Building a mailing list is key to growing your blog

Ask any social media commentator about what is the key to growing a blog or an online business and they will tell you it is establishing and maintaining a mailing list. It’s something that I have been pretty crap at.

I first had a stab at it last year and subscribed to aWeber for something like $20 a month and in three or four months I got something like an underwhelming four subscribers through the on-page form. My online collaborator and general arse kicker when I begin to let some things slip Mike Cliffe-Jones recently posted a piece about mailing lists and I decided it was time to act. My last endeavour didn’t endear me to aWeber – my prejudices, not their fault – so I took some advice from other online chums and opted for MailChimp.

Getting started was an absolute doddle and I quickly had an on-page form that I considered elegant and under-stated – that’s it at the top of column two – but my lack of in-your-face confidence meant that although it was more successful than my first toe in the water I wasn’t crushed to death in the rush. I was also very aware that I hadn’t offered my subscribers anything so I knew I had to start work on creating added value material to make them feel loved and wanted – it’s called the Cuddle Quotient.

Back into the MailChimp Dashboard I worked up a template for a newsletter which meant re-learning some old skills like making transparent GIFs etc, but over a matter of hours I got a colour scheme I was happy with and the overall look of the template was in keeping with my views about Zen Minimalism, less is more etc rather than a gaudy whirlpool of colour that required you to wear sunglasses to read it because it looked as though it had been designed by Stevie Wonder on acid!

Popup Domination

Mike also recommended that I get a pop-up box to encourage people to sign up. Now I don’t know about you but I am wary of these little suckers. One the one hand they are effective because it’s hard to miss them but on the other they interrupt the browsing flow. Putting my fears and prejudices aside I started to look at some WordPress plug-ins for something that would seamlessly interact with MailChimp. I did find one that looked promising but when I filled in all the modules and launched it my god it was an ugly little bugger and took up most of the monitor real estate!

I recalled reading something about a new pop-up service called Popup Domination (affiliate link) which was supposed to be the Mutt’s Nuts (see footnote) so I went to the web site, listened to the blurb and decided that if I was going to being serious about this I had better invest some hard cash and bought the package. As ever installing the WordPress plug in was simplicity itself and within five minutes I was ready to create my own pop up subscription form.

Within a matter of 15 minutes I had decided on the colour scheme, chosen the template, filled in all the bits I was supposed to fill in and that was all there was to it. It really was very, very easy and when I powered up Internet Explorer to test it, the form looked very professional. A word of warning or advice, you may have to juggle the email and name fields, but again this takes 30 seconds.

So now I am waiting to see if Popup Domination is as effective as it is supposed to be. Watch this space.

Footnote: Mutt’s Nuts is a polite version of an old English slang phrase Dog’s Bollocks which means excellent, really good etc.

Kevin Tea is a journalist and marketing communications professional who has worked for some of the leading blue chip companies in the UK and Europe. In the 1990s he became interested in how emerging Internet-based technologies could change the way that people worked and became an administrator on the Telework Europa Forum on CompuServe. With other colleagues he took part in a four year European Commission sponsored project to look at the way that the Internet could benefit remote communities. His blog is a resource for SMEs who want to use cloud computing and Web 2.0 technologies.