One of the parts of running an online craft business that I’ve had the most trouble with is maintaining my email list.
Even after I had figured out how to get people to sign up for my list (more on that HERE), I still had trouble with what to actually DO with that list.
It’s tough. First of all, I was afraid I’d be a bother. I’d always feel like I would be bugging someone if I showed up in their inbox.
This backfired though, because I’d avoid sending any emails….until I was “announcing” something new…….and then people just felt like I was only there to “sell them” on something. Which basically, I was. Because, I never sent them anything different than that.
I simply didn’t know what else to send them.
Honestly…doing the email list thing will probably never be easy for me. (And whenever I see someone insisting that they have the secrets to make it easy, I know they just want to sell me on something).
However, it’s gotten easi-ER. Here’s the system I’ve set up (it did take me awhile to get to this point), to make the process easier and more streamlined and not a major source of anxiety every time I think about it.
1. I came up with something to entice people to sign up.
(I’ve covered this in a lot of detail right HERE, so I won’t go into that in this post.)
2. Once I had that in place, I set up an autoresponder.
I had been hearing about autoresponders for awhile, but didn’t have the opportunity to try using one until I switched newsletter companies.
An autoresponder is a pretty awesome thing once you’ve got it set up. Basically, it lets you pre-write emails, and add them to a sequence. Then, when a new subscriber joins your list, they begin receiving those emails in the order that you’ve logged them into your autoresponder.
This takes away so much work, and it enables you to make sure that all your subscribers see the same emails when they first sign up…..whether they sign up today, or 7 1/2 months from now.
That all sounded fantastic to me and I couldn’t wait to get going with my own autoresponder…. until I got going with it. Then I realized I had no clue what to put in it.
So, here’s what I ended up doing: I sat down and thought very hard about the overall story I wanted my business and website to tell. I’d be lying if I said this was easy; it was pretty difficult for me. The problem is that we get so close to our own business and creations, that we forget to look at it through the eyes of other people.
So, when considering my story, I made sure to leave out anything related to my next promotion or specific product release. I didn’t think about a specific occasion or holiday. (I sell ornaments).
I thought big picture. I thought about the end goal I wanted my customers to achieve. And that, when I really boil it all down, is for them to love handmade ornaments as much as I do. Whether they make themselves, or they buy one from me.
Then, I combed through my blog, post by post, until I had a handful of articles that helped to tell that same story. Doing that gave me email content ideas, and also inspired me to write the very first autoresponder message all about the background of my business: basically, how I got started with my ornament website, and why I love doing it so much.
(What’s funny is that even though there is no “selling” at all in that message, I get the most response to it than any other email I’ve sent. That message is more personal, and it begins my relationship with my new subscriber.)
I filled the rest of my autoresponder with 7 more emails, spaced 2 weeks apart, which are a mix of some of my most popular ornament DIYs from my blog, sprinkled with messages that give my subscribers ideas and inspiration, and even a supply list, for making their own ornaments.
3. I keep it going by sending out a weekly broadcast.
Setting up an autoresponder is awesome, but it doesn’t let you completely off the hook. You’ll still need to send out “broadcast” messages that are more time-relevant to whatever is going on in your business at the moment. These will go out to everyone in your list, no matter where they are at in your autoresponder sequence, and it’s where you’ll send out things like new blog posts, news, sales, etc.
This is the part I always had the hardest time with, because I HATED trying to think of new things to write about every week. (And so, many times, I’d just skip it!) But, I did manage to make it much easier by setting up an editorial calendar for my business.
My editorial calendar breaks down the year into areas of “focus”. I base these areas of focus around whatever season, holiday, special occasion or themes that might be relevant to my ornament business during each time of the year, and then this is what I promote each week.
I know everyone says you have to post “consistently” on your blog (post the “same day”, post “every week”), but you know what? I just absolutely can’t do it. I wish I could, but I can’t.
However…. I still like to send out my email newsletter each week. So, what if I haven’t written a new post that week? What do I send to my list?
I look at my calendar. Even if I haven’t written something new around whatever I’m “focusing” on that week, I have a list of posts from the past that I can re-share.
i.e. Next month I’ll be focusing on Mother’s Day, springtime, etc. I have 2 new posts in the works, but I also have 2 posts from the last 2 years I plan to share. That’s 4 things I can share, giving me 1 email I can send each week. Even though I will only be writing 2 new posts that month.
(I plan the posts I can re-share, I plan the new posts I will write, and I even plan photos I will share on Facebook….. it’s easier than it sounds! Check out my post on creating a marketing calendar if you’re interested.)
So, this is how I’ve been managing my email list lately, and though it took quite awhile to get to this point, the feeling of finally being organized and strategic with my emails, has reduced my overwhelm by a zillion percent.
I hope this post does the same for you.