After listening to hours of podcasts, reading dozens of articles and talking with other online entrepreneurs one regret keeps coming up over and over again…
“I should have started my email list sooner”
If you are starting out with an online teaching business, whether it be online courses or one-to-one Skype teaching, do yourself a favor and start an email list. I too can concur with the other stories floating around the internet, and if I had started my email list from the outset I would be in a different position today.
Just like in real life where a contact in your network can be the key to opening several new doors and opportunities, an email address can be that magical key. Let’s not forget that an email address is not an email address, it is a person. That person can end up being a client, colleague, advocate or perhaps just a fly on the wall. Whatever the case each quality email address that you have on your list is a potential boost to your business and you simply can’t let them slip by in the early stages.
The early stages of online course development can be overly focused on creating new things, new blog posts, new products, a new logo! These shiny objects are distractions from your foundation, which is your audience. Without an audience even the most revolutionary of products and services stay silent, and help nobody. Be aware, and be conscious that in the early stages many overwhelming tasks may seem more important. Keep your eyes on the goal however, and that is to build an audience.
Now that I have give you this mighty charge of building an email list you might be tempted to dump in any and every email you can get your hands on.
Don’t do it.
The key is quality, and it will save you from a lot of hassles down the road. Namely spam filters and peeved clients that will spread bad vibes about you and your business.
Email is personal, and that is why it is a powerful tool for you to use in your marketing arsenal. The right email delivered to the right person can be a potent method of marketing and a rich source of sales. So how do we make that happen?
First of all the people on your email list have to want to be on there. They need to give you permission to be on that list and expect a certain level and type of contact from you.
For this reason the random dump of friends and colleagues onto your list, while tempting, can be a complete waste of time and damaging to your relationship.
Start small, start quality, and start with permission.
Actions to take right now.
First and foremost, get yourself signed up with an email marketing service. There are plenty around, but for musicians who want to teach online I would recommend Mailchimp. Why? Because the first 2000 email contacts are free and the service is on par with any other. As your list grows you will find that maintaining the list can become quite costly. You will be looking at around 50 dollars a month once you hit 3000 or more subscribers.
So, you can herein see another reason not to fill your own list with junk! (i.e. people who never opted in to your list)
Every email service has the ability to embed opt-in forms on your site. Get that form on your site straight away and make sure it is visible to your visitors. We will talk about placement in another post.
Once you have your signup form ready, add in a short sentence about what they can expect from signing up to your list. The biggest reason for readers clicking SPAM or unsubscribing is going to be receiving mails that they didn’t expect or ask for. This will diminish your relationship with this contact by taking away trust. Trust is hard earned and you don’t want to dilute it with a couple of spammy emails. (they may not seem spammy to you, but if they never agreed to them… they are.)
At this point, you can now reach out to your current circle of contacts and ask their permission to join your email list. Get them to sign up using your form so that they will be as clear as any other subscriber about what it is they are signing up for!
Your machine is now working for you
Over time you will see that your website is your best marketing tool and as it grows it starts to resemble a machine. Different cogs turning 24/7 to build your business. That’s why you should start out the right way from the very beginning!
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