How to Start an Email List in 7 Steps for Free!

August 9, 2019

I'm Chelsy, a single mom in a small town, who loves photographing weddings, and helping photographers build their own businesses

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When you hear the stat that less than 6% of your followers on Facebook and Instagram actually see your posts it can be a little soul-crushing.  We as creatives and small businesses spend so much time working on captions, trying to find images, creating graphics while actually running our business that a stat like that can make you want to throw in the towel and resort to our bedroom to watch an entire season of Gilmore Girls on Netflix because what’s the point anyway?! 

What if I could show you a way that is 10 times more efficient at speaking directly to your clients each and every time, and how to get started for no cost at all! I’m talking about email lists! It sounds scary, but I promise you it’s not!  We will be going over how to get you started completely free! So here we go! 

How to start a email list for free

Step one – pick an email marketing service provider 

Here is where I think you can fall into one of two camps.  Camp one is I want to test this out, see if it’s something that I can even kinda figure out, and I don’t want to spend any money playing around with this.  

Camp two, you know this is something you have been meaning to start, you are confident this is going to thrust your business into the next level all while serving your community right where they are. 

The Debate

If you are in camp one I suggest MailChimp.  MailChimp has a free growth plan up to 2000 subscribers. This is a great option if you are just getting your feet wet, and want to just play around with this form of marketing. 

If you are in camp Two MailChimp can be great, but I would highly suggest checking out ConvertKit.  ConvertKit has such a smoother interface.  You can create a visual overview of your sequences (don’t worry my dear, we will go over what that is in just a moment) which is something I myself kind of need as a creative! The only downside is they don’t have a free plan.  They do have a free trial and you won’t even need to enter a card number to try out! 

I just switched over from MailChimp to ConvertKit about 2 months ago and honestly I wish I would have made the jump a long time ago! 

I’ll be walking ya through MailChimp today so you can get started for free.  It is so simple to transfer your subscriber list from MailChimp to ConvertKit so go ahead and give this platform a chance if you’re on the fence about things. 

Step Two – Create an Opt-In

Don’t overthink this an opt-in is a way of providing the information your client wants in exchange for their email address.  Get my list of 50 opt-in ideas here!

Step Three Create an Audience.

 So inside MailChimp, you need to create an audience first.  This is basically giving a name to this group of people.  So for this example, I’m pretending I run a Gymnastic’s Club, so I’m just calling it Gymnastics.  If I was doing this as a photographer, it could be families, brides, seniors, etc. 

How to create a marketing email list for free

Step Four Create a Landing Page or Form

Next, you will want to click on the create button at the top of the page where you want to click on landing page.  I’m going to name this one Fall Schedule and select a lead generation template. 

How to create a marketing email list for free

First, you will name the page I’m using 2019 fall schedule. Then you will need to pick the URL.  With the free plan, you can’t customize it, but that is totally fine!! Next, we need to edit the audience this is where what list the people who sign up on this form will be assigned to. And finally, its time to edit what the actual page will look like. 

How to create a marketing email list for free

The first thing I did to edit this was to change the heading to “Get Early Access to the Fall Schedule – Be the first to know the class schedule, and get access to early registration”  

This is a great incentive or opt-in for parents of kids wanting to start gymnastics in the fall.  It also can actually help you as a coach to get an idea of how many families are considering attending. 

Step 5 Deliver the Goods!

Now it’s time to get that freebie in the hands of your brand new subscriber! Head over to the create button again and click on the automation email option. For now, let’s just create a single welcome email to deliver what we promised (stay tuned for my post on welcome sequences!) You will be asked to name it and select an audience. 

You can personalize your emails using tags for things like their first and last names! When you are first starting out keep this as simple as possible!  You can hyperlink text to take readers to different pages like facebook or even your opt-in. Once you have added all the content you want to click save and close.  

How to create a marketing email list for free

Step 6 -Start Sending

It’s time to put this out onto the internet for all the world to see, but I highly suggest that you send a test email first! 🙂 Once everything looks dandy, it’s time to click that blue button at the top “start sending” 

How to start an email list for free

Step 7 Build it and they won’t come.

What!? You can’t just toss this out onto the interwebs and expect people to start flocking to it like bees to honey.  You actually have to share this landing page somewhere!  Start with your social media outlets. Share it to Facebook, talk about it on Instagram stories, post it in a swap shop facebook group. Need an extra place to share it, share the link in the comments below! 

There you have it! How to Start an Email List in 7 Steps For Free! 

How to start a email list for free

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