Did you realise that you could lose your entire Instagram following overnight?
Let that sink in.
Whether you have 100 followers, or 100,000 followers, I know how much effort goes into acquiring each and every one of those people. Gathering a following for our businesses, no matter what we do, takes time and effort. For many businesses, it's also what we tend to spend an awful lot of time doing! (I'm guilty of it, too).
But then again, we don't own any of those followers. Mark Zuckerburg does! (Well, he owns Facebook and Instagram). So, hypothetically, if Facebook or Instagram were to shut down at any time (which lets be honest, they probably won't... but you never know!), or if they were to delete your account (I've seen it happen), all of that hard work would be lost.
It scares the living daylight out of me! How would we communicate with our audience? How would we get clients? How would we sell our products?
There's a solution though: a mailing list!
When this first occurred to me, it felt really old school. I didn't get it. Email can sometimes feel quite out dated to me... But then I began to analyse my own inbox. Yes, there's a lot of junk in there, but there were also a few emails that I really liked receiving. They tended to be newsletters, or updates from people who I followed on Instagram already... and getting an email from them felt a lot more personal. It was like being able to speak to them one on one.
How Do You Start A Mailing List?
There are loads of platforms out there that you can use, but I use one called MailChimp. I haven't tested any of the others, so by all means go out and do some research, test them out, and see what you like best, but I can only recommend MailChimp.
I love this service! It's easy to use, it's free up to 2000 subscribers, and after that point you'll need to pay. I don't have anywhere near that many subscribers *yet* so I don't pay a penny for it right now. Bargain! *This isn't sponsored, I just genuinely love Mailchimp!*
How Do You Get Subscribers?
1. Pop your link to your mailing list in your Instagram bio. Post the link on your Facebook page!
2. Email the people you've worked with in the past, and invite them to subscribe. I did this, and made sure to personalise each email to each person. Yes, it took a bit longer, but by the end of the week, most of my past clients were now on my mailing list, and sure to be hearing from me (and therefore, reminded of me) each time I sent out a newsletter!
3. Create a freebie. This is a very popular way of getting people to sign up to a newsletter, and it really does work. You create any sort of freebie (a PDF template, a short ebook, an audio download, anything!) and in order for people to receive it, they need to sign up to your mailing list.
4. Offer an incentive. You'll have signed up to mailing lists using this tactic hundreds of times! Online shops use this tactic particularly well by offering something like 10% off your first order when you join their mailing list.
5. Add a sign up box to your website. If you use Squarespace, this is super easy. They link up to Mailchimp for you, and you can add a signup box anywhere on your website!
6. Use a pop up: *Use with caution* I personally don't like pop up boxes, they annoy me. However, a lot of online business owners swear by this tactic. Give it a go if it calls to you, and see how it goes!
What Should You Say To Them?
For some reason, this is always the hardest part of the "mailing list." I find it incredible difficult as well! I have no problem writing a blog post, but when I need to write an email which will be guaranteed to go into someone's inbox, I freeze. However, I've found a few things that work quite well.
1. Write an update email. Just let your subscribers know what you've been up to.
2. Share your latest blog posts. Don't let people miss out on what you've been writing!
3. Share links to things you've loved. I do this in my newsletter, and I always love receiving newsletters like this as well.
4. Share useful information. What could you send your subscribers that will make their life easier?
EXERCISE TO DO:
Spend some time in your inbox, and pick out the emails your love to receive. Read a few of them, and make notes on what it is that you like about them. How many times do they email you? Is it too often, or too little? What tone are they using? How long are their emails? The more you study what you like, the easier it will be for you to format your own newsletter!
Like everything, consistency is key. Decide on how often you're going to send out a newsletter and stick to it. I've committed myself to emailing my subscribers once a month, on the first Saturday of every month.
So there you go! I hope this inspires you to create a mailing list of your own :) Of course, it wouldn't be right if I didn't suggest you sign up to my own... so sign up below!