Yes!! Now let’s talk about the why, the how and the how much.
I’ve heard the same story numerous times. “I was at the top of page one in Google for the search term XXXXXX, getting 3,000 visitors a day and making $500 a day from ads. Then, Google changed the algorithm they use for search results and I plummeted from page one to page three. I was down to 100 visitors a day and $5 ad revenue.”
For an author you’re probably not counting on your ad revenue, but the concepts are the same. While you should do everything you can to maximize your rankings in search engines, you should also have alternate sources of traffic for your site that you control. Think to yourself, if I was kicked out of Google tomorrow, how would I get people to my site and/or let them know what I want them to know.
Our main alternate traffic source has always been our eBooks on sites which promote free eBooks. What we also decided we needed was a way to notify our fans when we had a new book coming out or some or noteworthy news, so we decided to start a mailing list.
The biggest email marketing firm on the block is AWeber.com. People who know what they’re talking about almost all said that it was the one to use. When I went to check it out I liked what it offered, but its cheapest plan (up to 500 subscribers) was $19 a month! That may not sound like much but I’m really, really cheap and don’t like to spend money if I don’t have to.
I checked out some of the other big names like contstantcontact.com but they wanted $15 a month. I looked through a lot of free options, found one that didn’t seem too bad and got it set up. I tested it on my own email first and it was horrible. The email I sent had more ads then any spam I’ve ever seen. I quickly uninstalled it. I had just about given up and resigned myself to pay for AWeber when I found mailchimp.com. MailChimp rocks! It offers several high end plans you have to pay for, but they have a free plan which is good up until 2,000 subscribers. AWeber’s pay plan is only good up to 500!
Aweber’s main claim to fame is that they make it easy to put a signup form on your site, and that they have nice email templates for you to use. MailChimp has both of those things as well! Setup was quick and easy and they have lots of template options for emails (note: They do offer premium templates for their pay plans, but I’ve never used them).
I have had zero problems with them and I couldn’t recommend them more.
We only have one mailing list but you could set up as many as you want. Each time we want to send a new email I log onto mail chimp, create a new campaign, give it a name, pick a template, type in my email and push send. There was a learning curve getting our emails to look like the wanted to look, but you only have to do that once and it will be well worth it.
Right now our mailing list has 200 subscribers and is growing daily. Every time we release a book, have a new cover designed etc. the information is instantly in the inboxes of 200 people who have came to our site and signed up.
If your sold on the idea of a mailing list but aren’t sure how to grow it there is a strategy that works time and time again: Give them something for free!
We started our mailing list at the end of March, and by the end of May we had about 40 subscribers. In June Lizzy did an interview on a blog where she said that she would be charging for her book “Damian’s Immortal” in December, but that anybody on her mailing list would get a free copy. We added 54 subscribers in June , over 70 in July and are on pace to add 80 this month.
You see this strategy all the time on the internet. Whenever you search how to do something, you will find plenty of sites which will offer you a “Free Report telling you the ten secrets you need to do to XXXXX”, all you have to do is give them your email. Email addresses to them are the lifeblood. If they go to sell their business, one of the first things a potential buyer is going to ask them is how big their customer base/mailing list is. As an author you’re not going to be selling your company but you are selling your books. Having the ability to get any message out to your core group of fans with the push of a button is an ability worth doing a little bit of work for.