The story I'm about to share is proof that by using the right email marketing strategies you can build something from scratch. I've grown my email list from 0-200 in a span of three months and DOUBLED my monthly goal of reaching my first 100 subscribers. I will be spilling the exact strategies I used that compelled 101 people to hand over their email addresses to me in a span of 48 hours.
In my opinion, every blogger should have an email list. This is something I only learned recently and have since executed, growing my list to over 200 subscribers in three months. The purpose of this email list series is not only so I can share what I've learned with you, but to also share actionable tips that you can easily implement into your own list-building strategy.
Why Have an Email List?
After I made the decision back in February to take my blog to the next level and focus on turning it into a business, I started doing a lot research on how to start and grow an email list. I read as many blog posts and articles as I could, enrolled in free e-courses & webinars, watched videos, and took lots and LOTS of notes. I wanted to soak everything up. Then I signed up with MailChimp and started my journey of email list-building
- Related: 7 Things I'm Doing to Grow My Blog
My Aha MomentAfter a few days of using Mailchimp I enrolled in a free email marketing workshop hosted by Helene Sula of Helene in Between and Darrel Vesterfelt of ConvertKit. You could say that this was my "aha moment."
The workshop covered how to use an email list to sell products and how to get your first (or additional) 1,000 email subscribers and beyond. The workshop really opened my eyes to the world of email marketing and I learned that I actually have the knowledge and expertise that it takes to teach something to others and maybe even make a few dollars from. You could say that I highly doubted myself before this workshop.
And that's when I fell in love with ConvertKit. I signed up for a free trial (you can get your first month FREE by clicking HERE) and have been on board ever since.
What The?So that was at the beginning of February when I started my email list with ConvertKit. My first week was pretty quiet, which you can almost expect after just launching a list. I had some steady growth...and a few dead periods, but by mid-April I was getting really close to my first 100 (89 to be exact), which was my goal for the month. Then something crazy happened in the time on the days of April 19th and 20th: I gained 101 subscribers in 48 hours, skyrocketing my list from 89 to 190. WHAT???????
So what the heck did I do to get 101 people to give me their email address in 48 hours?
1. Created an Opt-In Freebie That People Ate UpIn the world of email marketing, you hear the terms "content-upgrade," "opt-in" and "freebie" a lot and are all connected to one another.
A content upgrade is simply bonus content that is bite-sized, blog post specific, and FREE that people can get access to in exchange for their email address. When users enter their email address they are OPTING-IN to your email list and huzzah! Open the flood gates.
Think of a content upgrade as an ethical bribe. We both want something from each other (I want your email address, you want more information) so this is what a I call a perfect mutual relationship. That's why the term "freebie" gets thrown around a lot. People love free stuff, especially free information and solutions that can help them.
ConvertKit is great for opt-ins, which is why I decided to stay on board with the $29 a month fee for up to your first 1,000 subscribers. Another cool thing about ConvertKit is that they always offer free workshops and classes. Right now they have a free four week Product Creation Masterclass to help you create your very first online product, which is an incredible value since it's FREE. I'm enrolled and we're currently in week two, but you can totally catch up if you decide to enroll! Click here to register for the class.
My first big opt-in freebie that I started seeing growth from was my Traffic Booster Cheat Sheet. I promoted this freebie in this blog post that I published two weeks after I created my email list. When coming up with a content upgrade you always want it to connect with a blog post in some way or another. I managed to gain 5 subscribers from its first day which I thought was actually pretty awesome since my list was so small and mostly included people I knew in real life that I asked to join (gotta do what you gotta do.)
My next big freebie that exploded my list was my library of The Best Hashtags to Grow Your Instagram. I launched this freebie along with this blog post on April 5th. The hook in this post was that I shared MY favorite hashtags in the post, but also offered over 350 more hashtags anyone could use as an content upgrade. That week I gained 18 subscribers and started to feel like I was doing something right.
2. Promoted on Social MediaIt wasn't until two weeks after I launched my hashtag list that I discovered my secret weapon: Facebook groups. I had been using Facebook blogger groups for two months at this point, but never received the amount of feed back I had after promoting My Favorite Hashtags + my freebie. After posting in the group Boost Your Blog, it essentially went "viral."
The moment I posted in the group my blog post and email list started to skyrocket. Just on April 19th alone I gained 73 subscribers and 28 the following day. As you can tell from my stats above, this was a HUGE jump since I was averaging a couple new subscribers a day, with bigger jumps on days I published new posts including my freebies. Naturally my blog post got a lot of traffic too and is my most popular one to date. I knew that I created a blog post and free product that was valuable, but didn't expect such great feedback SO QUICKLY.
Facebook groups are really awesome and are something worth investing some time on. They help you to connect with other bloggers and is a great way to get your content out there and boost your traffic, especially if you're just starting out. So that's what I did, I promoted my blog post that included the opt-in freebie and people ate it up.
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Social media in general is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site, promote your opt-in freebies, and grow your email list. As you can tell from my Google Analytics for the month of April, the majority of my page views came from Facebook (428 sessions). But if you look at the number two spot, Pinterest comes in at 62 sessions, followed by Blogger, Instagram, and StumbleUpon (thank you to that one person in a Facebook group that shared my post on StumbleUpon!) I have since created a StumbleUpon account by the way.
Pinterest is still something I'm learning and navigating, but from my analytics below, you can see that one of my hashtag blog posts is my second top post, coming in at 1,621 impressions, 6 clicks, and 5 saves. At this point I'm trying to post in different group boards and also create new Pinnable images to attract different audiences.
3. Consistent and Patient
If you think by just adding a widget to sign up for your email list on the side-bar of your blog will be enough, you're using the wrong strategy (or no strategy at all) to grow your list. You also can't just create one opt-in freebie and expect high and quick results. Maybe I got incredibly lucky by getting those 101 subscribers in 48 hours and just posted on Facebook at the right time.
Or maybe it was a matter of getting more exposure and putting myself out there. Or maybe it's a combination of both. Unfortunately there's no formula to use to grow your email list, blog, business, etc., but there are strategies that have worked for others and have produced results.
As you can tell from this chart, April 19 and 20 were clearly out of the ordinary days for my email list. My biggest piece of advice for anyone that wants to start a list or is finding themselves where I was waiting on your first 100, is to be consistent and patient. Always be thinking of new content ideas, creating and promoting opt-in freebies, reaching out to other bloggers, and just be willing to put yourself out there.
Oh, and you have to be okay with failure. I've failed many times in the past three months. I've created a couple of opt-ins that I thought were really awesome, but only got a couple of sign-ups. You'll also get a lot of unsubscribers, but don't let this get to you. It just means they aren't your target audience. Failure is how you grow and I'm always learning what people want and what they don't want.
At this point I've shifted my email list strategy from gaining subscribers to learning how to keep my current subscribers engaged. I'm currently in research mode and learning as much as I can find about not only growing your email list, but how to create content that your subscribers want to see. I mean, what's the point of having a list without establishing connections and sharing information?
So, are you ready to start your own email list? Thought so. If you're ready head over to this post where I show you step-by-step how to start your email list in 4 easy steps!