Sometimes we start businesses by building a website, getting business cards (because those are gonna be useful), and putting a shiny new opt-in form on that sparkly website.
“Here you are, world. My solution to your problems is ready for you.”
And then we sit back and wait for the subscribers to come rolling in. But it’s more trickle than flood and we wonder if we did it all wrong.
Well, let this be your solution to those flood gate woes. You see, building an email list isn’t a “if you build [a form] they will come” situation.
Finding the ideal subscribers for your list doesn’t have to be a complete mystery though. As it turns out, they already exist (yay!) and with a little effort, they’re easy to tap into with three outreach methods:
- Guest Posting
Now, before we unpack these game plans, it’s worth mentioning that these are long-term efforts. This means that you’ll see a spike on the first few days (typically), but these methods are designed to be repeated and worked into your annual marketing strategy. They aren’t a “one and done” kinda deal. Got it? Okay, let’s do this.
Use guest posting to grow your list
If you aren’t guest posting already, consider this your official call to action. Jeff Goins, master writer and business builder said,
“I believe guest posting is the single most important strategy for growing your blog readership and platform.”
Guest posting is as simple as writing a post for someone else’s blog that their audience will love. The specifics, however are important to consider.
Give away your very best stuff in guest posts
Some people think that the way to go with guest posts is to share your second best stuff and save your very best for the blog. The thinking makes sense on the surface – get those readers to click through to your blog, find the really good stuff, and become loyal raving fans – but it’s unsound. Darren Rowse of Problogger agrees:
“…if you want to maximise the chance of getting a guest post published on a well-known blog and you want to maximise its impact upon the readers of that blog – you need to keep the quality up in your guest posts. 2nd rate posts are not likely to get published and if they do – they’ll not drive you the traffic that a first rate post would do.”
So don’t be shy about giving away your best stuff – and original content at that! – to have the greatest impact from your guest blogging efforts.
Get strategic with your guest posts
With a powerful guest post written, your next step is to optimize it for maximum returns. Let me be a tale of caution for you here. When I first started guest posting a few years ago, my only strategy was “find blogs where my potential customers hang out and write for them”. And while that was a good first step and I certainly saw a bump in traffic to my website on my Google Analytics, I wasn’t capturing those potential customers as subscribers on my email list and they were gone as quickly as they came.
You can avoid those same costly mistakes by building a custom landing page for your guest posts.
With a custom landing page on your site (or even one hosted by ConvertKit) you’ll be able to drive those interested customers straight into your email list where you can have access to them on an ongoing basis. Over time I learned to link a freebie opt-in to that landing page and saw even higher conversions. By mentioning the freebie in the guest post, especially when it was a true content upgrade, and linking to the landing page, I was able to quickly build my email list from guest posting alone.
Of course, some sites don’t allow for this level of engagement with their audience and prefer a more passive approach. At minimum, you’ll want the link in your byline to head to a landing page and not the homepage of your site. A landing page is not only smart, it’s crucial for conversions, says Unbounce,
“Every link on your page that doesn’t represent your conversion goal is a distraction that will dilute your message and reduce your conversion rate.”
Another way you can get strategic is to link to other posts from the blog you’re posting on within your post. In fact, an article on their blog might support or conflict with your point of view in the piece you’re writing. When you find those gems, link to them! These internal links are great for SEO and your host will just love you for it. Including a few links to articles on the same site earns you bonus points in the eyes of that blog and in the eyes of the SEO Gods.
Share the love with your guest posts
So you’ve nailed the guest post, added your strategy into the mix, and now you’re done, right? Wrong. You’ve put just as much work into this guest post as you have with your own blog posts and it deserves the same love and attention.
Start out with a few social media mentions on your favorite channels. Be sure to use the host’s handle and tag them so that your audience knows that something really special is happening.
Then set a calendar reminder to keep tabs on the comments of your post. Since you’re reaching a new audience who likely is experiencing your words for the first time, you want to set a good first impression. Check for comments in those first few days (and maybe a few more times in that first month the post goes live) and reply to your new fans. It’s what Taylor Swift would do and we all know how well her marketing efforts have panned out.
Lastly, ask your host if they’re interested in guest posting on your site. Make it simple for them to say yes by proposing a few topics they might cover and give them everything they need to be successful (like a potential publishing date, where/how to send images, any bio information you need). After all, if their audience loves you, you can bet that your audience will love them and they payoff for sharing that love is almost never-ending.
How podcasts can grow your email list
It’s true, I’m a self-proclaimed podcast junkie. I listen to everything from meditations with Tara Brach to marketing tactics with Call To Action to every podcast fan’s favorite podcast: Sampler. I love them all. In fact, I’ve used podcasts in the past for my own blog – filling my 1×1 client roster and nearly doubling my email list. Here’s how:
How to find podcasts in your niche
The podcast search bar is a handy little secret weapon in finding your ideal customers. Let’s say you have a blog all about minimalism like Courtney Carver. You head to your podcast app and search “minimalism” and find 7 podcasts with that keyword in their information.
So you subscribe, listen to a few episodes of each, and decide that you think you can contribute to the conversation in a meaningful way. In fact, you have something that you believe hasn’t yet been covered on the show or is maybe a hot button topic for the host. Now you have your next step…
Perfect your podcast's pitch
Remember, this is a long-term strategy so you’ll have plenty of practice pitching yourself to podcasts in the long run. After you’ve gone on the show’s website and determined they a) are accepting pitches and b) don’t have a specific setup for you to apply, it’s time to send in your pitch. As you compose your email, keep in mind the show host, the topic at hand, and how you can add to the conversation. In fact, here’s a little fill in the blank to get you going:
Being a good podcast guest is about more than the hour or so you spend prepping and recording the actual episode. The podcasts you appear on rely on you to do your part in sharing the episode with your audience too. While most podcast hosts will ask you to share your latest product, offering, or opt in on the show, you’ll want to follow that up with a heaping dose of generosity in the form of shares. So put a PS in your email to your list, queue up a few social media posts, or even participate in their Twitter Chat (if they host one) for some extra credit.
How to use summits to grow your email list
No, we’re not talking about a long hike here. Summits of the digital variety are a way to speak to groups without leaving your house (yay!). Digital Summits have been popular for a few years now and while you may not see them with the frequency you did in say, 2014, that’s actually a good thing. With less summits around, the quality has gone up and the opportunity to connect with your ideal audience is even more powerful.
The biggest difference between guest posting/podcasts and digital summits is that the attendees for digital summits are typically paying to listen to the content so they’re a much more targeted audience. But that’s really where the differences end as far as you’re concerned here.
You’ll find that the same steps to maximize your return on your time investment apply here:
- Find your niche
- Perfect the pitch
- Give away your best content for free
- Get strategic
- Show up and share the love
Being part of a digital summit tends to have a domino effect since all of the presenters are promoting the same event. You’ll get promo from others and start to see crossover between your like-audiences– which could just lead to more guest posts and podcast appearances!
Ready for your audiences to listen in?
Of course, there’s nothing like your name and face appearing all over the place to have your audience take notice and even finally hear what you have to say. When you guest blog on their favorite sites, appear as a guest on podcasts they love and respect, or participate in a digital summit they’ve invested in, you have their attention in a whole new way.
Have you ever had that moment when you go “Well, why didn’t anybody tell me that??!?” Yeah, me too. But I’ve always realized that somebody DID tell me “that”, I just didn’t hear it until it was presented in that particular delivery method.
By getting your words read and heard in other places, you’re more likely to give your customers what they want before they ever know they want it.
So tell me in the comments below, which strategy are you putting into place for you blog? It’s time to branch out and grow your business more than you ever thought possible.