Relying on Opt-in Forms? Stop it!
If you have your own author site, you probably have an opt-in for your mailing list to go along with it. This way you can funnel new readers directly onto your list as soon as they come around looking for information about you and your books.
These forms might be plastered on your page, stuck to a sidebar or embedded in a pop-up. They could be anywhere on your site--on every page, or simply embedded onto your main page.
For an idea, here’s what mine looks like on the Pen and Glory homepage:
It’s pretty familiar, and you’ve probably seen dozens exactly like it before.
So why wouldn’t you use them? Aren’t they necessary?
No--and if you’re relying on opt-in forms to claim readers, you could be missing out on a ton of sign-ins! You might as well stop now. Take it down. At least this way, your page will look cleaner and tidier.
In all seriousness, opt-in forms won’t do much to build your list. Even though they feel like a straight-forward approach to getting readers to subscribe, they’re not even as popular as you would think.
Many bestselling authors don’t even have opt-in forms. They still have massive email lists and tons of engagement from readers. Why is this? Because they stick to a strategy when collecting emails. They don’t ask for your contact info upfront. They offer you something for free… and then send it to the email address you provide.
Furthermore (I hate that word, too), they don’t do any of this on their main home page. They use what is called a…
Wait for it…
What is a landing page?
If you’re new to my blog, I’ll keep it simple. Your landing page is a separate page that you can set up and use to collect emails. It’s simple, branded, and a fun gateway that people can cross to join your exclusive group of readers.
The best thing about using a landing page to gather emails instead of your standard opt-in form is that you’re not simply asking for information. You’re giving away something valuable for anyone who is willing to join your list.
It’s not an offer. It’s an invitation.
Landing pages also hold a much stronger aesthetic appeal than opt-in forms. Take a look at my screenshot below of a landing page I created for one of my pen names:
Now compare it with the Pen and Glory opt-in form above. Which one would you rather sign up to? Which one do you think has gotten me more subscribers? (Hint: it isn’t the opt-in!)
Landing pages are terrific tools. One thing I like about them is that you don’t even need an author site to host them, since your standard mailer (like Mailchimp or Aweber--seen above) have templates automatically available. Sierra Storm is a pen name of mine, and I didn’t want to put in the money to give her a full, independent website. I don’t need to--that page does it all for me.
But if you have a site, and if you’re bent and determined to keep it, you can still tie in your landing page. Try putting a bar up at the top of your site (like I do with Pen and Glory) or add a page offering a free book. That’s an easy way to grab readers without being forceful.
For maximum sign-ups, you can stick to both. That’s what I do with Pen and Glory, and I still get odd sign-ups from my standard form in addition to my landing page. But if a form is all you’re doing, you’d better branch out.
How do you like to get new sign-ins for your author mailing list? Please comment below or join my Facebook Group for self-publishing fiction writers for further discussion!