Here are 7 reasons why I say "ABSO-FREAKING-LUTELY!"
I get it, growing and maintaining a mailing list sounds like a pain. On top of everything else you have to do as a #solopreneur, is having a mailing list worth it? And how does one go about growing it? Let’s break it down.
This post does contain one referral link and I may earn a small commission when you click on the link at no additional cost to you.
What is an e-mail/mailing list?
An e-mail list is a list of names and email addresses of people that GAVE YOU PERMISSION to send them updates and promotions from your business (READ: They want to hear what you have to say, and want you to market to them!)
You won’t be sending out personalized e-mail from your Gmail account (although I suppose you can while your list is small), but rather you’ll use marketing software to send out bulk e-mail’s to everyone regarding pattern releases, test knit calls, blog updates, or even surveys to see what you should create next! It sounds daunting, but once you get started, I promise it isn’t that bad (my typical e-mails take about 10 minutes to write!).
Why you need a mailing list…
Here are my top 7 reasons (in no particular order) of why YOU need a mailing list today!
Email is very personal!
Email lands you directly in a your customer’s inbox. You don’t have to fight the Instagram algorithm or use a million hashtags to be seen. You are really only “ranked” by the order that e-mails arrive in their inbox and whether or not they decide to click on your content. (TIP: It is very helpful to learn how to tag a person’s first name so you can use it in e-mails — you can create e-mail titles like “Ashleigh, I’ve got a great new pattern for you!” instead of “New Pattern Release”. I can show you this in a later blog post!).
Your mailing list WANTS to hear from you.
In order to get e-mails from you, a customer fills out a form to sign up for your e-mail list. Someone taking the time to do this WANTS to hear from you, and they are more vested in reading your message than if they just click “follow” on Instagram or Facebook.
You can target certain parts of your e-mail list
One of the really cool things about e-mail marketing software is you can “segment” your audience. When starting out, this is definitely a daunting task - but I recommend starting simple and seeing how it goes. My segments in my mailing list are pretty simple right now — I have a segment for knitters and one for designers (because not everyone who knits designs and I want to send content that is valuable to everyone!)
E-mail can be automated!
I love the automation power behind e-mails. When I was using MailChimp, it had the ability to collect birthdates — so every year on a knitter’s birthday they’ll get a coupon to my Ravelry shop. It’s personalized, I get to recognize my subcribers, and yet I don’t have to put any additional effort in!
With Flodesk (I’m in love with Flodesk btw!), I created a simple “Welcome Series”, so anyone who signs up for my mailing lists gets e-mails everyday for 3-5 days depending on the segment letting them know who I am, what my business is, and I offer a coupon at the end! This coupon is one of my most frequently used coupons!
You OWN your mailing list!
PSA: If you think you “own” your Instagram or Facebook accounts, you’re wrong. Your social media campaigns, ads, and diligent hashtag studies can go to waste when these companies change their policies and algorithms. I heard someone say once that you don’t build a house on rented ground (no clue who said it!), but it’s so TRUE!
Your mailing list is not influenced by the decisions of other businesses (who are really out to just make money for themselves!).
Email is private and helps build trust
People read email in the privacy of their inbox — it’s not on a public newfeed. I love reading responses from my subscribers, they often have questions that I’m not sure they would be comfortable asking in a more public forum. Landing in someone’s inbox can help build trust and connection with your customers.
Just for a bit of context — on my last pattern release I sold 41 copies over the first week (which may sound like A LOT to some of you, and may sound like absolutely nothing to others — it’s all relative).
24 OF THOSE SALES CAME FROM MY MAILING LIST.
Not Instagram (despite my efforts to take amazing pictures and use the right hashtags)
Not Facebook (despite my dilligent attempts to post in the right groups on #promo days)
Definitely not organically.
Bottom Line: Getting your work seen is the hardest part of running a small business. You can have the most stunning patterns in the world, but if no one sees it, then your pattern literally doesn’t exist!
What can you send your mailing list?
Okay, I get it. You’re saying, “Ashleigh, I understand I need a mailing list… but why would anyone want to hear from me? I’m just a pattern designer (making jaw-dropping designs) or just an artist (making drool worthy fiber creations)… I don’t have anything to talk about on e-mail.”
Well… you’ve figured out how to post to Instagram everyday for the last year… how far has that gotten you? Have you truthfully seen the growth you’ve wanted?
Sending to a mailing list is like stretching that writing “muscle” that you’ve been training on social media in just a slightly different way.
You don’t have to e-mail your list every single day (or every single week for that matter!), just choose a cadence that works for you!
Here are a few ideas that are at the top of my head for a fellow fiber artist:
Pattern releases (obviously!)
Etsy shop updates
Surveys (what do YOUR customers want you to create?)
A list of your favorite knitting/crochet tools (if you can add in affiliate links, more power to you! I’ll eventually do a blog post on this topic!).
Behind the scenes views of how you make your art!
Pattern sales for holidays/LYS Day/Worldwide Knit in Public Day, etc.
An exciting fiber event happening online or in your area
Just ask your readers how they are doing!
Did you notice how you are probably already creating the above content for social media? Just repurpose (or expand a bit) on that content for your mailing list! Remember, only a small percentage of your social media followers ever see your content in the first place.
How do you grow a mailing list?
You can build your e-mail list a variety of ways — from the traditional way of collecting e-mail addresses in a notebook when you meet a fellow enthusiast in person (but 2020 is definitely not a good time to grow your mailing list this way!) to offering discount codes and freebies to get people to to give you their e-mail address.
I’m a fan of freebies, but the other options work really well too.
Here’s my experience with “freebies”:
I started off 2020 with about 200 people on my “Knitters” mailing list (I used to offer a coupon code and didn’t how slowly the list was growing).
So, on a whim, I decided to offer a “Mosaic Knitting E-book” that I used to teach mosaic knitting at a fiber festival last year as a “Freebie” to entice knitters to join my mailing list.
I use a simple landing page with a form to collect subscribers e-mail addresses, and the catch is that as soon as they click “Submit” they are brought to another screen that offers a coupon on a pattern bundle. I consistenly make a couple hundred dollars a month on that pattern bundle (it’s only available to people who sign up for my list — I’ve found people are MUCH more willing to buy something if you give them something free immediately before!). That bundle is for EXISTING PATTERNS that I released years ago!
I occasionally post about this “freebie” on Facebook, Instagram, have links in my Ravelry account, and I run a very cheap (like $5/day) Facebook ad, so I consistenly have new mailing list subscribers EVERY SINGLE MONTH for almost zero effort. Right now, I have almost 2500 people on my mailing list! The growth has astounded me!
Now, I know that this growth likely won’t happen for everyone, but worst case, you’ll definitely get a few loyal subscribers that can’t wait to get your e-mails whenever you release a new pattern!
What do you need to make a mailing list?
It’s pretty simple - you just need three things!
A website/place for a landing page.
A high converting opt-in/freebie/excellent coupon to offer your subscribers
A mailing service provider
There are so many email marketing companies out there, which one do you choose?
FREE is always good when you’re starting out. I started out with Mailchimp, it was easy to use, has simple landing pages, and customizable e-mails and best of all FREE. Click here to check out Mailchimp.
After my list started to grow (and after reading about a million blog posts from other small business owners, I stumbled upon Flodesk. In my opinion, it is he most affordable and easy to use e-mail marketing software I've found, there is no limit on the number of subscribers on your list, you can have unlimited automations, landing pages, and the templates are GORGEOUS! I highly recommend this software (get it for 50% off or $19/month here).