This is a post for my blogging, writing, small business friends. We all know that the key to selling something is a loyal following, right? Now, social media followers are impressive looking, but just how engaged are they? And what happens if there’s a glitch or something crazy, and your Facebook followers are gone overnight? Can you get them back? Guess what? You own your email list. You can download it to your computer and it’s yours unless they unsubscribe. You can build a relationship with your email followers that just isn’t possible on any social media platform. And relationships are what build businesses.

So, how do you attract followers and encourage people to drop their email address on your site? You can have a fabulous opt-in (I’m still working on that), or you can use some other incentive for signups. Let me tell you how I increased my email list by 1,500% in TWO MONTHS. Yes, you read that right. I started with a humble 15 followers: two months later,  I am currently at 245 followers and counting.

A Literary Feast | small business | blogging | marketing | UpViral | how to grow your email list

Because I’m still working out the details of what tangible thing my blog can offer people besides great content, I decided to run giveaways. Let me tell you, I am having so much fun with this! I am on my third contest right now, and they have been really popular. Everyone likes the chance of winning something, right? Now, you can give away anything you want to, but I would encourage you to tailor your contest to something that your key reader would want. After all, once you have these email followers, you want them to stick around and be engaged with your blog/books/products. For that reason, my first two contests were about books, and my current contest is Gilmore girls related. This has not only increased exposure for my blog, but has developed a list of people who are interested in what I write about. Win-win!

A Literary Feast | small business | blogging | marketing | UpViral | how to grow your email list

(As for the price of items for contests, I have paid very little out of pocket. My first contest consisted of books that I had purchased with a gift card I already had. The second two were items given to me for sponsored reviews. So far, all I’ve paid is postage.)

How did I use these contests to gain email followers? The key ingredient is UpViral. I know that there are free contest plugins out there, but because I knew that my email list is my main growth focus right now, I decided to invest in a program that is designed for email list growth and will make my contests and promotions beautiful, professional, and fool-proof. Here are a few of the reasons why I love UpViral:

  1. It’s highly automated. What does that mean? Well, when I set up a contest, it walks me through the whole thing. Landing pages, social media views, photos, automatic email responses, point trackers… everything I need for a professional look and experience. I set everything up before I launch it and UpViral takes care of the rest. I don’t touch it again until I announce the winner. Time-saving solid gold!
  2. It has its own platform. I don’t know about you, but I learn something new about WordPress every day. I have ZERO background in web design, coding, blah blah blah, and it takes me forever to change anything on my blog. If you know more than I do and prefer to run things completely on your site, you can do that with UpViral! However, if you are more like me and want things to be as simple as possible, you can have UpViral host the contest on their servers. You just provide the link to it and they do the rest.
  3. It’s so versatile. So far, I’ve only used it for contests, but you can also use it for other types of promotions, freebies, etc. Have a coupon code for your product? Offer it with UpViral. Have an email course? UpViral can help you promote that as well. The possibilities are endless.
  4. It gives your promotion an instant WOW factor. I know I said this already, but UpViral has such a professional and beautiful format. People will be wowed and think that you’ve been in business for years, even if it’s your first month writing or selling. Look at some of these screenshots!
  5. It has an ingenious way to extend your reach. So, let’s say that you run a contest where people can earn up to five entries by commenting on your blog, visiting your FB page, tweeting about it, etc. That’s good, right? Well, what if the only way they could either earn products or extra contest entries was by selling it to their friends? Example: for my contests, you get one entry for your email address. But, for every person who signs up through your unique link, you get 10 extra entries. I’ve just put the promotion into the hands of my followers. They have an incentive to get other people to sign up; in turn, my reach is extended far beyond my own social media promotions. It’s a brilliant cascade effect, and IT WORKS.

A Literary Feast | small business | blogging | marketing | UpViral | how to grow your email list

I’m sure you are wondering if the cost is justified. Well, let’s take a look. I paid about $300 for a year. To round things off and make it simple, let’s say that currently it has gained me 300 email followers. That’s $1 per email address. My goal is 1,000 email followers in a year, and at my current rate of increase, I should easily make that goal. So, if at the end of the year I have met my goal of 1,000 followers, that’s $0.30 per email address. Much better. Still, how does this work for me? Let’s say that I develop an ebook or an online course that I sell for a promotional price of $10 to my followers and 25% of them buy it. (That number may be optimistic, but $10 isn’t a lot of money, and if the product is enticing enough, I think this figure is doable.) 250 people x $10 = $2,500. NOW that $300 investment is making a lot more sense. And that’s just the beginning. You’ve now developed passive income that will continue to grow. If you already have a product to sell, you can make back your investment even faster once you have your email list to work with.

A Literary Feast | small business | blogging | marketing | UpViral | how to grow your email list

So far, I’ve been extremely happy with UpViral. Your purchase comes with a whole library of step-by-step videos, case studies, tools, and more. When I’ve emailed for support, they have been very quick to respond. Whether your email list is at 15 or 15,000, UpViral has tools to help you increase it by leaps and bounds. (I am a wordsmith, not a numbers person. I know that the larger number you start with, the faster you’ll see growth, but I’m not even going to attempt more stats because the paragraph above already gave me a headache!)

I’d be thrilled if you checked out UpViral. If you are serious about building your email followers, I believe that this is a great tool to use. If you go to their website, you’ll see that the Pro version runs $49/month. But I have a secret. If you go through my affiliate link and sign up for the (free) informational webinar, you can get it for a fraction of that price! Plus, you’ll be locked into that low price as long as you are a member. The webinar will give you some great info and bonuses, too. What do you have to lose? 

Take me to the webinar and my discount offer!

You know and I know that it takes time and hard work to grow a business. Unless you are lucky and have lots of money to spare, we have to be wise about how we invest in our businesses. I know that it’s hard to spend money when you may not be making much (or any) in return yet, but the old saying is true for a reason: You have to spend money to make money. The key is to be smart about it. Email lists work. Make an investment to build your email list and develop a plan for profit. I’m excited about my growth, but I’ve seen much greater success stories, too! What will your story look like?

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Prefer video? Here’s a great intro to the program. It’s far more impressive than I’ve even delved into yet! Truly a program that will meet you where you are. I can’t wait to practice with some of its more advanced features.