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How I Quadrupled My Subscriber List, by Katey Schultz

Friday, December 23, 2011

I'll admit it. I'm one of those writers that used to blush when being called a blogger. My embarrassment was based on stereotypes, of course, and I'll confess them here only to prove a point. I didn't like being called a blogger because bloggers weren't artists. Bloggers were in it for the money and would do anything to make a sale. And if they weren't that, bloggers were publishing drip about their personal lives, which I didn't care for.

I started blogging in 2005, when perhaps those stereotypes had a percentage of truth to them. I kept my blog to myself, oddly enough, but as people started to find me and as my short stories and essays earned recognition in the literary world, The Writing Life blog started growing - whether I was ready for it or not. Now more than ever, I understand that bloggers can't be boxed in to a single category and that, as a young writer trying to earn a living, one of the most important things I can do for my career is identify as a blogger.

Reading Phil Hollows' List Building for Bloggers e-book changed my entire outlook. I purchased it because I'm also an editor for TRACHODON Magazine and am in charge of its blog, Cheek Teeth. I figured I shouldn't let my stereotypes about blogging get in the way of my business as an editor. But, wait a minute…didn't I also have a business as a writer? Listbuilding helped me see that as a blogger I am also an "accidental marketer," as Phil would say, and that by failing to take advantage of branding, list building, and email blasts, I was missing an opportunity to make a name for myself…and maybe even make a little money for postage and gas. I could still write quality blog posts and publish short stories I was proud of, but I could also maintain an active blog and website that offered incentives and literary products to my readers.

So I read the book, twice, with highlighter in hand. I already had the FeedBlitz "subscribe by email" bubble on my site, but it wasn't in the right place and I hadn't notified my contacts, branded the newsletter, or paid any attention to its schedule. Following the instructions in List Building, within a matter of days my email subscribers quadrupled and, several months later, I still get a few new subscribers each week. More importantly, I saw the hits on my website increase over the weekends - when I never post new content - because my subscribers were taking their time with my weekly FeedBlitz newsletter (which is emailed Friday mornings) and perusing my blog via click-throughs that FeedBlitz makes so easy in the newsletter format. Despite my belief that if I organized my readers through an email list my hits would go down, in fact, my hits kept going up.

Bolstered by this experience, I followed the other tips in List Building to a tee. Most changes were small - including a subscription link in my email signature, titling blog posts to make them appear readily in Google searches, dreaming up relevant incentives for subscribers - and within one month traffic on my site increased by over 35% and continues to grow. Excited, I set up my first autoresponder, as List Building suggests. Using an email blast to announce the project, and further promoting it on the blog and through social media outlets, I launched Monthly Fiction by Katey Schultz, 12 short stories in as many months for just $12 - a FeedBlitz autoresponder with my branding that delivers one new short story to subscribers each month for an entire year.

I'm a small operation with a lot on my mind, but List Building for Bloggers made marketing easy for this non-tecchie writer and helped me gain confidence that I do have things I can sell. Just last week I tested Phil's suggestion to market by using repetition. I posted one status update each morning on FaceBook with a quote from my chapbook Lost Crossings. In less than a week, I sold eight copies. We're not talking New York bestseller, but that's eight books that were collecting dust a week ago and will now be wrapped under people's Christmas trees.

I wouldn't be a good "accidental marketer" if I didn't end this post with a pitch. So here it is, fellow bloggers and business owners: Subscribe to Monthly Fiction by December 31st and get 33% off - just $8 for 1 year of award-winning fiction.

About the Author

Katey Shultz is a writer living in Bakersville, North Carolina. In 2010, she had over 10 short stories published and was recognized with 5 fiction awards, including the Linda Flowers Literary Prize. Her most recent work, Flashes of War, is a collection of 29 fictional stories focusing on characters in and around the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

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