How to Set up ConvertKit like a Pro: A Step-by-Step Guide for Bloggers and Entrepreneurs

This post includes affiliate links for ConvertKit. If you make a purchase there is compensation to me with no additional cost to you. However, I’m sharing about ConvertKit because I love it, use it, and want to make your set-up easier than it was for me!

Let me start off by saying, I am not a techy-expert. I am not even really a ConvertKit expert. BUT- before you ditch this post, let me tell you what I am. I am a normal blogger who thought ConvertKit would be a good choice for an email marketing system and pulled the trigger on signing up well before my blog made any money.

I’m also a normal blogger who figured out how to set up ConvertKit and realized: it’s not quite as obvious as I thought it would be to get it set up and running. Through my circle of blogger friends, I’ve been able to help a few people get their ConvertKit accounts set up and help them understand some of the nuances of ConvertKit.

Because of that, I thought it would be helpful to share what I’ve learned and help other bloggers and entrepreneurs avoid some of the challenges. In writing this guide to setting up ConvertKit, I realized there are a TON of steps you need to take.

This post should probably be renamed:

The Epic Guide to Setting up ConvertKit

The Epic Guide to Setting Up ConvertKit for Bloggers

Here’s what I’ll cover in this ConvertKit Tutorial:

(You can jump around if you need help in a particular area)

  • Why I chose ConvertKit
  • How to sign up
  • Setting up the basics of your account, including getting your account approved
  • Sending a broadcast (what you might think of as a newsletter)
  • Creating and customizing a landing page
  • Creating and customizing a form
  • Setting up a sequence (This is how you’ll deliver an email series or opt-ins)
  • Connecting your forms and your sequences together with automations
  • Using tags and link triggers
  • Basics of integrating ConvertKit with your website

Why Choose ConvertKit?

Before we jump into how to set it up, I want to start with why I love ConvertKit. This is important because ConvertKit makes you start paying right away (no freebie phase) and as a beginner blogger or business owner, it can be scary to start paying for something before you’re making money.

Though ConvertKit doesn’t do free trials, I have sometimes seen them offer a free month or two within a course bundle or as an add on to something else you purchase. 2016 Cyber Monday had one month free. Outside of spending some money and getting ConvertKit as a bonus, you pretty much just have to pull the trigger and go for it like I did. For me, it was worth it.

Here’s why I decided I’d go with ConvertKit:

  • ConvertKit was created by a blogger, who knows what bloggers want: the ability to email people, send freebies and products, keep track of people including who signs up for what, create forms and pages, and deliver information to your list easily.
  • ConvertKit offers forms and landing pages. When I started out, I didn’t exactly understand how these would work, but as a blogger or entrepreneur, it’s useful to have both. Yes, there are other programs and options for landing pages, but I liked that ConvertKit offers them as part of their services and I wouldn’t need to pay for something else.
  • I thought big picture that I’d want to be able to send people opt-in freebies really easily and automatically and ConvertKit can do that.
  • I also thought long-term that I might want to do an email course; ConvertKit can do that too.
  • I was willing to start paying $29 a month because I knew it would allow me to look professional, and I also knew there would be a time where I would need its functionality (I like to think positively).

With all of this in mind, I also didn’t want to stress about shifting mailing lists over and learning a new system down the road. Maybe I put the cart before the horse, but I’m okay with that.

So, step 1 is: Sign up for ConvertKit!

Sign up for Convertkit!
This step is pretty easy. They have plans based on how many emails you have on your list. If you have under 1000 people (or 0!), then it’s $29/month and goes up from there.

Pricing for ConvertKit

You need to get your account approved by ConvertKit

ConvertKit has an extra step where you need do get your account approved. They want to make sure you actually have a blog and that you’re trustworthy. During business hours, there’s a chat feature and you should be able to submit your blog URL there to get full approval on your site.

You can also use the “Submit a Ticket” option by opening up the “?” in the upper right-hand corner. Generally you just need to provide your URL. Keep in mind you can move forward with the rest of the set-up before your account is approved. I’d suggest that you take the step to submit your URL as soon as you’ve signed up. You won’t be able to send anything until you’re approved.

Importing Subscribers to ConvertKit

If you have an existing list, you’ll want to import those emails. I started with 3 people from the week or so I was with another email service so I manually entered these. Here’s an article from ConvertKit that can help you import your list. If you Google your current service and “How to Import Contacts to ConvertKit” you’ll get your answer.

If you have your users organized in some way already then you might want to jump ahead to set up your forms, tags and sequences before you import your list. When you choose “import” you have the option to assign people to forms, sequences, and tags so think about what makes sense for you.

Once you’ve signed up (and have subscribers), here’s what your dashboard will look like:

ConvertKit Dashboard

(Please no judgements about my number of subscribers- I just did a clean-up!!)

Step 2: Set up your account in ConvertKit

The basics of setting up your account and email template in ConvertKit

Under account info:

  1. Click on “Account” in the upper right corner
  2. Add your API if you’re going to use a WordPress Plugin
    1. Add your affiliate info (It’s easy to sign up as an affiliate)
  3. Choose who your emails are coming from (Your name and possibly blog name)
    1. Add in the reply to email; it’s tempting to put something like a gmail address, but use the one from your blog, otherwise your emails are more likely to be caught as spam.
    2. Choose the times emails will send as a default (this doesn’t always matter as you can choose the timing for specific sequences and broadcasts).
    3. Put in an address. Don’t skip this. I’ve seen many new bloggers think they can just put city and state or delete it. There are HUGE fines if you don’t have a physical address where mail can be received. I chose to do a PO box because I felt more comfortable.
  4. Create Your email template
    • Choose email template (Still in the account section):
    • This is where you can choose or create a template for your emails.
      • I copied the code from the simple template and changed the color codes so that it worked with my branding. Again, I’m no html expert, but about the 4th section down, you’ll see:                                                 .row.header, .row.footer {
        background: #85dddd;
        color: white;
        }
      • The #85dddd is my branding color so this makes the bar along the top and the bottom my color.
      • There are also “Variables” where you can add in standard information like your address, but I added information directly into a broadcast and copy the most recent one every time.
      • I’m not fancy- I use this one template All. The. Time.

Now you’ve got some of your basics set up in your account!

How do you send things to your people?

This is the part that can be frustrating, but is actually fun once you know what you’re doing. Keep in mind there are more ways to use ConvertKit, but I’m going to highlight the basics here and for new-ish bloggers, this should keep you going for a while.

Once I figured the basics out, I pretty much repeat what I’ve done again and again. It’s made life pretty easy.

Here’s what bloggers often want to do with their email system:

  • Send a newsletter. In ConvertKit, this is called a Broadcast.
  • Send an opt-in freebie. This consists of a form or landing page, a sequence, and automations.
  • Send some sort of course. Same process as the opt-in freebie.

Let’s start with what I think is the easiest option.

Sending a newsletter (Broadcast) in ConvertKit

The first steps of setting up a Broadcast in ConvertKit

1. Click the Broadcast button at the top of your main menu

2. Click “+ New Broadcast”

3. Choose who you’re sending the broadcast to. If it’s your newsletter, it’s likely all subscribers. Using filters you can exclude people, or you can send to people only in a certain group, such as ones who have opted in to a certain freebie or printable.

  • Click “Next Step”

4. Create your email. Be sure to choose your customized template.

  • Remember that the template itself is edited in the account settings section.
  • Keep in mind you can always preview in the browser or an email.
  • Don’t forget to save as you go!

Steps for finishing up a broadcast in ConvertKit5. I like to personalize with the subscriber’s name. Choose “with fallback” and it will simply say “Hello”    (or your chosen greeting) without the name.

  • Within your email you can add in images (that’s how I’ve added the header you see in #6 and #7), links (be sure to click to open in a new window) and add attachments. All of those are added using the toolbar at the top of the email.
  • Preview your email and check that all of your links work and that it looks the way you want it to.
  • I added in a standard way to close that includes my social media platforms and contact info.
  • Save as you go and when you’re ready, click next step at the bottom right.

6. Schedule when you want the email to send. After you pick the date on the calendar, you’ll chose the hour of day, and then the minute (in 5-minute increments).

7. Click the “Schedule Broadcast” button and you’re done! (You’ll get a pop up that asks if you want to schedule it).

8. You’ll see this in the “All Broadcasts” section where you can unschedule (cancel) if needed.

  • If you realize you need to edit a broadcast before it’s sent: unschedule it first. You’ll then see that the button says “Edit broadcast.” You can then go back in, make your changes and schedule again.
  • Once the email has been sent, you can see your stats for how well a broadcast is doing; click on the numbers to get more information. From that screen you can also resend to the people who haven’t opened. I don’t do this on every email. Here’s a great post on increasing your open rate.

One thing I do is to always duplicate the previous broadcast. It’s just simpler for me. I make sure to change the subject and information in the email. I still have to reset when to send it, but I find this easier than starting a new broadcast each time. You can do this by clicking on the broadcast and clicking “duplicate” on the main screen.

Setting up ConvertKit | Tutorial for Bloggers | Step-by-step instructions to set up ConvertKit
  Too much info? Pin for later!

Do you want to send opt-in freebies or downloads? What about a course?

Of course you do! You’re a blogger.

To do this you’ll need a form or landing page AND a sequence. You’ll also need automations to hook them together. You’ll also want to tag people who have signed up so you remember how they joined your list. This can help with directed marketing efforts later.

Let’s break this down.

You need a way for someone to sign up for your freebie/download/course

Creating a form or landing page in ConvertKit

  1. Click on forms (This is also your home page; scroll down below your stats)
  2. Click the “+ Create form” button
  3. You’ll be taken to a screen to choose a landing page or a form. The page explains the difference but the form can be linked on your website or post and a landing page is more of a stand-alone. I use both.

Here’s an example of a landing page I’ve created. You can see it here:

Landing Page in ConvertKit

Here’s an example of a form I use. You can see it in the post:

Form in ConvertKit

Keep in mind, for both forms and landing pages, ConvertKit doesn’t have the most options or the flashiest, but for all-in-one it works. And, for beginning bloggers you probably don’t need more. You can customize with your branding colors. I use Canva to create images for the opt-ins I’m using so seriously, this is enough to get the job done.

Creating a landing page in ConvertKit

Creating a landing page in convertkit

  1. Choose which template you like best.
  2. You’ll automatically be brought to the page where you can enter your content (This is the Content tab).
    • ConvertKit will give you guidance on what to include in each section. Add a title to keep you organized.
    • Keep in mind there is more to the landing form than you see in the above visual
    • You can always click the “View” button to see how it’s looking as you add in information and visuals. I add in a visual of the opt-in I’m using.

Under the “Settings” tab in the Landing Page

Main settings

Main settings creating a landing page in ConvertKit

  • Give that landing page a name (so you can easily find it on your home screen); you can also add the name on the page where you’re adding in details to the page itself.
  • Change to a form if you want
  • Create the “success” message when someone signs up/opts in.
  • If you have your sequence set up, you can connect your sequence and your landing page as the final option on the “Main Settings” page. Don’t worry if you haven’t set up a sequence yet; you can connect them through automations.
  • Once you choose the sequence, you will be able to click a box to 1) make that sequence mandatory for all new subscribers and/or 2) add existing subscribers to that sequence.

Incentive Email

Landing page ConvertKit | Incentive email

  • Choose a double opt-in or not. This is where someone would get the confirmation email reaffirming that they want to receive your emails. Sometimes people forget to do this so decide if you want this step or not.
  • You can create the message they see from the confirmation and choose if they get the download at that point. I personally prefer to have the download/opt-in incentive as part of my email series.

Style

This has options similar to the main style settings of Convertkit. I personally make any style changes through the “magic wand” option (because I’m not techy). You can also make choices here about if the landing page is shown to those who have already signed up.

Embed

This is handy if you want to embed something on your site, but I personally only do this for forms, not landing pages (I may be missing something but I don’t know why you’d want to embed a landing page somewhere…see…I’m not all-knowing!)

Form Integrations

This is above my knowledge level!

Other Options

Landing page in CovertKit | Other options

This is where you can duplicate and delete your landing page, or archive it if you don’t want to get rid of it completely.

Once you’ve completed your landing page, you can check it out by clicking “View.” This will give you the URL of your page. I personally change these to bit.ly links with descriptive names so that when I share them on social media, they make more sense.  

Note that if you’re in the Settings section, you’ll no longer see your “magic wand” to change colors. You’ll need to go back to the content tab and you’ll be able to click the wand and change your colors.

Always make sure you save your landing form!

Creating a form in ConvertKit

  • See above.
  • Seriously, it’s basically the same process.
  • Choose your style then customize with details and colors using the magic wand
  • In settings, you’ll find the code to embed.
  • I’ve embedded forms on my sidebar, the footer, and in specific posts, like at the bottom of this one.
Setting up ConvertKit | Tutorial for Bloggers | Step-by-step instructions to set up ConvertKit
Don’t forget to pin for later!

Sequences in ConvertKit

Sequences are for series of emails that you’ll be sending out automatically. This is a great way to set up your opt-in freebies and email courses. You can set up a sequence that is one email, or a series of emails for a course or a sales funnel.

Setting up sequences in ConvertKit

How to create a sequence in ConvertKit:

  1. Click “+ Create sequence”
  2. Give that sequence a name and click create.
  3. A great thing about CK is that it sets up 8 template emails for you and gives you guidance on what you may want to include and when to send. So, they’re essentially teaching you about a sales funnel.
    • If you only need the first one or two emails you can ignore the rest because they’re automatically set as drafts.
    • In your test sequence, every email is set to draft, has a subject line and content, and days chosen for how long after the previous email the next should be sent. Remember you’ll want to adjust all of these to fit your own needs.
    • If you want your first email to send immediately after someone subscribes, change the “1” to 0.
    • Also note that each number is days is after the previous email, not the start of the sequence. So, if you want emails to be sent on 5 consecutive days, the first would be “0” so it sends immediately and then 1 for each of the next four emails, not 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.
    • Within each or any of these emails you can add in your opt-in freebie as an attachment, include links and other pertinent info.
  4. Within the sequence you can create filters to remove certain individuals from that sequence (based on tags or other sequences they’ve been on), and choose the days of the week that the particular email will send. This can be useful if you’re doing a course and you only want emails to send on certain days.

Settings tab

  • These settings are particular to the sequence so you can choose the time of day emails are sent, the days of the week you send and the email template you’d like to use (You guessed it- I always use the same template!)
  • You can also exclude people from certain sequences (you’ll want to have tagging set up if you plan to exclude).

Reports

Checking your sequence report in ConvertKit lets you know details about each part of the sequence.

This is where you’ll be able to see detailed information about how this sequence is doing. If you want to see specifics for a particular subscriber, then you can do this from the subscriber section.  Create as many sequences as you need for your different opt-ins or email series.

Remember that you can duplicate sequences as well and then edit the information rather than starting fresh each time.

Tagging Your Subscribers

When you set up your sequence, this does not automatically “tag” the subscribers stating that they subscribed to this sequence. Tagging allows you to assign tags (or labels) to your subscribers. When you set up a sequence, tagging is not automatically set up. You will need to set up a tag through the automations section of ConvertKit.

Using automations in ConvertKit

To me, this is where ConvertKit also does a good job for the types of needs bloggers and entrepreneurs will have.

The automation rules you can set up in ConvertKit

Automations allow you to:

  • Create a trigger that when one ‘event’ happens, an action then occurs. For example:
    • Connect your form or landing page (when someone says they want something from you) with the ability to share that information with them.
    • Tag people who signed up on a particular form
    • Untag people if they finish a sequence
  • These automations allow you to keep track of how people came onto your list and you can then focus your marketing efforts and how you reach out to them.
  • You can also use automations to gather more information about your subscribers. For example, I wanted to know what type of work my readers did, so I sent an email with link triggers. If they clicked a link for “Work at home” they were given a tag in their profile and I set it up so they were taken to a relevant post on my site.
    • Link triggers are a great way to gather more information from your readers by tagging them when they’re already on your list, or to add them to an new sequence. For example, you launch a new freebie email course, you may want to offer that to your existing list. You could send an email with a link trigger that when they click on it, they’re automatically added to that sequence. You could add the trigger to a link to a post on your site related to the topic.
    • Check out this video from ConvertKit for how to set up link triggers.
  • These can get more complicated but again, for the basics, this is probably what you need.

Check out some of the automations I have set up:

I’m still new, but I’d suggest starting out as organized and thoughtful in your planning as possible. Set it up so that ConvertKit automatically add tags when people use certain forms or opt-ins. Remember, you need to set this up in automations in addition to linking your form/landing page and sequence. It’s not automatically done until you create the sequence, link the sequence to the form or landing page, AND create an automation rule to add the tag.

If you forget to set up a tag, you can go back later on and add tags manually to each subscriber’s profile. You can see what each person subscribed to in their profile, but it’s much easier to automatically assign the tag when someone opts-in through your form or landing page.

Also keep in mind that you can have more than one tag per person.

Your Subscribers

How subscribers look in ConvertKit

This has been talked about in the above sections, but in the subscriber section home page you’ll see email addresses and when people joined (I’ve edited mine out for the purposes of this tutorial, but they’re listed under the name).

When you click the subscriber’s name you can see details of how they joined your list (which form or landing page they signed up with), what emails have been sent and what they have opened. I used this information about what emails had been opened (or not) and the dates for cleaning up my list after 6 months of blogging.

Adding Existing Subscribers to a sequence

Remember that when you import your subscribers, you can assign them to tags, sequences, or forms. Once you have imported those contacts, you can then add them to sequences. This post from ConvertKit tells you how to do that.

Adding existing subscribers to a sequence in ConvertKit

The other way to add users to a sequence is directly from a Form. In the “Main Settings” tab, at the very bottom, choose “Sequence settings” and the sequence you’re linking the form to. THEN, click the box that says “Add existing subscribers to this sequence.” This will put all of the existing subscribers on day 1 of that sequence.

Cleaning up your Subscriber List in ConvertKit

ConvertKit has an actual method to do this, but I used tags to note people on my “clean-up” list if they hadn’t opened an email in three months. I then sent the small list of “cold” people an email seeing if they wanted to stick around and set a link trigger to remove the “clean-up” tag if they clicked the link. On a set date I then deleted everyone who still had the “clean-up” tab. With a small list, this was easy. With a larger list, you’d probably want to follow ConvertKit’s suggestions.

Setting up ConvertKit | Tutorial for Bloggers | Step-by-step instructions to set up ConvertKit
Want to remember all of this?      Pin for later!

Integrating ConvertKit with your website

Once you have all of this set up with ConvertKit, there might be a bit more you need to do. If you’re using landing page, ConvertKit will take care of everything. If it’s a form, you’ll likely use html to embed the form to your site. Again, when information is entered into the form itself, ConvertKit handles it all, but you need to get the form on your site. There are often plug-ins that allow you to do fancy things on your site like pop-ups or have bars at the top of your page to get people to sign up for lists and opt-ins. Make sure you check Google’s recent changes about pop-ups getting in the way of users experiences.

I use SumoMe and have a Smart Bar set up at the top of my site for one of my forms, and a scroll box that pops up for my general mailing list. It was simple to connect SumoMe with ConvertKit. I have the free version and found it’s doing what I need (though I don’t have fancy analytics).

  • Side note: I had removed my Smart Bar a while back. I decided to add it back in about a week and a half ago and I’ve had 15 people sign up one week just from that. For me, those are good numbers so I’m leaving it in!

You can also use WordPress plug-ins for adding forms to posts, but I typically use the code for embedding. I don’t know much about coding but I have been able to figure this out without too much trouble. I used a widget in my sidebar with the html code to get my opt-in form there, and use html for the form at the bottom of this post.

You’re now set up with ConvertKit!

WOW! There you have it- 4,400 words about how to set up ConvertKit. Though there are a lot of steps, these are the basic ones you need to get up and running. I hope this has been helpful. Again, I’m not an expert, but wanted to share about how to set up ConvertKit because let’s face it- bloggers have a lot to do and I love tutorials that help me figure out the things that seem hard.

Want more info on ConvertKit??

Beth Anne of Brilliant Business Moms uses ConvertKit too. If you haven’t heard of her, she’s awesome! If you want to be blown away by a huge mailing list and watch some great videos about some of the topics I covered, the next level of ConvertKit amazingness, and some of the nuances of using ConvertKit, check out this post.

If you’ve found this epic guide to setting up ConvertKit helpful, please share it with a fellow blogger or entrepreneur.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *