List Building 101: How to Get Your 1st 500 Email Subscribers

Have you ever heard the phrase, “the money is in the list”?


If not, I’m here to tell you this phrase is absolutely true. Email marketing has been essential to my growth in business over the last 12 months.


Social media is fantastic but we do not own our profiles. Instagram could shut down tomorrow and all of your photos, videos and followers will be lost. Social media is amazing for building brand awareness, engaging with your audience and can absolutely lead to sales. However, its more important now than ever in the era of ever changing algorithms, to convert your social media followers to email subscribers.


Why? Well, in addition to the possibility of social media going away, you can build trust in a different way. You can use email to get to know your audience personally, showcase your expertise through well written emails and offer special freebies and incentives. My best sales funnels have started on social media and ended via email.


But if you’re here, reading this blog, I’m sure you’ve heard this before. I know you know the importance of having an email list. But where you’re probably struggling is actually building it. How do you get email subscribers? What’s the best platform to use? How do I nurture my audience? This blog post is going to cover all of this so get ready because you’re about to get your first 500 email subscribers.


The Platform


First things first, you need an email marketing tool. There are tons of options out there and I always advocate for doing your own research.


For Beginners:

Mailerlite or Mailchimp. These platforms are super similar and both have free options. Mailerlite is free for your first 1000 subscribers. Mailchimp is free for your first 2000 subscribers. Both have automation sequences and landing page capabilities. I’ll tell you more about what these things mean later.


For the Advanced:

If you already have at least 1000 subscribers, consider using Convertkit. I switched to ConvertKit a few months ago and I LOVE it. The segmentation tools are amazing and help to keep everything organized in a very simple manager. Segmentation means separating your list into categories. I can create sub-lists that showcase people who have purchased my products, people have expressed interest in certain programs, people who have interest in my products but haven’t purchased, etc. As you grow in business, these data points and segmented list will become increasingly more important.



The Strategy

In order to get your audience to join your email list, you have to offer them something. Unfortunately, no one cares enough about our newsletters to just sign up for that. You must create what’s called an opt-in. This is typically a freebie of sorts that relates to your business and entices your audience. Examples of opt-in’s include:

  • Worksheet

  • Checklist

  • Infographic

  • Workbook

  • E-Book

  • Audio/Video Training or Training Series

  • How To Guide

  • Email Challenge

  • Webinar

  • Quiz Results

  • Wallpaper

  • Discount Codes


Once you create your opt-in, you will then need to create a landing page to offer it. Mailerlite, Mailchimp and Convertkit all offer the feature of creating a landing page with customization options. Once its designed, you will need to set up the automatic welcome email that contains the freebie. I highly recommend using to customize the URL of the landing page to make it easy for your audience to access and to track analytics.


You can have more than one opt-in running at the same time. In fact, I recommend it. It will help you build your list faster. For example, I have the following opt-in’s running:


How to Create a Freebie

First, you have to figure out what you want the freebie to cover. I prefer to use common questions I’ve received to be my guide. For example, the brand audit playbook came as the result of seeing several discussions in my Facebook group around rebranding.


Then you have to identify how you want to deliver the content, i.e. what type of freebie will it be? Most of my freebies are guided workbooks because I like to inspire action. I want to help guide your thinking and create clarity around your plan of execution. That’s not to say that classes or ebooks won’t do that, but I know my audience enough to know what would be best for them. The more your learn about your target customer, the easier this will become.


I use Canva and Photoshop to create my freebies. Canva is free and user friendly. If you want to make your workbooks or worksheets fillable, you will need Adobe Acrobat DC to do so. You can also hire someone on Fiverr to do this for you. Worst case scenario, you can use Microsoft Word to create your document, make it pretty and save it as a PDF.


How to Market Your Freebie

Now that you’ve created the freebie and the landing page, its time to get in front of your audience. One of my favorite ways to list build is to pair my freebie with a worksheet. For example, earlier I mentioned that I created the brand audit playbook because my audience had questions about rebranding. I have a blog post called 7 Secrets for Successfully Rebranding Your Business. That blog post and the brand audit playbook freebie go hand in hand.


You can also market your freebies on social media. I recommend creating a promo graphic to do so. Then, share it everywhere, multiple times. I’ve even leveraged live stream to promote my freebies. For example, I hosted a live stream called Must Have Tools for New Entrepreneurs. I created a PDF download that listed all of the tools I discussed by category and included a few more that I did not mention. That one live stream alone lead to 150 new email subscribers, not including those who were already on my list and wanted to access the download.


If you’re more advanced, consider running an ad to increase awareness.


Getting Sales Immediately

Your email list can create tons of passive income for your business. If you have digital products, this last section is for you. If you need help with digital products in general, check out this blog post on the tools you need to create passive income.


Once someone signs up for your email list, you have the option of sending them to an automatic thank you page or you can send them to a specific website. Instructions for how to do this depend on your email marketing provider.


On my list, after someone subscribers, they are typically redirected to a hidden page on my website or another that's similar in design with a different offer. Hidden meaning you cannot find it on the menu. You must have the link to access.


This page welcomes the new subscriber to #HERmovement and gives them a special offer (feel free to take advantage of the offer if you like). This is called a trip wire. It works best when:

  • The product you are offering directly relates to that product

  • The product is digital and the subscriber can get instant access

  • You are offering a discount that they can’t get elsewhere


Yes, you can instead do this via email but having the offer appear instantly increases conversion.


For higher level offers such as courses, coaching and masterminds, you’ll want to create a sales funnel. I’ll write another post on funnels soon but here’s the cliff notes.


It’s a series of anywhere between 4 and 12 emails where you are building trust and providing valuable information to your subscribers before providing them with the offer. Remember earlier when I mentioned automation sequences? Well, this is why that matters. You can have sales cycles running passively in the background while you manage the day to day aspects of your business.


With that, its time for you to go off and get your first 500 subscribers. Comment below with the link to your opt-in so I can check it out. And I’ll see you in the next post!