A few weeks ago I had an idea. A newsletter that would provide help and guidance for a particular type of organisation in using the Internet and social media to promote and connect with their target audience.

To make this happen, I decided to use MailChimp to handle the sending out of the newsletter. I’m already a subscriber to several newsletters that use MailChimp, so if it’s good enough for them, then it’s good enough for me.

I was able to put together a template for my campaigns over a couple of hours. One thing that I had to do some digging around for though was how to send welcome emails out to new subscribers. I eventually found this and was able to have that email setup in about half an hour.

The final task was to update the landing page with the correct form attributes so that email addresses are sent to MailChimp directly. Again, straightforward.

I spent a couple of hours over the holidays putting together a landing page where people can sign up; I just needed the MailChimp form to complete this. The first pass is pretty much on par with every other landing page I’ve seen for such newsletters, so I’m happy with the results. It will be tweaked over time though to encourage sign-ups.

I already spent a couple of hours last week writing the first campaign. After a further few passes at it and some feedback from Jen, I had an initial campaign ready to send out.

I spent about 30 minutes testing the two emails that get sent out. I spent a bit more time on the first campaign, tweaking parts of the email design and ensuring that I had all the correct information in the right place.

MailChimp allows you to preview email and include live merge tags in your preview so that you can see what your subscribers see, but the real test is in sending out a test email. A test email allows you to look at all parts of the email as the subscriber should see it. Great for checking that everything is in place and that it reads fine.

The next part of this little project is to send out a few invites to organisations that would benefit from this newsletter and invite them to subscribe. With the first campaign sent out, I have an example of the content available through the newsletter for organisations to see.

I’m not expecting a massive rise in sign-ups over January, but I’ve got a goal in mind, so I’m aiming for that.

I was surprised by how quickly I was able to get a mailing list up and running on MailChimp. Previous attempts using MailChimp have always resulted in me turning away from it. This time though, I kept it simple, so I just got the absolute essentials in place. A welcome email and a first campaign.

Over the next few weeks, I'll be spending a bit more time digging into MailChimp and seeing else it can help with in maintaining an email list.