How to build an email list for beginner
Should you even bother to build an email list when you can easily build your fanbase on social media?
Scratch social media. You don’t use social media to market your book anymore because you don’t see any upticks in your book sales.
Instead, you rely on the Amazon algorithm and the money that you throw on Amazon ads to do the job for you.
When you have a new book coming out, Amazon will let everyone who bought your book before know about your upcoming book.
You don’t even need to do anything because you know that Amazon will do the notifying job for you.
What’s more, the algorithm will push your book even more when your book is raking sales on a consistent basis.
It’s because of this reason many authors contemplated to go wide. They know that their income will take a nosedive as soon as they’re no longer rolling out their book on KDP Select.
In Amazon, we trust, eh?
The truth about Amazon
It’s great that Amazon is doing all the heavy lifting for you.
But here’s the truth about those people who bought your book on Amazon or on any other retailers for that matter.
You don’t know who they are. And you don’t have any direct way to connect with them. Amazon doesn’t share the data about the people who bought your book with you.
Imagine that one day Amazon decides that they will close its door.
I get that it’s an unlikely scenario. But what if it happens for real?
Do you have any means to notify them when you have a new book coming out and where to get it?
Some of you will say that they already build their fanbase on social media. But we all know that not many people who follow us on social media will see the update. Besides, social media can be fickle most of the time.
At the end of the day, you still don’t have any mean of communication that you can control.
Which is the reason why it’s important for you to build an email list even if you don’t have a book coming out yet.
The good news is it’s not too late to start building an email list.
Even better? You can build an email list even if you don’t have a website.
The simple step to build an email list
I’m not kidding when I say that you don’t even need a website if you want to build an email list. It’s true that you can do that with an email marketing platform.
Email marketing platforms these days come with all the things you need to start building an email list now.
In fact, some of these platforms offer a free plan too which is perfect for those who don’t have any fanbase at all.
So, what does email marketing platform can do in general?
The first one is the ability to send an email in bulk. When you collect the email address through the opt-in form on the landing page, you can send email to everyone all at once without being marked as spam.
This is big because you don’t want your email to go to the spam folder. It tends to happen when you email people constantly from your personal email account or from your own server if you have your own website.
Besides the ability to send an email in bulk, it can also provide you with a landing page and an email opt-in form that you can customize.
You need a landing page because that’s where you explain to your ideal readers what they should expect when they join your mailing list.
Your ideal readers will freak out if you bring them straight to the opt-in form. Think of the landing page as a way to warm up your readers before they give their email address to you willingly.
Some email marketing platforms will offer you more than just that. But in a nutshell, that’s how an email marketing platform works in general.
Available email marketing platform
Now that you know what an email marketing platform can do for you, which one you should be using to build an email list? Here are some of them that you can use to start building an email list right now.
MailChimp is the email marketing platform that I’m using right now to build my email list for The Efficient You and also for my fiction author site.
What I love about MailChimp is that not only it allows you to create a landing page and an email opt-in form easily. But it also makes it easy for you to customize the look and feel of your landing page and also your opt-in form.
What’s more, you can also customize the message that you send when people join your mailing list.
The downside with MailChimp is managing the unsubscribe. When someone unsubscribes from your mailing list, this person will still be included in your list. The only way for you to remove this person completely from your monthly plan is to archive this person.
In MailChimp’s case, getting rid of the unsubscribe requires an additional step from you.
Despite the unsubscribe shenanigans, I still prefer to use MailChimp.
It’s not because of the landing page and the opt-in form since I have my own landing page on my website.
It’s more because of MailChimp’s analytics. I notice that MailChimp provides more insights on my mailing list even with the free plan.
If you’re looking for an email marketing platform that provides a landing page, email opt-in form and detailed insights even with the free plan, then MailChimp is perfect for you.
I decided to give MailerLite a try not long after MailChimp’s unsubscribe fiasco.
What I find interesting about MailerLite is that it’s just like MailChimp in many ways but better.
Just like MailChimp, MailerLite also has a free plan. And it also has similar features like MailChimp minus the additional step to get rid of the unsubscribe from the monthly plan.
The email design customization is better too since I can match the fonts I use on my email with the fonts I use on my website.
With MailerLite being better than MailChimp, why I still come back to using MailChimp again?
Is it because of the chimp mascot?
I won’t lie that MailChimp’s chimp mascot is cute. But that’s not the reason why I decided to use MailChimp again.
The reason for me not to use MailerLite has a lot to do with the insights. The free plan will only provide you with a basic insight which may not be enough if you want to get to know your readers more.
But if you don’t mind to forgo the insight in exchange for better user experience, then MailerLite is an email marketing platform that is worth considering.
Keep in mind that you do have the access to the complete insight if you opt for the premium plan.
ActiveCampaign is another email marketing platform that I also tried in the past.
I started using ActiveCampaign way before anyone else even talked about it. It was somewhat brand new and they also had a free plan too.
As always, I ended up coming back to MailChimp again after using it for a couple of times.
Just like MailerLite, you can choose to design an email template yourself or use the available premade templates. You can even place the email opt-in form anywhere you like and in any shape.
The only downside is they don’t offer the option to create a landing page. So, you may need to host your own landing page on your own website.
I find that ActiveCampaign features can be way too sophisticated for the beginner author.
So, I only recommend you to give ActiveCampaign a try if you’ve outgrown MailerLite and you want something more robust for your author business.
AWeber is another email marketing platform that has similar features like MailerLite.
But unlike MailerLite, AWeber doesn’t provide a landing page. That means you need to create a landing page and host it on your own website.
Another thing about AWeber is it doesn’t offer a free plan like MailerLite and MailChimp. But it does offer you a free 30-day trial just to see if AWeber is a perfect fit for you or not.
Since AWeber has far simpler features than MailerLite and it doesn’t even have a free plan, what makes AWeber stands out more?
The answer to that question is customer support. Unlike MailerLite, AWeber provides premium support for all plans.
It doesn’t matter whether you sign up for the basic plan or the one with 25,000+ subscribers, you’ll still get access to their customer support.
If you’re using MailerLite, they can only offer email and live chat support. They don’t offer phone support. But AWeber does.
Another thing that I like about AWeber is you gain access to all features regardless of which plan you choose.
The only thing you need to consider when signing up is how many email subscribers you have.
AWeber’s basic plan starts from $19 per month. If you already outgrow your basic plan, you can always upgrade to their other plan at any time you want.
If you want an email marketing platform that provides all features from day one and customer support for all plans, then AWeber is perfect for you.
Email marketing software for creators. That’s what ConvertKit is all about.
With creators of any size in mind, ConvertKit provides all the things you need to start building an email list.
If you want a mixture of MailerLite, AWeber, and ActiveCampaign roll into one, then you’ll get ConvertKit.
The basic plan starts from $29 per month. But you’ll save more if you opt for the annual plan.
The next step
Once you already create a landing page and complete all the necessary step to customize your email message, you can then place the link to the landing page at the front and at the back of your book.
If you want more in-depth tutorials on how to implement this list building strategy, I highly recommend you to take look at Nick Stephenson’s free video training.
As for the print book, you can also do the same by creating a dedicated page that has a link to the landing page at the end of the book.
How to get people to join your mailing list
It’s not enough to place the link to the landing page at the beginning and at the end of the book. You need to provide an incentive to your readers to get them to join your mailing list.
While it’s true that some readers will join your mailing list without incentive, you will have a much better chance if you have something that can entice them to join your mailing list.
So, what incentive you should give to your email subscribers then?
Well, here are some of the things that you can offer to your email subscribers.
If you’re writing fiction, you can give a prequel or a sequel to your book for free.
Well, it doesn’t have to be a prequel or a sequel to your book. Maybe you can write about the same story but from another person’s perspective.
So, be creative.
Already published a book before? You can use the sample chapter as an incentive for your mailing list.
You probably think that it’s unnecessary since they can simply download the sample from Amazon. But you can always tell your readers that the sample chapter you provide is much longer than the one on Amazon.
I’m sure that your readers will appreciate it if you can provide a much longer sample chapter than the one on Amazon.
If you’re planning to use the sample chapter as an incentive, don’t forget to place the link to the book at the end of the sample chapter. It’s pointless to give your readers a sample chapter but the sample chapter doesn’t even have any call-to-action.
The purpose of the sample chapter is to get your readers interested in buying the book. So, it should be a no-brainer that you should add a link to the retailers that sell your book.
If your book is only available on Amazon, you can simply place a link to the book page on Amazon.
But if your book is available on other retailers besides Amazon, you can use Draft2Digital Universal Book Links to have all links in one place.
You don’t even need to sign up if you want to use the Universal Book Links. But if you want to know which retailers your readers are buying from the most, then it’s worth signing up. The service is free, in case you’re wondering.
Free online course
If you’re writing nonfiction, you can also give your readers a free online course that is based on your book.
Readers love bargains. So, it’s no surprise here that they’re joining your mailing list because they do want the discount coupon.
You can only offer this type of incentive if you’re selling your book on your own website or on an aggregator site such as Smashwords.
P.S Need more incentive ideas for your mailing list? If you still have no clue what incentive you should create for your mailing list, then I highly recommend you to take a look at another Nick Stephenson’s book, Reader Magnets. It’s a short book and it’s available for free on Amazon. You can get the book right here.
Taking your email list to the next level
Now that you already get your readers into your mailing list, it’s time for you to foster the relationship even further. And nothing beats fostering your relationship with your readers through email.
So, how can you do that?
Well, you can do that by sending your new email subscribers a series of emails that introduce who you are, what kind of books you write and enjoy reading and also your other books that your readers should know.
That sounds like a lot of emails to send, right?
You’re right about that. It is a lot of emails to send.
That’s when the autoresponder comes into play. With the autoresponder, you can send a series of emails automatically every time you get new subscribers.
The good news is you can create an autoresponder series with all of the email marketing platforms I mention on this page.
And yes, that includes MailChimp’s and MailerLite’s free plan.
Writing an autoresponder series
I won’t deny that writing an autoresponder series isn’t an easy thing to do.
If you’re struggling to write an autoresponder series, I highly recommend you to take a look at this guide from Author Marketing Institute.
It’s also the same guide that I use to write my autoresponder series for my fiction mailing list.
One thing I notice when I rewrite my autoresponder series based on this guide is that it works amazingly to weed out the freebie seekers.
If you’re worried about the people who join your mailing list because of the free ebook, then this autoresponder series can do well to weed out these people out of your list.
Keep in mind that you can’t eliminate freebie seekers entirely, but it sure does feel great when these people unsubscribe from your mailing list voluntarily.
You don’t want these sort of people on your list, anyway. These people won’t even bother to buy your book every time you release a new book.
What else to write to your email subscribers
The only way for your email subscribers to remember you is to nurture your relationship with them.
Sure, you have the convenience to let them know when your new book is coming out. Unless you’re publishing a book every month, your readers may already forget about you the moment your autoresponder series ends.
So, what you should do to nurture the relationship with your email subscribers?
Well, the best thing you can do is to connect with them at least on a weekly basis.
That means you need to send an email to them at least every week.
The good news is you don’t need to send a lengthy email to your email subscribers. Even a short one will do. The goal here is to keep you in your readers’ mind.
According to Tammi Labrecque in her interview on The Creative Penn podcast, you can make your email fun and interesting by sharing with your email subscribers what you’re reading.
Your email subscribers are readers too. It’s because of this reason they join your mailing list.
I also did the same by sharing what book I’m reading on my blog. If you blog on a weekly basis, notifying your email subscribers about the new blog post works too. That’s what I’m doing right now for my mailing list.
If you want more ideas on how to engage with your email subscribers, I highly recommend you to get her book, Newsletter Ninja on Amazon.
You can get her book right here:
What you should never do
Don’t even think of adding people to your mailing list without their permission. There’s a high chance that these people will mark you as spam. If you do want these people to be on your mailing list, simply send them to the landing page. Let them decide for themselves whether they want to join your mailing list or not.
Another thing you should do is to never ever buy a list and add these people on your mailing list. Just like the first one, you don’t have the permission to add them. Another reason for that is because it’s against the email marketing platform’s terms of service.
Even if these email marketing platforms don’t say it in their term of service, it’s still unethical. You don’t want to be labeled as an unethical author, do you?
At the end of the day, you want quality subscribers in your mailing list. And the only way to do that is to build your email list one at a time.
Things like buying an email list and adding these people to your mailing list without permission, won’t get you the kind of subscribers you want.
Besides, it’s a waste of your time and money too. You may as well flush the money in the casino. At least you have a chance to win big.