You know you need to be growing your list.
It’s what everyone says, right? But, it’s vying for priority with everything else you got going on from kids, to Pinterest, blog posts, to laundry… And oh my goodness WHAT the TECH!
To start building your list, you need an email service provider.
But which one? There’s a lot to choose from and they range in price and features from free all the way up to sell-your-kidney expensive.
It should be a no brainer right – free is awesome, yeah? Well, it can be. Unfortunately, the free platforms I’ve tried were confusing, hard to use, and ended up sending out duplicate welcome emails (how’s that for a turn off!).
That’s why I switched to ConvertKit.
And why I’m never going back.
But first, a #truthbomb
I’m not going to lie to you. ConvertKit is a tool and one that makes your life easier. But, it’s not a magical pixie-dust-sprinkling-unicorn.
If you don’t have traffic – it’s not going to grow your list.
If you don’t have compelling content upgrades or lead magnets to entice people to join your list… then they aren’t going to and using ConvertKit won’t change that.
Do You *REALLY* Need an Email List?
A lot of bloggers put off starting their email list ‘until later’. They aren’t getting much traffic just yet, so put it on the backburner.
I get it. It’s just another tech puzzle to work out how it fits into your blogging schedule. But, the thing is, the sooner you get yourself ready to collect emails, the better.
What if your next post goes viral? Or your account takes off on Pinterest?
It could happen!
My new blog was live for about 2 weeks when I out of the blue had a 2,000 page view day. I was NOT ready for that and boy did I scramble to get email opt-in forms, affiliate links, related post links, and ads onto that post. I didn’t even have a content upgrade ready to go!
My point: get your email list ready before you need it.
Here’s some more reasons why email is a great way to reach your audience:
Email is Personal
Email gives you a way to talk directly to your subscribers – one to one (almost). You’re appearing in their Inbox, next to emails from their work, their friends, and their mom!
Email doesn’t rely on algorithms
People are forever bemoaning the algorithm changes on Facebook, Pinterest, or the shadowban on Instagram… email? There are few rules like that (ok, there is the Gmail Promotions tab… but that’s it and if you tell your subscribers to whitelist your emails by dragging them into the Inbox tab in your welcome email, you can get around that.)
Email doesn’t rely on your subscribers remembering to visit your site
You send an email to your subscribers, it’s direct. You don’t have to hope that they bookmarked your site and will come back someday to read your new post. You can email them and tell them >>> check out my new post!
In short: email is awesome.
Ready to get into how to actually use ConvertKit for your list?
Why Am I A ConvertKit Fan?
There are a lot of great features in ConvertKit, but here are some of my favorites:
- You can create simple landing pages for your freebies (and it’s so easy to design them)
- You can create several different styles of opt-in form
- You can easily deliver your freebies in your first email so that when your subscriber hits the button they get their freebie
- You can create sequences (perfect for creating a welcome email series or an email course like Pinterest Power Up). Even more exciting… these sequences are now VISUAL. You’ll love it if you’re a visual learner!
- You can tag and segment subscribers who click on your links (you could run a quick survey or simply note what people are interested in and tell them about discounts or sales on products that might fit their needs)
- You can broadcast emails to all or segments of your subscribers AND A/B test the headlines you use in your emails.
Let’s Talk About Forms and Landing Pages
Your first step in ConvertKit is to create your opt-in form… or a landing page.
The main difference? A landing page is a full page where the only options are subscribe or close out of the site.
You can use ConvertKit forms as is. Or, you can use a popup/opt-in plugin like Bloom or ConvertPlug to make them prettier and add a few extra functions.
For beginners, I recommend using the native ConvertKit forms. Why? Because you eliminate some huge time sinks:
- The tech mastery issue – you don’t need to learn how to use another tool to get your opt-ins to work properly.
- The ‘I want to make it pretty’ issue – you won’t waste hours of valuable time trying to perfect the look of your opt-in forms. Use the plain ConvertKit ones, plug and play.
Here’s an example of a plain ConvertKit form on Meera Kothand’s blog:
So, don’t feel like you HAVE TO make your opt-in forms complicated. As a mom, you need to budget your precious available time carefully. Pretty vs. Plain opt-in forms are NOT going to be a deal breaker.
How I Use Forms and Landing Pages
I’ll admit, I use Bloom/ConvertPlug for the majority of my opt-ins and I tend to build my own landing pages with Divi. These tools give you some advanced features that you really don’t need when you’re just getting started, like content lockers (where subscribing ‘opens’ the locker and a download or more information appears on the page) and exit-intent popups. They also give you more control over the appearance of your opt-ins.
Here’s what I use forms for:
- Content upgrades in blog posts
- A side bar opt-in
- A popup opt-in
Use a landing page for:
- Each freebie (so I can promote it separately on Pinterest)
- A waiting list for a product
Landing pages are brilliant at driving conversions because when faced with a simple choice – subscribe or leave – your readers are more likely to make a choice rather than getting distracted by all the other links and content you’d have on a normal page.
ConvertKit landing pages are very simple. But, it’s a great way to get started with landing pages. And if you use them, you won’t have to worry about the connect-the-tech issues you might have if you use a separate landing page builder.
How to Create a Form in ConvertKit
What you need first:
After you log in to ConvertKit:
- Click Create Form.
- Choose Form.
- Choose the style of form you want to start with. I recommend the central form because you can add a graphic or mockup of your freebie and subscribers like to see what they’re getting.
- Change the name of your opt-in form (so you’ll know what it’s for). Then click into each of the text fields of the opt-in form to edit them. Don’t you love visual builders?
- Click on the image field and upload a mockup or graphic of your freebie.
- Click on the magic wand in the menu to change the colors to suit your brand.
- Next, click on Settings. There are quite a few options, but don’t worry – it’s easy!
- In Main Settings, you can change your form into a landing page if you decide you want to. You can select your form to redirect subscribers to a thank you page (perfect for setting up a one-time offer of an inexpensive product) and add your new subscribers to an email sequence (think Welcome email series. Make sure you tick ‘Make Sequence Mandatory for all new subscribers’.
- In Incentive Email you can customize the first email your subscriber will see from you. You can also choose whether confirming their email address will send them to a page on your site or to a freebie download.
- In Style you can change the way your form looks, add Custom CSS, and select how your forms should behave to return visitors.
- In Embed is where you can grab the code to add to your blog. The easiest way to do it is to grab the free ConvertKit WordPress plugin. Once you’ve installed the plugin, you can embed your form using a shortcode. Click on WordPress and copy the shortcode into your blog post where you want the form to appear.
- Click Save Form.
How to Use the ConvertKit Plugin
The ConvertKit plugin does quite a few things:
- You can replace a published page on your blog with a ConvertKit landing page.
- You can add forms using shortcodes in your blog post.
- You can add a ConvertKit form to the bottom of your post using a drop down menu.
It makes working with forms and landing pages a cinch. Let’s get it set up.
How to Set Up the ConvertKit Plugin
Once you’ve installed the ConvertKit Plugin, you’ll need your:
- API Key
- API Secret
You can find this in your ConvertKit account settings.
- In your WordPress dashboard, navigate to Settings > ConvertKit.
- Copy and paste your API Key and API Secret into the correct fields
- Select a default form if you want.
- Hit Save.
Phew! You’ve got a form – it’s on your blog.
But, we can’t just leave it there.
How to Email Your List – Using the Broadcast Function
One of the other important parts about having an email list is… well, y’know… actually emailing them! Not gonna lie, this can be really scary.
What should I say?
What if I sound like an idiot?
I feel like I’m shouting into the void…
All valid concerns. I’ve felt ALL of them myself.
Here’s the thing though:
You need to email your list and do it regularly. Otherwise they’ll forget who you are.
Just treat it like a blog post and you’ll be golden!
If you’ve got blogger’s block, go download my friend Meera’s email swipe file. It’s worth it’s weight in choco… wait it doesn’t weigh anything. Well, whatever. It’s just awesome. Get it.
How to Send Your First Broadcast
Are you ready? You totally got this!
- Click on Broadcasts in the top menu.
- Click on New Broadcast.
- On the next screen, you can probably leave all the options as they are. Once you get more advanced, start using a welcome email series or a free ecourse, you can exclude people who are in those sequences so they don’t get your broadcast email.
- Click on Next Step.
- Write your email. You can A/B test two different headlines if you’d like – ConvertKit will send emails to a segment of your list and then broadcasts to your full list with the winning headline after a few hours.
- Click Next Step.
- Click on Send Broadcast to send your email immediately. Or, you can schedule it for a later date and time.
Congratulations! You just sent your first email broadcast!
Whew! That’s quite a lot to take in in one go isn’t it? Are you using ConvertKit or another email service provider? Let me know which tool you’re using in the comments below!
Hi, I'm Cath
Blogger. Freelance Writer & Pinterest Manager. Mom of one. Keeps me busy! I’m also a corporate escapee, determined to help moms create options so they can stay home with the little ones and contribute to the family finances.