How to Build an Effective Email List for Your Blog

WordPress logoOnce you’ve created a portable career, you need to start marketing. The best place to do it is online, with a website or blog.

When you market online, there are essentially two ways to get your message out.

  1. Attract huge amounts of traffic using any/every available means — ads, PPC, social media, etc., and then sell, sell, sell
  2. Attract targeted traffic, let them get to know you, then offer them something that will make their lives easier

Needless to say, I fall into the second camp.

The question is, once you’ve attracted readers to your site who are interested in what you have to offer, how do you reach them when you have something you’re ready to offer them?


When you start your portable career website, you need to also start an email list. Once a reader has trusted you enough to share an email address with you, you can send them information and updates and, occasionally, offers.

Email’s simple, right?

I mean, we all use it, we know how it works.

Well. . . Yes and no. There’s a big difference between using email as an individual and using it as a broadcast communication medium for your business.

Creating and maintaining an email list for your business is a little more complicated, so we’re going to break it down into bite-sized chunks. We’ll cover the first couple now, and come back to the subject a little later.

Ask Yourself some Questions

Before you can move forward, you’ll need the answers to these questions:

1. What will you send — blog updates, or unique content? Will you send hand-crafted “extras,” information that’s only for your email readers?
2. How often will you send
3. How will you attract subscribers
4. How will you keep track of subscribers
5. How will you ensure your emails are actually delivered

The answers to these questions will impact the email service you use.

Yes, You’ll Need an Email Service!

Don’t think for a minute you can do it successfully using your own email account with Outlook, or GMail, Hotmail or any other personal email service. You might send them, but keeping track of subscribes/unsubscribes and complying with the US Can/SPAM rules will be a big problem. You’ll also run the risk of having your emails blacklisted and not delivered.

You will need to choose a company to handle these logistics for you. Even IT pros like David Risley outsource their email because the hassle factor of maintaining the list and complying with the rules is huge. Your time is much better spent building your business.

There are lots of companies vying for your business as email providers.

I happen to like (and use) Mailchimp. Other professional bloggers swear by Aweber. And there are more. We’ll get into their details a little later.

What’s Your Email Plan?

How frequently you email is up to you, but whatever your plan, make sure you’re up front about it with the reader.

I don’t want to sign up for an “occasional” update and get blasted with three emails a day. By the same token, don’t go so long between emails that your readers don’t recognize your name in their inboxes (something I’ve been guilty of from time to time)!

If you’re going to send all your blog updates as emails to your list (known as RSS, or really simple syndication), your email needs will be a bit different from someone who isn’t sending those.

Persuading people to subscribe is important — most people today are way too busy to just sign up for every email offer that catches their eye. If you want to obtain that valuable email address, offer your reader something worthwhile in return.

Sometimes known as an “ethical bribe,” it could be an e-book, a video or audio series, or some other piece of valuable content. I offer the free e-book, Untether Yourself: 5 Portable Careers to Support You Overseas (look in the upper right-hand corner of this page for the offer).

Questions 4 and 5 above will take care of themselves when you use a service like Mailchimp or Aweber. But if you don’t — and I strongly advise against trying to do it yourself — be prepared to deal with these issues.


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