Did you know that one of the best ways to get more traffic to your blog is actually…building your email list?
Yep, that’s right. If you’ve been struggling to drive more traffic and attract more social shares for your blog posts, your email list is about to become your new best friend.
You might be shaking your head at this point, and wondering, “What the heck does list-building have to do with blogging? Do I even care about sending emails, or building an email list? I thought I was supposed to focus on driving more traffic, attracting more social shares, and getting more people to comment on my posts.”
Here’s the secret a lot of people don’t know: Building a loyal email list for your blog can get you all three of those things. In fact, it’s one of the very BEST ways to get all three.
Blogger, author and speaker Michael Hyatt, who is one of the most successful bloggers in the world, has a list of over 500,000 email subscribers. He said this about his list:
“I have literally built a million dollar business on the strength of my email list. Ninety percent of my income comes from it. Even today, my email list is still my #1 business priority and asset.”
Michael Stelzner, founder and owner of Social Media Examiner, has a list of almost 600,000 dedicated subscribers who receive his blog posts in their inboxes every day. Stelzner said, “Email is the most important channel for you to cultivate in your online business.”
But why exactly is building a list the key to a blogger’s success? Why is it so important, and why are all the world’s top bloggers recommending you focus on building your list?
4 Reasons You Need to Focus on Attracting Email Subscribers for Your Blog
According to The Inbox Report – which collected details of the email habits of over 1,500 Americans – over 89% of adults check their email at least once a day, and nearly 21% check their email more than 5 times a day.
No other marketing tool allows us to connect with blog readers as quickly and effective as email marketing – and focusing on list-building can give you some remarkable blogging benefits.
Here are four of the biggest reasons why building your list can give your blog a big boost:
1. Your email subscribers will give you traffic on demand.
You will get more unique visitors from your own email list than you will get from practically any other traffic source – especially if you’re a beginning blogger.
When someone joins your email list, they will read more pages on your site than they would if they were not on your email list – so if you want a high-traffic blog, it’s a good idea to focus on building your email subscriber count.
Want to see how you can turn email subscribers into blog visitors? Let’s go back to Michael Hyatt for an example.
When Michael publishes a new post, he sends an email like this out to his list subscribers:
Michael’s email subscribers click one of the links in the email and go straight to his newest blog post. Keep in mind, Michael has over 500,000 subscribers, so that’s a LOT of potential traffic.
2. Email subscribers share your posts.
Once people get to know, like and trust you, they are more likely to share you content on their favorite social media platforms – so if you’re looking for more shares and wondering how to make a post go viral, the answer is in your email list.
As your list grows, your social share numbers will rises accordingly — especially if you prompt people to share your posts, like Jon Morrow does in his content notifications:
3. Email subscribers are more likely to comment on your posts.
Do your blog post comments feel like a ghost town most of the time?
If so, I get it. Getting people to speak up in your comments section is challenging – but once again, you can go back to your email list for the answer to this problem.
Your visitors are more likely to comment on one of your posts once they are on your email list, so your email subscribers will usually be your most frequent commenters.
People often want to be a part of your community before they start commenting, and being on your list helps them feel connected to you – especially when you’re sending them high-quality content on a regular basis.
4. Emails subscribers are buyers.
This one shouldn’t surprise you.
If you want to start bringing in revenue with your blog (or bring in MORE revenue from your site), building your email list is the #1 thing you should focus on.
Jon Morrow tells his students that if they are amateur marketers, they can probably make about one dollar per email subscriber, per month. If you have 5,000 subscribers on your list, that means you can probably make around $5,000 a month from your blog – and it only goes up from there, as you become a smarter copywriter and a better marketer.
If you want to use blogging as a springboard to quitting your day job, improving your lifestyle, or taking that dream vacation, remember that the money is always in your email list.
Setting Yourself Up for List-Building Success
What if you don’t have an email list yet?
Perhaps you’ve been focusing on writing great content for your site, and you didn’t think starting a list was important. Maybe the task “Start an email list for my blog” has been on your to-do list for months.
If that’s the case, don’t keep putting it off! Follow these simple steps for starting an email list for your blog this week:
1. Sign up with a trusted email service provider to help you manage your list and make sure you comply with current CAN-SPAM laws.
I know you don’t want to spam people, and I also know you don’t want to pay steep penalties (up to $16,000 per email!) for violating federal CAN-SPAM laws.
A reputable email service provider (like MailChimp, Emma, AWeber, or Drip) will make sure that the email messages you send to your list are CAN-SPAM compliant, and make it easy for people to subscribe and unsubscribe from your list.
Our fearless leader, Kevin Duncan, uses AWeber (affiliate link) as his email service provider, and I use Infusionsoft. There are tons of choices out there, so you should be able to find a service that fits your needs and your budget. Most services make it easy to sign up and get started.
2. Have a plan in place for how to build relationships with your subscribers.
Last week, I was talking to a client on the phone, and I asked him about his list size.
“I have about 500 people on my list,” he said.
But when I asked him about the last time he emailed anything to his list, he answered “I think it’s been at least six months. I just don’t know what to send them.”
Too many bloggers start bringing subscribers in – and watching with glee as their email list numbers grow – but they have no idea how to connect with those new community members.
It’s critical that you figure out in advance what you’re going to send to your subscribers, and when you’ll send it – and then you keep your word and do what you’ll say you’re going to do.
At the very least, I recommend sending out what I call “content notifications” any time you’ve published a new blog post (see Michael’s example, above), but you can also do a weekly newsletter, a curated blog post of great stuff from around the web, or a daily tip.
Whatever you decide, just do it well, and do it consistently – it will help your new subscribers start to trust you!
3. Create a welcome message for new subscribers.
Most email service providers (like MailChimp and AWeber) will let you send an automated welcome message to new subscribers. This message will go out to new folks who join your list, whether they sign up in the middle of the night or at 2 PM in the afternoon – and because it’s totally automated, you won’t have to lift a finger to send it.
Your welcome message should be friendly and gracious, and it should explain what’s going to happen next.
Once you’ve decided how often you’re going to email your list (see #2, above) explain that plan to your new subscribers in your welcome message, so they know exactly to expect.
For more information on crafting a welcome message that connects with your subscribers and builds trust, download my free report, “The Ultimate Guide to Creating a Warm Welcome Message for New Subscribers.”
3 Ways to Start Building Your Blog’s Email List
There are a million ways to get more subscribers – and just as many bloggers who want to give you advice on this topic – so I’m just going to give you three quick-and-dirty list-building tips.
List-Building Tip #1: Give away something free to get people to join.
Unfortunately, you can no longer just add a little “Sign up for my newsletter!” box to the sidebar of your site, and expect new subscribers to come pouring in the door every day. We are so inundated with email offers every day that most of are really picky about what we sign up for.
Want to know how to get past people’s hesitations? Give them something valuable if they sign up for your list. Some call it a “incentive,” some call it a “bribe,” and some call it a “giveaway.” Whatever you decide to call it – you need one for your blog!
If you give new subscribers an incentive to entice them to sign up for your list, you can build your list up to 10 times faster than you can without an incentive.
If you’re still dragging your feet, look at it this way: Would you rather take one year to get your first 1000 subscribers, or 10 years? Having a powerful incentive on your website can literally save you nine years of time and effort.
Come up with a giveaway idea that it compelling for your audience, and create it this week. It doesn’t have to be long or complicated! Sometimes one-page cheat sheets or checklist bring in more subscribers that 300-page ebooks. Keep it simple and create something quickly.
List-Building Tip #2: Offer your giveaway on your blog.
Once you decide what you’re going to give away, you’ve got to let your blog visitors know you’ve got something great to offer them.
You can add a welcome gate, pop-up, pop-over, landing page, or content upgrade to your site, or simply add a footer to your blog posts that says, “Like this post? You’ll love my [awesome giveaway name here]. Sign up here to get it right away.”
List-Building Tip #3: Once you’ve got list-building tips #1 and #2 in place, promote the heck out of your blog posts.
Derek Halpern of Social Triggers recommends spending 20% of your blogging time creating content, and the other 80% promoting that content. Sound extreme? I know. I was a little shocked when I saw those numbers.
Even if you don’t meet that standard, absorb the lesson Derek’s trying to impart: We should spend more time promoting the content we’ve already written. This is especially true for the vast majority of bloggers who don’t promote their content at all – they just hit “publish” and pray someone will notice their new stuff.
Looking for idea for promoting your posts? Start with this list of 107 content promotion ideas from CoSchedule. I recommend finding 10 ideas that are in your comfort zone, and four that are “stretch” goals for you (like asking partners and affiliates to share your content) – then doing all fourteen of them every week.
Promote your content consistently, and see your email subscriber (and blog traffic) numbers grow!
List-Building Tip #4: Guest blog for popular sites where your audience hangs out.
Yes, this strategy still works, although it’s not the goldmine it was five or six years ago. There are still great guest blogging gigs out there, but you need to be very selective about where you guest post.
Here are the questions I ask myself before I consider submitting a guest post to a site:
- How many people have shared the blog’s recent posts on social media? These numbers don’t have to be in the thousands, but if you see one-digit numbers for every post over the past few months, it’s not a great sign.
- How many people are commenting on this blogger’s posts? When people consistently comment on the blogger’s posts, it means he or she has an active and engaged community. That’s exactly what I want!
- Will the blogger let me add a short bio and a link back to my site at the end of my post? Some bloggers want to put advertisements or other links at the end of my guest post, and they want to bury my bio. That’s their prerogative, but it will cut down on the amount of email subscribers I get from my guest posting efforts. Those folks go on my “no” list every time.
- Will the blogger send an individual email about my guest post to their email mailing list? If yes, that’s a big plus for me as a guest poster – it will mean more traffic, social shares, and comments for my post.
If (and only if) a blogger meets all four of these criteria will I approach them with a guest posting idea.
Hint: When I asked these questions about Be A Better Blogger, I got “YES” answers for all four – which is why you’re reading this post today!
Your Email List: The Springboard to Your Blogging Success
If you’re feeling stuck in your blogging journey – if you’re frustrated by your traffic numbers, aggravated by your lack of comments, and bewildered because no one is sharing your posts on social media – I encourage you to focus on building your blog’s email mailing list.
List-building isn’t easy, but every minute you spend focusing on your list it is going to pay off tenfold in your traffic, engagement, and social sharing numbers.
Start your email list today, and start enticing people to join that list by offering a useful and valuable giveaway. Then use some of the tips above to start attracting more email subscribers.
Here’s my promise to you: Having a loyal list of subscribers who can’t wait to read, share, and comment on your blog posts is going to make you feel like the king (or queen) of the blogging world.