I’ve said it so many times, but I’ll repeat it again now: my email list is my best business investment and I highly encourage you to start building your own as soon as possible. However, I fully understand that not everyone can afford a monthly email marketing service. So, if the cost is putting you off starting, here’s how to get started for free while you build your business.
Why You Should Prioritise List Building In Your Business
- Your list wil help you develop deeper relationships with your readers,
- Your list gives you a more direct way to contact your readers,
- Your list is something you control,
- Your list means you can make more money as an affiliate,
- Every dollar you spend on list building will pay off multiple times.
I can attribute a huge portion of my online business income to a small list, which is why I encourage everyone to start building theirs as soon as possible. Don’t let the cost put you off!
What I Use for Email Marketing
Before I get to the free options, I want to be totally upfront and let you know that I don’t use any of these. However, I have used MailChimp* in the past and have recommended it to my husband and other business owners who are just getting started.
Option 1: Make Your Email List Pay for Itself With A Free Trial
If you’ve got an established blog with an existing audience then you could start with a free trial, run a special offer, and then use that money to pay for ongoing email marketing expenses. This is obviously not guaranteed if you have no money, but I wanted to put it out there as an idea if there’s a special offer you think you could run.
Option 2: Free Email Marketing Services
If you’re really strapped for cash then option 2 will probably be the choice for you. Most email marketing service providers charge a monthly fee, based on the size of your list, but there are a few with free options:
1) MailChimp* – MailChimp is hugely popular in the blogging world, thanks to the fact that it’s easy to use and will allow you to do everything you need to get started. This plan is free for up to 2,000 subscribers or 12,000 email sends in any month period.
2) VerticalResponse* – This company has been around for a long time, and their free plan is a bit smaller than MailChimps, giving you up to 300 subscribers and 4,000 email sends per month.
3) Benchmark* – Their free plan offers a maximum of 2,000 subscribers and 14,000 email sends in a month.
Which one should you use? It’s totally up to you! Make sure to check all the terms of service to make sure your business is suitable. You might also want to check out the cost and features of the paid plans so you know what to expect when your list gets large enough to move up (and by then your email list should be paying for itself!)
I personally recommend MailChimp* as it's the only service out of the four that I have actually used myself, and my husband is currently using to grow his business mailing list.
Growing Your Email List for Free
Of course, finding an email marketing service provider is only part of the puzzle. You also need to get subscribers to actually sign up for your emails! Here are some ideas on how to do this:
- Create at least one freebie that subscribers will get when they sign up to your list
- Create signup forms in your email marketing software and add them to a prominent place on your website, like your sidebar
- Try also adding forms within or at the end of your blog posts
- Create an email signature with a link to sign up to your mailing list
- Join some forums, create a signature with a link to subscribe to your list, and post some helpful content
- Add a link to sign up to your email list to all of your social media profiles
- Create content upgrades for some of your top posts and deliver them using individual email sequences in your email marketing software
- Write guest blog posts for other bloggers with a link back to your freebie in your bio
- Find other bloggers to collaborate with in webinars
- Create a free email ecourse or challenge
- Focus on high quality content on your website and getting free traffic from Pinterest, search engines and social media
*Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are ‘affiliate links.' This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.