Have you ever noticed how some travel bloggers barely scrape by, while others rake in millions? You might think it’s all about ads and affiliate marketing, but there’s more to the story.
In this post, we’ll uncover the secret that distinguishes the industry leaders from the rest: a powerful email list. Let’s talk about why this is a game-changer in the world of travel blogging, especially post HCU (Helpful Content Update).
The Power of Email Lists Post-Helpful Content Update
In the early stages of establishing my authority in the SEO arena, I met a “student” who was resistant to my guidance on email marketing. When I emphasized the importance of building an email list, this was the reaction I received:
Despite my advice, he chose not to follow it and was one of the few who ever asked for a refund because of our differing views.
Now and then, I come across his posts in Facebook groups discussing his ongoing challenges with blogging, especially with continuous Google updates. It’s a reminder of how different things could have been if he had embraced the advice back then and started an email list.
Why do I hammer home the idea of email marketing?
One day, you’ll be at the top of Google search results, flying high without a care in the world. And the next moment, your traffic and income are ripped out from under you (*cough cough* Helpful Content Update).
Your email list is your go-to crew. They’re the ones who are there for you, no matter what Google decides to throw your way. It’s your direct line to your readers; no middleman, no algorithm changes, just you and the folks who love what you do.
Thanks to our email list, we can maintain our traffic through the “Helpful Content Update”. Thanks to our email list, we continuously bring in thousands of extra dollars each month in affiliate revenue.
It’s no coincidence. Your email list is your lifeline when things turn to chaos.
It is why the three pillars of our program Scale Your Travel Blog are:
- Affiliate Marketing
- Email Marketing
The Simple Trick That Will Skyrocket Your Email List
But here’s the deal.. growing your email list isn’t easy.
Most of the time, I see bloggers plop an opt-in form on their website and ask their readers to “Join My Newsletter!!”
Womp womp! Not going to work. To put it bluntly, no one cares about your newsletter and wants more useless emails cluttering their inbox.
While this article won’t cover how to keep your readers engaged and excited about your emails (we’ll cover that in another post), we will talk about how to grow your email list with one simple trick.
The magic of growing your email list through freebie exchanges!
My First Successful Attempt – Case Study
Back in mid-2021, I had an idea.
I already had an engaged email list of readers, but I wanted to keep growing. Without a lot of money to allocate to advertising, I thought about ways to grow my email list for free.
I thought, “What better way to grow my email list than to be introduced to someone else’s email list? And in exchange, I could introduce the other blogger to MY email list.”
This seemed like a mutually beneficial approach for both bloggers.
I immediately thought about the email newsletters I was already receiving from fellow bloggers. This would help me narrow down who I might reach out to about this collaboration.
Kristin Hanes of The Wayward Home came to mind. She had a large audience and clearly understood the power of email marketing (smart girl!). To me, she was like a celebrity in the blogging world, so reaching out felt a bit nerve-wracking. But hey, the worst she could say was no, right?
And to my surprise, she was on board with the plan.
Here’s what we planned:
- I had a freebie, “How To Make Money As A Travel Blogger,” that she would talk about in a newsletter to her audience.
- She had a freebie, “Van Life Starter Kit,” that I would talk about in my newsletter.
- Each freebie had its landing page. If someone were interested, they’d pop in their name and email, snag the freebie, and voilà: they’re on a new, exciting email list.
Not only did we both see our email lists grow with fresh subscribers, but the icing on the cake? Zero cost.
This exchange did more than boost numbers; it brought us closer as blogging friends. We’ve since joined the same high-level business mastermind, bounce ideas off each other, and I bet if I asked, she’d be up for another round of freebie swapping.
Navigating A Freebie Exchange: Step-By-Step
So, how can you take this model and do it for your own email list? Here’s my step-by-step approach:
Step #1: Create a freebie
This step is crucial, and it deserves your full attention and effort. It’s all about offering something truly valuable to another blogger’s audience, otherwise you won’t see a lot of new subscribers.
Consider your ideal audience. What challenges do they face regularly? If you have a solution, craft a concise, straightforward guide that offers them a tangible, quick victory.
Quick Tip: Use Facebook groups in your niche to determine your audiences’ biggest struggles.
Step #2: Create a landing page
Most email marketing platforms will offer landing pages as a free service with your subscription. You’ll attach your freebie to a landing page so that when someone is interested, they will need to add their name and email address to access it.
Although I’m starting to think twice about Convertkit, I still recommend their email marketing service for now (more on this in a future post).
Step #3: Find a blogger with a similar-sized email list
This is the most difficult part because most bloggers don’t understand the power of email lists and trying to explain this concept is difficult, to say the least.
Your best approach is email outreach, but it might take several tries to find someone willing to collaborate.
The Freebie Exchange Network
Because it’s so difficult to find bloggers willing to participate, I decided to create a network of bloggers who believe email marketing is an important part of their blogging strategy. These are all bloggers who would be open to this kind of collaboration.
Our List Building Exchange Network currently has 98 travel bloggers, but this network is ONLY available to Scale Your Travel Blog students. This is one of the many perks of being in our community. We are accepting new students, so join us in Scale Your Travel Blog by clicking here!
Step #4: Set dates for your newsletters
Coordinate with your fellow travel blogger to pick specific dates for sending out your newsletters.
In these newsletters, make sure to include links to each other’s landing pages. This way, your readers can easily find and join the other’s email list if they’re interested.
Freebie Exchange Tips
To give you a bit more clarity, here are some tips I’ve found helpful when doing freebie exchanges:
- Your list size does not matter. Plenty of bloggers with small email lists would be willing to work with you.
- Email your list regularly. We will cover this in another blog post, but you must be engaging with your email list on a regular basis. They need to know who you are and why they should trust you.
- Put yourself out there. The scariest part is reaching out to other bloggers about the collaboration. I can tell you this was terrifying for me. But the worst thing they can do is say no. The best thing they can do is say yes!
- Try different freebie opt-ins. Try something different if one of your opt-ins doesn’t have a high conversion rate.
- Keep your freebie short and sweet. No one has time to read a 25-page ebook. They want quick wins.
- Join us in Scale Your Travel Blog, our #1-rated travel blogging course and coaching program, to learn everything you need to know about email marketing for travel bloggers.