“A small list that wants exactly what you're offering is better than a bigger list that isn't committed”
Hey lovely, I hope you're having a fab day!
Are you ready to learn the 10 things you should be doing to grow your email list…
Today's post is one I've wanted to write for a while, because when it comes to an email list – you and your blog NEED one.
If there's one thing I can offer you at the start of your blogging journey (or even if you're a little way down the line) it's to start building your email list ASAP!
When I used to hear people talking about email lists, it used to F-R-E-A-K me out because I just couldn't get my head around how it all worked and how you actually emailed a ton of people, other than one by one, which seemed insane to me and a huge time-consuming effort.
But the more I researched and looked into it, I realized actually how easy and simple it is, because there's software's and automated systems to do it all for you – phew!
Saying that though, that's not what I'm going to be talking about in detail in this post, but I'll definitely be writing a future post going in-depth with the email marketing platform I use for sure.
What you'll learn today…
There's so many different strategies and methods that can be used and there really is no set way to do it.
A lot of the time, as with anything in blogging, it's down to testing, trying new things out, seeing what works and continuing to put into practice the things that are working well for you.
Everyone is different and what works for one blogger, may not work for another, which is why it's so important to always be testing the waters with new list building tricks!
The 10 things I'm going to share are what I feel are super important to have, in order to help you grow your email list!
So with all that said, let's get into the nitty-gritty right away…
“This post may contain affiliate links and if you make a purchase using one of my links, I receive a small commission at no extra cost to you”.
- What is an Email List?
- #1: Make sure you know who your audience are
- #2: Sign up for an Email Marketing Platform
- Don't think about “making money” – think about giving value
- #3: Create freebies which resonate with your readers
- #4: Create Sign up Forms & Landing Pages & Add them to your Blog
- #5: Create Personalized Call to Actions
- #6: Have an amazing Welcome Sequence
- #7: Always check your analytics
- #8: Get rid of unwanted Subscribers
- #9: Utilize Social Media (but don't get hung up on it & waste a ton of time)
- #10: Create more Videos (within emails & on your blog)
- 24 awesome Freebie ideas to build your Email List!
So before we dive in, let's just take a minute to look at what an email list actually is, because I don't want to just assume you know.
What is an Email List?
An email list is a collection of people's email addresses which you may have collected via sign up forms or landing pages on your blog or website or actually in person if at an event etc…
We refer to the people on your email list as “Subscribers”.
Your list is used to send out emails automatically to everyone on the list (or to individuals and segments of subscribers) and it's a great way to stay in touch with them weekly, via newsletters, to share new products and services and to teach – sharing tips and strategies!
The people on your email list should be treated like VIP's and should always be let into things first, given exclusive content and be given the best of the best!
At the end of the day, they're your tribe and the people who have trusted you enough to give their email address over – so really look after them and make them feel well cared for.
So now we've covered what an email list actually is – let's get started…
#1: Make sure you know who your audience are
I wanted this to be #1 because I feel if you don't get this right, then your whole list building efforts are going to be completely wasted.
If you don't know who you're writing and appealing to, then it will be a big struggle trying to create content and freebies that will align with anyone at all and you won't have anyone signing up!
We can never appeal to everyone and neither should we want to.
Get it down as to who you're wanting on your email list and create your content around their wants and needs etc.
Whenever I'm writing any type of content, whether it be social media posts, blog posts or emails, I always have my ideal person in the forefront of my mind.
This is what's called an avatar.
Create an Avatar
You need to sit down and have a think about who you want as your avatar. They need to be a “real” person, someone with a name, a job, an age etc…
You also need to look at where they live, what is their marital status, do they have kids… Everything you can think of for that person.
I know this may sound crazy, but trust me, getting all this stuff down on paper and into your head will help you massively whenever you write any content!
My avatar is as follows:
She's called Sophie (currently, as it has been a few different names). I don't know why, but that's the name that seems to pop in my head all the time when I'm writing…
She's a 35 year old mum who wants to be there for her children, meaning she wants to take them to school, appointments, football practise etc, but she still wants to earn her own money and help out financially at home.
She doesn't want to work a 9-5 job, as she's been there done that and it doesn't fit in with her family now, as her schedule is so jam packed with all the kids activities and general family life!
She's entrepreneurial, creative and loves to learn new things. She's passionate about helping others and would love to find a way to help others, while earning money for herself and her family.
She's been looking at ways to work from home, flexibly and around her kids and would love a little side hustle, something which she can grow and build into a possible business one day.
Her priorities are now freedom of time to spend with her children and being able to work as and when she wants to!
Now I know this is a very detailed avatar, but this is exactly the kind of thing you want to do so that it's ALWAYS clear who you're writing for.
When I started thinking about Sophie every time I'd sit and write, it would be so much easier as I could write to her personally and it really helped to narrow things down.
#2: Sign up for an Email Marketing Platform
Before you can even start collecting email addresses, you have to get yourself an email marketing platform in place.
There are so many out there and it can get very overwhelming and confusing trying to find one to use.
I'm not going to list a ton of them here, as that would just do exactly what I said above and confuse you.
I'm sharing the one I use and love and have done for a long time, plus I've used a lot over the years so this isn't just the first one I came across.
I use ConvertKit and it's amazing and does everything you need when it comes to your email list.
You can start out with the free plan, which allows you to create sign up forms and landing pages and collect up to 1000 subscribers. Then you can move on to the paid one when you're ready to start setting up sequences and automations.
I'm not going into how to use it within this post (I'll be doing that in a later post) but it's super easy to get the hang of and use.
Its dashboard and interface are simple to navigate around too, plus they have endless help in their “how-to” guides, blog articles and messaging service, so you'll always be able to get help when you need it!
Don't think about “making money” – think about giving value
You may or may not have heard the saying “the money's in the list”…
This is absolutely true as most bloggers and online biz owners tend to make most of their money through the people on their list, hence why I said you need to treat them like gold!
However, this doesn't mean you should only build an email list just to make money.
No one wants to be sent constant emails selling stuff and your subscribers and readers will see right through you and what you're doing.
You'll have more unsubscribes than you can keep up with which isn't good at all!
The idea with your email list is to teach, encourage and bring them joy!
Give them tons of valuable, actionable info, uplifting and encouraging words and just be there to help them when they need you.
If you do this, when the time comes for you to sell something to them, of course, they'll want to buy, because they've built up that trust with you and formed a relationship.
#3: Create freebies which resonate with your readers
Freebies are going to be the lifeblood of growing your email list because, in order to get people to subscribe, you have to give them something in exchange for their email address!
Provide something of value and information your readers want and/or need.
Make sure your freebies are quick wins, something actionable or that will allow your reader to go from Point A to Point B…
I love creating them and have quite a few on my blog and I've even written a post that will help you create your own freebies too!
Whenever I brainstorm ideas for a freebie, I look at the following things:
- what comments are being left and what's being asked over and over again on either blogs in the same niche or on social media that I can create a freebie for.
- what is being talked about on social media on different pages and accounts – are the same things coming up!
- what are people replying to emails asking for!
- what can I actually create (free video course, infographic, tracker, challenge etc)
- how can I really help Sophie (my avatar) with this checklist/planner/guide etc… what elements can I include!
- What would be the best format to deliver it in (video/PDF/audio etc…)
I can then get a good idea of what people are wanting and I can create something to giveaway on my blog, which hopefully people will come along and grab it!
As well as creating lots of what I call “Main” and “Primary freebies”, I create lots of Content Upgrades, which are simply quick freebies dedicated to a particular blog post and compliments the post and gives added value!
I definitely, definitely recommend you create content upgrades.
You don't have to do them for every single post, but for the ones that you feel could really benefit from a checklist or template etc, go ahead and create one. Your readers will love the fact you've gone that extra mile for them.
#4: Create Sign up Forms & Landing Pages & Add them to your Blog
Once you've got a freebie, you then need to create sign up forms and landing pages to get them out there into the online world…
This is how you connect your freebie to your email list – your reader enters their details into the form, they get the freebie sent to their inbox and you gain their email address onto your list!
And the best thing – it's all done automatically…
The best thing is, ConvertKit have some beautiful and simple templates you can use. Choose a template and then make it your own with some customizations and colour branding etc…
Below are some examples of the templates available, although this is just a tiny selection of what's actually available.
The image below is of the types of forms and some of the templates you can choose from.
The images below are of the landing page categories available and also some of the templates to choose from.
The image below is of the different categories you can select for the landing page templates
The image below is a few of the templates you can choose from when creating a landing page.
Have a go at creating a form and a landing page and then you just need to connect it to your blog, using one of the embedding formats.
A good landing page doesn't need to be hectic and have a lot of info on – less is better, so you don't overwhelm your readers.
I like to include the following:
- Strong Headline
- The benefits of what they're getting
- A Preview Image of the freebie/what you're selling etc…
- A form for them to enter their name and email address
- A button for them to click on
That's it – super simple, but with everything on that it needs.
Before you go and embed them though, you need to think about how and where you're going to place them on your blog.
There's a lot of different ways you can do this and I've listed some of them below:
- Creating a brand new, customized form or landing page for each freebie you have, so that you can explain all the benefits
- Add personalized pop up forms to separate blog posts, with a freebie specific to that post
- Have a sign up form on your “About Me” page, as this is one of the most visited pages on a blog/website
- Have a large sign up area on your homepage, that stands out and promotes your amazing freebie
There are tons of different types of forms you can create and add, so there will always be a form suited to whatever kind of content you are creating:
- Slide in forms
- Pop Up forms
- Inline forms
- Locked Content forms
- Below Post forms
- Top Toolbar/Ribbon form
- Header forms
- Footer forms
- Exit Intent forms
- Sidebar/Widget forms
- Screen filler Overlay form
- Scroll Mat form
There are other ways you can get your freebie out there such as adding a call to action in your email signature for your primary freebie.
The idea is to have sign-up forms and landing pages which stand out and entice readers to join your list.
Have as many opportunities as possible for readers to sign up!
#5: Create Personalised Call to Actions
The words you use are sooooo important and are what's going to entice and draw people in.
You need to be explaining what your readers are going to get, the benefits of it and how they can use it!
You don't just want to say “Sign-Up, Subscribe or Download”…
Use your imagination and think about what would make you click on something and sign up!
I have things like “I want it now Leah, Grab it here and Get it while you can”…
These are much more personal and on track with my brand as to how I talk to my readers and subscribers.
People resonate much more with something personal to you, as I feel words like “subscribe” and “download” also sound quite harsh and hard to me.
Although I reuse and duplicate forms within ConvertKit (yes, you can do this and it's awesome) because it saves loads of time and I have all my main branding covered, I always, always personalize each and every form button to match the freebie I'm offering!
#6: Have an amazing Welcome Sequence
As email marketing is the lifeblood of your blog, it, therefore, makes sense that you need some pretty amazing emails to send your list!
The first email your subscriber will get is the incentive, confirmation email, which is also the email that allows them to download their freebie!
You can see in the image above that I explain what the reader is going to get and how they just need to click on the button to get their freebie!
The amazing thing is, as soon as your reader clicks this button, they get their free gift and you get them as a subscriber because they're automatically added to your email list.
All done behind the scenes in the online atmosphere…
But – this is just the email to give them their freebie.
I use this process when I create Content Upgrades and it ends there. They get the freebie and then they're added to my newsletter automation, ready to be sent my weekly emails…
However, you do not want to do this for your main freebies!
I have 3 freebies on my blog which each have their own welcome sequence.
One is my primary freebie – the 9 Step Guide to Picking a Niche and then I have two others which are main freebies for things I really know will help my mummy's out when starting a blog!
So you definitely want to create welcome sequences for your freebies, so that you can take them on a journey, share amazing info with them and give them even more value!
Above is an example of my main freebie welcome sequence and you can see the list of emails in the sequence, down the right-hand side…
ConvertKit makes it so simple and easy to create sequences and you can have as many emails in them as you like.
The left-hand side is the editor, where you write your fab email content and you can even send yourself a preview email, to check out what it looks like in real life!
As I've mentioned above, I'm not doing a ConvertKit tutorial here, as there's a lot to cover and I want to do a completely separate post on this, so that's all I'm going to show on the sequences.
I will however share what you can include within your welcome sequence:
- A bit about you and your blog. Introduce who you are and what you're all about!
- Share your story of how you are where you are.
- How often your subscriber can expect to hear from you.
- Share where else they can find you (social media platforms).
- Tell them to whitelist you and show them how to do this.
- A few testimonials if you have them to create authority and trust.
- Continue giving valuable information to really wow them!
- Exclusive free gift just for being on your list.
- Share your latest and “best” blog posts (just because they're on your list, doesn't mean they've seen all your posts.
- Give them a free trial for something, if you have a product or service.
- Start preparing them and give them info to do with any product or course you have or something you may be promoting.
- Provide a quick win.
- Tell them what motivates and inspires you.
- Share useful tools and resources you use.
- Ask them what help they need (which can then fork off into other automated sequences suiting their needs when they click a link).
#7: Always check your analytics
This is one of the most important factors in blogging and business in general.
The only way you're going to know what blog posts and emails are doing well is through analytics.
You need to know what's being shared and what's getting comments so that you can carry on creating content your audience wants.
Not checking and analysing your content means you're just going to be blogging blind and won't have a clue as to what people are enjoying, not enjoying and want more of…
There are a lot of software's out there to keep track of analytics, but I'm just going to share the 3 that I use below…
Good old Google Analytics has been around forever it seems, but it's a great FREE tool to use as it's really comprehensive and can show you exactly what's going on with your audience.
You can see where they're from, what their behaviours are, conversions and you can even see real-time viewers too!
It gives you insights, returns user info and can tell you what devices your audience is using to view your content…
There's so much you can see and learn from it, so I highly recommend you set it up and install a plugin on your blog where you can add in your ID to sync it up with your account.
I use the PixelyourSite WordPress plugin where you can add in all kinds of scripts, including Facebook ID, Pinterest Tag and your Google Analytics ID.
Rank Math PRO
Rank Math Pro is something I've recently started using and I love it…
This is a powerful tool, which is mainly used for SEO (Search Engine Optimization) purposes, but it also has basic built-in analytics.
When I upgraded to the PRO version, however, it opened up a whole additional, advanced analytics element, which is all there within your WordPress dashboard.
It even integrates with Google Analytics, so you can see all these statistics too (without having to leave your site).
It's so easy to install and use and you simply upload and install the plugin and away you go.
The third and final way I check analytics is via Pinterest.
If you haven't got a Pinterest account yet, you should head over there and sign up for one right now, because as a blogger, you're gonna miss out massively if you don't share your content on there…
Pinterest is a huge platform for bloggers and sharing all kinds of content…
It's also where people are geared up ready to buy!!!
Pinterest has its own built-in analytics, so you can what pins are doing well and which aren't…
I recommend whenever you write a blog post, create 3 to 4 pin images to share on Pinterest.
Have different titles, different colour formations and fonts and see what your audience is drawn towards.
By doing this, you can test and see which pins are the most popular via their analytics!
You can see all kinds of things about your audience, including age and gender, location, what device their using and an overall overview (amongst many other things).
So there are the 3 tools I use for analytics on my blog and they keep me well informed as to what my audience like and don't like!
It's imperative you constantly check on what's going on, otherwise, you're just spinning the wheels, not knowing what's going on…
#8: Get rid of unwanted Subscribers
I know that having a huge email list is the goal right, but what's the point of having a big list of people who aren't engaging in your emails!
People who don't open your emails or click links in your emails are dragging you down and costing you money.
You pay for all the subscribers on your list, so any that are on there that don't want to be anymore – it's time to get rid!
That doesn't mean you want to just delete them – the way to go about it is to put together a “Cold Subscriber” email sequence.
Cold Subscriber Email Sequence
I use ConvertKit for my email marketing and according to them, if a subscriber hasn't opened or clicked an email within the last 90 days, they're classed as cold…
Below I'm going to give a very basic rundown of what needs to happen…
First off, you need to create a “cold subscriber” tag and find all the subscribers who are cold.
Next up, you create a page on your blog, which simply says something like “Yay – you're still on the list”…
Then you have to create an automation rule and set up a re-engagement sequence for them to go through.
So once you've done those things, you can then start the process below:
Once you have cold subscribers, you need to take them through a very simple sequence, so that you can determine whether they're actually cold, or maybe they just forgot about you (because you haven't been emailing them consistently enough).
Either way, they haven't been checking out your emails so action needs to be taken…
You want to start by sending out a broadcast (one-off) email to the cold subscribers, which will include a link for them to click on (which is the link trigger for the “cold subscriber” tag you created) if they want to continue receiving your emails. This gives them a chance to re-subscribe before you go ahead and delete them for good.
Then they get added into a re-engagement sequence, where you give them about a week to decide whether they want to stay on your list (whether they clicked the link or not).
Once the week is up, you can then delete all the subscribers who didn't click on the link…
I know it sounds quite complicated, but it really isn't.
This is all explained in more detail of how to do it here in Convertkit's help tutorial so don't panic…
I just want to say that when it comes to losing people on your email list, don't be disheartened.
The way I look at it is this – if they don't want to be there, then you don't want to be wasting your time sending amazing content and freebies out anyway!
You always want to be giving your best stuff to the people who really care and who want to hear and learn from you, so keep that in mind when you're clearing your email list out every 6 or so months…
What can you do to re-engage them
Of course, before you get to the stage of having to delete subscribers, there are some things you can do to try and re-engage them and keep them wanting your emails to hit their inbox!
The thing with people's inboxes are, they're super, duper busy and every person receives a ton of emails every day.
So in order for you to be at the forefront of their minds and to get them to open your emails, you gotta be there and they gotta know who you are!
- You can start by offering up something of value, whereby you're confirming to your subscribers that you're there to help them as much as you can.
- Make sure your emails are always relevant to what they signed up for and to your blog/website.
- Test out different times when sending your emails out and see if this makes a difference.
- Always be consistent each week/two weeks/month etc. Whatever timescale you advised your subscriber that you'd show up, make sure you do, as if they don't hear from you, they're going to forget who you are.
- Pay attention to them – don't concentrate on getting new subscribers all the time, pay attention to those you have and treat them amazing.
- Ask them what they want from you. What do they want to learn about, hear about, talk about… Asking them can clarify exactly what they want so you can give it to them.
- Be fun and friendly! Let them know it's not all business. Send them fun stories, encouraging quotes and share parts of your life with them. Getting personal is what makes them feel like they're talking to a real person.
- Do competitions, giveaways, free trials, surveys, quizzes etc… anything that will engage your subscribers and make them feel a part of your blog and like them and their opinions matter.
- Include Call to Actions in your emails. Giving them something to do keeps them active and engaged. Maybe they're just bored reading, reading, reading all the time.
- Don't email too much. It's bad to not email hardly ever, but you don't want to be at the other end of the scale where you're emailing too much. Slow it down and don't pester your subscribers.
- Maybe they want to use a different email address, so make sure you check their email preferences and give them a chance to change the email address they're using.
#9: Utilize Social Media (but don't get hung up on it & waste a ton of time)
Social Media is a huge part of life nowadays (fortunately or unfortunately, however, you look at it), so sharing your content and getting your freebies on the platforms is a great way to generate more blog traffic and get yourself out there more.
It's great for promotion and marketing if it's done the right way, as remember, people are not usually on social platforms to BUY, they're on there to socialize and see what their friends are up to and to delve into the lives of the influencers/celebrities etc they follow…
Because there's a lot of different platforms out there, it's important to know where your target audience hangs out and then be on those platforms, however, it can be very difficult to get traction on social and can take a while to build an audience…
Your email list and blog should always be your #1 place you want your readers to be and go to and then social media platforms can be added extras to share amazing, fun stuff and let people share your journey and life!
I always say never put all your eggs in one basket, because if a platform is taken away and you've relied on it for all of your business and traffic, you're going to come unstuck and have to start all over again.
Social media is brilliant because you can utilize the trends and gimmicks they each use, such as hashtags and follows etc and this can help you build an audience and get your blog and brand more well known + being active on social media is really important for your blog and brand…
You can also take advantage of other influencers in your niche and see how they engage with their audience and look at what content they share.
The other great thing about social media is you can schedule posts to go out on them and all this can be automated.
Canva is amazing for this and they've just recently added Instagram, so you can schedule posts for Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram right from within the Canva dashboard.
This is fab for time-saving and means you can schedule and share content to all your social platforms in one go!
I love to use social media because I can share pictures to tell a story, quotes to encourage and uplift and I can share things I think my followers will love about my everyday life…
This all helps to build trust and a relationship and if you're seen in many different places, people will start to see you as an authority!
#10: Create more Videos (within emails & on your blog)
It's a well-known fact that people love to watch videos and can relate a lot more when they're seeing a person's face.
It's also an awesome way for people to get to know who you are more and I know for me personally, when I watch someone teaching or sharing something in a video, I consume the info so much more, as it's a lot more fun, entertaining and interactive…
Creating content is all about giving an experience to your readers and subscribers and I just feel video does this so, so well!
That's why pretty much all of my blog posts have at least one video in them, going over what's in the post, actually showing my readers how to do something.
Not only does this help grow my YouTube channel (as I have all my videos on there) but it means my content has more than one format in which to be consumed, therefore I can reach a wider audience…
I also have links to videos within my emails too, as I like to make sure I'm giving a variety of formats there too.
Checking out YouTube and seeing what's being searched for in your niche, will tell you if people are actually looking for what you want to record videos on.
You can see in the image below that I only had to type “how to start” and “how to start a blog” came up at the very top, plus the next 3 searches were all to do with starting a blog.
This shows me that people are definitely into it and searching for it…
The next screenshot I took is of a couple of the videos that came up in the “how to start a blog” search and you can see they've had thousands of views.
From this, I know that if I were to create a new, fresh video within this topic, it will hopefully get views, which will then hopefully link people to my blog, but I can also include links in the description for my freebies etc – giving me that extra opportunity to get more email subscribers, on a different platform!
Sometimes words aren't enough on their own and you need to have the visual to go with it.
I also love that you can really connect with people using video because when they get to see your face and hear your voice, it lets your personality shine through.
24 awesome Freebie ideas to build your Email List!
Grab this printable and start creating incredible freebies right now!
So that's it for this post and I hope you've picked up some new things to help you grow your email list.
Now you need to go and implement them and keep on working to build your subscribers up!
Building a list is no easy task and it's definitely something you need to be in for the long haul.
Stick at it, try new things, change up your freebies often (especially the ones which aren't really doing anything) and you'll have an email list of subscribers who love you and can't wait for your next email to arrive in their inbox…
It's all about consistency – anything in blogging is about consistency, sticking with it and testing, testing, testing!
You will find what works for you and your blog!
You'll soon come to realise that anything to do with your blog involves a lot of time and effort. Things can and will become overwhelming and frustrating, but you will get through it and continue on your journey…
Leave a comment below and let me know how you're growing your email list and what other tips can you share?
I’m sure you’ve all subscribed to many, many newsletters and opt-ins, I know I have over the years. But do you know what made you sign up, or what made you click? When it comes to Call to Actions (or CTAs for short & ease) it all comes down to several factors…
There are so many key benefits to building an email list and it should be a priority because through your subscriber's inboxes, you can communicate with them in a way that social media simply can't.
Freebies are such an important part of blogging! Amazing opt-ins will allow you to grow your email list and I want to show you exactly how to design and create them…