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How to Start a Mailing List for Your WordPress Website for Free

Template Editor

It’s a fact that most of the visitors to your website will never make a return visit.

Some estimates claim that as many as 95 percent of them won’t ever come back, for other sites it might be less.

Either way, it’s worth doing all you can to reduce this number and try to keep in contact with everyone who visits your site. If you don’t, nearly all of your hard work to acquire those visitors will be wasted.

One way to stay in touch with those potentially one-time visitors is to get them to subscribe to your email list. If you can do this, then you’ll have the ability to send them an email whenever you want. As well as using your email list to develop a strong connection with your audience, you can also summon them back to your site whenever you have something to share with them.

If all that sounds appealing, read on to learn how to start a mailing list for your WordPress website using free tools and services.

Table of Contents

Sign Up with an Email Marketing Service

When it comes to choosing an email marketing service for your mailing list, starting out on a free plan is a good idea. It will help you save money and enable you to try a service without any financial outlay.

One popular service with a free plan is ConvertKit, while MailChimp is another. However, for this guide, we’re focusing on ConvertKit due to its excellent service and useful features.

However, do check out the pricing and features of ConvertKit and MailChimp to see which one might be best for you once your list exceeds the limits of the free plans (ConvertKit 1,000 contacts, MailChimp 2,000 contacts).

Create a ConvertKit Account

Signing up with ConvertKit is very straightforward. Simply enter an email address and password, then answer a few questions, and you’ll have a new account. There’s no need to enter any payment details.

ConvertKit Questions

Create a Landing Page or Optin Form

ConvertKit Optin Popup

Two of the ways ConvertKit helps you to get more sign-ups to your mailing list from your audience is by letting you create landing pages and embedding optin forms on your website.

ConvertKit Steps

The ConvertKit landing page tool is very impressive. It’s well worth checking out, even if you weren’t previously thinking of creating a landing page.

Create an Email List Sign Up Landing Page

Creating a landing page gives you more space, compared to an optin form. This gives you the opportunity to share more information about why your audience should sign up to your email list.

Your landing page can also be highly customized to ensure it works well with your existing website design and is optimized for your target audience.

Thankfully, ConvertKit has some great-looking landing templates that are optimized for all screen sizes and not just desktop displays.

Template Selection

Before you make a decision, you can preview them to see how a template looks on desktop and smartphone displays.

Mobile Preview

Once you’ve made a decision, you can start customizing the templates through the intuitive interface.

Template Editor

As the template editor integrates with Unsplash and can be connected to your Instagram account, you should have a good source of images to choose from when designing your landing page.

Once you’re happy with your landing page, you can publish it. ConvertKit gives you two main options for this. One way gives you a custom URL that you can use to direct people to your landing page that’s hosted by ConvertKit. The other is to embed it on your WordPress website using their free plugin.

Install the ConvertKit WordPress Plugin

To install the plugin, log in to your WordPress dashboard and go to the Plugins page. From there you can search for ConvertKit. Then you can install and activate the plugin.

WordPress Dashboard

You’ll need to connect your ConvertKit account and your WordPress website once you’ve activated the plugin. To do so, you’ll need to copy and paste your API key from ConvertKit, which you can find on your Advanced Account Settings page.

ConvertKit API

Once you have the API key and the API secret, you can copy and paste them into the ConvertKit plugin settings page in your WordPress dashboard.

WordPress Dashboard API

Publish Your Landing Page on Your WordPress Website

Now that your ConvertKit account is connected to your WordPress website, you can publish the landing page on your site.

To do this, create a new page on your WordPress website by clicking on the Pages > Add New menu item.

Add New Page

Then select your landing page from the Landing Page dropdown menu on the ConvertKit panel on the page editor screen.

Select Landing Page

Now, after hitting on the Publish button in the top right-hand corner of the screen, your landing page will be publicly available on your WordPress website.

You can find the address or URL of the landing page in the panel that’s displayed in the top right-hand corner of the screen after you’ve published it. Once you have the page address, you can link to it from your website or anywhere else.

Page URL

If you do want to link to the page from your WordPress website menu, you can either navigate to Appearance > Menus if your theme is using the classic menu editor, or Appearance > Site Editor if your theme supports the Full Site Editor.

If the classic menu editor is available to you, you can create a new menu or edit an existing one, and then add a link to the landing page to it.

Classic Menu Editor

If your theme supports full site editing, then you can add the landing page to your menu by clicking on the Appearance > Editor menu item.

Once the Full Site Editor has loaded, you can click on an existing menu, or if there isn’t one, click on the Navigation block. In this example, it’s located at the top of the page.

Navigation Button

Clicking on the Navigation block lets you start building your menu by adding pages to it, including the ConvertKit landing page you created earlier.

Navigation Editor

Once you’ve finished building your menu, you can click the Save button at the top of the screen. Now your visitors can access your landing page from the main menu of your site. You can also add links to the landing page to other parts of your site, including the sidebar and to text in your posts and pages.

Create an Email List Optin Form

You can also add optin forms to your website as well as, or instead of creating a landing page to generate sign-ups for your email list.

Published Inline Form

While there are many WordPress plugins that let you create stylish and advanced optin forms for your website, including Bloom and OptinMonster, ConvertKit also has a tool for creating them.

To use it, go to the Landing Page and Forms section of your account by clicking on the Grow > Landing Pages & Forms menu item.

Landing Page Menu Item

If you scroll down the page and then click on the Create new button, you’ll have the option of choosing whether to create a form or a landing page.

Form or Landing Page Option

After clicking on the form option, you’ll be able to choose between four form types: inline, modal, slide-in, and sticky. For this example, we’ll be creating an inline form that you can insert into your posts and pages. However, the other options are just as good and are sure to help you grow your email list, too.

Once again, ConvertKit gives you some excellent form templates to work with. From the minimal to the more decorated options, there should be something there that will work for your website. If not, you’re free to customize them as much as you want.

Choose a Template

You can start editing your chosen template after making a decision. As the same editor is used for customizing the forms and landing pages, you get access to a good set of controls for designing your optin form.

Once you’ve published your form, you can embed it on your website. WordPress users can either insert the form shortcode into their posts and pages or use the settings of the ConvertKit plugin covered earlier.

Embed Form Code

Embed Your Optin Form on Your WordPress Website

The ConvertKit plugin gives you the option of defining the default forms to be shown at the end of posts and pages.

Insert Form Settings

You can also control this at the individual post and page levels, where you get the option of not displaying a form, using the site-wide settings, or choosing another of your forms to display.

Form Post Settings

Alternatively, you can display a form in a post or page by pasting the shortcode into the body.

ConvertKit Shortcode

Now you should see your forms displayed on your website according to your preferences.

Published Inline Form

Once your forms have gone live you can monitor new sign-ups through your ConvertKit dashboard. If you’re not getting the number of subscribers you were hoping for, you can try experimenting with the design of your optin forms and landing pages.

When it comes to communicating with your list, ConvertKit lets you send an email broadcast to your subscribers whenever you like as well as create email drip campaigns that are automatically sent out to new subscribers.


As we’ve just seen, it’s relatively easy to start a mailing list for your WordPress website for free.

Thanks to the free plans from services like ConvertKit and MailChimp, you can get started today without any financial outlay. 

The fact that ConvertKit has a very user-friendly landing page and optin form builder means that you should have no problem adding content to your WordPress website that will help you start generating subscribers for your email list. These features of ConvertKit should also prevent you from having to invest in a premium optin form plugin for your website. 

If you have any questions about any of the above, please leave a comment below.

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