When I first started writing, I was told I’d eventually need an email list. I nodded and smiled and had absolutely no idea what the heck they were talking about.
Well, it’s been a few (ahem) years and now I get it.
An email list is all about sharing your work and marketing your product or services to potential buyers–which in my case is writing (which includes my blog, my upcoming book, and any projects that are in the works.)
In this “CONTENT” image you can see the idea of creating and all the things you need to do to get to marketing your content. It’s a slow process but it does come together. And, the sooner you start, the better.
At the beginning of 2021, I sent out my first ever newsletter which was both frightening and exhilarating. You see, I had to plan this whole thing out carefully to make it work. You don’t want to spam your readers and you have to have something to say.
What is an Email List?
This is a coveted and skillfully put together list of people who’ve given their permission to be emailed from your commercial venture. That sounds pretty prissy, doesn’t it, but here’s the thing–emails (like personal addresses) are still a private and protected entity.
There’s a reason you can’t send emails from your regular server to more than a few people at a time–it’s all about spam and harassment. Think of it like those stupid phone calls that come right at dinner time and want to sell you something…they’re a nuisance and unwanted just like the email spam.
There was a time when the internet first emerged where people were inundated with emails from commercial ventures that were difficult to unsubscribe from, hence new regulations came down the pike to protect the consumer.
Building an email list now means taking your time and doing it in a professional and legal way.
Writers, you should start working on an email list as soon as possible to assist in your marketing and platform building. It’s about having and building that audience to reach via a newsletter and maintain a personal connection. Don’t go wild and add everyone you know to your new email list… there are rules and laws around this practice and you could find yourself in receipt of a huge fine… and I mean HUGE!
An Email list is a Serious Thing…Seriously! It really is…
Rules and Regulations of Email Lists
In Canada, Commercial Email Messages (CEM) can only be sent to those who have expressly opted in, either verbally or through some means of joining the list.
In other words, you can’t take your personal email list and add it to your commercial one to send out a newsletter about your upcoming book.
The rules are very strict and in Canada you are subject to a fine of $1 million dollars if an individual, or $10 million if a business. The idea of spamming with Commercial Email Messages is taken very seriously and you need to know the rules.
- You must obtain consent from the person who is to receive the email to send CEM
- You must keep up-to-date subscriber lists and deal with “unsubscribed” within TEN days
- Policy and procedures are to be reviewed and followed regularly.
- Keep records of valid consents
- If in doubt how any of these rules will affect you then check it out here.
In the USA there is an opt-out option and European countries (like Canada) there is prior opt-in requirements. If in doubt, check your local government guidelines prior to sending out a newsletter.
So, is it worth it?
Well, heck yeah! This is your direct link into someone’s private world. It’s not like a blog post where they need to go in and actually click on it and read it… Nope, this is delivered straight to them.
Setting up an Email List
Okay, you’ve figured out the laws and regulations now you need to choose a mail delivery software. There are several available and you’ll have to do your due diligence to find what works best for you. Many people use MailChimp but I found the best fit for me was MailerLite.
I use the free version which allows me to have up to 500 people on my mailing list before having to switch to the paid version. The stats provided are awesome and include things like who opened the newsletter, who clicked on anything, and keeps all the records straight as per the government regulations. There’s YouTube videos available to walk me through stuff I don’t understand.
So, the software allows you to set up subscription pop-ups on your website. This is effective because people are at your site so can easily opt-in to receive your newsletter.
I’ve also asked friends to give me permission to add them. This at least gets me started with the list. At this point I’m far from having to rush out an purchase the next step up but at least I’m moving forward.
Build a strategy to get that list to grow. Ask your friends and family to join as that gives you a starting point. Then ask your social media followers to follow.
Instagram is a good one. You can reach a lot of people and use the loop to let it drop off.
If you’re teaching a class make sure you have a sign up sheet. Ask your writing buddy’s to join. Before you know it you’ll have a decent sized list and you can continue to grow it with sharing and writing your newsletter. So many little tricks. I’ll share more in the next article about newsletters.
What are you going to DO with that email list?
First and foremost you’re going to respect each and every name and address on that list. This is not something you share with others and it’s not something to take for granted. Don’t send stuff out for anyone else… (those that have been too lazy to work on building their own list). This is your list and you need to chose your times carefully and market responsibly.
WAIT! Make sure you Remember….
An email list is not a blanket permission to send out a bunch of crap all the time. Even if it’s good, believe me, people will tire of it quickly and opt-out or unsubscribe.
In my next article we’re going to talk about Newsletters. I’ll give you the Do’s and the Don’ts’. Personally, I love newsletters an I subscrebe to several. I learn a lot and garner a lot of information.
If they’re well written and contain other info other than BUY ME! BUY ME! I’m much more receptive. If they’re boring and long winded…I unsubscribe. Think about being a consumer not only a marketer.
So, get that email list started. Subscribe to a free mailing software and start getting permission to add people. Before you know it, the list will grow and you’ll have an effective tool to assist you in your writing business.
What are you waiting for? Go get started. See you next time.