June 5, 2024
ConvertKit for Dog Trainers, Part 1: Creating Your Account

screenshot of the ConvertKit website; blog post on ConvertKit for dog trainers

If you want to grow your business, one of the best ways to do it is with email marketing. But you can’t just send out a bulk email using your usual email service (Outlook, Gmail etc.). That’s almost guaranteed to get your sender address blacklisted as a spam address — and once you’ve been blacklisted as a spammer it’s hard to get off the list!

Instead, you need to use a dedicated email marketing platform. But there are a lot of them… maybe too many. Although they all do very similar things, we recommend ConvertKit for dog trainers. It’s one of the best, most user-friendly, ones to cut your email marketing teeth on. That’s why we use it at Click and Repeat.

Like most of these platforms, ConvertKit* has a range of price point tiers so there’s something to suit any size business.  And for those of us just starting out, they have a free basic offering.

ConvertKit pricing

At the time of writing this, they have a 14-day trial which allows you to experience the full functionality of the platform. If you decide you need a paid account, paying for the year upfront can save you a considerable amount of money.

(Note that if you settle for the free account, after the 14-day trial you’ll lose the ability to create sequences and some other fancy functions.)

Annual pricing as of May 2024

Starting with a new software platform can be daunting, so we’ve put this guide together to walk you through opening your account and getting the tech stuff set up. Let’s get started…

Opening an Account

Go to ConvertKit.com*. 

Hit the green “sign up for free” button.

Verify you’re human.

Fill in your details then hit “get started”.

On the welcome screen, choose whether you’re just starting out or whether you’re migrating from another tool.

Hit Continue.

Choose the size of your audience (not the same as an email list — they mean the number of people who follow you on social and YouTube).

Continue.

Enter your business name. Hit continue.

Choose your custom domain for your ConvertKit Creator Profile and landing pages.

I suggest you set your custom domain to match your original domain for consistency. (ConvertKit will try to hyphenate your business name if it’s more than one word.)

Select (or input) what type of creator you are. “Dog trainer” isn’t listed but if you click “other” you can input it.

Finally, choose your goal. The goal you choose just changes which screen you’re shown when you first start. Don’t stress — just pick one and get started.

Hit continue.

The last step is to get your account approved for sending emails. 

Once that’s done, you’ll be taken to a Welcome screen and a short video intro. Watch the video, then hit “Get Started” to be taken to your dashboard.

Your ConvertKit dashboard

This is the heart of your email marketing. 

From here you’ll do everything you need to get your email marketing working like a well-greased machine.  

Finalize your account setup and email tech

Before we dive into the nitty gritty of how the platform works, we have some other steps to finish. Let’s get your account settings finalized by setting up two-factor authentication and email notification preferences on your profile. 

First, we need to get to your account settings screen…

Go to the drop down arrow next to your name.

Click on the arrow and then select “settings” in the dropdown menu.

From here you can set up two-factor authentication, change your password, add an account profile picture and set your notification preferences.

Be sure to verify your email address before moving on.

Click on the “confirm an email address” link text. You’ll be sent a confirmation link in an email to the address you entered when setting up your account. You’ll also be taken to this screen:

Once you’ve confirmed your email address by clicking the link in the email you were sent, hit “refresh” and your email address status will change to green “confirmed”.

Getting ready to send emails

Once your account is all sorted, you’ll want to make sure all your email ducks are in a row. 

For optimum deliverability, it’s best practice to set up your custom (business) domain name as a verified sending domain with the appropriate SPF, DMARC and DKIM records. 

“What on earth does that mean??” you might be asking yourself. 

ConvertKit describes it like this:

A verified sending domain allows you to set up authentication records (SPF, DKIM, and DMARC) with your web host. This tells mailbox providers like Gmail and Microsoft that you are a real business, and you have given ConvertKit permission to send using your domain on your behalf.”

If you want the nitty-gritty details, here’s what Google says:

SPF record – “Sender Policy Framework record is a type of DNS* TXT record that lists all the servers authorized to send emails from a particular domain.”

DKIM record – “Domain Keys Identified Mail record is a specially formatted DNS* TXT record that stores the public key the receiving mail server will use to verify a message’s signature. A DKIM includes a name, version, key type, and the public key itself, and is often made available by the provider that is sending your email.”

DMARC – “Domain-based Message Authentication, Reporting and Conformance record is a DNS* TXT record published in a domain’s DNS database that tells receiving mail servers what to do with messages that don’t align or authenticate with SPF and DKIM. The DMARC record enables reports to be sent back to the domain owner about which messages are authenticating and why.”

*DNS – Domain Name System. The phonebook of the Internet, connecting web browsers with websites.

You don’t need to know all the details. All you need to do is make sure the appropriate records are added to your DNS records. Luckily, ConvertKit does their best to make this easy for you.

Setting up your SPF / DMARC / DKIM records

If you’re not still in your email settings screen, go back to your settings, then click on “Email” in the lower left side bar:

Then click on “Set up your Verified Sending Domain”.

Fill in the pop-up box with your business domain name:

Hit next…

This is where things can look a bit scary — but don’t panic! If I can do it, so can you.

The next pop-up is this:

If you’re DNS-savvy, go ahead and copy/paste the records into your DNS. If, like me, you’re not, hit “Set this up for me”.

This added my domain as a verified domain but didn’t add the records for me. I got the following error message:

Clicking “Fix this for me” gets you to this pop-up:

Click “continue”. You’ll get a funky little animation as the program works its way through the setup process before asking you to select your domain name provider. This is where your DNS is hosted. Scroll the list to find your provider:

If your provider is there, click on it and follow the instructions. If it’s not, scroll to the bottom of the list and click on “Go to manual setup”:

You’ll see this:

Now is the time to contact your domain provider if you don’t know how to manually add these records. Most providers will be happy to do it for you if you contact their tech support.

Once you’ve added the appropriate CNAME and TXT records to your DNS records, go back to your ConvertKit email settings. You probably have something like this:

Hit “validate” and your screen should change to something like this:

The complicated techie bit is now done. Time to celebrate!

You’re nearly finished…

Set times zones and mailing address

Next, scroll down the page to set up your email sending time zone and preferred sending times:

And finally, add your postal address:

Unsubscribe survey

Below the mailing address section, you’ll find an option to turn on an unsubscribe survey. This can be a good way of finding out why your subscribers leave so you can tweak your emails to better fit what your audience wants or expects:

Opt-in consent settings

And right at the very bottom, is the Consent & Privacy settings. You need to have this set to show to subscribers in the EU, UK, and Switzerland at the very least. (Read this ConvertKit article about GPDR compliance for more details.)

Although it’s not mandatory outside the noted countries, if you’re even remotely likely to have subscribers from those areas, it’s a legal requirement to show this opt-in consent. Don’t disregard this. There are legal firms in Europe who check this stuff! 

You’re now all ready to move on to the fun part — sending email. We’ll cover adding subscribers, broadcast emails — what they are and how to send them — and building an email template in our next installment. 

But for now, go pour yourself a beverage of choice. Put your feet up. Relax. You’ve just taken the first steps to using one of the best methods of growing your business: email marketing.

*This link is an affiliate link. An affiliate link is a link that is traceable, so the company you are purchasing the product from knows that I referred you to them. They then compensate us for having made the referral – but you pay the same price, or a discounted price, depending on the company.

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