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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: https://jenichen.com/feed/

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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