This is a guest post by Cassidy Tuttle of succulentsandsunshine.com. I met Cassidy in a facebook group and was so excited by her story, I knew I had to have her share her tips and experience with all of you. As a horticulturist by trade, I love Cassidy’s blog. As someone who helps bloggers, I love how focused Cassidy’s niche is: succulents.
In the world of making money online people frequently say “the money’s in the list”. It took me a while to understand how to make money from an email list, but when I finally figured it out, I saw a huge increase in sales. Whether you’re new to blogging or a veteran, having an interactive email list and great autoresponder series can be the best money making tool for your website.
There are several steps and tools you need to get an email list and autoresponder set up and I am going to touch on each of them so you know how to get started. My main goal however, is not to walk you through setting those up, but focus on how to make money once they are set up. The services I use have very helpful tutorials that will help you start using them.
First, you need to sign up with an email marketing software. There are a lot of options to choose from. I personally use Getresponse. A favorite option for many new bloggers is MailChimp. While a great platform, keep in mind that MailChimp’s free service does not include automation but is available in their paid service. The great thing though, is by implementing the techniques in this post you should be able to cover the low fee for a email marketing software. I chose Getresponse because they had the lowest cost per subscriber and all the features I was looking for with my email list. If you decide to shop around, look for a service that allows you to send time based autoresponders as well as newsletters and an RSS email (notifications of new blog posts).
Create a Lead Magnet (bribe)
In order to entice readers to sign up for you email list you’ll want to create a “bribe” or “lead magnet”. For my website, Succulents and Sunshine, I offer readers a free PDF with the 10 succulents I recommend growing indoors. Since most of my readers are growing succulents indoors or will be, this was a good fit and has had a great response. For your site, try to come up with a lead magnet that is exciting for your readers, provides a lot of value, and if possible, could lead them to purchase a product from you. I sell an ebook all about growing succulents indoors, so the lead magnet is a great sample of the type of information I have to offer.
Make sure your lead magnet is really strong, something that will grab your reader’s attention. It should be some of the best content you’ve come up with. Create a post about the bribe when you start your newsletter. Talk about how great the bribe is and why people should download it. Make sure the post has a compelling image that can “go viral” on Pinterest. The image for my bribe is my 2nd source of Pinterest traffic. The image for my ebook “The Essential Guide to Growing Succulents Indoors” is the number one source for Pinterest traffic, if you were wondering. On this post you’ll have a sign up for the email list, but we’ll get to that soon.
So, you’ve signed up for an email service, you have a great bribe created. Now what?
Create an autoresponder email.
You get to create your first autoresponder email! This is your first contact via email with your readers, so it’s a very important email. The first thing you want to do is give them a link to download the awesome bribe you told them about. Make sure it’s obvious where they click to download the bribe or they might get mad. After you’ve given them the link to download the bribe, tell them a little about yourself, what they can expect from your emails, etc. Then, give them a teaser for your second email. At the end of my first email I say, “P.S. Next up I’ll help you figure out what succulents you own so stay tuned!” This gives my readers a clear idea of what my next email will be about and then they have something to look forward to. Click here to view my full first email.
You’ll set this email up to send immediately after the person subscribes to your list (or confirms their subscription). It will be “Day 0” for your autoresponder series. You’ll also want to create several other emails to follow in your autoresponder series and I’ll talk about what those should include a little later. For now, here is an over view of what my autoresponder series looks like.
Collect Email Addresses
Once you have your email marketing software set up, you need to collect emails from those who visit your blog. Most of the email software out there will give you options to create a sign up form. You can place these anywhere on your site that makes sense, such as a sidebar signup, in a post, as a pop up, etc. Rather than create the forms through Getresponse, I use a WordPress plugin called SumoMe. You can download the files from their site and upload them to WordPress, or you can search for “SumoMe” under Plugins on WordPress (much simpler).
SumoMe offers several ways to collect email addresses. I currently use their “Smart Bar” and “Scroll Box” options. They also have a pop up option called “List Builder” that also works well. You’ll need to integrate the plugin with your email service in order for the email addresses to be added to your list. Otherwise they are just collected and stored in SumoMe.
Here are those two sign up options in action. I used a custom code for the “Scroll Box” option, so this is not the standard look for SumoMe.
Once you have these signup boxes live on your website, people will start putting in their addresses and begin your autoresponder series! I mentioned that in your post about your awesome bribe you need to have a sign up box or sign up link. These will be in addition to the Smart Bar or pop ups that you may choose to use everywhere on your site. For my post I decided to include a sign up box on the page.
Try a variety of ways to collect emails and see what works best for you! I am constantly changing the location of my signups and the text I use on them. Make sure that no matter what you do, your sign up tells readers about the awesome bribe you have for them if they sign up! I’m sure you already knew this, but I just want to make sure… When you are creating these sign up boxes and emails, avoid using the technical words or lingo like bribe, autoresponder, and even newsletter. Use words like free guide, email series, tips via email, etc. that are more more clear and easier to understand.
Whew! That was a lot, but the really good stuff is coming up. The steps above will lay the ground work to making money from your email list. Now you get to decide what types of emails you’ll include in your autoresponder series.
Email your list
An email is a great place to share exclusive tips and information with your readers. You can also direct them to blog posts they may not have discovered yet. I also use it to sell my own products and products I’m an affiliate for. Ideally you’d have a balance of “free advice” emails and more “salesy” emails. You know your readers best, so do whatever you think they’ll respond well to.
For my emails I currently alternate between a sales email and an advice email. I also gradually add more time between emails. If you look at the list above, day 0, 1 and 18 are free advice and day 3, 10 and 30 are sales emails. On my free advice emails I have a short ad for my ebooks after my signature. I was surprised how many people ended up buying my ebooks from those emails!
When I started my autoresponder series I just had the first three emails. However, with those alone my ebook sales jumped from an average of 1 per day to 3 per day! My ebook income tripled! I was shocked! Generally I’ll get one sale from the “ID Your Succulents” email and one from the “Buy Growing Succulents Indoors” email (click the links to see full samples of those emails).
Seeing the potential income from my email list, I decided to try a few more sales type emails. I decided to promote some of my favorite affiliate products. Be sure you check the rules for your affiliate programs before you do this! For example, Amazon does not allow affiliates to use email marketing. Fortunately, the bigger products I generally promote do allow affiliate links in emails. I created 2 separate emails, one about an amazing succulent class and another about where to buy succulents online. While the sales from these emails are not quite as consistent, I do generate a few hundred dollars total from them each month.
My success with an email list and autoresponder series
Overall, after setting up an email list and autoresponder series I was able to increase my income by over 150% in the first month! If you don’t have an autoresponder series you are definitely missing out on income! I was hesitant to sell so much in my emails, but it has worked out amazingly well and I wouldn’t go back. So give it a try! If you aren’t making any money from an email list now, you don’t have anything to lose but so much to gain!
Right now I get an average of 50 new subscribers every day so my list is growing quickly. Many of my subscribers are now finished with my autoresponder series (it currently ends on day 35), but I still want to keep in touch with them. So, I set up a custom RSS to Email feature.(Check out Kristie’s tutorial for setting up an RSS to Email using MailChimp) This sends my subscribers a weekly email on Saturdays with all my new blog posts for the week. If you post more than once a week, I highly recommend a “digest” email like this rather than sending an email every day there’s a new post.
The great thing about setting up the RSS to Email in Getresponse is I get to customize what the email looks like. I have a short intro paragraph, a photo and intro sentence for each blog post, my signature, and then an ad for my ebooks. Click here to see a sample email.
This RSS to Email digest helps me earn money in two ways. First, it drives traffic to my new blog posts where I have display ads that generate income. Second, it generates ebook sales from the links at the end of the email. I generally see a large spike in ebook sales on Saturdays and Sundays when people view the email.
Every once in a while I update the intro paragraph to let my readers know about something specific. For example, one week the succulent class I promote was on sale so I told them how to get the class at a discount. I was able to generate a few affiliate sales from that email.
There are a lot of ways you can use an email list and it can be a great money making tool for your website. If this seems overwhelming, start by signing up for an email service and putting basic sign up boxes on your website. You’ll start collecting emails of people who love your site that will be responsive when you eventually have content to give them.
When you are ready, start working on a great bribe. When the bribe is ready you can send it out to all of the people who’ve already signed up for your list! You can add them to the first day of your autoresponder and see how your other emails do in the days that follow. The day I started selling products to my email list, I sent about 2,000 people an email about the succulent class I promote. In two days I generated almost $800 in commissions!
Setting up an autoresponder is definitely something you can do and should do! Get started now!
About the Author – Cassidy Tuttle
Cassidy Tuttle is a professional photographer by trade and amateur grower turned succulent expert. She shares her tips at succulentsandsunshine.com. Feel free to let her know if you have any questions: [email protected] (about succulents or newsletter tips!)
Omg I love the Succulents and Sunshine blog…and I was so excited to see her guest post here!! Learned some valuable information and I will definitely set up an email autoresponder series asap for my blog.
Kristie Hill says
Me too, It’s a great blog! This just in: automation series are now FREE with mailchimp. YAY!
Very helpful information, Thank you for sharing!! I have been wondering about doing a newsletter, so that is one of my next steps on my blog. I always wonder though where other bloggers get the free printables and such on their newsletter to offer.
Kristie Hill says
They create their freebies themselves. Your freebies should reflect what your blog content is.
Great post. People have been using auto responders to make millions online since the early 90’s. I’m currently trying to build my list as well. Not doing too badly either. My blog is a month old. I had just over 1000 unique visitors and I’m converting at 10%. Had a fall off for a few days but I figured what the problem was and I had it fixed. Hopefully I’ll pick back up soon. Issue was, I changed my signup forms to mailchimp’s but because of the double opt in feature, I was losing leads. I’m using different forms now and it’s better already
Kristie Hill says
Interesting, so you got rid of the double opt in? Are the people that are subscribing reading your emails?
[email protected] Peaceful Haven says
This was extremely helpful and I really need to press into this area after year one of blogging. Thanks for all your help!!
Kristie Hill says
I’m with you Janelle! I’m so glad that Cassidy submitted this post for a guest article here on Blog Ambitions – Once I get the hang of having 2 kids, it’s my goal to get an email auto-responder series set up for me!
Helen Evans says
Nice and very helpful post! I just plan to start a blog to promote my service so your article is very timely. Really great tips)
Kristie Hill says
Glad this article was perfect timing for you, and that building a newsletter list will help you grow your blog.
Mar C says
Really good to find out about this. Thanks, so much, for sharing!
Kristie Hill says
Glad you liked Cassidy’s post! Do you have an email list already, or are you working on getting one going?
Wow! I didn’t even know that autoresponders existed! I’ve been trying to formulate a strategy for what to do with my subscribers… lots of good points to ponder!
Kristie Hill says
I needed this post too, so glad Cassidy shared her tips with us. I’m formulating a new autoresponder strategy myself.
Really love this post. I am bookmarking it for future reference. I’ve never thought about an autoresponder series. Such a terrific idea! I use Mailchimp but I think your tutorial will easily work for me. Thanks so much!
Kristie Hill says
Yes, MailChimp has the option to set up an autoresponder too, it does cost though.
These are really great recommendations I really hope that I can implement them in my blog because email list is something that I have zero of. And I know it is about starting slow but I feel like this could make a difference. Thanks for the motivation!
Kristie Hill says
I think starting out with Cassidy’s tip with offering a freebie for your newsletter subscribers is a great way to start out.
These are such fantastic tips!! I actually visited Succulents and Sunshine the other day and explored for at least 30 minutes as I looked up tips and tricks for keeping my little plants alive, haha! I keep putting off the growth of an email list because I don’t want to necessarily start a newsletter, but I definitely need to get started!
Kristie Hill says
How fun that you were on Succculents and Sunshine the other day. She is definitely a pro! I highly recommend working on your email list, it is one traffic source you have control over and isn’t going anywhere unless you do.