Hey, Dustin here!
With a list of over 27,000 people going strong I thought it might be time to revisit an old post on why we switched to Convertkit. I originally posted this over here on A Sweet Pea Chef. But given that most of this blog is on eating healthy food I decided to update it and post it over on Food Blog Engine, our blog on the behind scenes of growing an online business. So I updated and refreshed this article and we are. FYI, we are an affiliate for some of the below links. All these suggestions are based on our experience and extensive research I would never recommend a product that I don’t strongly believe in.
One of the goals I had for 2015 was to move our email system over to an email provider that allows for easier segmentation and follow up (i.e. before and after opting in and/or purchasing a product).
We used to use Mailchimp which I think is a great place to start, although Convertkit has very reasonably priced starter packages as well. If you are just starting your blog or just looking to send out email newsletters to everyone, then Mailchimp is a fine fit.
But, as our subscriber base has grown closer to 10,000 people across multiple lists, and some of which are duplicate emails with the same person on multiple lists, we have struggled with the best way to deliver email. So, about 3 months ago, we finally pulled the trigger when I saw a demo of Convertkit and fell in love.
FYI, we are an affiliate for some of the below links. All these suggestions are based on our experience and extensive research.
The Early Stages of ASPC
When A Sweet Pea Chef was just getting started 5+ years ago, we had no products or services. We only had one opt-in, which was a really old cookbook (I think we were one of the first to offer this as a freebie). I had read some stuff from Pat Flynn way back when and decided that we needed a lead magnet to gather emails. We looked around and, at that time, not many food blogs had one. Trying to make something that stood out, we decided to give out an entire Cookbook with over 40+ recipes in eBook form.
The whole point of gathering emails for us was to build an audience and connect with them on a more personal level. Lacey would give out special recipes you could only get on the newsletter and, occasionally, we would drive traffic to the blog. Slowly, this kept improving and we created newsletter campaigns which Mailchimp was great for.
The Power Of Email
Eventually, people wanted products so we created those. The first steps were to test out a few different cookbooks over time and we made a few thousand dollars doing this. But it was hard to figure out exactly what people wanted.
We learned we could use email to survey our audience and try to figure out how we could better help them. The answer we got was to create a meal planning service.
In late 2014, we launched our first service and used email to do it, creating $3k in recurring revenue. This was really a life changing opportunity because Lacey was able to help people create healthy, easy dinners and we had grown into a full-time business all at the same time.
We have also used email to grow our Youtube presence which is where a lot of our branding/sponsorship opportunities have come from which I talk about in the income reports.
Using email has exploded our business into something that now regularly makes over $10k a month.
Why We Changed
However, as we have grown over the last few years, some people wanted blogging tips or photography tips, while others just wanted recipes. This is tricky to do so we made multiple lists in Mailchimp to manage it. Then, we started dealing with segments and groups and it was just really tricky to get everything to work right.
We realized we needed to improve this interaction for sometime now and had been looking for the best options.
Additionally, in Mailchimp, if someone is subscribed to two of your lists(or more), that person is counted as two subscribers. For example, perhaps someone is signed up to your main list as well as a secondary list we created for food photography. That counts as two which has price implications because you pay based on how many subscribers you have. And that’s not to mention how difficult it was to look at what lists each subscriber was on.
I couldn’t unsubscribe from one list and send to another easily or update someone has having purchased. This all seemed possible in Mailchimp using more complicated features or coding something, but I wanted to do it easier and faster and/or have Lacey do it if she needed. Lacey doesn’t code lol.
So, when we finally decided to move to something new, we researched all the normal options: InfusionSoft, Ontraport, and Active Campaign. Unfortunately, at the time, they were all too expensive or too difficult or we heard about deliverability issues, etc. But, then I remembered about Nathan Berry’s Convertkit. I had always liked Nathan’s stuff on user interface (UI) which I read for “real” work purposes. I hadn’t really considered using them, though, since they were so tiny and I really had no idea what the functionality they had was.
I dug a little deeper and realized that Nathan had recommitted to this project and gone all-in. Then, I saw a demo of it and was blown away.
Convertkit has an amazing UI that is super easy to use and is intuitive. If I had designed it myself, it couldn’t have been better. Being a software engineer who believes people should have a good user experience, a good UI is super important to me. In fact, it was why we chose Mailchimp all those years ago.
With ConvertKit, it was super easy to learn everything I needed to know how to setup tagging, courses, forms, and integrations.
The best part was how easy setting up automation rules:
I can’t tell you how awesome this feature is and the easy user experience to actually pull it off is great. An example of this would be if someone buys a product, then tag them “purchased.” Or, when they finish a course, move them to another course.
Another use is when someone finished our autoresponder sequence, we wanted to move them back into the segment that gets recipes. So, we set up a segment that is the tag recipes and another automation rule.
The dashboard that gives you insight into your list is super cool, too. You can easily see daily subs, monthly subs, subs from specific forms, etc.
The flow of everything just makes sense. You subscribe to a form and then, based off the rules, you start getting different courses. So, instead of having a bunch of lists everywhere, we allow everyone to take the courses they are interested in. There are also tons of integrations so you can sync in with Gumroad, SumoMe, LeadPages, ClickFunnels, etc… It’s made our life so much easier.
I honestly have not been this excited about a new tool in a long time :).
If you’d like to check out ConvertKit, my referral link is here, and if you have any questions about ConvertKit, just shoot me an email or ask in the comments.
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