So you have a blog and people show up every day to read it. That’s a big deal! Great start!
One of the best ways to get readers coming back to your site and engaging with your posts is to send out a regular newsletter. I am going to walk you through how to set up a free newsletter and how to set up a RSS driven newsletter.
I use Mailchimp and will be referring to that throughout this post, there are no affiliate links I just really like this platform.
To sign up for MailChimp start here and set up your free account.
First things first, you need subscribers, people to send your newsletter to. You need a way for them to opt in and choose to receive email from you. The best and easiest way to do this is with an embedded form. Once set up in MailChimp you can add this to your blog or a Facebook page.
To get started click on the List option in the left menu in MailChimp. From there you can choose Sign Up forms. You are given a couple of options and details on how to place the form.
I have a bar at the top of my blog (a Hello Bar) directing people to sign up for my weekly newsletter. I have also had a box in my sidebar and at the end of posts. I also have a sign up form on Facebook. Make it visible and tell people about it, tell them what to expect and why they NEED to sign up. I currently have a free blog planner exclusively for email subscribers. A little something free encourages people to sign up.
Now that you are collecting subscribers it’s time to send out your first newsletter. You need to determine a couple of things first.
1. What is the purpose of your newsletter?
2. What will it contain?
3. How often will you send it?
4. Will you write it each week or will it be RSS driven?
Here is how I set up mine.
The purpose is to give readers a weekly recap. I know they are busy but I don’t want them to miss out. It goes out Monday morning and has post excerpts from the previous week.
I have created a unique weekly newsletter in the past but now I send an RSS driven newsletter. The former was too time consuming and I ended up missing weeks. I will walk you through how to do each.
Click on Campaign on the left menu bar in MailChimp. Then click Create Campaign. Choose your list, then fill in the campaign info fields. I always check the Personalize field which will address the recipient by first name. In the From field I have “Sarah at Creative Ramblings” it clearly tells readers who this email is from. There are other options you can play around with too.
Next, choose a template. Or if you are feeling creative create your own. You can browse by theme or format.
Once you have your template you can start adding content. A few pieces I really urge you to have.
Logo and tag line
Social Follow buttons
You can add these by dragging and dropping from the collection of pieces on the right.
Add an intro about what your readers are looking at. If your purpose is to recap your blog posts add your content. You can do this by adding a photo and short description then linking it to a post.
On the next screen you will see a list with blue check marks. This is a review of what you have created. If any of these options have a yellow exclamation point be sure to address them.
On the bottom right you have 2 options, Schedule and Send. I have found that my newsletters are best received if I send them early in the morning. This way they are in Inboxes when readers wake up to check their email.
RSS Driven Newsletter
Start by clicking on Campaign from the left menu then on the top right choose the little arrow next to Create Campaign and select RSS-driven campaign. You will need the URL to your RSS feed. More than likely it is www.yourblogname.com/feed. If you are unsure, MailChimp can help you find it, just follow their prompts. This link will not bring anything up in a web browser so don’t worry if it looks funny. This link is a way of communicating your content to services like MailChimp. Enter this on the next screen and specify how often you want your newsletter to go out.
From here you will follow the same steps as setting up a regular newsletter. I chose an RSS template and it looks a little something like this.
If you click on the RSS bold title some options will appear on the right. You can choose Advanced, Intermediate, Basic or Custom. Start with advanced and click preview and test on the top black bar. You will be able to see what this will look like to your readers. Play around with the options until you are happy with the look.
The next screen will confirm your newsletter and set it up to send. When you click Start RSS your first newsletter will go out on the day you selected.
An RSS driven newsletter is a great way to engage your readers but not have to remember to create something every week.
I hope I shed some light on the world of e-newsletters. Once you get the hang of a basic newsletter take some time to see what MailChimp has to offer. I use the free version and have been very impressed with everything I am able to do.
Do you have a newsletter? What advise do you have for those just starting one?
While your here, be sure to sign up for my newsletter and get a free blog planner!
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