If you try something new for the first time and you don’t fuck it up, you’re probably not doing it right. Mistakes are natural, normal and help us learn to get better. I’m doing a monthly newsletter full of even more writing tips, competitions, handy writer hacks and news on my progress towards publishing. If you haven’t signed up yet, you can tick that off your list by clicking here. HINT!
I made mistakes. But I’m a writer. So standing up, dusting myself down and picking up the proverbial pen again is in my blood.
When I wrote the post on creating your perfect Author Newsletter I’d already found Mailchimp hard to set up and master. But SO many people said the same thing I knew I had to regroup and share some of the lessons I’d learnt doing my own newsletter.
MISTAKE 1 – NOT SPEAKING THE LINGO
Lists versus Campaigns
Like every social media outlet, Mailchimp has it’s own secret club language. But rather than handshakes, tweets and statuses, it’s lists and campaigns.
When you first set up Mailchimp – you can’t actually begin to collect email addresses without a ‘list’.
I know. I know. It sounds back to front – how can you have a list without email addresses? But for Mailchimp – the first thing you have to do is create a list in which the email addresses you collect will filter into. You have to create a list in order to populate it.
The reason, I assume, is so that you can have one Mailchimp account but multiple subscription lists for different things/projects/clients/books etc.
Before you do anything else – set up your list and name it something obvious like ‘Sacha Black’s Author List’ or whatever, in case you decide later you need an extra list. As far as I can tell (after a quick look) once you name your list, you can’t change it.
A campaign is really just a newsletter or a promo email or whatever you want to send out to your subscribers. For me it’s newsletters.
What’s important to know here, is that 1 campaign = 1 newsletter.
So if you send your newsletter once a month then EVERY month you need to create a new campaign. You can’t reuse a campaign once it has been sent.
MISTAKE 2 – NOT SETTING UP TEMPLATES
If you intend on sending a newsletter or promo regularly then it’s helpful if you don’t have to keep creating your newsletter from scratch. If you want to have totally different content in each newsletter then this won’t help, but I’m guessing even if its just a welcome box and sharing buttons, having it set up as a template will shave a few seconds off. And lets be honest, we’re all busy people, whether its having a toddler attached to your thigh whilst you simultaneously cook, email and iron, or your having a ladies that lunch date, every second counts in this life.
I you want proof it works, because I set up a template, my second newsletter has only taken about an hour to write, populate and link up, where the first took about three.
MISTAKE 3 – SHARING BUTTONS
If you send a newsletter you want it to be read, right? If someone likes it, you want them to share it with other people to in the hope it gets you more subscribers.
Numpty over here *waves*didn’t realise there was a difference between buttons. I really ought to do ‘detail’ more often. Sigh.
Mailchimp has two types of social media buttons:
Big thank you to Debby for pointing this out to me 😀
MISTAKE 4 – AVOIDING THE SPAM FOLDER
Ah the joys of spam. Until I researched it – I had no idea just how many words and innocent actions would get you sent straight to the spam folder.
Apparently the fact I have a gmail account is a big no no, but not having the time or inclination to set up my own personal @me email address I’ll have to make do. The answer is to ask your subscribers to add you to their address book. Short, sweet and an easy solution.
Here are some of the actions that will get you binned:
Going crazy on the email size
Over doing the image balance
Starting the subject line with Re or Fwd or using all caps
There is a huge list of words that will also get you sent straight to the junk folder, have a look at this list or do a quick google.
What mistakes have you made? What other handy tips do you have for newsletters? Let me know in the comments
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