How to grow your newsletter, even if you’re a newbie
Building an audience is something that has a bit of buzz around it lately. You can see the benefit in “becoming known” or “gaining an audience,” but something about that phrase rubs me the wrong way. Don’t get me wrong, I own an online business, so I absolutely want to grow an audience. It is how I make my income and attract awesome clients from all over. However, my goal is not to become an internet personality, and lose sight of my craft along the way. Something feels off about always trying to build an audience, while not spending time with the craft that built your name in the first place.
So, instead of focusing on quick strategies to grow your following, I wanted to share actionable tips to build an audience with purpose, value, and in a natural way. Even if you are new to blogging, don’t have a blog, or have yet to open Mailchimp, you can follow these strategies and start growing your newsletter today!
Before I dive into a few actionable tips, I thought it would be great to shed some insight into why I focus on my newsletter, rather than SEO, Google Analytics or other social media. It’s as simple as this: People read their emails more than they will catch your latest Instagram post, Tweet or even Pin. The life-span of your newsletter lives much longer than any other platform, most likely including your blog post.
Readers feel more engaged with you, when you pop up in their inbox. As they sip their morning coffee, they read your newsletter as if you are weekly pen pals. They subscribe because you added value at some point for them. They want to learn more about your tips, but maybe they don’t even use social media, or they forget to check your blog. It is an invitation to their inbox, where you can give even more value directly to them.
Aside from the increased engagement, newsletters provide a great platform for keeping your readers updated on your business, promoting your products or services, and continuing the conversation week by week. It is a consistent reminder of your business, and something that keeps them engaged.
It doesn’t have to be salesy, or a showy “audience building” tactic. Instead, it can be another avenue to connect with your readers. Here are a few ways to do just that:
Create value, then ADD more value
Your readers enjoy your blog mostly for the value that you provide. They come back to your site, with expectations in hand of the type of content you produce, and are eager to learn from you. You set the standard for the type of content you provide — whether it is tips + tricks, tutorials, inspiration or personal anecdotes — they have identified your blog as one to watch.
Once you recognize how powerful a newsletter is, you most likely are excited, yet don’t know where to start! (or maybe that was just me?!?) You don’t want this new strategy to re-define you, and take away from the value that you provide.
Through focusing your strategy on content upgrades (bonus downloads on your blog, in exchange for an email), you will not only grow your newsletter list tremendously, you will do so in a way that actually provides MORE value to your readers. Here is how it works: User reads your stellar blog post, they are excited to implement your tips, and then they download a worksheet or freebie that guides them even more. See the value there? They are excited to join your newsletter, and don’t feel scammed. They can’t wait to check their inbox for their download. This strategy is the best (non-salesy) way of growing your list.
Upgrade previous blog posts
I’ve heard this over and over again, but honestly it slipped to the back of my long “someday” to-do list. Upgrading your previous blog posts may seem like a pesky task, but I’m telling you it is worth it, and it doesn’t take that much time. Here is what you do:
- Identify your top 5 viewed blog posts
- Brainstorm content upgrade ideas, for added downloads
- Mention content upgrade early in your previous post
- Add easy opt-in box at the bottom of the post
- Promote revised post on social media (+ mention bonus!)
Through adding these content upgrades to your top blog posts, you will see a consistent increase in your newsletter subscribers. Such an effective way to add value to previous posts!
From now on, ALWAYS have a call to action
Now that you have your previous blog posts upgraded, make it a rule to always have a call to action with every blog post. Whether it is a content upgrade opt-in, signing up for a free email course, or a product promotion, make it clear what the next steps are for your reader. If you are just looking to grow your audience, then make sure you have an RSS feed or Bloglovin’ button. Of course, you know I recommend taking it a step further and start growing your newsletter.
You have to ASK your readers to subscribe. A simple opt-in box in the blog sidebar, footer or contact page won’t cut it. Sure, those might bring in a few conversions, but really you need to ask your reader to take the next step in order to grow your list.
Make it easy for readers to join
Your call to action should be really easy for readers to recognize, and simple to opt-in. LeadPages makes these opt-ins seamless, and handles all of the complicated logistics of content upgrades. I highly recommend investing in this software, it is well worth the investment! They take care of the opt-in boxes, landing pages, and even their thank you pages are built for conversion.
Once you have put in the effort of promoting your newsletter, and creating a valuable blog post built for conversion, make the final step for the reader simple. The more complicated your call to action is, the less likely they are to subscribe. Minimize clutter, and make the opt-in obvious and easy to navigate.
Do what feels natural
Lastly, do what feels natural to your online space. Does it make sense to offer a free email course, content upgrades or webinars? Do what feels the most natural for your brand, and make sure it aligns with your core values. For Spruce Rd., I value quality, and aim to provide resources for creative entrepreneurs. Content upgrades absolutely fits the standard I have set, and increases values for my readers. It feels natural and seamless, and not at all salesy.
Ready to grow your list?
Now that you are ready to start growing your list, I want you to be able to take action ASAP! Your head might be spinning with the logistics of content upgrades, or how to effectively design your blog for high conversion. Not to fear, I’ve created a workshop to walk you through the process step by step! I hosted a live workshop, and am now selling the instant access to the recording + workbook. I’m going to show you:
- How to design beautiful LeadPage templates
- How to quickly create content upgrades for your blog
- How to design your blog post, with high conversion + a beautiful layout
- Statistics of which content upgrades work best for my blog, and why
- How to start growing your newsletter list TODAY
This is a recording of the previously live workshop. Attendees have already seen increases in their list, in a beautifully branded way!
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Content Marketing To-Do: What To Read, Watch, Listen To & Do This Week [12.10.15]
[…] To Read: Spruce Rd.’s “How To Grow Your Newsletter, Even If You’re A Newbie” […]
I’m so sad I missed out on this! Just discovered your blog and have been devouring everything. Can’t wait for this workshop to be available.
Hey Tera! So sorry I forgot to update the link earlier — thanks for the reminder :)! The button is updated now to purchase the recording. You can also find it here: https://gumroad.com/l/Mastering-Upgrades-Recording
Awesome! Grabbing that now. 🙂
Anna E. Lee - Interior Design
Even though I’m aware of it’s importance, I’ve been slow to create a newsletter; however your words, “they want to learn more about your tips, but maybe they don’t even use social media, or they forget to check your blog. It is an invitation to their inbox, where you can give even more value directly to them” really struck me! I feel much more motivated now to create one.
Hey Anna! I resisted at first too, then I realized I wish more of the blogs I followed had newsletters! I often forget to check on their latest entries, so it is nice to always know I can catch it in the inbox. Can’t wait to see what you come up with!
Thanks a ton for sharing this!! Much needed. It is seriously so important to build a good relationship with your viewers!
Thanks Arpitha! Totally agree, it is a great way to build your newsletter + your relationship with readers!
This is great as always, Jamie! I never think to go back to old posts and update them. I need to take your advice and start doing that and adding a content upgrade. Genius!
Sarah Noel | http://www.sarahsmirks.com
My favorite quote from this post: “My goal is not to become an internet personality, and lose sight of my craft along the way. Something feels off about always trying to build an audience, while not spending time with the craft that built your name in the first place.”
I connected with this idea so much. There is a lot of buzz about growing your audience and it is true it leads to better opportunities but, like you, I want to be sure to never lose sight of why. Why do you want to reach more people? And be specific about the type of audience so you’re not gaining followers to gain followers. Loved this post, Jamie 🙂
So glad this resonated with you Monica! I’m sure it all starts with good intentions of building a list, but sometimes it can be easy to lose sight of why. Those are definitely some good questions to ask, to make sure you aren’t just building a list for numbers! I love what you said about gaining the right types of subscribers also — especially since mailchimp charges you for the amount of subscribers! I don’t want to pay for someone who isn’t benefiting from my newsletter, or not interested!
This is great advice! Thanks for sharing, Jamie! 🙂