A case of subscriber limits

15 July 2016 21:00

Yesterday morning my mailing list had 83 subscribers. I’ve grown this list gradually over the past two years (I think? I’m not entirely sure when I started it and too lazy to look it up), with some of the largest increases coming from cross-promotions. I migrated it to MailChimp a while ago, finding it infinitely better than my custom built solution.

Let’s focus on this last bit. I’ve participated in giveaways as a sponsor, where I paid part of the prize of a giveaway, and to be eligible to win, the entrants had to subscribe to my mailing list. This has given me at least half of my current subscribers.

A few months back, I decided I was overdue to run another promotion, and that I could use another boost in mailing list subscriptions, so I took a look at giveaways where I could join in as a sponsor. I ended up at Free Kindle Giveaway, where I signed up for an urban fantasy/paranormal giveaway. I would pay part of the prize, and in exchange the participants would have to sign up at my mailing list.

Some time went by, and I didn’t hear back from them. I did have an unexpected spike in downloads, that I couldn’t explain until the people from the giveaway contacted me with a huge spreadsheet of people who had subscribed to the giveaway, and agreed to get subscribed to my mailing list. After I was done importing, my mailing list had over 5000 subscribers.

That number blew me away. By sponsoring one giveaway I managed to get a 6000% increase in subscriber count? Even if 95% of these people unsubscribe after the first mail (which they should receive right around the time this post goes live, welcoming them and pointing at my books), I’ll still have 5 times as many subscribers as before.

There was one rather unexpected problem with this sudden increase in subscribers, caused by MailChimp itself. The thing is, I was using MailChimp’s free plan, which allows for mailing lists up to 2000 subscribers. Seeing as I now have 2 and a half times as many subscribers, MailChimp felt it was time I started paying for their service, at around 1 cent per subscriber, per month, making MailChimp my biggest writing expense out of the blue. I sincerely hope that this increased subscriber base will result in either an increase of book sales (to offset the cost), or a mass of unsubscribes to drop me below the subscriber limit, negating the cost.

Either way, these events have offered me some interesting opportunities. I’m curious to see where this will lead.