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How to Start Building a Newsletter Following.

Updated: Feb 14

(This article may contain affiliate links and you can find out more about them in my policies and procedures page.)

As an author it’s important to have a newsletter as a way of connecting with your audience minus the risk of it disappearing at the drop of a hat. The thing is, when you compare newsletters to social media, you’ll find that you have zero control over what the social media company decides to do with its app. Your newsletter though, you OWN that, and you decide what is done with it. Only you decide when it exists or stops. The power is in your hands.

Over the years there have been several scares that apps are going extinct or getting ready to close down. If you’re like me and had a Myspace back in the day, you know it can become an ancestor easy peasy. As I write this article, there is currently chaos surrounding Twitter as its newest CEO struggles to keep it afloat.

With a newsletter you don’t need to worry about any of it shutting down randomly. You have your list of subscribers, and they are yours not someone else’s. If you switch to a new company for newsletters, you can download and transfer them all over to the new one. I add this because some email marketing companies have better prices than others or you may want a certain feature one offers over another.

Before we dive into building a newsletter, let’s talk about the different companies out there to send newsletters through. Some of the top websites out there include Mailchimp, GetResponse, Sendinblue, and Mailjet. These are not the top ones but are some higher ranked companies. You can compare them against each other in the links below.

The one I use and continue to use at this point is Mailchimp. You can have a free account for up to 2,000 subscribers. It has a great collection of integrations you can use including connections to Storyorigin, Canva, Google Analytics, Shopify and more. I started with a handful of email subscribers when I signed up and used many of the tutorials to set up my first newsletter.

Tutorials are an excellent way to familiarize yourself with current marketing material. Mailchimp makes it easy and typically has someone online at all hours to help answer questions. The website is easy to navigate, and they make it a breeze to organize your subscribers.

Also, Mailchimp has a great selection of templates to get you started on creating your first newsletter. They offer various colors, fonts, graphics, and more when building from scratch. You can check out their plans here and browse some of their options.

Next you need to decide how often you want to send out a newsletter. Starting out, I did once a month and I currently do one weekly. I personalize mine and make sure my readers aren’t getting a buy my book newsletter. You want to have your merch/books in there, but it also needs to be a way for readers to connect with you. I add a lot of what is going on in life to my newsletter. I talk about my hobbies, travels, family, books I’ve read, or movies I’ve watched. I show my authentic self through my newsletter and encourage subscribers to respond. Building that relationship between the subscriber and author is important. It’s a way to leave a lasting impression and will encourage them to keep coming back for your products.

Now to discuss building the subscriber list. I will warn you; this is not an easy task. Subscribers don’t typically flock to you but in a perfect world they would. (This article may contain affiliate links and you can find out more about them in my policies and procedures page.)

What I did was add a few of my friends or other social media contacts to my list first. I made sure to get their approval before adding them because adding subscribers to your list without approval will get you flagged. This can lead to possible suspension from the app you use. It will also be annoying for them depending on how often you want to send out a newsletter. Be transparent with your friends as you start the newsletter process. Often, they will be supportive but don’t bombard them.

In MailChimp you can go in and add subscribers manually. When you get further down the line you can use integrations that will automatically add signups to your email list. If you do a newsletter builder through a company, they will send you a file with the subscribers that you will have to import. Depending on what mail service you sign with, it should have instructions on how to import that list.

An excellent tool that I use for my list builder is StoryOrigin. They have great options to help authors build their readers list from the use of readers magnets, newsletter swaps, beta feedback, group promotions, and so much more. They are also budget friendly and worth every penny spent on a subscription.

I started using StoryOrigin back when it was free and new to the author world. The creator of the company is very nice, responsive to concerns, and easily helps when you have issues with newsletter swaps. He provides frequent case studies on their use of reader magnets and more that he sends to your email box on the regular.

You can view their plans via this link:

You can also upload short stories to use as a prize for newsletter signups. I purposely created a story for this, and it has done very well. It also lets readers get a taste of your work. I have it available through StoryOrigin and change it out on occasion.

A lot of authors use this strategy, and you can check out my short story I currently use here: