Not everything you do to help make money blogging is done from your blog — some things are done offline to support your blogging success. And a newsletter is a great way to create engagement with blog visitors, gather email addresses for a mailing list, and drive traffic back to your sales page.
Here’s my strategy for email marketing:
Step 1. Get Email Subscribers
Before you have a newsletter, you’ll need subscribers. You can get physical addresses, but then you have mailing and printing costs. I’m also not sure there’s much difference in open rates between the 2 formats. I think it’s more a function of the value readers find in your content and making sure you don’t spam them with too many emails. If you have some experience with open rates for mail versus email newsletter, you might share that with the community.
To get address information, you’ll need a form. Mine comes from my email service provider — Mailchimp, which costs about $30 a month depending on how many subscribers are on your list. They also have a free version if you have less than 2000 subscribers. I like Mailchimp because it’s really easy to use and flexible. They have a new drag and drop feature that makes it really easy to create forms and newsletters. Here’s the form I use to collect subscribers (BTW, feel free to subscribe, if you haven’t yet).
You just copy the code into a text widget (recall widgets are accessed from the “APPEARANCE” tab on your dashboard. Once the code is copied and saved, the form will appear anywhere you want. I usually put my form as the first widget (on the right), to increase visibility and encourage registration. I usually say something like “Get our great newsletter delivered to your inbox”.
It increases subscriptions if you offer them something valuable in exchange for signing up. I offer a copy of my ebook on how to make money blogging. Michael Stelzner, at Social Media Examiner, uses a report on the state of social media he creates every year. You can also add folks to your email list when they buy products, using apps that interface with PayPal, Salesforce, and other payment systems.
A Warning about Getting Subscribers
New regulations mean you can only add subscribers who expressly ask to get your newsletter or who do business with you (like customers). You can’t add random people from networking events or other venues without getting them to opt-in to the list (they’ll receive a custom email you create to confirm their subscription and must use the link to receive future communications).
Step 2. Create Newsletter Strategy
You need to determine how frequently to send a newsletter, content for the newsletter, how to construct the newsletter to help you make money blogging, and newsletter objectives (which is actually the first step in creating your newsletters).
I send my newsletter every month, plus include extra newsletters occasionally when there’s some breaking news. I also use a broadcast message that sends a snippet from each blog post every couple of weeks. Social Media Examiner send this type of broadcast message every day — but I think this is too frequently.
You want high quality content in your newsletter, just like in your blog. Not only does high quality content encourage visitors to continue reading future newsletters, in encourages them to pass your newsletter along to friends, family, co-workers … Newsletter readership helps build traffic to your site and ultimately helps you make money blogging.
A key is to make sure you include tools to make sharing easy and include tools to allow readers to join your social networks.
Your newsletter can help you make money blogging in other ways, although I think you should be VERY selective in monetizing your newsletter. For instance, our newsletter only occasionally contains links. I only include links to products I’ve used and tested ensuring readers my honest opinion of its suitability, performance, and ease of use. In any case, you can Google the product and buy it that way if you feel more comfortable.
You need to establish clear, measurable objectives for your newsletter so you can later run metrics to see how you’re doing and tweak the program to ensure it’s helping your make money blogging.
Step 3. Testing
Testing content is a good strategy and its easy to test different options in most email marketing systems. Track metrics and use results to improve your subscription rates, open rates, and conversions.