Why do you blog? Are you blogging to attract more customers to your business? Are you blogging because you simply have a lot to say? Are you blogging to establish your reputation in your field?
There are dozens of reasons why people start blogs, but if one of the reasons you started blogging was to make money, listen up!
Before you run off to create your shiny new product, or make yourself nuts trying to generate traffic, you must consider the following fundamental tool for making money from your blog. You’ve got to build a list!
The No. 1 Tool
You may have read the expression “the money is in the list.” Well, you may want to read that expression again because it’s true. More importantly, your e-mail list is not merely your potential pot of gold; it’s the key to your lasting success.
Why Building a List is Important
First and foremost your list helps you build your personal brand. It gives you the ability to deliver on your promises over and over again by providing valuable content to your subscribers. When you communicate with your subscribers on a regular basis, you establish a relationship with them.
And, if you communicate with your list about things that matter to them, they will come to know, like, and trust you. This is very important, because if your readers don’t feel like they know you, if they don’t kinda like you, and if they don’t really trust you, your product or service pitch is pretty much dead on arrival.
Your list also provides you with access to the inside scoop on your readers needs. What better way to create a product or service then based on the known needs of your readers? If you build a list from day one, you will have the opportunity to conduct FREE market research to the very target market you seek to serve.
When to Build a List
So when is the “right” time to build an email list? Like yesterday!
“But my blog is only one day old.” Great! Where is your opt-in form?
Don’t wait until you “have the perfect product” or “want to test your market” to build a list. Even if you never plan on selling a darn thing your list, you need a way to stay connected to your readers on a deeper level. This only can be accomplished with a list. What are you waiting for!?!
How to Build a List
The best way to build a list is to establish an account with a reputable e-mail marketing provider. I prefer Aweber, but there are many other options available. Mailchimp is another email marketing provider that offers a free account up to 1000 subscribers, so if you’re new to the biz and low on cash that may be the way to go.
But if you really want to keep it simple, you can just use FeedBurner’s RSS e-mail subscription feature. If you use FeedBurner to syndicate your content, which you should, you can set up this feature inside your dashboard. Just login to FeedBurner, click on your feed title, click on the “Publicize” tab, and then click on the “Email Subscriptions” link to your left, and voila you’re ready to get list building.
Once you’ve created a method for obtaining your reader’s e-mail addresses, be sure to set the expectation for communication. If possible, avoid using the phrase “Subscribe Here” Instead opt for something that communicates what you will send your subscribers. For example, “Get Biz Blogging Tips Weekly.”
Tell your readers how frequently they should expect to hear from you, tell them what topics you plan to cover, and tell them how much you appreciate their trusting you with their e-mail address.
How to Care For Your List
This one is should be a no-brainer. Don’t spam your list! This doesn’t mean that you cannot make frequent contact with your list. In fact, most people don’t make contact with their list enough. Instead focus on sending messages that provide value or have a specific purpose. Even better, strive for both because this will make people look forward to your content. No-brainer number two, don’t share your list’s contact information! If you are ever going to sell anything to your list, you must build rock-solid trust with them. If you sell them out you won’t sell s**t!
Show your list you care by asking them about their pressing needs. This benefits you in two ways. First, it lets them know you give a crap and that you appreciate their readership. Second, it gives you an opportunity to create kick a$$ products and services around their needs.
Above all, give them something good for no good reason. We aren’t talking kidney’s here people. It doesn’t have to be major. You could simply provide a legit coupon code that relates to their interests, or give away a teeny bit of your time to a certain number of immediate respondents. Be creative and don’t limit yourself by thinking “they won’t care about that.” As long as it speaks to their needs and wants, they will care about it a whole lot. When you do these things you are able to engage with your readers, and that is how you can care for them best.
How to Grow Your List
As the ancient script says “Ask and you shall receive.” Ask them to sign up on your homepage. Ask them to sign up at the top or bottom of your blog posts. Ask them to sign up on Twitter. Just ask people to sign up! If your blog is worth reading, your target audience will sign up.
It also helps if you make it easy to sign up for your e-mail list. Web designers far and wide and have helped train our brains to look for an opt-in box in the upper right or left had corner of a web page. Do yourself a favor and put your opt in box in a highly visible location.
Why Building a List Matters Even if You Want to Stay Broke
If you’re saying “I don’t plan on selling anything to my readers….ever.” Good for you. You still need an e-mail list. Why?
Because you need a way to stay connected to the people who are willing to invest time in reading your content. And, you need a way to make sure you stay relevant to those people. Having a list allows you to do those things.
Besides, what if you suddenly change your mind? It’s more important to have a way to get in touch with people if you want to, when you’re ready, than not have a means to reach them at all.