For self-published authors, a mailing list is a bit like having insurance.
Insurance? Yes, because when all else fails, closes, blows up, changes, gets hacked, or disappears into the Internet ether, you will still have your mailing list.
An author’s social media contacts are all well and good, but these connections can be taken away in an instant by a hacked account, an account suspension or a change of site policy.
There is no way to backup your social media contacts, so if a problem arises with your Twitter or Facebook account, there goes all your hard work and your contacts.
With your own mailing list, you have individual email addresses that you can use to make contact, either in bulk or individually. Think of it as your big one-to-one contact list.
The only way to truly keep your Internet contacts is by having a solid mailing list.
Building a mailing list is not only about sending emails. Many would immediately think that a mailing list is only useful for sending regular bulk emails and newsletters. While this is one use, when it is overused, it becomes spamming.
Another problematic issue is Graymail. Unlike spam, Graymail includes messages from mailing lists and newsletters that someone has legitimately signed up to receive.
Over time, these messages can begin to clutter their inbox and can easily be mistaken for spam.
Because of these issues, I hardly ever use my mailing list for sending bulk emails, apart from when I really have some important news or a special promotion. Both of which are a rarity.
So, if I don’t email very often, why do I bother with a mailing list?
When people subscribe to receive a newsletter or promotional email, they are expressing a genuine, or at least, passing interest in the subject matter. But if by subscribing, they find that their email inbox is being bombarded with promotional emails, they will unsubscribe in a hurry.
Or, if they are too lazy to do that, they will mark the emails as spam, and they will then forever, automatically go to their junk mailbox.
I keep my mailing to a minimum for three reasons
Firstly, if someone subscribes, I have their email address, so I have attained my primary objective of making a direct connection.
Secondly, people only unsubscribe when they get an email, so why increase the chances of this occurring by sending too many emails. Thirdly, I’m lazy, and sending bulk emails is a lot of hard work.
Ok, I’m lazy, and I don’t like bulk email, but I have my mailing list that no one can take away from me.
If my Twitter account gets hacked tomorrow, I can at least let a few thousand people know about it, and start again.
If I start a fantastic new Facebook Page, I can let people know, and if I’m lucky, I might get some Likes without having to pay Facebook.
If I forget to pay my annual hosting fee and all my sites go down, I can tell people that I am not really dead. Probably, just broke.
Are you ready to start building?
There are many reasons why a mailing list can save the day, but to have this insurance, you need to build your mailing list. I won’t go into the details of how to do this, as a quick Google Search on “building a mailing list” will give you plenty of informative reading.
Or you can read one of my previous posts about how to build and use a mailing list.
My only advice is that once you start building a mailing list, treat your subscribers nicely, and make sure you regularly download a backup of your mailing list from your mailing host.
Remember, nothing is forever on the Internet.
As a footnote, the most popular mailing list building services are Mailchimp and Aweber Email Marketing, but both can get a little expensive if you go over their free limits.
It is, therefore, worth checking with your web hosting service to see if they offer a similar service. In my case, I discovered that my web host offers a service that is almost the same as Mailchimp, but at a fraction of the price once over the free limit.
And no, I haven’t added a link to my subscribe page in this post. I’m sure you’ll find it if you’re interested, though.