In the last two years, I’ve seriously studied this blogging-as-a-business idea–and everywhere I go, I hear the advice: start an email list. It’s important to know your customers. It’s important to reach out and remind them you’re there. We’re told if we’re ever going to sell our customers anything that they want to buy, we first have to know who they are and have a way of reaching them. Okay. Alright. I’m in. In this post, we’ll look at the Mailchimp for WordPress Plug-In and brainstorm some ways to use email creatively, effectively and let’s hope– enjoyably for all concerned. Here I actually put in a working Subscription Page for testing Mailchimp! Subscribe!
The MailChimp Plug-In
In my last post on Mangling MailChimp, I showed how you can use MailChimp “manually” — and for free! Which is a wonderful thing for those on a small budget. If you’re up on the Business Plan, you can get the free MailChimp Plug-in for WordPress. You download the “zip” file, you open the Plug-In page in the “black” WP ADMIN menu and voila. It uploads. Then you turn it on (switch it to “Active”) and . . .wow. That was easy. Turn the little switch to Active and that was it.
Of course, now what? The MailChimp
If you don’t have a Mailchimp Account, you’ll need to create one. Check out my post on Mangling Mailchimp and Getting Started Mangling MailChimp for help on that. Get that done before you move on to setting up the pl
Next, we go to the black WP Admin page (if your WP Admin page is blue? Go down to the bottom of the screen and open the WP ADMIN link. It opens the “black” [advanced] WP Admin menu.) There you’ll find the MailChimp for WP Dashboard.
The top menu will take you to the MailChimp site to pick up your API key, a long string of letters and numbers that you put into the MailChimp Plug-In activation screen. It was super simple because I had ALREADY create a MailChimp account.
This is the success screen. So far, so good. (Apologies for the blurry screen shot). After you get the plug-in activated, it’s time to use the second option on the MailChimp Dashboard (yes, in that black WP Admin Menu).
This is the menu item called “Form.” In the free version, you only get one form. Here I’ve added the first form that I’ve named “Welcome Blogger Friends” for people who subscribe to my email list. The other list I have is the “guinea pig” list for my friends who cheerfully agreed to take my first form emails. That went well. So here I am trying to re-create that for my blog audience.
Don’t Fear the Form
I am an experienced coder but the students that I teach RL are NOT. So, how to explain this stuff that happens next ? Hmmm. The only kind of “coding” you actually need is a wee tiny bit of HTML: the paragraph tags (to contain your paragraphs and put white space around them properly.
Here’s the top left half of the Form page. You can leave all of this alone. Below them is a box with a bunch of code in it. You edit that box and create your email message there, using HTML.
Below that you’ll see a screen with lots of scary words like “input” and “label”. Keep that code as it is, but work AROUND it, adding in your own message. Here’s my message below. The default text on the form is in RED. The rest, I put in myself.
At the top of the page you can preview this form using the button for preview (example below).
In terms of appearance, there are a number of choices you can make–I chose to keep with the default, which takes the appearance from the theme’s design. It seemed quite nice.
That’s pretty good for a first try!
Implementing the Form inside a Post
After you save the changes, below the save settings, you get a box with the shortcode for the form. Apparently, putting that shortcode on the page will call that form up.
We see there here.
————————THIS IS THE WORKING FORM BELOW——————————
In the next couple of days, we’ll play with this some more.
So are there any guinea pigs out there willing to TEST this out for me ? I promise to report the results! 🙂 And thanks to
from shineonvalley.com for the comment that pushed me to ACTUALLY try this. Fingers crossed, touch wood. It’s a learning experience for all of us. ~Lola
Bonus: Next up, try my post on the free add-on for the MailChimp plug-in, Boxzilla! This add-on will create those boxes that ask for subscriptions. It’s free, it’s easy, and I have a walk-through that makes it super simple.