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Are you serious about blogger? Really serious? If so, you need to start your e-mail list. Now. Trust me. I don’t care if you only have 5 page views a day. I waited almost two years to start my list and wish I hadn’t wasted all that time (and potential subscribers!). We’re going to turn your readers into subscribers using two key concepts: a great freebie and ConvertKit.

{Note: I AM an affiliate for ConvertKit. Because I love them. And they’re amazing. So there are affiliate links in this post. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.}

After you’ve decided to start an e-mail list, THE question then becomes “who should you use for e-mail?”. If you’re willing to invest in your business, ConvertKit is where to start. I use ConvertKit and have gone from less than 100 subscribers to over 5,500 (and counting!). In part due to their amazing forms, integrations, and features. Below I’m going to go over how to setup ConvertKit. Step-by-step pictures and instructions so you get all those little things that mean so much done right! 

This is a long, informative post with a ton of information. So sorry about the length…but I included everything you need to know from the very basic set-up to setting up advanced sequences!

{Side note: did I mention ConvertKit currently has a free trial and a 30-day money back guarantee?} If you’re not sure about ConvertKit, I did a blog post: “Why I Invested in ConvertKit…Even When I Wasn’t Making Money.” It gives some perspective and also has some information on MailChimp, including if that might be the right e-mail service for you.

Content included below: 
1. Sign-up for ConvertKit
2. Basic Settings
3. The Easy Setup Area
4. Import any subscribers you may have
5. Forms…how people sign up
6. Landing pages…another way people can sign up
7. Sequences…create a welcome series for your new subscribers
8. Link your sequence to your form (or landing page)
9. Broadcasts…send a regular newsletter
10. Promote, promote, promote! (I’ll help you if you have a great freebie!)

If you’re interested in blogging, you might be interested in my “How to Set Up Your Blog: The Ultimate Guide” or my “Blogging Resources for a Successful Blog“!

1. Sign-up for ConvertKit

Just click on the banner above or on this link>>> ConvertKit. You’ll get taken to a landing page where you can choose to watch a demo or start your free trial. If you’re interested in pricing and features, I included the current pricing below. This is for paying monthly. You can save money by paying annually (which is what I do!).

ConvertKit pricing chart for paying monthly. You can save money by paying annually, though!
ConvertKit pricing chart for paying monthly. You can save money by paying annually, though!

Anyway, on the landing page, click on “Get a Free Trial.” There is no credit card required.

Put in your e-mail and select a password. Click on “Create your account.”

When I joined, they had a step where they approved your account. If this is still in effect, they will prompt you to do this. But keep in mind, you can keep setting up stuff while you’re waiting for approval!

2. Basic Settings

Let’s get started with the basic, basic settings. These are easy to do, but I included pictures for reference.

Click on the funny “off/on-type” symbol in the upper corner. It will then prompt you to either click on “Account Settings” or to “Logout”. Go to “Account Settings”.

The default page that pops up when it opens is “Account Info.”

• Purple arrow- Type in your company/blog name.

• Green arrow- API key. You’re not going to use this right now, but keep in mind this is where you find it. (I scribbled mine out, but it’s where the purple blob is).

• Red arrow- this is where you set up any GDPR settings. I, personally, am not worrying about that right now. I’m an American blogger with an almost 100% American audience. But if you want have an EU audience, you should be showing the subscriber stuff to EU residents.

Next, click on “Email” on the left hand side.

• Green arrow- This is your basic account information. You want your e-mail address to be your official website address. If you’re using gmail or another bulk provider, it will often get sent to spam. In fact, it can get blocked from entire networks (Yahoo in particular likes to bulk block…this happened to a friend of mine who was using her gmail…it blocked and auto-subscribed over 100 of her followers who had Yahoo addresses). And she had no way on contacting them and letting them know what happened.

• Blue arrow- Edit when you want e-mail to go out (in general). This is for sequences and the like.

• Purple arrow- you’re required by law to have a physical address attached to all e-mail that is for marketing purposes. And if you’re a blogger e-mailing subscribers, that counts as marketing. I use my physical address since I’m on a military base and live in a restricted area. A lot of my blogger friends rent P.O. Boxes that have the option of using a physical address instead of “P.O. Box” in the address line.

And that’s it. Our basic settings are complete!

3. The Easy Setup Area

When you click on the button in the upper right hand corner, there is a quick-start section. Underneath the tasks are the links to all the help guides/documentation as well as a way to contact support.
When you click on the button in the upper right hand corner, there is a quick-start section. Underneath the tasks are the links to all the help guides/documentation as well as a way to contact support.

When you click on the button in the upper right hand corner, there is a quick-start section. Underneath the tasks are the links to all the help guides/documentation as well as a way to contact support.

I’m going to go through all these steps below, along with pictures. And I can’t promise they’ll still be doing it…but I got a free t-shirt (including shipping) when I finished all the steps. So check them off as you go along!

It was one of those nice, soft ones too. Hey, free t-shirt! Who can complain?

4. Import any subscribers you may have...

When I joined, I didn’t have many subscribers. In fact, I didn’t even bother importing them. But I included the steps below in case you have some.

You start by clicking on “Subscribers” on the top bar. You’ll see this screen:

After you go to subscribers, click on "add subscribers."
After you go to subscribers, click on "add subscribers."

Click on add subscribers. You’ll have the option to add subscribers one by one, import a CSV file, or to import from another e-mail service. Screenshots and instructions below.

If you select 'another provider,' a list of options will come up. Select your provider, connect, and import your subscribers!
If you select 'another provider,' a list of options will come up. Select your provider, connect, and import your subscribers!
You'll be given the option of adding a single subscriber, importing a CSV list, or importing from another provider.
You'll be given the option of adding a single subscriber, importing a CSV list, or importing from another provider.
If you select CSV file, a box will pop up and allow you to drag and drop your CSV file. You have the option to add the subscribers to forms, sequences, or tags.
If you select CSV file, a box will pop up and allow you to drag and drop your CSV file. You have the option to add the subscribers to forms, sequences, or tags.

5. Forms...how people sign up

-Basic Set-Up

You want subscribers. They want to join. But how do you get them added to ConvertKit? This is where forms come in. On your home page, you’ll see: menu bar across the top, subscribers stats below that, and forms below that. Since you’re just starting, there won’t be any forms. Just click on “+Create Form” (circled in blue on the screenshot below).

To start a new form, go to 'forms'. Then click on 'create form' (circled in blue).

Once you click on “+Create Form”, it will ask you if you want to create a landing page or form (image below). Click on form.

You can then choose if you want in inline, modal, or slide-in type of form. I normally choose inline because I embed the form on a landing page or at the bottom of a post on my webpage.

It will then give you three options for the type of form you want (image below):
• A clean e-mail sign-up form that just has the sign-up form.
• A larger e-mail sign-up for that allows for an image and a small blurb of text around the sign-up box.
• A minimal e-mail sign-up that allows for an area of text around the sign-up box.

I suggest having an image. So I chose the middle option.

You will then have the choice to pick 'form' or 'landing page.'
You will then have the choice to pick 'form' or 'landing page.'
Once you click 'form,' I normally pick 'inline.' But you can also make modal or slide-in forms.
Once you click 'form,' I normally pick 'inline.' But you can also make modal or slide-in forms.
Once you choose the type of form, you can choose which template you want: clean, full, or minimal. I usually use a full form.
Once you choose the type of form, you can choose which template you want: clean, full, or minimal. I usually use a full form.

-Customizing what the readers sees

We’re going to customize what your reader sees when they sign-up first. You can click on the headline, the text underneath it, what the sign-up boxes say, what the subscribe button says, and what the words underneath says.

When you click on each of them, options will pop up on the right side for the various things you can change. (screenshots below).

To change the headline, just click there (circled in blue on the left). Circled in blue on the right are the various options of what you can change.
To change the headline, just click there (circled in blue on the left). Circled in blue on the right are the various options of what you can change.
You can also change what is shown in the subscriber boxes. The blue arrow shows all the options that you can change.
You can also change what is shown in the subscriber boxes. The blue arrow shows all the options that you can change.
You can also change what it says in the 'subscribe' box. The blue arrow shows other options you can change.
You can also change what it says in the 'subscribe' box. The blue arrow shows other options you can change.

-Form Settings: Main Settings

After you’ve saved the “content” (what your readers see), now you need to do all the behind-the-scenes set-up of the form. These are the setting that are going to make sure everything works correctly.

If you click on the little gear icon, you’ll get the option of choosing what a reader sees after they subscribe. You can show a success message (automatic by ConvertKit) or send them to a custom ‘thank you page.’ I send them to a custom thank-you page that tells them what’s going to happen and how they’re going to get their opt-in freebie.

When you click on a little e-mail icon, you’ll have the option of whether to send a double opt-in (aka- an email confirming that they want to subscribe to the list). You can choose whether to send them an auto-confirm or offer an incentive download. For example, with my free 2019 Planner, after the reader confirms, the planner automatically pops up because I set it up like that.

This is a screenshot of my form. Click on the little gear (circled in blue) to change the settings of what happens when someone subscribes.
This is a screenshot of my form. Click on the little gear (circled in blue) to change the settings of what happens when someone subscribes.
You can also choose whether to have double opt-in. If you choose to have double opt-in, you can choose where they are sent after opting in.
You can also choose whether to have double opt-in. If you choose to have double opt-in, you can choose where they are sent after opting in.

The little ‘magic wand’ button allows you to make further customizations to the form, such as the background color, etc.

The double-gear icon allows you to change what the subscriber sees future times they visit your site. For example, you can display custom content displaying a product you are selling.

By clicking on the magic wand looking icon, you there are other options with the form you can change, such as background color, etc.
By clicking on the magic wand looking icon, you there are other options with the form you can change, such as background color, etc.
The double-gear allows you to change what a subscriber sees in place of the form if they've already subscribed.
The double-gear allows you to change what a subscriber sees in place of the form if they've already subscribed.

-Form Settings: Getting the form on your site

It’s easy to get the form actually on your site.

If you use WordPress, get the ConvertKit plug-in. Trust me, you want this. It allows you to set a default form at the bottom of every single post! And it’s automatic. Just change the ‘default’ form and every single post will now show that post at the bottom. Of course, you can go into the posts and manually change what is shown.

And where you want to manually add the form, you just copy a bit of code.

When you click on embed, a screen like the following will appear. Just choose whichever option you want.

You can choose to embed via javascript, html, wordpress code, and more.
You can choose to embed via javascript, html, wordpress code, and more.

Side note: If you want to send you reader a welcome sequence of e-mails (which I highly, highly recommend), scroll down to “Sequences” and we’ll go through how to do that there!

6. Landing Pages...another way people can sign up

-Basic Set-Up

A landing page is basically just a page dedicated to your sign-up form. I do NOT use this feature on ConvertKit. I make my own landing pages on my website and just use a regular form to allow readers to sign-up. But I included the details below in case you want to use this feature on ConvertKit.

A full landing page allows for more detail and looks very professional. Let’s go through how to set up a landing page using ConvertKit.

Just click on “+Create Form” (circled in blue on the screenshot below). {Yes, exactly what we did when we created a “regular” form}

To start a new form, go to 'forms'. Then click on 'create form' (circled in blue).

Once you click on “+Create Form”, it will ask you if you want to create a landing page or form (image below). Click on landing page.

It will then give you four options for the type of landing page you want (image below). They show a brief sample of each.

Once you click on "Landing Page", you'll have the option of picking which design you prefer for your landing page.

-Customizing what the readers sees

We’re going to customize what your reader sees when they visit the landing page.

You can click on each section: the headline, the little blurb, the e-mail box, the subscribe button. As you click on a particular section, a box will pop up on the right with what you can edit.

If you want to change the blue background to an image (which you do), simply click on the “magic wand” and it will pop up a box that allows you to make all sorts of edits, including uploading an image you prefer.

As with regular forms, just click on what you want to edit, such as where it says "your name" and a box of options you can edit will pop up on your right.
As with regular forms, just click on what you want to edit, such as where it says "your name" and a box of options you can edit will pop up on your right.
The change the blue screen in the back to an image of your choice, click on the little "magic wand", then choose a background image.
The change the blue screen in the back to an image of your choice, click on the little "magic wand", then choose a background image.

Hosting Landing Page/Embedding

ConvertKit automatically hosts the page for you. But you can also choose to embed it on your WordPress site. Simply click on “share” on the menu bar right above your form, and your link and other options will appear (screenshot below).

ConvertKit hosts the page, but you can also choose to embed it on your Wordpress site.
ConvertKit hosts the page, but you can also choose to embed it on your Wordpress site.

7. Sequences...create a welcome series for your new subscribers

Okay, let’s see where we’re at. You’ve got a sign-up form done. You’ve put in on your site. Now readers are signing up for your newsletter. Yay!

But you might remember that back when we set up the form, we didn’t have an option to add the subscriber to a sequence. We want to do that now.

Now, I always suggest offering a freebie to get readers to sign-up for your newsletter. Whether you offer a freebie or not, you need to welcome your reader to your newsletter. A lot of bloggers miss this step. They just start sending their regular newsletter after a sign-up with no introduction. But you want to welcome your reader. You want them to feel like you’re forming a relationship.

So we’re going to set up a welcome sequence.

-Basic Set-Up

Click on sequences in the main header.

Then click on “Create Sequence” (circled in red below).

It will then prompt you to name your sequence. So type in a name to identify it. Then click “create sequence”.

The screen below is what you will see when you start a new sequence.

You can have as many e-mails as you want in a sequence. They can also arrive at whatever interval you want. For example, after someone purchases my Life Organized binder, I have a 3-email sequence. They get a “thank you” e-mail immediately after purchase. A week later I do a follow-up making sure everything is okay. I do a final one two weeks after that asking for feedback and to share the binder on social media if they found it useful.

In the image below:

• Orange arrow- change the e-mail subject line.

• Green arrow- fill in the content you want included in the e-mail.

• Red arrow- this is where you change when the e-mail goes out. In the example above for my binder: the first e-mail is set to ‘immediately,’ the second to ‘1 week after last e-mail’, the third to ‘two weeks after last email’.

• Blue arrow- you have to change this to publish before the e-mail will actually go out to anyone. Keep in mind you have to assign readers to the sequence also! So go ahead and change it to publish once you have your content finalized.

• Green circle- save any changes

• Orange circle- add another e-mail to your sequence.

I included a screenshot of what my welcome series looks like for those who sign up for my free 2018 Planner. There are two e-mails. You may remember that I have it set up that they automatically get sent to the planner after clicking ‘confirm’.

But I also send a welcome e-mail that includes the planner in case they don’t know to download it right away.

In addition, 2 days after that I send a welcome e-mail that is packed full of links to the most popular free printables and recipes on my site. It gives me a chance to showcase my very best content, but it’s sent as a “welcome/get to know you” e-mail.

In the image below:

• Red arrow- this is where you change the time interval between e-mails. The first one goes out immediately. If I were to click on the second e-mail in the series, it would say “2 days after last e-mail” in that area.

• Red circle- you can see all the e-mails in the sequence. In this case, it’s just these two.

8. Link your sequence to your form (or landing page)

This is really quick. But I made a full step for it just so you don’t miss it.

You need to click on “Automations.” Then click on “Rule”. Click “Add a rule”.

This is very easy. Where it says “Trigger,” you’re going to click “Subscribes to a form” and select your form you just set up.
Then where it says “Action,” you’re going to click “Subscribe to a sequence” and select the sequence we just set up.

Now, when readers sign up, this tells ConvertKit to automatically send them the welcome sequence that you set up.

Under "Rules," click "Add rule" (box in red).
Under "Rules," click "Add rule" (box in red).
Under "Trigger", select "subscribes to a form". And under "Action" select "subscribe to a sequence."
Under "Trigger", select "subscribes to a form". And under "Action" select "subscribe to a sequence."

9. Broadcasts...send a regular newsletter

You have subscribers. We’ve set up a welcome series. But now we need to send regular newsletters. ConvertKit calls this a broadcast.

So, click on “Broadcasts” on the main menu bar.

In the screenshot below, you can see some of the recent broadcasts I’ve sent out. Click on “+New Broadcast” (circled in red in the image below).

First, it will ask you to whom you wish to send the broadcast. You can filter your subscribers multiple ways. (red arrow)

Another great feature is the “Duplicate Broadcast” (green arrow in the image below). I have a “master” version that includes a little introduction, conclusion, my signature, and notes for my next few newsletters. All I do is duplicate this template, and then edit it for the current newsletter.

As I mentioned, you can filter your subscribers multiple ways. And you can do multiple filters!

For example, when I was recently launching “Life Organized,” it was a series of four e-mails that went out over a week. I wanted all my subscribers to get it. Except I didn’t want new subscribers to get them (after all, they had just subscribed…I didn’t want my first e-mails to them being sales e-mails…that sets the wrong impression). Plus, I didn’t want to continue to send sales e-mails to those who had already purchased.

So, I made a filter that excluded all subscribers from the last 7 days and excluded those who had already purchased. It was VERY easy.

Another example, I usually send something blogging-related in each post at the very bottom. I have it set up so that any reader who clicks on those links gets a tag added to their name that says “Interested in blogging.” I’m doing a round-up newsletter of great blogging resources later this year. But I’m only going to send it to those readers who are already interested in blogging.

After you click next, you edit your broadcast! In the image below:

• Red arrow: edit your e-mail subject line.

• Green arrow: basic editing features. You can add images, links, edit html, and more.

• Purple arrows: a great feature! You can preview the e-mail in your browser as well as send a sample copy to your e-mail.

10. Promote, promote, promote...if your freebie is good, I'll help you a little

I’ve mentioned it multiple times, but a great freebie is the best way to get e-mail subscribers. Barely anyone signs up for a “newsletter” anymore. They want something. And you, being a blogger on a specific topic, have something: knowledge.

So develop a great freebie! It can a printable, a mini-ebook, a multi-page pdf, a course, something! But develop a freebie. Then instead of telling people to “subscribe,” you’re telling them to “grab their freebie!”

But while you are going to get some subscribers who see the form on your site, you also need to promote it. Facebook, Pinterest, Reddit, Instagram. Promote, promote, promote.

Drop me a comment with a link to your freebie sign-up. If I like it, I’ll be happy to promote it on my Free Printables (it includes free ebooks and courses) Pinterest board and on my Free Printables sub-reddit. If it looks really good, I’ll sign up and check it out. And maybe promote it elsewhere if it’s amazing. I love sharing freebies with my readers.
In fact, if you sign up for ConvertKit through my link (I’m an affiliate), let me know. I occasionally do a small section in my newsletter sharing about other great products and bloggers.

~~~Free trial & 30-day money back guarantee~~~

How to Setup ConvertKit: The Ultimate Guide. Step-by-step pictures and instructions on how to set up all those little things that make a difference! Convert (pun intended) readers into long-term subscribers! #email #blog #blogging #ConvertKit
How to Setup ConvertKit: The Ultimate Guide. Step-by-step pictures and instructions on how to set up all those little things that make a difference! Convert (pun intended) readers into long-term subscribers! #email #blog #blogging #ConvertKit
How to Setup ConvertKit: The Ultimate Guide. Step-by-step pictures and instructions on how to set up all those little things that make a difference! Convert (pun intended) readers into long-term subscribers! #email #blog #blogging #ConvertKit