Hey friends! Today we are going to delve into an important, but somewhat touchy topic for bloggers. Many bloggers I talk to have not even thought about starting an email list, never mind growing one. I understand- as a blogger, there is sooo much to do. To be honest, I had no idea how much work was actually involved when running a blog. I knew there would be writing involved, obviously, and social media…but that was about where my knowledge ended.
So, I threw myself into it and quickly learned as much as I could. I am a researcher by nature, so compiling information comes pretty easily for me, and it was actually enjoyable. Then, YOU get the blessing of me sharing it with you! Win, win.
Anyway…I realized early on that an email list was important if I wanted to earn an income from my blog. And let’s get real – as much as I truly love writing and sharing what I have to say with you all, I also want to contribute to my family’s income and ultimately bring my husband home from work. I know, huge goal…but I wholeheartedly believe that will happen in the not too distant future. Soooo….I set about building my email list.
I have gained a little over 1200 email subscribers in the first 4 months of starting my list, and now have over 4K subscribers.
The best part is, I have enjoyed doing it! It hasn’t been nearly as hard as I thought it would be and the benefits far outweigh the time invested. I am building my community…and community is everything. I can connect with the women on my email list in a way that I can’t do on my blog. Many of them write back to me and we end up chatting back and forth through email.
Why Build an Email List
If you intend to monetize your blog and earn an income, you want an email list. It is how you communicate with your readers on a different level, how you can introduce your products and offerings, how you can gain feedback from your readers and so much more. Your email list is the only thing you truly own. Your social media following could disappear in an instant - then where would your business be? Click To Tweet Start your email list NOW, not later. Even if you are a brand new blogger, start your list now. Yes, set up an email list even before you have traffic coming to your blog! WHY? Because you don’t want to miss all that traffic when you do have it. Think about it, you are spending so much time trying to drive traffic to your site. But what do you do with it? If you had an email list and some opt-ins for those people coming to your site, you would actually benefit on a level other than pageviews.
How to Start an Email List
Ok, I am not going to get too technical in this post. For now, know that you need an Email Marketing Provider. Many people use MailChimp as it is free until a certain number of subscribers. To be completely honest, I did sign up for MailChimp when I started and could not figure it out for anything. And I am not exactly technically challenged. So, you can look into it and see for yourself, but I had a hard time with it. There are many tutorials out there if you choose to go with MailChimp.
I ultimately chose to go with MailerLite and have been extremely happy with them. They are free until 1000 subscribers, but even after that their prices are so reasonable. In full disclosure, I did switch to Convertkit for a little while, because soooo many bloggers love them. It is a great company and Convertkit has so many great features, but it can be pricey and there is a steep learning curve. I chose to go back to MailerLite pretty quickly and have no plans of switching. If you are curious about why I chose MailerLite over other popular providers, read this post HERE.
Once you decided on a provider, you’ll want to create some opt-ins for your blog. Opt-ins are just what they sound like – something that entices your reader to “opt-in” to you email list. There are so many things you can use as opt-ins in your blog posts. I have multiple opt-ins on my blog and I will show you some of them here. Again, I use Mailerlite and most of these, if not all, are available webform options in MailerLite. I also created a CHEATSHEET for you with a list of things you can do or use to grow your email list. Grab that right now:
Here are some opt-ins I have on my site that have worked incredibly well:
1. FREE PRINTABLES – who doesn’t love printables? Think about what you can create for your audience and offer it in your popular posts. Make it relate to that post, of course. Don’t just throw something in there just to do it. Here is one of mine- this will take you to that post where you can see how it works:
2. RESOURCE LIBRARY – if you are someone who likes creating printables, you could offer a whole Resource Library for free on your blog. This is essentially a password protected page on your site where you upload all your free printables for those who opt-in to your library. I created a “button” using PicMonkey and then uploaded that into MailerLite. When you click this button, it takes you to a Landing Page I also made in MailerLite, which gives you access to the free library. Go ahead, try it!
3. PRIVATE COMMUNITY – you can create an opt-in to give your readers a chance to join your private community. I have two private communities on Facebook where people need to sign up to join. One is for bloggers and one is for moms, wives, and homemakers. Here is a look at my opt-in for my private blogger community, Blogging with Heart. This is just a webform I created and then embedded into my post. You can see how it looks in my post HERE. Feel free to join the group too, we would love to have you!
4. FREE EMAIL COURSE– this is one of my most popular ways to grow my email list. It has worked incredibly well, and I have to say it as been my favorite way. I have created a free 5 day course for moms and wives and have been so blessed my the feedback I have received from it. This is also where that other private community comes in, the one for moms and wives. I have a “button” that I place in some of my posts and I have a landing page for the course. You can see the landing page by clicking HERE and the button below. Both take you to the landing page.
5. FREE CHALLENGE – this is along the same idea as a free course, just worded differently. You can have a longer challenge, or a more immediate challenge depending on your end goal. I have a free 5 day Goal Setting Challenge called Plan to Thrive that you can see in this post HERE. You’ll notice it takes you to another landing page to sign up for that challenge. Landing pages convert extremely well!
6. Pop Up – Did you notice the pop up when you visited my site? That is what I am talking about here. And yes, I know they tend to be annoying. Because of that, I held off initially on adding a pop up to my site. However, because I know many of my readers are moms, wives, or homemakers, I wanted a way to have them join my list in a way that is just for community, and not in exchange for anything. If you know that the majority of your audience would appreciate getting on your email list this way, try it and see how it works for you. I have been pleasantly surprised to find out that about one third of my subscribers come from this pop up. That is not something to shy away from!
I have a few more opt-ins on my blog, but these are the ones I use most often. You need to find what works for you and your readers. I know it can seem overwhelming, but you will get the hang of it quicker than you think. Honestly.
If I went into much more detail, this post would be incredibly long, so I did create a CHEATSHEET for you that you can download and print out. See how I did that??? But seriously, use this cheatsheet to remember the steps you need to take to start your list. I have also included a list of opt-in ideas for you to think about and decide which ones will best fit with your site.
Create multiple options for people to join your list! Have a tightly-related opt-in offer for every bit of content on your site. This way, you’ll never miss an opportunity to gain an extra subscriber. Have a mix of landing pages, buttons, webforms…after a little while, you will start to notice what works best for you. Choose a great, enticing offer that will appeal to the kind of reader you are trying to attract. Think long term and build your community!
I would LOVE to see what you create, so please reach out and let me know! You can comment on this post, email me anytime, or join Blogging with Heart and connect with me there. Now go LAUNCH YOUR LIST!
Sarah Jean AlthouseJanuary 17, 2017 at 2:03 pm
I really need to set up some sort of challenge or course or freebie to get my email numbers up!
terrynJanuary 17, 2017 at 7:24 pm
It is a great way to grow your list, my favorite!
AilieJanuary 17, 2017 at 3:25 pm
Terryn, thanks for this post. I have been working on my free incentives to grow my email list. I haven’t got buttons yet but have been trying to encourage readers to subscribe for my current opt-in. I’m finding themes for months help with this although SEO has thrown a spanner in that work. I use mailchimp at the moment and although my email list isn’t booming it has grown over the past few months. I really enjoyed reading your advise and tips. Can’t wait to get the cheat sheet. I’m also wanting to do a Free resource library – in fact, i have the page but haven’t protected it with a password yet – more food for thought and research there 🙂
Thanks again for a great post
terrynJanuary 17, 2017 at 7:25 pm
Sounds like you are on the right track, Ailie! You have a lot of great ideas.
ShiraJanuary 17, 2017 at 4:40 pm
These tips are really helpful! I started on mailchimp a few weeks ago but maybe I need to try MailerLite!
terrynJanuary 17, 2017 at 7:24 pm
If Mailchimp is working for you, then great! I say go with what works. I couldn’t figure it out 🙂
HannahJanuary 17, 2017 at 4:47 pm
Hey, I just signed up for mailer lite and I’m super excited about it. Congrats on your growing email list! I have a couple of questions for you. How to do you organize all the email addresses once people subscribe? Do you have a master list where you send info to the entire list or do you always keep them segmented according to which opt in they signed up for? And how do you create a password protected page for your printables, do you put all the opt ins on that page? Sorry, this is probably enough questions for you to write another blog post on haha
terrynJanuary 17, 2017 at 7:28 pm
Hannah…Lol. Maybe I should write another post 😉 Ok, organizing your subscribers is very easy. I do have a list for each opt-in. After they have gone through that particular optin, like a free course, I do move them over to the “larger” list. This may be a list for bloggers or it might be a list for moms who need encouragement. As far as creating a password protected page, I just do that on my site. My theme allows that, you may need a plugin if not. I put almost all of my printables in the resource library after a little while of using them as exclusive optins. Hope that helps! Congrats on getting started!
RoseJanuary 17, 2017 at 9:53 pm
I really appreciate your insight on building an email list! It has not been a priority for me thus far, but I know I need to work on it in the future.
HannahJanuary 18, 2017 at 4:39 pm
Thanks Terryn, that is helpful 🙂 I already have 70 some subscribers but I’ve bounced around from one platform to another, I’m excited to use mailer lite since it seems highly recommended 🙂
Brittany FerrellJanuary 17, 2017 at 10:28 pm
This is really helpful! I get the “why”, but man, have I struggled with the “how”! You make it sound easy and like something I can do…I just need to do it!
LizJanuary 17, 2017 at 10:35 pm
Nice insights! I have set up an email list, but I’m not doing anything for it other than make sure the text for the weekly email looks good. It’s on my list of things to grow this year, but I was having a tough time brainstorming printables I’d want to do for opt-ins. I like the idea of doing a challenge sign-up though since I’m always doing challenges on my blog! 🙂
LucyJanuary 18, 2017 at 7:42 am
Brilliant! I’ve bookmarked this and will come back and learn more over the weekend. Thank you!!!
Amber WernerJanuary 18, 2017 at 8:11 am
I need to do this!! I’ve been putting off creating an email list because I didn’t even know where to start, but this is super helpful and I can’t wait to do this.
Jessi JoachimJanuary 18, 2017 at 8:18 am
Im trying to work on my e-mail list. Actually the most recent post I put up has an opt in. Hopefully it works like I want it to and people sign up for it.
BethJanuary 18, 2017 at 8:30 am
I love the idea of printables and know that I need to get on this. – What software do you use to make them? Also, you have got me thinking about how I can offer an online workshop. Thank you for some great tips!
terrynJanuary 18, 2017 at 10:06 am
You are very welcome, Beth! For my printables, I use a mix of Word, Excel, Canva and PicMonkey. I’m playing with InDesign now too.
AbbeyJanuary 18, 2017 at 9:39 am
This whole post is fantastic! Thank you for all the different examples of opt-ins, instead of just saying, “Hey, you should have one!” 😉
terrynJanuary 18, 2017 at 10:06 am
Aww, glad you found it helpful Abbey!
tiffany sarmientoJanuary 18, 2017 at 9:39 am
I’ve always wondered about the email opt ins that I see on other’s blogs and how they worked. This was helpful. I guess it’s time for me to start building a list – thank you!
terrynJanuary 18, 2017 at 10:07 am
Good luck with it, Tiffany! Happy to help!
LaurenJanuary 18, 2017 at 10:16 am
Seriously you’re awesome for including options when it comes to opt-ins! so many bloggers recommend it, however it can be hard to find a way to implement an opt-in. Thanks for sharing!
GabrielleJanuary 18, 2017 at 11:25 am
this is such a great article! This was one of my goals for 2017, so I am totally bookmarking your article to come back too 🙂
AmberJanuary 18, 2017 at 11:46 am
Ah man! I don’t focus much on my mailing list….just let them stream in at only like 1 a day. I need something to start am ping up my list. Now you have me thinking!
KateJanuary 18, 2017 at 12:01 pm
Thanks for the suggestions! Honestly, this is overwhelming. Just like you said, I had no idea how much time and energy would go into creating and trying to grow a blog!
Elizabeth - CrazyBusyHappyLifeJanuary 18, 2017 at 12:10 pm
All good suggestions. I’d be interested in learning more about why you went back to MailerLite after ConvertKit. I swtiched to CK from MailChimp and it has been nothing but headache. I’m afraid to switch again as I’ve just gotten everything semi straightened out… but I’m still not really happy with CK. Looking forward to that post. 🙂
Arushi GargJanuary 18, 2017 at 12:24 pm
This is a great idea. I haven’t started an email list yet . I think I will. I am not consistent with blogging and don’t want to rush it. But you have great suggestion will surely do it this year.
SusanJanuary 18, 2017 at 12:29 pm
I loved your suggestions! I’m also glad to hear that I’m not the only one who didn’t find MailChimp intuitive! I’ll have to check out Mailerlite! Thanks for the motivation!
SophiaJanuary 18, 2017 at 1:13 pm
Man I wish I had as many email subs as you. Mine is growing very slowly, but hopefully I can get in the thousands. Or even hundreds at this point.
Brittany from The Purple TruthsJanuary 18, 2017 at 1:26 pm
Thanks for this post! Recently, I started blogging again. My goal is to create my blog into a positive brand. Building an email list is a huge adjustment for me. Your information has given me some great insight on how to grow my email list and influence individuals to opt-in for my newsletter.
Kristine-Bites of FlavorJanuary 18, 2017 at 1:52 pm
These are such great tips! I am hoping to grow my subscription list this year so these times will come in handy for me!
Jessica Bradshaw (@loveyoumoretoo)January 18, 2017 at 1:55 pm
I love this post! I really need to work on building my email list! Thanks for all of the great ideas
Rachel LynnJanuary 18, 2017 at 2:02 pm
I’m super excited for February because I’m starting my first challenge! It’s something I’ve been looking into for a while, but never committed to. Hopefully this will give me an opportunity to grow my email list!
JeeYoungJanuary 18, 2017 at 2:21 pm
I really need to focus on this! I have a small list, but haven’t done anything proactive!
Tara BerriesJanuary 18, 2017 at 5:09 pm
Omg I have had an email subscription since the summer but no one has signed up! How did you get those subscribers?
terrynJanuary 20, 2017 at 8:11 am
Hi Tara 🙂 I outlined quite a few ways I got subscribers in the post- using the different opt ins I have. Of course, I use social media to promote my courses and printables too. The key is finding an opt-in that really appeals to your readers, not just putting one up there. Find out what your readers want and serve them. Maybe do a survey? Use Google Analytics to find your most popular posts and create an opt-in around those.
HannaJanuary 18, 2017 at 5:58 pm
This info is AWESOME! I signed up for the cheat sheet and will be implementing it soon! Thanks so much!
AmandaJanuary 18, 2017 at 6:01 pm
I just created an opt in. I’m hoping it can help me get more subscribers, but I think I need try some of these other ideas. great list.
BeckyJanuary 18, 2017 at 6:08 pm
1200 in just 4 months?! That’s fantastic! I just implemented segmented lists for each of the 3 niches I write about, so I’m hoping that will help. Love these suggestions! Thank you!
terrynJanuary 20, 2017 at 8:09 am
You are so welcome, Becky. Thank you 🙂
DanielleJanuary 18, 2017 at 9:01 pm
Ok well I need to re-read this and take notes! And look at some of your courses!! Thanks for this, I just started thinking about growing my list.
Kristin CookJanuary 19, 2017 at 7:15 am
I really appreciate this post, Terryn! I FINALLY launched my free 3-day email devotional at the beginning of the year and my goal is to do another, more in depth freebie devo soon. I also use Mailerlite and love them!
terrynJanuary 20, 2017 at 8:08 am
I saw that, it looks fantastic Kristin!
JazzJanuary 19, 2017 at 12:28 pm
Pinning this because I definitely need to work on building my list!
Cindy MageeJanuary 19, 2017 at 9:56 pm
Visiting from Bloggers Get Social. LOVE these ideas!!! And signed up. 🙂 Thanks for all this info!
terrynJanuary 20, 2017 at 8:06 am
Hey Cindy, thanks for visiting! I’m glad it helped you!
Nicole ReidJanuary 20, 2017 at 12:49 am
I love that you have a straightforward worksheet and I look forward to using it!
Thank you so much!
terrynJanuary 20, 2017 at 8:06 am
You are welcome, Nicole!
VeronikaJanuary 20, 2017 at 7:16 am
Building an email list is something I really want to do but because I still don’t have an income from my blog, I really don’t want to pay like $25/month for PO box :/
terrynJanuary 20, 2017 at 8:05 am
I understand that, Veronika. I am sure you know you could use your own address. But, some people go in with a few others bloggers and split the cost of one PO Box.
RebekahJanuary 20, 2017 at 8:09 am
I’ve been thinking about how I rly need to look into doing an email list so this was helpful, thanks!!!
AmberJanuary 20, 2017 at 8:41 am
Love this post, but my trouble is always coming up with IDEAS for freebies. Like what kind of challenge? What kind of printable? I would love to see a post on how to create great freebies – it would be so helpful! I’m hoping to grow my email list ASAP. Thanks for the tips!
Harmony, Momma To GoJanuary 24, 2017 at 8:00 am
I just pinned for later. Doing this is on my to do list!
SandiJanuary 24, 2017 at 9:05 am
I cannot thank you enough for this post – exactly what a new blogger like me needs! I cannot wait to use some of these tips to help grow my list!
terrynJanuary 24, 2017 at 1:03 pm
Aww, I’m so glad this helped you Sandi!
Jessi JoachimJanuary 24, 2017 at 12:28 pm
I am working on my email list. It is finally growing. Slowly, but growing.
AnnJanuary 24, 2017 at 12:36 pm
I am also using Mailerlite and love it! I love all of your ideas on this post, but the part I struggle with the most is how to implement it? I’m not sure how to do it. I want to have free printables as an opt-in incentive, but have no idea how to go about that. I will have to do more research. 🙂 Right now I just have one regular email list of subscribers I send out a monthly newsletter to outlining the posts for the month and other tidbits.
terrynJanuary 24, 2017 at 1:04 pm
Hi Ann! What part are you struggling with? For printables, I create them and upload them as a pdf on my site. Then, I normally link to them in my email, after people have signed up through the opt-in. Does that make sense?
Brandi MichelJanuary 24, 2017 at 6:14 pm
This is a very encouraging post with great information! My goal is to grow my list to 1k by the end of this year, so 4 months is exciting. 🙂 I have quite a few opt-ins on my site but still haven’t gotten any of them to take off a whole lot yet. I’m continuing to experiment and tweak until I find what works. Getting visitors to my site to even know my opt-ins and posts exist is high on my priority list right under creating awesome content. Thanks for the awesome post!
KrystenJanuary 24, 2017 at 7:49 pm
i feel like I always ignore my email list even though I need to spend more time on it! Thank you for showing me how to do it and how to get organized.
Bridget @ Antics of a Nutty HikerJanuary 25, 2017 at 7:46 am
This is how I started my email list. I was already giving away a free printable (and had been for a while). I moved it to an email list instead. The first day I had 20 subscribers! Could you imagine if I had been doing that for the 2 years that I had it up on my site!?
JazzJanuary 25, 2017 at 9:19 am
This is a great post and has me thinking (yet again) about what my opt in could be. I’m not selling any products. I currently use Mail Chimp and haven’t had any issues.
ShannonJanuary 25, 2017 at 1:29 pm
These are great tips for when I’m ready to start one! Saving this!
ShikhaJanuary 25, 2017 at 8:55 pm
Very informative! I am a brand new blogger ,so I am definitely saving this, and coming back to read more:)
By the way, I tried to click on the Conquer your bundle image on your right sidebar,and it didnt go anywhere. Thought you might want to know.
lesley sullivanJanuary 26, 2017 at 8:11 pm
Thank you so much for sharing! I go back and fourth about creating a mailing list, but haven’t yet plunged in.
GretchenFebruary 6, 2017 at 11:00 pm
Ahh!! Definerly need to start ASAP! When you look at it as a whole it seems pretty scary and a big undertaking.
GretchenFebruary 6, 2017 at 11:05 pm
Mozie @ BQPLRJuly 5, 2019 at 9:14 pm
Thanks for this awesome post. I’m currently with Aweber but I feel their prices are too much.
I see you mentioned you switched to Convertkit, the issue I have with convertkit is the monthly cost is even more than Aweber. I wish there was a cheaper solution for small businesses.
Also thank you for the ideas for list building magnets. I like the printables and challenges.
Will give it a try and see if it helps conversions. I currently use video courses and reports.
Keep us the great work. Love your content 🙂