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SPF-047: Masterclass: Building a Mailing List part 2 – With Mark Dawson

List building is one of the most strategic and powerful activities you can engage in as an indie author. That’s because it’s the one way that you’re able to build a list of people who have willingly expressed an interest in the type of books that you write. And it’s YOUR list. One that you control and can sell to any time you like. That’s a powerful weapon to have in your arsenal when it comes time to launching a book, running a promotion, or just reaching out to your list to build the relationships required to fuel your author career long term. This episode is part two of the list building series in which Mark and James address the use of paid advertising to capture the email addresses of prospective buyers. You won’t want to miss the plethora of career-boosting tips shared within it!

List building through paid advertising. Did you say ‘paid’?

The words “paid advertising” might make some of you shudder. But try and remember that your author career is a business and in order to grow any kind of business you will need to invest money in it eventually. Mark and James talk about how to get started with paid advertising without breaking the bank and underline the rewards of getting it right and seeing that email list grow.

Facebook Ads is one of the most powerful lead generation tools for list building.

Mark’s Advertising for Authors has become a go-to course for many indie authors looking to exploit this marketing option. Mark and James touch on some of that course’s content and share some of the basics of lead generation using Facebook Ads. The tips learned here have been used by many other authors to successfully explode their mailing list. It’s powerful stuff!

The lowdown on Twitter Ads and YouTube Ads.

Two of the less popular advertising platforms out there that you might want to consider are Twitter Ads and YouTube Ads. Both are featured as bonus modules as part of the Advertising for Authors Course. Whilst they’re not as effective as the Facebook platform, James explains why they shouldn’t be written off – and maybe just the thing for some authors.

Did you know that Amazon Ads can be used to by authors to build lists?

You’re now able to use the power of Amazon to get your books in front of more readers by targeting people who have already demonstrated through their Amazon purchases that they are interested in the exact genre or type of book that you’ve written.So how does it work? Worry not! Mark and James briefly walk you through the Amazon Ads option and show you how you can use it to promote your books – and successfully build your list through opt-ins.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:22] Mark’s latest epiphany – he’s been writing 2 books, not 1.
  • [3:44] Resuming the email list instructions, what to expect on this episode.
  • [6:28] James’ progress in building his list since last week’s episode.
  • [11:27] Today’s focus on paid advertising to build your email list.
  • [15:10] How to set up a Facebook lead generation campaign (and why Mark spends most of his money on these).
  • [21:23] How to dial-in the targeting functionality on Facebook ads.
  • [27:08] Why you need to give targeting and ads time and how you can learn as you go.
  • [29:52] Ways you can defray the cost of your advertising.
  • [33:04] Twitter and YouTube ads. Possibilities and returns you can expect.
  • [40:41] The basics about Amazon Ads (anyone can use them, not just KDP select)
  • [46:45] Bookbub promotions and deals.
  • [49:44] Upcoming episodes in this series and on detailed additional topics.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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SPF-046: Masterclass: Building a Mailing List part 1 – With Mark Dawson

At Self Publishing Formula, we often bang on about the importance of building an email list. It’s the most important piece of digital property you’re ever likely to own as an author – perhaps even more than your books. That’s because your email list is the jump start to every book launch. Up to now we’ve never really gone in depth to tell you exactly what comprises a list and how to build one. That all ends today. This episode of The Self Publishing Formula is the first of a series of podcast episodes that will unpack the mystery of mailing lists and teach you how, step by step, to build your own. It’s the crucial component of a successful author career so listen carefully!

So what IS a mailing list?

A mailing list is a collection of names and corresponding email addresses that you own and are able to send correspondence to. But there’s more to it than that. The kind of email list we’re talking about on this episode is one where the people who are on your list have CHOSEN to be on the list. They have asked to be added because they’re interested in the type of things you promise to share through your list. That’s a powerful thing! It enables you to engage with readers without fear of spamming or bothering them. They want in on what you’ve got to offer.

List Building is Career Building!

Your mailing list will allow you to start creating long-lasting relationships with readers that will pay dividends not only when it comes to book launches but also with regard to research, feedback and writing inspiration. Getting the relationship right is key. Mark offers up some clear advice on how to go about this.

Build your first email list.

Mark and James take a hands-on, practical approach in this episode, walking you step by step through the process of building an email list. The first thing Mark suggests you do once you’ve decided on the method you will use to collect your subscriber information is to reach out to 10 people you know personally – family or friends – and tell them what you’re doing and ask if they would be interested in being part of your list. It’s an easy but often overlooked way of getting your list started.

Keep it going.

There’s never a time when you should feel that your email list is large enough, no matter how big it gets. Mark and James discuss the various ways you can build your mailing list on an ongoing basis – with more tips, tricks and advice to come in the weeks ahead.

Outline of This Episode

  • [0:23] James and Mark introduce this episode about mailing lists.
  • [5:33] This is the first of 3 episodes about mailing lists – how it’s going to work.
  • [9:02] Why SHOULD you have a mailing list?
  • [12:55] What tools can you use to build your mailing list?
  • [20:01] How to begin building your list.
  • [25:44] The importance of growing and maintaining the relationship with your list.
  • [29:16] How often should you send email to your list?
  • [33:01] Using social media to grow your mailing list.
  • [42:30] Additional methods to give people opportunity to join your mailing list.
  • [47:00] The challenge for this week: Get 10 subscribers by the next episode.

Resources & Links Mentioned In This Episode

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SPF-011: Everything you always wanted to know about Mailing Lists (but were afraid to ask)

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When Mark Dawson first started seeing success as a self published author he was a bit late to the game when it came to interacting with those who were showing interest in his books. The best they could do was to buy his book, read it, then search Amazon for any other books he might have written. It wasn’t a very reader centric approach and not what Mark wanted. That’s when he started investigating the various ways he could interact with his readers via email lists. In this episode you’ll get to hear the story of how Mark first approached the issue, the mistakes he made, and the many helpful things he’s learned about truly engaging with readers that make them happy to hear from you and even eager to help you promote your writing to others.

How NOT to create an email list.

At first Mark knew that he had to have some kind of email list but didn’t really know how to start. His first step was to include his private email address in the back of each of his books. It was better than nothing, but became very cumbersome since he was adding each person to a spreadsheet and then bulk emailing everyone from his private email account each time he had something to communicate. He quickly learned that the time it took him to do all of that work could be mitigated through using a free service like MailChimp. Mark talks through how he made the switch and the huge benefits he’s seen from using an email provider of this type.

But isn’t email being used less and less these days?

James asks Mark whether he thinks email is still useful in the modern day. Studies and articles frequently report that people are turning to text and instant messaging platforms rather than email. But Mark’s convinced that email is still the very best way to communicate with fans and makes his case for why that’s so in this conversation. You’ll learn a lot about why email is powerfully important to your brand and future book sales as well as how to go about reaching out to your audience in a way that is natural and effective.

What sort of tone should you write with in your emails?

Mark believes that everyone can effectively write email sequences and truly connect with their readers. They know how to be themselves. If you keep in mind the fact that anyone who signs up for your email list is doing so because they are interested in you and your writing, you’ll realize that the thing they are wanting to get to know is you. So be you. Take the time to put some of yourself into your emails in a natural, unapologetic way. You’ll be giving your readers what they want from their interaction with you and also provide a way for them to feel like they are on the “inside track” when it comes to your books and your brand.

The nuts and bolts of email software and services.

What you’re probably the most interested in learning is how to set up an email service to begin creating your email list. James and Mark walk through the basics of how Mark did it, what services he considered and the one he finally went with, why he made that choice, how he uses his email list on a regular basis to drive interaction and book sales, and the benefits he’s derived from having an active, engaged readership that communicates with him via his email list.

Outline of this great episode

  • [0:21] The introduction today’s topic: Mailing lists for Authors.
  • [1:27] A special announcement (it’s exciting!).
  • [3:20] The importance of a mailing list cannot be underestimated.
  • [4:20] The difference a mailing list has made to Mark’s career.
  • [5:40] Why Mark is convinced email is still the best way to communicate with fans.
  • [8:10] The different types of emails that you can send out and how they work.
  • [9:41] Using your email list to solicit help from readers to launch your books.
  • [12:45] The importance of “tone” in your emails.
  • [15:48] How Mark started his first email list.
  • [19:27] James’ tips for MailChimp beginners.
  • [21:59] What is a double opt-in?
  • [24:10] How do you create different lists and why?
  • [26:15] How to use the information from your emails to refine the process.
  • [29:00] Great ideas for getting more subscribers from your readership.
  • [31:50] The personal touch you can have through your email list.
  • [33:47] Tips and tricks about mailing list strategies.
  • [36:16] Using advanced email service providers.
  • [40:29] Get Mark’s April income report.  

Resources & Links mentioned in this episode

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SPF-004: Masterclass – Five Must Do Actions for New Authors – With Mark Dawson

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If you’re thinking of kicking off a career as an indie author, or have already started down that road, listening to Podcast number 4 might save you a lot of time, money and effort as you move forward. Mark and James focus on key elements that are worth getting right at the start of your adventure. Mailing lists, websites, social media presence, company set-up, copyright and using pro services are just some of the topics covered.

Show Notes

  • Action #1: Build your mailing list. What services to use to do this, Advanced Reader Teams.
  • Action #2: Have a website. Your space on the internet, affiliate income, tracking the effectiveness of marketing strategies.
  • Action #3: Social media presence. Focusing on one or two platforms, the ease of setting up a Facebook profile and page and why they matter.
  • Action #4: Setting up a limited company for your author income. Assume you’re going to be successful, the life of your copyrighted books.
  • Action #5: Be professional. Hiring editors, proofreaders, cover designers. The pace of change and not getting caught up in fads.

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