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How I Grew My Email List to 21,828 Subscribers in Under TWO Years!

Just two years ago my email list contained 469 subscribers.

To some of you that may seem beyond pitiful and to others that might sound AMAZING! Either way, I totally get it.

Before we get started though, let me lay the ground rules. Because while I’m about to share my success story building my email list, I want to make sure that you keep in mind that “comparison kills contentment.” It’s a really smart thing that I once read in the bible. 😉

And it’s totally true! So if you have a small (or non-existent) email list, you’re JUST FINE. Hopefully today’s post gives you encouragement and a few tips on how to build yours.

If yours is bigger than mine, congrats! And I’m coming for you…

Why is building an email list so important?

In a recent podcast interview on Smart Passive Income, Clay Collins from Leadpages <– affiliate link claimed that each email subscriber is worth $2 per month in recurring revenue.

You’ll also hear other experts tout, “The money’s in the list!” Basically, they’re both saying that marketing via email can be highly profitable.

So if monetizing your blog is a goal of yours, list building should also be on your radar. In fact, it should be your number one priority! 

There are several strategies out there for making the most of your email subscriber list to impact your business’s financial bottom line. At the core of that is using a great email service provider, also known as email marketing software. 

Working with the right email marketing platform streamlines the process of optimizing your subscriber list, and you need to choose one that works well for your business’s unique needs. Here’s a list of the best email marketing software services so you can make an informed choice! 

Let’s take a trip down memory lane…

I started my email list in July, 2014. The funny thing is, is that I thought I was WAY behind the eight ball when it came to building an email list. I was barely two months into blogging… in hindsight, I think I was just fine. 😉

Roughly four months later (on 12/10/14), I had a whole 64 subscribers. I didn’t actually start tracking my stats until December, 2014 after taking Elite Blog Academy <–affiliate link. I mean I tracked my P&L (my income and expenses), but I didn’t sit down on a regular basis to measure my progress as a blogger.

Part of the reason might be because my initial goal wasn’t to become a blogger. It was to start a freelance writing business. Which later turned into a virtual assistant business. Which later turned into a products business.

Which means my blog and website were kind of important. Which means building an email list was really important.

Month-over-month growth:

I know y’all LOVE the down and dirty deets, so here’s a little visual representation of what building my email list has looked like over the last two and a half years.

Side note disclosure: I say two years in the title, because it was two years ago that I got serious about building this thing based on how my business had shifted and changed since I started. 

Not too shabby, right?

So how did I get here?

One word: FOCUS!

It’s amazing the results one can get with a singular focus. I know that’s hard for us entrepreneurs and online business owners though… don’t worry, I’ve been there too!

(More times than I’d like to admit!)

But in early 2015 I knew that building my email list was what I needed to focus on.

When I need to learn something new, I like to research an authority on the topic and learn from them. My first exposure to Bryan Harris was on Jon Acuff’s blog.

At the time, I had been following Jon for about a year. So when Bryan wrote a guest post on Jon’s blog, he had instant credibility with me.

Bryan was so insanely brilliant with his own list building strategies that I signed up for his email list then and there. And I’ve been following him ever since.

So when he launched Get 10,000 Subscribers <– affiliate link in April of 2015 I was primed.

And he did such a great job with his sales copy that I invested more by purchasing that course than ever before in the history of my business. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous.

But hindsight being 20/20, I’m happy to say it’s paid off in spades!

A few strategies that got me where I am today:

Building an email list takes a lot of work.

And not every list building strategy is created equal. But taking a trial and error approach to figure out what works for your audience and your business makes sense.

So what can you do to build your email list? Here are three suggestions to get you started:

1. Ask people you know who are interested in your blog’s subject matter to subscribe.

Just like you don’t want anyone and everyone to like your Facebook page (I just learned that this can actually hurt you), you don’t necessarily want anyone and everyone to subscribe to your email list.

Why? Because if it’s not for them, it’s not for them. I.e. If people aren’t engaging with your content, then they really shouldn’t be on your list.

Even if it’s your mom and she loves you more than anything. 😉

Instead of asking those that know and like you best to subscribe to your email list about xyz topic (even though they’re not into xyz topic), figure out who in your sphere of influence is interested and ask them. Then ask them who else they know who might be interested too!

2. Create something worth downloading.

If you want people to subscribe to your list, then you need to create something they want to give you their email in exchange for.

So don’t just create a freebie to create a freebie. Instead, know your audience, what they’re looking for and then give it to them in the form of a pdf download. For free.

And even though Google is favoring long form content these days, your freebie should be short and sweet. Why? People’s attention spans are shorter than ever!

So while they might download your 72-page ebook, if they never read it and realize the value you provide, you haven’t really won the war.

To gain loyal subscribers, you need to give them something they can put to use (immediately is good) and garner a quick win from. Because then they’ll attribute said quick win to you. And well, become loyal.

Nuff said?

3. Talk to your list.

If you’re lucky enough to build a big email list, it’s all for naught if you never talk to them.

Have you ever subscribed to someone’s email list to get something for free, didn’t hear from them for six months (or six years!) and then all of a sudden they’re trying to sell you their “new best thing?”

Yeah, I bet you didn’t buy it.

What can you learn here? That attracting people to sign up to your email list is important. But talking to them and nurturing them over time is equally important.

I do this by emailing my email list every week. For the most part, I’ve been extremely disciplined about writing weekly blog post(s) and emailing subscribers regular updates. And you should be too.

Sometimes it seems like you have nothing to say, I get that. But it’s still important to communicate on a regular basis with your list. Because if they don’t hear from you regularly… you’ll no longer be relevant.

List building isn’t for the faint of heart.

There are a million ways you can build your email list.

Marketing my email list to people actually interested in what I write about, creating valuable freebies applicable to said audience and emailing them regularly are what’s worked for me. For you, it could be something else. Regardless, focusing on just one thing – building your email list – is what will help you to make progress towards this goal.

If you’re serious about it, I’d check out Get 10,000 Subscribers <– affiliate link. It truly changed my online business’ life. And I think it’ll change your business’ life too

Gina Horkey

Gina Horkey


Gina Horkey is a married, millennial mama from Minnesota. Additionally, she’s the founder of Horkey HandBook and loves helping others find or become a kickass virtual assistant. Gina’s background includes making a living as a professional writer, an online business marketing consultant and a decade of experience in the financial services industry.

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