There are numerous companies that offer email services for blogs and newsletters. Some of the more popular are Mailchimp, Mad Mimi, Aweber. They can sound very intimidating (I know, I was intimidated – OK, I still am a little) but I am going to walk you through starting up with Mailchimp in this episode of Blogging 101. We’ll cover the basics of setting up your account and importing your email list. In another post I will walk you through setting up and sending your very own newsletter.
Setting up your account.
First I want to share that unless you have over 2000 subscribers and send out over 12,000 emails a month (at 2,000 subscribers, that would mean sending out 6 emails a month for a total of 12,000 “sends”) – you can use Mailchimp absolutely free! For most of us beginning (or intermediate) bloggers, this is a great deal and all that we need. So let’s begin at the beginning.
Go to Mailchimp.com and sign up with your email address, a user name and password. Then, you will receive an email to activate your account. Go ahead and do it now. Next Mailchimp will ask you some questions to fill out your account profile. You need to be sure and put in your website URL and your actual address. The federal government implemented some procedures to help stop email spam, and part of that is an actual physical address of all companies sending out email and an unsubscribe button. There are some bloggers who put in things like “somewhere in the middle of Montana”, but the reality is that this is a federal regulation and you do NOT want to get on the bad side of the government! So I recommend you put in an actual physical address or PO Box number that you own.
Once you have gotten all this filled out and clicked on the Submit button, you are all set and ready to begin! I suggest you follow the prompts and go into your Account Settings and work through each of the tabs. I especially suggest that you include a cell phone for account security in case your account gets hacked.
The email list is the bloggers link to followers and community. In years past it was the RSS Feed, but no longer. With the death of the Google Reader (and even before), it is much better for you to have your followers sign up with their emails. This allows many options for you to get your content right to their inboxes. If you are absolutely new to this and have 0 email subscribers, you will be starting off fresh. You will skip the step on importing the list and jump right to putting the subscribe box on your blog.
For those of you who have used Feedburner and are just moving it all over to Mailchimp, you’ll want to go to my post on exporting your Feedburner subscriber list. Once you’ve done this and have your list on your computer, then come on back and we’ll finish up with importing it to Mailchimp. Go ahead and do it now…I’ll wait! 😀
Go to your Mailchimp dashboard and click on LIST on the left hand sidebar. And then in the upper right corner you will see a pointer pointing to Create List. Click there.
First, give the list a Name: subscriber list, or Newsletter subscribers, or whatever you want to call it. Then you get to fill in the information that your followers will see when they RECEIVE your emails.
- Put in your email in the “Default ‘from’ email” space (I use the email for my blog).
- The name you want to use as the sender in the “Default ‘from’ name” – I use Teaching What Is Good there.
- In the “Remind people” box, you want to say something like: “You are receiving this email because you signed up for my email subscription.”
Then double check the Blog name and address for accuracy and click how often you want to receive an email when someone new subscribes to your email list – and Save it.
Importing the list.
This part is easy peasy. You will now be on the Lists page, click on Add subscribers and there will be a dropdown box – click on Import subscribers.
At this point you have many options to choose from, most of which are a mystery to me. All you need to know is that you are going to click on the very first box:
Import from CSV or text box.
Simply follow the prompts to Browse and find the file on your computer that you already exported from Feedburner (see previous tutorial). Click on that file and click Upload List. At this point you will be shown lots of boxes with information in them. You can import any or all of those boxes. I generally only choose to
- Save the Email box,
- the First Name box,
- the Last Name box and
- the Confirm Time box.
The last one tells you when their email was confirmed as real – it helps you know how long someone has been following you. So, go ahead and click Save on each of those fields you want in your new subscriber list. Then click Complete Import.
Once you have a list created with subscribers but want to import more subscribers from a CSV document, be sure to check the box that says: Auto-update my existing list. This little function does a double check so you don’t add the same subscriber more than once.
You can ask Mailchimp to email you when the import is complete.
Adding the Subscriber box to your website.
We are almost finished! Take a breath! In-out, in-out! Maybe a cup of tea? I know that by the time I got to this point, I was really stressed. But I was doing this on my own and was CERTAIN I was breaking the internet!!!
You are back to the Mailchimp dashboard and you should see Signup forms. Click on that and then click on Select under Embedded Forms.
Here is where you can go to town! Make your form as simple or as elaborate as you’d like. I prefer to keep mine simple and minimalistic, but I do want them to have the option of giving me their first name if they want. I choose Classic and click the Only Required Fields. This shows a very small form on my site, but opens up with great options for them to fill out. Click on the Form Builder link to put in whatever fields you would like. I will leave this all to you to play around with.
When it finally comes to putting the code on your site, it is all there in the box. You simply copy it and paste it into your widget on your sidebar (or header or footer, wherever you want it to be). I generally set the form width to slightly smaller than my sidebar width so there will be no overflow.
Be sure you check to make sure it works on your site by signing up for your subscription. This is just the very basic of basics. But it should be enough to get you up and running with Mailchimp.
You have set up your Mailchimp account, imported your subscriber list and set a sign up form on your blog! Great job!