How to Start an Email List and Get Subscribers Right Away

December 5, 2017

One of the biggest regrets that a lot of bloggers have is not starting an email list sooner.

Until starting this blog I’ve never had an email list before so I wanted to try something new and see what all the fuss is about.

In the past few days since starting my list I’ve already grown it to nearly 50 subscribers.

Everybody subscribing has done so through my lead magnet which you can sign up for down below.

It’s a super helpful guide full of 25 different strategies that you can use to drive traffic to your blog. I recommend checking it out if that’s something you need help with.

I know you’ve probably heard before that it’s important to start an email list but you might be wondering why it’s important – or what it even is.

Today, I want to talk about email lists – what they are, why you should start one, and how to set yours up.

How to Start an Email List

building up your email list

What is an Email List?

An email list is a list of emails that you’ve been able to capture from your blog or website.

These emails are important because they give you direct access to your audience. The list of emails is yours to control which is what makes it so valuable.

Usually people sign up for your list in exchange for something that you offer on your blog. This is known as a lead magnet or opt-in.

From my short experience, lead magnets are an effective way to get more email subscribers.

People are more than happy to give you their email in exchange for something they want.

This can include things like:

  • In-depth guides
  • Tutorials
  • Case studies
  • Free resources
  • Stock images
  • Relevant courses

Basically, anything that your audience is looking for you can create and offer in exchange for their email.

Once you have their e-mail in your list you can reach out to them directly rather than having to rely on social media or search engines.

This is great because you don’t have to worry about getting banned on a social media platform or losing search traffic to still be able to access your growing audience.

You can never predict what’s going to happen to Google or whether or not any of the different social platforms you’re on are going to get shut down.

By building your list you can keep everybody in a safe place that you control. You can contact them whenever you feel like it without having to rely on anybody else.

What’s great about this list is that the people that signed up are there because you provided them with something of value.

They likely want to learn more from you and are willing to let you into their inbox in exchange for some of your helpful information.

This makes it really easy to instantly promote your latest blog posts.

You can also promote your own products, affiliate offers, or your services directly to your email list.

You don’t have to wait for SEO to kick in or constantly be pitching on social media.

Thankfully, it doesn’t matter if you just started your blog and you’re only getting a few visitors per day – you can start capturing emails from day one and grow your list from the beginning.

Let’s get into that right now, shall we?

Step 1: Start with a Goal in Mind

using a lead magnet for getting your visitors email

Before you get to setting up your mailing list you want to make sure that you have a specific goal in mind that you want to achieve.

You don’t want to create a list for no reason. It’s important that have a plan on what to do with your subscribers.

Grab a pen and paper or open up a Google Docs tab and write down some notes related to the following questions:

  • How many emails are you going to be sending each week?
  • Do you plan on selling your own product or service? Or are you going to focus on affiliate marketing?
  • What do you plan to provide your subscribers with?
  • How many subscribers do you want in the next week, month, and year?

These are the questions you want to ask yourself before you start setting up any email marketing tools.

When it comes to sending emails you don’t want to go overboard right off the bat. You also don’t want to wait too long between emails in case your audience forgets who you are.

Starting out it’s a good idea to email your list about once per week and feel it out from there.

Monetization is another important aspect of building your email list.

It’s easy to promote affiliate offers and they’re great for some short-term monetization.

In the long run you’re going to want to focus on promoting your own products or services. This is where the real money is and it’s how many people make a killing with their list.

Don’t always be pushing something onto your audience however.

I recommend sending two or three emails where you share something of high value. It could be a helpful guide, in-depth tutorial, or even an in-depth look at your latest post.

After warming up your audience you can then start to promote something. However, don’t forget to always be providing them with something that is useful for them.

Finally, knowing how many subscribers you want is going to give you a better idea of what you need to do to achieve your goal. It’s a lot harder to get 10,000 subscribers than it is to get 100 so you need to plan accordingly.

Step 2: Check Out the Different Email Marketing Services

using mailerlite for email marketing

These days there are a number of email marketing services to choose from.

Personally, I prefer using Mailerlite but I would recommend doing your own research before settling down with a specific service.

Along with Mailerlite you can check out:

  • ConvertKit
  • MailChimp
  • Mad Mimi
  • Constant Contact
  • AWeber

Some of these have great free plans while others are going to have a monthly fee to use.

Be sure to check out reviews online and do your research thoroughly before you settle on a specific tool.

Like I mentioned up above I like using MailerLite and I think it’s the best tool for anybody just starting out.

Why I Like MailerLite

mailerlite features

For starters, MailerLite is free to use for up to 1000 subscribers.

This means you can try out the service for yourself to see if you like it without having to financially commit.

mailerlite pricing

This gives you the chance to play with the different features, send a few emails, and get a better feel for MailerLite to see what it’s like.

Another reason why I love using MailerLite is because it comes with free automation for a workflow.

The automation makes it really easy to set up the process of what your subscribers go through after they sign up for your list.

automation workflow for funnel

You can easily provide them with your free course, give them the download link to your lead magnet, or just get them into your sales funnel. All of this isn’t going to cost you any money at all until you have 1,000 people on your list.

With MailerLite you can also create forms for your opt-ins, lead magnets, or just for random pages on your blog. These are the places no your blog where people are going to subscribe to your list.

opt in forms for your lead magnet or landing page

Most bloggers simply embed these forms in their blog posts or add one to the sidebar while encouraging people to sign up.

MailerLite makes it simple to get these forms up and running on your blog and you don’t have to have any coding skills to figure it all out.

Along with forms you can also create landing pages and popups depending on how you want to capture emails from your visitors.

Many of the different email marketing tools offer similar features but I really like the simple layout and format of MailerLite and that’s why I recommended for beginners.

Step 3: Create Your Lead Magnet (Opt-In)

lead magnet ideas

Once you have signed up for and tried out whichever email marketing tool you want to use it’s time to create your lead magnet.

The lead magnet you create depends on the niche that you’re in as certain lead magnets work better than others depending on the topic of your blog.

This is how you’re going to get your visitors to actually sign up for your list. Giving your audience something in return for their email is the most effective way of building your email list.

Without having an opt-in or a lead magnet there isn’t any incentive for somebody to join so this needs to be your focus during this step.

What Should Your Lead Magnet Be?

The first lead magnet I created was a short 2500 ebook with different strategies for driving traffic.

This is something I know that my audience wants and people had no problem exchanging their email for my helpful traffic guide.

You need to ask yourself what some problems what problems your audience is currently facing and what you can provide for them that helps them solve their problem.

Do your visitors want to make more money, lose weight, find cheap flights, or start a blog?

Then you just need to create a helpful guide full of actionable strategies that helps them solve whatever their problem is.

I prefer eBooks or short guides but there are a lot of lead magnet ideas that you can choose from.

These can include things like:

  • Email courses
  • Checklists
  • Helpful resources
  • Tutorials
  • Swipe files
  • Download-ables

There are a lot of different things you can use for a lead magnet.

If you’re having trouble coming up with something check to see what your competition is doing or ask people in Facebook groups that you’re in what’s working for them.

Once you have a better idea of a lead magnet or opt-in you should use it’s time to go ahead and start working on it. I use Google Docs for all of my writing as well as keeping track of different ideas I have so I can refer to my content wherever I am.

When you’re done creating your lead magnet you can move on to the next step.

Step 4: Grow Your List!

growing your email list and getting subscribers

Now the fun part begins! It’s time to start promoting your lead magnet on your blog and getting subscribers.

In order to actually get someone’s email address you’re going to need to set up an opt-in form. You can easily do this in MailerLite by clicking on “Forms” on the menu bar.

Alternatively, any email marketing service that you use should have this option for creating forms.

On your form you want to request the name along with the email address of your visitor.

You might be wondering: where should you place these opt-in forms?

There are a lot of places that you can include opt-in forms on your blog.

Start by adding a form to your sidebar right underneath your bio or personal image. People’s eyes are naturally drawn to the sidebar and when they see the form they’re likely to sign up if they’re interested in your lead magnet.

Another great place to include these forms is in your blog posts. I recommend having a form somewhere in or right after the introduction. You’re also going to want to include one further down in the post and right after the conclusion.

There are plenty of other techniques you can try for getting more subscribers to sign up for your lead magnet but I won’t get into those right now.

Once you’ve included the opt-in form on your blog or website you can start to promote it on your different social media accounts. Don’t hesitate to add a link to your lead magnet in your Facebook group, Twitter page, or even in your YouTube channel description.

Wherever your audience visits you online is where you’re going to want to drop links to your lead magnet or add opt-in forms as a strategy for getting new subscribers.

Step 5: Emailing Your List

sending emails to your list

So let’s say somebody signed up for your list and they received your lead magnet or opt-in freebie. Now what do you do?

It’s at this point that you need to come up with an email workflow, or the different emails that you’re going to send your subscribers. One of the easiest things to do is start out with updates on your latest posts.

For a more personal approach you can send a welcome email along with a list of the different blogging tools that you’re currently using. These first few emails are a great place to include some affiliate links and generate some sales right away.

You can also send some emails that contain helpful guides, tutorials, a more in-depth look at the different blog posts you’ve written, or anything else your audience would want to hear more about.

Once you’ve sent some emails you can go ahead and send one that includes a link to your product or service if you have one for sale. If not, now is a great time to think about coming up with a product or service that you can offer to your audience.

Final Thoughts

So, that’s all there really is to it!

Setting up an email list doesn’t have to be hard and it’s something you need to do from day one after starting your blog.

Thankfully, it’s never too late to create an email list and now is the next best time to get it going.

Even at more than 2200 words this post has just scraped the surface of email marketing. I’ll be coming out with more helpful guides covering all aspects of list building so you’re going to want to subscribe down below to keep up-to-date for when those come out.

Do you have any questions about setting up your own list? Don’t hesitate to let me know down in the comments below or shoot me an email if you feel like it.

As always, thanks for reading and I’ll catch up with you guys later!

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  • Timothy Gagnon

    Pretty cool article. I had a plan to build a list to soft launch my website but I ran into problems with Lead Pages and AWeber so I wasn’t able to do it. But I just finished a free eBook and built an opt-in form – now I just need traffic!

    December 6, 2017 at 2:10 pm Reply
    • Stefan Alexander

      Thanks for checking it out Timothy! An ebook is definitely a great opt-in to have and you should definitely see some signups once you start getting more traffic. If you’re having trouble with traffic I recommend giving Facebook groups a try!

      December 6, 2017 at 9:42 pm Reply
  • Casie

    So helpful, Stefan! I’m just starting out, and there are a lot of buzz words that get thrown around with any explanation. This breaks it down nicely!

    December 6, 2017 at 2:23 pm Reply
    • Stefan Alexander

      Thanks Casie! Yep, there is a lot of content out there that really isn’t that helpful. Don’t hesitate to ask me any questions if there’s still something you need help with!

      December 6, 2017 at 9:41 pm Reply
  • Ashley

    SO helpful! Your expertise is amazing, thanks for all the great advice!

    December 6, 2017 at 9:19 pm Reply
    • Stefan Alexander

      Thanks Ashley! I hope it’s able to help you out.

      December 6, 2017 at 9:38 pm Reply
  • Maya Maceka


    What a great resource for bloggers who are looking to start an email list. Really in-depth and helpful.

    I use Mailerlite myself and can’t say enough good things about it. The platform is user-friendly, loaded with cool features and best of all, it’s totally free.

    Really hope you expand on this series. I’d love to learn more about creating enticing headlines and content upgrades that convert.

    Thanks for sharing with us! 🙂

    December 6, 2017 at 9:39 pm Reply
    • Stefan Alexander

      Thanks Maya!

      I am a huge fan of MailerLite and I definitely think it’s one of the best email marketing tools for beginners, especially if you’re on a budget.

      For sure I’ll be expanding on this series so just keep an eye out for some more helpful content in the future.

      December 6, 2017 at 9:46 pm Reply

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