One thing I hear all the time is “I need a Mailing List”. But do You know Why?
In this post I’m going to answer all your questions about “mailing” (aka: email) lists. While the concept is relatively straight forward, there’s still confusion about what it is and why your need one.
Let’s look at each step and determine whether this will be something you’ll need.
A mailing list is a marketing tool used to send (or email) out direct communications to those who’ve signed up, or shown interest, in a product.
Okay, sounds straight forward enough, but there are details you must consider. First who’s going to be on your list, what are you going to mail out, how are you going to do it, and why are you doing this?
So many things to consider. Let me break it down for you.
Writers’ Now Market Their Own Products
Gone are the good old days of huge cash advances and all expenses paid trips to travel around to book-signings.
The publication world has changed and the writers were forced to change right along with it. With the big publishing houses dwindling, many writers now elect to self publish and therefore maintain all the control of their product.
That control also means having to market your book.
One way to do that is through direct engagement with the general public. You can do book signings, get your product into local book stores, you may even stir up some publicity in the media, but it still comes down to building an audience and connecting with them.
Email lists and marketing newsletter go hand-in-hand. Read How to Writer A Great Newsletter and Why You Need One.
So, that’s where a mailing list comes in.
In the beginning, I’ll be the first to admit, I had no idea what people were talking about when I was told I’d eventually need an “email list”. I nodded and smiled and had absolutely no clue what the heck they were talking about.
I finally figured out the concept, but more importantly the reasons behind 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.)
I want to be able to go straight to the people who I’ve gotten to know through my website and social media and say–Hey, this is what I’ve created.
With an email list, potential customers have invited me right into their homes. That is a privilege and not a right. More on that in a minute.
What is an Email List?
Simply put, it’s a list of email addresses that you’ve collected in hopes of being able to directly market your book, service, or product.
An email list is coveted and skillfully put together as each person on that list has given their permission to be emailed from your commercial venture. Yes, you need permission prior to showing up on their email screen. Here’s the thing–emails (like personal addresses), are still a private and protected entity.
Spam and Harassment…
There’s nothing worse than going through your email and having a bunch of spam clogging the basket. It’s very annoying, just like those telemarketers who call right at dinner time.
When the email revolution took over, it was a marketers dream. Now people could be targeted like never before. 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.
Anti-spam legislation needs to be acknowledged and taken very seriously.
Now you’re not allowed to send out emails via your home servers to huge groups of people. It’s all about controlling spam and harassment from outside sources.
Building an email list now means taking your time, building a rapport, and doing it in a professional and legal way. In most countries, people must opt-in to your list.
Seven Steps to Setting Up and Using an Email List
What it comes down to, is trust.
If you want to build an email list in order to market your product then your should start sooner, rather than later.
Have a landing page.
If you’re a professional writer and you’re looking to build up your writing, then you must have a landing page. This is a place where anyone can search your name and find the basic information about you.
This doesn’t need to cost you anything. You can make a page on Facebook, or you can using a blogging platform. The thing is that you want to keep it current and relevant. Don’t just make it and forget about it. That does absolutely nothing.
Remember too, that your choice of platform should allow you to market your book. There are many inexpensive platforms where you can build a small site with a landing page. Do your research and ask around.
Sign up for a mail service like MailerLite, ConvertKit, or MailChimp. This will be where you store your email list, but also where you can set up subscribe banners on your landing page.
I use MailerLite as there’s no cost until your list reaches 500 people. Others have monthly fees.
Find the one you want. I would suggest you start with a free service. You can always change it later if you want. Either way, sign up and get that banner on your landing site immediately.
Ask people to check out your new landing page and invite them to join your mailing list.
Everyday, choose five people on your Face Book or Twitter (whatever accounts you have), to sign up for your newsletter. If they say, sure sign-me up, get it in writing or direct them to your landing page and the subscription form for your list.
If you have their permission in writing, you can add their email, but keep a file of those permissions granted.
Keep in mind who your targeted reader is. You don’t want to sign up a bunch of people who are not interested in your writing journey and what you have to say or sell.
Choose to ask people who you think may end up being customers.
As you build up that email list, you’ll want to start also keeping a notebook, or file, on things you want to discuss in your emails to those who sign up.
The target of the email is to build trust, remember. You’re establishing a relationship with a group of people who you hope will purchase your product.
Things like links to helpful advice, a book review, or a personal story, a favorite recipe, or about something that happened to you.
You are not building an email list to sell, sell, sell. You are building an email list to engage, be trusted, and offer some sort of anecdote, revelation, or give-away (this can come in the form of advice, lists, document downloads etc.)
Decide on a time line. How often do you want to send out an email or newsletter?
Trust me when I say don’t do it weekly. It is simply amazing how quickly a week goes by. You just get one published and boom you’ll have to work on the next one. That’s too much–for you and your reader.
To start, every two weeks is fine, or even monthly. Don’t overwhelm yourself or your readers.
You don’t want to collect email addresses just for the sake of collecting. Use them.
It’s time to create and send out an email.
If you have a blog include links; be personal, but remain professional, and don’t be long winded.
Ask people for their feedback. Ask readers to share your letter and to recommend to friends.
People will unsubscribe, and that’s okay. Your target audience is made up of people who want to hear from you and are curious about what you’re doing. Don’t take those unsubscribes personally.
Keep an eye on your stats and what is popular (ie: getting clicked on or opened) and what isn’t. That’s valuable information as it tell you what people are looking for.
Get Your Email List Working for You Sooner Rather Than Later
Writers, you should start working on an email list as soon as possible to assist in your marketing and platform building.
It’s never too soon to start. Even if you haven’t’ written or finished your book, that’s okay. You can talk about your journey or the plot of your book. Engage your readers with your creativity.
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!
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.
Everything You Need to Know About Email Lists
You Have to Take Mailing Lists Very Seriously.
Canadian Rules and Regulations
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 there is prior opt-in requirements. If in doubt, check your local government guidelines prior to sending out a newsletter. All you have to do is google anti-spam legislation for your area.
It is your responsibility to know the rules and abide by them.
With All the Rules and Regulations, Is it Still Worth it?
Well, heck yeah!
An email 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, or a social media follower who can disappear at any minute.
Nope, this is delivered straight to them.
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.
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. YouTube videos are available to walk me through anything I don’t understand.
Like I talked about above, I asked friends and colleagues for permission to add them. This at least got me started with the list.
No one who receives your newsletter or email, knows whether you sent it to 15 people or 1500. Thats for you to know.
Be consistent and professional always.
Continue to Build the List
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.
- Any social media platform followers
- At any in-person events where you’re participating with like-minded people
- If you’re doing a book launch make sure you have a sign up sheet
- At a conference exchange business cards but make sure you have a sign up list with you
- Offer a free download for subscribers–enticement. People like free
- Always have a sign up sheet going on your phone to add to when necessary
- Inform people that they can unsubscribe at any time.
- Don’t spam them
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.
Please go back and read that again. Commit it to memory.
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.
If the newsletter or email is well written and contains other info other than BUY ME! BUY ME! I’m much more receptive. Think about what turns you off from reading a newsletter.
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, start getting subscribers, and begin your own regular friendly email to update people of your work.
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.
And, before you go, please subscribe to my email list. I send out a newsletter about every three to four weeks.