Before I built my email list, I was stuck as a blogger. After nearly five years of hard work and creating content each week, here’s what I had to show for it:
- I was making no money
- I still had less than 1,000 views a month
- No real plan for making a living as a content creator
Then, I decided that I needed to build an email list. I made that my #1 priority.
In about six months, I had gained over 16,000+ new email subscribers and learned how to build an email list. In the next couple years, that number ballooned to well over 120,000+ subscribers, which laid the groundwork for an eventual 6-figure business — all in non-ad-related revenue.
Once I had my initial email list, I was able to leverage it to make my first non-ad-related $1,000 in 30 days, then my first $5,000 a few months later. It helped in countless ways, namely:
- I was able to build a solid foundation of readers that continued to grow
- I became a thought leader in my industry
- I started getting featured in world-class publications
- I secured a book deal
Building an email list might seem like a pipe dream for many website owners, especially if you’re just struggling to get by and make ends meet. In this article, you’ll learn how easy it is to build an email list, all the technology involved, and how to start monetizing your list.
Step One: Find an Email Software
There are countless email softwares that help you manage, track, and send emails to your followers. Mailchimp is perhaps the most popular (although there are thousands of content creators that use other tools like ActiveCampaign, ConvertKit, etc.). Still, when you’re just starting out you don’t need much, and most platforms offer a free version.
Your email software needs to do three essential tasks:
- Send manual emails
- Send automatic email sequences
- Tag/group subscribers
The real money of an email list lies in automation, sending new and grouped subscribers pertinent information that applies directly to them. As you’ll see below, you can eventually start sending out an “indoctrination sequence” for each new subscriber that tells them your story, what you’re about, and any relevant articles/products you might have them consider.
Step Two: Create a Landing Page and a Call-To-Action
Most email software tools give you the ability to integrate it into your website, usually through a popup, an in-line form, or an actual landing page dedicated to collecting emails.
The best way to quickly build an email list is to drive all your traffic to it. Make joining your email list your number one call to action (CTA) for anyone visiting your site. In the future, you can change this to diversify your income (you can tell readers to buy a product, download an eBook, watch your videos, etc.). For now, tell people to join that list!
All you need is a simple CTA line, and a place for readers to enter their email. You should note that almost no readers will want to give you their email for free — you must offer them something of value. “Free access to your Sunday newsletter” usually won’t cut it; you need to give them something really appealing. This can include:
- A discount for your services
- A PDF/video
- A special training
- A chapter of your eBook
Make the sign-up a no-brainer for your readers, and place that call-to-action prominently within your content.
Step Three: Make an Indoctrination Sequence
Your hottest “leads” are going to be subscribers who have just opted into your email list. These are people who have just decided they want to learn more about you, and are primed to hear your story and message, even potentially buy a product on the spot.
Russell Brunson, founder of ClickFunnels and multi-million dollar marketer, recommends you create an automated “soap opera sequence” for every new subscriber. It’s designed to tell your readers a story full of ups and downs and drama, one that hooks them in to learn more about you over the next five to seven days:
Here’s a simple summary of each day’s email:
Day 1: Sets the Stage
This email paints a picture of where you were, back when things were really hard. This is before you knew what you were doing, and were dealing with all the problems that come with starting out.
Day 2: High drama + backstory
This email describes the biggest problem you were facing, the very issue that would ultimately help you find out exactly what your mission would be. Talk about the “wall” you hit, and how you were desperate and searching for answers.
Day 3: Epiphany + “The One Thing”
This email reveals your biggest realization about your message, the eye-opening truth that helped you realize why you wanted to make your website and help people. What’s the “one thing” you realized you needed to do?
Day 4: Hidden Benefits
This email breaks down all the side-effects and unexpected benefits of committing to your goal. What were you able to do that you couldn’t before? What new luxuries could you experience?
Day 5: Urgency + CTA
This email is a great segue into talking about your initial product/service you want to sell. It’s a simple, viable way to get your readers to buy a small offering after they’re primed from hearing your soap opera story.
There’s an old marketing proverb that goes, “Facts tell, stories sell.” If you can hook your audience with a powerful, proven story, they’re much more likely to consistently consume your content, come back to your site, and help you earn more revenue.
What To Do With Your First 500 Subscribers
Building an email list takes time, but it’s one of the best investments website owners can make. Fluctuating ad revenue, never-ending SEO updates, and unpredictable market changes can make consistent monthly revenue seem impossible for most website owners. But an email list will always be there, and you can rely on it for more predictable, reliable income each month.
Once you’ve created your soap opera sequence for new subscribers, you should focus on nurturing your current email list. Keep in mind, not everyone will buy your products or read your content at first. But if you show your readers you’re committed to sending them helpful, entertaining, and useful content, they’re much more likely to change from casual viewers to true fans, increasing your overall revenue each month.
A universal truth of email marketing: most emails stink. There’s a reason why a high open rate for most marketing emails is a mere 25–30%. I’ve been able to consistently get average open rates around 40-45%, and it’s because I stayed as far away as possible from those spammy, vague, salesy emails cluttering everyone’s inbox.
In short? Focus on helping people. It’s not about you, it’s about them. Serve your readers. As best-selling author Donald Miller once said:
“The day you stop losing sleep over the business and start losing sleep over your customer’s lives is the day your business will grow.”
You can make a decent income from general content and average ad revenue. But if you want serious income, the kind of income that can change you and your family’s life, you need to consistently produce quality content and make your readers feel like the whole reason you’re there is to help them.