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Month: December 2021

How I set up my newsletters

On my blog, I have a signup form “Subscribe here to get the latest blog post via email” on the right sidebar. Every month, an email will be sent out to my subscribers with any new posts I have on my blog. After a while, I wanted to make changes to that email template but I’ve forgotten how I set it up in the first place. I am writing this blog post as a reminder for myself and for anyone who wants to know how I set up my newsletters.

I use Mailchimp which is free for the number of subscribers I have and for the functions that I am using right now.

First, I need to create a subscribe form to put on my blog for people to opt-in to receive my posts on a monthly basis (that is my newsletter right now). After you’ve sign up for Mailchimp, you can create different kinds of signup forms. Under their Audience menu, you will find the Signup Forms menu. I used the Embedded forms following these steps to generate the HTML codes that I then plug into my blog.

I use WordPress for my website and blog. You can read about how I set up my website and blog here. I had to find a WordPress theme/template that allows me to add a Custom HTML widget to the sidebar of my blog because that’s where I want the signup form to be. I searched for WordPress themes with sidebar and made sure it has the widget that allows me to input my own HTML codes.

It may sound complicated but both WordPress and Mailchimp interface are pretty user-friendly for regular people like me without computer trainings. I just Google how to do something I want and try out different buttons on WordPress and Mailchimp to see what they do. I confess I kind of enjoy the process.

After I’ve generated my codes for the Embedded Forms on Mailchimp following these steps, I copied the code and pasted into my custom HTML widget on my WordPress. The satisfying part was seeing the codes transformed into a signup form on my blog.

Then, I followed this article to share my blog posts with my subscribers automatically every month or however often you want it to be. One of the things I had to figure out was my RSS feed. If your website is powered by WordPress (mine is), then all you have to do is add /feed/ to the end of your website URL. For my site, my RRS is simply:

The part I forgot is how to modify my email template. I can drag and drop their RSS content blocks to my email design. Once I dropped the blocks (RSS Header or RSS Items) I can select different options of the block. Their detailed instructions for doing this is here. You can also use something called Merge Tags to customize your email template to display different information.

For a while, if you sign up for my newsletter, there is just a sentence saying “Thank you for subscribing” in tiny fonts at the bottom of the form. Finally, I’ve made a banner for my newsletter template, set up a welcome email for people who signed up. I Googled the size for a Mailchimp banner, look at other people’s banners, and searched examples of good welcome email online. The banner size I settled on is 1200x500px. You can go wider at 1200×675 pixels or narrower at 1200×400 pixels. I just picked a random height in between these two.

To set up a Welcome email, follow these steps. Once you finished setting up your template, you can preview it in Mailchimp and/or send yourself a test email to see how it will look. You can find and modify your blog post update and welcome email setting under Campaign.

Check out my email template by signing up here for my newsletter/blog post updates. Let me know what you think or if you find any bugs.

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My Social Media Posting Schedule

Seth Godin said in his popular Advice for Authors blog post that “the best time to start promoting your book is three years before it comes out.”

I also like what he said that a book is a souvenir and it’s a way for you to spread an idea. I agree that’s how I buy books. Sometimes when I read a book from the library and love it so much that I have to have a copy in my collection (a souvenir). As for why I wrote Emet’s Box, it is because as a mom and volunteer at school art programs, I see how brilliant kids are. They are naturally creative but sometimes I feel some of them try to hide themselves to conform to what the adults want. I want to encourage kids to be who they really are, the joyous, creative beings and shine their lights onto the world. That’s the meaning behind this “Shine Your Light” illustration on my Twitter.

My publisher recommends posting consistently on social media for at least three times a week. You can pick one platform you enjoy to focus on because if someone likes your work, they will follow you across different platforms.

Twitter has a lot of writers. Instagram has more educators and artists. Although I am finding more painters on Twitter, probably because I started following #painting. I created a Facebook page recently because my publisher said maybe my friends don’t want to keep seeing my art on my personal page but if they are interested, they can follow my Jeni Chen Art page.

At first, I felt overwhelmed even posting just one post per week. I didn’t know what and when to post and I would just post random stuff at random time.

I wanted to figure out the best time for me to post so I made a schedule of the different times my followers are online. I found the info somewhere on the Instagram app under Professional Dashboard. I made a schedule of all the times that I can post to reach the most people on a sheet of paper (see below):

I have no idea if I am reaching more people but this schedule had made posting on social media a lot easier for me. I can plan ahead on what I am going to post and schedule my posting with Creator Studio for Facebook and Instagram, and with Tweetdeck for Twitter.

I also started drawing Emet on different holiday like Remembrance Day and Thanksgiving to post on those days. It’s fun draw Emet in different situations.

It’s been one month since I’ve been following this schedule. I will try it for another month but I can already see that I have more engagements on Wednesday.

I think there are lots of companies that help you figure out precisely what and when to post but I am still not very sure about social media.

I saw some news recently that Lush Cosmetics has stopped using social media because their purpose is to help people switch off and relax, to pay more attention to their well-being while social media is doing the opposite. I thought that was very admirable of Lush, to do something that is true to their brand, despite the possibilities of losing some eyeballs. And I like their new message on social media:

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