Episode 15: Email List Building with Guest Jennifer Findley

In this episode, Angie and April have a special guest on to discuss email lists.

Episode 15: Email List Building with Guest Jennifer Findley

 
 
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We’re focusing on teacherpreneur email lists this episode!

Have you heard about the importance of building an email list but don’t know where to start? Or, have you tried but haven’t had the results you’re looking for? Join us in our Facebook group www.growwithusmastermind.com  after checking out this podcast where we will further discuss email list building and many other topics related to our Teacher Pay Teachers businesses.

We are super excited to have a special guest on the podcast this week, Jennifer Findley from Teaching to Inspire. Jennifer focuses her store on grade levels 4 and 5 but also has resources for 3rd as well. Her email list has… wait for it… 59K subscribers. Her blog was actually one that has been an inspiration to Angie since she first started her store.

Jennifer is going to share with us the tips and strategies that she has used to grow her email list, thus growing her TpT business. We want to give you a quick reminder that we do have an affiliate link for ConvertKit. At the end of this page, we’ll share some additional details about it if you are interested.

Now let’s jump into our interview with Jennifer. Below are some of the questions we asked her and a summary of her answer. To hear the full interview make sure to listen to the podcast.

How did you get started with your list?

Jennifer began building her email list somewhere between three and four years ago. She had a virtual assistant that had been experienced in food blogging before switching to working in the TpT business. She was really big on newsletters and helped Jennifer get started.

However, Jennifer shared that it was more of a traditional newsletter format that had lots of images, kind of like what you would receive from Target. That helped give her a start, but she really began to pick up traction between six and 12 months later when she switched it up a bit. She admits her first efforts had little connection for her subscriber and that’s not what she was looking for.

What’s your goal for building an email list?

While not everyone will have exactly the same goal when building an email list it’s important to know what your goal is. Jennifer’s goal is to serve her audience. Her blog is the backbone of her business, but she knows teachers. She knows that they don’t always have the time to sit and read through post after post looking for what benefits them. So, her newsletter provides them a condensed version with a link to point them to the full blog. It’s quick and easy for them to consume.

She views her newsletter as an extension of her blog. While selling is her secondary goal, her main focus is on connecting with teachers and serving them.

How many sales emails do you send?

Jennifer tries to stick with an 80/20 plan. That means 80% of the emails that she is sending are focused on connecting with her subscribers. However, it’s expensive to have a large subscriber list and she does want to recoup the money she is spending. So, around 20% of her emails are selling related. She does have sequences and funnels, but the majority of the emails are not based on selling. She also tries to always give a sample or freebie with each sales email. Doing that helps to build goodwill. It allows you to further connect with each subscriber even if they decide not to buy at that time.

I couldn’t agree with Jennifer more on this. Providing a free sample or sample resource with every product line is important. When you provide a free sample you encourage your subscriber towards purchasing the rest later.

What do you use as a lead magnet to get people on your list?

Jennifer doesn’t have just one lead magnet. She has several, but she has specific reasons for each one. When she first got started on her newsletter with the VA years ago she created a freebie library. And, it’s actually still the main lead magnet that she uses. The majority of her subscribers are on her list because of this.

However, she does have 6 smaller opt-ins that all specifically target a different need or product line. When they sign up for the list through one of these lead magnets they receive a specific freebie and gain access to the freebie library as well.

How do you set up your freebie library?

Currently, Jennifer’s library is running through the Essential Grid plugin on WordPress. However, in October she will be launching a new design for her site. The new structure is designed in a way that allows her not to need a plugin for the library. But, Essential Grid is a good plugin and very user-friendly. So, if you are interested in getting started with a library check it out.

Another resource you might want to check out is Thrive Architect. This is what I use when creating freebie libraries. It allows you to set up a grid layout with a video and then the resource below it. I recommend starting with a freebie library that is based on a more specific interest or need. It can be difficult to create a sales funnel with a library that is full of all different resources because you don’t know what to send them in the future.

Jennifer was able to address this problem by providing teachers a way to self-segment themselves at the end of her funnel (more on that later in our interview). However, because of this issue, she does tend to steer teachers just starting out with building a list away from using a freebie library. It’s a lot of work to get it set up just right so you know how to best serve your subscriber in the future.

A few other things about lead magnets

No matter how specific you are with your opt-in you can still end up with people on the list that aren’t your “ideal” subscriber. For example, Jennifer has 4th and 5th grade posted all over her opt-ins, but when teachers see “FREE” they sign up regardless. Then they end up asking for resources that fit what their specific needs are.

Angie also experienced this in the start. She created an editable vocabulary game. It was a great resource but could be used by many different grade levels. She was able to entice a lot of people, but they all didn’t fit into her ideal list. She learned to narrow it down further to eliminate some of those that aren’t the best fit for her.

I’ve found that it can be helpful to decide what your target line is first. Once you know this, choose your best freebie from that line. Then, use that as your lead magnet to get more people on your list.

What regular tasks are involved with building your email list?

Jennifer admitted that once she got things up and running there isn’t a ton of work involved in maintaining it.

  • She sends a weekly email on Monday
  • She’s recently started experimenting with Facebook ads to reach cold subscribers. She only uses her targeted email opt-ins for these ads and then uses Pixel to retarget them with a product ad.
  • Has some pins that she regularly pins on Pinterest
  • She uses Meet Edgar to schedule her Facebook posts
  • She adjusts her automation and sequences pretty often with links to new blog posts
  • Every two months she cleans out her list by following the ConvertKit Help Guide. It’s super easy to follow and since it can be expensive to have a big list you want to remove anyone that is not benefiting your TpT business.

Can you tell us about the sequencing that you use?

The sequence that Jennifer uses varies based on the funnel that her subscriber is in. In her general funnel, subscribers receive two emails the first week and then one a week after that. Over the summer she did a targeted funnel where teachers received an email a day. She doesn’t typically do that, but she wanted to deliver a lot of value to them at a time when they were still in need of it.

What makes the biggest difference in your email sequences?

Jennifer credits her blog as being the biggest difference when it comes to her email content. She repurposes her blogs to use them in her sequences. This makes it easier because she isn’t reinventing the wheel every time she puts together a sequence. And, since she is constantly blogging she never runs out of content to send to her list.

Jennifer shares an example of one of her sequences

When putting together an email sequence Jennifer likes to work backward. She decides on the end product she wants to lead them to and then thinks through what she would need to do in order to get them to that point.

Freebie library sequence example

This is a 30-day funnel that includes all evergreen (i.e. content that remains current and does not get outdated) content like lesson planning tips. The final email of the sequence asks the subscriber what they teach. When they click on the link as their answer it takes them to a new sequence based on their answer.

From that point, the subscribers are led to information that encourages them to make a purchase. For example, those in the math sequence are lead to Jennifer’s math centers. Her final goal is to get them to purchase. Here’s what the math sequence would look like:

  1. This first email gives an overview of how she teaches math with a link to blog posts that share even more ideas.
  2. Second, email dives further into math centers since they are the backbone of her instructions. It’s set up as an FAQ about math centers.
  3. This email is a collection of the most helpful blog posts that she has with links to different match center blog posts.
  4. Next, comes an email that talks about organizing for math centers. She shares free organizing forms
  5. The last email is a hard sell for the math centers. It isn’t truly a “hard sell” because she links to her favorite math centers and a link of the big bundle that includes all of them. If they aren’t ready to purchase they can check out a sample individually before having to purchase the entire bundle.

At the end of each email, Jennifer includes a P.S. sharing what they can expect in the next email. If you want to hear an example of how she does a daily funnel for reading vocabulary posters she details it out in the podcast.

A few tips on blogging

I know this post is focused on building an email list, but having a blog is a big part of that. We spent some time with Jennifer talking about her blog and wanted to share that information with you as well.

How you can repurpose a single blog post

Start by writing a blog post that includes a freebie in it. Once it’s published on your site you can also link to it within your email to your subscribers. Then, use it to create social media posts and add it to your email sequence.

If you continue to do this once a week you’ll build up a ton of content before you know it. As Jennifer has found, the more you blog and send out content the more her sales go up.

Blogging consistently is difficult when teaching full-time

Blogging can be a struggle for people. Even Angie admits to struggling to blog on a consistent basis. Jennifer credits her bog for making her list building easier, but she admits that she didn’t blog regularly until she went to only teaching part-time.

When you are trying to teach full-time or sell full-time blogging can seem like a big commitment. It’s hard to make time for everything. If you are still teaching full-time make sure you don’t over commit yourself. Choose a blogging schedule that will work for you.

Jennifer now blogs once a week during the school year and twice a week over the summer. Teachers tend to have more time for blogs over the summer and are working on their new curriculum.

Where to find blog topic ideas

If you struggle with coming up with topics to cover in your blog there are a few tips that can help. Jennifer has found that once you come up with a few ideas it’s easy to get them rolling. But, if you are struggling to come up with any try checking Facebook groups for teachers. Pay attention to what questions they are asking. This gives you good insight on what help people need. This also helps because you can look at other teacher responses to get ideas on things to include in your post.

What types of Facebook ads do you use?

While building her list Jennifer uses Facebook traffic ads. She was honest in admitting that she just started working with Facebook ads over the summer. She is currently using the Facebook ads app to turn them on and off as needed. Right now she has 3 ads created and has one that stays running consistently because it’s doing so well.

When someone clicks on her ad she is currently sending them to a blog post as opposed to a landing page.

How can you tell if an ad is working?

When we asked Jennifer how she can tell if an ad is working she admitted to being lazy when it came to analyzing the ads. She watches cost per click and checks how the product being advertised is selling compared to the same time the previous year. She likes to keep the cost per click to under 10¢. If the ad is doing well she doesn’t mind going a little higher.

Don’t forget to check out our episode on what to send to your email list!

Bonus: ConvertKit

When building your email list ConvertKit is a great tool to use. If you are interested in checking it out we encourage you to use our affiliate link: growwithuspodcast.com/convertkit. The money that we make from this affiliate link goes back into our business and helps us keep it going. Here’s what you get as a bonus:

  • Special videos from Grow with Us Podcast showing you how to use Convert Kit
  • 1 month free
  • Email examples that are specific to TpT businesses

Join the group at www.growwithusmastermind.com. It’s a great place to continue the conversation, share what’s worked for you, and find out what’s worked for others when it comes to building an email list and using Convert Kit.

Written by April Smith

April runs her business Performing in Education, LLC full time. Her main focus is on her Teachers Pay Teacher store, but she also has an online course for teachers and has written a book on project-based learning!