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Subscribers are pretty important to any blogger, not just travel bloggers. If Pinterest shut down, if Google de-indexed you, if Zucherberg pulled the plug, you’d be left holding your list. Now, I’m guilty of saying that getting blog subscribers isn’t the be-all and end-all that others make it out to be and for me, to this point, that’s absolutely true, but next year that will change, read on.
I’ve never had much success with getting subscribers to open emails, let alone click-through. The first part, getting travel blog subscribers isn’t really that hard, it’s knowing what to do with them that I find tricky!
As always, this post reflects my way of travel blogging. Something I figured out over several years through trial and error, observation, an obsession with data, and free research online. It works for me. There are always many ways to skin a cat.
Getting Travel Blog Subscribers
Getting travel blog subscribers is pretty straightforward and most people know the usual rules here.
- Make your subscription forms and sign-ups clear and easy to find.
- Don’t just put your sign-up box in your side bar, add a pop-up on entry, a sign-up on exit box, put your sign up box in key posts, put it in every post. It needs to be in your face, but not annoyingly so and it must not go against Google’s pop-up policies. This is why we use Grow on all of our sites, not just our Mediavine sites. Get Grow here.
- Offer a bribe, also known as a lead magnet. This can be a 1-off give-away like a free mini e-book or printable. It can also be what you’ve subscribed to here, an automated e-mail series or free mini course. People who sign up for a freebie, give-away or competition tend to unsubscribe again pretty fast. Offering a mini-series in conjunction with regular newsletter annoys people, too many emails. Unless you want to offer your mini-series as a stand alone, without the newsletters, I wouldn’t do it.
- Reach more people. Get more people to your site (Good SEO is just one way) or make them notice you on social media, in forums, in guest posts, podcasts, publications, interviews, and so on. Just get out there and mingle. The more people you reach, the more people you can get to sign up. I always tell the kids that a big part of my job is shouting “Look at me!”. Yes, it made me uncomfortable at first too.
But What Should You Do With Your List?
New bloggers almost always have their sites set up to automatically notify subscribers the moment a new post is published.
Don’t do this.
If you’re super-new and your only subscribers are your mum and your granny, sure, leave it a while, but once you have a few people on your list you need to start notifying them of content at a time of your choosing and in a manner of your choosing.
Notifications of New Posts or Newsletters?
Newsletters offer way more opportunities than a straight-up notification of new post.
You can include links to old content that your new subscriber won’t have seen, affiliate links, special offers, more bribes and freebies, and make a deeper connection with your peeps.
A hurdle that a lot of new bloggers reach fast is what to do with sponsored posts. If you are paid to publish 3rd party advertising content (link selling) you don’t want to send that to your subscribers. Don’t do it.
There are various ways to not do this if you are still sending out automatic notifications on publishing.
How to Send Out Blog Newsletters to Subscribers?
You will need an e-mail service provider such as Mail Chimp, Mailer Lite or Convert Kit, there are plenty more but these are the 3 I’ve tried so far.
For new bloggers both Mailer Lite and Mail Chimp offer a free e-mail service until a threshold of subscribers is reached. After that you pay.
Convert Kit is expensive but already I’m seeing a much higher open rate than I did with Mailer Lite. A lot of my Mailer Lite emails went to the subscriber’s spam box, this was one of the reasons I tried ConvertKit. I found that Convert Kit actually offered no advantages to me over the cheap and user-friendly Mailer Lite. I went back.
If you’re big enough to be on Mediavine, they offer an autoresponder, I’m trialling it right now, I’ll let you know if its any good.
What to Put in Those Newsletters?
Be chatty. Imagine you’re talking directly to your subscriber, but keep it short, people can’t be bothered to read, mostly.
The fear of the blank page is a thing, I’ve been there, but once you start it will get easier. Include links to:
- your recent post
- old content they may have missed
- cornerstone content
- evergreen content
- affiliate sales pages
- direct affiliate sales – note, that you cannot link directly to Amazon in emails and check regulations for other affiliate schemes.
- other people’s interesting content
- 3rd parties who have paid to be in your newsletter
- your front page
- new YouTube videos
- any social media platform
You can use your newsletter to send them where you want them to go.
Do You Need to Post to a Schedule or Reach Your Subscribers to a Schedule?
You do not, in any way, need to have a posting schedule.
You do need, ideally, to contact your subscribers according to the schedule you promised them. If you don’t they’ll not be happy.
Posting schedules are nonsense. If you’re new just pump out the content as fast as you can to fill your website. If you’ve been doing this a long time you may find that you publish less that 4 posts a month. Both are fine.
Just keep drip-feeding your subscribers the content they want to read. Gauge what they want to read. Keep them interested by only sending them that content.
I’ve said before that some of my posts are intended only for Google traffic and never go to subscribers. It’s true, but I might mention them in passing in a newsletter.
Sundays are a good day to reach subscribers, also Tuesdays and Wednesdays, but test this, along with best times to contact them, for yourself. I like Sundays.
Should you send an email once a week, once a month, twice a month or once a quarter? That’s up to you, see what works best. If in doubt, poll your subscribers.
Autoresponder Series May Be Better Than News Letters
Autoresponders are great because after a 1 time set up your emails can go on autopilot. Great for people like me with a tendency to disappear off to the Himalayas for 3 weeks at a time,
I’ve dabbled with these in the past through Mailer Lite and Convert Kit, and now with Mediavine. The latter is an expensive tool.
My major sticking block was always this – all our content is available free on the website, if the subscribers wanted to find it, they would.
We have getting on for 900 posts on the website and some of it is well hidden. If I can get that old, still valid, useful content to the new subscribers, that has to be good.
Don’t worry about unsubscribers, they’re actually doing you a favour by unsubscribing. It’s not personal, you’ve not done something wrong.
I usually gain more subscribers in 1 day than I lose to unsubscribers at each email send out.
The more subscribers you have the more it costs you to send out emails, so that self pruning keeps numbers in check somewhat.
Changes Next Year
Personalised adverts will vanish next year. This means you couls see an advertisment for anything, not the tour in the destination you’re visiting, not the blogging tool, you may get an add for pet food when you don’t own a pet.
This will dramatically impact ad revenue, unless, your subscribers are signed up for Grow (and you’re on Mediavine – sorry, that’s a hard truth).
Getting subscribers is now the most important thing in the blogging world and it’s what we should all be focussing on right now.
There have been huge Google updates lately, and privately owned, genuine sites, with quality helpful content have lost a lot of traffic. It’s not fair. But nothing in blogging is ever fair.
Your only real hope to continue in the blogging world is to build your subscriber list, fast.
Does that give you a few ideas and a bit of insight into how to get subscribers, what to do with them and what not to do with them? I’m glad that you can all learn from my mistakes because I’ve made some big ones in the last 12 years of blogging. I got there slowly, hopefully you will get there faster. Another email will be with you in 3 days. If you want to sign up (ie. if you’re not signed up already, if you found this post by chance on our website), go ahead and become a subscriber. That way you’ll know when we publish new content that interests you. There is a sign-up box further up the page. Please leave a comment, I can’t improve this post unless you tell me what your sticking points are and I do improve these posts, every day.