Starter Guides

How to build an email list

Posted by: By Tom Woods | October 13, 2016

Most people will visit your site once and never return. But you want them to return. How can you draw them back? By having them join your mailing list. You can then send out an occasional email newsletter, complete with links to what you’ve been producing on your site in recent days and weeks, and they just may click and pay you another visit.

It’s not difficult to integrate a newsletter signup into your site. We’ve done it here at The Happy Earner. An attractive box, complete with an image of the cover of the eBook you’ll be sent, pops up . How did I create that box? Using LeadPages, a great service I’ll say more about in the forthcoming starter guide on landing pages.

I do a lot of public speaking. But no matter how good the impression you make on your audience, it’s hard to get them to remember to visit your website the following day. So I take advantage of the fact that practically everyone has a cell phone, and I say: get my free eBook along with my weekly letter by texting the word LIBERTY to 33444. Now, instead of having (if I’m lucky) five percent of that audience visit my site, it’s conceivable that a solid quarter to a third will sign up for my free eBook and newsletter right then and there.

How do I do that? Using LeadDigits, another feature available on LeadPages.

I’ve also had a lot of success with a plugin called OptinMonster. One thing in particular I like about it is that it can sense, based on cursor movement, when a visitor is about to leave your site, and at that moment an opt-in popup appears, to try to get that visitor to sign up for your mailing list (and, if applicable, receive your bonus gift, like a free eBook) before departing.

But remember, people receive a lot of e-mail, and they receive so much e-mail they don’t want, that they are going to have to be persuaded to sign up for a newsletter. That’s why it’s best, if not absolutely indispensable, for you to be able to offer them something tangible in exchange for that e-mail address. We ourselves give away a free eBook, a common premium to entice visitors to join a mailing list. We explain an easy way to produce such an eBook in our guide to self-publishing a book.

There are two mail e-mail marketing companies that most website owners with e-mail lists use to accumulate and manage those e-mail addresses, as well as draft and send out newsletters to that list of addresses. The first is Mailchimp, which is what we use, and what I have used for years for my personal newsletter. If you’re just starting out, you’ll appreciate one feature of Mailchimp in particular: until your mailing list reaches 2000 addresses, Mailchimp is absolutely free.

The other service is Aweber. I have not used Aweber, but I know plenty of people who have, and they swear by it. Some people say the autoresponder feature on Aweber is much easier than the one in Mailchimp, and a lot of email marketers depend on an autoresponder.

If you’re new to all this, the fact that Mailchimp is free until your list reaches 2000 names may well be the deciding factor for you, but you may want to check out both links and investigate them for yourself.

One other thing: don’t worry about creating a custom template or fancy graphics for your newsletter. You don’t need those things. I realized that years after I started my main email list. Plain text is all you need. In fact, the fancy style can backfire on you. Anything that makes your email look unlike an email from your grandmother may, even if only marginally, lead to fewer opens of your emails. They won’t have the feel of a personal email.

Synergy

I myself host a weekday podcast, The Tom Woods Show. As one way of promoting the show, I give away free eBooks. I create these eBooks from transcripts of some of my episodes. I find transcripts with a theme in common, and I collect those transcripts into an eBook. For example, I picked out 14 episodes featuring especially important topics and packaged the transcripts into a book called 14 Hard Questions for Libertarians –Answered. (For the transcripts themselves, I hired relatively inexpensive transcriptionists via Fiverr.com and Upwork.com.)

If you (virtually) flip through that book, you discover something. At the end of each transcript there’s a link to subscribe to my podcast on iTunes and Stitcher, the two most popular podcast delivery systems. The appendices of that eBook promote my premium services, like Liberty Classroom and the Ron Paul Curriculum. They also promote Real Dissent, my latest book. That book, in turn, promotes the show – one section of the book contains transcripts of some of my most interesting episodes.

It’s this kind of synergy, in which much of what you do involves cross-promotion of other things you do, that can get you serious traction online.

eBooks the Easy Way

Chances are, you don’t have a podcast and transcripts. But once you start your blog, and produce content for it regularly, before you know it you have more than enough material for an eBook. Remember that eBooks – especially the free kind – can vary widely in length, and can be much shorter than traditional books. You’re giving this book away, after all, so no one is in a position to complain that your book isn’t longer.

You then use the eBook to draw more people to your email list. You tell them: sign up for my newsletter and receive this free eBook! It’s easy to set up your email list so that it sends links to free eBooks in a welcome email to anyone who signs up for the list.

Of course, a book needs a cover. Unless you have a graphic design background, you should outsource this task. For a book you’re giving away, it’s silly to spend too much on a cover. And you don’t have to. For my 14 Hard Questions book, I did a search for eBook cover design at Fiverr and found a whole bunch of designers who do quality work inexpensively. As of this printing, you can have a quite serviceable cover designed for five dollars, as I did.

For an extra five dollars, you can generally get a 3D version of your book cover, with your book standing at an angle and looking like a real book with a spine. I recommend buying this, too, because the 3D image, while not usable in your book itself, will look very sharp in your promotional material for the book. Click here to see what I mean.

Finally, for a step-by-step overview of email marketing — building a list and then knowing what to mail to that list — check out our eBook/mini-course combo, Email List Building Explained.

Some of the links on this site are affiliate links, which means I earn a commission if you click on them and buy something. This helps me keep the lights on around here. Naturally, I don't recommend a product unless I have used and benefited from it myself, or I have researched it enough to determine it to be of good quality and likely to benefit my readers. I don't promote anything created by the swamp dwellers. Thanks for reading!

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