The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Start & Grow Your Email List

Posted February 22, 2018 by Kendra in Growing Your Blog / 0 Comments

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You may be tired of hearing how important it is to grow your email list as a blogger. BUT, it is seriously SO important. That is why you keep hearing it! Don’t do what I did in the beginning, and ignore that advice. Your email list can honestly make or break the success of your blog, especially if you plan to monetize it.

You may be asking yourself why is it so important to grow your email list? Here is the thing, when someone subscribes to your email list, they are giving you permission to come into their inbox and talk to them. You have control over what you can put directly in front of their eyes. If you ask any bloggers that earn an income from their blog, I guarantee most will tell you that at least half of that income comes from their email list.

If someone is signing up to your list, they already like and trust you enough to do that. Now you can win them over even more by sending them awesome email filled with value. Next thing you know, when you launch your new course, or recommend a product you are affiliated with, they are much more likely to sign up or purchase than someone who is just following you on social media or passing by your blog.

I cannot recommend enough that you start your email list ASAP. It does not matter if you have 6 page views right now, all it takes it one pin to go viral and your page views to skyrocket! You do not want to miss out on that jump because you did not have your email marketing set up.

So now that I made my point about the importance of your email list, let me show you how to get started!


Step 1: How to build an email list

These are the steps I took to start and grow my email list from scratch.

You are going to want to install the plugin SumoMe and set it up with your desired type of subscription box popup. Install it and find the “Forms” section and then click “list builder”. You can do this with the free version of SumoMe, you do not need the paid version.

Next,  Sign up for a Convertkit account and create a list (you can get a free trial of Convertkit when you use my affiliate link). This is the site that you will use to create email campaigns and store all of your followers automatically. It is 100% worth the investment. If you invest in one thing for your blog, an email marketing platform is what I recommend.

There are free options out there as well such as Mail Chimp. I originally started out with MailChimp, which is free until you hit 2000 subscribers. When you’re a new blogger, that seems like a lot of subscribers, but trust me, if you take your blog seriously, and follow these steps, you will hit that in no time. That is exactly what happen to me! Then I either had to pay for MailChimp to be able to have more subscribers, or choose a different email marketing platform. MailChimp is okay but I didn’t love it, I didn’t find it very user friendly if I am being completely honest. I had heard GREAT things about Convertkit, so after some research, I decided to make the switch.

My recommendation is, start with Convertkit from the beginning because switching all your subscribers over + your email sequences, etc. is a GIANT pain in the ass.

Read more on Convertkit Here with my Step by Step Tutorial: The Beginners Guide to E-mail Marketing


Step 2: What to Send to Your Email List

So I am sure you have probably given your own email address out while browsing other blogs. What is it that made you give out your email address? Think about the sites where you did share your email address, what made you say “okay sure I will let this person into my inbox“?

One big tip is to offer them something of value. My very first opt-in box simply said “Join my Subscriber List to Stay Up to Date”, and that opt-in was not overly successful (like, at all). When I created a valuable free resource, and changed my opt-in to “Subscribe to my E-mail List and Get a Free 20 Page Workbook“, people were much quicker to sign up!

So what are some things you can send your email list? Well here are a few ideas:

  • A Welcome Series
  • A Free email course
  • A Free Resource
  • An Email Promoting a Product or Course
  • Your Newest Blog Post
  • A Weekly Tip
  • A Round Up E-mail (You can do your most popular posts, your favorite products, your favorite books, etc).
  • Survey or just Questions for Your Readers (Usually geared toward improving your blog in some way)
  • A Personal Story about you that your readers may relate to.
  • 10 Things Your Readers Might Not Know About You (When your readers get to know you better, they become more loyal and are more likely to share your blog, and invest in your products and courses).

Click here to subscribe


Step 3: Prep to Start Emailing Your List

Now that you know what to send, you can start emailing your list. Even if you only have 5 subscribers, do not let that stop you! Those 5 people are expecting to receive emails from you.

You do really want to take the time to set up a chain of emails that someone will get for the first 1-2 weeks after they sign up for your list. This is a great way to make a first impression. It is also the time when your subscriber will be the most engaged. This is when you win them over.

Check Out THIS POST all about creating that killer Welcome Email.

You are going to want to be consistent with sending emails. Try and aim for at LEAST twice a month to send a non-automated email to your list. If you can manage to do weekly, that is even better.

You can also be more specific and do every Tuesday, or the 15th of every month. Just try to plan ahead so you have success!

You can also have automated emails set up for different things. For example, if someone opts in to your free course, you could set it up so they automatically get emails promoting your paid course once they complete the free one. There is seriously SO many magical things you can do with ConvertKit to make it work for you on autopilot, which is one of the reasons I love it so much. It saves me so much time when I can spend a few hours on creating an email sequence, and then set it to do all the work for me.

Want to know how to create automations and sequences so you can email your list on auto pilot? I got you covered in this ConvertKit Tutorial 🙂 


Step 4: GROW Your Email List

Okay, now that you have all your email forms & sequences set up and ready to go, you really want to focus on GROWING that email list.

This is where those awesome freebies come in to play!  Freebies help you attracts your ideal customer and they also grow your email list quickly.

Below is a list of different types of opt-in ideas you can tailor to your readers and offer in exchange for their email address:

  • List of tips
  • How to video
  • Coupon
  • Short ebook
  • Checklist
  • Spreadsheets
  • Cheat sheet
  • Free stock images
  • Calendar
  • Planner
  • Printables
  • Work Sheets or Workbooks
  • A Free e-course
  • Access to an Exclusive Resources Library

A great first step is to add relevant opt-in freebies to 3-5 of your most popular posts. They are already getting traffic, so rather than just putting opt-in’s in your new posts, or on your homepage, utilize the posts that already have traffic. This will help you get subscribers right away.

Not only will opt-in freebies help you grow your e-mail list initially, but you can use them to your advantage in other big ways as well. You can get creative and tailor your opt-in’s for specific product automation sequences (also knows as Sales Funnels)

If you decide to go the route of creating your own products or courses, you can use FREE opt-ins to capture people’s emails who may be interested in your course/product, by creating a freebie that is similar, but just a smaller, free version. Their email then gets put into the Sales Funnel Sequence and emails promoting your paid course or product are strategically sent to that person, making it more likely for them to purchase!

A great example would be creating a Free Checklist for Starting a Blog. Someone who is interested in starting a blog would then provide their email in exchange for the Checklist. I am going to assume that person is obviously interested in starting a blog right?! Now, I would have it set up so that when that person opts-in to get their free checklist, their email goes to my pre-created Sales Funnel Promoting my new Course all about Starting a Blog! You are grabbing your ideal audience, and sending them relevant emails, and hopefully making sales, on auto pilot!!! All from one free checklist.

See, freebies are IMPORTANT! 🙂

You may find this post helpful as well: 10 Opt-in Ideas to Explode Your Email List


Step 5: Use Pinterest to Promote Your Freebies

Once you create awesome freebies, use Pinterest to promote them! For example, the Pinnable Graphic for this blog post included the title of the blog post, but also a little blurb that says “+ grab your free checklist.” See the example below:

6 Steps to Start & Grow Your Email List. An Awesome Guide I used to Start my Email List and Grow my Community!


When someone sees that they are getting a checklist, workbook, e-book, etc. they are more likely to click that pin.

You can also create Pinnable Graphics specifically for your freebie.


Step 6: Promote Your Freebies on Any Other Social Media Platforms You Have

I also use Instagram, so I will often promote freebies on there as well. I usually talk about them in my stories, and add a photo with a blurb about my freebie, making sure to let people know they can get the freebie by signing up through the link in your bio. It defiantly does not get me near the amount of subscribers I get from Pinterest, but even if I get 10 new subscribers, it is totally worth it!

You can also utilize Facebook, Twitter, etc. in the same way.

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So, those are the 6 steps I have taken to grow my email list quickly and effectively. Do you have any other tips that have helped you grow your list? Let me know in the comments below 🙂

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