How to add a MailChimp email signup form to your blog

mailchimp-logoLet me say it right upfront: I hate emailed newsletters. Most businesses send them out far too frequently for my taste. I usually let them languish in my spam folder unless I’m in the market for something they’re selling. But with Facebook limiting the organic reach of posts (unless you pay them), a newsletter is one of the few free ways left for us to be certain that our fans get word of a new release.

So when David Gaughran recommended MailChimp, I gave a lusty sigh, bit the bullet, and signed up. MailChimp is free for mailing lists with fewer than 2,000 addresses. The free service also limits the number of newsletters you can send out per year, but the limit is something like 800. I’m only intending to annoy people when I have a new book out, so I’m pretty sure I’ll be okay.

So now I have to get people to sign up for my list. I’ve already got some, but I’d sure like to have more. So I’m going to make a widget to put on my website. (Before we dive in, please note that what I’ve got is a WordPress.org, or self-hosted WordPress, site. I’m not sure what the differences would be for a WordPress.com blog. If you do know, let us all know in the comments, okay? Thanks!)

MailChimp recently redesigned their site, and while it looks all streamlined and uncluttered now, they’ve hidden a few things – including the link to the signup widgets. I poked around for quite a while before I stumbled across it on the “Lists” tab. See the drop-down arrow next to “Stats” on the far right? Let’s click that, and pick “Manage subscribers.”

Mailchimp1That brings us to this screen. I’ve gotten our own IU chimp to help me circle the “Signup forms” tab.

Mailchimp2If we click there, we come here. MailChimp gives us a number of options. “Form integrations” goes to a WordPress.org page where you can generate and install a widget on your WordPress.org site. That’s the kind of site I’ve got, but I always feel like the WordPress.org guys are speaking Greek, or maybe Urdu. So instead, let’s pick the pretty blue icon labeled “Embedded forms.”

Mailchimp3Before we leave this page, I want to point out the link for the Facebook signup widget, which I already have on my fan page. MailChimp also now has a tablet form, which I think would be terrific for book signings.

So here we are on the “Embedded forms” page. We’ve got four options for the look of our signup form: Classic (lots of white space), Super Slim (just the email address box), Naked (no fancy formatting), and Advanced (which scares me, so I’m not going to click it). Once we decide on the type of form we want, it’s pretty straightforward: any changes we make on the left will show up in the preview box on the right (although it might take a sec, depending on the speed of your internet connection). I’m now done tweaking it, so I’ll highlight all the hash in the “Copy/paste onto your site” box, right-click, and select “copy.”

Mailchimp4Now we get to load the code into my site. I’m going to pick the “Text” widget. I drag-and-dropped it to my primary sidebar, opened the widget, added my own headline (“No spam. No, really.”), pasted in the hash, and then hit Save and Close.

Mailchimp5And…done. Here’s how it looks on my site. You’d totally sign up for that, right?

Mailchimp6

Author: Lynne Cantwell

Lynne Cantwell grew up on the shores of Lake Michigan. She worked as a broadcast journalist for many years; she has written for CNN, the late lamented Mutual/NBC Radio News, and a bunch of radio and TV news outlets you have probably never heard of, including a defunct wire service called Zapnews. But she began as a fantasy writer (in the second grade), and is back at it today. She currently lives near Washington, DC. Learn more about Lynne at her blog and at her Amazon author page.

36 thoughts on “How to add a MailChimp email signup form to your blog”

  1. This is a super tutorial. I signed up to MailChimp a while ago and got overwhelmed by it. The fact i had to get people to sign up to my list was too daunting for me. I hate bothering people so I gave up. I might have another go now. Pass the bananas

    1. Here you go, Carol. 🙂 I know what you mean about getting people to sign up. I really ought to go back and put signup links in the author notes of all my books. One of these days…

        1. Sure, Lin, that works, too. Gathering e-mail addresses via a widget on your website or blog means you have to drive traffic there first. On the other hand, the folks who are there are self-selected to have at least a passing interest in your writing. So in theory, they’re “quality” leads.

          1. That’s the thing about email marketing that makes if way trickier than direct mail with snail mail: EVERY name has to be qualified. It’s frustrating without any list swaps or brokers, but I’m figuring out ways to build lists without getting in trouble.

    1. The account setup is easy. One caveat: you will need to give them a physical address, and it will show up on any newsletters you send out (it’s US law). So if you don’t want your home address sent to all your adoring fans, you need to get a P.O. box. Which is another thing on my to-do list (sigh…).

      1. Lynne, that’s the one thing that warned me off MailChimp; I did NOT want my physical address out there. I went with Tiny Letter instead. It’s more limited, but doesn’t require the physical address.

  2. Thanks for this, Lynne. I’m definitely going to hold onto it until I work up my nerve. Like Carole, I’m afraid of bothering people, but I think you’re right. With the direction Facebook is taking, there might not be any other way to let people know when new books come out.

  3. I’ve been meaning to get an email list started. Thanks for the tips, Lynne! (I’m sure I’ll be among the first to tell you if it doesn’t work on WordPress.com.)

      1. Rats! 🙁 Does WordPress.com have its own widget for adding e-mail signups? I think Blogger offers its own native one, but I opted for the MailChimp-generated one for my blog.

  4. I do not understand the mechanics of our digital world, but I know people–paid and free who do, so I have a mailchimp sign up on my webpage/blog. Here is a fact: Every successful male indie author I know has a newsletter sign up. Men love gadgets, it is part of their psyche. Has nothing whatsoever to do with writing but it serves them well. I read the comments of the female authors in this thread. It reminded me of my ironing basket. I’d look at the last few shirts and pants and think: I’ve ironed enough for everybody to have a clean shirt every day. I’m done. That’s what we women do. But to be successful in our digital universe of ebooks, we’ve got to do the SCUT WORK. Every job I ever held had scut work. Revising a ms is scut work. I hate it, but I do it. David Gaughran has walked the walk. He’s knows what he’s talking about. He’s successful. I reread sections of his book often. As soon as I read his book, I revised all three of my indie titles, added that little gem of a gentle plea for reviews, a note to the readers–which is the only place we can really address our readers outside of third person–a book blurb for other titles, and all of my SOE links. David G. and Martin C. gave indie authors a pattern for success. It’s work. I’m new at this indie authorship and often dumb as rock, but I’m not so stupid as to ignore a pattern for success–however long or as much scut work it takes, especially since somebody else has already cut out the pattern. Once our titles have gone digital, they are on Amazon until the sun burns out or the Rapture into infinity. But since I’m not finite–I’m doing the scut work. I wrote those dang books. I want SOMEBODY to read ’em. Just sayin…

    1. Okay, okay, I’ll go back and add the e-mail signup plea to all my books this weekend. 😉 Thanks for your comments, Jackie. And you’re right about Martin’s blueprint — the guy knows what he’s talking about.

  5. I’ve been using MailChimp for a while and you should know it was never designed to be an Aweber clone. The Chimp is for newsletters but not incessant e-mail marketing autoresponding.

    If you’re having trouble making the widget work on WordPress dot whatever sites, try putting the eepurl hyperlink in a regular text widget.

    YMMV, but I loves me my MailChimp 🙂

    1. Thanks for the suggestion, M. Frank. I’ve had to use Blogger’s native widgets from time to time. I figured if Blogger had them, WordPress.com must have something similar.

  6. Thanks for this, Lynne, I figure I’ll have to bite the bullet, in regard to mail sign up. I don’t have a WordPress site, I find WordPress all too invasive. And I must not be a typical male because gadgety things are definitely not part of my psyche. I also feel the same about asking (bothering) people as the girls.

    Excellent tutorial, Lynne.

    1. (Sweeping generalization alert! 🙂 ) I think most authors are bad at asking — for sales, for newsletter signups, etc. We aren’t salespeople and we’re not good at “the ask.” That’s probably the hardest part of marketing. For me, anyhow. YMMV.

      Thanks, T.D.

      1. Yes, it does. I’ve already signed up and have started a newsletter. I’m still learning how to navigate my way through the different options, but I’m making progress. Now, I’m making more progress, thanks to you. 😉

  7. This was a great tutorial, but I couldn’t get the “submit” button to show up. Darn! I think it must’ve been something in the code Mailchimp generated. Anyone else have this problem?

        1. Thanks, Carolyn. Your signup did come through. 🙂 I ended up downloading the Mailchimp for WordPress plugin. I never could get that darned “subscribe” button to appear using the code Mailchimp provided. Probably doesn’t help that I don’t write code. Like Lynne, I’m not going there!

  8. Just signed up, read the tutorial, still scratching my head. All I want to do is put some sort of link on my FB page so folks can sign up.

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