The following is a Guest Post by Nathan Barry, Founder of ConvertKit; an email marketing tool built specifically for professional bloggers.
These days everyone is building massive followings on Instagram and other social platforms. Sharing photos makes perfect sense for a fashion blog, so Instagram is a natural choice.
But when it comes to truly connecting with their audience, professional fashion bloggers are adding another platform: email. It’s important to build your audience on social platforms, but when you want your community to take action, it’s time to turn somewhere else.
Most fashion bloggers are looking to earn a living from brand partnerships and sponsorship deals—which is great! But there’s a growing segment of very successful bloggers who earn more of their income through selling products.
Take Barron Cuadro from Effortless Gent as an example: he earns regular income from brand partnerships, but also sells courses to help men dress better that bring in a considerable income each month.
By diversifying your income stream you can not only earn more, but you have more control. Which is always a good thing when it comes to being able to pay rent each month.
Right now you may be wondering what selling your own products has to do with email. And you’re right. You can promote your own products on Instagram and your blog just like you could sponsored posts from a brand.
The difference is engagement.
When selling a product, high engagement really matters. If people aren’t clicking through and buying it’s a huge problem.
Compare that to a brand partnership where you get paid just based on your total audience size—it doesn’t really matter if they convert (except that it will hurt repeat deals). For that a large Instagram following is just fine.
Email converts higher than any other platform
The ecommerce company Gumroad released conversion rate numbers from every traffic source to their customer’s checkout pages. I won’t bore you with all the details, but in short visitors from email converted twice as high as from any social platform.
Then when you factor in the open rate on emails (usually above 25%) with engagement on other platforms (much lower) the total value per subscriber or follower can be as much as 10x higher on email.
You should still grow your Instagram following, but use it to get signups for your email list. That’s where you can engage with them on a more personal level and where they’ll be much more likely to buy your products.
When conversions matter, bloggers turn to email marketing.
First steps with email marketing
Getting started with email doesn’t have to be hard. I’ll walk you through how to go from zero to having a basic email strategy in place.
Step #1 — Create an account with an email marketing provider
You may have seen people sending mass emails by placing everything in the BCC field of a new email in their Gmail account. That’s not recommended (and actually illegal since there isn’t a way to unsubscribe).
MailChimp is great if you’re just getting started. They have a free plan for your first few subscribers, and it’s pretty easy to start growing your list. If cost is your biggest issue, start with MailChimp.
ConvertKit is for anyone who is serious about their blog. Now, I’m biased since I founded ConvertKit, but it was designed for professional bloggers from the ground up. Our customers are some of the biggest names in blogging and more customers are switching every day.
When comparing to MailChimp, you’ll get far more functionality and advanced features like tagging and automation with ConvertKit—but if you’re not ready to start there, go for MailChimp’s free plan (ConvertKit starts at $29/month).
Step #2 — Create an opt-in form
Once your account is created the next step is to get an opt-in form on your site. You can use all kinds of plugins to make this happen or ConvertKit has clean, responsive forms built-in by default.
The most important part of your form is your offer. Most people start by just saying “Sign up for my newsletter.”
That’s fine—and far better than nothing—but your conversion rate will be higher if you actually offer something. Start by thinking about it from your site visitors perspective: what’s in it for them?
A newsletter doesn’t speak to the value delivered. So even if you are just sending them a weekly blog post, talk about it in terms of what they’ll learn. “How to dress better” or “Weekly tips on _______” at least speak to what they’ll get out of your content.
The best option is to put together a small guide or course and offer that as an incentive for joining your list. Brock McGoff offers a guide called “How to Dress Taller: 11 Crucial Style Tips for Short Men” on his site The Modest Man.
What pre-packaged guide or course can you offer your subscribers?
Step #3 — Send out regular blog posts
Some people build an audience and then never send to it. That’s a waste. In order for you audience to stay engaged you need email regularly. The simplest way to do that is to send out each of your blog posts. Or if you publish more than three times a week you might consider sending a weekly digest.
The biggest question I get about this is what specifically should be sent: the entire post or just a link to your blog?
Either one is fine—whichever you prefer is good to go with.
Personally I like to write a more human message (as if I was emailing a friend) to tell them about the blog post. So instead of the entire message appearing in an RSS to email automated format, I just link to the post.
Step #4 — Add automation
Once you have all those steps done—and not before!—you should start to think about adding automation. That’s a bigger topic than we can cover in this post, but I’ll give a quick overview of a few different automated sequences you could add.
- A welcome sequence
The welcome sequence is a series of 3-5 emails that introduce you to your new subscriber. This is the perfect time to showcase your best and favorite content that you want everyone to read.
Schedule these emails to go out to new subscribers over about 2 weeks. Don’t forget to include a pitch for your product—you want something doing selling for you.
- Ecommerce integration
Next you want to connect your ecommerce software with your email provider. Then anyone who purchases will be automatically added to your newsletter. But more importantly you’ll be able to exclude buyers from any pitch emails.
This is where tags in ConvertKit really come in handy. You can tag each purchaser and then make sure they don’t get any pitches.
- The up-sell
This is a bit more advanced, but once someone buys your first product, you want the ability to automatically up-sell them to your next product. This is done through another email sequence that sends 3-5 automated emails over a couple weeks. All with a focus on getting them to buy the next product.
It’s time to get started!
Hopefully by now you see the power (and value) of email marketing. So now it’s time to take the first steps of choosing an email marketing provider and getting your first form embedded on your site.
If you have that done already you’ll want to jump into improving your opt-in incentive or adding more automation.
Want to contribute a guest post to IFB? Learn how here.