How many fans does it take to make a living as a writer or artist? And do those fans HAVE to be on your email list or can they be spread across your social media platforms?
This week I’m answering Kelli‘s question about whether it is better to build an email list or find followers through other social media platforms. I have a LOT to say about email lists. And audience.
Listen to Create If Writing – Episode 006
At a Glance: Email Lists vs Other Social Media Platforms
- An email list is integral because it allows you to reach into someone’s personal space in a way that is more intimate than Twitter or Facebook.
- Email lists are set up through a host, NOT your personal email account. (I use Mailchimp for one list, but for serious list-building, I’ve moved to Convertkit. Read WHY.)
- My biggest numbers in terms of traffic come through Pinterest and Facebook, with Twitter at a VERY distant fourth. My email list brings my blog more traffic than Twitter, but not by too much. Then again, I have a few hundred people opening each email, which makes it about as popular as my second or third most popular blog post on any given day. (Looking at my email list the day after recording, the open rate bumped up to 30%, which is pretty normal for me.)
- Other platforms may change (like Facebook’s algorithms that make your visibility disappear), but your email is under YOUR control.
- Publishers would generally say that around 10,000 email subscribers is a good number to see for a non-fiction book deal. 5,000 would get attention, but 10,000 is the sort of “golden” number. (More on that in episode 007!)
- Kevin Kelly introduced the theory that 1,000 true fans (who will buy everything you make) is enough to make a comfortable living.
My Big Takeaway
Get an email list. Decide what service to use (always use a service, not your gmail or hotmail) and what kind of content/how frequently. Think about what best serves your goals. Do your best to grow your list authentically so you have people who really LIKE you and want to support you and buy whatever it is you sell: book, album, class, coaching. But ALSO keep growing your social media platforms. You may connect with different people in those spaces and find real fans and real traffic.
The email list should be your foundation and your true fans, who will buy anything you create. (So when someone unsubscribes, rather than feeling sad, think about the fact that they are NOT your true fan and it is one less person to pay for when you get to that point.) Having a smaller number of loyal subscribers is great, but those bigger numbers can matter to publishers or for other reasons. Intentionally grow your email list, but definitely use a combination of platforms for growth.
Need more resources on email lists? I’ve got you covered!
What I Want to Know from YOU:
If these numbers sound crazy scary to you (they alternately do and don’t to me, depending on that day’s optimism/pessimism/realism balance), don’t fear! What is YOUR goal for your email list or platform growth?
Where are you finding social media or email working for you? Is my experience that I share in the podcast similar or different to yours?