7 Steps to Building a Big Profit Pulling Email List from Scratch: A Small Business Guide

Have a list? How big is your subscribers list? Don’t have a list? No problem – this post will take you by the hand through the ABCs of building a big, responsive email list, without experience. List building is one fail-proof technique that smart marketers use to keep “first time” prospects in the back-burner (their lists) so that they have an opportunity to inform and educate them about their products, until the prospects like and trust them enough to buy their stuff over and over again. Read on…

“The Money Is in The List” But, Do You Have One?

Why build a prospect email contact  list?

Because market research reveals that people do not usually buy the first time they know about a product or service, smart marketers use smart marketing techniques such as list building to keep “first time” site visitors or prospects in the back-burner (their email lists) so that they can follow up with them (informing, educating, entertaining, offering freebies) until they convert them to buyers and life-long customers.

An opt-in email list is the life-blood of any business.

This post is a follow up to an earlier post on why every business should build their own list, titled Why Every Small Business Owner/ Blogger Should Have an Email List?For anyone considering taking an existing offline business online OR just starting a fresh new business online OR recently started doing business online this post will show you how to start building your own list, from ground zero.

The 7 Steps to Email List Building for Beginners

Here are 7+1 steps to building a new list, from the scratch:

1. Get an eMail Autoresponder Service

What is an autoresponder? You need a database to hold the email addresses and contact details of your subscribers so that you can follow up with them later. Autoresponders help you do this.

In addition to that, an autoresponder enables you to follow up with the people that have subscribed to your blog, and it provides an automated way to the follow up process so that it send out emails to your subscribers on your behalf anytime of the day and all year round, without you doing these one by one, for every single subscriber. That’s a great productivity tool for any serious business, online or offline.

 Which Autoresponder Should I use?

There are lots of autoresponders for all budget categories – some free for beginners, some paid; some cheap, some expensive; some good, some crappy. Find one that is of good quality and yet fits your budget.

If you are building your small business on a tight budget and want to use the top, affordable autoresponders, you can check out these:

  • Aweber is one of the best and most popular autoresponders. It’s good but expensive at $1 first 30 days trial and then $19 for zero to 500 subscribers. Highly recommended IF you can afford it now and in the long run BUT if you can’t afford it, below are pretty good autoresponders recommended for small businesses;

Advice: I advice that you start list building with a good affordable premium autoresponder, so that you do not get broke and out of business before your subscribers (list) start responding with clicks that will fund any pricey autoresponder you decide to use.


Below are 3 top autoresponders that are great YET affordable for a small and home business on a shoe-string budget:

  • GetResponse: GetResponse is also up there in the league of Aweber, and allows affiliate marketing. It’s free for your first 100 subscribers, and from your subscriber number 101, you’ll start paying $9.95 for 250 subscribers; $25 for 2,500 subscribers.
  • MailChimp is another one that offers free for your  first 2,000 subscribers, and from your 2001th subscriber, you’ll start paying the normal rates at $10 for 500 subscribers; $15 for $1000 subscribers, and more dollars for more subscribers. NOTEThe only snag with Mailchimp is that their Terms of Service clearly says affiliate marketers are not allowed, and that means if you plan to market other people’s products via emails, you may suddenly wake up one day to find that Mailchimp has banned your account. This has happened to many people, although a lot of people are still risking it. However, if your business will only send newsletters (no product promotions) OR you’ll sell only your products/ services you create yourself (not other people’s), Mailchimp is a great autoresponder.

2. Put up an Opt-In Form on your blog

premium squeeze templates plus Bonus Fancy Optin Forms

An opt-in form is what you’ll use to collect names and email addresses of subscribers, and those get stored in your autoresponder. Your autoresponder company will give you a special code which you will paste on your blog, to create the opt-in form.

Once you have signed up for an autoresponder service, it would be time to start collecting email addresses of readers who want to join your newsletter or want to download your free report.

Next, place an opt-in form on your blog sidebar. Here’s a free video tutorial from Idiotproofblogging.com on how to add an opt-in form to your blog. Click here to setup your own opt-in form – watch the video tutorial and implement.

3. Create A Squeeze Page and Send Traffic To It

You should also create a squeeze page on a dedicated page, where you’ll ask your readers to signup to become your subscribers. Because this squeeze page is on a dedicated page, you can place this link on articles you write, guest posts and even forums, in order to get more subscribers.

EXAMPLE: Want to see what a squeeze page is like? Take a look at my own squeeze page here and you can see my opt-in box is on the right side of this page and also on my home page (my side bar). 

*OptimizePress is a great tool you can use to create pretty, high converting squeeze pages. Click (image) below and check out OptimizePress.

how to setup squeeze page - optin forms on website

4. Create a Lead Magnet (i.e. an eBook or short report for Giveaway)

eBooks can do 2 key things for you – establish you as a brand and an authority (to reckon with) in your market and (ii) attract people to you – people who like your book will trail you back to your blog.

You can use an eBook as a list-building tool. Write a short report and offer it as an incentive for readers to enter their emails (into your opt-in box) in exchange for your short report.

5. Help your Lead Generation eBook to go Viral

Give your eBook some push – let other people know about it, and some may spread the word for you, if they like it. Promote your eBook. Put its landing page or download link in your signature, in forums and emails. Share the link with your social media fans – tweet it, share it on Facebook, share on LinkedIn and other social media channels you belong to.

6. Join JV Giveaways as a contributor

Bigger lists generate bigger sales. It’s just a game of numbers, with lists. Conversions are a percentage of the size of lists and, for instance 1% (conversion) of a list of 500 subscribers is 5, and; 1% (conversion) of a 5000 person list is 50.

If that is the number of sales that the list owners can possibly make whenever they successfully make (affiliate) product recommendations to their lists, wouldn’t you want to quickly grow your list up to, and way above the zero and 500 limit?

What if you knew a fast method to sky-rocket your list size overnight?

JV Giveaways are a great way to piggy-back on other marketers with huge lists to build your own list from ground zero, to thousands in no time. JV giveaway events can last from a few days to a few weeks and that is such a record time to explode your list.

The only “snag” is that you can only enter as a contributor if you have a small report or eBook to contribute. You’ll need to contribute a free eBook or report to be part of a Giveaway. To find JV Giveaway events you can start participating in, go to newjvgiveaways.com.

JV Giveaways are events where contributors pool together various information products in one single place which they offer the public to download for free, at the end of the event.

The good thing about these kinds of events is that it is open to absolutely everyone – zero list, small list, big list – very newbie friendly, you’d say.

7. Always teach them something new – keep offering immense value.

The have opted in as an expression of interest in what you know. So, for your own good, keep that expectation up – never starve them.

Teach them what you have learnt, what you have found in your experience, to work for you. Give them more value – a reason to remain subscribed to you. That’s the way to build a strong “cult-like” bond with your own tribe (subscribers), and get them to like you (and buy from you when you recommend).

Write valuable blog posts that you think they’d like; posts that will teach them something new they can apply immediately and start seeing results. Ask them what they’d like to read about and write on that topic.

Write a series of follow-up emails for your subscribers and load into your autoresponder. Write and send follow up emails to your subscribers. You can block out a few hours to write a tutorial, and then break it into five to seven small parts to make an eCourse series. Then load them one-time into your autoresponder and schedule it to email to new subscribers over 5 to 7 days.

Be a friend and not a salesman or marketer – give tons of value and USEFUL information. They are human and not just “dollars in disguise”. When you stop selling in the front-end and start teaching, they’ll be the ones asking to buy. They’ll want to know where to get that thing you wrote (taught) how it can help them.

Start giving (value) first, before expecting them to buy from you. People give (money) after they receive (value) first, and only when they are convinced that you have what they want, will they give to you, by way of purchases. Position yourself as that giver or their go-to resource person whenever they think of your subject matter or market. If you want to master the art and science of building lists that will generate sales, the course below is highly recommended. You can click the below image to check it out and decide for yourself).

How to build an email list that makes you money

8. Communicate regularly with your subscribers to build a relationship with them

Out of sight is out of mind. As you know, you have competitors who are also building email lists. It is very likely that some of your subscribers are also on their lists. 

 Fact: The money is NOT in the list BUT in the relationship with that list.

If you do not mail your subscribers frequently, your competitors will, and you’ll lose their attention. Just as with trying to win the hear of a new date, staying in touch helps you get close to getting them know you more, like and trust you. And the truth is that people buy from those they know, like and trust.

Even if you have only one subscriber, make it a habit to stay in touch and keep them updated. Write 1 new email to your subscribers every week or every fortnight. This can be an update about a new blog post or article you submitted at a Directory; it can be educational or entertaining, or even about a personal experience you think they can learn from.

Next Steps: Your List Building ‘To Dos’

Based on the key lessons in this post, here are 5 simple tasks you can do this week, to start building a highly responsive subscriber list:

  1. Get a good autoresponder service (see step #1 above for the best best autoresponders for online marketers)
  2. Use baits (free gifts) to increase conversion – from readers to subscribers, and from subscribers to buyers. Give something of value, more than what they’d get from related websites or blogs
  3. Place an opt-in box on your website/ blog
  4. Create a squeeze page and start driving traffic to it
  5. Communicate to build relationship with your subscribers, even if it’s only 1 person for now. Frequency of mailing? A guide is to email them once a week; once in two weeks OR once a month. More is even better but never less than that.


Comment and Share this post: Thanks for reading, and if you liked this post, help others benefit from it – share it on Facebook, Tweet it, Stumble it, Digg it, email to your friends…

Have I missed anything? I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts in the comments side.

To your rapid list building success,




19 replies on “7 Steps to Building a Big Profit Pulling Email List from Scratch: A Small Business Guide”

I comment so rare on blogs/websites you could say I do it raw. But you presented everything that I as a new business owner would need in order to start building an ebusiness from scratch so plainly and succintly that I had to say THANK YOU. I looked for literally hours on how to build an email list what exactly is needed to do it and your nailed it! No one else even came close to your simple yet powerful understanding of what an ebusiness needs to get up and running quickly.

Johnny Lloyd
Pro Speed Coach

Wow! Thank you, Johnny for your awesome feedback. Makes me feel cool today:)

I’m glad that you found that post helpful. Please feel free to contact me, if you ever get stuck working through the steps. I’ll gladly point you in the right direction, with no techie tips.

You just pointed out what I felt when I started out. Every time I moved one step forward, I found out there was something I needed to learn, and I was stuck trying to figure out how. Googling what to do next and reading through piles of blog posts, many of which were not detailed, was time consuming. That’s why I wrote this post on how I went about it – strictly for anyone that is where I was.

Hope to see you around some more, and be sure to read my other list building tutorials (click).

i have been following your blog from quite a some time know and every time i visit i find some quite interesting in it….
now as we talk about building email list, then i completely agree with you that GIVEWAYS do work, this method can help you a lot to get strong leads, but to do so you need a strong readership. yes its not a one day job, you need to be consistent in what you are doing (blogging of-course) …
i was not aware about listwire’s services .. thanks you for letting me know about Stella …

Hi Gary:

Thanks for being one of my avid readers – I truly appreciate your time here:)

First of all, you do not need to wait until you have traffic before starting to build your list. Start when you have zero traffic – so that you set it and move on to other aspects of setting up your business. Every one visitor counts, and give them an opportunity to join your list. You can even start by simply emailing them to tell them there’s a new post published – so they know that they do not have to keep checking on your blog. Let them trust that you will notify them It also serves to get you practicing to communicate with your readers, and get comfortable at it.

Mailchimp and iContact are better than Listwire, among the Autoresponders that offer free service for beginner list builders.

Yes, when you offer something away for Free as a “thank you” gives people an incentive and motivation to signup to your list.

What you give can be tips on how to do something (relevant to your blog/ business theme and useful to your readers); you can put your tip in a 7 to 10 page free report; it can be a coupon; a video you made explaining something; a podcast teaching how to do something etc – anything that is useful to your target market.

Here are some posts I wrote, to help you out:
How to increase subscribers by giving away something for free
Steps to create a free giveaway report in only 1 day
10 Effective Methods to Get more subscribers this year

Let me know if you have any further questions or need more guide, that is, after you read the posts.

Hi Stella,

Very useful information for me as I am in the process of setting up by free giveaway to build my list. I am going to use MailChimp and have checked out they have increased the free subscription to 2000 subscribers 🙂 I plan on getting it up and running by the end of the month. Wish me luck!

Thanks Diane for coming over to read and for leaving me a comment. I’m so glad to know that you found useful tips to use as you’re working on creating your freebie giveaway report/eBook. That’s a right move – you’re so organized at your blogging / internet marketing. I like that.

Mailchimp keeps increasing the entry point (was 500, then 1000 and now 2000) – it’s a good start while you’re starting to build your list. Sure, I wish you all the very best and I now you’ll get your optin form and freebie eBook up by the end of the month (your silent accountability partner, eh?)

I was at your blog and left a comment on my blurbs on what went running on my mind after I read that post again – it’s on blog posting frequency and relevancy and value offering.

Hi Stella, great information here we all can learn from.I did not know about the JV giveaway. so.. I learned something new and will be checking it. I will be sharing this information.
Have a great day.looking forward to more of your posts.

Wendell B.

Good to see you around, Wendell. Thanks for commenting.

I’m happy that you found a new list building strategy (JV Giveaway) – feel free to share and do check the list of upcoming JV Giveaways and participate in some. I hope to know how it works for you.

*You know, I loved reading your post on autoresponders – well said.

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