Kicking off a newsletter with free tools

By  •  Updated: 05/29/24 •  3 min read

I think it’s time I unveiled some of the nerd side of my marketing activities, because modern marketing involves an awful lot of shunting data between systems.

The core of any info product marketing system has three parts:

You’ve got a decision to make when you start out. Try to find them all under one hood, or build them from separate, but hopefully better parts.

For most beginners, I’d usually say the all in one route is best, but if you have some tech ability or resource, and you plan to scale up beyond a profitable hobby, then the best-of-breed route is my preferred option.

(It’s helping people move from one to the other that’s my speciality, so yeah, I probably have some bias here.)

Today I want to talk about the link between the web pages and email system, commonly known as your “opt-in” page where you collect email addresses rather than sales.

The homepage of this site is an opt-in page as it has a sign-up for my Marketing Notes

The blog posts also have an opt-in at the end of each one, so they’re a hybrid of content pages and opt-in pages.

Anything with an email form on it is an opt-in page, even if it’s combined with another purpose.

So where does that data go when you fill in the form?

In 99% of cases, your list of email addresses are kept in the same place as you send your email campaigns from.

Today, that means ConvertKit, who recently opened up their free tier to allow 10,000 free contacts, instead of the old 2,000 limit.

But there’s a catch.

(There’s always a catch)

Convertkit runs a feature called “Recommenadtions”. Each time someone subscribes to your list, a popup appears that recommends other lists your reader might like.

Here’s Convertkit’s standard form:

On the paid plans you get paid for building these lists for other people, on the free plan, Convertkit keeps the money.

Now, I don’t really want anything unexpected getting in the way of my subscribers signing up, so I wanted to find a way to bypass the referral page, and have subscribers go straight to my “Check your inbox” message.

Here’s where we discover the power of API’s

An API lets you do something with code instead of typing things into a web page or app.

In this case we want to enter an email address into the Convertkit list without adding it manually to bypass the referral system.

Here’s my form that I built with a custom WordPress plugin, helped by ChatGPT. (You’ll need to use a different email address if you already signed up to my list.)

You can see that there’s no referral page, but other than that it works just the same.

The form is handled by wordpress rather than by Convertkit and the email is pushed into Convertkit using the API.

If you’re running WordPress and you want to try this, just sign up for the 10k version of Convertkit, then sign to my email list and reply to the first email you get and I’ll send you the code and how to use it.

[This workaround could get pulled at any time on Convertkit’s end, so just be warned that I’m not promising it’ll work forever].

Stephen Pratley

I build email lists, that grow into one-man businesses.