How To Build an Email List From Scratch

By Fran Whitaker / a couple of years ago

Whenever a newbie hears someone say, "The money's in the list," it feels intimidating and exhilarating all at once. They want so badly to experience the joy of sending out a single email and seeing sales pour in, but they don't know how where start to build a mailing list. I mean, building an email list from scratch can be tough. But it doesn't have to be.

how to build an email list from scratch and How to build a mailing list from scratch, list building tools, how to create an email list, plus what is an email list

For most people who want to build online businesses, time slips away. They keep saying, "Someday I'll build a list". But, you know, someday never comes. That results in a struggle each time they have something to promote or release because they have to find buyers. 

When you build a mailing list, you have a built-in stable of interested customers and prospects – and they can convert for you, promote for you, and give you tips on what needs to be improved. Most importantly, for me, anyway, they can help you find ideas and start guiding you in ways you may not have thought of before.

If you're wondering what the benefits of email marketing are, let me answer that with a question. How would you sell your products if Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram all shut down?

You do not own social media, but you would own your mailing list. 

I'm not going to lie, emailing your list can be nerve-wracking. Every single time I email my list I get nervous (still) that no one will like what I have to say and everyone will unsubscribe. But then no one does, or I wake up to replies saying, "thank you", and I remember that my list has chosen me for a reason.

I always think that if you're nervous, it shows that you care. So, if you're worried about having to build an email list from scratch, let's get cracking!

How to build a mailing list from scratch

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What Constitutes a Great Offer to Build a Mailing List?

The value of the lead magnet/freebie is what will impress your audience. It needs to be something that your audience is searching for to help them with a problem. There are two ways you can present the offer.

You can do a series or give access to something right off the bat. With an email series, the recipient of the emails expects to hear from you daily or weekly. Such as, "Subscribe and Get a FREE Weekly Cooking Lesson Delivered to Your Inbox!"

A series can go on as long as you want it to – indefinitely – or for a set period, like a one-week series (which would deliver daily), or a 6-week series, which would deliver weekly for six weeks.

You can also promote your subscriber freebie as access to a free course. Or you can compile a PDF file, give them access to a podcast download, or send them a series of videos.

You can also give them the ability to sign up for a free membership area. Even limited membership access could be a perk, and if you have a paid area, you might find that giving them a sneak peek helps convert them into customers for you.

Before you create anything, look for topics that your niche needs. You can use the following strategies to search for ideas:

  • Search in niche forums.
  • Use a tool like
  • Get ideas from what your blog readers have asked you about in your comments section.
  • Look in niche magazine to see what's hot.
  • Use sites like Yahoo Answers to see what people are asking.
  • Look for competitive courses that are for sale, and create your own for FREE.
  • And of course, you can always just come right out and ask people what they need.

Set Up a Proper Autoresponder System To Build An Email List From Scratch

how to build an email list from scratch and How to build a mailing list from scratch

Setting up a sound email autoresponder system is the best way to build an email list from scratch.

It's important because it helps you build your email list right from the very beginning. Some people go the free route because they worry that their mailing list won't convert for them, and they want a return on their investment. 

The problem is, you eventually have to transfer your list to a paid model with more capabilities and no intrusive advertisements. If you plan on taking your list seriously, you might as well invest in it straight away.

Many marketers choose to use Aweber. This tool is affordable when you pay for it, but the first month has a nice $1 trial fee, and it's just $19 a month after that if you decide to continue with it.

I've tried tons of email autoresponder systems, and Aweber is the only one I've ever been genuinely comfortable using. I started paying for it even before I started The Happy Journals PLR Club because I was determined to make my business work. 

Aweber is also one of the preferred autoresponders because of the vast number of tutorials they provide, along with a simple, step-by-step walk-through with prompts when you're setting up your system.

I do love Aweber and would highly recommend it to anyone. However, I have just switched to ConvertKit a few weeks ago. I did this purely because it has slightly more sophisticated automation options and settings. 

Either way, if you're planning to create a mailing list and take it seriously, Aweber and Convertkit are the two list building tools I recommend.

The Squeeze page/Landing Page

Next, you'll want to have a squeeze page in place to build a mailing list. You can do this right on your home domain or something like LeadPages.

The squeeze page should have a beautiful graphic presentation. Everything should be above the fold so that no scrolling is necessary. You want to have one main headline and one or two sub-headlines on the page.

Directly across from the opt-in form, you can either have a list of bullet points or a built-in video that encourages people to sign up for your freebie. You want this to be short, yet create a sense of urgency about how they can't wait another day to get started.

The opt-in form shouldn't be complicated. It should match your site graphics and ask for a name and email address. If you start asking for phone numbers and more, you'll lose subscribers quickly.

You also want an opt-in on the main blog home page of your site. That way, if someone lands on, they'll see an opt-in form up in the sidebar above the fold of your website. 

If they click through or enter your site on a specific blog post or page, you also want them to see an opt-in form below each entry. This is perfect because if they're reading and scrolling, they may not remember to back up to the top of the page after they're finished.

Drive Traffic to Your Opt-in Form

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Twitter is one social marketing site that helps you build a mailing list quickly. It doesn't require much of an investment in time – and it's free. You have 280 characters to work with, so test your headlines to get people to click through and sign up.

Pinterest is also fantastic if you have images that make people want to click.

The bigger the list, and the more responsive it is, the more it will cost you. You don't want to throw money to the wind, so check out the list first and see whether it suits your needs.

You can even conduct live hangout sessions where you interact with your core audience online and allow them to ask you questions. This helps you build a reputation as a leader in your niche, and it makes people want to follow your links, so expose your squeeze page to this audience.

Facebook can work for you on both a free and paid basis. You can use a personal profile, a fan page or group page to promote your opt-in pages and offers. 

After posting them, decide whether or not you want to pay to have the post seen by more people in your target audience. Facebook has an excellent tracking system that shows you what kind of interaction your paid ad generated.

Blog comments work well, but only if you're a regular participant, not spamming your links, and you're mindful that you're in someone else's house, not on your own domain.

There are several ways of building an email list from scratch. My recommendation would be to give people as many opportunities to sign up to your list as possible. But if you can tell one or two methods simply are not working, don't keep plowing time into them. Your time is valuable

Best Practices for Building An Email List From Scratch

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As your list grows, you have to keep people subscribed. You don't want them leaving after just a day or two – or even a month or a year. You want them to be long-term subscribers. 

That means you have to "treat your list like gold," as so many successful marketers say year after year. And they're right! Consumers talk, and the way you treat them will come up in conversations around the web.

Different people have different ideas as to what annoys them or what they're looking to receive. Some people hold the frequency of communication to be one of the most critical issues.

Some don't like receiving daily emails. So for those people, you need to give them the option to sign up to a weekly digest option so that they can maintain interest, but keep their inbox at a manageable level.

For example, I don't mind getting daily emails, but I hate getting more than one a day. If someone emails 2-3 times a day, I will unsubscribe. So, I would never do this to my list.

Frequency can be whatever you want it to be. But, be aware, if you don't email often enough, your list will forget who you are and why you're contacting them, which can be a problem.

Try to find that delicate balance, which can be a couple of times a week, depending on your list and its purpose, in addition to what you promised them when they opted into your list initially.

Broadcast emails and follow up emails

There are two different kinds of emails you can send...

Broadcast emails are blasted out to your list(s) one time. That means if someone signs up a week from today, they won't ever get that email, so if there's something you want all of your subscribers to get, make sure you don't broadcast it.

Follow up emails are where you'll put your series emails. So if you promise a 7-day course to start an email list, you would create seven follow up emails that get drip-fed to your subscribers once a day for a week.

The problem with follow up emails is if you do a mix of those and broadcast emails. This can mean your subscriber hears from you more than once a day, and this can anger many of them and cause them to unsubscribe.

You should never email just to send something out. Email when you have something important to say, a notification about a sale, or something else they might need.

When it comes to your product promotions, you have to learn how to provide value and not come across as a spammer yourself. Even if they appreciated your first free giveaway, if you start spamming them with offers all the time, and providing very little actual value, you'll see hordes of subscribers leaving you for good.

Not only that, but they'll warn others to stay away. If someone mentions your name, they'll say, "That person spammed me all the time, so I unsubscribed." That's not a reputation you want to gain.

The key to working out how to build an email list from scratch is mostly about sharing value. But it's also about getting traffic to your list and treating them in a way that helps you retain your subscribers and get them to convert high for you when the time comes. 

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how to build an email list from scratch and How to build a mailing list from scratch
start an email list and create mailing lists, plus benefits of email marketing
list building tools, how to create a mailing list, plus what is an email list
list building tools, how to create a mailing list, plus what is an email list
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