Yesterday, I teased a few of you by claiming that I made $463 in 15 minutes from my newsletter.
If you are patient enough and read through this post (and follow me through my newsletter), you will learn how I did it.
Most people agree that we all as bloggers, need a newsletter. I wasn’t part of the majority at first, but now I am a believer). However, most of you keep asking:
How the hell are you making money with your mailing list?
The answer will come, just bear with me for a few more minutes. But just to make sure you are with me, here’s proof of what I’m saying:
You can see that my affiliate sales show $471 for “Today’s 50 Top Trending Stocks for the period of Jan 1st to Jan 24th. So I already lied to you with the title of my email, it’s not $463, I made $471! The best part is that I will keep making money throughout the year with the same affiliate program. This is obviously the very definition of passive income!
But once again, how the hell can you make money with your mailing list????
I told you to be patient because I know this post is long. Because the truth is that you can’t just start running around like a chicken with his head cut off and make money with your mailing list. To be honest, this was my first attempt to monetize the DGB newsletter with an affiliate link in one of my mailings. I wasn’t too sure how to set it up and didn’t want to burn my audience. My Aweber dashboard is showing me an opening rate of 74.21%, a click through rate of 62.08% and a 0.465% unsubscribe rate (10 out of 2152) and 0% complaint rate (because Aweber doesn’t allow you to use their software for spammy reasons). So I guess that I did my job right and made money in a good way.
But before you can do that… there are a lot of things to accomplish first!
The first step has nothing to do with your readers but everything to do with yourself. Personally, this was the hardest step of them all. I’ve been wondering a lot about what kind of content I should include in my newsletter that would not be redundant for RSS & Blog readers. I also wanted to find a way to provide exclusive content that would be complimentary to my blog.
In fact, the newsletter is like a second blog within your blog! So you need to clearly establish what you want to write in your newsletter and what you want to write on your blog. Make sure to create an incentive for people to a) read your blog and b) subscribe to your newsletter. This is why I haven’t change my way of writing or choice of topics on The Dividend Guy Blog and decided to provide more technical stuff and stock lists in my newsletter. This is how I was able to successfully separate my blog from my newsletter.
I use my newsletter for the following purposes:
– Give eBooks to my readers
– Offer stock lists and website resources (free)
– Ask my readers for feedback (through surveys or quick questions)
– Provide more technical concepts (such as the different ways of calculating Payout Ratio)
On my blog, I write about the following topics:
– Dividend stock analysis
– Sector analysis
– Stock market commentary
– Investing strategy (leveraging, moving average, etc)
As you can see, I’m able to make a clear distinction between my blog and newsletter. It makes it easier for my readers too!
Once you know where you are going with your blog and newsletter (this is also called having a direction), you can start building your readership. You can attack 2 sides of the same problem:
a) Growing your Blog readership and then sending them to your newsletter
b) Growing your mailing list directly through incentive posts on your blog (such as my Best 2012 Dividend Stocks article)
I guess you already know the basics of growing your blog readership (playing the SEO game, doing guest posts, commenting on other blogs, being active on social media, connecting with other bloggers, submitting your stuff to carnivals, etc.). But I guess that it’s a bit tougher if you want to grow your newsletter readership (it has been for me anyway!).
I’ve used several techniques to grow my mailing list but the most successful was to offer a free eBook to get it (read the full post about it here). Here are other great techniques you can use:
– Host a contest (you get tons of new subscribers but they might very well cancel after 2 emails!)
– Make your mailing list box visible (just look at the DGB printscreen):
– Plug your newsletter whenever you have a chance (mention it at the end of each article, and link to it whenever you have something relevant such as “this question came from George, a newsletter subscriber).
– Write about what is coming up on your newsletter (I’ve used this to tease my audience, especially for TFB, and it works pretty well too!).
What can you expect from these techniques? How many subscribers is a good number? Here’s what I have experienced so far with the DGB newsletter. This is another screen you can get from Aweber that help you see the progression of your newsletter:
As of January 2011, I had only 203 subscribers. As of January 25th, 2012, I have 2,456 subscribers. The major change was definitely due to the fact that I now require people sign-up before downloading my eBook (October 2011 and January 2012). Since then, I’m getting an average of 20 new subscribers per day. Can you imagine how fast this will grow in 2012?
Yeah… okay… I didn’t invent this one, I know! It is obvious that if you want to do business with someone, you first have to earn his trust. This is true for any kind of business. But how can you gain trust from someone who you are not directly talking to? Unless you have a few email conversations with your reader, you don’t really know who he is and if he really trusts you to any extent. Since you can’t discuss with everybody by email, engaging the conversation via this media is not the best way to earn the trust of 2000+ individuals!
Some people use their newsletter to plug in roundups or previous articles they have written. I don’t think it’s a bad idea per se, but this is not how to build trust with your audience!
The way I’ve built trust with mine was by sending a series of great articles including great content and absolutely no promotions. I actually do the same thing with my newsletter that I send to clients at my day job. I never mention any of my products or services. I just write good articles with a lot of “what’s in it for me” points for the readers. The point here is to add value each time someone opens your newsletter. You want to create that hype from your readers where they will be looking forward to receive your new stuff.
I also put my subscribers at the top of my list when I want to offer something. For example, when I produced my 2012 Best dividend stocks eBook, I sent them the download link before I even mentioned that the book is available on my site.
All right, press fast forward on your time machine and teleport yourself 6 months later (or simply bookmark this artcle 😉 ). You have a solid mailing list of 500 subscribers (at least!) that follow you and are eager to read your newest articles. We are still down to the very same question:
How the hell are you making money with your mailing list?
The answer is quite simple. By using affiliate links ;-). However, it’s useless to simply “plug and play” any product in your newsletter. Believe it or not, your readers are far from being stupid and they became BS detector pros after being bombarded by advertisements every single day of their life.
This is why you need to talk about products that YOU use and YOU like. If you don’t do that, forget about this whole strategy; you will end-up hitting to the brick wall. I personally like INO products as they help me make technical analysis before I buy a stock. Therefore, it’s not a problem for me to offer for free, a list of 50 top trending stocks. So INO pays me for each lead and my readers have the opportunity to take a look at the best trending stocks on the market. WIN-WIN situation and everybody is happy ;-).
The most interesting part of this strategy is that you can make money forever with the very same email. Say what? While the bulk of my income has been done when I first sent this email, I will continue to make money out of it because… the very same email will be sent to all my new subscribers in the future.
How crazy is that? That’s another AWESOME option offered with Aweber! You can either send a “broadcast” (which is a one time email sent to your current subscribers) or send a “follow-up” message (which will be sent to all your subscribers that will eventually join your newsletter).
The “broadcast” mode is perfect when you want to write a timely email such as announcing a contest or forwarding important news. But if your article is timeless, you can use the “follow-up” mode. The follow-up mode will automatically send your article to subscribers after a specific time determined by you. Therefore, you can create your series of articles and send them to your subscribers every 15 days. Take a look at what I have as “follow-up” with The Financial Blogger at the moment:
So if you subscribe today, in 2 days, you will get my “Do You Know How Dividend Investing Works?” email. 7 days later, you will receive the “No BS” email, and so on.
This technique allows you to:
#1 create a funnel of trust
#2 make sure everybody gets your previous exclusive content
#3 make sure that you have a shot at making money with everybody (KATCHING!)
All right, if your eyes are not burning yet, it’s because you are not human ;-). I’m leaving you with enough work to book your entire month, lol!
However, I’m not done on the topic just yet. I’ll actually continue this series in my newsletter in the upcoming week (don’t forget to subscribe 😉 ). I want to create a “step by step” series on building your newsletter and how to do it. And of course, I’ll add this series to my “follow-up” messages ;-D
Send me your questions if there is anything that’s not clear so far!
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