Epic Guide To Building Your Email List From Scratch


Have you ever heard the phrase “the money is in the list”? For those of you who haven’t, it’s referring to monetary benefits of having an e-mail list. Typically this phrase is said by someone with a giant list and then followed by (shallow) advice on how to build a big list and if you want the good stuff you’ll have to empty your pockets. But what if you’re starting from scratch, don’t have a huge social media following or in the business of telling other people how to make money. Can you still grow an email list that makes you money? How do you get people to join your list? Why would anyone join?

If you’re not familiar with the basics of e-mail marketing then you should read this and then come back here. Pin this one so you don’t lose it. 

Fluff free methods to growing your email list even if you're just starting out, don't have a big social media following and have a budget of $0.

Fluff free methods to growing your email list even if you’re just starting out, don’t have a big social media following and have a budget of $0.

Now that you’re familiar with the basics, understand the three phases of e-mail marketing, andhow to set up your list we’re going to get into how to actually get people on your list and what to send them.

What Are Your Goals?

Rule of thumb, everything you do should have a purpose and a goal. If you’re growing an e-mail list you should have a reason why you’re doing that (aka your goal). Having goals gives your action purpose, intent and direction. Is your goal to create passive income, an endless flow of dreamy dream clients, or simply drive traffic to your website (or blog). Your goal will dictate your approach, what you end up sending your list and how you will measure your success.

Be realistic with your goal. If you’re just getting started set a reasonable goal like 100 new subscribers in the next 30 days. When you manage your expectations you’ll find that your efforts.

Who Is Your Target Audience?

Your target audience is your ideal client. Target audience and ideal clients are one in the same. With that said, does it even make sense to try to connect with them via e-mail? Chances are if they’re a warm blooded person under they use and check email at least once per day. {Find A Stat} Who you’ll be e-mailing is a very important piece of the puzzle of e-mail marketing it also dictates what you’ll be sending your list but also how you go about building your list of potential clients.

The problem with most ideal client avatars is that theyfocus too much on irrelevant information instead of what really matters like the problem they are so desperately looking to solve. Here’s what you absolutely need to know to about your target audience.

What is the problem that they are looking to solve?

Problems usually have multiple layers, which layer can you help them with right now? Can you provide a quick fix to get them started?

How do they talk about this problem? Pro tip: Borrow their words for your copy. Mirror back what they’re saying.

Where are they hanging out online?

Optimize your site to grow your list.

Let’s start at home base – your website. It surprises me how many people aren’t taking advantage of the full power their website provides. [clickToTweet tweet=”DIY-ing your website? Keep the following in mind if you want your website to work for you and not against you.” quote=”If you’re DIY-ing your website you’ll want to keep the following in mind if you want your website to work for you and not against you.”]


When some one lands on your site this is the first page they see. If you’ve decided to lead with your blog you’ll want to consider adding a header where you include a way to opt-in to your list. For example Melyssa from The Nectar Collective does this perfectly.

Melyssa Griffin The Nectar Collective home page optimized for email list growth. | sharicecarpenter.com

Melyssa Griffin The Nectar Collective home page optimized for email list growth. | sharicecarpenter.com

If you’re like me and have a static homepage that is not your blog you’ll want to make the most of your home page by leading with an attention grabbing headline and a button to opt-in for your amazing opt-in bribe. Here’s mine as an example.

Exit Pop up

Everyone says they hate pop ups but yet they still remain very effective. Whether you hate or love pop up’s they work and are a great opportunity to catch visitors who may have missed the memo about your killer opt-in bribe. Instead of using a pop up when they arrive at your site ( if you’re worried about being annoying) use an exit pop up to let them know that they should grab their opt-in bribe before they leave. It’s just a quick and friendly reminder. You can use Popup Ally Pro plug in to add pop ups to your site.



Instead of filling your sidebar with ads and other junk use your sidebar to keep readers on your site and get them on your list. A simple “ad” for your opt-in bribe in your sidebar is an easy way to catch those who didn’t opt-in on the homepage or bypassed the homepage with a direct link. Keep it simple and easy.

Lady Boss League Side Bar example of a opt-in ad | www.sharicecarpenter.com

Lady Boss League Side Bar example of a opt-in ad | www.sharicecarpenter.com

Summer of Lady Boss League…

About Page

Another list building opportunity that’s overlooked is the about page. It’s the perfect place to incorporate your opt-in bribe. It doesn’t have to be sales-y or feel sleazy. Summer of The Lady Boss League is a perfect example of a list building about page.

Lady-Boss-League-About-Page-Example. | sharicecarpenter.com

Lady-Boss-League-About-Page-Example. | sharicecarpenter.com

Pro Tip: Two step opt-ins convert higher.  Two step opt-ins have a button instead of a form and the button pops up a form. As shown in the example above.

Using Content To Build Your List.

Free downloads, webinars, and content upgrades are an extremely effective methods to grow your email list quickly.

Free downloads also known as opt-in, lead magnet, or opt-in bribe. I like to refer to them as opt-in. Essentially these are digital info products that you give out in exchange for email addresses. This info product relates to what you do, demonstrate your expertise, and help your ideal client solve a problem they’re experiencing. The purpose of content is to establish your credibility and build the LKT (like-know-trust) factor.

Pro: It’s relatively easy to create and has proven to be more effective than offering just a newsletter. It allows you to show off that brilliant brain of yours.

Con: If you don’t have the slightest bit of tech knowledge it can difficult to do yourself but you can totally hire a graphic designer to help you out.

Free consultation/ Give a way a sample of your service

You know what I love about going to Whole Foods on the weekend? The free samples. Everyone loves a sample especially if it’s an expensive item that you’ve been eye balling but too afraid to make the purchase. Your potential clients might be feeling the same way when it comes to your services. They’re interested but the thought of handing over their hard earned money for something that they may not be familiar with gives them the heebie jeebies. So ease their fears with a little sample of what it’s like to work with you.  

Pro: You get interested people not only on your list but on the phone with you. You help address their fears and concerns about potentially working with you. Getting someone on the phone is very effective at sky rocketing the LKT factor. You’ll also get more insight on the individuals on your list.

Con: It can be a roll of the dice whether or not these people show up for the free consultation which means you might spend the afternoon getting stood up. It happens however, there are ways to decrease the chances of no-shows with sign up forms and reminder emails.


Great way to explode your list especially when you combine it with a low cost Facebook ad. In case you aren’t familiar with the term webinar, It’s an online seminar that usually takes the form of a 60min training. Typically at the end there is a pitch for a product or service however it’s not required. I have had a lot of success with growing my list with webinars but as an introvert I tend to shy away from doing these.

Pro: Builds LKT factor quickly by allowing people to see you live and in action. Engage with your list and deliver lots of value. Perfect way to offer free consultations or pitch a service/product. You can sell the replay once it’s done. You can offer the replay as an opt-in. Very little cost ( if any) associated with hosting a webinar. 

Con: Time consuming and you need to be comfortable speaking in front of an online crowd. Also there is a learning curve regarding technology. Depending on your niche webinars may or may not be appropriate form to deliver information. 

Content Upgrade

I love this method because I’m a content fanatic. I eat, breathe, and sleep content. Adding content on top of content in my (humble) opinion is one of the best strategies out there. It allows you to cast your net wider and increase your chances for opt-ins. Also you can segment your email list based on which opt-in they sign up for meaning that you can make your emails much more targeted and specific. In turn that means you’re going to experience higher open, click through and conversion rates.

Pro: Multiple opt-in offers increases your chances of getting an opt-in.  Gain insight into what they’re interested in based on the opt-in they select. This will allow you to  tailor content and services to those needs.

Con: Time consuming to create a free download for multiple blog post. If you have multiple hands on deck this may not be an issue but if you’re a solopreneur (like myself) this can become a very time consuming.

Content Library

Melyssa Griffin at The Nectar Collective has a full training on how she created her own resource library that she uses as her opt-in bribe. Psst, it’s a good training and you should check it out if you think you want to do this. You sign up once and you have access to all the content upgrades on her blog. It’s pretty awesome from a user stand point. From the creator stand point it’s pretty time consuming to set up, and maintain considering it is a freebie. BUT….Is her list super engaged? Is she absolutely killing it? Do I look up to her and hope to one day have a blog that just as epic? Yes, yes and hells yes.

Pro: Deliver super value to your audience. No confusing multiple sign ups – sign up once and done. These convert well because of the appearance of value. An organized space for all of your content upgrades.

Con: This isn’t the best fit for everyone because it is time consuming. If you are a solopreneur I suggest working your way up to this point.


The most common and weakest opt-in out there. When I see newsletter I think “just another email I’ll end up deleting”. People don’t want more emails. How many emails do you get everyday? Do you really want to add one more newsletter to that? No, I didn’t think so and neither does your audience. All is not lost when it comes to newsletters. They are an effective way to keep in touch and stay top of mind with your list. You should have one but it shouldn’t be the only opt-in you provide.

Pro Tip: Encourage your email list to share your emails. Once you already have an email list get them to do your bidding for you by asking them (nicely) to share your emails and inviting their friends. You can’t assume that they’re sharing them so give them a little reminder.

Pro: Give a sneak peek before someone signs up for your newsletter. Now they know exactly what to expect.

Con: Your “exclusive” newsletter content is now public but you don’t have to make every newsletter shareable.

Using Facebook Ads (and other paid ads)

This is a very effective method especially if you want to grow your list fast and don’t mind investing a little money into building your audience. There is a learning curve but I promise you can totally run a Facebook ad campaign on your onesies without dropping lots of money. You can run an ad for as little as $5/day. However, if the thought of running your own ads gives you the heebie jeebies my friend Amy over at Social Lab Marketing can help you. (https://www.sociallabmarketing.com/)

Here’s a few simple paid ad strategies you can use to grow your list.

Paid low cost Facebook Ad -> Landing Page For Opt-In

Paid low cost Facebook Ad -> Landing Page For Webinar

Paid low cost Facebook Ad -> Blog post with content upgrade

Pro: Fast results. Whenever you want to boost your list you can turn your Ad on.

Con: Learning curve if you’re DIY-ing and never done it. You might spend some money with little ROI while you figure things out. I’ve heard that these leads aren’t always that good although honestly, if you’re getting weak leads then you need to tweak your ad. I’m just sayin’. 

The simple formula for growing your list…

Traffic Source -> Opt-In Form

Growing your list isn’t rocket science. What it boils down to is directing traffic to your opt-in form ( or landing page).  Of course you can come up with your own by plugging in a source for traffic and sending it to your opt-in form.

Pro tip: Social Media Bio -> Landing Page For Opt-In

You’re all set to start growing your list. Naturally, you might be wondering what you should send your list or what you should do with it now that you have one. Don’t worry I’ve got you covered…

I’ve Got An Email List Now What?

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