When you’re building an email list from scratch, it can be really easy to get super excited to see lots of new sign-ups. In fact, you’d think that’s every blogger’s dream – a ton of new sign-ups every day to their email list.
But like so many things in life – size doesn’t always matter.
I honestly had no idea what I was doing when I first started building my list. I was foolish, and instead of listening and learning to do what was right for me, I fell in with the wrong kind of marketers. I threw paid ads out there, into the wrong kinds of markets and got the wrong kind of people on my list.
I ended up building an email list fast – but had about a 2% open rate.
Why? Because I was trying to do things the “easy” way instead of doing things the right way.
BTW – I’m not saying that paid ads are wrong. They can work REALLY well – I just didn’t know what I was doing, and the people who were “teaching” me were more interested in getting money from me than actually worrying about whether or not I succeeded.
That’s one of the reasons I started this blog – I was tired of seeing new bloggers taken advantage of, and I wanted to help people – ’cause y’all know I love ya, right?
Anyway – there are things you can do that will bring lots of subscribers really fast – but over the long-run, it’s
Just. Not. Worth it.
In the end, I had to go through and delete people. And delete, and delete and delete! I finally ended up deleting everyone from my list who hadn’t opened an email in more than 6 months. There were actually a LOT of people who had never opened even ONE of my emails.
When I was done pruning, I ended up with a very small, but very responsive list – people that were actually opening my emails and reading them!
So, I learned my lesson. It’s much better to have a smaller list that is eager to hear from you than a huge list that hits delete without ever seeing what you’re about. And when you start it the right way, as it continues to grow you’ll find you’ve got a big ol’ giant email list that is totally into what you’ve got to say.
If you want to build a vibrant, responsive email list from scratch, here are 3 things I want you to avoid doing.
Giving Away the Wrong Freebie
This was a BIG mistake I made, and while it seems really obvious now, it took me a long time to realize it. In fact, if you’re on my list now, you probably benefited from it!
It’s totally cool – even smart and expected – to give away something as an incentive for people to sign up when you’re building an email list from scratch. But the problem is you can attract the wrong subscribers when you give away the wrong thing.
In my case, I was giving away a freebie that was WAY too good to give away as a freebie. It was a 30 page ebook that really should have been a paid product. What’s so wrong about that? You’d think it would get me a lot of really loyal subscribers, right?
Yeah, not so much.
What it did was attract people who just wanted a kick-ass freebie and had no interest in anything I was doing. Secondly, who’s going to get a 30-page ebook on social marketing for free and then want to pay me $20 for the next one I offer?
NOBODY, that’s who.
The 3rd problem with it is this – how many people really want a 30 page ebook on social marketing tips? How often do you download some freebie and never even look at it because you don’t have time so you put it away for “later”? How often do you think that happened with my 30 page book? And how often do you think “later” ever showed up and that book got read?
There’s a flip side to this coin, too – if your giveaway is total weaksauce, you’re showing your subscribers that quality isn’t a big deal to you. And if your giveaway is crap, then again: Who’s going to want to pay $20 for the next thing you offer?
It’s a fine line – but your giveaway should be something that that readers perceive as valuable, and that they can take action on right away.
Not Targeting The Right Subscribers
This was one of my original problems. I was using something called “solo ads” to get subscribers, which is basically paying people with big lists to send out links to my offers. The thing is, most of those “big lists” were full of people looking to get rich quick on the internet. They weren’t the kind of people I wanted to connect with, and they sure weren’t the people that wanted to connect with me.
I was using methods that targeted the wrong subscribers, but that’s not the only way it can go wrong.
What if the freebie you’re giving away is attracting the wrong kind of people? For example, what if you’re a food blogger who specializes in 30 minute meals for moms, but your giveaway is a recipe book with gourmet desserts? The people who sign up to get that book aren’t necessarily going to be interested in your regular blog posts.
It’s really important to concentrate on WHO you want to join your list – then figure out what you can do to attract that person.
Want to get more people opening your emails? Check out Writing Emails Subscribers Love to Open
Not Sending Any Emails
I see this all the time – people successfully building an email list from scratch, but then not sending any emails to their subscribers.
I probably don’t need to tell you, that’s no good!
I also know that it’s kind of scary – sending out an email to your subscribers is a HUGE step, and it’s intimidating! What if they don’t like it? What if they don’t like YOU? What if they unsubscribe?
Well, sooner or later you’re going to need to send out an email – when you create a product or open coaching or whatever it is you do. And people will see it and think “Who’s this, and why am I getting an email from them? I don’t remember signing up for this, it must be spam”.
Once again – not a good thing.
Building an email list from scratch into a responsive, excited list of subscribers is totally doable. These days, my list is growing all the time (it even kept growing when I was offline for 5 months!) and my open rate is making me happy. Like I’ve said many times – it’s all about knowing your niche, knowing what they want and giving it to them.
What to do now:
If you haven’t started an email list yet, I recommend ConvertKit. Click the name, check it out.
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Oh… and keep taking action!