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.

Google, we have a malfunction

Still looking... (picture source:

Still looking… (picture source:

Some of you come here because you know me, some because you have signed up to receive an email prompt. Some of you are fellow bloggers who have seen one of my posts on the WordPress reader, others have had links forwarded through either Facebook or Twitter. Then there is a final group, a group of you who arrived via a search engine.

Now I love all of you equally, but I have a particular soft spot for people who stumble upon this blog because you were looking for an answer. And boy are there some strange questions to which you would like answers. I know because I get to see the search terms used to arrive at my blog (don’t worry, I don’t get to see who you are or where you live – although I do get to see which country). Rather than keep these gems to myself, I thought I would share some of my favourites with you. Enjoy!

Having just received a summons, Tinkles looked a little non-plussed (picture source:

Having just received a summons, Tinkles looked a little nonplussed (picture source:

Is it against the law for a cat to shit in my garden?

Every week I get many visitors to my The cat that shits in my garden post looking for answers. It is my post that keeps on giving. Most are looking for some form of deterrent, a few are looking at the best ways to kill the feline defecator without getting caught. Some, however, want to go down the legal route. If you can’t stop them, sue the bastards! Can you sue a cat? I’m not sure, but there are one or two people out there who are willing to find out.

Do the British celebrate the 4th July?

No, is the simple answer. We lost. We had our asses handed to us (as our cousins over the pond like to say). Yes, there were a number of mitigating circumstances, which I pointed out in a post I wrote during the summer, but do you really think we would celebrate a defeat? Then again, Texans celebrate the Battle of the Alamo, so maybe we should after all, and not just because it was our idea in the first place.

One night stands in Suffolk

So you’re young and single, or you are old and single, or maybe you are not single and have flexible morals. Whatever the circumstances, you are in Suffolk and looking for a good time. Now Suffolk is a quiet, rural county, not known as a thriving hotbed of libidinous hedonists (at least it never was when I was looking but then again, maybe the issue had more to do with who was searching). So how do you find out the best way to meet somebody for no strings sex?  Ask Google. Sadly Google sent you to my blog. How disappointed must this person have been, looking for a good time but being pointed to a rant by a grumpy man about sexism. And the poor person was clearly desperate as I’m on page 2 of this particular search result. Well I had to check, for research purposes of course…

Who changes Stephen Hawking’s’ diaper?

There are times when I despair at humanity. Unless you are Professor Stephen Hawking, or you are a manufacturer of adult nappies for the disabled looking for celebrity endorsement, why would you care? Yet someone, somewhere, wanted to know and they found my blog (and before you ask; no, I did not make a joke about Professor Hawking, I just happened to mention his name in one of my semi-regular series on Petty Domestic Disputes). I have a message for that person: life is too short for researching this dross. You clearly have an inquisitive mind, why not put it to good use and discover things for the benefit of humanity, just as Professor Stephen Hawking has.

This is so true (picture source:

This is so true (picture source:

Why are guys so confusing?

When I first saw this search term come up, I felt a moment of sympathy. I imagined a shy, teenage girl confused at not being unable to understand boys her own age, driven to turn to Google to find  answers on why guys are so confusing and mistakenly looking at my why men are confused post for answers. Then, as with earlier, I googled the question myself to see whereabouts my blog came in the results list. And I looked, and I looked, and by page 25 I gave up and searched via Bing instead. Again I looked and I looked, past blogs about “why do men take so long to have a poo” and “why are their so many men on this site (for lesbian dating)” until I came to the conclusion that this visitor wasn’t so much confused as obsessed to an unhealthy degree. So if you are reading this; please, let it go. We aren’t worth the anxiety.

And finally comes the most bizarre search term of all:

Long hair picking nose

Is this an obscure Bob Dylan song lyric? Maybe it is a secret code that will start the Zombie Apocalypse? Whatever it is, somebody was interested enough to type this into a search engine and arrive at my blog. I wonder if what they read here was as confusing to them as their search term was to me.

Blocked by Akismet – update 2

I’ve waited a few days before posting this, just to be sure, but it seems my ability to post comments and not be recognised as spam has been restored. Yay!

Interestingly, it appears I may have been doing Akismet a disservice. They claim that the issue was nothing to do with them and that I was never on their blocked list. I’ve heard rumours that it may have been something to do with a couple of Internet Service Providers in the UK, Sky & BT. Whatever the reason, what I can say is that the follow up from Akismet was very good, regardless of whether they were to blame or not, so thank you for that.

For those of you who have contacted me with the same issue, I hope you are all now OK. If not, I believe the end is in sight, but don’t hesitate to contact Akismet if you haven’t yet, because I don’t believe my issue would have been solved without them.

Previous posts
Blocked by Akismet – update
Blocked by Akismet

Blocked by Akismet – update

pulling hair out

Please fix it quick, it’s not like I had that much hair to begin with (Photo credit: wstera2)

Just a quick update to say – well how do I put this – I’m still unable to comment on other people’s blogs. Well, this isn’t strictly true. I have been commenting on people’s blogs but my comments have gone into spam purgatory. I wouldn’t mind so much but I’m very proud of some of those comments (and maybe ashamed by one or two as well).

So, if you are the owner of the following blogs, please check your spam folder, as hidden away amongst all the dross will be a little gem by me (of course, you can then ignore the comment, but I’d like you to at least have the chance to judge the comment’s worth for yourself).

do not get sick in the sink please

the sporting regard

Shumpty speaks (there my be a couple of comments waiting in purgatory and there are a few more I’ve wanted to make – loved your Ashes blogs)

Plus many, many more of whom I have forgotten.

hopefully it will be all over soon….

Update on the update

I should point out, the people at Akismet are working on this, as I know they are with a number of other bloggers, it’s just there is no resolution in sight.

My original post – Blocked by Akismet

Blocked by Akismet

Well, it looks like I, like many other bloggers, have been blocked by Akismet because they believe I’m a spammer. A spammer? Have they not read my blog? Seriously, it’s driving me up the wall. There are so many good blogs out there that I’d like to comment on but – whoosh – off to spam it goes. I’ve sent requests to the Akismet support site and filled out their form, but as you get no acknowledgement that they have received anything, I have no idea if anything will happen.


Anyone have any other ideas how I can get out of this hell?