8 Good Reasons to Start an Email List and Send out Newsletters Regularly
Reach out to your readers today and invite them to join your community and subscribe to your newsletter. This is the organic campaign approach where everything is free and everybody wins.
This post isn't directed towards office cogs hiding behind big corporations, or those selling crappy garbage through clickbait. This is for those that care that their reputation is online and on-the-line, those developing an honest personal brand, those looking to build a community of friends with intersecting interests.
It is through creativity, curiosity, hard work, and patience that we attract loyal readers. Building an email list should be a central part of that effort.
Here It Is
Building an email list offers many advantages, even if you're new to this and don't quite see it yet. The right way of building one is to do it organically and that takes time, so start today!
1 & 2. It Builds Confidence and Brand
As your community grows, so will your confidence and brand. A healthy and growing email list will confirm all of the above.
3. Make Friends Within Your Niche
This has to be the fastest way of networking with like-minded folks from around the planet. You will be able to bounce ideas, test products and even sell something if you so choose.
4. Ask Your Readers for Something
This is a good habit. It makes you more visible, more real. It also works as a gauge to measure how much readers like your content and whether they're willing to give something up for it. The moment he or she entrusts you with their precious email address, you know you've made a friend.
5. Brings in New Ideas
It keeps you in the game, constantly thinking, taking notes, collecting web pages about interesting topics. The more you write, the more people will subscribe to your list, and, in turn, the more you will write.
6. Shows That You Care
It gets you in the habit of keeping your posts focused, forcing you to write a summary of what you have accomplished and where you are going next.
7. Puts You on a Release Schedule
Once you get your rhythm going, your fan base will grow and expect things from you. When that happens, you've finally created your community and you more than likely will have a release schedule to make sure you don't disappoint your fans.
8. You'll Never Feel Bad Again
Keep producing great content, keep asking for email addresses, and keep sending out newsletters. If your recipient doesn't like your stuff anymore, they'll opt-out, end of the story for them, but nothing changes for you; the show must go on.
Nice Ways of Asking for Emails
The most common way of building an email list is to code a signup form (or use a snippet/plugin) on your blog page.
Which has evolved into my current iteration:
On Medium you can use Upscribe, on GitHub.io you can use Formspree, and, if you control the HTML of your blog, you can even roll-your-own as I wrote about recently here: How to Create Your Own Free Email Signup Form and Enjoy 100% Creative Freedom - For Static & Semi-Static Web Sites.
Best Places to Embed a Sign-Up Form in Your Post
The best place to place your sign form is at the top of the page. This makes the form very visible, easy to remember where it is, and trivial to access. On the other hand, the bottom of the page is a great place as well, especially if they liked the piece they just finished reading.
You can also place it in the middle of the content, this works even better if you customize the signup message with the topic of the post - something on the lines of 'for a deeper look' or 'for a more technical dive', 'please sign-up and I'll email it to you…'
If you use Jekyll, you can easily create an HTML snippet that contains your sign-up form. You then add that snippet anywhere you want it to appear using the curly bracket - percent tag:
You can even add it at both, the top and bottom of your blog post to give your reader a second chance at signing up (as I did on my blog's front page at amunategui.github.io).
As a Bridge to Additional Content
An interesting way that I haven't experimented with yet is to add some sign-up form at the end of a post offering additional information in exchange for an email address. This has to be done carefully and your post should be able to stand on its own two feet without forcing the reader to "unlock" the content in order to complete the post. The additional material you are offering should be clearly a bonus or extra stuff to avoid feeling spammy but otherwise, this seems like a great way to nudge those interested in giving up their email addresses. I'll experiment with this soon and report back.
And now, let's talk about the polemic pop-up sign-up. This is an interesting approach on many levels. For starters, those who really don't like pop-ups have already set their browser's to block them. This means that those who would get angry at that type of marketing, won't get offended when browsing your site.
In my opinion, you should only add this type of form if you have something solid to offer, like an eBook, a free webinar, or a regularly scheduled newsletter with value-added content.
You should also control the pop-up using a client-side browser cookie to tweak the popping frequency (once every session, every hour, day, etc.) And with anything cookies/client-side data, remember to put up a GDPR warning stating why you are using that cookie.
Popup and General Signup-Form Manners
There is one disclaimer I still need to add (urgently) and that is to clearly state that the emails submitted won't ever be sold to advertisers or sold to anybody else.
A Word About Newsletters
Let's talk briefly about newsletters. Obviously, the content needs to be of high quality and clearly related to the topic from which the sign-up form originated. It should also be sent out on a regular basis, at a minimum once a month.
Make it look good! Did you know its fairly easy to create an HTML-based email in Gmail? So, if you have some HTML chops, you can make your newsletter look really good - see this YouTube for more details.
Otherwise, you can always send out a text-based newsletter. If your list is fairly small, it should work fine. Make sure you put your recipient addresses in the BCC line (a mistake I did a few times - and thanks to those that pointed it out to me). Otherwise, everybody sees everybody else's address and it makes for a really ugly looking newsletter. Also, a few times Gmail blocked my email as it thought I was sending out spam.
Using an Off-The-Shelf Solution
At this point, my email list is too big to do all this manually and I have started using GetResponse. It is a very affordable and simple package to manage contact lists, and easily create popups and newsletters using simple drag-and-drop commands. A big advantage of going with using an off-the-shelf package instead of rolling your own is the ease at which you can change the content and images. If you have to dig deep to do manual changes everytime you want to change or update something, you may take shortcuts or even skip a newsletter or two - not good!
Thanks for reading! And please share this article with a friend or colleague or two :-)