Surefire Methods for Growing Your Email List + A Bonus Freebie

Over the past few weeks, I've had the privilege of taking the course Your First 1k by Mariah Coz of, and I've learned SO much in such a short period of time.  These methods have greatly impacted my own list and are all thanks to Mariah's AMAZING course, of which I couldn't recommend more.

If your first thought was "Do I even need an email list?" the answer is a big, fat YES.  If you ever want to sell your own products or services, whether it's now or someday way off in the distant future, the best time to start building your email list is NOW.  

Even if you don't plan on ever turning your blog into a business (but keep in mind this can change in the future), building an email list is an essential part of growing a loyal following.

  • Your email list is yours. Not Facebook's, not Twitter's. Yours. You don't need to rely on a social media platform in order to share your content or retain your following.  These platforms are constantly changing, and we can't rely on them to always be there.  Are you still on MySpace? Yeah. Didn't think so.
  • You're in control of exactly what people see.  Every email you craft is exactly the way you want it to appear without a character or image limit.  You also don't have to rely on someone being online at the right time in order for them to see it.  The amount of emails a person receives per day is significantly less than the thousands of updates that appear on their social media feeds.
  • It allows you to form a more personal connection with your audience.  When someone gives you their email, they are literally inviting you into their space to connect and engage with them.  They want to know more!

In a way, emails are a form of currency.  While I don't much care for the term "sacred" when it comes to emails, it's certainly a privilege to be allowed into someone's inbox.  But how do you even get to that point?  How do you encourage people to sign up in the first place?

Know the needs of your audience.

The most important thing you could ever do for your blog + biz is keep the needs of your audience in mind at all times.  No matter how awesome your sign-up form looks, if it doesn't connect with your audience, it's not going to help you grow your list. Or worse, you'll end up with the wrong list.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. Why does my target audience visit my site?
  2. How do they find me?
  3. What problems do they have that I can solve?
  4. What results do they expect?

You can get these answers directly from your audience through personal conversations and by conducting reader surveys (Typeform is a great tool for this).  

Other ways to research their needs:

  • Pay attention to social media (What questions do people ask in Twitter chats or Facebook groups?)
  • Visit their own sites (Do you find common mistakes that you could help fix?)
  • Ask others in your industry 

Utilize lead magnets.

A lead magnet is a special offer or free bonus that you give away in exchange for someone's email.  They might also be referred to as content upgrades, opt-in freebies, and other similar terms. 

Lead magnets provide instant value the moment someone joins your list.

You can do this a few different ways:

  • By providing unique bonuses for specific blog posts (like the one I have below!)
  • By having a main offer for your general opt-in form
  • Both!

Keep in mind, however. You don't want to create a lead magnet just for the sake of having one. It needs to have a purpose that correlates with your brand.

Better to have no lead magnet at all than have one that's rushed, pointless, or boring.  Your opt-in freebies represent your brand just as much as the content on your site does.  

Personalize your opt-in forms. 

Notice how I said formSSS. As in plural. As in you need way more opt-in forms on your site than you probably think.  We'll cover this more in a bit.  For now, let's concentrate on personalizing them to make them stand out!

Let's take a look at the default Squarespace form:

*zzzzzz* Wha-what? Oh, sorry.  I must've fallen asleep on account of how BORING this is.

Other totally crap opt-ins:

  • Subscribe to my newsletter
  • Get blog updates
  • Join the mailing list
  • Sign up for special offers

These opt-ins make puppies cry. 

Not only do they provide virtually no information, but if you're using the default description on top of that, it also looks straight up lazy. You've gotta get more creative than that (but I know that's something you're more than capable of! ;)

Now let's take a closer look at the default Squarespace newsletter description. Does your form look similar?

"Sign up with your email address to receive news and updates."

What does that mean?  What's so important about receiving those updates?  How are they going to provide value to your readers?  Are they exclusive to only those on your email list?  Do they include other resources?  How often will they be sent out?

Try this:

Be very clear about the value your reader will gain by signing up.  Your opt-in should be an immediate attention-grabber that shows what you're giving + who it's for. You want your audience to take action right then and there. 

Here are some examples:

Melyssa from does an excellent job of showing you exactly what you'll receive by joining her email list while keeping it short and sweet and to the point.

Allyssa of provides a great, eye-catching visual of her opt-in freebie that makes you want to sign up right away.

Include a powerful call to action.

Your sign up button can make or break how effective your form is. Some of the most common buttons you'll see say things like "Sign Up" or "Subscribe."

Your call to action needs to be compelling and, like the term implies, actionable. 

"Subscribe" is NOT actionable.

Call to Action Ideas

  • Confirm what they'll gain.  "Get the FREE Workbook" or "Get Fit!" or "Yes! Give me instant access!"
  • Encourage the desired reaction. "I'm Ready!" or "Let's Do This!" or "Count Me In!"
  • Show off the exclusive community aspect.  "Join the VIP Insiders Club" or "Join the Sisterhood"

Create a dedicated newsletter landing page.

Having a landing page specifically for your newsletter is a super effective way to build your email list. It gives your email list the spotlight it deserves and lets it take full focus.  

Without a sidebar, your landing page is distraction-free and has your audience's full attention. It leaves readers with one option - join your email list. 

There are several ways you can go about setting one of these up.  If you're on Squarespace, this is super simple with Cover Pages.  For my current landing page, I'm using the Focus layout and have it set to show my main logo instead of a photo.  

LeadPagesKickoffLabs, and Instapage are some other options worth looking into, all of which are available for Wordpress users.  I've especially heard good things about LeadPages! 

Your landing page is where you'll give a more detailed look at why someone should join your email list and the benefits they'll receive when they do.  You'll want to include a link to this page in your main navigation bar.

The key to an effective newsletter landing page is making it all about your target audience.

Let's face it, most people aren't going to want to sign up for your newsletter just because you're you. This is why you need to show how much you can help THEM.  

This isn't a time to be vague. Paint a clear picture of the value your emails provide.

Mariah of (who I owe my email list obsession to ;) has a dedicated landing page for her free email course Build a Profitable Blog that goes super in-depth with what it's all about and how useful a resource it is.  You can tell right away that she knows her stuff.

Have multiple opt-ins throughout your site.

One little box in your sidebar is not enough, especially if it's towards the bottom or surrounded by a bunch of other plugins or ads. There's a good to fair chance some people might miss it entirely if it doesn't stand out.

Here are additional places you can add opt-in forms (or links to your landing page):

  • Top of your sidebar (or, at the very least, right below your bio)
  • Above your header (some Wordpress themes come with this option built in, but you can also use something like HelloBar)
  • In your blog posts (if you mention something related to your newsletter, have opt-in freebies, etc.)
  • At the end of your blog posts
  • Your footer
  • Your about page
  • Any page at all
  • Your email signature (you'll likely be sending emails to people who aren't on your list)
  • Your social media profile (through a link to your landing page)
  • A pop-up or slide-in box (SumoMe is a popular choice for this)

Extra Tip:

Who says you're limited to only collecting emails through your site?   If you're an Etsy shop owner who sells physical products, you could also include details about your newsletter in every package you send.  You could also easily include a physical sign-up form at a trade show booth, or wherever else you do business in person. 

Have you tried any of these methods?
How did they work for you?