mailing listStarting a mailing list can be totally overwhelming if you’re just starting out. 

Even if you do get your mailing list up and running getting your head wrapped around email marketing can take a while. 

What the HECK do you say to people without spamming them?

How do you go about getting people signed up to your mailing list without sounding obnoxious?

I totally get it. These are all questions I had when I was getting started with my mailing list. Fast forward to today where I send unique content to a healthy and engaged mailing list every week. 

My weekly emails are a way for me to be more personal and intimate with my audience. I use it to share personal stories that I wouldn’t share on my blog, so that I can connect with my audience on a deeper level. 

It’s also the place I go to when I want to interview or survey my audience to find out whether creating an offer is worth pursuing. 

If you’re thinking of starting a mailing list, it’s a great way to connect with your audience, educate them with unique content and share stories and promotions that you don’t share anywhere else. 

So, if you’re thinking about getting started with a mailing list, it’s 100% worth it. That’s why today I want to share with you 9 steps to start and grow a mailing list. 

Ready to dive in? Let’s go!

1. Define your dream customer avatar

Let’s be honest: getting someone to hand over their mailing list isn’t easy. People hold their email address tight to their chest and they don’t want another email in their inbox. But if you create content that your audience wants and needs, they’re going to raise their hand to learn more from you.

Before you start growing your mailing list you need to think about your dream customer avatar. Your dream customer avatar is the specific person that you’re trying to attract. Having clarity on your dream customer helps you to create content that is relevant to your audience. The more clear you are on who you’re trying to attract the easier it’s going to create captivating content to grow your audience. 

Here’s how to start: Think about who you’re trying to attract. What are their pain points? What are their biggest struggles? What do they want to learn more about? Once you’re clear on this you’ll know what content to create to grow your mailing list.

2. Choose an email service provider

Now that you’re clear on your dream customer avatar, it’s time to choose an email service provider. Mailchimp is a good option if you’re just list building and sending newsletters as it’s free until you have 1,000 subscribers. 

Once you’re over the 1,000 email subscribers mark,  Convert Kit and Flodesk are good options. I recently switched to Flodesk because it’s $19 a month if you sign up for the beta price and this doesn’t go up based on the amount of email subscribers you have. This is unheard of in the email marketing space, so this was a no-brainer to me! The other reason why I signed up to Flodesk is because it’s so easy to create branded emails. 

3. Create a master list

Once you’ve chosen an email service provider, you want to create a master list. This will be the tribe of people that you contact regularly with motivation, education and weekly content updates. 

When I first started my mailing list I made the mistake of having a few lists for several opt ins and it was a headache to manage. I recommend that you create one master list and you focus on growing one audience of people at the moment. 

I get it. If you’re like me and you get ‘shiny object syndrome’ it can be tempting to create a dozen freebies and grow a few different audiences at once. I made the mistake of doing this when I started and it made it quite overwhelming. That’s why I recommend that you keep things simple and you focus on growing one audience with one freebie. This will help you to double down on your efforts and you’ll grow your audience much quicker. 

Psst, if you’re looking for an email marketing platform, I recommend Flodesk. It’s super easy to use and you can create stunning newsletters to elevate your brand.

4. Create a profit-driven lead magnet

One of the most effective ways to grow your mailing list is with a lead magnet. If you’re a newbie, a lead magnet is a free piece of content that you offer your audience in exchange for their name and email address.

Typically, a lead magnet is a valuable and action-packed piece of content, such as a cheatsheet, guide, or template. 

But to create an irresistible lead magnet you need to know what your audience needs from you. It’s no good aiming for a decent trade off. You need to create something that is going to make them say “OMG, I can’t believe you’re giving me this for free!”. 

Also, your lead magnet isn’t just about growing your mailing list it’s about turning your email subscribers into customers. So, you want to create a lead magnet that is going to take them one step closer to your paid offer. 

Here’s how to start: Think about the topic that you’re going to focus on for your lead magnet. The key is to focus on the topic that your dream customer avatar is the most interested in. Then, think about what one small and specific step does my dream customer avatar need to take before they buy from me?

5. Create a landing page

Once you’ve got a lead magnet for your mailing list, it’s time to create a landing page. A landing page is a distraction free page that invites people to take action, such as signing up to your list. This is a *must have* if you want to grow your mailing list, especially if you’re going to be doing Facebook ads in the near future. 

Here’s how to start: Check out your email service platform and see whether they have landing pages included. Then, you can create a landing page and use the link to promote in several places on your website.

6. Create captivating content

Now that you’ve got your email marketing platform set up, it’s time to think about the content that you’re going to create. If you want to grow a loyal and engaged audience, you need to create consistent high-quality content. This might be a weekly blog, video or podcast depending on what you enjoy the most!

The goal is to create captivating content that helps your dream customer avatar and improves the quality of their life. So, think about your dream customer…what do they want to learn more about? What are they struggling with? What do they need to become more confident about taking the next step?

Once you commit to creating captivating that’s when you start to build trust and loyalty with your audience, so that they are intrigued to learn more from you.

7. Pop-up strategy

One way I’ve grown my audience this year is by adopting a pop up strategy. (I know what you’re thinking!) Pop ups can be annoying and irritating when you just want to learn from an article. But bear with me on this one as I promise it’s worth it! Pop ups can be an incredibly effective way to promote your freebie and invite your audience to learn more from you. 

I started by promoting a generic opt in freebie and I grow my mailing list every single day with this strategy. This was a small tweak that I made to my website and it’s worked wonders for me!

Here’s how to start: Sign up to a pop up provider, such as Optinmonster or Thrive Leads and design a lightbox pop up on your site. Then, sit back and watch the party grow!

8. Create an online quiz

One way to attract new people to your mailing list is with an online quiz. An online quiz is a fun an innovative way to grow your mailing list because people don’t realise that it’s an opt in freebie. 

Companies like Buzzfeed have been doing online quizzes for a while and only in the last few years creators have started adopting this strategy for their online businesses.

Here’s how to get started: Think about what topic you’re going to focus on for your online quiz. What could you create that’s going to serve them? You could create a personality quiz, where you ask “what type of entrepreneur are you?” or you can do an ability quiz. This might be something like, “how well do you know Pinterest?” 

Then you need to think of 4/5 subsets in your audience and map out what questions would fulfil each subset. For example, you might create a quiz called ‘what’s your brand personality?’ and you might have 4 subsets in your audience, such as spring, summer, autumn and winter. So, you’ll need to think of which questions and answers are tied to each brand type. 

9. Promote your lead magnet 

Lastly, you want to think about how you’re going to promote your lead magnet. It’s no good putting in all the effort into creating a piece of content and letting it slip.

You want to map out where you’re going to promote it and how often you’re going to promote it so that you’re getting as many eyeballs on your lead magnet as possible. 

Here’s how to get started: Think about where your audience spends time online and create a strategy for how often you’re going to promote your freebie. If they’re on Pinterest how often will you promote your lead magnet a day? If they’re on Facebook, how many Facebook lives will you do to promote your freebie at the end of the live?

Plus, you want to make this as leverageable as possible, so that you’re not spending days posting on social media. Ideally, you want to schedule your content once a week using a scheduler, such as Buffer, Smarter Queue or Tailwind.

Here’s more blog posts that might help:

44 Newsletter Ideas To Engage Your Email List

3 Simple (But powerful) Email Sequences to Make Passive Income

3 Email List Building Strategies You Need To Know

18 Badass Emails You Need To Send To Your Email List