2 Super Easy Methods to Drastically Increase Your Subscriber List

subscriber listIf I had balls I’d be telling you I’m balls deep in marketing research. But I don’t, and frankly I’m a feminist anyway. So instead, I’ll tell you I’m vagina deep in marketing research.

And god it feels good! It’s like I’m on some kind of frenzied writing drug that’s given me wild zombie hair and a crazed look in my eye. I’m rampaging my way through non-fiction books faster than I can sift through Bloggers Bash nominations. I’m devouring articles, publications, magazines and anything else I can lay my chubby mitts on. (book recommendations welcome  – leave them in the comments)

Before the year is out I will have to make the choice as to which path I’m to follow. At the moment I’m 60/40 indie/attempting trad. *shrugs* maybe I’ll try the hybrid thing. Either way, I still need to know everything I can about marketing. Without those skills I can kiss goodbye to anyone other than Mumsy and the Wife buying my book.

I’ve been trying different methods to boost my subscriber list and these two methods, over a two week test period, have produced a 114% increase in NEW subscribers. Yeah really. 114% increase in NEW subscribers compared to the previous two weeks.

Now’s probably a good time to *cough* demand mention that if you haven’t subscribed to my newsletter, which is jam packed full of writerly resources, then you can do so here, the next one is due out next week.

So what are these whip-your-knickers-off-awesome methods I’m referring to?

ONE – STICKY POSTS

Is it just me, or does that sound rank? Sticky is in the same category of ‘cringe inducing’ as the words moist and clammy.

What is a sticky post? Let me remove that cotton wool confusion and explain.

If you go to my home page the first post you see, will always be the same: SIGN UP NOW FOR FREE, EXCLUSIVE WRITING TIPS & NEWS

Screen Shot 2016-05-14 at 13.33.12

Sticky means, a post, whichever one you choose, will be sellotaped in wordpress’ finest duct tape to your front page forever more (unless you remove it). No matter how many new posts you publish your sticky post will always be the first thing people see.

Why is this a good thing when you want people to see your newest blog post?

Well, because the best form of marketing (other than paid adverts) is by email. EVERYthing I have read to date uses the argument that any other form of marketing you do, can be ignored. Think about it. How often do you see posters or Facebook adds and roll your heavy eyes and scroll on? I’m betting, if you even saw the add in the first place, most of you will have scrolled on by.

But, lets say I personally send you an email, from my email address… would you delete it without opening it? I’m not sure I want the answer to that. But I am willing to bet that most of you would at least open it to see if I had anything interesting to say.

And that’s the key. Advertising, particularly paid advertising is impersonal. Sure it reaches thousands, but it isn’t a personal call to arms. There’s nothing stopping you from swatting the irritating advert off your page like a dead fly. But when someone sends you a personal email. Well now that’s 1:1 marketing. That’s me, sending you, a personal email. Think about it.

So use sticky posts to draw new readers to your most important message. If you don’t want a subscriber list, try putting a sticky post about your books up there.

TWO – POP UPs

When WordPress brought out the new feature Pop up feature, I nearly did a wee I was so excited. See originally, only website users who were self hosted through WordPress could have pop ups.

By pop up, I mean the box that ‘pops up’ in the middle of a website when you land on a home page. The box usually says, ‘buy this’ or ‘subscribe now’. It’s usually in the middle of the screen and unless you click out you can no longer move through the article.

It’s annoying. I know it is. It bugs the shit out of me having to repeatedly click off boxes when I go to my fave bloggers websites. BUT. I cannot deny the effectiveness of said boxes and so, I forgive them!

Screen Shot 2016-05-01 at 21.08.46

My very own pop up!

To create this magical wonder tool, you need to find the pop up widget in your widgets section.

WordPress have created a brand new ‘Mailchimp pop up’ widget especially for Mailchimp users.

To get it working, you need to fill out the ‘pop up’ form in your sign up section on Mailchimp then copy the code it gives you into the widget box back in wordpress. Hey presto! You have a pop up.

The beauty of the WordPress widget is it tracks by cookie or some other stalkerish method. Which means only new visitors will see the pop up. Repeat visitors will not, so you can rest easy knowing you won’t irritate your friends and regulars.

The benefit of using these methods is that you will most assuredly see an increase in sign ups. Some authors claim as much as a 1000% increase. I can’t claim that. In my first two weeks I had 114% increase in new sign ups which is more than amazing enough for me. It also convinces me that this method works.


Want even more FREE exclusive writing tips straight to your mailbox? Sign up for my glittery* newsletter right here(*electronic glitter only)

133 comments

  1. I have a pop up and sticky post and can concur with your findings! Don’t know the numbers but collected more in a month than I had in 2 years previously by just having a link in my sidebar.

    1. I notice that your sticky post is about your books, something Sacha said wasn’t a good idea. I would have to do the same, as not as prolific with ‘how to’ posts.

      1. Ah no, if I haven’t made it clear I need to go back and edit. What I meant was, if you don’t have a subscriber list, then use the stick to promote your books. OR use the sticky for books anyway IF you have a pop up for your subscriber list. Hope that clarifies

      2. Hi Anita and Jaye! Yes, I have my sticky post about my books, a bit of shameless self promotion at the top of my blog, but if I can’t do it here, where can I? Lol! I’m an author and these are my books. But I also have a link in there to my email subscription list too. Unfortunately, there is no way to measure where the subscriptions are coming from; the sticky post, the popups, the end of my posts, or the sidebar. Historically, I got hardly any from the sidebar, so I’m certain it’s not that. But the rest were all introduced at roughly the same time. A clever, patient person would do it scientifically and introduce one at a time, and measure the response. Unfortunately that person isn’t me! ? I went in all guns blazing lol! The sticky post can be used to promote whatever is important to you, and that is something which might change. Its a great feature which hardly anyone ever uses.

    1. Put links to your subscriber list on your blog too tho, as if u have a separate author website and your blog has more traffic you can drive it to ur subscriber list 🙂

        1. But is it a pop up? I had a subscriber link too and it’s not you that’s invisible it’s the link that is. People don’t look at links and side bars. It has to be in their face. Do you put it at the end of each post?

          1. well the pop up just pops up on your front page.

            BUT at the end of every post I mention my newsletter and put a link to it at the end of the sentence. Does that make sense?

  2. I can’t argue with the results so congrats on discovering these methods. In my case, though, they add up to annoying. The first one (sticky) isn’t so bad because I am already a devoted reader so my email link takes me right to the post. But that damn popup drives me crazy. See, I read email and blog posts on my Kindle Fire (with bluetooth keyboard) because it’s portable. BUT to read your posts I first have to go into my settings, turn off landscape orientation, and turn the screen to protrait setting, in order to see the teeny little “close” link for your popup.Then I have to reverse all that. I’m sure that most readers don’t have this problem but I have to confess that if I am in a hurry, it occasionally leads to myskipping your post. And that is a darn shame.

    1. I’m not sure why you are seeing the pop up more than once. WordPress settings track by cookie/IP address so as a repeat visitor you should only have to close the box once. Not every time u visit. That’s truly bizarre. I’ll have to ask them as its not their set up. I wonder if it’s linked to the kindle?

  3. Yes, great tips! I never tried the pop up but I had sticky posts. They are really great to promote something special or new. I had 3 of them to promote my books. Too much… and I removed them again because when someone went through my posts they always saw my sticky posts first and only reacted to them. After a while, I was even asked if I post something new at times… lol! Instead, I did the widget on the sidebar to promote the latest book and put the gallery of all my book covers also on the sidebar. I think it is interesting when we vary a bit with all the opportunities we have here.

    1. It’s funny, you’re not the only one who says that about new posts. Charles said the same thing, people asked where he’d gone! because they only saw his sticky posts.

      I said, that I keep my sticky post, long and thin, so that it doesn’t take up too much room. Hopefully that helps.

      I saw your widget on the side looking all snazzy 😀 <3

      1. Yep, that is true! I think it is better to only have one sticky post and not permanently. Sometimes people might not scroll further once they see the same post over and over again. Anyway, it is a great way to draw attention to something special when it is on the home page! ?

  4. Two brilliant ideas, and easy to do too. Please make the rest of your marketing posts as easy, and I for one , will be eternally grateful as I’m getting tired of trying and getting nowhere…

    1. hehe no problems. We couldn’t get them until recently, I am not sure if you can have them for anything other than mail chimp, but still… progress is progress! Good luck 😀

  5. I find popups so annoying that I’m still not convinced. I will leave a site if I get popups too often. Luckily, the cookie settings are working on your site thus far. I’d love to know your results longer term. Keep us updated every few months if you’re still happy with your subscriber list growth.

    1. See this is so weird. You are telling me the cookies are working, and 3 people today have told me they keep having to close the box. WordPress has said that it shouldn’t show for repeat visitors.

      Ok I will do. I suspect growth will dwindle, but I guess it probably correlates to new visitors? So if my stats grow I suspect sign ups will too. But happy to update 😀 try a pop up…. you never know….

      1. I’m taking a bit of a hiatus on my newsletter, but when I get back to it I may try. I think I may try the sticky first. I add a sign up at the end of each post and that seems to be working for now. Nothing extraordinary but consistent. Newsletters is something I want to talk to you about in June.

        1. Well every little helps. It’s the compound effect at the end of the day.

          Ooh, ok, I look forward to the chat 😀 hope you’re ready for the PJ party at Geoffle’s the night before!

    1. Thank you – I have now brought those books although in paperback as I can’t read non-fic on my kindle – I don’t take anything in, sigh. But I hope the links will be in the paperbacks – I can always copy them by hand. Will check out the hot publicity too – thank you 😀

  6. Sorry, Sacha, I hate those pop ups with a passion. If something pops up at me I stop reading and close the link immediately. From what you, and Ali, say, though, it sounds like it does work so congratulations on building up your mailing lists.

    1. Ah I know Mary, I hate them too. Honestly I do. I won’t stop reading though if one pops up. Not if the content is good enough anyway.

      But I can’t deny they piss me off.

      I guess I am stuck between a rock and a hard place. I hope this blog is a platform for when I finally release my books. And when all the marketing books/content I am reading say the same thing… I don’t know what else I can do other than try? :S

      1. No, you are right to go for it – and it seems to work so obviously not everyone hates pop ups in the same way 🙂 Marketing is a continuous learning curve for most writers. I don’t think writers are natural marketing people but as no one else is going to promote our books we have to get on with it. I’ve just blogged about a marketing project I’m involved in with other authors where I live. Here’s the link in case you are interested and have a moment: https://takefiveauthors.wordpress.com/2016/05/14/tongues-will-wag

        1. I 100% agree. The more I am learning about marketing the more I realise that once the book is written the hard work actually starts. and that is VERY unnatural for writers. ooh squeal, I am defo popping over to your article 😀

  7. When I first noticed the pop-up on your site I thought, “No, Sacha, why pop-ins???” But if it’s helping you, then I forgive you. 😛
    I still have to actually get myself a newsletter… I wanted to start one at the beginning of the year but didn’t because of the whole address thing. Now I’m just not sure if I would be able to keep up with it at the moment.
    But you always give such great advice and this is something I plan to keep in mind for whenever I do create a newsletter!

    1. lol. I know right. It’s like selling your soul… BUT…. I can’t argue with the maths. And when every marketing book I have read ALL says the same thing (that a subscriber list is the best tool you can have) I couldn’t help myself. I had to just try to see what happened.

      I have to say. The first newsletter was traumatic! lol. It took forever. But now, they only take about an hour to do. So it’s really sped up…. if that’s any encouragement! It was the templates that did it.

  8. Interesting methods. I have to look into the pop up thing since I didn’t even know that was an option. Though they do tend to be annoying, I wonder if changing it every week would avoid that. I have run into one issue with the sticky posts, which is what you briefly mention. Some people don’t notice what’s going on and my newer posts suffer. That or I get messages asking if I’m okay and whatnot. Maybe it’s best to write ‘sticky note’ in the title to avoid that.

    1. Well, it wasn’t! It’s a recent addition. Agree about the annoying thing though. I suspect if you changed it ( the pop up) it would just make it reappear to repeat visitors. Which currently doesn’t happen using the wordpress widget.

      I guess it depends how big your sticky post is? I made mine small on purpose. Kind of for that reason actually…. long and thin did the charm. Not sure what I would do if I had a book ready to sell though…. *scratches head*

  9. Hmmm. I know I’m a tech disaster zone, but I’ve done what I shoulda done, been to mailchimp and got the URL, stuck the code in the pop up widget and hey presto…nothing happened. Any idea what I’m doing wrong?

    1. ok, so you have to ‘create’ the pop up form. let me see if I can get you a ‘how to guide’ …….*time ticks away*

      I’m back! and I found it….

      https://en.support.wordpress.com/mailchimp/

      have a go using those guidelines. That’s how I did mine. So basically you create the form, THEN use the ‘code’ it gives you and pop that into wordpress. So the ‘link’ I mentioned, which you found, I just use that in my posts themselves. BUT to create a pop up, you need the code, which you get when you create the form IN mail chimp. The link I sent should clarify. Shout me if you get stuck

      1. Thanks for that. I think I got it right, even though the mailchimp instructions are a bit ambiguous—your WP link is much clearer. But I see now that mailchimp puts in a cookie so users don’t see the form more than once. I did see the first form I made and edited it. Never saw that one, so maybe it’s because of that fiendish cookie. When you have a minute, can you go to my home page and tell me if there’s a pop up? Ta.

  10. I’m kind of in agreement with Barb. I hate those pop-ups and never read them. I go straight to the little x in the corner. Probably because of the hundreds of pop-ups in the games I play. I’m over pop-upped. The sticky post is less annoying once I recover from how confused I get thinking they are reposts and reposts and reposts. Ha ha. Thanks for that tips, Sacha! Perhaps when I work up the courage 🙂 And btw, I am signed up – not because of either method, but because I like your tips.

    1. I hate pop ups too! BUT I cannot argue with their effectiveness I guess thats the crux of it, sigh. Like if something pops up but I am reading the post, I will close it like you do. BUT if the post is good I will consider signing up after. (although it has to be REALLY good).

      But when the maths is so positive, and the correlation between subscriber list and sales is so good……….. what can an author do? ya know?!

  11. I have to disagree. I can’t stand this kind of crap when I come to a new blog. It’s just like you said, being too much like the spam you get on other sites; literally popping up in your face while you’re trying to read what’s posted, you know- the reason you came there in the first place. If I’m still reading after that smack in the face chances are I won’t come back again.

    I much prefer the sidebar link/button- it’s unobtrusive and does what we both want: let you follow the site. Too few bloggers on WordPress take advantage of it.

    1. I completely understand your hatred for them. I do find them VERRRRRRY annoying. But I wouldn’t not return to someone just because they had a pop up. Especially if they had good quality content. I could forgive them a pop up. Especially if it is one of these new WordPress ones which track cookies and therefore don’t come up the next time you visit. At the end of the day, blogs are platforms. I personally want to sell books at some point, so if the maths works then I am willing to try these things, despite the knowledge that I might lose a few readers. The numbers speak for themselves really, so I suppose it depends on why one blogs. I blog because I share things I have learnt on my own personal journey, but also because I want to sell my books and use my blog as a platform. I am ok with trying new techniques, especially if they have such amazing results.

  12. Both of these are really interesting ideas!!! I am selfhosted wordpress and just have the floater on the bottom and one to the side. I detest popups with a hatred that would sear unicorn souls, but… a sticky post might be a really awesome way to have yet one more call to action that wouldn’t get ignored. Thanks!

    1. haha, I hate pop ups too. BUTTTTT I cannot argue with the maths. At the end of the day I want to sell books. I really like the fact wordpress ensure they track cookies so that you don’t annoy repeat visitors though. That’s a bonus. I hope the sticky posts work for you. Let me know the results.

  13. Haha! “cringe inducing as the words moist…” I don’t hate ‘sticky’ as it makes me think of notes we use around the house but, also, conjures images of a theatre floor. ‘Moist’ I just hate. Gah!

    Great advice and I have occasionally used the sticky post but not for ads. Not yet. 😉 The pop-ups? I, too, cannot argue with your numbers so that’s fantastic but… I find them so annoying. I read a lot on my phone so they take up the entire screen and I can barely see the “x” to close it. I was interested to see WP tracks regular visitors and stops the pop-up. That’s brilliant.

    1. ahh yes, I bloody love a sticky post-it! hah not yet… I certainly hope I see an ad soon!

      I agree I find ads annoying too. But I guess we have to decide, if the maths counts – do we want to sell books, or worry about annoying a minority? AND I know that the minority count, I wouldn’t want to annoy friends BUT, blogs are platforms. They are meant to help sell books. So I guess it’s a choice we have to make. I would hope that fellow writer bloggers would understand the drive to sell books. I like the wordpress widget because of the very fact that its meant to track cookies so that repeat visitors don’t get harassed.

      1. I see the pop-up every time I visit your site (and I subscribed to your newsletter forEVA ago. I’m a big fan). So…hopefully it will stop soon. Eek!

        Now I just read your posts on my laptop so I can close the pop-up easier and this takes me a bit longer to get to your posts but they’re always worth it. <3

        1. You’re the second person to say that it repeatedly pops up. It shouldn’t. This makes me cross. I will email wordpress forthwith and find out why it is doing that.

  14. You are becoming a marketing machine! And if I may add a word about ‘pop ups’, or maybe a few words, I find them soooooooo annoying. I don’t appreciate big pop ads coming at me when I’ve barely landed on a page, especially if I’m following a link to that page from someone else’s suggestion or from social media. I’m sure they may be effective for some people, but hey, at least give a person a chance to read a paragraph or two before throwing that in our face. If I’ve never even been to that blog and that is the first thing coming into my face, I leave. Just sayin’ 🙂

    1. So… the interesting thing here is, you can ‘time’ these pop ups. So that they appear after 10,20,60 seconds etc.

      Would that entice you?

      FYI, these pop ups fuck me right off! I am with you, although I won’t leave immediately I will defo read something to see if the content is as good as the recommendation.

      BUT, the thing is, the stats don’t lie, and when you are building a platform and want to use the most effective marketing tools…. whats a writer to do?!?? :s :S :s

      1. I do hear you Sach. And I suppose ‘timing’ the dreaded pop ups would be much better, allowing a person at least a moment to see if they’re remotely interested in the blog before being bombarded.
        Call me old fashioned, and marketing certainly isn’t my strong point, but I happily follow and subscribe to all the blogs I do by seeing clearly on the top or top of side bar where the sign up is.
        And I can tell you, that I have often come across blogs where I’ve wasted many minutes trying to find their signup and couldn’t. Certainly those people are definitely missing out. You go girl. You my friend, have no problems gathering followers!!! <3

        1. If only all readers were as diligent as you. SO many people don’t see the side bar it is infuriating. I wish that were the case, nothing about building followers is quick or easy. Sigh.

  15. I hate pop ups, but if you are getting results, you have to run with it. (Whew, WP keeps it off repeat readers – that helps a lot)
    I rarely look at people’s sidebars – sometimes they are just too cluttered and nothing stands out. Less is more in many cases.
    I like the idea of short sticky posts and changing them – glad you went over that idea.

    1. Well, wordpress is MEANT to keep it off repeat readers, but at the moment I have had 4 people tell me they keep seeing it, but thankfully most are not.

      I am like you – I don’t really look at side bars either.

      Hope you find the stickies useful 😀

  16. Hi Sacha – I didn’t know you could get either of these things on WP, so I learned something today – thank you. I will concur with most other commenters in that pop ups drive me crazy – also I do see yours every time I visit your site, even though I’ve already subscribed (but it doesn’t make me want to leave your blog). I’m about to do a marketing plan myself and am looking at a few different things, so this is all very helpful – I do need to get on the newsletter train, that’s for sure. Hmmm, Silver and Black as newsletter content….

    1. Well, I didn’t know till recently either. I believe it is a new function. Pop ups drive me mad too, but you can’t argue with their success.

      I don’t understand why you are seeing the pop up. You really shouldn’t be. That’s so frustrating…. OOOOH now that would most definitely make me sign up 😀

          1. For the love of my sanity, stop commenting and pick up the keyboard! ;p messing, I love your comments… but seriously now… finish that book!

          2. Hehe – scenes are still coming along, another one arrived today. I just need to get Hills and Valleys published first, then I can head back to Silver and Black – I don’t want to rush it though…

  17. Wow! 114% increase! Go, Sacha, go! I had no idea about the pop up feature on WordPress. It does bug me when they keep popping up, but you’ve written it as a must have if you’re to become a published author. I’ll stop swatting the computer screen whenever I see one now. ?

    1. Ahh well, I am no where near where I want to be, but yeah, it REALLY helped. I was so amazed to see the results. haha, I know right, I felt different about them when I started reading how effective they were too!

  18. Wow I’d never thought to use sticky posts in WordPress – I have a pinned post on Twitter, maybe I should do that on WP too!

    I use SumoMe for my pop-ups – at the moment I’m experimenting with the Welcome Mat because it’s allegedly more effective than a pop up but I actually had more success with the pop up so I’ll probably go back to it soon.

    I haven’t had as many sign ups lately, maybe I should spruce that up again.

    1. Yep – it’s exactly the same concept as twitter. Ooh, I have heard of SumoMe. is it a plug in? that’s the only thing I hate about not being self hosted – not having them. Tell me more about Welcome Mat – what is it?

      1. Yeah, you might need to be self-hosted to use it. A Welcome Mat is just a thing at the top of the blog where you see it first, then you either add your email or click no and it lets you access the blog as normal.

          1. So far I found the pop up to be more useful as it features a cover image of the book you get if you sign up while the Welcome Mat doesn’t!

          2. Hmm ok. And everything I read says pop ups are ‘it’ at the minute.

            Remind me to pick your brains about video formatting at the bash 🙂 (if you don’t mind)

  19. Okay I am where you are: swinging between trad/ self pub. Of course, I have to finish the damn book first 😛 Oh my god, I am knee-deep in non-fiction too! Okay, my recco list: Quiet by Susan Cain, When Breath becomes air by Paul Kalanithi, Lean in by Sheryl Sandberg, Thrive by Arianna Huffngton, I am Malala and also very very tempted to read something by Anne Lamott but not able to decide which one. Suggestions welcome 🙂

    1. I am reading lots of marketing stuff on promoting your book. Like ‘How to Market a Book’ by Joanna Penn – it’s enlightening, I highly recommend it.

  20. Hi Sarah
    I can make a suggestion about the popups if you are interested. It is possible to not deliver them to people who have already signed up like me (cause seeing them when you are already in is a bit, well, I don’t know probably none of my business kind of comment this is…). there should be a config in your pop-up machine somewhere. I love your info. I will do the sticky landing page but make it number 2 to see if it gets traction there.

    1. Hi there, yep – mine are set to only appear to new people to the website. That being said, for a couple of people, they continue to appear. I’m not sure why that is, I have asked mail chimp too and they don’t think its an issue from there end, so I am a little stumped.

      1. I get them every time go to your site. Anyway, it was just a suggestion. I see Joanna Penn has a neat little thing on them. Go to www. the creative Penn.com (no spaces) and look at the side slide in popups she uses. They give the reader the chance to opt out. Just a thought. I use a subtle on bar at the top but had to drop the side slide ins and the pop ups because they came into my landing page as well. Nice chatting

        1. Hi Michael, I know of three other people who face this same problem, it’s a real frustration for me as I feel a little helpless to resolve it, having contacted both wordpress and Mailchimp. Joanna Penn is self hosted. So she is able to use plug ins and have a lot more control over pop ups etc, at the minute the non self hosted wordpress sites (like mine) have only one option for a pop up. I have set it to only pop up to new readers, but as I mentioned, I have a couple of friends who suffer the same issues on my website. You should be able to close the box using the close button, but I completely understand how frustrating it must be. Moving to self hosted is something I really want to do, not just to have more control over things like plug ins but for a variety of other reasons. I hope to do so in the winter, and that should resolve the pop up issue.

Leave a Reply