If you’re an indy author, you need a mailing list or you’ll be at the mercy of Amazon, BookBub, and FaceBook to get news of new releases out to your customers.
Unfortunately, if you only publish once every six months a mailing list can become expensive to maintain. I started out collecting emails in a spreadsheet, graduated to MailChimp and took advantage of their free program, and then started their pay-per-email plan so that I could take advantage of auto-responders. By paying $250 I was able to get the cost-per-email to $.01. With only a few subscribers a day, and less than one email send a month, that was not too bad.
… and then my list ballooned.
My list is at 7,000 subscribers (and I’ve got another 4,000 who aren’t very engaged that I hit up every now and then … plus a secondary list dedicated to Box Set lovers that is growing fast.) Sending an email to 7,000 subscribers at .01 a send is $70. For that many people, MailChimp’s monthly plan isn’t any better–it’s $75 a month for a list that size. After researching other popular mailing list management apps I discovered Sendy.
After an initial investment of $59 Sendy costs $1 per 10,000 emails sent. So what’s the catch? There’s actually a few.
That initial investment is for the app–and then you have to install that app on your web server. If you’re not technologically inclined that can get expensive. (Also, you need a website, too, obviously!)
There are no preconfigured email templates and its WYSIWYG editor is very rudimentary. You can download free HTML templates from places like Litmus, but still, if you don’t know HTML it can be tricky.
Segmentation is rudimentary at best. Want to send an email quickly just to those folks who enjoy your sci-fi? Ha, ha, ha … no. You can create custom columns in your list to store details like that, but to send to those people you have to export your list, fish out the folks who fit that criteria, create a new list and send your email. (In its favor, if they unsubscribe, Sendy will take them off the original list.) Sendy does allow multiple lists … but that gets clunky too. I noticed I had customers signing up for both my sci-fi and urban fantasy lists. I’m glad they like both–but I don’t want to annoy them twice with every release announcement.
Lastly … not every web host allows the Sendy app. I got Sendy installed (or actually, my tech guys did) and up and running. I was so happy! And then my website was shut down. Turned out, MediaTemple, my web host thought the Sendy code was “malicious.” (It’s not open source and is therefore encrypted.) My web guys had to do an emergency Sendy extraction and then I was left back where I started–well, except out quite a few pennies for installation and purchase of the app. As Homer Simpson would say, “D’oh!”
I tried some websites that used Sendy to send your emails, but it turns out most of them slapped their own look-and-feel on the Sendy app and actually left me with something less functional than Sendy. (I will not name names because they were very nice, didn’t charge me, provide an inexpensive service, and I hope to be able to recommend them someday.)
On a whim I Googled “Sendy Hosting” and discovered … dun, dun, dun … SendyHosting.com and EasySendy.com. I eventually went with SendyHosting because EasySendy seemed really geared to upselling peeps to EasySendy Pro. It looks like an awesome powerful product if you’re sending out 100,000 emails everyday (Comcast is one of their customers). It also looked really complicated when I signed up for a free account and poked around. Like it-could-be-a-job-just-to-know-how-to-use-it-complicated (if you’ve ever worked at a big company like Comcast you realize sending emails is someone’s job. They do it all day everyday. Have respect for them. It’s a job that takes marketing savvy, and techie and analytical brains.) I just want to send one or two emails a month. (If your’e looking to become the next BookBub, maybe it’s for you though?) To be fair, they did offer me free webinars and support … but I don’t want a webinar, I want to jump in and start sending.
So, with some trepidation after already trying two different email sending apps in a month I signed up for SendyHosting.
It was so easy. And at €12 a month affordable! That cost includes security updates to Sendy … I hadn’t figured those in; but as I would have to pay for their installation, it probably would have been more expensive than Sendy hosting in the long run. I had to create a subdomain for them, and grant a few permissions to AWS (Amazon Web Services, Sendy is their product.) But I was able to do it in minutes and I was right back with the interface I was comfortable with.
If you are comfortable with HTML and you need a cheaper email app, Sendy might be for you. But check your web hosting provider–they may not allow it–and even if they do, a Sendy hosting plan like SendyHosting.com might be cheaper in time and / or money in the long run.
I a still have a $.01 a send MailChimp service to catch anyone who has a link to my sign-up forms, and for Instafreebie sign-ups, but I HOPE that I’ve found my forever plan for general sending.