Being a newbie in the blogging world, I was not ready to invest hard-earned money on an Aweber autoresponder or other list-building autoresponder services that required monthly payments. I purchased a software called FreeAutoresponder Pro which only needed a one time payment. However, I believe it requires a lot of PHP know-how in order to make it work to my liking. So after trying for weeks to make it behave the way I want it, and failing, I decided to find some other tools that don’t entail a lot of expense. That’s when I found PHPList. It actually surprised me that it has always been there waiting for me because it is included in Fantastico. And most importantly, this autoresponder is FREE!.
The installation was a breeze because I did it through Fantastico in Lunarpages. I just accepted all the default values already in the boxes. I only needed to input some required fields like the install directory (which usually is ‘lists‘), the admin name and password you need to login to your PHPList account, etc.
After the installation, I logged in through http://mydomain.com/lists/admin/. The resulting page was very user friendly. PHPList by default only asks your subscribers for their email address. If you want to require their names, you need to create a Name Attribute. You do this by going to the PHPList main page and clicking on the ‘attributes‘ link under the ‘Configuration Functions‘ block. In the resulting PhpList Configure Attributes page, click the ‘add a new one‘ link. Type ‘Name‘ in the name field box, choose ‘textline‘ in the Type menu, leave the Default Value and Order of Listing as is, and check the ‘Is this attribute required?‘ checkbox. Save Changes.
Next step is to create a list. In the sidebar to the right, click on the ‘lists‘ link. Click on the ‘add a list‘ link. Type in the name of your list in the ‘List name‘ text box; check the checkbox to make the list ‘active‘; leave the ‘Order for listing‘ as is; and finally, write the description of your list in the large text box. Save.
Create Subscribe pages. Click the ‘subscribe pages‘ link on the sidebar. ‘Add a new one‘. The fields are self-explanatory like the previous ones. When you come to the ‘Select the attributes to use‘, check the ‘Check this box to use this attribute in the page‘ checkbox. This makes sure that the Name field will appear in the subscribe page besides the email fields. Then check your list in ‘Select the lists to offer‘ portion. ‘Save and Activate‘.
To start having your readers subscribe to you, you need to find out the url link to your subscribe page. You do this by going back to the subscribe page and clicking the ‘view‘ link of your created list. The url you find in your browser’s url box is that link e.g. ‘http://yourdomain.com/lists/?p=subscribe&id=1‘. Copy that and use it in your site’s side bar or wherever you want people to click in order to subscribe. Of course, this arrangement is not same as those you find in most websites where their name box, email box and submit buttons are integrated right on their website (with the theme). Using PHPList requires your reader to be directed to the PHPList subscribe page which usually does not look like your regular themed pages. There is however a plugin that can integrate this into your wordpress pages beautifully. Please refer to the article Making The PHPList Form Integration Plugin Work to know how to do this.