Most bloggers primarily focus on subscribers. One they get traffic to their sites, they want them to subscribe to the blog. But do subscribers really matter? Should this be your primarily focus, especially if you are a published or aspiring author or an author building a business around your book?
Subscribers represent a significant author platform element, and a publisher may even ask how many subscribers you have when making a decision about your book proposal. However, the most important thing you can do both for your platform and the long-term success of your book and your career as an author and blogger is to build a mailing list.
6 Reasons Why You Need a Mailing List
When I work with clients, whether they want to promote a book, blog a book, build a business around a book or a blog, or simply increase business, the first thing I tell them to do is place a form on their site that allows visitors to sign up for a mailing list. The reason why is simple: Above all else, you want to build a list of people you easily can contact who are interested in what you have to offer—whatever that might be. You might a book (or more than one book), a product, a service, or all of the above. With a list—or more than one, you have the email addresses of people to contact and an easy way to do so.
Let me explain in a bit more detail why you want to focus your attention on building a mailing list, and why this does not preclude gaining subscribers to your blog.
- A large mailing list is considered the best author platform element—or any type of platform element—possible. It consists of people who have willingly opted in to be notified by you of whatever you have going on at any given time, whether that is new information or a new book, product service.
- Building a list is about building leverage. A large list allows you to impress those with whom you want to work, such as agents, publishers, other bloggers, other online marketers, other authors, etc. In the eyes of an agent or publisher, or any type of strategic or affiliate partners, the bigger your platform, the more valuable you become as a business partner. People will want to work with you if you have a large list because they will see it as a promotional tool—a way to help sell whatever you (and they) want to sell.
- Your list is gold. Potentially, the list represents books sold, people registered for your webinars and courses, and, generally, money in the bank. The bigger your mailing list, the more potential buyers or customers you have to contact whenever you like.
- A mailing list allows you to segment those who join by specific interests. If you run a webinar on a particular topic, you can place those who register for that topic on a particular list. They might also be on your primary list. For example, they could be on your “general topic” list as well as on your “specific topic” list. Or you could have numerous “specific topic” lists. I have a ton of them! Then, when you release a book or product, or you want to market a particular service, you can pick from your specific-topic lists the audience you think would be most interested in it. This increases your chances of making a sale because you send the right message to the right person (or list) hopefully just at the right time.
- You own your lists. A list built on a site like Twitter or Facebook is not really your list. You don’t own it. A list built with an email service, is your list.
- You can ask your blog readers to subscribe to your blog posts via your email marketing service. Then you have total access to and control over the list of your subscribers. You don’t have to worry if Google decides to discontinue a service like Feedburner, which it might do someday.
Sign Up for an Email Marketing Service Provider
To build a list, you need an email marketing service provider. Please note that if you are using a free blog, such as those hosted at WordPress.com, you cannot put an email sign-up for on the blog. You must have a self-hosted blog, such as those created with WordPress.org. This is one of the primary reasons I recommend setting up a self-hosted blog.
You can pick and choose from a variety of email marketing service providers. Some popular ones include:
- Aweber.com (which is what I use and many of the professional bloggers I know use)
- Constant Contact
You can read about these services and more, as well as there different features, in this DailyBlogTips.com post. You want to choose a service that is robust enough to handle all your needs now and in the future, even though it may feel like you are paying for more than you need initially. In my experience, if you have to change services later, you’ll be sorry. You may lose a good many of your list subscribers. I had this happen when I changed from Constant Contact to Aweber because they all had to reconfirm their subscriptions. When you ask them to reconfirm their subscription, many people decide they don’t want to subscribe any longer, they don’t read their email or they don’t bother to follow the links to get on your new list.
If you plan on creating courses, or in some other way building a business around your book or blog, you will want to segment lists and put auto responders, which allows you to send out automated mailings to many different lists, to use. So be sure you sign up for an email marketing company like Aweber.com that offers these services.
It takes a bit of time to get used to using an email marketing services. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll quickly build both your blog subscribers and your email list subscriber.
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