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How to Build an Email List Starting from Scratch

There’s no better time to start building an email list than right now, besides yesterday, of course.

If you haven’t started this venture yet and have no idea where to begin, that’s OK. This article will teach you how.

Building an email list should be one of your top priorities as a blog (or any online business) owner. Even if you already have a significant social media presence, you still want to prioritize building a list.

The main reason for this is simple – an email list is yours and yours alone. If you have 2,000 subscribers on your list, that’s 2,000 potential customers that you have for life. No one can take that away from you.

Social media platforms, such as Facebook, however, are constantly changing their policies and algorithms. Things that could heavily impact your business. On any given day, they could shut down and you’d be out of a large portion of your business’ traffic or income.

Even SEO and your highly coveted search engine rankings can be affected by factors beyond your control.

If you have an email list, that’s never going to happen.

Follow the steps below to get started on building your list today.

Sign up for an Email Marketing Service

The first thing you need to build a list is a tool to manage it.

There are a number of different email service providers out there that do this for you. Each have their own pricing models, so you need to be smart about which one you go with.

If your list size is small and you’re just starting, there’s typically no better option than Mailchimp. It’s free for people with list sizes below a certain threshold.

If you’re no longer a beginner and have a larger audience, Mailchimp can still be a decent choice, though something like Aweber or other options may prove to be better.

Create an Incentive to Join Your List

After you’ve got a service provider set up, now you need to attract customers to your list.

There are many ways to do this, but one of the most effective is by offering something of value for free in exchange for someone’s email.

Usually people won’t just openly hand over their email address. Email accounts are private and nobody wants to hand them out for free. They expect something in return.

When creating an incentive for people to join your list, think value first. What can you offer these people that they will truly covet as having significant value?

Add Opt-in Forms on Your Site

Just about any email provider you choose will give you tools to create an opt-in form on your website.

With your incentive created and ready for show-time, now you’ll want to start giving people a way to join your list.

When adding opt-ins to your site, make sure to put them in places people will actually see. Side bars, pop-ups, and in-line boxes tend to perform very well. The opt-in forms themselves should be enticing and simple to use.

No one wants to offer their social security number in exchange for a piece of content on your site. Stick to the basics of asking for an email address and first name to be able to personalize your messages. Any more than that and people will be turned off by the amount of information they need to provide.

Create and Publish Content for Your Target Market

Last but not least, you need a way to drive traffic to your site. Content marketing is still the king of driving free, heavily targeted traffic to an online business.

The first thing you’ll want to do is create content that your target market is interested in. Research other competitors in your niche and find ways to put a unique spin on their best performing content.

Once you have something irresistible, then you have to put it in front of as many people in your target market as possible.

The best way to do this is by guest posting, which is essentially writing articles for higher-traffic websites in order to send some of that traffic to your site.

When you publish an article on one of these larger sites, you can rapidly grow your email list in a short amount of time. You’ll be well on your way to a list you can count on for many years to come.


Building an email list is something every online business needs to do. If you haven’t yet, then today is the perfect time to start.

Use the tips above to begin your list building journey and good luck out there.

By Jayvee Fernandez

Jayvee Fernandez is a tech enthusiast and sitting Techbology Editor for The Philippine STAR.

He is also an EAN certified SCUBA Diver and underwater photographer based in Metro Manila, Philippines. His photos and videos have appeared in various international and local publications including Random House Germany, Discovery Channel Canada, and CNN.

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