How I Created a Landing Page and Newsletter
A while back I created my own newsletter to share my thoughts and ideas, and to help build an audience as suggested by Ali Abdaal in his video, My Most Important Weekly Habit. My original "newsletter" was an email notification sent out by Wix with a snippet of my blog post when it was published. I decided I wanted to have more control over my newsletter and include more resources as well.
I will be getting into the technical side today and breaking down my steps on how I did it for free with a bit of backend work. You don't really need experience as long as you're willing to put in the work. Hopefully this will inspire you to create your own newsletter. But it was also an experiment for me to work on writing more technical articles and tutorials. Below are the sections of this article.
I personally use ConvertKit but I did briefly try out Mailerlite, Sendinblue and Substack. Mailerlite wouldn't load and I just gave up after about an hour of trying. I didn't like the interface and customization options of MailerLite or Sendinblue. I went with ConvertKit because I heard about it from Ali and other creators I follow also use it, and the first 1,000 subscribers are free. But there are plenty of other options as well, I also use Wix as my web hosting site. I stuck with Convertkit because has a more intuitive layout and was the easiest to get started.
What is a Landing Page?
I wanted to create a landing page, which is a standalone web page created specifically for marketing or advertising and is used to turn visitors into leads (potential customer). A single page I could link to with the sole purpose of getting users to sign up for my newsletter (my call to action) without getting distracted by my website. Which is a method is typically used to convert visitors to customers by removing all of the potential distractions of a homepage.
Below is how landing pages work:
Person ends up on landing page with a form.
They fill out a form, converting them from a visitor into a lead.
The information from the form is stored into a lead database.
And the business/company/entity, etc. markets to the contact/lead to sell their product or service.
While I don't have a business I did want to become more familiar with business terms like: call to action and lead capture, along with business techniques like marketing. If you want to learn more about landing pages you check out these articles: What are Landing Pages and How Do They Work?, What is a Landing Page?, What is a Landing Page? All Your Question, Answered.
Creating a Landing Page Using a Custom SubDomain
I created my landing page using Convertkit's templates and linked it to my own subdomain (newsletter.kellyjadams.com) so it could be it's own separate webpage. Below are the steps I took:
Signed up for ConvertKit with my website domain email (email@example.com), you can create your own domain email (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org) from Google, Domian.com, GoDaddy and other professional email services .
Created my landing page using the tools within ConvertKit its free themes. This is similar to any "drag-and-drop" style editing you do with website builders. My theme is Stark.
For my landing page, I wanted to use my own domain instead of the generated one ConvertKit provided. I created my subdomain which is a domain that is part of a larger domain. A subdomain makes the webpage separate in search engine results while keeping it part of the main website, it's a branch of your website that you want to distinguish with its own unique identity and content. If you'd like to learn more about the technical aspects of subdomains (e.g. SEOs, site structure and hierarchy, sitemaps) here are a few resources I found helpful: What is a subdomain and how does it impact SEO?, What is a Subdomain?, and What is: Subdomain.
If you already have a domain name it's easy to create one. For instance if you have a website called: mywebsite.com your subdomain would be subpage.mywebsite.com. And ConvertKit supports using subdomains for free. I personally use Wix for my website hosting.
I added a new subdomain (newsletter.kellyjadams.com) in my domain settings. See Connecting a Subdomain to a Site in Your Wix Account;
Went back to ConvertKit to add the subdomain to my landing page. See ConvertKit's article, How to Use a Custom Domain for Landing Pages;
Added my custom subdomain into ConvertKit
Verified and added DNS records to my hosting provider (In Wix, I added this under the A section to my Wix Domain Manager)
Refreshed to make sure it was verified
And finally in ConvertKit clicked "Add a Domain" in my Domains settings, added my subdomain: newsletter.kellyjadams.com and then selected my landing page, Kelly's Landing Page and saved.
And that's how I connected my subdomain (newsletter.kellyjadams.com) to my Landing Page (Kelly's Landing Page). Now when you go to the subdomain you'll see my landing page and can sign up for my newsletter.
On my homepage of my website, I created a button to link to my landing page. This was easy in Wix: you go to add a new element -> button -> the create your button and link it to a web page. But if you aren't using Wix you don't even need a button you could simple create a hyperlink to link to your landing page, like this. I wanted all inquiries about my newsletter to be linked to my landing page for the reasons I listed above: less distractions, turn visitors into leads, and optimize SEO.
I verified my subdomain using TXT verification code that I had for my kellyjadams.com website (verification is that little lock button you see on your browser), which shows the user that my website is secure or in technical terms: "it indicates a secure communication channel between the browser and the server on which the website is hosted. Signifies that the connection to the website is encrypted using HTTPS and has SSL/TLS certificate" from webopedia.
Below is my finished landing page at my subdomain newsletter.kellyjadams.com.
What Goes in My Newsletter?
As for my actual newsletter I use ConvertKit's Broadcast section, Broadcast is basically the email that you will be sending. The editing page is a simpler version of a document editor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs; you can add links to text, format your text (bold, italic, underline), add images, buttons and a bit more.
I wanted the content of my newsletter to not only include my latest blog posts but based on Ali Abdaal's recommendations I curate a list of links that I find interesting/insightful to send out to my subscribers. I talked more about why I created a newsletter in my article, Building an Audience.
For the design I kept a few key principles in mind:
Focused on my content being mostly text, few images if any.
Easily readable on mobile and kept everything left-justify.
Kept text decorations minimal with one accent color (same as my website and landing page to keep the theme cohesive), underlining and bolding words.
Easily readable/scannable by breaking up my newsletter into different sections: (1) latest blog post; (2); links; and (3) book notes. With only a "-----" to separate them.
Kept my contact information short (Twitter and LinkedIn).
I based this off of Thomas Frank's Tuesday Tools and Tips Newsletter (scroll to the bottom and you can sign up for it), who I love the look of the newsletter.
That's how I created my own newsletter including a landing page with a few simple tools. I hope this helped you with your newsletter, share with me your newsletter by emailing me at email@example.com. If you don't want to fully create a newsletter what would it be about? Comment below.
See you next week!