How to Build an Email List

As entrepreneurs, one of the biggest pieces of advice we always hear is: “You HAVE to build an email list.” Here are the reasons why this advice is so widespread! 

But c’mon, easier said than done…right??

It can feel completely overwhelming to know where to start when it comes to building your email list. You aren’t alone! Through my own personal trial and error, plenty of experience with my clients, and thorough research, I’m here to break down my how-tos and tips when it comes to building an email list. Let’s dive in!

By the way…if you already have an email list and email marketing program, skip to Step 4 of this blog.

Step 1: Set up an account with email marketing software

There are a ton of great, affordable options out there. Many of my clients with small lists have started with Mailchimp, since it’s free for up to 2,000 subscribers. I’ve also seen success with Constant Contact, myEmma, and Ontraport. 

Personally, I use Flodesk and love it! It’s one flat annual rate, no matter how many subscribers you have, and the email templates are clean and beautiful. If you’re interested in checking out Flodesk, here is a code for 50% off of your first year. I am an affiliate so I receive a small commission if you join through this link. 

Step 2: Build an initial contact list

When I launched my email newsletter in 2021, I had about 100 contacts. These were all people who gave permission to hear from me, of course, and included clients, past clients, friends, and even family members. I bet you can come up with a list of at least 25-50 without too much thought!

Step 3: Create an opt-in link

Your email marketing program will have plenty of options for landing pages, website embeds, and simple links for people to join your email list. If you want your email newsletter sign-up to be embedded on your website (see the footer of my site), your website developer or DIY platform will have instructions for doing so. 

Remember…make it easy to sign up! Make sure that your email list signup is simple. My Flodesk landing page is clean and easy – it only asks for a name and email address. 

You also have the option to create a double opt-in – that’s where people receive an email that asks them to “confirm” in order to join your list – if you’re worried about fake email addresses on your list. Personally, I haven’t had an issue with this, but if you’re getting a lot of bots joining your list, consider adding a double opt-in for your subscribers. 

Step 4: Start advertising your email list!

Below are some ideas to get the word out about your new email newsletter list. 

  1. Write CTAs into your blogs and landing pages. Make sure you are including calls-to-action across your value-filled blogs and landing pages. Each CTA should direct people to a link where they can sign-up for your email list. The more accessible your CTAs are, the better! 

    When it comes to writing your CTAs, get creative! Show your personality and brand through unique and specific CTAs to hook your audience. Here are some examples that I would use for my website/blogs: 

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    Get more great content like this in your inbox every other week by joining my email list. 

  2. Utilize thoughtful pop-ups. Pop-ups often get a bad rep. But when used thoughtfully, they are proven to be effective and non-intrusive. Try to incorporate timed pop-up ads for the users that are spending more time on your page, and also make sure to keep the pop-up relative to the content on the current page they are visiting. Again your website developer or DIY platform will have instructions to walk you through creating pop-ups. 
  3. Share your newsletter sign-up on social media. Make sure to pitch your newsletter through your social media platforms – your posts and your bio. A gentle reminder to your current audience that you have a newsletter can go a long way! 
  4. Link your newsletter sign-up in your email signature. You can also include a link to your newsletter in your email signature; this is a great way to engage someone that you are already in touch with, personally. 
  5. Build more landing pages. Individual and personalized landing pages will reach and appeal to a much wider target audience. Include relative CTAs on each landing page to redirect your audience towards your email list! 
  6. Provide value, value, value. Your audience is seeking authentic value in anything they opt to consume online…and this includes your newsletter! Be sure to spell out exactly WHAT your newsletter includes and WHY the user would benefit from signing up. 
  7. Create and give out freebies! When it comes to providing your audience with value, it’s hard to beat freebies. These can be items like PDF downloads, quizzes, or masterclasses that are packed with information and value, offered exclusively to those who give you their email address. Once they’ve opted in, you can send them further emails. 
  8. Get engaging! Online quizzes are always fun! You can create engaging quizzes on your site that align with your brand and will redirect or lead the user to sign up for your newsletter in order to receive their results.  
  9. Lean into your launch. Have a new product or service in the pipeline? A launch is an exciting time for a business that draws the attention of an audience. You can entice your users to sign up for your email list with exclusive presale access or discounts!

As your email list grows, the next step to reeling in your audience is with an eye-catching subject line to increase your email open rate. I have your subject lines covered with a free download of 51 proven attention-grabbing subject lines! These tried-and-true subject lines will put your email in the spotlight in the inbox. Get your free download here

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention this…Emily Writes puts out a new email newsletter every two weeks. It includes the latest blog alongside valuable resources to serve my audience of business owners. Join right here!