Are you collecting e-mail addresses of your website visitors? Before you say yes, I should qualify that by saying I’m not talking about the little e-mail box some visitors can use to get e-mail updates from WordPress about your latest posts. Those e-mails belong to WordPress, and are used to notify a small portion of your followers that you have a new post available. In other words, it’s simply another means of allowing someone to follow you on WordPress.
But! A whole new world of e-mail collection awaits, and as an author, it’s one that you should absolutely be taking advantage of. It’s a world where your website’s visitors willingly give you their e-mail addresses because they love what you have to say and they want to hear more. A world where hundreds, if not thousands, have “opted in” (now you know the insider’s lingo) to your mailing list, and now you can send them anything you deem relevant, anything that helps them connect with you better and more often: excerpts, teasers, giveaways, discounts, events like talks and book signings, even articles or other content you didn’t publish on your blog. People love to be part of an exclusive group!
This is called building a mailing list, and this recipe requires:
1 self-hosted WordPress site (10 bucks a month)
1 account at MailChimp (free at first)
1 WordPress plugin called “MailChimp List Subscribe Form” (free)
A dash of creativity and ingenuity
A pinch of website visitors
Mix the self-hosted WordPress site with the MailChimp account, and slowly stir in the plugin while adding creativity and visitors. Let it rise. Instant mailing list!
Setting up a self-hosted site is easy. You just need to set up an account with a hosting company (I use InMotion Hosting), then install WordPress to run on your site through your new website’s admin panel.
MailChimp is a service that lets you send e-mails to a list of subscribers that you build yourself, and is totally free for the first 2,000 subscribers—then cheap after that. You can even compose sharp-looking newsletters right there on the MailChimp site, and MailChimp will handle all the details of sending it out.
Once you have a MailChimp account, go to your new WordPress site’s dashboard and download a plugin called MailChimp List Subscribe Form. Install it, activate it, and link it to your MailChimp account. The plugin will guide you through this process, don’t worry. Place the mailing form widget on your sidebar, and now every page on your site will have a spot for visitors to join your list!
So once you do that, how do you get people to sign up for your mailing list? Offer people some of the things I mentioned earlier, then use that “dash of creativity and ingenuity” to come up with more benefits that are unique to what you do.
This is all part of building your author platform as you write your book, which is something that too many writers completely overlook.
But not you—you’re off to a great start!
Not feeling up to the task? I offer an incredibly affordable, complete website setup service for authors.