How to set up your writing routine for attracting a large audience
“What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?” is a question I get asked a lot.
And while many things come to my mind — how to write headlines, engaging introductions, or a clear idea-to-paper process — there’s one particular knowledge nugget that has changed my writing journey ever since.
I remember the advice as if it was yesterday because it seemed so hilarious and terribly wrong.
And that’s exactly why the tip was gold and the best writing advice I ever received. It’s the things you don’t know you don’t know that can make all the difference.
So let me share with you what my writing mentor shared with me early in my writing journey:
Start building your email list today.
Even if you just published your first article. Even if only five people subscribed to your Medium account. Trust me. Today is the right time to start your email list. One day your collection of your follower’s emails will become your biggest asset.
Because platforms, such as Medium or LinkedIn, change. Emails don’t. Your follower’s email address is their most permanent online identity. Once they sign up for your email list, you have the permission to reach out to them directly. You’re no longer dependent on algorithms.
Even if you have just published a few articles, asking your readers to sign up for your e-mail list is a must-do. Here’s how you can do it fast.
The exact steps you can take to set up your e-mail list in 20 minutes
Done is better than perfect. You don’t need to first compare all available mailing tools out there. You don’t even need to know what you’ll be sharing with your email subscribers.
You can export your list and set a topic later on. All you want to do early in your writing career is set up a minimum viable version.
Here’s a three-step process you can follow to have a first version ready in about twenty minutes of your time.
1) Pick an email provider and sign-up for it (5 minutes)
The list of mailing providers is vast and I wasted a lot of time comparing and trying different tools. But again, you’re not looking for the perfect solution but for the option that’s good enough.
I tried Mailchimp and Substack but ultimately chose Convertkit because it offers email design templates, a strong community, a lot of tutorials, and plenty of functions. Plus, it’s free for your first 2,000 subscribers. You can create your Convertkit account here.
2) Choose a pre-built landing page on Convertkit (10 minutes)
It can be tempting to obsess over the design and “your brand.” But every minute you spend on design, you don’t spend writing. And you need to write to become a better writer.
So be pragmatic about the design and content. Keep in mind you can change that later when you’ve found your niche.
For now, the most important part is to have a landing page for collecting email addresses.
You don’t even need to state the frequency of your newsletter just yet. And you also don’t need to worry if you’re unsure about your newsletter’s content.
I didn’t send a single email until six months in. But when I knew what I wanted to write about, I sent out my first email to 400 subscribers.
So here’s how you create your landing page in 10 minutes, step-by-step.
Step 1: Choose a template from 50 pre-designed landing pages. The key purpose is to collect your readers’ email addresses. (3 min)
Step 2: Add your content. No worries if it’s only a “Wanna keep in touch? Subscribe for free!” one-liner. (2 min)
Step 3: If possible, add a picture of yourself to make your site more personal. (3 min)
Step 4 (Optional): Adjust the design: if you prefer another font, bolded or italics style, or another color, you can adjust that with Convertkit. (1 min)
Step 5: Link the landing page to the CTA that you put under each of your articles. (2 min)
The most important thing to keep in mind for setting up your landing page: Don’t get lost in the details. Set a timer for 10 minutes, and build your minimum viable version.
Here’s an example one of my students set up in the Writing Online Accelerator, Module 4.
Add a Call-to-Action underneath every article (5 minutes)
Even though you won’t see the benefits until your first written piece goes viral or semi-viral, this step is critically important.
If your article goes viral without a CTA that leads to your landing page for collecting emails, you’ll miss out on the most important opportunity to grow your subscriber base.
If I didn’t have a CTA when my first article went viral, I would have missed out on hundreds of people who were genuinely interested in my work.
Again, your CTA doesn’t need to be perfect yet.
Until 2021, my CTA was a generic “Want to connect? Subscribe to my email list.” If people like what they read, they’ll still subscribe.
Here are some stepping stones you can use to formulate your CTA:
- “Want to improve X? My newsletter will help you create the Y you need to move towards a Z future.”
- “Get access to exclusive X content. Subscribe to my free newsletter here.”
- Want to stay in touch? Subscribe to my email list.
But a simple “Let’s connect!” or “Say hello here!” would also do the trick.
Don’t be afraid to start with a generic CTA. You can adjust your CTA after figuring out what you want to do with your list.
What to Keep in Mind
Platforms change. Emails don’t.
Many writers miss out on this vital growth tool. They don’t set it up early, and when they finally experience the long-desired growth, they miss out on hundreds of subscribers.
Don’t be among the people who miss out but build your email list from day one.
Follow these steps to set it up fast:
- Register on Convertkit
- Choose a landing page
- Add a Call-to-Action underneath each of your articles
Don’t wait until tomorrow. Even if it feels counterintuitive, set up your email list today.
Subscribe for a free 5-day course on how you can set up the single most important thing writers usually forget to attract a large audience online. With a total time investment of only 20 minutes.