Why You Need to Build Your E-mail List with Medium

There are all kinds of ways to build your e-mail list. One successful way to build it is with the help of Medium.

Photo by rawpixel at Pixabay

You might have heard this before as a writer: you need an e-mail list.

If you’re a creative writer — especially a novelist like me — trying to grow an e-mail list is often the farthest thing from your mind.

Your goal is not start an e-mail list or build an e-mail list or e-mail anyone really but instead work on your novel. To write it the best you can and revise it over and over and maybe find a literary agent, maybe someone who will one day publish your book.

When you’re not published yet especially, you might think to yourself, why do I need an e-mail list?

My pal Shaunta has written about this topic a lot. She was the one who first told me how important e-mail lists are for writers, no matter what kind of writing you do.

Because an e-mail list is ultimately yours. You can take it with you no matter what. E-mails of people who adore your writing, who want to see more of your writing, and who might actually buy your book down the road.

Whether you have 50 e-mails or 10,000 emails, that list is sacred. There’s no chance you’ll ever lose access to it.

Sure, people can leave your reader list at any time. A person for whatever reason can choose to unsubscribe, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

What I have found is that the loyal readers, the one who truly enjoy your writing and see value in it, will stick around for the long haul.

And that’s one of the greatest joys for a writer, right? To have even a few loyal readers.


So how do you build an e-mail list?

Until I started using Medium for help, I always spectacularly failed when it came to building an e-mail list.

I used MailChimp between 2012 and 2014 and put a form for it on my blog awhile back. In the course of two years, I believe I had six people sign up for it. I never sent out a single e-mail.

In 2016 Shaunta turned me onto ConvertKit, which you have to pay for every month (starting at $29), but is absolutely easier to use and maintain. I didn’t have success with it on the first try in 2016–2017, but I’m finally having success with it now.

All you have to do is make a Form on ConvertKit and then somehow link to that form through another website. You can try your own personal website if that’s where you get a lot of traffic — I’ve definitely tried that before — but what’s worked the best for me is linking ConvertKit to my Medium stories.

Now here’s the kicker — you can’t put your ConvertKit form on Medium. You can certainly link to it, but if you want to insert a form at the bottom of each Medium story to collect e-mail address, you’re going to have to use a site specifically geared toward sign-up forms.

I use Upscribe. At the basic level it costs $9 a month. Like ConvertKit, it’s super easy to use, even for total numbskulls like me. You basically integrate your Upscribe form with your ConvertKit form, and they essentially become two-in-one. It all works together so easily.


And how exactly does Medium come in?

Medium is the place where you can actually get subscribers. People who read your latest story and want to see more from you might follow you on Medium, but that doesn’t do much because they’re never told when you publish a new story. You need to find a way to alert those followers every time you publish something new, and an e-mail list is perfect for that.

How do you get readers to sign up for your e-mail list on Medium? All you need to do is put your Upscribe form at the bottom of your latest story. What I often do is put in the Upscribe form after the story’s final sentence, followed by my bio at the very bottom. That seems to work best.

The more you publish on Medium, and the more views and reads your stories get, the better chance you have to obtain more e-mails.

And once you start remembering to integrate your Upscribe forms in each new Medium story, it just becomes second nature. Having that form there allows you to potentially get new e-mails from people every single day.

When I started putting Upscribe forms in my Medium stories in early March, I had only a few e-mails I’d managed to collect over the last few years. Today I have almost 350. I’m getting 3–5 new e-mails every day, and I have Medium to thank for that.

An e-mail list is particularly important if you write a lot for Medium because it gives you the ability to tell your fans and loyal readers about your latest publications. And about your other writing, too. About your fiction or poetry or whatever.

If you have a novel released one day, think about it: you now have hundreds and potentially thousands of people on an e-mail list who might want to buy your book!

So get started on your e-mail list today. There’s a lot to do and think about as a writer, but an e-mail list should absolutely be one of your top priorities.

Brian Rowe is an author, teacher, book devotee, and film fanatic. He received his MFA in Creative Writing and MA in English from the University of Nevada, Reno, and his BA in Film Production from Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. He writes young adult and middle grade suspense novels, and is represented by Kortney Price of the Corvisiero Agency. You can read more of his work at his website, brianrowebooks.com.