Your email pings.
1 new subscriber to “Your Awesome Email List.”
Whoop de do.
If this were your first subscriber ever, you might jump for joy and bust out the champagne. But instead you think:
ONE new subscriber? Really? That’s it?
Because after all those long hours of pouring your heart and soul into your writing…after doing everything you were told to do to get subscribers…well, you were expecting more.
Your eyes narrow at the total subscriber count on the screen, and for a brief moment, you succumb to wishful thinking…
Maybe if I stare at it long enough, I can make it grow another digit or two through sheer willpower.
Nope. It’s still the same measly old number. In fact, your list hasn’t grown much at all in the past week, or the past month. And it’s annoying as all heck.
All this hard work, and what do I have to show for it?
Know what? You aren’t alone in feeling this way.
But all you need to grow your email list at hyper speed is to get the word out in an entirely different way…a way that most bloggers haven’t even considered.
The “Taboo” List-Building Strategy Almost Nobody Talks About
You may be thinking that nobody cares about you or that you’ll be old and gray before you have a sizable email list. You may even have grown to accept this as a fact of blogging.
But you don’t have to be the norm. Watching your list grow doesn’t have to be like watching paint dry. Nothing’s wrong with you, and your people are definitely out there.
All that you need is a shortcut…a faster way to get subscribers that you haven’t tried yet.
It’s not writing epic posts, mastering SEO, or commenting on popular blogs.
(Those methods are almost always a waste of time for beginners.)
It’s not guest blogging, interviewing influential people, or reaching out to A-list bloggers.
(You should be doing those things, but reaching out to the “big shots” is scary, and it can still take several months to get a few hundred subscribers.)
This method is actually so simple that it almost seems like cheating.
I’m talking about buying subscribers.
Now, you’re probably thinking:
Wait-that sounds crazy! Isn’t that some sort of scam?
Don’t worry; we’re not talking about buying a huge list of email addresses and spamming it with your blog posts.
We’re talking about something far more respectable.
What Subscriber-Hungry Bloggers Can Learn from Pint-Sized Entrepreneurs
Do you remember lemonade stands from when you were a kid?
Well, if you ever had one, you’ll know that location is critical.
For instance, which stand do you think would sell the most lemonade: the stand on a quiet cul-de-sac, or the stand in the busy part of town?
Well, the lemonade stand in the busy part of town, of course!
More people passing by means more potential customers.
And it’s the same for blogging. If you expect to grow your email list simply by adding a sign-up page to your blog and hoping potential subscribers just happen to wander by, it’s like putting your lemonade stand in the middle of a cul-de-sac.
Nobody really knows about your blog yet, so few people can find the way onto your email list.
It’s frustrating, but the solution is simple. Set up your stand in the busy part of town.
And these days, that’s Facebook.
It’s where over 1.44 billion people hang out every month. So at least a small percentage of those people could be potential readers for your blog.
All you have to do to turn those potential readers into subscribers is pay Facebook to put up your “lemonade stand.”
What this means in practice is creating a Facebook ad that gets shown to potential subscribers and entices them to sign up to your email list.
And the more ads you run, the more people will see your offer in their Facebook newsfeed, and the more new subscribers you’ll get.
Why Facebook Ads Are Perfect for Beginning Bloggers (Even If You’re Broke!)
Many bloggers don’t even realize they can get subscribers by advertising their blogs on Facebook.
Those that do know dismiss it for two main reasons:
- They don’t think they should have to spend any money on getting subscribers – it should just happen organically.
- They think Facebook advertising is too difficult and takes too much time to learn.
Ironically, most bloggers don’t have a problem spending on things like conversion-optimized WordPress themes and list-building plugins, but the idea of spending money directly to get subscribers seems crazy. So they just ignore it.
But in fact, if you put any kind of reasonable dollar value on your time, it can be much more cost-effective to spend a little money.
For example, let’s say you spend 10 hours writing a guest post (another popular option for building your list) that nets you 100 subscribers. Even if you figure your time is only worth $10/hour, you’re still effectively paying $1 per subscriber.
True, Facebook advertising is complex, and it does take a long time to master.
But you don’t have to achieve mastery in order to spend some money and get results. Especiallywith the right guidance. (That’s what this post is here for!)
For example, here are the actual results from one of my first Facebook ad campaigns:
According to this report, I paid a grand total of $227.05 to get a whopping 532 new subscribers to my list in just 43 days. That means I spent an average of just 43 cents per subscriber!
Not bad for a complete beginner, eh?
But here’s the best part: I didn’t spend $227.05 all at once. On most days, my budget was only $5 per day.
That’s the cost of one Venti Frappuccino at Starbucks.
Facebook advertising is perfect for beginning bloggers because it gives you the following:
- Big exposure
- Quick, cheap results
- Powerful targeting (so you can easily reach your perfect audience)
- Subscribers on autopilot (freeing up time for other things, like promoting your content…or just getting sleep)
Are you ready to go to the busy part of town and get some subscribers? Read on.
The 3 Crucial Elements of an Enticing Facebook Ad
For your “lemonade stand” (your ad) to attract lots of subscribers, we’ve already established that you need to set up shop in a high-traffic area (Facebook).
But in order to make your ad as enticing as possible, you need three essential elements:
- A juicy incentive (and a landing page to showcase it)
- An engaging image
- Intimate ad copy
To give you an example of these elements in action, here is the Facebook ad I used to get the results I mentioned above:
My juicy incentive (1) was a free fitness challenge, which readers could access only after signing up for my email list. I also used an engaging image (2) and intimate ad copy (3). (I’ll explain how to create each of these in the paragraphs that follow.)
Let’s find out more about each of these elements:
1. Creating Your “Juicy” Incentive
These days, your email address is like a currency; you don’t give your email address to just anyone without a good reason.
So your incentive should be as appealing to your target audience as a cool glass of lemonade on a hot summer’s day.
But what makes an incentive so good, so “mouth-watering” that people can’t resist giving their email in exchange for it? Jon Morrow puts it best by asking this question:
Find a practical solution to that problem, and you have a “juicy” topic for your incentive.
Next, you need to package that solution in the simplest form possible. You see, when surfing the net, people are in a mindset of avoiding work. And if people think your incentive will take a lot of their time and energy to consume, they’ll bail.
So, instead of writing a 100-page e-book, type up a one-page PDF checklist of tools or resources (essentially, a downloadable list post).
Instead of a lengthy video course, create a mini course consisting of short, actionable lessons delivered via an email autoresponder.
Instead of a 30-day challenge, make it a 7-day challenge.
(7 more irresistible incentive ideas here.)
But whatever form your incentive takes, it must do one thing:
Give them a quick win.
If you can get your ideal subscriber one baby-step closer to solving that problem keeping them awake at night, you have a super “juicy” incentive for your Facebook ad.
Creating a Simple Landing Page to Showcase Your Incentive
Once you’ve created your incentive, you’ll need a landing page with an opt-in form for people to subscribe to your list and get the incentive.
You’ll also need a “thank you” page: the page that visitors land on right after they opt in. That’s because you will place a piece of code on this page for tracking how many people subscribed to your list. (Don’t worry — we’ll cover that later in this post.)
Optionally, you may need some private pages on your website for delivering your incentive.
Here are a few options for creating your landing page:
- WordPress Landing Pages is a free plugin that lets you create landing pages from the WordPress dashboard. The downside is, as with most free options, they only offer limited support.
- ConvertKit (from $29 per month) is an email marketing solution with a landing page builder, designed for professional bloggers.
- “Divi” from Elegant Themes (from $69 per year) is a drag-and-drop WordPress theme that can create attractive landing pages – and much more.
- LeadPages (from $300 per year) is the flagship option for creating landing pages. It’s robust and feature rich, and that’s reflected in the price tag.
Now, once your landing pages are all set up, you can move on to the second element for enticing Facebook ads…
2. Choosing Your Engaging Image
When choosing an image for your ad, you should pick a high-quality, professional-looking photo, right?
Let’s get into the mindset of a potential subscriber for a moment: What is he on Facebook to do? Probably to see what his friends are up to. To look at photos from the latest get-together. To connect with family members from far away.
He is definitely not surfing Facebook to read the ads.
So if at the slightest glance your ad looks like an ad, he’ll ignore it.
Your job is to make your ad look as much like the other familiar items in his newsfeed as possible. Because as he is scrolling down that list of items, he is making split-second decisions about what to pay attention to and what to skip over. And according to Dr. Robert Cialdini’s Principle of Liking, people have a tendency to say “yes” to those they like or are similar to themselves.
So instead of using professional-looking stock photos, use a friendly photo of yourself. That way, your potential subscriber will see you as a regular person just like him, and he will be more likely to stop and engage with your ad.
Here’s an example:
In this ad by Easy Webinar, the smiling photo of a “regular guy” takes advantage of the principle of liking. They also added a warm, grainy filter and framed the shot close to the subject. The resulting image looks a lot like a selfie taken with a smartphone, doesn’t it?
This ad image by Luisa Zhou doesn’t even have any text on it: just a casual photo of the subject leaning toward the camera. This image says, comfortable, friendly, approachable.
It also helps that Luisa is an attractive female…Cialdini discovered that physical attractivenessplays a big role in the principle of liking. (If you aren’t an attractive female, not to worry. You can still use this principle by making your photo friendly and likeable. Just smile!)
3. Writing Your Intimate Ad Copy
If your image needs to be personable (not professional) to be engaging, your ad copy should be too.
How do people talk to each other on Facebook?
Do they use corporate speak? Big words? Proper grammar?
Of course not!
And neither should you.
Talk to your potential subscriber like a friend. Get into their head, and use the words they use themselves. Make them feel that you understand them.
Get intimate with your copy.
The following ad by Hilary Rushford gets intimate by using casual language and empathizing with her audience:
See what she did there?
She took the questions keeping her audience awake a night, and echoed those same doubts and fears. Then she explains how she felt the same way (she’s another regular gal, “just like you”) and how her free Instagram class can answer those questions.
Your copy doesn’t have to be that long. (In fact, Facebook recommends keeping your copy under 90 characters to keep it from being cut off on smaller screens.)
Erin Stutland uses succinct copy in her ad for a free fitness challenge. She leads with a brief, empathetic statement:
If you are her intended audience (i.e., people who want to improve their physiques, but don’t want to suffer through hundreds of pushups to get there), you are already hooked. Then, she briefly describes her quick win and gives a clear call to action:
(Did you notice the colloquial punctuation?)
Facebook also suggests hooking the viewer with a question.
In the following ad, James Wedmore leads with a question that both hooks the viewer and qualifies his audience: