Hi!  If you have a custom blog design, you most likely want to share it with the world.  A great blog design template can only get you so far, if your blog designer is Little Blue Deer, you have invested in a fabulous unique and custom blog design, but the question is, how do I get people to actually come to my blog or website?  That’s one reason that building a mailing list can be really helpful.  You can always send out your blog posts via Jetpack, you can view my tutorial on how to activate Jetpack on your blog here.  However, some people prefer Mailchimp because you have more control over the lists.   Most people know how to set up a newsletter campaign in Mailchimp and Mailchimp has easy steps to walk you though it but sending out blog posts is slightly more complicated, so I am going to show you how to connect your custom blog design to Mailchimp.

Step 1:
Step 1
You will want to go to www.mailchimp.com, and sign up for an account.  A basic account is free.  You will be asked to enter your basic information, including a physical address (because of anti-spam laws you must provide a physical address and this address MUST appear in the footer of each email as well).  Once you have set up your account, go to Lists, in the top gray navigation bar.  Then, when on the Lists page, click on the gray Create List button on the right side of the page.

Step 2:
Step 2

If you are comfortable with Mailchimp and have been using it, you can import subscribers or divide a list within groups.  This is advanced Mailchimp, so for this tutorial, we will stick to creating a new list.  So click on the gray Create List button in the big gray box in center of page.

Step 3:
Step 3

On the next page, you will fill out your list details.  Give your list a descriptive name so you will be able to immediately know that this is a list of subscribers to your custom blog design blog posts.  The “from” email is the email that people will see when the email is sent.  Down at the bottom, after you have filled out all the fields you can choose if you wish to be notified when people subscribe or unsubscribe from your email list, etc.  Save your list by clicking on the gray Save button.  Now you have your list!  Then next page will be the page where you can manage your list.  If Little Blue Deer is your blog designer and you have ordered an opt-in popup as an add-on to your custom blog design package, you will provide us with your Mailchimp login information, and we will create a custom sign up form for your list, and install it on your blog.  If Little Blue Deer is not your blog designer and you are using an out-of-the-box or other blog design template, you can simply click on the prompt to create a sign up form to add to your blog.  For the rest of the steps I have a tutorial video, or you can follow along with the screenshots below:

Step 4:
Now you are ready to set up the actual campaign.  In the left hand tool bar, click the plug icon (automations)

In the top right corner on the “Create” dropdown, choose Classic Automations

Click on the Share Blog Updates box that comes up, and click Enter.

In the Campaign Name area, enter your campaign name (eg. “Latest Posts from Little Blue Deer”) and then click the gray Begin button.

Step 5:
Step 5Now you just need to enter the details of your custom blog design template so that Mailchimp knows where to grab your blog posts.  In the first section, you can just enter the URL of your blog, and Mailchimp will locate the feed.  By default, any blog design template designed by Little Blue Deer will have a feed location at http://yourdomain.com/feed
You can choose frequency, time and days to send out your posts by email.  Remember, if you haven’t created a new post, it will not be sent out.  You can also click the Resize RSS feed images to fit template button so your images fit neatly in the Mailchimp email template (note this may not always work if your images are very large.  You may need to resize your photos to around 680px wide before uploading to your blog).  Also, do not use a smiley face ( 🙂 ) because Mailchimp will read this as an image.

Step 6:
Step 6To go to the next page of the setup, scroll down to the bottom of the page, and click the Next button.

Step 7:
Step 7Now, you just want to choose the list that you created in Steps 1 through 3 to send the blog posts to.  You can also choose options (advanced) for the purpose of this tutorial, we will choose Send to Entire List.  Remember to click the Next button at the bottom right hand corner of your screen to go on to the next step when you are finished.

Step 8:
Step 8On the Campaign Info page, you will want to fill out all fields in the highlighted area.  The first field, Name your Campaign, is for your reference only.  The Email Subject is the line that users will see when they receive your email in their inbox.  The From Name can be your blog name or company name, or your own name.  The From Email address is the email address that your emails will come from.  You may be prompted to verify this email address.  If so, Mailchimp will send you a verification email with a code, just check your inbox (remember to check your spam folder too), and click for your verification code, and enter where prompted.  At the bottom of this page are some options for tracking.  Little Blue Deer does not specialize in Mailchimp customization, so I do not have any recommendations on tracking other then of course the default choices required by Mailchimp.  Feel free to play around with these.  When you done, click the Next button on the bottom of the screen to proceed to next step.

Step 9:
On the next page, you will see a variety of template options.  You need to scroll DOWN and choose Basic 1 Column.  As stated above, Little Blue Deer does not provide Mailchimp customization with a custom blog design.

Step 10:
Step 10You can upload your blog header here (available by request if Little Blue Deer is your blog designer), or feel free to create your own header.  Once again, there are a number of options for customization on this page, for the purpose of this basic tutorial, the only customization we will make is to upload an image.

Step 11:
Step 12Now you just want to add a short line of text outlining what the email is about.  To do so, right above the image you have uploaded, click in the box that says “Use this area to offer a short preview of your email’s content”.  This text will then appear in the box on the right.  Just delete the existing text and replace with the text you want to appear in this area.

Step 12:
Step 11After you have uploaded your image, click the gray Save & Close button.

Step 13:
In the content block area, first click and drag RSS Header into your template.  Next, click and drag RSS Items into your template.

Step 14:
In the email template body, click on the Excerpts box.  Then, in the right column, click the arrow to expand the gray Excerpts box.  If you want to show your full blog posts, images and all, select Full Content.  If you prefer just to show a text excerpt to drive readers to  your blog, you can select Excerpts.

Step 15:
 Of course you want to match your blog colors in the body of the email, so when you are done adding all of your content, unclick all of the content boxes in the email template on the left.  On the right, you will see a box title Design.  Just click that, and here you can expand each area to change fonts and link colors, etc.  Then, you are ready to click on Next button in the bottom right hand corner of your screen to move on to the next step.

Step 16:
Step 13

On the next page, you may see an error message if you have just set up a new list in Steps 1-3.  Ignore this, it’s okay, people will start signing up for your posts once you have an opt-in message installed on your custom blog design!  You may choose to send a test email to make sure you like the way your message looks.  To do so, just click on the Preview and Test link in the upper right corner of the page.  Choose Send a Test Email from the dropdown, and enter the email address you want to send the test to.

Step 14:
Step 14

That’s it!  You have your list and post by email campaign set up!  You can click on the Save and Exit link in the top right corner of the screen, and just choose Dashboard.  You will be back at the beginning.  Keep in mind, if Little Blue Deer has designed your blog design template, and you have ordered an Opt In popup as part of your custom blog design package, you will provide us with your Mailchimp login once you have completed this tutorial, and we will add an Opt In popup box with your new list so that readers can start signing up to receive your beautiful blog posts by email!