Here are tips gleaned from roughly 5 years spent building up an ezine list. I've also incorporated comments and tips from Jenna Glatzer, who successfully built her list up to 75,000 at her excellent site, www.absolutewrite.com
1. Free Stuff. Pick genuinely useful free stuff that you know your audience wants and needs. For instance, my brand new ezine, Expert Status, attracted 600 readers in just a few weeks by offering a report, "25 Top Self Help Literary Agents". The practical freebie works. Jenna Glatzer offers two free ebooks/reports to subscribers on agents who are receptive to new writers, and on writer's markets.
She notes: "Before I did that, my subscriber numbers were
in the hundreds, not thousands.
2. Put a subscribe box on every page of the site. This has worked for both Jenna and me. Mine is parked in the left hand column of the site. Experts advise putting a simple sign up box (with freebie mentioned) in the top left hand corner, as that's where the eye naturally travels first. A simple sign up box that requests only email address works best.
3. Ad swaps. Exchange plugs for your ezine with another website, to run in eachother's ezines. Be sure to mention those freebies! Doing this on a regular basis with a rotating selection of web partners will keep your subscription page busy.
4. Cross-registration. I've found subscribers by having a plug for my ezine on the thank you page of a comparable (but not directly competitive) website. This offer is made to folks who just signed up for an ezine, and are therefore deemed 'in the mood for more.' Offer a swap with your site, and try not to list more than about two other ezines. Also, make a point of including only really good, reliable publications that reach your target market.
5. Give away a bonus for other sites to use, based on your ezine. A popular web marketing technique is the special one or two-day promo that offers big bonus lists when you buy a certain product on those particular days. (I cover this promo technique in more detail in my ebook/binder, Get Known Now; How to Build Your Platform as a Self Help Expert.) So collect some of your best ezine essays, pack 'em up in a downloadable PDF-based e-book, and offer it as a bonus these sites can use in their special promos. Don't forget juicy descriptive copy about your ezine, and a subscribe link at the end of your ebook. I've gotten hundreds of new readers this way, and much traffic to my site.
6. Announce ezine 'events' on PRweb.com and other PR sites. There's an entire world of web-based press release distribution services out there, some of which are low cost or even free. So use them. But be sure to only plant press releases that are truly newsworthy, and thus likely to get press attention. Even if the media don't use your words this time, they'll hopefully file you as an expert for future use.
7. Use discussion boards or groups. These are sites frequented by gangs of people interested in the same thing. Avoid the unmoderated sites, because they're likely to be spam targets that generate little bonafide traffic. Boards found on member sites are the best. Don't spam the board with your subscribe message. Instead, offer some genuinely helpful info. Then sign off with a signature line that includes ezine and subscribe info. You can find some of these groups at groups.yahoo.com, topica.com, mail-list.com, and listfool.com for starters.
8. Sponsor other people's contests. Jenna Glatzer gives away products like her paid newsletter, Absolute Markets Premium Newsletter, to writers' groups, contests, and conferences that request it, regardless of size. I've tried this too, to good effect. Simply run an announcement in your ezine that you'd be happy to sponsor comparable events. Ask them to provide a URL for an event description so you know it's legit. Then offer up your gifts, and ask for a plug for your ezine and for them to talk up your dazzling freebie, as well. Jenna notes that groups she sponsors "often send out ads for us to their lists ? just as a thank you."
9. Run quality content. There's no substitute for heartfelt writing plus solid information about a subject that matters. Jenna writes: 'The main reason our list stays so big is our 'letter from the editor' ? Each week, I chronicle my writing life and my triumphs and failures ? when an article is killed, when I'm having trouble finishing a book ? And I share personal things, too, like when my grandfather died?. People write: ' I feel like I know you so well.' And I think that's why they stay on the list, even when their mailbox fills up with dozens of other writer's newsletters.
10. Allow reprints. Allow any newsletter that wants to reprint your articles do so. I like to have an email requesting permission, so I can enter their info into a big database I use to track where I can send more articles in the future. I end each article with the line: You may reprint this article in your own ezine or website. Simply send an email requesting permission to EMAIL ADDRESS. Please be sure to include our full bio box at the end.
11. Create a survey or contest. This would be one of those newsworthy 'ezine events' I mentioned above in point # 6. Make it a fun, relevant question that you could really develop a good, newsy story from. I did a survey asking people what they fought with their spouse/partner/boy or girlfriend about. The results made for the kind of reading offline media enjoy running short, 100-word pieces about (fillers.) I made sure to attribute the survey to my ezine, The Joy Letter, with a mention of the site's basic URL. You can get the technology to run your own survey and collect responses at surveymonkey.com (for a fee) or bravenet.com (for free.)
I think I could actually go on and on here. The possibilities seem to be endless. If you try even half of these techniques on a regular basis, you'll find your subscriber rates double and even triple. Here's to building your list ? the foundation that much of your traffic and success rely on.
Suzanne Falter-Barns' website, The Self Help Salon (www.selfhelpsalon.com) offers tips and tools that help you build your platform and get known as an expert in your field. Sign up for her free ezine, Expert Status, and receive her free report, "25 Top Self Help Literary Agents