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email list, email list building, how to grow an email list, how to build an email list

How I Grew My Email List to 50,000+ in Just 3 Months

Here's how to build an email list quickly, with some tips for email list building & what I'd do differently. Find out how to grow your blog!

pst! – I do not accept money for my editorial content or posts. All opinions are my own and are not influenced by third parties. This post may contain affiliate links that at no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission. This helps keep the blog running!

Pinterest Marketing

Healthy email lists are critical to your success! I’m in the business of providing information and helping people grow, and the only real way for me to do that effectively is by email. My email list is my number one avenue to sell online, because my entire business is there. If you’re overwhelmed with what to do and how to grow your business, just know email list building doesn’t have to be complicated.

I don’t have a brick and mortar store to sell classes and information out of, so my email list is like my golden ticket to communicate with my class subscribers and help them even further.

I’m going to be straightforward here. There are no shortcuts to developing an email list. Sure, you can do it fast – but it doesn’t happen overnight, and you’re going to need to put in some effort here. I know, it’s tempting to “buy a list” of people but I’m going to caution you against doing that because you know what? It’s probably not your targeted audience anyway.

How to Build an Email List

If you’re wondering about how to build an email list, you’re in the right place. The two basic things you need are an uncomplicated email subscription service that is focused on delivering a high-quality visual experience, and some incredible lead magnets. Couple the two together, along with free marketing on Pinterest, and you’ll be set to go!

Create a Targeted Freebie

In early 2017, I offered a free webinar to learn about repurposing content into different forms of materials for social media and creating spins off of already-published content. It was a huge success! What I had to focus on though was what my targeted audience was. When I first started discussing who would benefit from repurposing content, I thought to myself, “Everyone!”. But I dug deeper and realized, hey, not everyone is blogging for a living or even in the business of writing or marketing. So I had to really hone in on who that audience really was. A responsive and engaged list only comes from people who are actually interested in what you have to offer. So you’ll want to focus on complete targeting from all angles in your demographic selection.

Yes, in full disclosure, I took out Facebook ads to distribute my class information, and yes, I spent some money. But what I got out of it? Super results.

But the biggest draw was Pinterest. Those that were interested in productivity and organization, demographic-wise, were the most interested. 

Collect Information

I collect a first name and email address generally. Right now I have everything so streamlined on my site that my blog signups go directly to my email list distribution service, along with my class sign-ups. That’s really all the information you need. The rest you can derive from transactions when you download everything into your QuickBooks or other financial software as necessary.

Hint – use Flodesk. It’s made for creators.

You can get as easy as Flodesk (which I love and switched to after being with another provider since 2007) as it’s built for creators in mind, is relatively inexpensive, and is focused on the reader experience through design. They really did a great job with it.

Manage Your Email List

Keeping a clean list is necessary in my opinion. I don’t keep non-readers on my list for reporting and financial purposes. When they sign up they get a ton of free stuff but if they’re not opening my emails there’s really no point, right? And sometimes it’s not about you… it’s about their time and whether or not they’re in the right mindset or point in life to receive your information.

Improve Subject Lines

The subject lines of your email messages should be clear, short and to the point. Use keywords, but don’t try to trick the recipient. You want the subject line to be clear about what’s inside and that they don’t want to miss it.

Email list building is partly not just getting people to sign up, but retaining them on your list, as well. Do both beautifully and you’ll have a growing list in no time. (Pst – it’s all the unsubscribes that will weigh you down, so always deliver user-focused emails.)

In the Email Marketing resource library there is a ton of subject headlines available to help you out. You’ll need to register for account first to get in. Once you’re in the resource library there are a few downloads like content ideas, email header ideas, and subject lines. They’re super helpful and what I use with my own list, too.

Build Urgency

Your email subject lines and messages should express urgency to your subscribers. A call-to-action is how I get high open rates. Why should they open your email?

What’s the urgency? Is there a pending end date? Do they need to know this information right away before everyone else? Do they need to do something different that will impact their business?

I have seen a lot of ‘before I start charging for it’ type posts on Facebook lately, and this is actually a good way to see how the inside of your email funnel is performing. It’s also a smart tactic because people feel like they’re getting something of high value and might feel more inclined to make a purchase.

Use Current Events

Fun or even seldom-recognized national holidays are a blogger’s dream. They’re fun, you can develop themes around them, and hold contests. I used this a lot to build one of my business webinars. I kept it more professional but it was really fun to see what kind of office humor people came up with for ice cream flavor titles for National Ice Cream Day.

Engage with Your Subscribers

It took me a while to remember that I wasn’t just a broadcaster in broadcast mode. People can respond to your emails, too. And as a blogger, it’s always fun when they comment or reply back to your emails, especially when you ask them a question and ask them for their opinion. Engaging allowed me to let them know I’m an actual human and allowed me to establish trust. From that, my webinars got shared and my free resources went viral.

Send Surveys and Polls to Your Email List

Polls and surveys have allowed me to collect information along the way, too. A simple “enter your email to cast your vote” works amazing. Me, I love to see the results of the polls and share them with my class audience. Super fun!

You can also encourage poll-related activity on your Twitter account, and then invite people over to your email list to discover the write-up of your results. It’s a nice way to use both the Twitter poll feature along with growing your email list at the same time.

Cross Promote

Always, always inform your audience about your other stronger social media channels that they can use to help themselves. Use those channels and create “Facebook only” or “Twitter only” redemptions or promotions. This creates exclusivity to get people on the channels you most want them to interact with.

Most importantly, share. Give them your best stuff. Be authentic and share your struggles like I have in the past and what got you to the point you are at.

Parting Thoughts

Email list building doesn’t happen overnight. It can take as long as several years to grow. Sometimes you get lucky, offer something people are truly interested in, and can grow your list fast. I’ve experienced both scenarios in the past, and let me tell you, there are pros and cons of both fast and slow.

However you decide to grow, know you’re going to make some mistakes sometimes, and you’ll learn a great deal of teachable moments as you see what works best for you and your audience.


Also published on Medium.

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About Kerrie Legend

She is a writer, graphic designer, and Pinterest nerd. BFA in Graphic Design, a BS in Marketing, and minored in computer science, Spanish, and Business Administration. Classical pianist. Prolific and bestselling author of Pinterest Marketing, and boundary-pushing template creator. Goat wrangler and mommy to six adorable boys.

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