Using Mailchimp to add a newsletter to your website

Setting up a mailing list and adding a newsletter sign-up form to your website

Setting up a mailing list and connecting it to your site

One of the big ways artists attract and keep long-term fans is by engaging with them on a regular basis. Art enthusiasts love to feel that they know something about the artist behind the work. Starting and maintaining a mailing list is an excellent way of keeping in touch with potential buyers, sending them information about exhibitions, events and new pieces you’re working on.

In this tutorial, I’ll show you how to set up a free account at MailChimp.com (a mailing list management system), how to connect that account with your WordPress website, and how to put a simple sign-up form on the your home page.

Setting up your mailing list with Mail Chimp

1. Go to MailChimp.com and click on ‘Sign Up Free’.

Mailchimp set up

2. Enter you email address, create a username and password, and click on ‘Create my Account’.

Enter your details to register a Mailchimp account

3. Now check your email. You should have received a message from MailChimp that looks something like this (check your Spam or Junk folder if you can’t see it). Click on ‘Activate Account’.

Activate your Mailchimp account

4. You’ll then be taken to a form. Fill in all required fields with the relevant information.

Fill in your personal details in Mailchimp

Once the form is complete, click on ‘Save and Get Started’.

Save your details and get started with Mailchimp

5. Click on ‘Create a List’.

Create your mailing list in Mailchimp

6. Click on ‘Create List’.

Create a new list

7. Give your list a name and fill in all the required details. The ‘default “from” email’ and ‘default “from” name are the email address and name that subscribers to your newsletter will see when you send them an email via MailChimp.

Name your new mailing list

8. Once you’ve completed the form, click on ‘Save’.

Set your notification settings

Excellent. You have now created a list which fans and potential buyers can sign up to.

Finding your API key at Mail Chimp

In order for you to implement a sign-up form on your website, you need to know your mailing list’s API key. Here’s how you find it.

1. In MailChimp, click on your username, then ‘Account Settings’.

Find your API key in Mailchimp

2. Next, click on ‘Extras’.

Go to Extras to find your API key

3. Then click on ‘API keys’.

Click on API keys

4. On the next page, click on ‘Create a Key’.

Create an API key

5. An API key will then have been generated. Make a note of this key code for use later on.

Highlight and copy your API key in Mailchimp

Installing the Easy MailChimp Forms Plugin

The simplest way to put a functioning form on your site is to install the free Easy MailChimp Forms Plugin. This is how you do it.

1. Log in to your WordPress dashboard. Hover over ‘Plugins’ and click ‘Add New’.

Add a new plugin on your site

2. In the search field on the next page, type in ‘Mail Chimp’ and click ‘Search Plugins’.

Search plugins for Mailchimp

3. Once search results are generated, scroll down until you see the plugin named ‘Easy MailChimp Forms’. Once you find it, click ‘Install Now’.

Install Easy Mailchimp Form plugin

4. Once the installation process is complete, click on ‘Activate Plugin’.

Activate the Easy Mailchimp Forms plugin

Connecting Easy MailChimp Forms to your MailChimp Account

Now you have the plugin, you need to connect it to the mailing list you created at MailChimp. This is where the API key you generated earlier comes in.

1. From your WordPress dashboard, hover over ‘MailChimp Forms’ and click on ‘MailChimp Settings’.

Find your Mailchimp settings in WordPress

2. Enter the API Key in the field marked ‘Your MailChimp API key’. Once it has been accepted as a ‘Valid API Key’, click on ‘Save Settings’.

Enter your Mailchimp API key in WordPress

Creating a sign-up form

The next step is to actually create a form so that visitors can sign up to your mailing list. As the name of the plugin suggests, this is made extremely easy!

1. Hover over ‘MailChimp Forms’ and click on ‘Manage List Forms’.

Manage your sign-up forms in WordPress

2. From the drop-down menu on the page you are taken to, select the name of your list (you created this name when you first set up the list over at MailChimp.com). Next, click ‘Create a Form For This List’.

Create a new form for your mailing list

By default the form that you create will have 3 fields: Email address, first name and last name. If you want to get more information about the people signing up to your mailing list you can easily add more fields.

3. To do this, go back to MailChimp.com and log in. Click on ‘Lists

Find you list in Mailchimp

4. Click on the downwards arrow next to the word ‘Stats’, then click on ‘Signup Forms’.

Create a signup form in Mailchimp

5. On the next screen click on ‘Select’ directly below the yellow circle with the title ‘General forms’.

Create a General form in Mailchimp

6. Here you can add fields to your sign up form. Simply find the field title you’d like from the menu on the right, click on it and it is automatically added to the form. If it isn’t listed, you can create a custom field by clicking on ‘Text’ or ask a question with multiple set answers using ‘Radio buttons’, ‘Check Boxes’ or a ‘Drop Down’.

Add fields to your Mailchimp sign-up form

7. Click on ‘Save Field’

Save your new fields in Mailchimp

NOTE: You can also remove unwanted fields by selecting them on the form and clicking the minus button (-). You will be asked to confirm by typing the word ‘DELETE’.

8. Now go back to WordPress. In ‘MailChimp Forms’>’Manage List Forms’, click on the yellow button that reads ‘Re-import Form Fields from MailChimp’.

Import the settings for your form from Mailchimp to WordPress

The new fields that you added will now appear.

Your new settings appear in the plugin

Adding the form to a page of your site

In order for visitors to sign up to your mailing list, the form will need to be easily accessible on your site. Using the short code generated by the plugin you can place the form on any page you wish. Here I’ll show you how to put it on the homepage.

1. Staying on the page ‘MailChimp Forms’>’Manage List Forms’, select and copy the Shortcode that has been generated for the form you’ve created.

Get the short code for your new newsletter subscribe form

2. From your WordPress dashboard, go to ‘Pages’>’All Pages’.

Add a new page in WordPress

3. Find your home page (or any page you’d like to implement a sign-up form on). Click on it.

Find your Home page in WordPress

NOTE: Here I’ll show you how I implemented the form on DarenRedman.com. This will be particularly useful if you followed all of the tutorials in Section 2: Building Your Artist Website where I showed you how to use the Klasik WordPress theme to create your online portfolio.

4. In order for the form to fit neatly alongside the text, it’s possible (with the Klasik WordPress theme) to create 2 columns; one for the written content of your homepage and one for the sign-up form. In the visual editor, type this piece of short code before your written content: [column_1_2]. After the written content, type the following short code: [/column_1_2].

Add columns to your homepage text area

5. Now create the column for your sign-up form; below your last piece of short code, type the following short code once again: [column_1_2].

Then type a ‘Call to Action’ for visitors to sign up to your mailing list. For Daren’s site, we simply chose ‘Keep up to date with all my news by signing up to my newsletter’.

6. Then insert the short code that you copied in step 1 from the ‘Manage List Forms’ screen. Finally, type the following short code: [/column_1_2].

7. Click ‘Update’.

Add a call to action to your sign-up form

The result should look something like this: a simple unobtrusive sign-up form neatly displayed adjacent to the text of the home page.

How the newsletter subscribe form looks on the live site

MailChimp will send you updates on how many people are signing up to your newsletter. You can also view this information by signing into your account and clicking on ‘Lists’. You can send the entire list emails very simply directly from your MailChimp account by clicking on ‘Campaigns’ and then ‘Create a new campaign’. There are excellent tutorials over at MailChimp that go into more detail such as this one: How can I create a campaign?

OK

So there you have it; in a few simple steps, you have created a mailing list, connected it to your website and implemented a sign-up form. Of course, mailing lists are just one way of engaging with your visitors; many artists nowadays are having great success with blogs.

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Go to Chapter 3 – Adding a blog to your WordPress site >>>

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