David, it can be hard to get started with Mailchimp, it’s a bit confusing. You’ve inspired me to write a more comprehensive post on this, but for now here’s a crash course:
- After you log into your account, the first thing you want to do is create a list by clicking “lists” and going to “create a list.”
- Fill out the list details and click “Save”
- On the next screen, click “Sign-up Forms” and choose the type of form you want to create. If you want to put a form on your blog choose “Embedded forms” — not sure what you’re using for your blog, but if you’re using Wordpress three are several excellent plug-ins that allow you to embed your for somewhere on your blog.
- Then you want to create a campaign for your sign up form. If you want to send out emails when you write a new blog post, click “Create an Email” and then choose “Automated” and click “Share Blog Updates.”
- Choose a campaign name, select a list and then click “Begin”
- Type in your blog’s RSS feed — this is usually going to be something like yourblogname.com/rss or yourblogname.com/feed.
- Choose how often you want to send out blog post updates and what segment of your list you want to send them to (the entire list, a saved segment or a new segment — you’ll probably want to send to the entire list)
- Now comes the fun part — select your template and set it up. You want to make sure you put an RSS Header and RSS Items blocks in your email. Its’ your choice whether you want to show titles, excerpts or full posts, but I recommend excerpts. I also suggest sending a test email at this step so you can see what the email will look like when it’s sent to your subscribers. Once you’re done, click “next”
- The next screen will show a check list showing which items you’ve completed successfully — if there are problems you’ll have to resolve them before you can schedule the email.
- Once you’ve resolved everything, your email will be sent (or scheduled if you’ve chosen that step).
Hope this wasn’t too confusing, I’ll probably try to write a more detailed post this weekend with screenshots.