There are few things about being in business online as important as having an email list. You see, an email list represents a group of people who are invested enough in your work and your content to give you something for it – access to their inbox.

That’s a very important and valuable thing.

The inbox is not as jealously guarded as it once was, but when we’re surrounded by marketing messages on a constant basis, having someone give you their email address to (essentially) market directly to them is a big step in the direction of trust.

If you then follow up that act of trust by delivering them juicy, delicious and beneficial content on a regular basis, you’ve gone one step closer to turning someone’s passive interest into an active one. Hopefully that activity will be to purchase something from you.

This is where your content strategy and your marketing strategy get together and have a cocktail party.

First, you supply great content that shows off your expertise and solves your reader’s problems. Then, you send it to your list frequently and invite people to interact with you.

This builds both your authority and your community. There isn’t anything that isn’t great about that.

How to Start an Email List

  1. Decide you’re going to do it. (Done. Great idea. Good for you.)
  2. Find a service to send your emails.

When you’re starting out, the key is free, here folks. You want to find a service that will send professional looking emails to your subscribers and offer them a way to unsubscribe if they want to. And until you get bigger, that service should be free of charge for a certain number of emails or subscribers. Good examples of this are MailChimp (my personal favourite) and Mad Mimi. Both of these services are free for a set number of subscribers or a set number of emails, whichever number you reach first.

There are also some paid services such as aWeber and Constant Contact. CC has a free trial period, but both are paid services for ongoing use. Their costs are not unreasonable (at all), but we’re trying to get you money, not cost you money.

  1. Sign up for that service.

It seems like I should leave this out, but you’d be surprised. You probably clicked those links above, looked at things and then left. Go back and sign up for one. Now.

  1. Set up the emails.

Okay, so this isn’t one I can make you do right this moment, but it is something you need to spend some time on. In both MailChimp and Mad Mimi there are customizing options for your signup form, your emails themselves and the emails people get when they subscribe.

Both MailChimp and Mad Mimi have extensive documentation on how to help you do this. They also have tips and tricks that will help make your emails more effective. (Mad Mimi sends ‘Getting Started’ emails for the first five days.)

Be sure you take time to make them look good. It’s important.

  1. Tell people how to sign up.

All of these services have quick, easy to embed code that allows you to put a signup form on your website. It does involve some code, but all you have to do is copy and paste it. Do not be afraid.

Excellent work! Now you’re on your way to having an audience you can communicate with. Come back next week when we will talk about engaging those subscribers right from the beginning.

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