OLD POST ALERT! This is an older post and although you might find some useful tips, any technical or publishing information is likely to be out of date. Please click on Start Here on the menu bar above to find links to my most useful articles, videos and podcast. Thanks and happy writing! – Joanna Penn
What is list-building?
You offer something of value for free in exchange for an email address. You can set up auto-responders which are automatic emails that go out directing the person to more useful information.
This is permission marketing. You have given something to the person and in exchange asked permission to send them more useful information.
List building is NOT list-buying. It's the growth of your own list over time in exchange for something of value.
What is the point of having a list?
If you have people's email addresses, and you are a trusted provider of useful information, people will open and read your emails. This means you can use the email list to market your books (if the list has been set up for that purpose).
Imagine how powerful it is to have a list of 10,000 people and to send an email saying “My book is available now. Click here to buy”. This is the basis of all the Amazon bestseller campaigns which generally use other people's lists. If you build one yourself, you have a much more targeted list and you are a trusted provider to those people. Remember, if people know, like and trust you, they are more likely to buy your book.
How do you build a list?
You need to have something to give away for free that is:
- Valuable and useful to people
- Related to your product/book
Once you have that, you set up an email signup box like the one for the Author 2.0 Blueprint (top right). People enter their email and then get the free product.
It is very important to use a reputable service that:
- manages this all for you automatically and is scalable (yes, you could have 50,000+ subscribers within a few years!)
- lets people to unsubscribe easily (mandated by anti-spam laws)
- enables you to send out broadcasts when you like as well as setting up auto-responders
- enables you to manage and download your list
- enables you to set up multiple lists from one account
After you have set up the mechanism for sign-up and a great free offer, you then drive people to the list using the usual traffic building activities like blogging, social networking etc.
What free giveaway can you use?
As authors, we are uniquely placed to offer some great free giveaways as we produce quality information relatively easily. It is also very important that you giveaway something that is related to what you are selling. There's no point in giving away an ebook on finance if you want to sell romantic fiction on your blog.
Here are some ideas for your free giveaway:
- First 3 chapters of your book, or a short story, or the first novella in a series of 3
- Top 10 tips for <insert your niche here> e.g. Top 10 tips for growing organic tomatoes/ Top 10 tips for writing fantasy
- Audio of you reading your work, or talking about the subject you are writing about
- Blueprint or manual for a product
- For fiction authors, check this post for more ideas.
The most important thing to remember is…
You want to be a valuable resource to people, either for information or entertainment. You do not want to be seen as a spammer. So give away great information, offer quality on a regular basis for free and people will be happy to buy from you when you have something they are interested in. Don't send unrelated offers. Don't abuse the list or they will unsubscribe. It's all about respect.
Image: Flickr CC Ebby