Mailing lists are the bread and butter of indie author marketing. With the recent changes at Mailchimp, the prospect of paying extra fees may lead you to consider switching providers. ALLi author member Rachel McCollin talks about switching from MailChimp to MailerLite for budget-conscious indie authors.
If you’re running a WordPress author website and you’ve connected it to MailChimp, recent changes at the mail-service-provider-turned-marketing-company likely mean you're facing a price increase. If that's the case, what should you do?
I’ll try and steer you through the maze. I’ll give you tips on whether the time is right to make the switch, and if so, I'll show you how.
I’m going to look at:
- How you can future-proof mailing list signups via your website, so changing providers isn’t as much hassle as it might be.
- What to do if you’re running a WordPress.com site that’s hooked up to MailChimp.
- What to do if you’ve got a self-hosted WordPress site with the MailChimp plugin.
- How to switch from MailChimp to MailerLite and integrate MailerLite with WordPress.
This is a guide designed to help you decide what to do, rather than a cast-iron set of instructions for switching from MailChimp to MailerLite for budget-conscious indie authors.
Future Proofing Mailing-List Signups
If you've been using the landing pages provided by MailChimp, making a change to a different provider is going to cause a headache. (It's one of the reasons I recommend that every author has their own author website.)
Using your website to gather signups gives you more control and makes it easier to get people who visit your site to sign up for your mailing list. If you haven’t already done it, this should be your first step.
Create a landing page on your website for signups and add a form to that. In the back matter of your books, on your social media pages, and in any list-building ads that don’t send data directly to MailChimp, you can direct people to that page rather than to a form provided by your mailing list provider.
This means that your link will still work if and when you switch providers. All you need to do is amend the landing page itself so it links to your new mailing list.
To learn how to set up a landing page for newsletter signups, read our guide to adding mailing list signups to your author website. Bear in mind that the guide focuses on MailChimp (it was written before the changes); but you can adapt the advice to use with a different provider (more of which shortly).
Switching from MailChimp with WordPress.com
One of the benefits of using MailChimp for your mailing list is that it’s the only provider that will directly hook up with a WordPress.com site without writing code. So if you’re using WordPress.com for your site, chances are you’re also using MailChimp.
(If you’re not sure of the difference between WordPress.com and self-hosted WordPress, see our post on building author websites.)
Now, I’d guess that most authors using WordPress.com are at a fairly early stage in their careers (don’t shout at me in the comments if this isn’t you, please). When your career reaches a certain point and you want a professional online presence, ALLi recommends using a self-hosted WordPress site to create something that’s much more likely to meet your needs. This is because WordPress.com doesn’t really give you the features or flexibility that you need for a professional author website.
If you are a new author on WordPress.com, chances are that even with unsubscribes, your mailing list isn’t big enough for you to be close to having to pay just yet. You can stick with MailChimp for now and watch what happens. You never know, MailChimp may realize how much they’ve annoyed their customers and backtrack.
If you're a more established author using WordPress.com (please consider switching to self-hosted, you won’t regret it), then you'll need to connect your website to a different mailing list provider.
I asked the folks at MailerLite if their WordPress integration (which is a plugin) could be made to work with WordPress.com. Unfortunately the answer was no. Which means that if you’re on WordPress.com and you want to switch to MailerLite, you have two courses of action open to you:
- Switch your website to self-hosted WordPress (not as hard as you think, all of the themes in WordPress.com are also available on WordPress.org and you can use the export/import tool to transfer your content).
- Create a landing page on your website that links to a landing page provided by MailerLite.
If you decide to switch to self-hosted WordPress, you can follow my guide to migrating between the two. If you want to stick with WordPress.com, then follow the steps below.
- Create an account with MailerLite and migrate your subscriber details across using their instructions.
- Get your welcome sequence working in MailerLite (by either copying it from MailChimp or taking the opportunity to refresh it).
- Create a landing page with MailerLite, again using their guide.
- On your landing page in your WordPress.com site, add a button (using the Button block) that links to the MailerLite landing page.
This way, you’re using MailerLite’s landing page, but the link you use in your back matter etc. will be to your site. Which means it’s future-proofed.
Switching from MailChimp with Self-Hosted WordPress
If your site is a self-hosted WordPress site (also known as WordPress.org), you have more choices.
All of the mailing list providers I’ve researched have a free plugin that you can install on your site and use to add people to your mailing list without having to copy any data or write any code.
If you’re a new author with a small mailing list, my advice for WordPress.com still stands: don’t worry about switching provider just yet. You can afford to migrate your list at a time that suits you. But, given that it’s easy to switch, unless things at MailChimp do change radically, you’ll might as well do it.
If you’re already feeling the pinch, it's time to consider these tips for switching from MailChimp to MailerLite for budget-conscious indie authors. They have a forever-free plan for anyone with fewer than 1,000 subscribers. They’ve actively engaged in recent discussions in the indie author community about mailing lists, and their interface, from my experience of getting started with them, is clean and intuitive. Unlike many providers, they also give you access to automations on the free plan. And of course, they have a WordPress plugin.
To switch your newsletter signup on your website from MailChimp to MailerLite, follow these steps:
- If you haven’t already done so, create a landing page in your website designed to take newsletter signups. If you have done this, simply edit the existing page.
- Migrate your mailing list to MailerLite using their instructions for moving data across.
- Set up an automation to welcome new subscribers. You might want to copy this from your old MailChimp account or take the opportunity to refresh it. Test this and check it works.
- In WordPress, install the Official MailerLite Sign Up Forms plugin (snappy title, I know). You can do this by clicking on Plugins > Add New.
- Connect the plugin to your MailerLite account. Do this by going to MailerLite > Settings and adding your API key from MailerLite. You can find your API key in MailerLite by going to the Integrations link in the admin menu at the top right of the screen and clicking the Developer API
- Create a new form (go to MailerLite > Signup forms and click the big Add signup form button).
- Switch to your landing page. Add a new block and select the MailerLite sign up form block type. If you’re using the classic editor, you’ll see a little green speech bubble in the menu above the editing pane: click on that. Select your form and add it to your page.
- Save your landing page.
You now have a landing page in your site that will add people to your MailerLite list when they sign up instead of your old MailChimp list. Take some time to test it and once you’re happy that everything works as it should (and you’ve also updated any other interactions you’re using with MailChimp such as ads), you can close your MailChimp account.
Switching from MailChimp to MailerLite for Budget-Conscious Indie Authors.
Switching mailing list providers involves work that takes you away from writing. But if your subscriber count means you’re paying more on MailChimp, it probably makes sense to consider switching from MailChimp to MailerLite for budget-conscious indie authors.
Mailing lists are the bread and butter of #indieauthor marketing. Owing your list means you have direct access to your audience. @Rachelmcwrites #selfpublishing #IARTG #ASMRG #writingcommunity Click To Tweet
OVER TO YOU
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