10 STEPS GUIDE TO START AN EMAIL LIST
By Susanne Rieker
There may be affiliate links in this post which means I may receive a commission if you purchase something through a link. Please be assured that I only recommend products I personally use and love!
When it comes to marketing your offers, such as your regular yoga classes, workshops, retreats or any other services, email marketing is hands down the most effective way to grow your business.
It’s a fact and Instagram and Facebook don’t come close (maybe unless you’re Yoga Girl).
I love Instagram just like the next yoga teacher, it’s free and fun and easy to use, but fact is you don’t truly own your followers… Instagram does. And boy, don’t they let us feel it, what with all the Algorithm changes that mean that only a tiny part of your followers actually sees your updates.
There’s no way around it my friend, you need an email list and a newsletter that you send out to your subscribers regularly. Plus a few other things that I’ll get into next.
The good news is that with the help of this step-by-step guide you’ll have an email list up and running in no time, a welcome message set up and you’ll even know some more advanced stuff that’ll help you stand out.
Step 1 – Choose your email marketing provider
If you want to send out emails as a business and not to your best friend or sis, you need to use a so-called email marketing provider. Don’t simply use your Gmail account to email your yoga students. Not only will you be breaking email marketing laws (yep, they exist), you’ll also have no real way to grow your list, because people can’t sign up for it. And the good news is, you can start for free, so there’s really no excuse!
There are tons of options but the ones that I recommend are Mailchimp and ConvertKit. Mailchimp is free for up to 2,000 subscribers and it’s great when you’re just starting out. But when you’re serious about growing your list (which you should be), I recommend ConvertKit because you have so many more options to grow your list while still being intuitive and easy to use. Their prices start at $24 per month and they’re offering a 14-day free trial!
Here are just a few reasons why I love it:
- The platform is well designed and extremely easy to use.
- It comes with powerful tagging and segmentation features. For example, you could exclude people who already signed up for your upcoming retreat when you send out a last-minute discount promo to everyone else. AND this is really easy to set up, too.
- Their customer service team is super helpful.
- Finally, emails are delivered reliably (what you would expect but don’t always get elsewhere).
Step 2 – Set up your email marketing account
Sign up with your chosen email marketing provider and set it up. If you want to go with ConvertKit, check out this article: how to get started with ConvertKit. If you want to get started with Mailchimp, check out their tutorials here. I also have a great video training in my membership site the Blissful Biz Hive.
Step 3 – Create an opt-in form for your website
Next you want people to be able to sign up to your list through your website. Mailchimp and ConvertKit both have forms that you set up and then simply add to your WordPress website.
In your form, describe in a few words what people can expect when they sign up. Make it engaging and fun. Whatever you do, don’t just say “Sign up for my newsletter”. Here are two examples to inspire you:
Step 4 – Write your first newsletter
Before you start sending out random notes or shout out stuff you want to promote to your subscribers, think about how you can best serve them.
You have a huge opportunity—responsibility, even—to provide value to your subscribers. When someone essentially says, “Hey, I like you enough to give you my email address,” you owe it to them to offer up everything you can to ensure that they make progress, stay informed, or are entertained.
So how do you do that?
I like to start with subscribing to newsletters from people I admire. They don’t all have to be in the same field as you, some online marketeers like for example Marie Forleo are definitely worth signing up for as well. Start analyzing their emails. What do you like, what annoys you? This will help you find your voice and content structure.
Here are a few things to consider before you write your newsletter:
How often will you send it out? I think quality is more important than quantity. If you have nothing interesting to share or don’t feel inspired, don’t force yourself to send something. Your subscribers will notice! At the same time if you wait too long between emails, your subscribers could forget about you (who the heck is sending me this?). I think a weekly newsletter is great if you produce new content every week, like for example yoga videos, otherwise once a month works best.
What do you want to put into it? It’s good to have a bit of structure so your subscribers know what to expect. For example, you could start your newsletter with sharing a personal story or insight. People want to know what’s happening in your life. Then you want to provide value, like an early-bird discount for your next workshop or a link to your new yoga video. Add some more value by sharing things like your favorite podcast, recipes or books.
Finally, close with a call to action. What do you want your readers to do next? Sign up for your next workshop? Comment on your latest blog post? Join your Facebook group?
Write like to you’re talking to a friend. When we read conversational content, we instantly feel a connection with the writer. We feel like we’re getting to know him or her.
This is your aim. But how do you actually do this?
Writing conversationally doesn’t mean you actually write as you talk (for me this would be wishy-washy words, grammar mistakes, and unfinished sentences…). Instead, edit your text so it doesn’t sound like writing and don’t forget to add a dollop of personality. In a world of endless pixels and meaningless likes, we crave human connections and voices that resonate with us. Just try to be yourself and write like you’re having a cozy chat with your student over a cup of chai tea.
Step 5 – Create a welcome message
Your welcome message is the first email your new subscribers will get automatically after they’ve signed up to your list and confirmed their subscription. Here first impressions absolutely matter. That’s why you should put some effort into your welcome message.
In your message you want to acknowledge how grateful you are to the folks who actually took the time to subscribe to your list. So, start with saying “Thank You”. You could also offer a special treat like a discount to your shop or next workshop.
Next, tell your new subscribers what they can expect to get from you now that they are on your list. Weekly updates? Fun stuff? Invites to upcoming workshops? First dips at new retreats? Exclusive deals? You want them to get excited about being on our mailing list.
Finally, don’t forget to include a photo of you to make your message even more personal.
Here’s my welcome message for people who subscribe to my list on www.happyyogatravels.com as an example:
Step 6 – Design a freebie
People freaking LOVE getting freebies. Offering someone an unexpected gift is one of the quickest ways to form a bond with that person. And when that gift or freebie that you give someone who signs up for your email list happens to be totally awesome, beautiful, inspiring or helpful? Instant love and connection happens.
Here are a few common types of opt-in freebies:
- a workbook
- a checklist
- a cheat sheet
- a video tutorial
- an email course
- a discount code
- a PDF guide
The point is to be generous, while showing people how smart & awesome you are — not just “build a bigger mailing list” for the hell of it.
If you’re feeling stumped and not sure what kind of freebie would be ideal for your customers — here’s a great question to ask yourself:
What is the biggest thing my customers are struggling with?
And what’s one gift that could help them with… that?
It probably won’t be the full solution — you should encourage your subscribers to come to your classes or workshops for additional support, of course — but it could be a great start.
The key is to find a topic and format that your subscribers strongly resonate with and are happy to hand over their email addresses for.
Step 7 – Create a landingpage
When you have your amazing freebie, you want to promote it and show it to as many people as possible. But if it’s hidden somewhere on your homepage not everybody will find it and people will get distracted by everything else going on.
That’s where a landingpage comes in. On your landingpage you introduce your freebie, tell people what they get, and give them the possibility to sign up for it. Nothing else! You share the link to this page as much as possible, for example put it in your Instagram profile, post it on Pinterest and in Facebook groups.
Here’s an example of one of my landingpages:
Step 8 – Drive traffic to your freebie
Now that you’ve created a kickass freebie – it’s time to GET IT OUT THERE!
There are a million and one ways you can promote your freebie, but here are a few of my favorites:
- In social media posts
- In your social media bios
- In a blog post
- In your sidebar on your website
- In Facebook groups
- In forums or other places your readers hang out
- In guest posts on other websites
- As a quick one-liner or “PS” in the signature field of your emails, below your name & contact info.
The worst thing you can do is spend days actually creating the freebie, and then not spend enough time promoting it!
Step 9 – Create a content plan
Having a plan is the key to consistency. First, brainstorm topics and look up upcoming events you want to promote. Next, plan your newsletters for the next 2-3 months so you’ll know about every event or update that’s coming up or promotions you can include in your emails.
This strategy will prevent any last-minute disaster, you can make your email newsletters in a comfortable way and prevent sending random, unstructured emails.
Step 10 – Test, test, test
Taking some time to test each email thoroughly before you send it out is super important. Read it at least twice and check all the links.
Next comes testing different options to improve your performance, like for example:
Which day of the week leads to higher open rates?
What subject lines are most effective?
Should you use a different name in the “From” field?
Testing EVERYTHING is the secret of successful marketeers. How else will you know if what you’re doing is working?
Starting an email list might take a little time and effort, but it’s totally worth it if you’re serious about growing your yoga biz. When you start to gain loyal fans who really want to receive your emails because your content adds value to their lives, well, that’s an exciting thing indeed. Later, you can use all those email subscribers to send out invites to yoga retreats, upcoming workshops or even to sell your new online course to earn some passive income. It’s all in the list!
I hope this article has been helpful to you in coming up with your own strategy for building your email list. Did you find this helpful? Leave me a comment below and tell me your thoughts! I’d love to hear from you!