How To Quickly Get Started On your Email List
As someone who teeter-totters on the line of being introverted and extroverted, the idea of any kind of marketing scared the shit out of me when I first started. I didn’t like the idea of putting myself out there. I thought people would sign up for the free whatever I was offering, read one of my emails and go “Whew that girl sounds like an idiot”.
Despite those feelings of self doubt and insecurities, starting an email list has become an integral part of my business. It’s one of my non-negotiables: things that I have to do for my business like clockwork, no exceptions.
So if you’re nervous about starting an email list, I completely understand. Consistently showing up with value every week can seem a bit intimidating but it’s an avenue of marketing that will not only make you a better writer (in my opinion) but help your bottom line as well.
If you’re fresh and new to the game and want to start an email list the right way, then this is for you. Grab a pen and some paper, and let’s do work.
When you’re thinking of starting an email list, the two things that you have to keep in mind are this: what kind of value do I want to give in every email, and how does this benefit my business?
Your email list is a group of people that are wanting to trust you and eventually buy or support you.
We don’t want to waste time in people’s inboxes with half assed foolishness that you just threw together. We want every email to be filled with intention and purpose both for you and the reader.
So before you get started, let’s think big picture here. Ask yourself: If I want to intentionally bring value to this person, what information can I give them that is aligned with my business and builds a relationship between us?
Relationship building is important. It’s not all about selling.
The Big Picture
Purpose & Intention
Let’s start with the simple question of: what do you want to talk to your subscribers about through emails? In addition to you discussing your business, what value to you want to bring to them?
Do you want to educate, inspire or entertain them? Do you want to give them resources or research? All of the above?
Great! Keep these things in mind when you start coming up with topics.
Now it’s time to decide on frequency. How many can you realistically commit to sending per month? Be honest with yourself and make sure that you have the time to write out and/or research each email topic.
With those basics down, we can get into what I think is the next step in getting started: creating a lead magnet/content upgrade.
What is it and why do you need one
A lead magnet is usually an all encompassing item that you offer to get someone to sign up for your email list. It covers a topic that all people can benefit from.
Some lead magnet examples are:
An invitation to join your email list for weekly tips
A free ebook that people would actually pay money for
The first chapter of your popular ebook that you charge for
A promo code or coupon
Access to an exclusive library of resources
A content upgrade is like a blog post bonus. Something attached to a specific blog post that helps the reader take what they learned in your post further or helps them take action on the topic of the post. For example: you wrote a post on “how to set up a Pinterest Profile” and created a content upgrade in the form of a list of the exact steps that they need to do in order to get their profile set up.
A few examples of content upgrades are:
Swipe file (collection of inspirational files)
Quick start guide
Tips and tricks
Now whether you choose one over the other is your preference, however having at least one is a enough to get you started.
What and how to make your freebie valuable:
(P.S. from now on, I will be referencing content upgrades and lead magnets as freebies.)
First, a successful and valuable freebie gives the subscriber something that either: helps them accomplish something, solves their problem/pain points for them, or helps them understand something. Your freebie can cover all of that criteria or just one of them.
So let’s break this criteria down with some examples:
Helps them accomplish something: tutorial/video on how to design your first canva graphic, checklist on what to do before launching your shopify shop, guide to squarespace SEO, how to plan a romantic vacation in italy, etc.
Solves their problem/pain points: free canva templates to help them design Pinterest graphics faster, free Mailchimp email templates to help them design beautiful email campaigns, free fonts so they can add some spice to their projects, a list of common HTML/CSS rules and codes and their meaning for them to easily reference, etc.
Helps them understand something: What is a sales funnel and how to set one up for your next launch, what is the law of attraction, How to set up an LLC in Texas for the first time, etc.
Each one of the above examples provides value to the receiver.
Choosing a freebie
So how do you come up with the idea for a freebie that works best for you? There are two methods that I use to decide on any freebies that I create: I use something related to my main service/product, or directly address a frustration/question that I know that my ideal client/audience has.
The first method is directly related to my bottom line, because it funnels them into the general topic that I base my business and services around: web design.
My top two converting opt-ins: the Squarespace template quiz and the Website Content Planner are perfect for my service based business for two reasons: 1) they position me as an expert on Squarespace (through the quiz) and 2) positions me as someone that can help the subscriber, a potential client, with a common problem that entrenpreneurs have when starting a website: what in the hell do I put on this thing?
Is that every problem that my target audience has? No way. But they address a specific problem and provide solutions. The quiz will tell you which template you should use to help you narrow down your choices so you can get started easier and faster, and the planner guides you through writing website content that’s intentional and connects with your potential clients.
Each helps them do something easier, faster, and better.
So think about your business and the people that you work with. What can you give them, for free, that will position you as an expert in your field, and helps them in return?
If you’re a photographer, you can give them a list of do’s and don’ts for engagement photos, a guide on the ins and outs of creating a wedding timeline, or a list of questions they should ask when hiring their wedding photographer.
For a copywriter, you can give tips on how to write high converting headlines for their blog posts, or how to write email subject lines that grab attention, or a sales page copywriting checklist for their next big launch.
Making and Sending
Now let’s talk about how you’re actually going to create and send out your emails and freebies.
How you choose to create your opt-in is completely up to you. The great thing is is that you don’t have to spend hours and hours doing it, and you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg either.
Tools like Google Docs, Google Slides, Keynote, Canva, etc. are free and easy to use. If you’re familiar with some editing programs you can use Photoshop, Indesign, and or Illustrator to get your freebie designed.
Or you may need some other platforms: like Teachable, Teachery, and Thinkific to help with free online courses or Interact for online quizzes!
Choosing a platform to actually deliver your freebie can be easy on your wallet as well: Mailchimp and Mailerlite are a few examples of email marketing services that are easy to use. You can also use Convertkit (they’re changing their name to Seva as I’m writing this), Aweber, or Infusionsoft.
These platforms all do the same thing at their core: they provide you with a way to deliver your freebie instantly then funnel subscribers through a sequence of emails that welcomes them into your community.
How to deliver:
There are multiple ways to deliver freebies using Mailchimp. Below are some resources on how to do that:
Convertkit is pretty easy to set up and to get going as well:
What Happens After
The marketing and the relationship building doesn’t stop once you deliver the goods. If you want to turn this stanger into a raving fan of your biz, you have to stay at the top of their minds and consistently in their inboxes.
Your first chance to do this is with your welcome sequence.
So what is a welcome sequence?
A welcome sequence is a sequence of related emails that are sent to subscribers after they sign up for your newsletter, a freebie, etc.
This sequence welcomes them into your business: what you do, who you do it for, etc. and it opens the door for them to either buy from you or hire you.
The length of this sequence varys from situation to situation, but welcome sequences that convert and retain your subscribers generally follow a pattern:
Email 1: Welcome, Introduction & Expectation Setting
Email 2: Additional Freebie
Email 3: Another freebie, or very helpful related content
Email 4: Related Content
Email 5: Related Content and Soft Sell (a soft sell is a mention of your services or products but it’s not the main topic)
Email 6: Hard Sell (a hard sell is where the email is completely structured around your services or products. Another example of hard sell pieces of content are sales pages: the number one and only focus is that product or service)
The above sequence helps establish a trusting and giving relationship with your subscribers. They get to know you as someone that gives and gives more than some salesy scammer that asks for money immediately.
Here's the key to a successful welcome sequence: Don’t make it about you. Yes in the first email you should introduce yourself and your business, but every single email after that has to be about them. How you can help them win and thrive. Position yourself as an expert and as an invaluable resource.
Now will everyone that makes it through your welcome sequence buy or work with you? Probably not. The purpose however is to get them warmed up and used to you being in their inbox. This sequence keeps you at the forefront of their mind when they think of your industry.
It all comes down to client experience to be completely honest. This world is filled with people that are selling the same types of services as you, but what will make you unique is the way that you treat your people from beginning to end. And I’m talking about the very beginning: from the first time they ever hear about you all the way down to when they’re finished working with you the first time.
Your welcome sequence can be a game-changing if you put some effort and some thought into it.
Whew! That was a lot, but trust me getting a email list running is definitely worth it. It was hard for me to swallow and push through. Marketing, whether on social media or through email, can be intimidating when you’re trying to find your own voice in a sea of much louder voices.
What I found with email marketing in particular, and what makes it a bit easier than social media, is that you’re not directly fighting with everyone else’s voice. It’s just you when they open your email. For that moment in time they’re only listening to you.
Not everyone is going to open your emails, and that’s ok. But the ones that do open your emails on a consistent basis want to hear from you and support you. Let them.