Monthly Archives: February 2015

MailChimp 1 – Signing up for MailChimp

Welcome to the first in a series of walk-throughs that will show you how to set up a MailChimp account, set up templates and lists, and send out a MailChimp newsletter. You can start to set up your subscriber list in MailChimp 2 and create a sign-up form in MailChimp 3

What is MailChimp?

MailChimp is a web-based service which allows you to send out newsletters to a list of people who have signed up to receive them. There are other services out there, but MailChimp is very popular, often recommended to newbies and is free as long as you have under 2,000 subscribers and send out fewer than 12,000 emails per month. You can upgrade in order to get extra features and also if your list goes over the 2,000 mark. Please note right here and now that I’m not being sponsored by MailChimp for doing these posts – I’ve been asked to do them by people I’ve been working with at social media training sessions, and I happen to use MailChimp myself so can give you all some training resources. Other similar services include iContact, Constant Contact and Aweber and you might want to check these out before committing to MailChimp.

Why use a special program? Why not just send out emails?

That’s a good point: if you have a load of emails to send out, why not, you know, just email them? Here are a few reasons:

  • It’s really, really easy to cc instead of bcc when you send out a mass email. CC is the one where everyone can see the email address of everyone the email’s been sent to. People get really annoyed when that happens.
  • Internet service providers can get really suspicious if you’re sending out regular emails to hundreds of people – or if one of their clients receives such emails. Your newsletter is likely to bounce into a spam folder and your own ISP might block you from sending them.
  • There are rules on spamming and using people’s email addresses to market to them without permission. The key is to allow people to opt in rather than assume they are to opt out. Services like MailChimp look after this, making sure people opt in to your mailings properly and that your details are on your emails. So you can be reassured that you’re not doing anything inappropriate.
  • It’s really easy to design nice newsletters, include photos and all sorts when using a service like MailChimp.

How do I sign up to MailChimp?

In this post, we’re going to walk through exactly how to sign up to MailChimp. In future posts, we’ll look at more detail of templates, getting people onto your list, etc. But here are the stages of signing up:

First of all, go to, where you will find a button marked Sign Up. Hit that button:

mailchimp signupThis will take you to a screen where you can sign up for your first, free account. At this point, you need to enter your email address and create a username and password:

mailchimp sign up username and passwordNote, because it’s not that clear, that your password must tick all the boxes below the password entry area. Here I’ve missed out on “one special character”, so I had to add an exclamation mark to my password:

mailchimp passwordAt this point, the Create my Account button stops being greyed out and you can press the button. Now you’ll be asked to validate your account …

mailchimp validateAt this point, you need to pop over to the email account that you gave in the sign-up step. The email from MailChimp will obviously be from them and will have a subject line that talks about validating your account. When you open the email, it will look like this:

mailchimp validation emailClick on the button and you’ll go through an initial validation stage …

Mailchimp validationPop the number in, press the Confirm signup button, and you’ll then have a form to fill in.

7 enter details 1

Mailchimp enter detailsFill in as much of this form as you can. The address details are so that MailChimp can include them at the bottom of your newsletters. This is good practice and it’s a legal requirement in many countries to include this information on emails. However, if you run your business from a private address, as I do, I think it’s fine to smooth over the details a little and, for example, not include your house number. I am not a lawyer, though, and you might wish to check the legal requirements in your country.

You can add a profile photo at this point, if you wish.

Once you press the Save and Get Started button, you will find yourself in the main MailChimp screen, from which you can create templates, an email list or a campaign (i.e. an actual newsletter). This is also the screen you will encounter when you go to the website and log in rather than signing up.

Mailchimp logged inSo here you are, all signed up and ready to go.

Coming soon – articles on creating a newsletter template, adding sign-up forms, and sending out your campaign …

You can find a growing set of articles on blogging, social media MailChimp etc. in my resource guide. Do click on the share buttons below or comment if you found this article interesting or useful!

Other relevant posts on this blog:

MailChimp 2 – setting up a subscriber list and importing contacts

MailChimp 3 – setting up a sign-up form

MailChimp 4 – setting up your newsletter template

How to avoid two common MailChimp errors


Posted by on February 11, 2015 in Business, Social media


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Small business chat update – Professor Elemental / Paul Alborough

mugs Welcome to another Small Business Update – this time with my ex-colleague, now performing in pith helmet and safari suit as the rather marvellous and steampunky Professor Elemental, Paul Alborough. I’ve watched Paul’s career with huge interest and admiration, and he’s managing to sustain a career in what I think is called Chap Hop, with forays into novel writing (I review his novel on my book review website), comics, Kickstarters, trans-Atlantic appearances and more. We first met Paul in this interview series in February 2013, when he’d been freelance for just a year, and when we caught up with him in February 2014, he had had an exciting year and was reaching a nice steady phase that he wanted to continue, telling me that for the upcoming year he wanted to be, “Doing slightly more writing and maybe just a smidgen less admin. To be honest, though, if my life continues like this, I can’t imagine wanting it to change all that much …” When I got in touch to sort out this year’s answers, it came at a time when Paul was creating what he described as “the world’s biggest spider diagram” in an attempt to work out what 2015 looks like, and he told me that he finds it helpful doing these interviews every year – I do, too, and I know many of my other interviewees do. Anyway, let’s see what the Prof has been getting up to …

Hello again, Paul! Are you where you thought you’d be when you looked forward a year ago?

I’m delighted to say that I am. By which I mostly mean I am safely tucked up in my rented office, surrounded my toys and comics, larking about on the Internet, while eating crisps.

What has changed and what has stayed the same?

There have been some subtle but important changes over the last year; Thanks to my brilliant new manager, we are finally getting to grips with organising shows so that I am not at the mercy of whoever books me. I’m going off to the States a bit less too, it’s a great experience but can be very disruptive to the rest of my life outside of work. I was also lucky enough to harness the power of crowd funding last year and that was a brilliant, if exhausting experience- one that I am keen to repeat and expand in 2015. Most importantly, I have a new rule that I am not allowed to start the day without writing at least one verse or story. This has put creativity back in it’s place at the top of the ‘to do’ list each day.

What have you learned? What do you wish you’d known a year ago?

Things that I have learned in 2014: Rich bankers make terrible audiences, people are very kind, Radio 6 will play your music if you can get it to the right person, if you are chosing a butler, a polite Canadian is an ideal choice, you *can* have too much of a good thing, Swedes don’t do small talk, don’t release more than one project at the same time, reindeer tastes better than you think, never, ever drink home made moonshine from a jar. Even if it would be rude not to.

Any more hints and tips for people?

Find good people to collaborate with in as many ways as possible. Every project last year came about in partnership with other creative and business types and it made such a difference to productivity. Not only do collaborations make projects more fun to work on, but they can also help meet deadlines and boost your enthusiasm if it starts to wane. Plus, the more people who are involved, the more people who will help you shout about your project when it is completed.

And … where do you see yourself and your business in a(nother) year’s time?

Having experimented with releasing comics, novels, toys and card games alongside the music, this is the year where I want to try tying it all together. My aim is to create a project that tells a story using every medium I have at my disposal, while also involving all of my favourite creative friends that I have worked with so far. Even better, if I can get the crowdfunding right, i can ensure that we all get paid for our work too. It’s the biggest thing that i have ever attempted though, so wish me luck!

I always love what Paul tells me he’s learned during the year (check back to last year’s interview for more hilarious learning points) but obviously there are some serious points here, too. It’s always fascinating to see what happens when a new freelancing project or business settles down into the mature stage, a time when you can reassess your work schedule, redress the work-life balance and enjoy a sense of control and freedom. I can’t wait to see what happens through 2015!

You can find Paul’s work, writing, toys, comics, music, books, etc., at – and also on Twitter and Facebook,

If you’ve enjoyed this interview, please see more small business chat, the index to all the interviewees, and information on how you can have your business featured (I have a full roster of interviewees now so am only taking on a very few new ones). If you’re considering setting up a new business or have recently done so, why not take a look at my books, all available now, in print and e-book formats, from a variety of sources. 


Posted by on February 7, 2015 in Business, Small Business Chat


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