What does blogging and list building have in common? Judging from most blogs out there I would say not much – most bloggers aren’t building a list. And that’s a shame as they’re missing out on one of the best, if not the best, way to monetize their blog.
I think there are two main reasons why most bloggers overlook list building. One, because they associate email marketing with spamming and don’t want to associate themselves with it; and two, they think that a blog makes email marketing obsolete. Perhaps there’s also the third reason – they don’t know the first thing about list building to do it.
Let me first address the first two issues. It’s a big mistake to take all email marketing as spamming. There are thousands of websites out there with a purpose to scam people, but you’re not saying that web development is all about scamming people. So why then say that about email marketing? The matter of fact is that a properly done list can be your biggest and most profitable online asset without breaking any laws or ethics.
Secondly, a blog by no means replaces a list. Regardless of RSS feeds, commenting and other good things that blogs enable, it’s still a “one way street”. By that I mean that for your message to be read, someone has to open your blog first. It’s better with RSS feeds, but that’s still way behind the communication that email enables.
Communication with your readers, prospects and clients is key. That’s how you sell stuff (as an affiliate and your own) and by selling you make money.
So how do you do it? What’s the game plan of the blogging and list building duo?
It’s simple, really. A blog is a website, it is in some niche that has products you can sell (most bloggers already sell ad space), a website has traffic and the best way to capitalize on traffic is to capture visitors’ contact info to have access to all that traffic that has ever been on your site for good (or until they unsubscribe). Even sending a simple weekly summary of your blog posts to your subscribers can increase your blog traffic exponentially, if nothing else.
There are many ways how you can make money with a list but that’s for the next time I’ll write on this subject. For now, let me give you some tips on how to capture leads with your blog. Here are some methods, you’ll see them in action on this very blog:
- Add an optin form to the sidebar – this is probably the most popular method of those bloggers who are building a list
- Use a pop up bar at the bottom of the blog – handy little tool, it actually converts better than the sidebar form in my experience (maybe because people are used to ads in the sidebar) and can get about 2-3% optin rate on “cold traffic”
- Add a form to the bottom of every post
- Add a link to the RSS feed – RSS Footer plugin
Other methods not used on this blog include:
- Optin form in comments
- Automatic optin after a user posts a comment (and enters an email)
- Pop-up and exit pop-up windows – use “div” windows instead of real windows
- Peel away ads
To get best results, you should use several of these methods. The math is simple – the more optin forms you have on your blog, the more leads you will get. Don’t make the mistake to think that one method is enough (I have). Different people will see or miss different places where your form is, so you need to make sure everyone sees it.
Finally, how to “bribe” your readers to subscribe? It can be as simple as “subscribe to our newsletter” message. But for best results your bribe has to be something your readers would die for. Nothing works better than a report or an e-book addressing the number one problem in your niche.