5 Quick Strategies to Grow Your Email List When You’re Just Getting Started

When you’re first starting out, trying to grow your email list can be intimidating. Sure, you know it’s important if you want to monetize your newsletter list, but how can you get started in a way that isn’t discouraging and actually creates results?

What you need is a few quick wins that will help you create the momentum you need for the long process of growing your list to 10,000 or more subscribers.

Luckily, those are exactly the kinds of strategies I’m sharing with you today. Let’s jump right in.

Strategy 1: Create Content Upgrades

The first step to grow your email list is to give your readers a reason to sign up. After all, when’s the last time you joined an email list for no reason?

That’s what I thought.

To give readers a reason to sign up for your email list, you simply need to create content upgrades. Content upgrades, sometimes also called lead magnets, are free downloads that you offer in exchange for an email address.

For instance, if you’re writing about the best way to create a budget, you might include a spreadsheet download that makes it easier to implement your tips. If your blog post is teaching a process, try adding a checklist to remind readers how to do it later.

Content calendar software CoSchedule added a bonus infographic based on a blog post, which readers can download in exchange for an email address. They even offer a sneak peek of the image to entice signups.

Use content upgrades to grow your email list, like Coschedule did in this example.

Your content upgrades can be quick and easy to create—you don’t need to write an entire new ebook for every post you write.

When you’re getting started, create content upgrades for your most popular existing blog posts, and make it your goal to create new content upgrades for new posts.

Strategy 2: Add Sign Ups to Your Website

Once you’ve created some awesome content upgrades, you need to make it easy for readers to find them.

You should have at least one sign up opportunity (if not more) on every page of your site. Start by adding an opt-in box in your header and sidebar, on your homepage, and in the footer of your site.

Marketing guru Melyssa Griffin has a big opt-in opportunity that greets you as soon as you land on her homepage.

Add opt-in opportunities to your site to grow your email list, like Melyssa Griffin did in this example.

She does a great job of specifying what you get in exchange for opting in (a library of free resources) and who she’s targeting with her offer (online entrepreneurs).

From there, you can experiment with options like pop ups based on scrolling, welcome mats, and header bars. Try adding these options gradually so you don’t annoy readers, and always ensure that pop-ups are turned off on mobile, or it could hurt your ranking in Google.

Since, according to Sumo, readers are only making it through about 25 percent of your blog posts, you also need to include a sign-up opportunity within your blog post, that readers don’t have to make it to the end to see.

Add a click-to-opt-in button within your blog posts with a tool like List Builder from Sumo, or Leadboxes from Leadpages. Mention your content upgrade for that post and give readers an opportunity to sign up right away.

Strategy 3: Ask Your Contacts

One of the things people forget about when they’re trying to build an email list is that they actually already know people. Believe it or not, I’d be willing to bet that you have friends who are interested in the topic you’re writing about.

These are the people that Bryan Harris of VideoFruit calls “eager sneezers.”

They’re people you know who might be interested in what you have to say. Plus, not only will they get something out of your newsletter—they’re also the type of people who will tell their friends about it.

Tap into your existing network and ask people if they’d be interested in joining your list. Ask your friends and family, people you interact with on Twitter, or your LinkedIn connections.

It can be as easy as sending a text or email letting them know what you’re working on and asking if they’d be interested in getting updates about it.

You’d be surprised how many people you already know would be happy to join your list if you just put yourself out there and ask them.

Strategy 4: Host a Giveaway

Once you’ve optimized your site and beefed up your list with people you know, you can try running a giveaway to help grow your email list.

Start by thinking of a product that your ideal reader would love. While you might be able to get more opt-ins by offering a universally appealing product, chances are, most of those subscribers will unsubscribe quickly after you announce a winner.

Think of a product that fits within your niche, and create a contest around it. You can opt to buy it yourself, or negotiate with retailers to get it for free in exchange for exposure for their brand.

Decide on a deadline and create a landing page where you can collect email sign ups in exchange for an entry in your contest. You can use an app like Gleam to run your giveaway, or you can track sign-ups from your landing page in your email service provider.

Share your giveaway widely across your social media platforms, and don’t forget to tell your existing list about it—they deserve a chance to win, too. If you have a partner brand for your giveaway, ask them to share it with their audience as well.

The more widely you can share your giveaway, the more subscribers you will gain.

Strategy 5: Run a Referral Campaign

Now that your list is growing through organic opt-ins as well as your own network, you can try a referral campaign. Imagine the growth you’d be able to see if everyone on your list got just one friend to sign up—your list would double in size!

There are a few ways to go about running a referral campaign. The easiest is just to add a note to the end of your newsletter asking people to forward it along to someone they think might like it.

While you might not see massive immediate results, if you’ve packed your list with friends and family, it could pay off.

Another strategy is to offer an incentive to refer friends. This is how the massively popular newsletter The Skimm grew its following.

Use a referral campaign to grow your email list, like the Skimm did in this example.

When you sign up 10 friends through your link, you earn the title of “Skimm’bassador” and get free swag and an opportunity to contribute ideas and feedback to the newsletter.

Don’t know what incentive to offer? Get creative—you could offer a free product, a plug to your list, swag you’ve had made, or a seat on an advisory council that provides feedback. Use an app like Ambassador or Mention Me to keep track of who’s referring who.

You can also combine a referral program with your giveaway, offering extra entries for referrals.

Get Started Growing Your List

With all of these ideas, there’s no excuse not to jump in and start growing your email list right away. Before you know it, you’ll have a booming email newsletter and be getting ready to monetize your list and turn your hobby into a real job.

Want to learn more about monetizing your list with Paved? Sign up for free to create your publisher profile and get advertisers to come to you.