Why Build Your Email List?
One of the most important things all professional bloggers will tell you when you start a blog is to build your email list.
Your email list is the only audience you have complete control over.
The algorithms on Facebook may change and Pinterest may no longer feature your pins, but your email list is your own. It is a special privilege to be able to leave a line in your reader's inbox.
So how do you grow your email list? How do you entice someone who stumbles upon your blog to offer up their email?
How do you entice someone who stumbles upon your blog to offer up their email?
My Mistakes and Failed Opt-In Offers
Before I share my success, let me tell you how not to do it. I promise there is a success story in the end with practical step by step tactics you can do to get more subscribers. But first, it is important to review all my failed attempts.
I felt like Thomas Edison
I have not failed. I've just found 10,000 ways that won't work.
Failed Opt-In #1: Follow my blog for updates
Who wants updates? Would you sign up for that? Do you even know what type of updates I am referring to? The opt-in is vague and offers no value. And to put it frankly, it?s lazy and selfish. Readers want to be wooed and to feel important. Offering updates won't do any of that. Their email inboxes are already full, why would they add one more line for updates?
During this time I was talking to Sue from Successful Blogging. Through multiple email conversations, she gave me valuable advice, and she finally hit me with this,
I know what it is – your sign up is all about you and not about them! It needs to be “what's in it for them”. What can you give your readers for free that they would pay for? It has to be that good.
Now that is some awesome advice! And then I promptly created something that my users could get for free on other sites. No…
..ugh, I did not listen to Sue!
Failed Opt-In #2 – Free Stock Images
I figured all bloggers are looking for pinnable images. So why not use my fancy DSLR, set up a white backdrop and gather a few props to take stock images? Bloggers will surely love free stock images!
I had the classic flat lay image with the mac in the corner, the cell phone, the blogging notebook, the coffee cup. And I spent hours editing the images. I couldn't wait to post them on my blog and start promoting my freebie. But after pushing my freebie on Facebook and Pinterest, I heard nothing but crickets. (They are still available to download on my site if you are curious).
. But it was another failed opt-in. Why did this fail?
- This opt-in was not unique. Free stock images are available everywhere.
- There are professional photographers offering free stock images that are way better than mine!
- There was only a small audience who wanted those types of pictures, 30 subscribers to be exact.
Failed Opt-In #3 – 25 Blog Post Ideas
All bloggers need to write, right? And all of them need post ideas.
Why not offer bloggers a list of 25 blog post ideas that will increase their traffic and save time. I refer back to this list every few weeks to get ideas again for my blog. But after promoting this freebie for a month, I only received 31 subscribers. Why so low? Why did yet another freebie fail?
- It was useful and practical, but it was not unique. Pinterest is bursting with pins advertising lists of different types of blog posts. My freebie was nothing new.
Failed Opt-In #4 – I will feature you on my site
I wanted to build an email list before my site launched. So on my initial landing page, I offered fellow mommy bloggers the chance to be featured on my site when it goes live, in exchange for their email address. This worked well until I got to 100 email subscribers and realized I can?t feature all of them on my site! So I cut it off at a nice round 100 and went back to the drawing board to think of another freebie. Why did this opt-in fail?
- The opt-in was a bit unrealistic and had no room for growth
So What Did Work?
So how did I get the idea for my freebie that brought me over 600 subscribers in 3 weeks?
To be honest, it was staring me right in the face and I had no idea!
When I started blogging I joined every Facebook group I could. I wanted to connect with other bloggers, ask questions, learn more and of course, promote my hard work. But I soon became overwhelmed with the number of groups I joined. My Facebook notifications were pinging every few seconds and I couldn?t keep up with it all!
Even though I got amazing traffic from Facebook, it was inconsistent. I had no plan, no schedule and no method to my madness.
Creating a System that Works
So I put on my engineering hat (now you all know I?m a huge nerd) and I created a system for myself.
I logged every single Facebook group that I was a part of into a Google sheet. I gathered the promotional days, the size of the group and a link to the group for quick reference.
Every day I would check my list for which group is promoting and I would share my latest post in those groups. I don?t link and run, it?s unclassy and a terrible method at trying to build a blog. I lingered and browsed the group.
I read other posts; I scrolled through the feed and to see if there are any interesting questions I can answer or bloggers I can help. This way I “check in” with each Facebook group at least once a week and connect with the audience there. Often I return to the group to check replies and comments and to share advice.
This system allows me to not miss promotional days and to network with other bloggers. Two important steps for building traffic to your blog.
Making the Opt-In
One late weekday night I was chatting with my blogging buddy on Facebook. She?s supportive, motivated and gives me honest critiques. If you don't have at least one blogging friend you can bounce ideas from, get one. Blogging can be a lonely journey and you need support.
I showed her my system of keeping track of Facebook groups and she loved it. She immediately told me to make it an opt-in for my site. I was hesitant at first but her enthusiasm convinced me.
I also remembered my email correspondence with Sue when I asked her for help with my opt-in. She told me
Give them something they want and your numbers will go up.
Smart woman. I finally applied her advice correctly and knew the promo schedule fit her description.
So I worked through four days of naptimes and bedtimes after the little ones were asleep to put together the promo schedule for 31 super engaged Facebook groups. If you are a mom you can understand how much those quiet hours mean. Dedicating it all to one post was a true commitment.
Promoting my Opt-In
I finished the post late on Monday night. I knew it was promo day in one of the large Facebook groups I was a member in. So at 11:54 pm I quickly published my post on the group wall and went to bed.
A few minutes later I received a notification that someone signed up for my opt-in. Then a few minutes later, another notification. That went on the entire night!
Over the next three days, I had almost 300 people sign up for my freebie. I received amazing feedback from my fellow bloggers letting me know how useful this resource was to them. Some of them even offered to babysit my kids they were so happy about the freebie!
Other Facebook group admins picked up the post and shared it with their followers. I was blown away by the overwhelming interest in my post!
A week later, it was reshared in many Facebook groups by bloggers who did not know me but found it online and just had to share it.
I was elated, I finally found an opt-in that converted!
What Made This Opt-In Successful?
The Facebook promo schedule was something I created originally for myself.
It was a mere Google sheet that worked really well for me. And I should have realized that if it worked for me, it may work for someone else too!
My best posts have been the ones where the tips and tricks I offer are ones I use every day.
The 5 Reasons Why my Opt-In was Successful
- It was useful. It was something that I referred to every day.
- It was unique. It was not something that was readily available but a resource that took time and effort to put together. Other bloggers realized this.
- It delivered quick results. Once you know where to share your post, you can get immediate traffic back to your site.
- It was completely focused on helping my niche.
- I promoted it to the perfect audience. By promoting it in Facebook I targeted those bloggers who wanted to use Facebook to share their posts. They wanted a schedule of which groups to promote in and I offered it to them.
This has been such a fantastic opt-in because not only do bloggers like it, they use it often to see where to promote their posts. Many bloggers tell me they refer back to it daily!
Question to Ask for Creating an Awesome Opt-In Offer
- Is it useful?
- Is it unique?
- Will it deliver quick results?
- Is it all focused on the user?
- Do you wish you thought of this sooner?
- Is it something that they would pay for? Is it that good?
Using the Facebook promo schedule has been a great system for me to grow my brand and promote my blog through Facebook groups. It provides a steady stream of traffic to my blog. And at times welcome traffic spikes when a particular post of mine gets a lot of comments and likes.
With the help of Sue from Successful Blogging and my blogging buddy Lis, I finally succeeded in finding the perfect opt-in. In the end, it did require a lot of work, but it was not difficult, I just had to remember the questions above. Follow those and your opt-in will be successful!
Suzi Whitford is a wife, mom of two under two, engineer and blogger. She uses her engineering skills to help other moms balance raising a family and blogging, and offers helpful references guides like her Facebook Groups Promo Schedule.