FAQs: Substack Or Other Email List Providers (Like Mailchimp & Others)

If you’ve already collected a bunch of emails, you can manually import (transfer) the emails you’ve collected into Substack. Then, when you decide to send your first newsletter (whether it’s tomorrow or years from now), Substack will know to send it to those people.

Here’s a video explaining how to do it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zX_NHX-63i8 

If you prefer using another email list software like Mailchimp or Convertkit, that is totally fine. I personally find Substack the easiest to use, but the decision is up to you.

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Some people wonder if they should have two separate email lists: one for those they know personally, and one for those they don’t. 

You certainly could do that, but I personally wouldn’t. It’ll be extra work and confusion … and the percentage of people you know will get lower and lower as you grow.

In general, I would write in your intended tone to everyone in your audience — people you know, included.

If there is a small number of people you know personally that you want to contact individually. Then just send those few people an additional message.

For example, let’s say your two best friends are on the list. Send your typical email to everyone (including your friends) — but then send your friends a casual email, additionally (ex: “what did you think of today’s email? miss you and let’s get dinner soon!”).

Even if you have only 20 people on your email list, start sending out your bookbait– as your writing expands, so will your email list! This is a great place to start. 

No matter what, though, do not spam unwitting people with mass emails — if people haven’t given you their permission to send mass emails to them, it’s technically illegal.

My recommendation would be to send them a personalized email (or message on social media) as recommended in the Bookbait lessons.

Substack automatically embeds a signup form on your articles and website, allowing you to build your email list as people read your bookbait, and simultaneously drive traffic to your website. 

Sometimes the people in your current network aren’t interested in the topic you’re writing about. Does this mean you shouldn’t ask them to subscribe to your email lists and Substacks? No, it does not! Ask them regardless of the level of personal interest they may have in your specific topic. 

People in your personal network might have people in their network that they’ll recommend your stuff to– you never know! While they might not be long-term readers or buyers, they may connect you to their friends — who will become your most-interested readers and buyers. And remember: They will always have the freedom to unsubscribe.

Want to ensure that interested people will subscribe to your Substack, not just view your post? I would recommend offering some sort of incentive to get people to sign up to your Substack or other email list on their own accord.

The simplest way would be to incentivize them with some type of exclusive content — a free or discounted copy of your book when it’s out, an “early-release” copy, or some sort of workbook, video or audio resource. 

My recommendation would be to share something small once a week. The decision is up to you, however, the more you engage, the better — even if it’s in small doses. Consistency is key!

Keep in mind that your posts do not all have to be book content — It can be anything that your audience would enjoy! A quick story. Quick advice. A list of resources. A behind-the-scenes picture of you working on something. Deleted scenes from your book. An audio clip that you record. A video. A book recommendation. A book review. Anything goes! Just give the people what they want 🙂

Are you ready to ask people to subscribe, but not sure you’re fully ready to start posting that type of regular, topical content? Tell people you’re “planning on writing an occasional newsletter,” or even, “gathering a list of people to notify when your book comes out” — this way you can start setting yourself up for success, without feeling “on the hook” for putting out content right away. 

And remember: everyone with dozens or hundreds of articles started with one. It may feel “unprofessional” or “awkward” to have a Substack with only a couple of posts — but no reasonable person will judge a new writer for being new.


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