How big is the email list for your blog? Wait...what do you mean you don't have a list?
You have no idea how much traffic, loyalty, and revenue you have already missed.
If you have a fairly new blog, you're off the hook. I will just assume you did not know any better.
However, if your site has been around a for while and you're getting over a thousand visits a day, you should already be in the process of building an email list.
The benefits of good old-fashioned, home-grown email lists cannot be understated.
So how do you start your list?
First, you need an email system to manage your list. At BlogCraving, we use Aweber to run our mini courses and newsletters. Constant Contact is another good one that I've used in the past. I just prefer Aweber.
Once you've signed up, I believe both will allow you a 30 day free trial, so there's no risk.
The next thing you have to do is start getting your blog readers to subscribe. Unfortunately, it is not as easy as it sounds. You could throw up a post that says, "Hey...sign up for my newsletter." You'll probably get a few people to actually sign up, but not the volume that you are looking for.
Instead, you have to put a nice juicy reason out there for people to join your list. You are asking people to give you something that they find very private and valuable: their email address. You had better give them a great reason for giving it to you.
Unfortunately, spammers have ruined the names of good, honest emailers. People are very cautious when giving out an address.
Therefore, you must offer valuable content and incentives to join. Whatever your niche is, put together some killer content that will only be available to newsletter subscribers. Tell them about all the great stuff that subscribers are going to get sent, like insider tips, knowledge, and timely alerts.
Of course, you then have to deliver on that promise.
With programs like Aweber, you can automate the sending of your emails. For example, you can automate the sending of 5-part emails and spread them over 5 weeks.
When a user signs up, they instantly receive content piece #1. Then over the next 4 weeks, they get 4 more content nuggets sent to them automatically.
It could be anything, as long as you are delivering great content value.
Remember, great content is the name of the game.
If your content is no good, you'll know right away because you will see your unsubscribe rates drop like a rock. You should really spend extra time with your email auto responders or broadcasts. Make sure that your emails are something that people are going to WANT to get in their inbox.
What's the benefit for you?
Your emails will drive visitors back to your site. From the email itself, you can drive people back to articles, sections, photos, and more on your site. Every time a broadcast goes out, you will see an influx of traffic back to your site.
You can also include advertising messages in your emails. You don't want your emails to look like a big Penny Saver flyer, but you can include some monetization elements.
For example, if you are running a "mommy blog" and find an affiliate program that Baby Gap is having a sale this weekend, you can include a subtle affiliate link back to BabyGap.com. Some folks might click it and buy some stuff, earning you a commission.
In that case, sales on baby clothes are seen as valuable content/information since your site is a "mommy blog." Good advertising can actually be valuable content for your audience.
It is very easy to tell if you are sending people information they want. Just look at your unsubscribe rate. If you're unsubscribe rate is low, and you are getting a handful of new subscribers each day, you are in excellent shape.
As your list grows, so does the value of your online product.