Why you need to build an email list: Email Marketing for Beginners

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If you've been blogging for some time and especially if you've been looking into how you can make money from blogging, I'm sure you will have come across the term 'email list'. I'm sure you have heard loads of other bloggers and business owners talking about 'list building' and how 'the money is in the list' but perhaps you've been wondering not just why on earth you need a list for your blog but also what on earth you'd be sending those people. Can't your readers just follow you through Bloglovin' or Feedburner? Why do you need to invest your time into another form of marketing?

If you're anything like me, you've been pondering those questions. It's time to stop wondering and start doing & so today I'm going to tell why you definitely DO need an email list for your blog or business, plus I'm going to show you how you can start building yours today.


There is a big difference between a blog reader & a blog subscriber. A blog reader is someone who pops on over to your blog every now and again, usually when they remember or when they see something you've posted on Facebook or Twitter. A blog subscriber is someone who loves your content enough to actually hand over their email address in exchange for what you are going to send them. 

You see, people are connected to their email. Think about your own inbox and how much of a personal connection you have with it. How often do you check your email? Once a day? Twice a day? If you've got a smart phone, chances are you are permanently connected to your email, receiving & reading emails throughout the day (I won't go into whether this is a good or bad thing in this post haha). Now think about how often you check your favourite blogs? Now imagine being able to send your readers awesome content, tailored just for them, that you know they are going to open and read. 

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Having an email list of loyal & committed subscribers also means you have an audience to pitch your first product to. If you are interested in monetizing your blog (I have a blog post coming soon in my #FromBlog2Biz series which goes into detail all the ways you can make money from blogging) one of the ways to get your products in front of people is through your email list. This is also why it is important to grow a list of people who genuinely love what you do, and that you target the right kind of people with your marketing. It's no use growing an awesome list of people interesting in baking cupcakes if you're a fashion blogger who plans on creating & selling e-courses on how to dress for success in the corportate world. This is why its important to take time figuring out who your ideal reader and ideal customer is before you begin building your email list.

I wish I had been more intentional when I first started building my list. I created a very generic 'sign up for my blog newsletter' subscription form when I first started blogging and have since had most of those people unsubscribe along the way. You see the people who signed up to get my blog updates were interested in what I was blogging about then (beauty reviews, makeup inspiration & recipes) and now that I am focused more on creative business  building and blogging, those people have unsubscribed. This is actually a good thing (even though it feels awful getting the dreaded 'unsubscribe' notification) because it's no use having a list of people who aren't interested in what you plan on selling later on down the line. It's important to be intentional with your email marketing, using a little bit of strategy will save you time (and not to mention money) as your list grows you will start paying for each of those people to be on there).


Getting started with your email list doesn't have to be a scary endevor. You really can just start off simply, and work your way from there.  Here is what you need to get started

1. Email management platform.

Mailchimp is free for your first 2000 subscribers, thereafter it's a paid service. Keep in mind that Mailchimp is designed to build 1 list of people, as in, you are creating 1 group of people interesting in particular topic. 

I use (and LOVE) Convertkit because  have been able to send multiple opt-in freebies (I will be writing a post on opt-in's for you soon!) and I have been able to build lots of different lists of people who are interested in different things I offer. This is wonderful because, for example, when I launch my new E-book, BeautifyYourBlog, I want to send info on it's launch to people who have intentionally signed up for info on it, and not just to spam everyone who is on my list. This is how you loose subscribers.

Remember when I mentioned being intentional above? This is what I mean and why it's so important. You want to send info directly related to people, based on what they joined your list for.

Click here for a full review of the differences between Mailchimp & Convertkit


2. Your Offer/Freebie - What are you giving people to entice them to join your list?

I have spent the past 6 months creating a number of different freebies (these are also called opt-in's or content upgrades which are just that, pieces of content that 'upgrade' your blog post and make it more valuable) to entice people to join my list. In the very beginning I created lots of different opt-ins for a number of blog posts. The problem with this is I was using Mailchimp, and I wasn't able to send different freebies to different people who were subscribing through different blog posts and different freebies. This is why I made the move to Convertkit. I wanted to send different freebies to people, based on the sign up form they were using.

What I decided to do was to create a password protected resource library to house all of the different freebies I was offering. This is a very clever way of getting around Mailchimps inability to send multiple freebies, because you are sending people 1 password to be able to access multiple freebies. I used this amazing post by Melyssa Griffin to create my resource library (she talks about building one with wordpress but my site is run on Squarespace but never fear...I'm going to be writing a post on creating a password protected resource library with squarespace soon!). 

You can put all sorts of goodies inside your resource library, but make sure you are able to keep adding to it to make sure it's stays a valuable resource for your subscribers. It takes a lot of time to keep adding things & keeping the content fresh, but it's an important thing to do to make sure your subscribers always feel like you are giving them value. As I am a photographer, and I am launching brand & stock photography services soon, I have also included beautiful stock photographs inside my resource library. Make sure to think carefully about what you would put inside your resource library, and make sure those things are inline with your brand/business/blog. Remember, you want to build a list of people interested in what you do and what you offer.

Want to take a peek inside my resource library and get your hands on my blogging & biz related worksheets and printables, as well as pretty stock photos? Pop your email in below to join the CGScreative community!


3. Email Content - what emails are you going to send your subscribers to keep them on your list

There are so many things you could send your list, but before you start tapping away, spend some time thinking about the reason people joined your list in the first place.

Did you create an opt-in to help them plan their weekly meals? Then you need to send them emails related to healthy meal planning.

Did create an opt-in helping people DIY their own logo? Then you need to send them emails relating to branding/graphic design.

Do some brainstorming to think of fun and informative emails you can send to your subscribers that provides them with great value. 

On the other hand, you may have created a general opt in/subscribe to my newsletter type thing, which is absolutely fine but you need to send them great emails that gives them reason for opening them up vs hitting that delete button.

You want to avoid having people on your list who are only there for the free stuff, and who then unsubscribe the moment they get their freebie (this happens, often!). Think about the sorts of emails you like to open up and read. Are they funny? Inspiring? Full of useful, ready to implement strategies? Start jotting down ideas for content you would like to send your subscribers. Remember, people don't want to sing up, get one nice email and then a) never hear from you again or b) be bombarded with loads of salesy emails every day.

Treat your subscribers like dear friends. When you write each email, pretend you are quite literally talking to one of your closest friends (talk out loud if you need to), and soon you natural voice will find itself and you'll have plenty to say.


Tip: create a welcome email as part of an on boarding sequence (this is super easy to do in Convertkit and once you set it up you don't have to do anything else as the welcome email will go out every time you get a new subscriber). So the sequence could work something like this:

  1. reader subscribes
  2. freebie is sent/automatically downloads
  3. one day later, welcome email is sent
  4. optional: follow up email asking giving them a breakdown of what services you offer/how you want to help them

This is a nice way to say hello to your new subscriber, tell them a little more about what you do and introduce them to your best blog posts. It's a nice and gentle way to start getting them used to opening emails from you, without them feeling spammed.

Do you have any email marketing tips to share? I'd love to her from you in the comments below! While you're about it, here's my favourite Pinterest board on email marketing: