Building An Email List On eBay
When I wrote this newsletter article, I originally jumped in and started explaining why you don't want to use eBay's newsletter service, and then went on to explain how to set up your own newsletter and get subscribers. But I think I need to tell you WHY HAVING A NEWSLETTER MAKES SENSE first.
Why A Newsletter Is A Good Use Of Your Time
Maybe you aren't familiar with the value of a newsletter, or think it's more work than it really is. Well the truth is an ezine is not that much work, and once you've written some newsletter issues, you'll find it get easier.
In fact, if someone had told me I would be writing two newsletters a week five years ago I would have laughed at him. I thought sitting down and writing a few pages would be like writing a dreaded term paper in high school.
It's not. It's like sitting down and talking to someone who never talks back. (Actually, your readers will talk back, but we'll discuss that later.)
Even better, you don't have to write a lot of articles because there are plenty of people willing to let you run their articles in exchange for a short bio box and a link. Even I do this now and then.
Also, you don't have to do a newsletter every week like I do - once or twice a month is enough to keep your readers familiar with you.
Speaking of familiarity, if you subscribe to The IWantCollectibles eBay newsletter, you've probably noticed by now that I send you something late every Wednesday night. Either a long article like this, or just a few short notes. I do this mostly because It provides me with a deadline forcing me to maintain my productivity, but it also serves to help you get used to reading my words, and increases my credibility with readers.
What You Can Do With A Newsletter
Now that I've explained it is much easier than you think to write a newsletter, let me tell you a few things you can do with a newsletter.
The first thing that comes to mind is promoting products. This can be as simple as sending out a list of new items you've listed on eBay, or can be an article explaining a product you've created, or even a review of someone else's product with an affiliate link.
Another thing you can do with newsletters is compile them into a book or package. Many of the collectible buying methods explained in my How To Buy Antiques and Collectibles package were originally written as emails back when I ran a online group. This isn't a way to instant profits, but you can mix your articles up with promotions for products to get some revenue coming in as you work toward your finished product.
A third thing you can do with a newsletter is take the articles you write and put them online. I put a lot of my articles into the news section of IWantCollectibles. (That's where you're reading this now.)
I send them out as an emailed newsletter because my readers like the ease of email rather than remembering to go look and see if there is anything new on the site, but having them on the website attracts new readers.
You see, having articles on a website increases your visitors from search engines, and helps you build confidence and trust with your readers. Allowing people to read back issues of your articles demonstrates the value of your words.
OK. Now that we've discussed how easy a newsletter is to write and explained a few ways to profit with a newsletter, lets talk about eBay and newsletters.
EBay obviously recognizes the value of online newsletters because they have added an option to build a newsletter list. This allows sellers to send emails with articles and notifications of eBay sales to readers.
But, you don't want to use this option. There are three reasons why eBay's Newsletter program is a bad choice:
I'll ignore the last reason about not offering items outside eBay, because that's the real goal of having a newsletter - profiting from offering your readers products, and by itself is enough to make eBay a poor choice, but I will comment on the prohibition against replying.
Allowing your readers to reply to your emails is very important because it helps you build rapport, and get feedback.
In fact, many of you send me emails after I send out the newsletter. Your questions and emails help me understand your needs better. They also provide me with ideas for future articles.
Some of the emails I get are used posted here in the section on eBay Questions and Answers.
Setting Up Your Newsletter
Now that I've told you why you shouldn't use eBay's newsletter service, let me tell you how you can set up your own newsletter. The software that sends the email and manages the subscriber list is called an autoresponder.
You have two options in selecting a type of autoresponder:
I recommend you use a hosted solution. I started my own autoresponder company years ago and it was nightmare. I ended up paying someone to manage the software and keep the server off blacklists.
You don't have to go through the hassle like I did. You can get started with an hosted autoresponder from a reliable company like AWeber for under $30 a month.
Getting Subscribers From Your eBay Auctions
Now that you know why you shouldn't use eBay's newsletter service, and where to go for a hosted autoresponder, let's discuss how to get your eBay buyers and visitors to subscribe to your newsletter.
First of all, one of the reasons I suggested you don't use eBay's service is the hassle factor. You want to make it easy for people to sign up for your newsletter. Any autoresponder service will provide you with simple, easy to use forms for your website. Your job just becomes one of getting people onto the sign up page, and providing a compelling reason to subscribe.
Here's an example of a compelling reason. When you subscribed to this newsletter, I promised you informative articles about buying and selling antiques and collectibles and about eBay.
Since you are still reading my newsletters I must be meeting your expectations at least often enough that you don't cancel your subscription.
A lot of newsletter writers also offer subscription incentives in addition to a compelling explanation of what to expect. I now offer 9 free eBay ebooks to subscribers. All the books are available on the website, but many people miss the links. The first article new subscribers get links to the free ebook page.
Another subscription incentive is an email course. You can do this by putting a few of your articles into an introductory series. All autoresponders allow you easily set up messages to be sent out automatically. (AWeber calls these Follow Up Messages) This is one of my favorite bonuses because it gets the reader used to reading my words, and allows me to reuse some of my more popular articles.
As an aside, a major benefit of an online newsletter is leverage. This means doing something once and then using it for other purposes. A simple email becomes an article on your website, or an article on someone else's site giving you valuable links and traffic, or a newsletter sent out to someone else's subscribers, or a chapter in an ebook, or, if you are promoting someone else's product as an affiliate, an online review, or even part of an email course.
What could be better than doing something once, and then being able to use the results of your work in many other creative and profitable ways?
Note - I wrote this article for my readers in March of 2006. Now in December 2011, I'm making a few changes and reusing the article. This keeps my site fresh and accurate, but also takes less time writing a new article. Because teh article is old, few of my subscribers will remember it so it benefits them too. Everyone wins.
Anyway, back to getting subscribers from eBay. At this point you'll have a simple page on your website explaining a compelling reason for subscribing, maybe also offering an incentive, and containing the form provided by your autoresponder company.
Now, eBay's rules prohibit offering a newsletter or linking to your website in your auctions. But you can link to your website from your eBay ME page.
So what you do is tell your auction visitors to visit your ME page. Give them a reason to visit your ME page and provide an ACTIVE link. The link is important. Don't make people search for the link to your ME page provided by eBay, put your own link right in your description.
Give your eBay auction visitors a reason to go your ME page. Then, on your ME page tell them about your newsletter, and link to the subscription page on your website.
This is why you come up with the compelling reason first. You'll need to restate it on your eBay ME page.
It's a simple path. Auction -> ME Page -> website subscription page. At each point provide a reason for someone to go to the next point.
That gives you enough usable information. You'll also need to know how to find products you can promote and some other fine points, but there is nothing you can't manage once you understand the concepts explained here.Newsletter Profits - The Complete Guide To Setting Up And Running A Profitable Ezine is an ebook with more detailed information.
PS. Adding Backend Sales To Your eBay Sales is an interview about selling simple reports on eBay, then selling people additional products outside eBay using a newsletter. PPS. Prospecting on eBay is a package that contains step by step instructions for running auctions to build a newsletter list. PPPS Think you can't write a newsletter worth reading? Go back and look at this article. It's not polished and perfect. It's just me sitting here at my computer sharing my knowledge with you. I am sure a professional journalist could better. Maybe not. They have editors. The point is the only thing that matters is the information. Sure there are nitpickers who get distracted by the numbers in the words, and the grammar, but most readers either don't notice the small errors or feel the information is more important. Actually, I think the people who obsess on the small errors are small-minded insecure people with low self-esteem. If picking out my errors helps someone feel better about himself - oddly it is almost always men who fixate on spelling and grammar errors, or at least the men are the ones who send me the nasty emails - then I am happy to provide the service. Just writing in a conversational tone like you'd use to order a cup of coffee or explain to a hairdresser how you want your hair to look is fine. If you are a poor speller, you'll get better over time, and the spell checker on your computer will do an adequate job.
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Many of the articles and free reports here on IWantCollectibles were originally sent to readers of my Antiques and eBay Newsletter. Not all articles make it onto the website, and readers also get notices of free reports and special offers.