Alright, let’s talk about list building.
I’ve been building my email list for about two years now, which means for the first couple years of growing my business, I didn’t have an email list at all. #FAIL. Once I finally got my shit together, I was able to grow my subscribers pretty rapidly.
In 2015 my list grew from 2k subscribers to 10k, and in 2016 I went from 10k to 20k subscribers. To be honest, when I started building my list it never occurred to me that I could be one of those people with tens of thousands of subscribers. I tried all the usual stuff – an opt-in box in my site header, pop-up boxes, linking to my list on social media – but it hasn’t been those things that helped to grow my list by 10k two years in a row.
(If you aren’t sure you need an email list, read this.)
Now, before we get into the details of what DID work, let me mention one thing . . .
Growth takes time
I’ve been building my business for about 5 years now, which means when I started my list at the end of 2014, I already had blog traffic and social media followers and an audience primed to be converted into subscribers. This doesn’t mean that you have to wait to grow your blog traffic and audience to start your list – in fact, you shouldn’t wait – but just know that if you’re starting from zero across the board, it may take a bit more time to get going. (Or you might blast off to 10k in your first year, who knows!)
(I’m using ConvertKit to collect subscribers)
How do people find their way to your list?
For me, subscribers show up in three main ways. Through blog posts with content upgrades, through interactive events like webinars and challenges, and through quick promotions like giveaways. You’ll notice generic opt-in boxes are not on that list. Yes, they work, and yes, you should have them throughout your site (in your blog header, blog footer, at the bottom of blog posts), but for MASSIVE growth you need to get off your blog and interact with your audience.
This is the one most people don’t want to hear, let alone try, but going live is REALLY helpful in building an email list. I hosted a bunch of webinars this year – solo, with business buddies, and with brands that I have affiliate partnerships with.
Webinars are beneficial for two reasons – first, it helps your audience see you as a real person, not an internet avatar. People connect more quickly with those they have things in common with or those they aspire to be like. It’s difficult to aspire to be like someone who seems to have it all together, with perfect lighting and scripted content 24/7.
Going live (even if it’s just chatting via Instagram story to get used to talking on camera) helps build a connection with your audience, and the more they connect with you the more they’ll want to make sure they get every piece of content you produce (aka get on your list).
And second, webinars also tend to be more detailed and therefore more valuable than the free guides and downloads most people add to their opt-in boxes. Perfect strangers are more likely to hand over their email address if they think spending an hour with you will help them accomplish a specific goal.
Plus, you can include a social share thank you page (I do this using LeadPages) (affiliate link) to encourage those who register to share the event with their followers, helping you to expand your reach without doing any extra work.
FYI: Dare to Grow will have an entire lesson on setting up and running successful webinars when enrollment opens on Jan 16th!
Scheduling content to post automatically
Posting constantly on social media is one of the most important factors in creating growth. And in order to stay consistent, you need to automate the process. I tweet 20 to 30 times every single day and pin up to 30 times. And I don’t know about you, but I don’t have time to stop work up to 60 times each day, let alone keep some sort of social media schedule in my brain.
SmarterQueue (affiliate link) allows me to set up content categories and a schedule for Twitter and Facebook (they do Instagram and Pinterest too) so I know my products, programs, blog posts, and events are being shared multiple times each day. I’ve created a category solely for blog posts that contain content upgrades. Again – with 15 posts to queue on a regular basis, I can’t keep track of everything myself. SmarterQueue makes sure each post is shared often, which helps to drive traffic to those posts and turn readers into subscribers.
For Pinterest I’m a huge fan of TailWind (affiliate link). TailWind allows me to pin to multiple boards over multiple days with FOUR clicks. Seriously, that’s it. Four clicks and my new blog posts are scheduled to 10-15 boards over the course of a month, continuously driving traffic to my site.
Sticking close to my niche + posting consistently
This year I also consciously dug further into my purpose and my niche as I focused on creating content to help move people from reader to subscriber to student. This meant filling in the gaps with posts for beginner bloggers and doing my best to stay on schedule, posting a new piece of blog content once/week every week.
Posting consistently has helped me to become known for one specific thing (no-bs blog strategy). Once you become the go-to person in your niche, your numbers begin to snowball and grow on their own because your audience will be sharing your content for you. And I know that seems like a far-off goal when you’re just starting out – I didn’t expect it to happen myself – but at some point (for me it was around 2k followers, subscribers), I didn’t have to hustle so hard for everything.
So be patient, be consistent, and look beyond those opt-in boxes to help turn your readers into email subscribers.