How to Build an Email List on Your Blog

You’ve probably heard the phrase “the money’s in the list”. That old adage applies to blogs as much as it does a software as a service or an eccomerce business. How can you get email subscribers without annoying your readers with pop ups and intrusive forms? This step-by-step guide will show you how you can turn more of your blog’s visitors into subscribers without turning people off.

Video Transcript

Hey, what’s up everybody, it’s Brian Dean from Quick Sprout. In this video I’m going to show you how to build an email list on your blog. You may have heard the expression ‘the money is in the list’, and that definitely applies to blogging as well. So, if you go to Quick Sprout you’ll notice that Neil has email opt in forms strategically placed throughout his site. I’m going to show you exactly how to do the same thing.

Your first step is to sign up for an email marketing service like AWeber. AWeber and other email marketing services help you collect emails and send out broadcasts and auto responders to your email list. I prefer to use AWeber. Neil uses AWeber at Quick Sprout. It’s considered the best in the business.

But, if you’re on a very tight budget you can use a service called MailChimp. So, go to mailchimp.com. Click the signup free button. You can get a free account there up to 2,000 email subscribers.

Once you get all set up with whatever email provider you want to work with, your next step is to make your first form. I’m going to show you how to do that in AWeber. Although all the services are a bit different, they all have basically the same type of setup to create your first signup form.

Login to AWeber. Click on ‘sign up forms’. Then, click on ‘create a signup form’. Here is where you can customize the default signup form they give you. You probably do want to customize it depending on how your site is designed. The first thing you want to do is get rid of this email marketing by AWeber because that’s basically an ad for them. If you want to edit you can edit all within here. If you want to edit the header click on ‘edit header’. Then, you could add something like ‘Sign up for my newsletter’. Then, click ‘save’.

Once it all looks good click on ‘Go to step two’. Then, here’s where you want to name your form. That’s important because when people sign up on different forms on your site you want to know which one they used. That’s important for conversion rate optimization. If you have the same form throughout your site you don’t know where people are signing up. So, you might want to name it ‘sidebar form’, or something like that.

Under thank you page you can customize this if you want, so when someone signs up they can either go to a thank you page that is within AWeber. That one just tells them to confirm the subscription. Or, you can make one yourself and enter the URL here. If they’re already signed up to your list this is the page that they’ll see. It’ll either say you already signed up or another message that you might want to show them.

Once that’s all set up click on ‘Go to step three’. Then, you want to save your form. Then, next step is to publish it. If you want to install it yourself, which I’m going to show you how to do, it’s very easy. You want to click on this button, ‘I will install my form’. If you want to email the code to your web designer you click on this button.

We’re just going to install it. You can either include a JavaScript snippet, which is very easy to install, or raw HTML. I prefer raw HTML because then you can do some more design customizations with it after you’ve actually uploaded it to your site. Whichever one you use, you still want to copy the code that’s inside this box.

Then, head over to WordPress and click on ‘Appearance’, ‘Widgets’. What we’re going to do is we’re going to add a sidebar form right now. Once your widgets are all loaded you want to add a new one to whatever box. We’ll just add one here. Just drag this ‘Text’ little bar here over to the side. What that does is it allows you to add some HTML or text to your sidebar.

What we’re going to do is paste the HTML that AWeber gave us. It looks like a lot of code, but it actually won’t be when you have it on your site. Then, you click ‘Save’. Now that is actually on the sidebar of my site. As you can see, I have this little sidebar here. It’ll look different depending on how you customize it.

So, the sidebar is obviously one of the best places to include your signup form, and ideally you have it above the fold here where Neil has it. This is the one that I actually have on my site. As you can see, it’s high above the fold, and that’s where you want it.

Another place you definitely want to consider adding an email form is a feature box on your home page. You can see that I have that here at Backlinko, and at Sparring Mind this is a feature box. It’s basically a little box that’s above the fold on the home page that a lot of people see that entices them to sign up. You can just hire a coder to make this yourself, but there are actually three ways to do this yourself.

This is important. Not every site has this, and it’s something you definitely want to test. In my experience and a lot of marketers’ experience this is very, very high converting and can build your list very quickly.

If you have the Thesis theme on your WordPress blog, which is probably the most common paid theme, there are two skins you can add that can automatically add a feature box to your site. The first is Marketer’s Delight’. If you install ‘Marketer’s Delight’ this is basically what your feature box’ll look like. Then, you can obviously customize the copy, the form, and things like that.

The other is ‘Social Triggers’ theme, and this is based on Derek Halpern’s blog ‘Social Triggers’ which kind of made the feature box famous. This is what your feature box’ll look like. You can put your unique picture here. You can put an email form. You can add a name, however you want to customize it.

To do that, if you have Thesis, log in to your dashboard, and under ‘Thesis’ click on ‘Manage skins’. Then, you want to click ‘Upload skin’, ‘browse’, and then you choose the skin that you’ve downloaded to your local computer. Click okay and it’ll be updated. Then, within Thesis you’ll be able to edit the feature box. It’ll have an area for feature box within that skin.

That’s one somewhat simple way to do it. That’s not the only way. There’s also a plugin you can install. Head over to your WordPress dashboard. Click on ‘plugins’. Click on ‘add new’. Then, type in ‘magic action box’. Click on ‘search plugin’, and it’s the first one that comes up. I already installed it, but you could click ‘install’, and ‘activate’, and it’ll be good to go.

Once you’ve done that under ‘action box’ hover over this in the side bar. Click on ‘add new’. Then, you want to click ‘opt in form’, because these are different types of action boxes and because we’re building a list you want to click on ‘opt in form’. Here’s where you can change all the settings.

As you can see, in WordPress it actually treats it like a post. You put your title, your meta description, and you don’t want to actually enter these because it’s not actually a page or a post. Just scroll down past this stuff. Past all this and you want to go right to ‘Action box: general settings’. This is where you can adjust the style depending on how you want it on your site.

This is where you’d put your opt in form code that you got from AWeber. So, remember the code that we got from AWeber? This is where you’d enter it. Then, you can add all the text and things that you want depending on how it looks in your site.

That’s it. That’s all there is to getting set up for building an email list. If you’re serious about building an email list, I do recommend hiring a professional designer to create your opt in forms, because your opt in rate will be much better unless you’re really, really good at customizing the forms that your email service provider gives you like AWeber.

So, that’s all there is. It’s very, very important for blog growth and for monetizing your blog. If you’re not building an email list I highly recommend that you start today using the strategies from this video.

Thanks for watching this video, and I’ll see you in the next one.