Have you seen the crazy headlines about how people are building huge email lists in five minutes or less? There are graphics all over Pinterest stating how you can get 7000 subscribers in 10 minutes or “My Path To 10K New Email Subscribers While I Ate Breakfast.”
Okay, maybe they aren’t quite this crazy but it feels like it, doesn’t it?
I’m here to say, “Step away from the email list!”
Not every blogger needs to go ballistic when building an email list.
Sure, you’ve heard you need to build your list. You understand why you should collect email addresses from your readers and then send your subscribers your posts, a newsletter, or put them in a sales funnel for your products and services. But does it have to be so dramatic?
Can’t we just all get along? Waaaaaaaa!
No worries. I’m feeling better now.
So, here’s the deal, I’ve seen all the headlines and I’ve read the posts on how to build a huge email list. I get that people are excited. Excited is good. But as I see posts pushing bloggers to build giant lists I have a few questions:
First, are those kabillion subscribers you have all active and engaged?
Second, if not how much are those bloggers paying for dead weight subscribers? Like, are they blowing their entire Adsense payment on subscribers who never open their emails?
Finally, does everyone really need a huge email list?
Things that make you say hmmmmm, right?
Building an email list is a great idea. I FULLY support finding like-minded readers with whom you can share your posts and products. These are your “clients.” You need to be in contact with them and you need to be building strong relationships with them. But your list building strategy is dependent on what type of blog you write. There is no “one-size-fits-all” here. Your “clients” determine how you go about building your list.
Building an email list
There are three main categories for blogs: Blogs that share knowledge and information, blogs that sell products or services, and blogs that are a hybrid of these two. Your job is to determine which kind of blog you are.
Think about what type of blog you run today, right now. Don’t worry about what kind of blog you want next year. Worry about today. (Ok, don’t really worry, just think about it. Worrying is bad.)
So, do you run a faith blog? Do you talk about issues of the heart, parenting, or intentional living? Maybe you write about food or homeschooling. Perhaps you’ve written a book or sell your services as a consultant. Maybe your site is all about affiliate marketing and sales.
Whichever type of blog you run will determine your strategy for building an email list you can actually use.
1. Knowledge based blogs
If you write about faith, matters of the heart, or other topics that tug on the emotions and your main focus is your writing (and sharing Facebook videos that make people cry), your strategy should be to build an email list that makes your readers your number one priority. You want to serve them first and foremost.
This may mean your list is smaller, much smaller, than 7000 subscribers. It may mean your list is only comprised of a few hundred readers but those readers are totally engaged. They open up each email you send and care about what you have to say. They feel connected to you and you to them.
Hugs and flowers all around!
Now, this isn’t to say your list can’t grow or that you can’t start selling products or services. All it means is that you probably don’t need to have a huge email list. As a heart/knowledge blogger you want to make meaningful connections. An email list that doesn’t put your family in the poorhouse every month is your goal.
Be proactive, build your list, but do it slowly and wisely. Watch it like a hawk and keep it pared down to your most engaged readers. An email list like this takes a lot of time to nurture and care for. It’s like a garden. Keep it weed free and it will be very, very good to you.
2. Products and services blogs
Some of you may have blogs where you write affiliate posts, sell products and services, and are focused on generating income. Your strategy for building your list is completely different than the one above. You want and need to get your posts in front of as many eyes as possible.
You aren’t concerned so much with relationships as you are sales. Sure, you want to be trustworthy, but you do that by offering deals and opportunities to your readers that are high quality and make your Paypal account go Cha-Ching!
Your emails are different. They tout products and services and therefore, while you want a high open rate your number one priority is return on investment.
Building and maintaining a large list costs money but if you are selling quality items and services you are making that money back. There is a sales cycle in place and you can afford to have a lot of subscribers, even kinda deadbeat ones because you never know when they are going to want what you have to offer. Although, I do think a regular clean-out could be beneficial.
Selling products or services with a huge email list can benefit you even if not everyone is opening what you send.
Think of it like this, if you’re selling a product for $99 and you have seven thousand people on your list but only 1000 of them open it and 500 of them buy it, you’ve just made $5,000. That ain’t no pocket change baby.
Whereas, if you have seven thousand people on your email list and you’re not selling anything but you want them to read your post because what you wrote is AWE-SOME but only 500 people open it, that’s not a very high percentage for an open rate. An email list like that is costing you money but you are wasting a lot of money on people who don’t care about what you have to say.
Don’t get your knickers all bunched up. It’s nothing personal. It’s just time to change your strategy.
3. Hybrid blogs
If you are writing a hybrid blog you need to be the most careful with your strategy. While you want to build your list so people will buy your products, services, or click your affiliate links, you also want to grow at the right pace so you can pay for subscribers when you pass over the threshold for free subscribers.
It’s a balancing act but absolutely doable. If you plan correctly you can use your email list to sell while also building relationships and growing your site.
If you have this kind of blog and list building strategy, don’t open the posts that promise a magic bullet. That thing will only explode in your hand and then you’ll be out a few fingers and no body wants to lose a finger. Instead, come up with a strategy that will utilize your gifts and talents and bring you some money for your pocketbook. (Who even says pocketbook anymore? I’m becoming my grandmother!! HELP!)
The key to building the right email list is to have the right strategy. You, oh hybrid blogger, want subscribers who buy your stuff but will also engage with you. You know, ready your posts, share them on social media and leave you comments too. (If you see this reader please send him or her my way, will ya?)
If you just want to share your posts then you want to build a list that’s full of invested readers. Your list isn’t dependent on numbers but on how many people actually open the emails you send. Your open rate matters.
If you’re trying to sell products or services like books, workshops, physical products, or crafts then you want a large list. You want as many people as you can find to get your information and products in front of. The more the better. You want subscribers to buy your products. The more people you can get it in front of the better it will be for your bottom line. Your bank account matters.
If you are running a hybrid blog don’t worry about getting 7k new subscribers before lunchtime. Just chill. Keep writing awesome content, share cool stuff to buy, like your products and services and affiliate links, and build your list at a rate that will be affordable for you and your family (remember them?) and start to grow your blog. It is possible to do both, just not while your pants are on fire.
As you can see different types of blogs require different list building strategies. It’s important to know which one you are before you start to build your list. Don’t worry, I have complete faith in you and I give you permission to change your strategy anytime you want. Yeah, I’m cool like that.
Now, get out there and start building your list.
Need some help on what to put in your email list? Try this.