Category Archives: Email Marketing

How to Easily Get More Email Subscribers With OptinSkin

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optinskin review

In case you missed it…I’m constantly talking about how my husband is giving me blog advice. Like all the time.

Often times when he rattles off: “Hey babe, you should do {fill in the blank} with your blog”….I give him the side eye.

The really evil side eye. 

Not because I don’t think he’s right {because a lot of times he is – gawd, did I just admit that?}. Mostly because it’s just one more thing to add to my “blogging list of to-do’s”. And if you have a blog…you know the list I’m talking about, right?

Oh my word, it’s never ending. If only I had 23 more hours in a day. Then I could be the blogger I want to be. Bahaha!

When he approached me a few years ago about “starting my email list“…I instantly put my hands over my ears and started singing “row row row your boat….”!

He continued to hassle me about it for 2 years. Oh yes, he is persistent that husband of mine.

So I finally removed my ear muffs and let him fancy me with his “blog advice”. And wouldn’t-cha-know-it he was right again. Darn him.

Email lists are not only important, but they are a vital part of connecting with your audience. I wasted a good few years being too stubborn to start mine, but I am happy to report that I have gone from 0 to almost 3,000 subscribers in just one short year.

One thing I wasn’t super crazy about was the lack of design options when it came to my subscribe box. I adore AWeber, but they just don’t offer a ton of fancy options {and a girl likes fancy I tell ya}. 

I’m not exactly a web designer so creating my own custom subscribe box wasn’t an option for me. Kudos to those of you who can pull that off…can you teach me?

I wanted an easier solution.

In steps….OptinSkin. A WordPress plug in that lets you create custom {AND PRETTY} subscribe boxes! It is a premium plug in so there is a cost to it, but it has saved me hours of frustration.

Just to show you how easy it is to use I filmed this quick tutorial on how I use the OptinSkin WordPress plug in on my site, House of Rose.


Do you have an email newsletter? If so, what do you use to customize your subscribe boxes? 

If you are interested in setting up an email newsletter then check out Starting An Email Newsletter 101.

Starting an Email Newsletter 101: All You Need To Know To Get Your Newsletter Going

Starting a Newsletter 101

email newsletter

Have you ever heard other bloggers say, “It’s all in the email list!”

I spent over 3 years hearing my husband make claims that I needed to start an email list for House of Rose. THREE LONG YEARS I didn’t listen to the man.

Mainly because I didn’t view my blog as a business or as “worthy” of anything more than an online family journal.

Finally, one day, roughly 6 short months ago, I decided to take his advice and start my “list” {as they call it in the online space}.

So today I thought it would be a good opportunity to share with you the “WHY” behind starting my list, as well as showing you “HOW” easy it is to set up.

Here’s to hoping your skull isn’t as thick as mine and it doesn’t take you 3 long years to take good advice {picture me holding a glass of wine and toasting to your wonderful thick skull.} 

What is a E-mail Newsletter and Why Do You Need To Have One? 

First, let me specify that I am not talking about print newsletters {although I am sure those are fabulous too}…I am going to specifically be discussing email newsletters.

First let’s address, “What is an email newsletter?” 

An email newsletter is a way to offer your readers a way to subscribe to get emails from you. Those emails can contain a lot of different kinds of information and, most often, they contain additional things that you don’t include on your website. A way to give your readers a deeper insight into YOU and your brand/image/blog.

*An important thing to note is that this is completely different than someone signing up to your RSS feed. I want to make that clear. I hear this statement all of the time: “I already have an email subscription option through my RSS feed.”

Yes, that is true, if you are using Feedblitz through your FeedBurner account {or some other feed subscription service} then you do have the ability to offer your readers an email subscription. But THAT email subscription ONLY allows your readers to have your blog posts delivered directly to their inbox. ONLY your blog posts. Nothing more.

The email newsletter is completely separate from the content you provide on your blog. Let’s call it “additional content” per say.

Why is that good? Because it allows you to email your readers whatever you want to, whenever you want to! Score!

Confused yet? Pssst, this ain’t nothing compared to some other posts we have written.

Moving on…….

Are you wondering, why worry about trying to get readers to subscribe to your newsletter if they already signed up for your RSS feed?

Awesome. I wondered that same thing for three long years {insert thick skulled blogger<<<aka<<<<ME}.

The reason is simple…because you have the ability to COLLECT email addresses.

Yes, when someone signs up for your newsletter they are subscribing by entering their email address. RSS feed does not allow you to “collect” email addresses.

3 reasons why collecting email addresses is so important

I’m sure the most frequent answer you will hear to this question is: “Because the money is in the list!”

That is an expression that has been thrown around since the beginning of email-list-time.  I’m not going to disagree with it completely, although I’d like to address {later on in the post} why that should absolutely NOT be the focus or the “WHY” behind starting your email list.

1| Deeper Connection with Your Readers

First things first, it’s a great way connect with your readers on a more one-on-one or personal platform. Don’t you feel way more connected to someone through email rather than through reading a general blog post?

2| It Never Goes Away

Another great thing to keep in mind is that an email list will never die! I’m sure you’ve heard my husband complain about Google’s Panda or Penguin updates {the ones that made him lose over 70% of his traffic in 2011}. Well guess what? When you collect email addresses you will always have a way to communicate with your readers…even if Google comes out with some new animal update. Ahem. 

3| Money is in the List (with patience)

Let’s address the money issue. I whole-heartedly believe that the money CAN be in the list. But it has to be done right. Just like blogging, if your sole purpose it to make money? You will most likely fail.

Same goes with the list. If you are starting an email list with the sole purpose of profiting in some way? You will lose.

Your desire has to be more than blasting out affiliate links or trying to push your latest e-book. Although the email list CAN be a good marketing tool when selling things…you have to remember there has to be more to it.

In my opinion, an email list allows you to build relationships with your audience. You are able to gain their trust by offering helpful tips or tutorials. By sharing real life stories. By being transparent about your ups and downs.

Once you do that, and you gain the trust of your subscribers…then it’s not big deal if you ask them to buy through one of our affiliate links or promote one of your new books. They will WANT to help you since you have helped them for so long.

Alright, now that you see the importance of starting your email list…let me show you how easy it is to set up.

 How to Start Your Newsletter

1. Sign Up For AWeber

There are many options out there, but AWeber is, BY FAR, my favorite choice when it comes to newsletter subscription services. Head over to AWeber and sign up for an account.

Click “Order”

Starting an Email List with Aweber

It even allows you to create a trial account for $1. How’s that for a test drive? ;)

email marketing newsletter with Aweber

 

2.  Set Up Your Email List

After you register for an AWeber account and sign in you will be directed to your control panel. This is where you are going to set up your first email list. Woot woot!

You will need to click on “Create and Manage Lists” and then “Create a New List”.

Follow the prompts to enter in your personal information, including the name of your list and list description. For example, our list name would be dollarsandroses. You can name it anything you want since this is more for you to identify with then anyone else.

aweber tutorial

**Note: it will ask you to enter your address. The address you enter will show up on all emails that are sent out so it’s important that you know that. We use our business address so that our personal address does not get distributed. If you don’t have a business address – that’s fine, you can use your personal address. If that makes you uncomfortable you may want to consider using a different address.

You will need to personalize your list by adding a company name {which can be the name of your blog}, website url, and email signature. It also gives you the option of uploading your logo or header.

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3. Set Up Your Confirmed Opt-In Email 

This is where I started getting glossy eyed. But I promise, it only sounds confusing. It’s not hard to understand. Stay with me.

The Confirmed Opt-In email is what will get sent out to the reader immediately after they subscribe to your newsletter. There is a link in the email that is used to confirm that the person is human {and not some alien – aka spammer} and that they are interested in joining your email list.

There is a template email that you can use to send out, but I prefer to customize it so it’s a little more personal.

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Here’s an example of what our Dollars and Roses Confirmed Opt-In email says…

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4. Set Up Your Success Page

Underneath your Confirmed Opt-In email message you will see a section called “Success Page”.

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You will want to insert a URL back to your website in this space. The URL you insert here is where readers will be taken after they have clicked on the confirmation link in the email.

My suggestion is to create a “new page” on your own blog. The new page should welcome the reader to your newsletter and thank the person for their confirmation. You also may want to ask the subscriber to “white list” your email address so it will not be blocked by spam filters.

I also like to link to my most popular articles and to my social media pages.  You can see an example of my House of Rose success page here.

5. Create a Follow Up Message

Understanding a Follow Up message is easier than it sounds. Think of a Follow Up message as a pre-written email. You can create a series of Follow Up messages that are pre-written and can be sent out in different time intervals to your subscribers. The first Follow Up message is always a welcome message that the subscriber will receive immediately after they have clicked the confirmation link.

You have probably heard these Follow Up messages referred to as “autoresponders”. Essentially, that is what they are. They are automatic emails that are pre-written, by you, and sent out to the subscribers in a time interval set by you.

Jeff currently has 30 pre-written emails set up to be sent out every 15 days. It doesn’t matter when someone signs up, they will automatically be taken through the series of emails from the very beginning. I am still working on building my Follow Up messages so I currently only have 5 pre-written emails set up. This is something that takes time to create and I would suggest adding one new Follow Up message a week to your series.

To add a new Follow Up message simple click on “Messages” at the top toolbar and then click on “Follow Up”.

Click “Add New Follow Up Message” to create your first Welcome Email.

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 6. Create a Welcome Email

The welcome message is essentially the very FIRST email that your new subscribers will receive so it’s important that you “welcome” them to your list.

It’s a good idea to include a thank you message in this first email as well.

You may also want to set your subscribers expectations. In other words, what can they expect to get out of your newsletter and how often will they receive it. Don’t forget to include links to your social media pages and a way for them to contact you. Remember this is all about becoming personal…so you want them to have easy access to you.

When you go to start writing your welcome message you will see that you have the choice of writing in plain text format or html format.

If you want to “spruce” up your newsletter then you will need to explore the html format. There are templates to choose from and you will also have the ability to change the font, make things bold, etc.

If you aren’t too concerned about being fancy then you can choose to write your emails in plain text. This is the preferred method suggested by Aweber.

7. Test, Test, Test…

It’s very important to send yourself a test message after you finish writing your first email. This will allow you to see EXACTLY what your subscribers will be receiving.

No surprises. Plus, this is a great way to re-read and edit your messages before they are sent to thousands. When you are under Follow Up Messages you will see the list of messages. Next to each message you will see Spam, Test, Copy, Delete.

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To test your message just choose “Test” and you can send it to any email address you want. 

If you test it and decide that you want to change something, no fear. You can go back in and edit the message at any time. Just make sure you “Save” so that the changes will take effect.

8. Create Your Web Form

The web form or email opt-in is what you will place on your site to collect email addresses. Here is the web form we currently use for our sidebar…

Join our newsletter

…and here is one we use on our “Income Reports” page.
Sign up for our newsletter

As you can see, they are both very different. That is the beauty of web forms, you can customize them however you want. Keep in mind that if you are using a web form for your sidebar then you will want it to be smaller than one you would use on a blog post or page.

Click on “Web Form” at the top of the page.

Then click “Create A New Web Form”.

create an email list with Aweber

You will have the ability to choose different colors, sizes, fonts, etc. to create your own form. There are plenty of templates you can customize. My suggestion is to play around with them until you find a design you like.

Follow the prompts to customize your web form.

Once you are satisfied with how it looks then you can customize your “Basic Settings”.

aweber email list

You can name your form anything you want. The purpose of the name is to help you keep track of the different forms you create. Under “Thank You Page” you can choose “Custom” and direct people to the URL of the thank you page you created earlier. Remember? ;)

If you’ve been slacking {ahem} and haven’t set up your thank you page yet then you can choose “Basic Version” and Aweber will send them to a generic page that lets the subscriber know that an email will be sent their way that contains a confirmation link they must click in order to verify their subscription to the newsletter.

9.  Grab the Code

You have finished designing your web form, customized your basic settings and now you will need to grab the code that you insert into your site that will allow your form to be visible to your readers.

Please do not only read “code” here and X out of the screen. It’s SIMPLE. Pinky promise.

Even if your degree is not in html coding.

Under the “Publish” tab click on “I Will Install My Form”.

aweber email list

You will have the choice of grabbing the “Javascript Snippet” or the “Raw HTML Version”.

I would recommend choosing the “Javascript Snippet” because if you go back to Aweber and update/change your forms, it automatically updates on your site without you having to reinstall the code.

Copy the code that looks like this:

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You will want to paste this code in to your site wherever you want your web form to show up.

Here is how to install it if you have a WordPress Blog. 

If you want the web form to appear on a certain page or blog post then paste the code into the Text tab for the post/page. The Text tab is right next to the Visual tab in the right hand corner of your post/page.

aweber email list to gain new subscribers

If you want the web form to show up in your sidebar than you will need to paste the code in to a “Text Widget”.

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 *Tip: If you want the web form to be centered, just add <center> to the front of the code and </center> to the end. 

PHEW! Are you exhausted yet?! You can relax now because YOU ARE DONE!

Trust me, you will be so happy you set this up.

Start growing your list! 

Interested in trying out AWeber?  Sign up for a $1 trial account now.

How To Set Up A Free Email Address Branded To Your Domain

How to setup email address with your domain name Are you ready to look like a blogging professional?

Do you ever get an email from someone and notice that they have an email that is: thiername@thierdomain.com.

And wonder how in the heck did they get that email address?

For example: jeff@goodfinancialcents.com or mandy@houseofroseblog.com.

Sounds pretty legit, right?

Well, guess what…it’s so super easy to set up that even YOU can do it.

Yes YOU. I’m talking to YOU.

How to Set Up a Free Email Address with Go Daddy

First, let me say this, when you set this email up you can sync it with your gmail account so that you can still manage all of your emails from one email account.

1. Go to GoDaddy {if this is where you purchased your domain}. If you did not purchase your domain from GoDaddy then you did not listen to us will not be able to use this tutorial.

2. Click on “My Accounts”.

3. Click on “Email”.

4. Under “Free Email Plans” click on “Set Up”.

5. Find your domain in the drop-down menu and select it. Click “Set Up”.

6. Now you will want to refresh your browser. You will then see “New Account” and you will click “Launch”.

7.  A new browser will open and you will see your domain listed. Click “Add”.

8. Enter your desired email address {yourname@yourdomain.com}. Set and confirm your password. Before you click ok you will want to click on the “advanced” tab. This is where you will forward it to your gmail account. In the “Send cc to” box enter your email account that you want the emails forwarded to. Click “Ok”

You will see “pending set-up”. It takes a few hours to get it set up.

Syncing It With Gmail

1. Log in to your gmail account.

2. Click on “Settings”

3. Click on “Accounts and Imports”

4. Find where it says “Add another email address that you own” and click on it.

5. Type in your new email address and click “Next Step”.

6. Choose “Send through Gmail” and click “Next Step”.

7. Click “Send Verification”

8. Once you receive the verification code then just copy and paste the code in to the box and click “Verify”.

Now you look legit too! Thank me later.

The Biggest Mistake I Made When I First Started Blogging and How You Can Avoid It

email marketing with AweberWhen I first started Good Financial Cents in 2008, it didn’t take long for me to see some immediate results.  It’s not because I knew what I was doing, but I had some other blogging friends that showed me the ropes. There’s nothing like having some good mentors to help you along the way.

I was able to pick up the concept of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) pretty quickly, and because of that I was able to rank fairly highly for some competitive keywords. There were some days when I was getting over 5,000 visitors to my site a day, which is fairly impressive for a new blog.

So with all the early successes I had, you might be wondering how did I screw up?

I didn’t realize how big the mistake was until my site got hit by Panda in April 2010.

*If you are unfamiliar with Panda, Google Panda was a change to Google’s search results ranking algorithm that hit back in February of 2011. 

What was the big mistake?

I wasn’t actively recruiting e-mail addresses for my newsletter.

Still trying to make sense of the effects of Panda, I quickly realized how Google can take away your readers in the blink of an eye. I realized that without collecting their e-mail addresses when they visited the blog, they were as good as gone after Panda.

If I would have had some type of email subscription service up on my blog where readers could enter their email then I would have still had a way to contact these readers that all the sudden went M.I.A. Thank you very much Google. *insert sarcastic grin

Sign Up Here, There, and Everywhere

If you go to my site now, you’ll notice I have e-mail subscription boxes all over the front page, on my about page, and I also have them on various landing pages throughout the site.

If you’re starting a site; even if it’s brand new, I would encourage you to start collecting e-mail addresses.

You never know when someone might pop over to your site for the first time, and without giving them that option to stay connected, they might not bite.

Best Email Newsletter Service

Aweber is the e-mail service that I’ve been using, and have been quite satisfied with.  In a future post, I will show you some of the analytics that I use via Aweber to determine when to send emails, and also how to set up an auto-responder series that gets you the most success.

Note:  Aweber is a paid service.  There are free services that exist, but they do not have the auto-responder feature.  I’ll explain for on this in a future post, but it definitely makes Aweber worth it.

If you do, then definitely sign up for Aweber.

Even if you don’t know what you are going to use it for.   Getting emails addresses will be huge whenever you want to promote a certain project or product you’re working on, or if you enter into an affiliate relationship you think will be beneficial to your readers.

If you have a decent readership then remember,  you never know when Panda will bite again. Be proactive!