Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you’ll know authors are advised to have an email list. Social media platforms come and go, Amazon algorithms change overnight, but an email list? That’s for life.
I’m not going to go into the benefits of having a list because I’m assuming you a) know you need one and b) already have one/want to start one.
But with the dizzying array of email list providers, how do you know which one to choose?
I recommend Convertkit. And I’m saying that as someone who used Mailchimp for a lot of years. Here are 4 reasons why I recommend Convertkit to authors wanting to build an email list.
1) Content upgrades are easy to add to posts
‘What’s a content upgrade?’ I hear you cry.
It’s an extra piece of content beyond the thing they’re reading. But it’s only available if they sign up for your list.
Let me give you an example. I wrote a blog post about the Charterhouse Plague Pit because I’m cheerful like that. Years ago, a legend about the pit inspired a super short story.
So I add the story into a Convertkit sequence, give it a special form, and drop it into the post. Anyone reading the post who’s interested in a slice of historical horror can sign up to get the story right there in their inbox.
I highly recommend that writers maintain a blog anyway but Convertkit makes it easy to link your blog and your email list. You can give people opportunities to entice readers to sign up without always giving away whole books.
Sleeknote have a super useful post on 19 types of content upgrades you can investigate.
2) Segmentation is a breeze
Not all of your readers have the same needs. They want different things at different times. So you might have subscribers who literally only want to hear from you when you have a new book out.
Or other subscribers want everything you can send. And you might have another group of subscribers who act as your review team.
In Mailchimp, you can have separate lists who you email accordingly. But you’re charged per contact so if you have a subscriber on your “I want everything” AND review team lists, you’re charged twice.
With Convertkit, you have a single list split into segments. I have a segment of people who’ve subscribed to get my collection of short stories, another for those who want to receive my folklore posts every week, a third for those on my review team, and a fourth of writers who want my creative writing tips and tricks.
I could have a single subscriber in all four segments and I only get charged once.
3) Automation is an absolute doddle
Say a potential reader lands on your site. They like what you write and they see you have a book available. So they sign up for your list, get the book, and then…nothing. They don’t hear from you for another month until you have another missive to send.
Hate to burst your bubble but they might not remember who you are by then. Unless they read the book and loved it.
Automation lets you set up a sequence of emails to help new readers get to know you and to give them a reason to stay on your list.
I send a ‘hi, this is who I am, now tell me about yourself!’ email, followed by a free short story. If they haven’t read the Harbingers collection by that point, then it gives them a sample of my writing. The third email in the sequence offers them future free books if they fancy writing a short Amazon review.
They get these emails automatically at specified intervals. I just set it up once and forget about it.
Note: I reply to ALL emails I get. I even have lengthy exchanges with some subscribers. Don’t fall into the trap of sending short, one-word answers – or nothing at all. Get to know your readers. They’re people, too.
Conventional marketing wisdom dictates that customers need to interact with you SEVEN times before they’ll remember your name. I think a sequence of seven emails is far too much, but at least they’re more likely to remember who I am after three.
4) Your emails through Convertkit look like EMAILS, not sales brochures
This might just be personal preference but I loathe marketing emails from authors that look like the Argos catalogue.
If you send me links to ALL of your books, which swish graphics, customer reviews, and God knows what else, I won’t buy anything. You’ve given me too much choice, which introduces buyer paralysis.
It also makes me feel like I’m being sold to. Yeah, we’re writers, we want to make money, but I’m way more likely to buy from a PERSON and not a corporation. My email inbox already looks like the image below – don’t clog it up further with digital flyers.
Incidentally, that’s why I hate writers referring to me as a ‘fan’ in their first email. Or only ever talking about what’s for sale. I want to hear about what films you’ve seen, what books you’re reading, where you’ve been on holiday. Let me get to know you and I’ll give you my money.
Because Convertkit was designed for bloggers and authors, it strips away all the fancy design bollocks. Just clean, simple, modern emails that could be from one of my friends.
And I like buying things from my friends. Just sayin’.
So what’s the deal with Convertkit?
It does cost money. For 1000 subscribers, it’s $29 a month. Sure, Mailchimp now offers automation, but it’s clunky to set up and very user-unfriendly. I’m happy to pay $29 for the simplicity and quickness I enjoy sending emails to my list.
So if you want to have beautiful design, easy to use features, and all the benefits I’ve described here, you can sign up for Convertkit using this link. Yes, I’ll make money if you do, but I wouldn’t pay $29 a month if I didn’t enjoy using Convertkit myself. They’re currently offering your first month FREE but only until midnight so if you’re on the fence, sign up and give it a go for a month.
And if you enjoyed this post, you can sign up below and get my list of recommended books, blogs, and podcasts for authors – along with writing and marketing tips in your inbox!
(Another sneaky example of how great Convertkit is – a brilliant WordPress plugin that makes using forms on your website a doddle!)
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