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Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make With Email Marketing

Marketing is one of the biggest challenges to writers … It’s also something I ended up discussing with Bang2writers A LOT last weekend at LondonSWF. I’ve long said the power of email is EVERYTHING, but a lot of you just don’t know where to start. That’s why I am delighted to welcome Jeda to B2W today! Make sure you download her brilliant email marketing checklist. Good luck!

If email marketing sounds like a heinous, impossible and uncomfortable puzzle, fear not! It can actually be a simple and incrediblly effective way to create a thriving communityof readers, fans and potential clients and customers.

As an newbie, though, it’s easy to stumble and get confused. To help you avoid those rookie blunders here are the top 5 mistakes to avoid (and how you can escape them):

1) Not having an email list

Seems obvious, but I come across site after site where writers and even magazinesdon’t have a way to become an email subscriber.

It’s your job to do some marketing and, while social media is a great tool, having subscribers gives you a much more receptive group of people to build your readership and ultimately sell to.

Look, your website is getting traffic. However small that is, once people come through to your site, you have a prime opportunity to stay in touch with them but, when they leave, they may never come back!

Get yourself set up with an email marketing provider – MailChimp is free up to 2,000 contacts, has anti-spam & data protection built in, integrates with most platforms and it’s really easy to use.

Frankly, you’ve got no excuse.

Set aside some time for the small learning curve, and get your email provider set up.

2) Having no freebie (or an unsuitable freebie)

“Subscribe for updates” – BORING! Get creative. Come on, you’re a writer. There are many more interesting ways you can invite people onto your email list. And, when you offer something free in return, people are much more inclined to give up their email.

Here are some ideas of what counts as a freebie (aka lead magnet):

  • Checklist
  • How-to Guide
  • Book extract
  • Workbook
  • Email mini-course (eg 5 days)
  • Discount voucher
  • Video series
  • Webinar (video training)
  • Audio reading
  • Short consultation

Think about who you want on your list. Do you want people who’ll buy your next novel? Or potential clients? Do you write non-fiction, scripts or screenplays?

Lead magnet options are truly endless. You can build your own unique list of people who ‘get’ you, by offering the kind of freebie they’ll love – the more effort you put in now to build a readership, the more successful you’ll be in your writing career.

3) Not giving people bold and easy ways to subscribe

There’s no shortage of areas to place your subscriber forms and call-outs:

  • Your header
  • Plus your blog sidebar
  • Your footer
  • On a top-bar using free apps like Hello Bar
  • In a pop-up using a free app like Sumo
  • On a landing page*

You can use image links or create forms with free apps and create simple landing pages either on your site or with MailChimp(free) or LeadPages(paid).

*A landing page (below) is a stand-alone page, ideally with no header, footer or any other links. People either sign-up or leave (sounds harsh, but it’s very effective – you don’t want people on your list who aren’t that bothered or interested). 

4) Not emailing your list enough

I’m so guilty of this one! I manage to keep my clients regular (ahem!) but I must confess, I’ve not prioritised this for my own list. #beinghuman

Try to be realistic. Unless you’ve got an asisstant or freelancer helping you with your email marketing, then sending out weekly emails is probably a little too optimistic!

At the end of the day, quality over quantity is what matters most.

Maybe aim for fortnightly, or even monthly. To be honest, it doesn’t really matter if you’re sporadic. Your loyal readers will be pleased to hear from you. When possible, try to plan out topics in advance.

The great thing about using an email marketing provider like MailChimp, is that you can set up email sequences and automate them, whether that’s welcome emails, sales sequences or newsletters. Once they’re set up, they run on autopilot.

5) Only talking about yourself

Your subscribers are interested in you and your work, but if you’re only broadcasting your latest achivements and activities or selling your wares, people will get fed up and you’ll lose engaged subscribers fast.

Brainstorm sub-topics around or linked to your current activities that you can share.

  • Can you give tips or share lessons you’re learning as you go along?
  • What topics can you talk about on the lead up to your next book, product or service launch?
  • Can you share other people’s work (this will go down a treat with your writer friends)?
  • What’s happening in your industry?
  • What are you struggling with in your script writing just now?
  • What events are you going to (or would love to go to)?
  • How can you help or give value to your subscribers?

Bang2Write’s blog is a fantastic example of thinking about your ideal readers needs’ before your own. Take this same approach to your email newsletters and marketing, especially before you start selling.

Bonus! Not standing out in their inbox

Industry figures can show that approximately 20 – 30% of your list will actually open your emails.

But don’t let this dissuade you!

The numbers do vary widely from 15 – 60% or higher and people who are opening your emails are your most ideal readers.

So, how can you increase your email open rates?

You need to stand our in their inbox with tempting email Subject lines.

Our inboxes are overflowing – you need to give people a good reason to open your emails. We can look to copywriting to help us out… A key ingrediant for writing persuasive Subject lines is to pique people’s curiosity by giving just a hint of what your email is about. Don’t give everything away. For example:

  • What my main character is teaching me about [topic]
  • I can’t believe I’m enjoying writing this nasty antagonist 😖
  • How to write diverse characters without offending BAME people
  • I didn’t expect this post to go viral
  • How to stop social media eating up all your time
  • Must-see authors at [event]
  • Are you making these 5 mistakes with your email marketing?

Once you get the hang of it, email marketing is great fun. If you loved (or still love) writing letters then writing emails is not that big a leap. Just imagine you’re writing to one person: your ideal reader.

BIO: Jeda Pearl writes fiction, non-fiction and poetry and, as an intuitive copywriter and strategy collaborator, she helps entrepreneurs navigate their stories. Jeda loves piercing through confusion, frustration and fear with compelling words – magnetic language grounded in empathy, honesty and clarity – and building expansive frameworks for creatives who want to DIY their own content. Get her checklist: 7 Vital ingredients to get your email marketing off to a flying start+ access all her freebies in The Vault.

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2 thoughts on “Top 5 Mistakes Writers Make With Email Marketing”

  1. Thanks. I need to take this more seriously. Got to get a (free) website up and running soon, even if I only put out a few shorts and poems. I won’t know if people are interested in my work unless they can see it and respond. Doh!

  2. Hi Di do Plumb, thanks for reading & commenting!
    The great thing is, once your site & email marketing are set-up, you can create an automated series of emails which help introduce you to people and takes the pressure off that need to write a new email every time you get a new subscriber! and Tumblr are great free & easy-to-use platforms. With a free platform, your website address will be http://www.[YourChosenName] so, when able, I think it’s worth paying a few pounds a month for my own domain. But it’s a self-employed business expense – plenty of writers start out using free platforms like WordPress.

    Another place to build an audience is social media (eg, I’ve just started posting poems on Instagram The great thing about MailChimp is they now do free landing pages, so you could put that link on your social media bio, instead of a website. If you’ve got any questions – give me a shout! 🙂

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