Is This The Most Important Item On Your Blog?

"Gordon Bryan" "The Great Gordino"It’s not difficult to find someone who’ll tell you what should or shouldn’t be on your blog. The problem is that this torrent of advice can lead to overwhelm, not knowing which advice to follow, which to ignore. There is one thing that is pretty much constant in all the advice though, can you guess what it is..?

An email sign up box.

That’s it! End of article!

Hang on, hang on – if I’m going to join the crowd dishing out advice about your blog, I should at least tell you why and how, so here goes…

It doesn’t matter if your blog exists to make money, or whether it’s just there as a vehicle for you to express your views – in either case you want your visitors to visit again, right?

Trying to get traffic to your blog is one of the biggest hurdles online, so once you actually get someone to your blog, the last thing you want is for that visit to be a one off.

Despite the best of intentions to come back again, people just get distracted – yes, someone *might* make the effort to actively seek out your blog again, but it’s more likely that, well, they won’t.

If you can provide them somewhere to give their email address though, that changes everything! It means your content will come to them rather than them having to go to the content, and what’s more, it comes to them in their inbox, increasing the chance that they’ll open it and follow through.

It means that instead of someone liking your site but going away never to revisit, that same someone sees an email from you and they’ll remember that they liked your previous content, so they’ll click through to your new stuff.

So, how do you go about it..?

Well, there are 2 main ways to do it – firstly through your blog’s RSS feed, and secondly through an email autoresponder.

RSS stands for rich site summary, or really simply syndication, and most blogs have a feature which allows you to put an RSS sign up box on your blog. It’s free, and once someone enters their email address, they’ll get an email informing them every time you post on your blog.

The advantage of this is that it’s free and easy, and you don’t need to remember to do anything once it’s set up. The disadvantage is that you don’t have much control over what goes out – every post will go out, and you can’t send custom emails.

An email autoresponder gives you much more control. You can decide which posts you want to email about – you may just want to send a weekly round up with links to the various posts. With an autoresponder you can also set up *other* emails to go to those that sign up, and these emails can help to build a relationship, and/or promote products.

The autoresponder allows you to set up a sequence of emails to be sent out automatically, so once it’s set up you can leave it to send those emails out at the regular intervals that you set up.

Perhaps you can use this sequence to send our your best content, or the most popular, in addition to broadcasts you make yourself about new content.

The autoresponder gives so much more flexibility over an RSS feed that I would recommend it, and while paid versions offer even more flexibility still, there is nothing wrong with starting off with free ones if that suits your budget better.

In either case though, hopefully you can see why so many people recommend putting an email sign up box on your blog – I’ve got one on mine (top right of every page!) – have you got one on yours?

That’s it for today, let me know what you think!

‘Til Next Time,
Health & Happiness,
Gordon
P.S. Don’t forget to *tell* readers about your sign up box! (Mine is at the top right of every page!)
P.P.S. By the way, the sign up box is *not* the blogging secret the gurus don’t want you to know!

Do leave a comment!

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20 Comments

  • It took me ages to understand this, I don’t know why as I am actually quite intelligent lol. I think it goes hand in hand with understanding that I am giving value and that people actually want to read my posts. Once I grasped this concept it made perfect sense to add an e-mail box 🙂

    • Me too! I think people shy away because they think they will come across as spammy or pushy. Obviously some people do use a sign up for those reasons, but there is nothing wrong with assuming your readers want to hear from you!
      Cheers,
      Gordon

  • I agree not only with the RSS but also with a signup to your blog. With the signup you will be able to interact with you readers at an higher level.You would be not only able to share your posts but anything else you think they would want to know about.

    • You got it Barry. Having said that, a plus of rss feeds is that once someone signs up, you don’t need to do anything when you post, whereas with an autoresponder you do need to set up the broadcasts.
      Cheers,
      Gordon

  • Ohhhh! (lightbulb moment) Thank you, Great Gordino, for turning this rather dim bulb on in my brain. I don’t think I have an e-mail sign-up box, but I will try to get one hooked up quickly! Thanks again!

    • Thanks Amy,
      The vomiting chicken does have an email box – I presume that is for the RSS feed rather than an autoresponder – believe me you are so much better off than all the bloggers who don’t have either!
      Cheers,
      Gordon

  • Hey Barry, This was one of the hardest things for me to wrap my brain around. I didn’t want to “bother” my readers. Similar to Kama, I needed to believe what I had to say was important and that my readers did too. When I published my first email Newsletter I made a sale.

    • I can see you have both Susie – you might want to explain what the RSS feed is for visitors who don’t know, maybe call it email notifications? Also, have you thought of moving the autoresponder box further up the page?

      Cheers,
      Gordon

      • I really haven’t. Maybe I will try that since the sign up has been low lately. As far as RSS feed….lol I may have one but I do not know how to use it!!!

        • top right you have the subscribe via rss option. Some where in your blog admin there should be options for this – there may be an option to have a sign up box – or to change the wording. Worth a quick check,
          cheers,
          Gordon

    • Hi Chris,
      It’s great when you get an email which is someone responding to your content being emailed to them, it shows it’s working!
      Cheers,
      Gordon

    • Hi Janice,
      With the rss option, anyone signed up will be getting all your posts, and with daily posting that might be too much for them to keep up with. if you have an autoresponder you can stagger the release of the content, plus you can send it out again in time.
      That’s a good difference between the two so thanks for the reminder,
      Cheers,
      Gordon

  • Hi Gordon,

    I agree that it makes a lot of sense to have an email sign up box in a prominent place on your blog but it works best if you give them a good reason to sign up such as a valuable free gift. This could be an ebook, an audio or a video.

    Most people are wary of giving up their email addresses. I know one marketer who lets people see an example of his newsletter first so they know if it’s something they want to receive.

    Sandy

    • spot on Sandy,
      I think I’ll do an article about how to present the sign up box, e.g. free offers, using a pop up, etc.
      Thanks for the great point about free offers,
      cheers,
      Gordon

  • Hi Gordino,

    You are of course correct, but sometimes it takes someone to tell you the blindly obvious!

    I am currently debating whether to get rid of my adsense ad located at the top of my blog and replace it with my opt-in form for more exposure. After all you earn a pittance from adsense, but one optin could be worth a whole lot more to you then what you could earn with adsense, especially if the optin is a repeat buyer.

    Would be interesting to hear your views.

    Best regards
    Panicos

    • Hi Panicos,
      Thanks for your words.
      It’s all about testing and checking results. With your blog I see you already have a sign up box at the top right – is that for the newsletter?
      You also have a big pop up appear which also gets people to sign up. So, no desperate need to get rid of the adsense box at the top, but that depends how much you make from it. I presume you track the adsense clicks?
      Then you can check for every 100 visitors what results you get, then maybe change something and see what happens for the next 100 visitors, and so on.
      Hope that helps,
      Cheers,
      Gordon