How to start a newsletter with Mailchimp & WordPress

Every creative entrepreneur needs a mailing list, unless you have a particularly good deal involving carrier pigeons. It’s the most personal and cost effective way to build a relationship with your fans. Marketing doesn’t have to be skeevy; sending emails is the best way to have a one-on-one interaction without invasive advertising.

We’re going to use Mailchimp because it’s free plan is way more than enough for creatives to get started. Mailchimp also has outstanding documentation and there are tutorials up the wazoo online.

This post is going to go over:

  1. How to create a Mailchimp account
  2. How to create a sign up form
  3. How to add a signup form to a (WordPress) website
  4. How to use the Mailchimp for WordPress plugin instead of embedding a sign up form
  5. How to import contacts from another email service into Mailchimp
  6. How to send a welcome email

How to create a Mailchimp account

1. Go to www.mailchimp.com and click the Sign Up Free link.

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2. Provide your email & login info. I suggest leaving the box unchecked if you’re new to Mailchimp, their informational emails are pretty good.

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3. Click the link in your email to activate your account.

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4. Mailchimp will make you login and then ask you to choose a plan. Free is perfectly fine, by the time you have to upgrade you should be making money thanks to your email list.

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5. Then you have to provide some account information. The Business Name will be the sender of your emails, feel free to use your own name if you want.

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6. The address is a requirement, to avoid being marked as spam – there’s no way around this. But you could maintain a little privacy by not using your house/apartment number. Another option is to setup a PO box.

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7. If you have a csv file of contacts you can upload it now, but I’ll be covering that a little bit lower on this page.

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8. I wouldn’t check any of these boxes because Mailchimp will immediately prompt you to connect a website, connect your shopping cart, etc. Just hit Skip for now.

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9. Your last option is to subscribe to a variety of Mailchimp newsletters. I suggest the e-commerce one as it tends to be most topical for creative entrepreneurs.

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That’s it – you now have a Mailchimp account!

How to create a sign up form

Creating a sign up form consists of two steps: 1) customize your form by choosing the fields you want and 2) getting the embed code.

  1. Customize your form by choosing which fields you want. The fewer options the better – the more choices someone has, the less likely they are to make a choice. Keep it simple!

2. You need the sign up form’s embed code in order to add it to your website. Here’s how to get it:

That’s it – now to add the code to your website.

How to add a signup form to a (WordPress) website

The embed code can be added to most websites; it’s not specific to WordPress. I, like some 30% of the web, use WordPress so that’s what I’m going to show you. If you use another website service, they should have some documentation on how to add a Mailchimp sign up form to your website.

There’s an important thing to know about using the Mailchimp embed code: when someone tries to subscribe, they will be taken to a Mailchimp web page with a signup form to fill out. This method does not keep the subscriber on your site. The more hoops someone has to jump through, the less likely they are to subscribe.

How to use the Mailchimp for WordPress plugin instead of embedding a sign up form

Besides the issue of making people finish subscribing off your website, I didn’t love how the sign up form looked on my site. Now a good thing about WordPress is that there are many free plugins available to add functionality to a website. I’m going to show you a plugin I like called Mailchimp for WordPress.

I like two things about this plugin: 1) the subscription happens on-site; your subscriber never leaves; 2) editing the appearance of the form is a little easier, especially for what I have in mind.

How to import contacts from another email service into Mailchimp

If your mailing list is brand new, this doesn’t apply to you. But if you already have a list at another service (Mailerlite, ActiveCampaign, etc), then you’ll need to export your contacts from your previous service and import them into WordPress.

This is done using a .csv file. CSV stands for ‘comma separate values’ and it’s basically a spreadsheet that you can open in Excel, Numbers or Google Sheets.

If you want, you can prep your csv file to use the column names that Mailchimp is expecting. There’s a list of the column names here – but it doesn’t include all the column names. Or you can just upload your file and as you’ll see in the video, Mailchimp will let you match your column names to their Mailchimp equivalents.

How to send a welcome email

Lastly, you want to set Mailchimp to send a Final Welcome Email. This is the customized version of the ‘hey you’re subscribed’ email. It also provides some proof that they subscribed to your list (unless they delete the email). I see it as a good chance to make a first impression with a nice welcome message.

That’s it!

Did you find this helpful? Or did I miss something? Leave a comment below to let me know!

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