email list

opt in email lists

5 Methods of Building an Email List from Scratch

Building an email list from scratch sounds like a lot to take on… and it is. It’s work, but remember, everyone started with zero subscribers at one point.

First, you need to give someone a reason to join your email list, or opt-in. Teasing to your “newsletter” won’t cut it anymore. Have you ever received a newsletter that blew your socks off? Probably not.

[Tweet theme=”tweet-box-shadow”]Teasing to your #newsletter won’t cut it anymore. #emaillist[/Tweet]

So, back to the opt-in… it has to be something your readers and followers actually want and need. I’m going to tell you how I started building my email list from scratch.

Build a Foundation for your Email List

A.) First, I started using ConvertKit. Why ConvertKit?

It’s email marketing designed for bloggers, course creators, podcasters, and others. It’s extremely easy to use, ensures your email list is targeted, integrates with other software (like WordPress), and makes automation a breeze. (Automation is what makes being a solopreneur possible!)

B.) A subscription to ConvertKit also includes forms and landing pages to capture a person’s first name and their email address. It’s so nice to have it all in one place.

C.) The next step is creating a great offer for your audience so they choose to opt in. I have a few opt-in that include a free email course, 10-day challenge, media guide, planner PDFs, and others.

Now you’re ready to build your email list and put these opt-ins out into universe… or online in various places like:

1. In blog posts as a “content upgrade”

Because most of my blog posts focus on publicity and ways entrepreneurs can earn more visibility for their brands, my opt-ins do the same and serve as a bonus in the blog post. Here’s an example.


2. As social media posts

I am posting at least once a day on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. Sometimes I link to a blog post that includes the content upgrade, but sometimes I will send people straight to a landing page.

3. As social media ads

This is just like a social media post, but with some money behind it. If you’re going to promote your opt-in through ads, targeting the correct audience is key. Then, tracking their behavior and your success with a pixel will determine if your money is well spent or if you need to make some ad tweaks.

4. As a “freebie” shared in a podcast interview

This is my favorite method of growing my email list because you don’t only see results right away, but the people opting in already know, like, and trust you… that’s why they are taking the second step to opt-in and accept your offer.

Building an Email List from Scratch

After I was on Pat Flynn’s Smart Passive Income podcast, a link to my free eBook was posted online. Shortly after the page went live, my email list saw a big jump. When I was on EOFire with John Lee Dumas, I told listeners where to go to get the free eBook with the same result.

5. Emailed to a potential customer or client

Many times a business owner will reach out to me through an email or a phone call to discuss my services and pricing. Because my audience is small business owners, solopreneurs, and bloggers, the conversation usually ends with me directing the person to a free course or challenge to achieve their goals.

While I haven’t built my email list by creating and promoting an online summit, my friend Lisa Simone Richards has and she has had amazing success with it. For more on how to create an online summit to grow your email list, click here.

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targeted opt in email lists

Why you should be creating Targeted Email Lists

Everyone online talks about a very important “list.” Having “a list” is vital to making money in online business, but what is it?

What is a list?

Well, “a list” is an email list. Ideally, it’s of your avatar – your ideal customer or client. Unfortunately, many people get caught up in vanity metrics and think it’s only the size of your list that matters. It’s not. I recently wrote an article for Inc. Magazine about an influencer’s social media following and how it means nothing if the people behind the numbers aren’t engaged. For your list, it’s the same.  

Targeted email lists

Targeted email lists are where the money is. If your email list is not targeted, then what’s the point of having one? I will get into how to build an email list soon, but first, let me get into why you should have and why I started one. In a word: ConvertKit.


I’ve done email marketing before for my Media Maven® clients, but when I learned about ConvertKit and how easy it is to not only build a targeted email list, but to also track how the person entered the list and set up automations based on that, I was sold. free-media Not too long ago, I created an online course. Through business development, I learned a lot of small business owners want and need public relations services, but they can’t afford it. That’s why I decided to charge a fraction of a monthly retainer and teach them how to handle PR themselves. (Click here to read more about that.) To market my new, online business, I needed an email list.  To sell something online, you need an online presence. To communicate with those people, you need an email list. [Tweet theme=”tweet-box-shadow”]To sell something #online, you need an online presence. To communicate with those people, you need an #emaillist.[/Tweet]

It’s NOT social media

Yes, social media works… and it’s great. You should be on social media. The only problem? You don’t control social media. When your favorite platform makes changes, it usually hurts you. For example, Facebook has you digging into your pockets to reach your followers. Your posts used to appear in news feeds all the time. Today, you only reach 2% of the people who like your page. TWO PERCENT! If you want to reach more, you need to pay Facebook. It’s one reason I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook.

You own your email list

You are in control of your email list. You own it. That’s the difference. [Tweet theme=”tweet-box-shadow”]You are in control of your email list. You own it. You don’t own your #socialmedia.[/Tweet] Having an email list isn’t just for online business. It’s why mine is important, but if you have a local business, a targeted email list of current clients and customers and potential ones would also benefit you.

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Again, I like ConvertKit because,

a.) I’m not tech-savvy, so I need something easy to use.

b.) The tracking of who is signing up and where they’re coming from is amazing. It makes sending emails so much easier because I know exactly what the person is interested in.

For example, if you listened to my interview with Pat Flynn on the Smart Passive Income Podcast, you may have opted in to receive my eBook, Master your Media Relations for free. Because ConvertKit will automatically “tag” you as an SPI listener, I know what your interests are and how I can help you. Based on that, I can subscribe you to a certain email sequence and send certain email broadcasts to you in the future, while leaving others out that may not interest you.

opt in email lists

This is also a great way to track what strategies to grow your email list are working and which ones are not working.

c.) The automation takes a lot of work off my shoulders so I can focus on other things.

At the end of the day, you want to reach your clientele and customer base. A targeted email list is the best way to do it.
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