I'm ramping up to grow my mailing list. However, money is tight these days, so I have to get creative with what's free and pay for easier methods later when I can afford it.
If your budget is tight and buying InstaFreebie’s premium account is a little steep for you right now, here’s something I set up for myself to take advantage of their free account. These are the steps…and then below I explain the hows and whys of each step.
- Set up a landing page
- Create a separate mailing list for the landing page campaign
- Create an InstaFreebie giveaway
- Create an autoresponder which includes the InstaFreebie link
- Extras – take advantage of referrals with additional giveaways.
Set up a Landing Page
For those of you who might not know, a landing page is a web page that has information and/or a temptation with a promise to provide something they want IF they sign up to be on a mailing list.
For my own landing page, I posted a 3000+ word excerpt of the 2nd book in my Bonded By Blood Vampire Chronicles – Midnight Captive. At the bottom of the LONG page of text, I provided a button for readers to subscribe to my newsletter, with some bullet points outlining the benefits of joining. Here’sthe page I created. If you like HOT Scottish Vampires, you're welcome to take advantage of the offer!
It’s intentionally long. Will I lose a bunch of people before they get to the bottom of the page? Absolutely! But those are the readers I don’t want anyway. The ones who stick around and join the club are most likely genuinely interested in my writing style/content. Not only did they finish reading what I posted, but they wanted more! As such, I have a better chance of getting future sales from them, ergo building a QUALITY mailing list instead of just trying to get numbers.
So, the excerpt from Midnight Captive is the tease/temptation. The promise at the end of the page is if they join my VIP Club, they’ll get the entire eBook for free. AND they’ll also get the goodies every member of my VIP Club usually gets…other free eBooks, discounts, exclusive drawings, etc.
Create a Separate Mailing List
Most mailing list services (e.g., MailChimp, ConstantContact, Aweber, etc.) should allow you to create more than one mailing list. Personally, I have a WordPress website on a shared server and I use MyMail Newsletter plugin as my mailing list manager. I created a separate mailing list named after the campaign I’m using for the landing page—BBB02 Freebie Campaign. The reason I did this was so I could create a special autoresponder for those people ONLY with the link to the InstaFreebie giveaway…
Create an InstaFreebie Giveaway
If you don’t have an InstaFreebie account, you can go to instafreebie.com and create it. The free account lets you post as many book giveaways as you’d like, however you cannot collect e-mails from the readers who download the books. But that’s okay! That’s what this article is all about…using that to your advantage. Here are step-by-step instructions to create a giveaway.
I created a giveaway for Midnight Captive, the aforementioned book for my landing page. The promise on the landing page is to give them the eBook of the sneak peek for free. So, the page is set up, the InstaFreebie is set up. Now to create the welcome letter.
Create an Autoresponder
I believe you can at least set up a welcome e-mail whenever someone signs up for your new mailing list. If so, then THAT is what you’ll use for this exercise. I joined MailChimp over 4 years ago and I have features that are no longer available on the free account. I was going to encourage setting up autoresponders, but I have some bad news and some good news. First, the bad news: I learned that the automation feature in MailChimp (where you create the autoresponders) is no longer on the free account.
Now the good news: If you’re just starting out with your mailing list and you have less than 500 subscribers, MailChimp has a paid account at $10, which will give you this feature and more. I sincerely think the autoresponders alone are worth the $10 a month! If you read my article about howto set up a Reader Club, you’ll see the value. In short, you can stay in front of your readers on a weekly or monthly basis while not being annoying because they’re always getting something for free. The feedback from my members has been overwhelming positive!
So, if you run a WordPress Website like I do, you can use a mailing list manager plugin (like MyMail Newsletter) OR pony up the dough for the paid MailChimp account.
In your mailing list manager (e.g., MailChimp, etc.), create an autoresponder (in MailChimp, click on the “automation” option at the top – follow MC instructions for using automation workflows.) with a welcome message for those who sign up through the landing page. In this welcome letter, include the link to the InstaFreebie giveaway you set up in step 3. Tah dah!
For example: The welcome letter I created basically says, “Thanks so much for showing an interest in my books! As promised, here’s THE LINK to your free eBook. Enjoy!” I also request they not forward that link to anyone, BUT instead give them the link back to the landing page to encourage their friends to get their own copy by signing up and getting all the benefits.
Extras – Take Advantage of Referrals with Giveaways
One other thing I did to encourage people to spread the news was create two additional giveaways with options to refer friends. Each time they refer a friend, they get extra entries for the giveaways. Then, in the welcome letter, I encouraged them to enter the drawings to help me spread the word about my VIP Club.
A NOTE ABOUT GIVEAWAYS: If you want to build a quality mailing list, I don’t encourage using gift cards of any kind (e.g., Amazon, iTunes, B&N, PayPal, etc.). Personally, I’ve found that there are many people out there I call professional commenters. They prowl all the giveaways and enter everything they can to earn money from all those gift cards. One could make a decent living off the monetary goodies we authors provide! To get a genuine response for your work, I would highly recommend giving away eBooks or eBook bundles (for bigger prizes). Though you can give away swag and signed copies of your books, postage can get expensive, so use with caution.
Even though you might not get the flood of visitors like you might be hoping for, remember that QUALITY is important. By giving away your books, the people who enter your contests are more likely to be interested in your novels and thereby provide you with a list of fans who love your work.
The two giveaways I have going on for this landing page and campaign are…
- 4 bundles of Books 1-4 to help some people get caught up on the series before I release Book 5
- 4 pairs of the audiobook versions for Books 1 & 2 (using my audiobook promo codes)
I DO have the paid Rafflecopter account ($13/mo), which lets me grab e-mail addresses from everyone who enters. Their “subscribe to mailing list” and “go viral” referrals are for the $84 a month plan…a little out of my price range at the moment.
Instead, I use the “Invent Your Own” entry option to give them five other entry options to provide e-mail addresses of friends whom they think might like my books. I do state that I will NOT add them to my list, but only send them an invitation to join. It’s up to the friend/recipient to join my list or not, but they won’t get another e-mail from me if they don’t respond or join.
So this is how the workflow would happen for a reader:
- They visit my landing page (through a link I’ve provided on Twitter, Facebook or some other ad/venue).
- They read the excerpt (or listen to the audiobook sample I’ve posted at the top of the page) and they’ve reached the bottom of the page.
- They click the “Join the Club” button at the bottom.
- The subscribe form appears for them to join my mailing list.
- They’ll get a confirmation e-mail when they subscribe. Once they confirm their subscriptions, they’ll be added to the list.
- They will receive their first e-mail, which says “thank you” and gives them the InstaFreebie link to get their free book. They also have two giveaways in which they can participate, which will (hopefully) get them to refer more people to aforementioned landing page or joining my VIP Club, thereby growing my list.
- I also add them to my VIP Club list, which is what they were signing up for to begin with. However, I needed this extra list/welcome e-mail to give ONLY those who visited the landing page the free eBook. I don’t want EVERYONE who signs up for my mailing list to get a free eBook. Only the people taking advantage of this campaign push.
- Once they’re on my VIP Club list, they should also get the welcome e-mail for the Club and start getting their freebies.
Everything is automated, for the most part. Just push the landing page link in your campaign and your new readers will go through the above workflow.
I hope this helps someone. If you have any questions about how to set anything I discussed above, just leave a comment below. I'll be happy to provide some assistance.
That’s my two pence…