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As a blogger, you’ve probably (hopefully!) got goals that involve building a community, engaging with your audience, and, well, making money. Amirite?
When you first start off, these are super exciting, but super intimidating. Veteran bloggers make it seem so easy! Where the heck are you supposed to start?
Well, if I may… I highly suggest you start building your email list right now, if not sooner. Email lists are an awesome way to engage your audience, pitch your products, and more. The sooner you start, the more subscribers you’ll get, and the more subscribers you have, the more you can accomplish!
But first, let’s take a quick step back…
What the heck are email lists?
Open up your email inbox and look at the 10 most recent emails you’ve received. I’m going to guess that 9, if not all 10, are from a brand or a blogger.
Am I right?
You’re receiving those emails because you’re on that brand’s / blogger’s email list. You likely signed up (probably in exchange for some sort of coupon code at your favorite store or free worksheet from a blogger), and now you’re getting periodic emails from them.
It’s something you can do, too! You sign up for an email marketing site like Mailchimp, ConvertKit, Constant Contact, AWeber, etc. and collect email addresses.
Once you’ve got subscribers (hopefully more than just yourself, your mom, and your significant other), you start sending out content to your subscribers that is relevant to the content you talk about on your blog.
So, set up email list, gather subscribers, send content. Easy enough, right?Not sure if you need an email list? Check out this post from @caitlinhonard!Click To Tweet
Why should bloggers have email lists?
Okay, so now you have a pretty good understanding of what an email list is. But why should bloggers have email lists? Is it really all that necessary?
Well, yes. Here’s why:
1 | You own your email list.
So many bloggers these days are working really hard to grow their social media following. And that’s totally understandable! Social media is awesome, and people already spend a ton of time on it.
Here’s the thing about social media, though: you don’t own your following.
If Facebook decides to shut down tomorrow, you no longer have access to the 10k followers you’ve been working to find for the past three years.
If Instagram shuts down, your subscribers and photos are history.
Get the picture?
On the other hand, you own your email list. They’re giving you their email address (and maybe additional information like their name, interests, etc.). You can utilize that information even if a website goes down.
Mind you, it’s important that you’re regularly exporting your email list so you actually have that information. If Mailchimp goes down and you were relying on them for the information, you’re SOL. But if you’ve exported your list information, you could simply import it into another email service provider and be good to go!
2 | It’s a way to get more personal with your audience.
Growing a successful blog is all about engaging with your audience and being personal. You set yourself apart by being unique, and the best way to do that is to let your audience get to know you!
Fortunately, email lists are an awesome way to do that.
You’re appearing in their inbox regularly, which is a big deal. Inboxes are very personal spaces, and people don’t let just anyone invade that privacy. Don’t take that privilege lightly!
Because your email content is going right to their inbox (rather than out in the open on your blog), you can be a bit more personal with your content. Share what’s going on in your life. Tell a story that’s a bit embarrassing.
Don’t be too open and honest (it’s still the internet, after all!), but be a little more forthcoming with your email list. Let your subscribers get to know you better.
The more personal (and less promotional!) you are, the more you’re going to build trust with your audience. That’s a huge advantage to email lists.
3 | An email is more likely to be read than your blog posts.
Because you’re in that “sacred space” of someone’s inbox, your content is more likely to be read.
I don’t know about you, but if I’m not reading emails from a particular sender, I unsubscribe. Therefore, I’m really able to spend time reading the newsletters I want to read.
I’m also super Type A, so I always try to end the day with Inbox Zero. Once an email comes in from someone, I read it and either trash it or sort it.
That’s the benefit of sending content to your email lists: they get a notification when you want them to know about something. It’s not going to get lost as easily in the clutter of social media or RSS feeds.
Mind you, not everyone is super organized with their inbox, but you’ve still got a much higher chance that someone remembers to read your content if it’s a notification on their computer or phone!
Plus, newsletter content is typically much shorter than your average blog post, so it’s easier to zip through the content and move on.
Just remember to have a good subject line; if it doesn’t interest them, your email will likely be ignored or go straight to the trash without even being opened.
4 | Your emails remind people you exist.
Similarly, when you send someone an email right to their inbox, you’re saying “Hey! It’s me! Don’t forget that I’m here and have awesome content for you!”
There are plenty of blog posts I’ve found on Pinterest, read once, and then never returned to their site because I completely forgot who they are and where I can find their content.
If you’re popping in their inbox regularly, your name is going to become more and more familiar to them. Plus, if they truly find your content valuable, they’re going to associate that value with your name.
Sure, you could achieve a similar effect with an RSS feed like Bloglovin or Feedly. But here’s the thing: not everyone has an RSS feed reader, and even if they do, they don’t necessarily go to it every day.
You know what they do go to every day? Their inbox.
So keep emailing consistently to stay top-of-mind! But don’t do it too frequently or your name will become associated with “that person who emails me way to often.” No thanks!
5 | It’s a great way to gauge your real audience.
Another awesome benefit of building your email list is that you get a really good gauge of your actual audience.
Sure, you can look at your Facebook likes. But of those 10k likes, how many people are actually seeing your post? Hardly any. And of those people, how many are clicking on it? Even fewer.
You could also gauge your audience by how many RSS Feed subscribers you have. But here’s a piece of truth for you: I’m subscribed to a ton of blogs on Bloglovin, and probably only read 25% of them.
With your email list, it’s way easier to tell how many people truly value your content.
Not only are your subscribers the people who like you enough to give you their email address, you can also easily see how many people are opening your emails.
So, let’s say you’ve got 300 people on your email list. Awesome! That means you’ve got 300 people who liked your blog post (or whatever opt-in you used) enough to give you their email address.
Now let’s say you’ve got an open rate of 25%. That means 75 people are opening your emails. Nice! They like your content and trust you enough to spend the time to read what you’re sending them.
You can do this with click-through rates, too! Different email services provide varying levels of analytics, but no matter what, you’re able to get a pretty good idea of how large your audience really is.
6 | It allows you to test out new content.
Depending on your content strategy, your email list could be a great way to test out new content for your blog.
I personally approach my newsletter as a second (albeit shorter) blog post for the week. I’ve got an editorial calendar for my newsletter just like I do for my blog posts.
If I’ve got an idea for a blog post but I’m still trying to flesh it out, I might send it out to my email list (again, in shorter form) to see how it’s received. That way, if I decide to write it as a blog post on its own, I’ve got a pretty good idea of what I can write about (and some of it is already written!)
7 | You can go above and beyond for your subscribers, which positions you as a valuable expert.
Great customer service isn’t just important for big companies; it’s important for bloggers, too! There are so many bloggers out there, so if someone doesn’t feel like they were treated well, they’ll go elsewhere.
Email lists allow you to really go above and beyond for your subscribers.
I’ve talked before about setting up a resource library for your blog. This is an awesome way to really show your subscribers that you care! It’s full of free content that relates to my niche, and I remind them about it in every single email I send out.
But resource libraries are far from the only way to surprise your subscribers! A few weeks ago, for example, I decided against a regular newsletter and offered free blog reviews for every single person who replied to the email with their blog URL. They all got 3 actionable tips to improve their blog for free!
Not only did this help me understand where my subscribers are at in their blogging journey, it also showed my subscribers that I really am here for them. I will help them with any questions they have and don’t need to be paid for it!
This obviously won’t work for every niche out there, but there are many ways you could go above and beyond while staying true to your brand.
The biggest advantage is that you’re showing readers that a) you know your stuff and b) you’re super valuable! These are two things you definitely want your email list to believe about you.
So there you have it! Are you convinced that email lists are important yet? Now get out there are start your email list—it’s never too early!