Are Bloggers “Supposed” to Have an Email List?

a graphic of a computer sending out message envelopes

There’s a lot of expert advice out there on the great wide internet telling you what you should do as a blogger and how you should do it.  If you’re even remotely considering adding a business element to your blogging venture, there’s even more advice.  Perhaps advice is a bit too soft a word.  Plenty of people are telling you what you absolutely MUST do to avoid being left behind as the world sails past you.

This post will be about one of those musts that I’m rebelling against – building an email list.  Not that there is anything wrong with choosing to build an email list because that works for you; the rebelling here is against the “must/should” part of it.  And just to clarify, this isn’t getting people to follow your blog via email rather than via WordPress.  This is getting people to give you their email address as part of signing up for a newsletter you create, as an example.

Whether you’re trying to sell a book, products, services,  or anything else, supposedly building up an email list is a high priority goal in and of itself, because apparently this will keep people buying your products ’til kingdom come.  Email marketing is considered more valuable than social media following because social media connections aren’t really yours.  Social media followers come and go, but if you’ve got their email, you’ve got them on lockdown.

According to, “The most powerful asset any blogger has is their email list.”  Campaign Monitor calls email marketing “vital” for bloggers.  AWeber says “email marketing and blogging go together like s’mores and campfires” and if you’re a blogger without an email list, “you could be missing out on a huge opportunity to grow your audience.”

So what’s the big fuss about?  Well, because it allows you to get in people’s face, whenever you want, and get them to listen to what you have to say.  Apparently people are a much more captive audience (and more wallets-open audience)  when you can connect with them via email as opposed to any other methods.

So how to get people to subscribe?  “Lead magnets” are freebies that are given in exchange for people giving you their email address.  There is lead generation software like Optin Monster and LeadPages to set that up.  Once you’ve drawn people in, there are a variety of services that will help you manage your email marketing, including Mailchimp, ConvertKit, and the oh-so-obnoxiously-named Constant Contact.

I am fussy about how I navigate the internet world.  Pop-up messages to subscribe bug me.  I know many sites use them and I understand why, but as I said, I’m fussy.  I don’t like giving out my email, because I don’t want mailing list emails clogging up my inbox.  Perhaps I could approach marketing in a way that wouldn’t appeal to me, but I just don’t want to.

Plus, I don’t want to write a newsletter.  If I have things to say, I will say it on my blog.  Perhaps that’s what it really comes down to for me.  I do have some plans to bring a business element to my blog, but at its core my blog will still be a blog, and that’s how I like to connect with people.

So, do you need to have an email list as a blogger?  If it serves a purpose for you, that’s great; run with it and make it work with you.  But if that’s a path that you don’t want to take, despite what all the marketing sites will tell you, skip the email list and do your own thing.  And that’s my grumpy blogger advice for the day.

A few articles on the topic to check out if you’re curious:

A Blogger's Guide to Blogging

The Blogger’s Guide to Blogging isn’t about what the blogging gurus say you should do; it’s about relevant tips that the regular, personal blogger can use.

27 thoughts on “Are Bloggers “Supposed” to Have an Email List?”

  1. I honestly don’t have time to write a newsletter and personally don’t see the point. I write everything on my blog, so what would I write in a newsletter that’s any different? I just don’t get it! Each to their own of course, but I don’t think it’s for me.

    1. That’s what I don’t get too! Isn’t my blog’s homepage like a newsletter? If i won’t visit a blog, I probably won’t read its newsletter…

  2. This came at just the right time for me. I do want my blog to have a business side to it in the future, but I don’t have a pop-up so readers can sign-up to my (inexistant) email list at the moment for the exact reasons you talk about. I’m so pleased I’ve read this as a reminder to me of my own values when I do go for the ‘Call to action’ subscribe-to-email-list thing. I’ll keep it toned down and indeed consider whether I want to even write a newsletter… Thank you for your grumpy blogger advice 😅 As you say, there’s so much info out there telling us what we ‘should’ or ‘must’ do and it’s easy to get pulled in.

      1. It really is… On the other hand, if someone uses your Contact Form to say they’d like to be added to your email list but can’t work out how to be, it could be a good idea to at least create an email list (but not necessarily send out a weekly newletter and maybe not even use a pop-up!).

        1. For sure. I got contacted that way once by someone who was having a hard time following. WordPress lets you send an email invitation to someone to follow your blog, so this person did that and it worked out great.

  3. Personally, I do not like pop-ups. Especially ones that you can’t close, when that happens I end up leaving the page altogether, so people could be losing their audience by that.

  4. Very interesting blog post! Yeah, I hate the “subscribe” pop-ups, especially when I’m reading one article because, say, I did a search for something and that article came up. And I’m thinking I don’t want to subscribe because I have no familiarity with the blogger, and I just wanted to read the one article.

    Sonya has a mailing list and she does a newsletter, but book sales are abysmal for her just as they’re abysmal for me. Being self-published is all about the glory, and it’s a sad thing to have to accept, but it’s true. 🙁 Actually, though, I do think it would be fun to do a newsletter, and I could start with everyone in my contacts list, right? Friends and family? What a fun idea!! I’ll have to research a few things… Ooh, fun!! I’m glad we had this talk!!

  5. I pay zero attention to any email list and if I want to know what’s up I’ll seek it out. Social media feeds are already more than I want to see, I don’t need more stuff in my email, where I’ll delete without reading anything I don’t have a personal connection to anyway. I’m much more likely to read your blog, and I do!

  6. As a new a blogger its been something I’m really not sure about. I really want to keep it as much about the blogging and writing as possible and keep the social media aspect low… But on the other hand I want my blog to grow. It’s a tough one.

    Excellent read by the way, keep up the good work.

  7. If blogging is really mostly a business thing for you, you sell services and such, and have very wide and diverse audience, I think I can see the point. I guess many bloggers who have newsletters assume that it is easier for people to remember their blog when they will send them an email once in a while, because many people look at their emails more often than on the websites they like to see what’s new, especially if they’re not bloggers themselves. Perhaps it depends then on what type of audience you have, if they’re email people or blog people, whether you should have an email list or not. I get tons of emails every day, and I check all my email accounts every day, or like all the time throughout the day I should perhaps say, but I follow only one Polish blogger’s email list, because she also includes links there to things she’s done in other places on the Internet, and she’s a good language blogger so I’m actually interested in what she’s posting. All of the other bloggers I follow, whether they do have email lists or not, I only follow their blogs (albeit I get the notifications via email as that’s more convenient for me to open my email client and see straight away what I want than wade through the WP Reader, which I find much better for finding new blogs than actually reading them). Perhaps if I would be such blogger, and would use my blog to sell some products or services, or would want to keep my readers up to date on my activity all around the Internet, I could have an email list, but otherwise, I agree with you that blog is perfectly enough to express all I have to say, and I wouldn’t like to be the kind of an intrusive person who throws tons of irrelevant info at my readers from every possible direction, for me, as a reader, it would be very discouraging and I wouldn’t stick to someone like this for too long, unless they’d really had so many genuinely interesting things to tell and/or show me.

  8. I have gone back and forth with a newsletter, but I have yet to decided. I always learn towards “nah, not for me.” 🤷‍♀️

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