How to Create a List with MailChimp

Welcome back to my series on MailChimp. If you’re just joining me, I encourage you to take a moment to read the first post in the series, which tells you how to open a free account with MailChimp.

What’s the next step after opening a free account? MailChimp offers several options. Starting a campaign, creating a list, and building your audience. The most logical place to begin (for me anyway) was creating a list so that’s the next stop in the MailChimp course.

What’s A List and Why do I Need One?

For the purposes of this discussion, when I talk about lists, I’m talking about a list of subscribers. In the old days (pre-internet), they were called mailing lists.

The list you create is the list to which your newsletters will be sent. Once you have a sign up form on your blog or website, new subscribers will be added to the list automatically.

So while you can do a sign up form first or set up a newsletter first, you’ll need to create a list before either of those two things work.

How to Create a List with MailChimp

Step 1: Log into your MailChimp account.

Step 2: You will land on the dashboard page. Click on the gray “Create A List” button marked by the red arrow.
How to Create a List with MailChimp Screen Shot 1

Step 3: You will land on this page. Click on the black “Create List” button marked by the red arrow.
How to Create a List with MailChimp Screen Shot 2

Step 4: You will land on this page.
How to Create a List with MailChimp Screen Shot 3

Fill in each of the boxes.

List name: Name your list. Keep the name simple and informative. “Blog Subscribers,” for example. Even if you think you’ll only ever need one list, it’s advisable to name the list so you remember at a glance what it’s for. You never know when you may find a need for additional lists and there’s nothing more confusing than a list of lists with vague names. I have more than one list from more than one blog so I use names like “Author Blog Subscriptions” or “Horse Painter Blog Subscriptions” or “Book Giveaway List” (yes, you can do that).

List names are private, accessible only by you.

Default “from” email: Whenever you send out an email, recipients will see the email address you put here. This tells them who sent the email and gives them an email to respond to if they wish. I have more than one list for more than one blog. I use the email associated with each blog in this box.

Default “from” name: Same as above, but a personal name. Usually it will be your name. The name readers are most likely to recognize you by.

As I mentioned above, I have multiple lists from multiple blogs. My art readers know me as Carrie L. Lewis, so that’s the name I use on those lists. Readers of my author blog know me as Carrie Lynn Lewis, so that’s the name I use on that list.

Remind people how they got on your list: This is a short message that tells people how they got on your list. Something like “You are receiving this email because you subscribed to “name of blog’s” mailing list. It doesn’t need to be fancy, but it should reflect you. If you have more than one blog, this message should reflect the voice and tone of the blog to which it’s attached.

Contact information for this list: This section is filled in automatically with whatever information you used in your profile. If you want to change it, click on the light gray “edit” button.
How to Create a List with MailChimp Screen Shot 4

Notifications:
MailChimp offers three choices for how often you receive notifications. Notifications are notes in your inbox letting you know when people subscribe and unsubscribe from your mailing list. You can click all three, any combination, or none at all. The options are self-explanatory. If you don’t make any selections, you will not know when anyone subscribes or unsubscribes.
How to Create a List with MailChimp Screen Shot 5

Step 5: Done!
When everything is the way you want it, click the “Save” button. Congratulations! You have a list!

So what do you do next?

When you hit “save,” you’ll land on a page that lists all your lists. If this is your first list, it will look like this.
How to Create a List with MailChimp Screen Shot 6

From this page, you can view the stats for your campaigns, manage your subscribers, add subscribers, make signup forms, and change settings. Those items are in the menu bar under the name of the list, in this case, Thomas’ Mailing List. Since Thomas doesn’t yet have any subscribers, the “View subscribers” box shows a graphic of two pages.

You are going to do one of two things at this point. You will either add subscribers or make a signup form. We’ll create a sign up form in the next post, so let’s talk about adding subscribers first.

Adding Subscribers

Add Subscribers: If you have a mailing list somewhere else, you can import it into MailChimp. If you click on the “Add subscribers” button, a drop down menu will appear.

  • “Add a subscriber” allows you to manually type in a subscriber’s information and add them to your list.
  • “Import subscribers” allows you to import a mailing list from other locations or your computer.
    How to Create a List with MailChimp Screen Shot 7

While this is a quick and easy way to add people to your subscriber list, you do have to be very careful the people on your current list want to be on your new list. If you add someone who doesn’t want your new mailings, that’s called spam and MailChimp and others look down on that.

What I prefer to do is set up my signup form, then notify the subscribers on one email list that I have a new one, provide a link to the new signup form and give them the opportunity to signup for the new and improved mailing list.

You can also manually add subscribers one at a time by typing in the information they’ve provided. Again, you need to be absolutely certain the recipients want to be recipients.

Conclusion

Congratulations! Now you not only have an account with MailChimp; you have a list. The next step is creating a signup form. The sign-up form is what visitors to your blog will see, allowing them to join your mailing list. The signup form for Indie Plot Twist is the link at the top of the sidebar. Click there to see what our sign up form looks like. As mentioned, that will be the topic for the next post. Join us!

If you haven’t already subscribed to Indie Plot Twist, I invite you to do so now. Subscriptions are free and you can sign up for email newsletters (which are published once in a while), email notification of new content (every time a new post is published), or both. Just click here to get started. The entire process takes five minutes or less. Click through the process and you’ll have a good idea how it will work for your subscribers!

How to Set up Subscriptions Using MailChimp

This post marks the beginning of a three-part series on setting up your blog so readers can subscribe by email. In the first post, I’ll walk you through signing up for a free MailChimp account for your blog or website. In the following posts, we’ll talk about what to do afterward.

Why Subscriptions?

Despite the fact that many have pronounced email dead and some have gone so far as to bury it, email is still very much alive and well.

It is also the single best marketing tool you have, second only to word of mouth. People who value what you have to say or the products you have to offer enough to give you their names and email addresses are the people most likely to buy from you. If you have time for only one social media marketing tool, email should be your tool of choice.

That means building an email mailing list.

And that is not as difficult as it sounds.

Why MailChimp?

MailChimp is one of the top subscription and RSS (real simple syndication) feed services currently available, but it is by no means the only one. The free side of MailChimp provides everything most bloggers and online business owners need, but there is also a paid Premium service. The free service is valid for any user with 2,000 combined subscribers or less.

You can also use the same account for multiple blogs or websites. As I write this, I have three blogs on a single account. Each one has a separate subscriber list and separate email and RSS settings.

When I use the word “email”, I’m referring to email newsletters. When I use the word “RSS”, I’m referring to automatic notifications of new content on your blog or website. Both types of communications end up in your subscriber’s inbox, but the content is different.

The biggest reason I chose MailChimp is that it’s highly recommended and among the top services currently available. It’s also very easy to use.

Following are step-by-step instructions for using MailChimp to set up subscription forms for your blog or web site. I’m going to assume that you will be new to MailChimp and will start with the sign-up process.

Step 1: Go to MailChimp dot com

Go to MailChimp.com. You will land on a page similar to the one shown here. This is the landing page. Click on the red “Sign Up” button at the top, right of the browser window (red arrow).
Mailchimp signup screenshot 1

Step 2: Login Information

You will land on the page shown here.
Mailchimp signup screenshot 2

Type in the email you want to use for the account.

Type in the user name you want to use.

Type in a password. Notice that you have the option of showing your password as you type it. This option shows you the letters, numbers, and symbols you type instead of black dots. It’s very convenient for writing a password. When you have a password you like, you can also copy it and paste into a text document for future reference.

As you type in each box, tips on choosing user names and passwords appear beneath the box. Take a moment to review that information if you’re unsure how to choose a user name or password. You have to meet each of the conditions listed under the password box before your password will be accepted.

Make sure you make a note of your user name and password. It’s always a good idea to have a non-electronic record of this information for any account that requires a user name and password.

When you finish, click the gray “Create My Account” button at the bottom of the page.

Step 3: Activate Your Account

You will land on this page.
Mailchimp signup screenshot 3

The text inside the green box asks you to check your email for a verification email. The email will look something like this.
Mailchimp signup screenshot 4

Click on the “Activate Account” button marked by the red arrow.

Step 4: Confirm Humanity

This is the final step in the process. It confirms for MailChimp that you are, indeed, a real human being with a legitimate account instead of a computer robot trying send spam.
Mailchimp signup screenshot 5

Type the letters or numbers that appear in the box marked by the red arrow and click the “Confirm Signup” button at the bottom of the page.

Step 6: Let’s Get Started

You will land on a page that asks for information about who and where you are, who and what your business or organization is, and lets you personalize your account with things like a profile photo, connecting to your blog or website, and a number of other things.

Fill out the information and click the “Save and Get Started” button at the bottom of the page.
Mailchimp signup screenshot 6

Step 7: Done!

You’re now official! Congratulations!

You’ll land on a page that looks like the image below. The box marked with the red arrow is a two-part slide presentation with very basic information. I recommend that you take a moment and view the slide presentation.
Mailchimp signup screenshot 7

Once you’ve clicked through that, you’ll see your MailChimp home page, also known as the Dashboard. Everything you do from now on can be accessed through this dashboard.
Mailchimp signup screenshot 8

The options are “Create and send a campaign,” “Create a list,” and “Start building your audience.”

Each option has a link to step-by-step instructions and tutorials. It’s a good idea to take a look at those links before going any further.

You can also click on the three, horizontal white bars in the upper left-hand corner to see additional options.

Conclusion

And that’s all there is to setting up an account with MailChimp.

If you’re just getting started with blogging, I strongly recommend you take the time to set up a subscription account from the start. But it’s never too late to start. One of my blogs was nearly ten years old before I set up a MailChimp account. I was able to import all the email addresses I’d collected manually.

Next month, we’ll talk about setting up a subscriber signup form.

If you have questions in the meantime, please ask them! I’ll be happy to provide what answers I can.

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January Odds & Ends

Here it is the end of January already. Every month seems to speed past in a bigger blur.

I’m taking a break from the regular blogging routine to present a few  short notices and snippets of news. Sort of a “classified section,” if you like!

Personals

I’ve been “vacationing” in a creative desert for the past several months. Both parts of my creative self are participating. I haven’t painted since June 2014 and I haven’t done much fiction writing since December. None at all since January 1. I posted about my vacation on Writing Well (read that post here). For those who might be on a similar trek, I’m planning (in a general sort of way) to post periodic updates on the sojourn. If you’d just like reports from the Front, you’re welcome, too. I may even post some here, as well.

Coming Events

In the absence of fictive writing, I’m planning to focus a little more on clinics at Indie Plot Twist. That plan includes a series on using MailChimp beginning next week. Three of the posts are already written. I need a fourth so if you have a MailChimp question, leave a comment in the comment box below. Who knows? You may be the inspiration for that elusive fourth post!

Help Wanted

I’m also looking for ideas for subsequent clinics. What would you like to know more about? This is your opportunity to suggest a topic or subject. Even if a four-week clinic isn’t the result, I’d like to hear your thoughts. Good topics for individual  posts are always welcome. Topics may be related to writing, story development, tech support, or just dealing with the challenges of the writing life. Don’t be shy. Let us know what you’d like to know.

We’re also looking for guest bloggers interested in writing about indie publishing and all its aspects from idea development to marketing. If you would like to join us, check out the Blog For Us page for all the details. If you have a story to tell, we want to hear from you.

Announcements

Indie Plot Twist will be one year old February 1! Woo-hoo! It’a all thanks to you. We appreciate the opportunity to help you on your writing journey by sharing ours–ups and downs and all. Check out the top 10 most popular posts in the side bar at the right or browse the archives. Let us know your favorite posts.

We’d like to hear your success stories, too.