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How I Made Over $4,000 In One Day

written by John Chow on February 11, 2009

I was going to call this post why you need a mailing list but I figure a title showing how I made over $4,000 in a day would get a much higher click rate. You have long heard me say that you must have a newsletter mailing list if you want to have a successful blog. In my Twitterview with Carl Ocab, I said capturing all leads coming to your blog is one of the top three ways to drive traffic. What I didn’t say was lead capturing is also one of the best, if not the best, way to make make money online.

So, how did I make over $4,000 in one day? It really wasn’t that hard. Yaro Starak and Gideon Shalwick were about to close the doors on their Become a Blogger program because they were near capacity. What I did was send out a newsletter telling my readers that if they really want to get in, they have less than 24 hours to do so. The next day, over $4,000 of orders came in. Do you see the power of the mailing list now?

The best thing about this is the list cost me nothing. It was build up over time and is now a big part of my blogging operation. The list is used mainly to keep readers up to date on what is happening on the blog (much like RSS) but it’s also a great money maker when the right offer comes along. Making $4,000 is nice but it’s not my record. I’ve made over $10,000 with a single mailing before. Given a choice between having a reader sign up to my blog via RSS or mailing list, I will take the mailing list every time. Here’s how I’ve built my mailing list.

Finding a Good Mailing Service

The first thing you need to do is decide where to host your mailing list. I use Aweber for all my mailings. They are by far the best in the industry. My main criteria for going with Aweber is their uncanny ability to break through spam filters. I’ve used other services where up to a third of my mail didn’t reach their destination because they were blocked by filters. Even though my list is 100% double opted in, it doesn’t mean a spam filter won’t block it. I don’t know how Aweber does it but they’re extremely ISP friendly and you won’t have to worry if all your mails are getting through.

Setting up a mailing list at Aweber starts at $19 per month for up to 500 names. The bigger your list, the more it will cost. If you’re cheap, you can save money by buying a newsletter software to send the mail yourself. I don’t recommend this for two reasons. The first is most ISPs place a limit on the amount of mail you can send at once. This is to prevent illegal spamming. This won’t be a problem when starting out but as the list gets bigger, you’ll run into problems because your mail won’t send. If your blog is on a dedicated server, you’ll be able to get around this. But if you can afford a dedicated server, you can afford $19 per month.

The second problem I’ve found with 3rd party newsletter software is they can’t get through spam filters as well as Aweber can. You maybe able to save some money but if a third of your mail is being blocked, it’s really costing you money.

Another thing you’ll want to consider is how many subscribers you’ll lose when moving a list. Aweber and other providers require all new lists to reconfirm their opted in status. This is to comply with the CanSpam rule. If you wish to move an opted in list to Aweber, they will send out an email to the list and ask them to opt in again. You can expect to lose up to 75% of the list, which could have been avoided if you went with Aweber in the first place.

Put Your Subscription Box In a Highly Visible Spot

Make sure your newsletter sign up box is in a highly visible location on your blog. If your readers can’t find it, they can’t sign up. My sign up box is displayed at the upper right hand corner and can be viewed without scrolling. The box is pretty hard to miss and it’s designed that way. I want readers to see it and I want them to sign up.

A service like Aweber allows for a lot of customization of the sign up box. It’s very easy to make it look like part of your blog. I only ask for a name and email address. However, you can add as many fields as you want to find out more about your readers, like age, sex, income level, etc. Keep in mind that sign up rate goes down as the number of fields goes up.

Offer An Incentive To Subscribe

To really increase the newsletter sign ups, you should offer some kind of incentive. This is all based around the what’s in it for me way of thinking. People are more willing to do something if they think they can get something out of it. In my case, I offer my free eBook to anyone who subscribes to my newsletter.

The difference in sign ups between offering an incentive to not offering one is dramatic. I was getting five to ten sign ups per day when I just asked readers to subscribes. After offering the eBook, subscription went up to 50 per day.

Ask Your Commentators To Subscribe

A great source of new subscribers can come from your blog commentators. If they took the time to comment on your blog, chances are high that they will subscribe to your newsletter. Here how to get them to sign up.

You can use a free WordPress plugin like Comment Relish to automatically send an email to first time commentators. Most bloggers use the plugin to send a thank note and build good will. However, there’s no reason why you can’t ask the new commentator to subscribe to your newsletter.

The disadvantage to Comment Relish is the coding. The plugin checks new commentators against all previous commentators. It does this by comparing email addresses. If your blog has a lot of comments, the plugin can overload your WordPress database because of too many queries. If you’re on a share host, then the host may threaten to disable your account. Comment Relish maybe worth a try for smaller blogs with few comments. However, once you get to a decent size, you’ll have to use a more robust solution like OptIn Comments.

OptIn Comments works seamlessly with WordPress and most newsletter services like Aweber. When a reader makes a comment on your blog for the very first time, OptIn Comment will email that reader a thank you letter and ask if he would like to subscriber to your newsletter. For example, if you’re a new reader and you made a comment to any of my posts, you will receive this message in your inbox once your comment was approved.

Hello [Commentator name]

Thank you for commenting on John Chow dot Com. I would like to offer you my free eBook, Make Money Online with John Chow dot Com as a gift for making the comment. To receive the book, simple sign up to my newsletter by clicking the link below.

Thank you and I look forward to reading more comments from you.

John Chow

Once the reader clicks the link, it send them the eBook and adds them to the newsletter list. Unlike Comment Relish, Optin Comments is not free. However, it has more than paid for the $57 the plugin cost.

Use a Lightbox Sign Up

One of the coolest thing Aweber offer is a lightbox hover sign up form. The lightbox is a sign up form that fade into the screen after a set time. It seems extremely intrusive but I’ve received very little complaints about it. This is because I set the Lightbox to display only once per visitor. In other words, if you’ve been shown the Lightbox, you’ll never see it again unless you delete your cookies.

The lightbox is a fantastic way to increase newsletter sign ups. When paired with an enticing
incentive offer, the conversion rate is extremely high. Setting up the lightbox is pretty easy. I’ve made a screen cast on how to do it.

Using all the above methods, I get over 100 people per day signing up to my mailing list. That’s over 36,000 subscribers per year. Internet kingpin John Reese calls his mailing list his ATM. Sending an offer to his list was how he made $1 million in 24 hours. My list isn’t big enough to pull down those kind of numbers but given enough time and using the above list building methods, it will.

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