How to set up a mailing list on

Mailing lists are a key tool to help any author build an audience, and for fans of the author’s work to have access to exclusive content and information about new releases before anyone else. These are not to be confused by your blog sign-up, which informs those signed up of new blog posts.

At the end of last week I announced to the world that I’d set up a mailing list to inform people about any future releases. While the mailing list has proved popular (getting a free book may have helped) by far the biggest question I was asked was: how did you set up your mailing list?

Sadly, unlike on self-hosted blogs, there isn’t a specific widget available to link to a mailing list service. However, there is a workaround you can use. I set my mailing list up with MailChimp, an excellent free-to-use service. There are many other services available but this example is specific to MailChimp.

Before you start you will need to:

1. Register on MailChimp and set up a mailing list

2. Upload an image you want to use to promote your mailing list into your media library (I used the MailChimp icon but you may wish to create something more specific).

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 09.49.35Step 1 Login to MailChimp and select Lists from the left hand Menu







Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 09.50.28Step 2 Click on the drop down arrow on the left hand side and select sign up forms






Step 3 Click on General FormsScreen Shot 2014-12-08 at 09.50.57




Step 4 You need to either copy or note down the sign up form URL.Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 09.53.01

This sign up is one of a number of form that come as standard for any MailChimp user (you can click on the down arrow when on site to see them all). They are unique to you and can be amended as you see fit. The pages themselves are hosted by MailChimp and therefore separate from your WordPress blog.

**At this point I would recommend you go through the MailChimp sign up forms and amend them to however you want them to appear. To find out how to do this, click here**

Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 09.59.17Step 5 Go to your dashboard and select appearance – widgets






Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 10.01.30

Step 6 Select an Image widget and drag it to your sidebar




Screen Shot 2014-12-08 at 10.02.21Step 7 Complete your widget form.

Widget Title should be the text you wish to see above the image

Image URL: This is the URL for the image you previously uploaded to promote your mailing list. You can find this URL by clicking media and selecting the appropriate image. The URL will be on the right hand side of the page.

Link URL is the URL you either copied or noted down from your MailChimp sign up page.

Then press save.


You should now have a working sign up image on your blog!

If you found this blog helpful, you can always sign up to my mailing list by either clicking here or on the image at the top right hand side of my blog. In return, you will receive one of my e-books, of your choice, absolutely free! I promise not to spam you or pass on your details to anyone else.


34 thoughts on “How to set up a mailing list on

  1. That’s incredibly generous of you, Dylan. As always. MailChimp used to reveal the postal address associated with the account. Something to bear in mind (assuming it still does it, of course – I haven’t checked for a while).

  2. Thanks so much. So far I have been reluctant to engage any email-gathering servers/software; it all seemed so daunting and/or expensive. I’ve been keeping track on my own spreadsheet, which is remarkably good for some things but far from automatic.

    Thanks for making it clear that it doesn’t have to be either of those and that I could do this myself, easily.

    Does this work on Tumblr, also? Please explain? I really don’t understand the Tumblr appearance interface as well as, yet. Where are the self-regulated “Widgets” I could use to put this on my Tumblr page?

    I post on WP and the posts cross to Tumblr automatically, so I barely visit Tumblr.

    Next blog topic for you?

    best to you!


    • Hi Sally, thanks so much for your comment. Yes, keeping track of email addresses via a spreadsheet is OK, but MailChimp not only keep your mailing list, if you send an update through their own servers, they let you know who has opened the email, who has responded and so on so you can identify those fans of yours that are really keen to know more.
      Sadly, I’m afraid I’m unable to help you with Tumblr as I don’t use it myself.
      All the best,

      • Excellent! You should receive an email shortly asking which book you’d prefer.
        I also have a Kindle Paperwhite and love it, despite being initially against the idea. One of the best things about using a Kindle (or any e-reader) is the relatively low cost of each book means you get to discover so many new and diverse writers, something that wouldn’t have been financially possible otherwise.

      • Great, thanks Dylan! Yes, I wasn’t sure at first either but I love it for this very reason, and the ease of reading in bed at night. The only problem is my list is long and I’m a slow reader (although quicker with the Kindle for some reason) but once I read yours I will leave happily leave a review 🙂

  3. what a great post; when I return from down under I shall surely have a go at this. I’ve signed the list too (though I bought book two first so I’d have it for the flight home… maybe no. 3?!)

  4. I have been trying to figure out Mail Chimp and email promotions in general. I posted on it a couple of days ago on my own blog. I’ll have to bookmark this post and use it when I set up Mail Chimp.

  5. Pingback: Special Thank Yous, 1st Newsletter, AWOL Goodreads Giveaway | Books, Movies, Poetry
  6. Reblogged this on Write of Passage and commented:
    You’ll all notice I have a newsletter sign up form on the left side of my blog. While I’d love to write a blog post about how to use MailChimp to create a newsletter for your blog, Dylan says it all in his how-to post. I had a little trouble linking the sign up form ot my blog until I followed his advice word by word. It’s so easy a caveman could do it.

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