MailChimp 101 - Part 1: How to Set It Up
If you are serious about writing and blogging, you probably already know that you have to start collecting emails from your readers, for you must have heard this over and over again — email list is the most precious thing you can have, start growing it NOW!
The main benefit of having an email list is the ability to reach your readers directly and let them know what’s going on without having to pay for ads and promotion.
There are many services you can use to collect emails and send newsletters to your subscribers. The best ones can be quite costly but MailChimp is not and might thus be the best option for upcoming bloggers and writers who have to stay on a (usually nonexistent) budget.
MailChimp is the world’s largest email subscription platform and as such also highly reliable. It’s integrated into most anything you’ll ever need — from major website, ecommerce, and POD platforms to Upscribe, an email subscription form created especially for Medium (where I blog).
This alone will save you time, for thanks to these integrations your email list will be automatically synced and you won't have to manually take care of importing the new subscribers' emails.
Another major benefit of MailChimp is that it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers. That's more generous than most other platforms, and for a starving writer who is constantly short on time and money these are good enough reasons for choosing MailChimp over other platforms.
But there is always 'but' to it. In the case of MailChimp, the issue is that it is not the most user friendly platform that was ever made and it takes some learning before one gets the hang of it. In that respect, it can be a bit of a pain comparing to the alternatives.
Hence, here is your how-to guide!
Start by creating a list
Open a MailChimp account and start by creating your first list. If you are planning on collecting emails from several sources (your blog as well as ebooks, for example) it's best to create separate lists for each. That's how you'll be able to monitor how many subscribers you've got from each source, and also make it easy to send emails with different content to different lists.
Here is how you create a list — on the top left menu, select ‘Lists’ and then click ‘Create List.’ This will not only allow you to create a list, but also make it possible for you to add and manage subscribers, create signup forms, design new campaigns, and send newsletters.
Clicking ‘Create List’ will open a form you’ll have to fill out. MailChimp doesn’t warn you about this, but the information in this form will be automatically included in every email you'll send to your subscribers.
So give it some thought and keep in mind that this is NOT private information for your own personal use — it will be seen by your subscribers.
The ‘List name’ is the only thing in that form that will not be shared and included in your newsletter. Use it to keep track of where these subscribers came from and what they expect (e.g. your website, ebook signup form, etc.)
The rest of the fields will be automatically included in your newsletters. 'Default From email address,’ for instance, is needed because MailChimp sends these emails in your name. Thus, you need to put in an email you are willing to share with your subscribers.
Same goes for ‘Default From name’ — if you send newsletters as a writer, put in your real or pen name, and if you run a publication or blog under a brand name, of course use that instead.
The next section ‘Remind people how they signed up for your list’ will be included in the newsletter’s footer, next to the unsubscribe option and other information that have to be there as required by law. Here, you just need to tell the readers where they subscribed (e.g. on your blog, after reading your ebook, etc).
Don’t forget to click ‘Save’ when you’re done!
The GDRP fields option
The last section of the form is about double opt-in and GDPR options. While the double opt-in option is easy to understand (your subscribers will have to confirm the subscription over email), GDPR is a new regulation for the users from the European Union (EU).
MailChimp explains this in detail on its website. In short - the new regulations is applicable to anyone who have subscribers in the EU. It made it mandatory for those who collects personal information to fully disclose the exact use of these information.
In the case of a small subscription list of a writer who’s barely starting out, this is really simple — all you need to include in your subscription form is a short statement that you are going to collect the names and/or emails for a single purpose of sending your subscribers a newsletter.
Simply specify what information exactly your are going to collect and how exactly you are going to use it. If, for instance, you are running a business that involves collecting IP addresses or sharing personal information with others, you have to make that clear too.
Here is an example of such form.
Now that you have created your first list you also have to take care of its settings. Good news is that you will only have to do this once, bad news is that you will have to do it separately for each and every list you'll create.
Start by clicking the ‘List name and defaults’ on 'Settings' menu.
This will open a number of useful options, such as reCAPTCHA form and automatic welcome email option. The latter can come in handy if you offered an incentive, such as a free ebook. You can use this option to automatically deliver the link to it whenever someone new subscribes.
Again, don’t forget to save the changes.
Finally, go back to ‘Settings’ and click ‘Required email footer content.’
In the ‘Required email footer content’ form scroll all the way down and insert the link to the website where people subscribed to your list. Save and you’re done.
That's it, you created your first list and are thus ready to start building signup forms and sending emails to your subscribers.
Continue to the next post for a guide to building signup forms.
Cover image: kamboopics
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