I wrote a couple of posts early in this series about how to build a mailing list with Incentivized and Organic Subscribers, and all that stuff remains true. If you missed them, the first part is here, and the second one is here. This won’t be about the philosophical elements of making a newsletter, this will be about the nuts and bolts, the mechanics, and what I personally do with my mailing lists to monetize them. Some of this is stuff I’ve gleaned from the internet, some of it I’ve come up with on my own, and fair chunk of it is from notes I took in a long conversation with my friend Stuart Jaffe. If you want to read some kickass adventure or supernatural mystery stuff, check him out. And if you sign up for his email list, you’ll get some free shit! Eric Asher is another person I use for a resource on promos and mailing lists, and he’s also got a deal or two running right now.
But how do I deal with my mailing list(s)? Well, that’s been the subject of a lot of thought over the past few days, as I’ve recently relocated my mailing list from Mailchimp to Mailerlite, because for the number of subscribers that I have (currently about 3,600 across four lists) Mailerlite is $20/month, where Mailchimp was $50, and going to $75 when I reach 5K. So that’s not an insignificant savings, especially given what I have in the marketing budget most months, which is frequently dryer lint. By the way, if you click on those links and sign up for Mailerlite, you get a discount and I get a kickback, so if this is helpful, that’s one way to show the love.
As I mentioned, I have four mailing lists, three of which are active, and one I’m just getting moving (slowly) on. The lists are – my newsletter, the Falstaff Books newsletter, and the ARC team for me & Falstaff. Yes, those links are the signup forms for the linked newsletters. Yes, you can get a metric ton of free ebooks just for signing up to all of those email lists and then auto-dropping. I mean, by my rough reckoning, if you signed up for all the lists that I’ve shown you here, you would get six complete novels, two short stories, one sampler anthology, and one anthology. All for free!
But how does it work? How do I get people onto the lists, and how do I deal with the lists once I’ve got them there. Okay, here’s what I do. It’s more than most people, and scale it back to fit your productivity, but remember that I release at least one new product every month, and sometimes more, plus I have a publishing company releasing at least two new books each month, usually more. So I have a lot of shit to notify people about. But here’s the plan.
1) Consistency – I’m a flake, and anyone that has worked with me knows it. I know it, and I also know that I can’t do the things I need to do if I’m flaking out all over the place. So I have an event set up in my calendar to write a newsletter every Wednesday. It’s also when I write these posts, so it kinda just gives me a couple hours in publisher headspace to do this kind of stuff. I do a John Hartness newsletter one week, then a Falstaff newsletter the following week. If for some reason I don’t have anything new coming out that week, the week before, or the week after, I skip a week. That doesn’t happen very often, between appearances, book releases, and audiobook releases, I have something hitting the virtual streets almost every week, so there’s something to talk about. But consistency is critical. If you go too long without sending out a newsletter, people forget about you. And obscurity is our enemy. So I send out a newsletter about every two weeks for each of my major newsletters. The ARC team is a whole different story, and one that I’m still working on. I’ll keep you posted.
2) The Funnel – This is what I learned from Stuart, setting up my automation. I know he didn’t invent the idea. He’s smart, but not that smart. But he was kind enough to take the time to sit down and explain the whole thing to me. So here’s what happens when someone signs up for my email newsletter, and this is another place in which Mailerlite has Mailchimp beat, hands down. This shit was so much easier to set up on Mailerlite that it wasn’t even funny.
Step 1 – Janet signs up for the newsletter. Janet gets a confirmation email with a link in it directing her to confirm that she’s a human and really wanted to sign up for this crap. Once she does that, she is sent to an Instafreebie page. Instafreebie is a website that automates ebook giveaways and integrates them with mailing lists. It lets me do all this without actually having to sit down and send people ebooks. I use it for all my mailing list giveaways. Yes, there is a referral link buried in that link, too, so if you sign up for Instafreebie and upload a book, I get a discount. Just assume that I have put referral links in every link in here, because I probably have. It doesn’t add anything to your cost, and if I am recommending that you sign up for a service, might as well get them to pay me for it, right?
Step 2 – But anyway, Janet goes to Instafreebie and gets her free ebook. Then the automation starts rolling. In a few days, Janet will get a second email, with another Instafreebie link, this one to a different free short story. She doesn’t have to sign up for anything extra, she doesn’t have to get the story. But it’s free, and it’s a story I like, so why not give it away?
Step 3 – Seven days later, Mailerlite runs an if/then sequence. If Janet opened the email, then she gets an email inviting her to join the Falstaff Books email list. This will get her two more free ebooks, plus another set of notifications. If she didn’t open the email, it will resend, to give her a little reminder to become an active fan and read all my shit (and get more free shit!).
Step 4 – Seven days after that, another step runs. If Janet didn’t open the email a second time, she’s removed from the list. I pay per subscriber, and if people aren’t reading the things I’m sending, then I would rather not pay to keep them around. If they are actively interested and just got busy, they can sign up again and get more free shit all over again. If Janet opened the email the second time it sent, she then gets invited to the Falstaff Books email list. To get more free shit. If she opened the Falstaff Books invite, then she gets another email inviting her to join Stuart’s email list and get his shit for free. Because we all like to work together, and a rising tide lifts all boats. So the more books Stuart sells, the more books I will eventually sell, because we’re all about training people to buy indie and small press books, and love us all. So I like pimping my friends.
If Janet didn’t open the Falstaff Books email, then nothing else happens. I don’t refer only moderately active subscribers to other folks, but I don’t boot them, either. If they’ve opened 2/3 of the emails I send, then I definitely want them around.
That’s the way my funnel is currently set up, and it’s constantly evolving. But I want to draw people in as much as I can, and engage them as much as I can. Those are the initial steps to building a list, signup forms, and creating a funnel to suck them into your loving arms forever.
We’re way over the thousand word limit I try to keep these at, but just a quick note – there’s a new Quincy Harker short story coming out soon, and I’m giving away 100 copies on Instafreebie. You don’t have to sign up for shit, just click this link and you can get a free Harker story. Now, you CAN sign up for the email list while you’re there, but it’s not required. There are 80 or so available as of this writing, so go get some free shit!