to truly stand out as a blogger is getting in front of people’s eyeballs over and over again with your toe-curling content.
And the most reliable & pocketbook friendly way to do that is getting someone on your email list.
After this post A Beginner’s Guide to Starting An Email List From Scratch & Make Money From It (without feeling like a dirty rotten spammer-face)
- The real secret to making money with your email list that no one is talking about.
- What do if you think starting an email list doesn’t make sense for your niche
- How to create an official email address for your blog (which you need this to legally send emails)
- How to create an opt-in gift so people will want to join your email list
- How to pick an email service provider that’s right for you
- What to actually send your email list (Including 2 funnels and lots of newsletter ideas)
- How to grow your email list quickly
The real secret formula for making money with your email list (or really anything online)
Think about it, in real life – are you more likely to buy MaryKay from some random person who walks up to you at a supermarket or your best friend. Exactly.
Here’s KLT it in action in the blogging world:
You write an ultra-juicy guest blog post and include a link to a free gift readers can only get if they give you their email list (more on that in a sec) = KNOW
Once a week you send personality soaked emails. Sharing stories about your life, confessing you ugly cry every Tuesday night over This Is Us (which inspired you to create your triple fudge flourless brownies). That dials up your likeability to a zillion = LIKE
Of course, you also send people useful, relevant posts, share success stories, even screenshots or two of nice comments you get on your blog. = Trust
So when you suggest a product that you like, announce you created an ebook or ask people to visit your blog (so you can make ad revenue) – they’ll do it.
But before we dive into the nitty-gritty of starting an email list from scratch I want to address one more thing…
“But what if starting an email list doesn’t make sense for my niche? Once people get married, give birth or move to Ohio…they won’t need me anymore.”
That’s a totally valid thought but here’s another one…
People have friends.
Imagine you blog about pregnancy.
You might talk a little bit about nursing and sleep training but your burning white hot passion is helping moms-to-be eat healthy and have a natural childbirth.
Every week you shower your mamas-to-be with the best tips and resources you can find.
So when your subscriber’s friends get pregnant or people in her mommies facebook group start talking about natural childbirth she proudly sings your praises and shares your links. Which wouldn’t have happened if you weren’t emailing her on the regular because she would have forgotten your name.
***Plus with the two email service providers I’m about to tell you about you can easily add “Did you give birth yet? Click here to be added to our special new mommies series and stop receiving pregnancy emails” so they don’t unsubscribe all together.***
Starting An Email List From Scratch & Making Money From It In 5 Easy Steps
1. Get a professional email address for your blog
A lot of bloggers fail to tell you this but you must have a professional email address that ends in your blog url like – firstname.lastname@example.org not email@example.com if you want to start an email list.
If you have Siteground for your hosting – you can create a free professional email address for your blog in like two seconds…here’s how:
Another great choice to create a professional email (and the one I actually use) using G-Suite (Formally Google For Work).G-suite let you see your business emails in the easy to use, familiar gmail dashboard – Complete with filters, folders, tagging and my favorite canned responses. (Perfect for when you’re constantly sending Pinterest group requests.)
2. Give readers a no-brainer reason to hop on your list
No one wants your updates and 'insiders' newsletter. #sorrynotsorry. Click To Tweet
What they do want is and exclusive useful free resource they can only get if they sign up for your list. Enter the signature freebies & content upgrades.
Let’s start with content upgrades – since they’re easier to make and people don’t get as hung up on them as much.
Content upgrades are little supplement worksheets, checklists, printables, cheat sheets or short videos – that help readers implement what they just learned about in a specific blog post.
I wrote an epic blog post all about content upgrades which you can find here. But for now, just focus on finding your top blog post and creating a little something for it.
Content upgrade examples for parenting bloggers:
- Blog post (BP) – 7 Essential Back To School Items for Your Child = Content Upgrade (CU): Back To School Shopping Checklist (Complete with links to purchase items online)
- Blog post – 4 Steps to Getting Your Toddler To Stop Whining About Food = Content Upgrade: Printable Colorful Reward Sticker Chart For Trying New Foods & Eating What’s Given
- Blog post – Do you react or response? – Content Upgrade – What to say instead chart
Content upgrades examples for productivity bloggers:
- BP: How Bullet Journaling Changed My Life = CU: Bullet Journaling symbol cheat sheet & supply list
- BP: 6 of the best productivity apps for bloggers = screen-share video showing you how to set up Asana (one of the apps mentioned)
- BP: How to plan your day so you can’t help but get more done = CU: Time tracker sheets and daily planner page print out
If your just starting out blogging – stick with content upgrades until you really lock in your niche.
My favorite tools for creating content upgrades include: Canva & Beacon.by for printables and pdfs and Screen-cast-o-matic for quick vidoes.
Signature Freebies (also called lead magnets or opt-in gifts) are meatier pieces of free content, that closely relate to your blogging categories, products you have (or want to create in the future) or directly relates to your top affiliate earners.
These can be any format including:
- Mini-courses or challenges
- Templates or Swipe Files
- Meatier Checklist or Blueprint
- Webinars / Masterclasses
- Audio Course / Recording
- Resource Libraries* (Great for when you have lots of content upgrades)
Just make sure your Signature Freebies:
- Crush a common concern or excuse people have that would stop them from even getting started with the topic you blog about
- Give subscribers small wins along the way (even if it’s a 5 day course)
- Has a unique spin or angle
Signature freebie ideas for The “Make Money Online Niche:
- Discovery Call Swipe Files For Female Business Coaches with Word For Word Scripts For What To Say When People Say “That’s too much money!”
- 4 Days To Launch Your Profitable Blog with tech trainings
- Pinning for Dollars 1 Hour Master Class
Signature freebie ideas for The Health & Wellness Niche:
- 7 Green Smoothie Challenge For People Who HATTTE Vegetables (with recipes and shopping lists)
- 5 in 5 Challenge – lose 5 pounds in 5 days and still eat chocolate everyday
- 3 Sneaky Tweeks that can instantly transform you from chronically exhausted to bright & vibrant
Now that you’ve got a quick content upgrade created your ready to setup your email list.
3. Choosing an email service provider that’s right for you.
It’s HIGHLY illegal to BCC a bunch of people from your normal gmail or hotmail account every week and call it your email list. Unless you have an extra $15,000 per person laying around your house and you don’t mind the FCC breathing down your neck all the time then you need an email service provider to send emails to your subscribers.
Should you go with a free vs paid email service provider?
If you’re just dabbling in blogging and not really serious about earning major income (more than $100 per month – mainly from ad & affiliate income) then Mailerlite is a good choice. Mailerlite is free up to 1000 subscribers, has automations, landing pages and makes sending weekly newsletters quick & easy
The only downside to Mailerlite is since it’s free people don’t seem to really use it. Sure they set up their freebie delivery email but that’s it. Rarely do they set up a welcome series, funnel or send weekly emails – which means no relationship with your subscribers which means…you guessed it no money or love.
If you know you’re serious about making money blogging, you dream of selling multiple courses, ebooks, printables that you create (even if you’re not sure what they’ll be about yet), and want to build yourself up as a subject authority sending subscribers tailormade emails to their interests (which means less unsubscribes) start with Convertkit from the get go.
Convertkit has everything you need to make money with your email list, landing pages, opt-in forms, smart sequences, triggers, tagging and so much more.
Now I know $29/mo seems like alot but if you’re actually paying for something every month – you’ll use it! Which means you actually see the effectiveness of growing and nurturing your email list. Plus I’ve got free month trial for ya right here.(It’s normally only 14 days)
As someone who started off with a free service then upgraded to a paid service because the free one didn’t have the features and capabilities, I needed to run my business…
I can tell you it’s pain in the butt to switch from Free to Paid. I’m sure I still have random signup forms for it lurking on my site. Not to mention how much of a pain it was to move over my welcome series and funnels (more on those next)
How to get Convertkit to deliver your freebie & talk to your blog
1.Hit “FORMS” on the top menu bar
2. Hit CREATE NEW FORM
3. CHOOSE FORMS (Landing pages are great for main freebies like courses.
4. Choose from style (I like the one with the picture of the content upgrade – more on that in a minute)
5. Customize the form copy (text). Reminder to click on the button and change “Subscribe” to something more enticing.
6. Hit save then click “SETTINGS” to set the Thank You Page
7. Check off “Auto-confirm”. Customized message including subject line and button then if you’re content upgrade is a pdf select the incentive download and upload your pdf directly to Convertkit. If your content upgrade is a video click the URL button and link to the page where your video is embedded.
8. Click “EMBED” to get the code to put your form on your blog. (This lets Convertkit and your blog “talk” to each other.
9. Switch over the “text” mode on your blog post. PASTE the code where ever you want your opt-in forms for your content upgrade. (Note if you installed the Convertkit WordPress Plugin you don’t have to switch to text mode. You can just paste the short code they give you where ever you want it.
10. Hit SAVE, Look how pretty your post looks then test the form with one of your email addresses.
4. Plotting out what to send your email list
You still with me?
Professional email address check, content upgrade or freebie check, email service provider check. Now it’s time for the fun stuff – sending emails to your list!
I know this part can be scary, because no one wants to be a spammer but trust me, if they signed up for your list, they want your help. And don’t sweat unsubscribes…seriously.
There are two kinds of emails you can send:
1. One-off real time emails called broadcasts or campaign emails. Typically weekly newsletters are one-off emails. What makes these emails unique are if you send them Tuesday at 3pm and someone signs up for your list Tuesday at 7pm they won’t get them.
2. Autoresponders / Funnels are a series of emails the go out automatically and everyone who signs up for your list gets them regardless of the date and time. (If you’ve ever signed up for free mini-course that’s an autoresponder)
Another common autoresponder is a welcome series.
Let’s focus on autoresponders first (since that’s where the magic happens).
What to send in your welcome series autoresponder
If you’re just starting out and don’t have any of your own products to sell yet a welcome series is the way to go. It’s a great way to get to know your subscribers, show off your knowledge (with blog posts and bonus freebies) and ask them questions. Here’s a sample welcome series for you
Email 1 – Your freebie
Your main goal is to get subscribers to open your freebie and reply back with a yes! You can let them know you normally only email once a week but for the next couple of days it’s going to be their birthday will all the free goodies you’ll be sending their way.
Email 2 Quick win
You want them to physically go do something after reading this. Like: “Want to grow your Facebook group faster? Get it’s own url. Here’s how to set that up step by step”. DON’T OVERWHELM THEM WITH STUFF TO DO – that’s email 4’s job.
Email 3 Your Story
Share about what makes you tick or your rock bottom moment. Personally I like to go on a rant about my industry as a way to stand out but that’s just me. Be sure to ask subscribers to reply back if they’ve ever felt the way you did in your rock bottom story and questions they have about your topic.
Email 4 Your best stuff
Send subcriber a round up of your best blog posts, videos or even create a small pdf or extra printables. Remember to ask them what they’re struggling with most when it comes to your topic
Email 5 Authority piece or favorite tools
If you’ve done a guest blog post anywhere or got interviewed on a podcast share it here to build your authority as a go-to expert. If you haven’t guest-starred anywhere send a list of your favorite tools.
Ask them what else they’d like to learn next or what’s holding them back.
What to send in your first product or affiliate sales funnel
This one takes a little bit a planning but can help you earn money every day.
Step 1 – Create a freebie that relates to the product, service or affiliate offer you want to promote.
Next list out all the misconceptions, excuses, concerns, myths, mistakes and feelings about your thing. The job of your funnel is to educate, inspire and empower subscribers.
Let’s look at my free 4 Day Launch Your Profitable Blog Challenge.
My goal: Affiliate income. So I need to show not only why blogging is an awesome money maker but why my tools and affiliate products will help subscribers get there faster.
Some objections to blogging & my tools might be…
- What should I blog about? I’m not good enough. It’s all been done before
- Can I actually make money with this thing? How? Which is fastest? Best?
- I don’t have any time to blog.
- How do I actually get people to notice this thing? How to get traffic?
- What if I try my best and I still fail?
- All those other bloggers just got lucky and went viral I won’t.
- I suck at tech. Why wordpress? Why is buying a theme better isn’t of using a free one? How can I actually build this thing? What should I put on my site?
- And the list goes on and on.
Here’s the free challenge if you want it:
Your funnel must address those things if you want to be successful.
Since your funnel is probably going to lead to an ebook, course or service you’ve created here’s a funnel for that
- Your freebie – Must directly relate to offer but not be the same thing (get the reply back yes!)
- Crush a “Yeah but questions” – Yeah, I could start a blog but…. Yeah I could use weight but….
- Common Mistakes or Myths
- Case Study (it can be yourself) or student story (soft pitch for paid product)
- Hardcore pitch of your product
- But what about….(highlight bonus)
- Why now is the best time to make a change and how not acting is going to affect their lives in the next 5 minutes, 5 months and 5 years
- Last chance
- Pure value
What to send in your weekly newsletter
You’re weekly newsletter is typically the place you send you’re weekly blog post since, everyone is getting that email in real time. It’s also a great time to comment on what’s going on in your life, the world and your industry.
Should I send my whole blog pos or just part of it?
It’s really up to you. One of my favorite bloggers Henneke Duistermaat from Enchanted Marketing sends bite size teasers about her latest posts. Other bloggers like Terra Dawn put the whole kit-caboodle in her emails.
Personally I like to mix it up.
What should I send besides just my new blog posts?
In today’s freebie I have you 2 years worth of Strategically Crafted Email Topics broken down by months. That include 3 value emails and 1 profit email (sales pitch, affiliate links etc) So you don’t have to worry about what to email your list until 2020 but here are a couple of favorites:
- Share 3 of your favorite low cost tools/apps/resources:
- 3 Must Have FREE Apps Every Mom With Kids Under Two Must Have If They Want To Keep Their Sanity
- The 3 Best Places To Find FREE Stunning Stock Photos For Your Blog No One is Talking About
- The 3 Gifts Under $10 Pre-teen boys love (that isn’t food)
- Why most _____________________ fails
- Why most Facebook ads fails even if they have great targeting
- Why most new blogs fails
- Why most dieter fail
- How to_________________________ like a champ
- How to cook Thanksgiving dinner like a champ
- How to knit hats like a champ
- How to bullet journal like a champ
- I never saw it coming…..
- This one is more personal story where you share something you never saw coming, this could be a big win – like getting featured in a magazine or something not so great like being told you had to stay on bed rest for 6 months when you already have a toddler.
- Wanna be famous?
- This is a short e-mail where you ask readers to hit reply you about themselves so you can feature in an upcoming email. This is great way to build a strong connection with your audience
- Quick win video –
- Share a quick how to, motiviation message or tech tutorial. There’s nothing to bond subscribers to you like glue then hearding your voice.
- Camera shy? Use a free service like Screen-cast-o-matic to record your screen or a slide-show you create in Google Slides
- How to use Amazon to come up with blog post ideas
- How to add your own background in Trello
- Use these 3 magic words to get your toddler to stop whining instantly
- What I drink everyday to help keep the 100 pounds I lost, off forever
- You need to heard this…you are worthy.
Now that we have a plan for what to do with our subscribers once we get them it’s time to start getting some.
Note: YOU DON’T HAVE TO WAIT UNTIL YOU HAVE SOME HUGE WELCOME SERIES WRITTEN AND IN YOUR EMAIL SERVICE BEFORE STARTING TO GROW YOUR LIST. CREATE A SIMPLE 3 PART WELCOME SERIES:
1. THE EMAIL WITH YOUR CONTENT UPGRADE
2. A QUICK TIP
3. A PERSONAL STORY ABOUT WHY YOU CARE SO MUCH ABOUT YOUR TOPIC.
And you’ll be good to go for now.
Now that we have our email marketing plan down – let’s get some people on your list!
5. Drive Traffic To Your Opt-In Forms & Blog Posts
First, we’re going to need some add some opt-in forms to your website. Opt-in forms are what connect your email list to your blog.
Top places to add your opt-in forms:
- Your home page,
- About me page
- In the middle of relevant blog posts
- In your header (if your theme allows)
- At the end of your blog posts
If you’re on Squarespace and have the Business plan you can use the promotional pop-ups boxes.
Next it all about drumming up some traffic.
Next week, we’re going to break down my top ways to growing your email list and getting more traffic to blog in detail for now here are some ideas to get you started:
- Write a guest blog post and link to your freebie/content upgrade in your bio
- Reach out to 25 people and manually ask them to join your list
- Do a Facebook live and that end tell people to sign up for your freeibe
- Create 2-3 pins for your freebie
- Use Facebook Groups (here’s free trello board with the 60+ Facebook Groups for Bloggers organized by day and promotion type)
- Do a freebie swap (I have a template for that here)
- Run a giveway
- Have a live masterclass or webinar
- Run Facebook Ads
- Create Facebook post about your freebie
- Create 2-4 Instagram posts about your freebie
- Get interviewed on Podcasts
- Get interviewed on vital summits
- Put a link to your freebie sign up page (landing page) on your navigation bar
- Turn your homepage into a welcome mat (A picture with 2 buttons – get this freebie or go to blog)
For even more list building tips here’s this sweet blog post.
I will say you will go crazy trying to do everything – all of at once. Pick 1-2 main strategies and focus on that. Like guest posting and Pinterest.
The most important thing is that you keep at it. I’ve seen a lot of people think – “Oh my freebie stinks,” But really only 5-10 people per day even see your signup page. You’d be lucky – if you got 1-2 subscribers a week that way.
You’ve got this
Look, I know email marketing can seem like a lot. But it has the highest ROI, it’s the best for developing relationships with your readers and so much more.
Armed with this plan:
- Get official email address
- Create a handful of content upgrades
- Sign up for an email service provider
- Create a welcome series and plan out some newsletters
- Start getting traffic to your blog & sign up pages
You’ll be sure to crash email marketing like a champ. Got questions? Concerns? Let them in the comments below.