Freelance Writers: Keys to Building a Money-Making Subscriber List in Today’s Tough Marketplace

List building tips for freelance writers

Written by Karen Cioffi

Many freelance writers are expanding their streams of income by writing and self-publishing their own ebooks, developing e-courses and seminars, and doing radio shows/podcasts. What makes these income streams so viable? In a word, subscribers. If you don’t have them, it’s hard to make consistent money. And …

What worked before isn’t working now!

Why Old List-Building Strategies Are No Longer (As) Effective

I recently attended a webinar by online marketer Clay Collins. It was about the new strategies for successful list building.

As with most marketing strategies, once they become overused they become old and tired. What used to work becomes less and less effective. This is what is currently beginning to happen within the marketing arena and it could affect your freelance writing business.

As an example, you might have been adding a bit of text at the end of each post suggesting the reader get more valuable information by opting into your mailing list. Or, you have your opt-in very visible with “Subscribe Today,” or similar wording. Well, these strategies are all overused and as mentioned above, becoming less effective.

List building tips for freelance writersHave you noticed less people willing to give you their email address? I certainly have.

According to marketing research, this is happening across the board. Readers and visitors are becoming savvier. They know exactly why you want their email address – to sell them products or services. So, you better darn well have something of REAL value to give them if you expect a YES response.

Keep in mind that just about everyone online is offering something and they all want that visitor as a subscriber. To get visitors on a mailing list, the FREEBIE is offered.

Should You Offer Freebies to Entice Prospects to Subscribe?

You and I and a million other people offer free reports, free ebooks, free podcasts, free videos, and even free coaching sessions. The freebie has become so prevalent that it too is losing its appeal. This prevalence has made the freebie less valuable.

In addition to this, there are just so many marketers bombarding everyone’s email with ‘pie in the sky’ promises. Promises that you can make $5,000 a week, or even in a day; promises that if you give him $197 he’ll give you the step-by-step method of creating your own million dollar business. Or, if you join his program or membership site, you will become an expert and make money, just like him.

The emails are unrelenting and everyone is overwhelmed by them. So, can you blame the visitor for being leery?

In recent months, I’ve seen a drop in subscribers to my list. And, my email inbox is so cluttered I have to delete mail I would like to read, but there just isn’t enough time.

In fact, a number of people are now using ‘spam’ emails, or emails they use just for subscribing to get freebies. Or, they sign-up and after they receive the freebie, they unsubscribe. This has happened to me also.

While this may seem like a bit of doom and gloom, there are newer strategies you can put in place to move forward and continue to build your list with quality subscribers.

The Single Most Important Strategy to Keep Your List Building Moving Forward

You must use the major platforms.

You may be reluctant to jump on the ‘major platform’ bandwagon, but if you don’t, you can kiss your list building away.

Let’s look at the three heavy hitters:

1. YouTube

The most effective conversion marketing tool around now is video. If you haven’t learned how to create a simple video (and it can be simple), you need to invest the time and do so then get it up on YouTube.

If you’re intimidated by video, you might start with Slideshare.com. You create a slide show with a PowerPoint document. It plays like a video and is simple to create. You can check out one I did at:

10 Website Landing Page Must-Have Elements


The drawback to Slideshare is the lack of audio. While you can add music to it, there is no talking. This lessens the personal effect for the visitor. I’ve been procrastinating about getting videos on YouTube, but know I must and have recently invested in a how-to program to get started.

2. iTunes

Another major player is iTunes, which is the world’s number one music store. Creating a podcast an uploading it onto iTunes is a great marketing strategy.

I’m working on getting podcasts on iTunes. I have them on my sites as a welcome and introduction, and will hopefully get some up on iTunes in the near future. You can check out my one of my landing page podcasts at: http://karencioffi.com

If you’d like to get an idea of how to create a podcast and how to upload it onto iTunes, you can check out this three-part video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CdyJPsa4qe0.

3. Amazon

And, then there’s Amazon. Not much needs to be said about Amazon, aside from you need to write an ebook and get it on Kindle. Or, you might write a book and self-publish it with CreateSpace (also from Amazon).

I have ebooks on Kindle and a book through CreateSpace, with more to come. Depending on your niche, decide which platform will work best for you.

To be in the game today, you need to be on at least one of these platforms, preferably on all three to be an effective marketer and to get your freelance writing ‘out there.’

Share Your Thoughts

I’d love to know what you think. What makes you subscribe/unsubscribe to a list? Have you tried list building? What’s worked for you? What hasn’t?

My Next Post on InkwellEditorial.com

Email Marketing for the Freelance Writer – Best Days and Times to Send Your Emails Out: You’ve created a great article that offers your readers tips, help, or other valuable tidbits. You took the time to create an ‘on the mark’ title to help entice them to open your email. You’re a great freelance writer and you’re doing everything right. But, what if your subscriber’s inbox is flooded with other marketers’ emails? This happens to me every day. The invasion of emails can cause subscriber anxiety and will definitely affect your email’s ‘open rate’ and thus its ‘click rate.’  Stay tuned for this post on Sept 18th.

About the Author: Karen Cioffi is an author, freelance writer, and online marketing instructor with WOW Women on Writing! Need help establishing your freelance writing or author online platform? Take Ms. Cioffi’s in-depth ecourse, Create and Build Your Author-Writer Online Platform (http://www.karencioffi.com/author-online-platform-ecourse).

Start Your Online Writing Career TodayP.S.: Jumpstart Your Freelance Writing Career: Get 5 Ebooks for 1 Low Price! If you want to start a successful freelance/SEO writing career, this ebook package gives you EVERYTHING you need to get started — from how to market for jobs, to how to deal with clients. And, there’s nothing controversial about that!

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    1. Email marketing might seem like a cost effective way to deliver your marketing bulk messages. For the most part, bulk email is becasue you send personalized, targeted and interested specific email list messages to a large bulk number of people. The value of email list marketing doesnt end with the cost, however. Email list marketing and email software has certain advantages over other form of direct marketing for your business and the people who requested or optin email your email message. Combine email marketing servers and sms marketing to your marketing mix is a best way to get your branding to the mass. From stocks to clothing lines, email marketing is best and most cost effective.

    2. Quick question: How do you then drive traffic to your other types of media? Do you rely on promotion through your website or through the platforms themselves?


      Daryl recently posted…Free Guest Post or Article From Me!My Profile

      • Daryl:

        Not sure of the gist of your question, but the whole idea of building a mailing list is to drive traffic to your primary home on the web (eg, your blog/website) where ostensibly your product/service offerings are. And, this is the place where you invite prospects to sign up to your newsletter. You drive traffic to your home on the web via many outlets, eg, press releases, newsletters, social media, blogging, etc.

      • Hi, Daryl,

        I agree with Yuwanda. The objective of inbound marketing is to use social networks and other inbound marketing strategies to bring traffic to you ‘landing page.’ This landing page may be specifically for your list building objective, it can be for book or services sales, or other. Optimally, you should be striving to create and build your mailing list.

        I hope this hits on what you’re asking.
        Karen Cioffi recently posted…Your Writing Career – Take It Up a Notch with Holiday PromotionsMy Profile

    3. It’s been a week, but I have internet in my new place. Yippeee. I’m struggling with my list also. I think people are becoming more leery of signing up for MORE emails.

      I bought a program that shows how to create your own videos, but haven’t had the time to delve into it yet. Once I’m straightened away at home I’ll jump in.

      Audio and video may very well be the missing links. I got the audio going as intros on my sites, but also need to get it on iTunes.

      Yep, just so many hours in the day.
      Karen Cioffi recently posted…Your Writing Career – Take It Up a Notch with Holiday PromotionsMy Profile

    4. Great to be back, Yuwanda!
      Karen Cioffi recently posted…What’s Your Writing Forte?My Profile

      • And great to have you back Karen.

        FYI, I’m so glad you did this post because building a list is something I still struggle with. Mine grows slowly and organically, but I still feel like I’m missing a piece of the puzzle that could push it to the next level.

        Like you, I know I’m missing out by not posting regularly to YouTube, so maybe that’s it. I also need to do a site that’s just a landing page to increase subscriptions.

        Hmmm, as I’m typing this I’m realizing — hey, THESE two things just might be the missing pieces of the puzzle I’m looking for.

        Alas, there are only so many hours in the day.

        Thanks again for this post though. Very insightful.
        Yuwanda, Site Editor recently posted…Freelance Writers: Keys to Building a Money-Making Subscriber List in Today’s Tough MarketplaceMy Profile