Neil Patel

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How to Get Your First 100 Email Subscribers


A lot of marketers will tell you that building an email list is one of the best tactics you can use for online success.  It makes sense, because an email sent to a list that you’ve built allows you to communicate directly with people who have requested information from you.

Whether you’re trying to sell information or physical products, email sign-ups can bring incredible results.

In fact, on Black Friday, email marketing services are known to be one of the biggest lead magnets and drivers of sales, contributing 25.1% to the bottom line of businesses, on that day alone.

Additionally, people who buy products marketed through email, spend 138% more than people who do not receive promotional emails.

So, you know that building an email subscriber list is worth the time and effort.

But, when it comes to building your list of email subscribers… Where do you begin?

If you’re new to the world of online marketing, building an email subscriber list can seem daunting. If it’s something you struggle with, this post is going to help make email marketing services all seem a lot less intimidating.

We’re going to examine exactly how you can go about building a list of email subscribers. We’ll go through how you can build an email list using paid traffic, but also ways in which you can build a list without spending any money on ads.

By the end of this post, you’ll know everything you need to, if you want to build your own list, starting with your first 100 email subscribers.

Let’s begin! 

Knowing who you’re looking to attract

Before you do anything, you must first pay special attention to who you want on your email subscriber list.

Having anyone and everyone on your list is not going to do you any favors.

Email marketing services can prove to be an absolute lead magnet of a marketing tool. In fact, email subscribers can provide some of the highest conversion rates available, with some research stating conversion rates of 4.16%.


But, you’re only going to achieve numbers like that, if your list building efforts are focused on gathering email sign-ups from a specific kind of audience.

And, to be honest, if you follow the guidelines in this post, you should be able to achieve numbers much better than those above. You’re not just building a list for the sake of building a list. You’re building a list to communicate with large numbers of people at the same time – in relation to a certain topic.

Sometimes, you’re going to be communicating to promote an offer, and sometimes, you’re going to be communicating just to add value. However, it’s likely that whatever your email content is, it will be content that is designed to help out a certain demographic.

It might be useful to people who don’t belong to that demographic – and later you can target other demographics.

But, for now, we’re going to really focus on who it is that we’re trying to help, and what their traits are.

How old are they?  Are they male, female or both?  Where do they live (nation, state, city, urban or rural)?  Do they have a college degree?  What are their hopes and dreams?  Who do they respect the most?  What influences their decisions?  What are their problems?

73% of marketers agree that email marketing services are core to their business – those who manage to make email marketing work know EXACTLY who their audience is.

On top of that, 72% of consumers state that they prefer communications by email.  But, you can bet that those consumers only enjoy receiving communications, from companies that send them relevant information.

So in short – know exactly who you want on your list, so that you can deliver exactly what they want and need.

Once you’ve nailed this sort of information down, everything else in this post is much easier to implement.

Driving paid traffic to a landing page

Possibly the simplest and most effective way of building a list is to buy traffic and send it to a landing page.

Paying for traffic can be money well spent, especially if you’re looking for a lead magnet solution when you consider that some experience a $44.25 R.O.I for every $1 spent.

If you’ve never paid for traffic before, It can appear complicated or mysterious.

After all, how much money is it all going to cost you?

However, the money spent on buying traffic doesn’t need to stress you out. Even though online advertising is becoming increasingly competitive and more popular, there’s still plenty of space for the little guy.


After all, platforms like Facebook let you get started with as little as a $5 a day.

On top of that, ad platforms allow you to set tight budgets on your spending, so you should never end up spending more than your budget on a paid traffic campaign.

When you’re running a paid traffic campaign, you should start by spending a little bit of money to test the waters in the beginning. Then, when you find that your conversion rates are looking good, you can ramp up your spend.  You’ll know that good money is chasing good prospects. 

If you want to do this in the long term, you’ll need to figure out a way in which you can make your paid traffic campaigns profitable.

One tactic you can use to make this all profitable, is to have an offer for people as soon as they subscribe to your email list. It doesn’t need to be anything expensive and something with a price point as low as $7 will do. By offering something simple as a ‘thank you,’ you’ll be able to build a buyers list.

Having a buyers list is important because it is easier to sell to people, once they have initially bought something from you. The reasons for this are many, but it mainly comes down to them now trusting you and the quality of the products that you offer.

Of course, a list of people who haven’t purchased something from you can still be valuable, especially if you nurture the people on that list. In fact, a nurtured lead increases sales by 20% more than a cold lead.

In any case, before you do anything, you need to come up with something that you can ‘giveaway.’  Creating a giveaway is essential, as it will be the item that people receive in exchange for their email address.

So how do you come up with a giveaway and what exactly should you be giving away?

One thing you can giveaway is a eBook. You can just as easily create a video course that’s based on what you’re looking to promote. Or, create an email course.

I’ve covered here how you can create a giveaway for your list.  In that post, I’ve referred to giveaways as ‘lead magnets.’  

Here I’ll quickly recap the process behind creating an incredible giveaway.

Using the principles below, you can create any kind of giveaway. If we were to sum up the concept behind creating a giveaway it is this:

Know what your audience wants,create something that they’d be happy to pay for and then give it away for free.   

If you’re struggling to find out what your audience wants, one place you can mine for ideas is the Kindle store.

If I was trying to create something in the ‘Knitting’ niche, this is what I’d do.  I’d go to the Kindle store and then search a broad keyword based on my niche.


Then I’d see the following.


If we take a look at what’s listed above, we’re already seeing some good ideas for giveaways. We could create something that teaches people how to knit an ‘Infinity scarf,’ for example. We can also teach people how to knit ‘socks,’ or just how to knit ‘patterns’ in general.   

We can also look at platforms like Udemy for idea inspiration. Udemy is an online education platform that has over 35,000 courses on offer. That represents a great research opportunity for us.

When on Udemy,  enter in a broad keyword that’s related to your niche.


You’ll then be provided with some products within Udemy that can give you some giveaway ideas.


Incidentally, there wasn’t much for the knitting niche here on Udemy. That’s not a problem, as we can always take a look at the ‘curriculum’ of some of these products.


This won’t let you know what’s popular, but it will still give you some ideas, in terms of the kind of content that you can create.

We can also take a look at what other people in our niche are selling.

To do that, we can just search Google for ‘Knitting tips.’


Then, if we click through to some of these sites, we’ll see that some of them are offering products.

Here’s what I found on one site.


I also searched ‘Buy knitting courses’ on Google, and found this site.


As you can see there are plenty of ideas here, too.

If you see any commonalities in terms of the products being offered on different sites, you know that there’s a chance that the common topic relates to something popular.

Okay, so that’s how you can come up with the giveaway, now let’s look at how you can use paid traffic to give it away.

First, you need to think about creating your landing page. If you’re on a budget, you can create a landing page for free using Instapage. Head over to Instapage, and become a member.

They have many landing page templates. Here is one that I’ve chosen for the sake of this post.


Creating copy for your landing page is going to be hard, if you’re not used to writing copy. However, if there is one thing to keep in mind, it is to focus purely on benefits, not features.  People buy things because of what those things will do for them.

Here’s something really basic I managed to come up with after tinkering with the landing page.


Image credit

Remember how I stated that knowing your audience was extremely important?  Writing the copy for a landing page is much easier if I know the target audience really well.

My landing page should connect those very specific visitors with the benefits that they want.In my sample landing page, I explain how the task can be done quickly and at very low cost. If you look at the bullet points on the left, you’ll see that there’s no mention of how big the PDF/video course is.

Instead, I mainly focus on issues that the target audience is (probably) dealing with.

As a side note, if you want to improve the copy on your landing page and ensure that it really speaks to the audience you’re trying to reach, take a look at some existing Amazon reviews.

Here we can see what people really care about when it comes to mastering the knitting of socks.




If we take a look take a look at the reviews above, we can see that many people struggle with the ‘Heel,’ part of the sock, when knitting.  On top of that, people really seem to appreciate the use of step by step pictures and diagrams.

Therefore, when we’re writing the copy for our landing page, we can mention some of these points and let people know that these issues will be tackled in our free giveaway.

When you’re creating the headline for your landing page, you’ll want to focus on a ‘time benefit,’ that can be achieved in spite of a ‘common obstacle/struggle.’  Then, you can go about inserting some ‘Power words’ tastefully throughout the headline, as I have done above with the word ‘gorgeous.’

Some ad platforms will ask more of your landing pages than others, when running ads. For example, AdWords is much stricter, when compared to Facebook. AdWords typically requires that you do not have a ‘thin,’ site that is designed solely to collect leads.  Because of this it might be a good idea to focus on using Facebook or Twitter, to begin with.

Then, as you’ve built out your site with more content, you can focus on testing and using AdWords.

Either way, once you’re done with your landing page, the next step is to ‘Publish’ it.


You’ll need to decide where the landing page is going to be hosted.


The option you pick is going to determine your URL.

When you’re starting out, you might just want to go with the ‘Instapage,’ option and then create a URL.


Let’s next look at what we can do in order to drive some traffic to the landing page.

Facebook can be the best option when it comes to driving traffic – especially if you’re a beginner.

Head over to

Then pick the ‘Send people to your website’ option.


Enter in the ‘URL’ of your site.

I’ve covered Facebook Ads, many times already.  Therefore, I just want to briefly focus on what can be done in order to target your ads the right way.


Perhaps the simplest way to go about things is to by just entering in the term ‘Knitting,’ into the ‘Targeting,’ box.  You’ll then be provided with some ‘related interests.’

As you can see I have chosen ‘Knitting,’ and ‘Knitting socks.’ I’ve also chosen the ‘Creative Knitting magazine.’


Try to find interests that appeal to a lot of people. Above, you will notice that I have highlighted how you can find out how many people have a certain interest. Aim for around 3-5 interests and work to keep your reach above 1,000,000.


If you’re struggling with the targeting, you can always search a keyword on Facebook related to your niche and pick out some popular pages that represent your target audience.


Then, target these Pages in your campaigns.

We won’t go into it too much here, but once you’ve run some ads, and you’ve begun to generate some subscribers, you can then think about using ‘Lookalike Audiences.’  This is where Facebook will take care of the targeting for you.  They’ll show your ads to people who resemble your website visitors, or those on your email subscriber list.

You can also use retargeting in order to promote your giveaway to people who clicked through to your site, but did not provide their email.  I cover those topics in more detail here.

Note: If you find that your landing page is not much of a lead magnet, consider providing another giveaway, using one of the other ideas you came up with.

The average landing page conversion rate for a B2B landing page is 13.28% and the average landing page conversion rate for a B2C landing page is 9.87%.

But you can do much better than that.

What you will find is that the better you can target your ads and provide a offer that your audience wants, the better you’ll be able to convert traffic.  As you move further forward, you’ll also be able to split test different ads,

Though it doesn’t relate to a landing page exactly like the one I’m talking about above, I have used split testing to boost conversion rates by 363%. 

That’s how you can build your email subscriber list, using paid traffic.

Let’s look at what else you can do in order to obtain some subscribers for your list.

Guest Blogging

Another list building approach you can adopt is to do some guest blogging.

Jon Morrow built a list of 13,000 email subscribers by guest blogging.

Guest blogging can be an incredibly effective strategy, but it will only work if you can identify popular blogs within your niche that accept guest posts. On top of that, you need to ensure that you’re providing these blogs with great content that provides a unique perspective of things.

We’ll cover how you can produce great content later, but first let’s look at how you can find some guest posting opportunities.

The first, is to simply enter a relatively broad keyword based on your niche into Google.

So, if we’re sticking with the knitting example from above, we’d just type in ‘Knitting blogs.’


We’re now presented with a list of blogs that are related to the niche of knitting. We can approach these blogs and ask them if they accept any guest posts.  Some of these blogs might not be that familiar with guest posting, so you may want to explain how the whole thing works when approaching them.

The better your content, the better the chances of them accepting your guest post proposal.

We can also find blogs worth posting on by using the following keywords alongside a keyword related to our chosen niche. 


So, if I just follow the formula [Your niche] + [One of the keywords above], then here’s what comes up:


Note: When searching, it helps to put the keyword used to find guest posting opportunities in quotation marks.

Alternatively, we can also hunt for someone who is quite prolific within the niche we’re looking to tackle and then find out where they’ve been posting.

To do that, simply find someone who has posted on a site you like.  Then, enter in the name that they have used on that post into Google Search. You should then have a list of sites that also accept guest posts AND that a prolific blogger believes are worth the time and effort.

You can also use Buzzsumo to find guest posting opportunities. You can do that by searching a keyword related to your niche and then selecting the ‘Guest Posts,’ option on the left sidebar.


So that’s how you find sites that accept guest posts.

But, how do you contact them?

A lot of these sites will have a section that will allow for you to get in touch with them.


What’s better is to first take a look at their guidelines and see if there is any contact information there.

Note: Searching ‘Contributor guidelines’ is a great way to do this. The submission process tends to vary from site to site, and some won’t have any ‘Contributor Guidelines’ available.  In the knitting niche, there are some sites that accept submissions via a contact form and some that will ask that we get in contact via email. If you can’t find the contact information of a blog, sign up to their email list and then reply to the address that is used.

So, we now we know how to find blogs and how to get in touch with their editorial team.

But how can we get them to actually publish our content?

First, we need to pay special attention to their editorial guidelines. More often than not, a site will tell you exactly what they’re looking for, in terms of the content that they want and the style that it needs to follow. If you’re struggling to understand their editorial guidelines, consider taking a look at some of the content that they have published in the past month.  This should give you a good sense of what they’re after.

No matter what the niche, the best kind of content tends to be actionable content. Before you consider getting in touch, think about how you can create incredible content for their blog that will be an ‘easy yes’ for them when it comes to deciding to publish.

If you’re stuck, head over to Buzzsumo and enter in a keyword that is related to your niche.  You’ll want combine your ‘niche,’ keyword, with a another keyword that will return actionable information.

Such keywords might include:

  • Guide
  • How to
  • Tips
  • Step by step
  • How I
  • Tutorial

Here’s what came up when I searched ‘Knitting guide.’  


As you can see, every post here is something that we can work with.

If we want to construct a guest post out of these ideas, we could take each of them and then create something that’s even better. You can quantify better content as content that is longer, has a unique perspective or new information, has more images and is just generally more actionable. 

You’ll also want to confirm that the kind of content you’re looking to create hasn’t already been created on the site you want to pitch.  You can do that by searching through the sites archives.

Another approach you can take is to search a particular site, within Buzzsumo, to see what has been their most shared content.


You can then take one of these posts and come up with a different angle.  This allows us to work with a proven topic.

As with any blog post, coming up with a great headline is essential. In fact, when it comes to guest posting, a great headline is more important than ever, as it’s often the only chance you have to impress an editor. Here are some tips I have when it comes to writing a great headline.

A lot of the time, you’ll also have a chance to provide a description for your blog post idea. Keep in mind the 5W’s when writing the description.


This will make it easy for the editor to understand what the content is dealing with and how it can help out their readers.

Here’s a template you can use when you’re reaching out to blog owners and editors.


Feel free to also experiment with your own template, as the one above is just a guide.

So how does this help you to build a list?

Well, once your guest post is accepted on a site, you’ll often have the chance to create something known as an ‘author bio.’  In this section, you can mention that you have some complementary content available. This is often known as a ‘content upgrade.’  If the content you’re giving away is highly related to the blog post, you’re going to increase the odds of conversion rates being high.


The link in your author bio is going to take someone to a landing page like the one we setup earlier.

The more you guest post, the easier it will be to get your content in front of other people.  That’s because you will be able to build relationships with the editors, but you’ll also be able to use your past work as evidence that you’re a good writer. Though you don’t have to set it as a goal, getting published on a major industry blog can make it easier to get your content published on other sites.

Publish content on your own blog

Instead of guest posting, you can also adopt the strategy of posting content on your own blog.  This is going to be a slower way of going about things. However, it can still yield results. The key is knowing how to get people reading your content and then how to get those same people to sign up to your email list.

First let’s look at how you can get people to read your content.

Over two million blog posts are published every day, so you need a way to make your content stand out.

I’ve talked about how you can promote a blog post here and here. Though how hard you work to promote a post can influence how well it does, what’s more important, is the content of the post.  That’s because high quality content will be more widely shared. Because of this, if you’re just starting out with the creation of your blog, focus on creating posts that are based on popular topics within your niche.

One way you can do this is by heading over to Buzzsumo again and searching a keyword based on your niche.  You’ll want to find content that is popular in your niche and look for ways to make it better. Finding this kind of content can sometimes be hard, especially if you’re using broad keywords in certain niches. As a result, you’ll need to follow the tips that I provided earlier for combining the core keyword with something that relates to the ability to take action.


Here we can see that the top two posts are related to knitting an ‘infinity scarf,’ so that’s a potential blog topic we could focus on. Also, you might remember that the topic of knitting an ‘infinity scarf,’ is something that we discovered when searching Amazon earlier – so we know it’s popular.

Once you have a topic for content creation, you then need to think about producing it. What you want to do, is create something that’s better than what’s available. As I mentioned before, this can mean that you make the existing content more actionable.  It can also relate to creating content that has a better design.  It may even be just that you add more images, because content with more images tends to get 94% more views than content without images.  Creating something with a lot of words also helps, because if a post is longer than 1,500 words it tends to rank higher in the search engines.


You’re not just creating content for the sake it of being long – but it’s something to keep in mind nonetheless.

You then need to get people reading your content.

One of the best ways to get people to read your content is to do some email outreach. This will get your content in the hands of people who will share your content and make sure it reaches bigger audiences.  You can also use paid traffic in order to get people to read your content.  For example, you can run some Facebook Ads to your posts.

Of course, getting people to read your content is not what this blog post is about – it’s about getting people to join your email list. Because of this, let’s focus on ways you can build your email list, when it comes to your own blog. It is important that you have all of the above down before you start promoting your content, or else your efforts might be in vain.

One of the obvious ways you can get people joining your email list is by providing a ‘content upgrade.’ Say you had some content that taught people how to knit an ‘infinity scarf.’  You might then create a checklist that people can use in order to help them through the process.  I use the concept of ‘content upgrades,’ quite a bit on my own blogs.


When you click on that link, you’re shown a pop-up that let’s you access the content upgrade in exchange for an email address.


Brian Dean is famous for having raised conversion rates on his blog by 785% by using content upgrades.

The key to creating an effective content upgrade is to make sure that it is uniquely tailored to whatever your blog post is about. Because of this, you’ll need a different content upgrade for each blog post.  While that might sound like a lot of work, it can really help your blog to capture email addresses.

Other than that, you can also use a normal opt-in box, signup forms and pop-ups on your site to capture email addresses.


If you want to get clever, you can setup a signup form pop-up that appears when someone scrolls off the page and looks as though they’re about to leave the site.


Note, these aren’t popups signup forms the stop the person from closing the window, but popups that appear in relation to where the cursor is.

You can use a tool like ‘PopUp Domination’ to set up your popups.


You might be a little bit worried that popup email sign-ups are going to hurt the user experience of your site. But, many bloggers have found that it isn’t bad at all. For example, Dan Zarella, found bounce rates only increased by a very small amount, while email sign-ups were 1.56% higher – which, in the long term, can be a lot of new subscribers.


When it comes to pop-ups that aren’t related to content upgrades, you’ll need to focus a little bit more on the copy. That’s because the person who is exposed to the pop-up didn’t click on anything to see the pop-up – it was just shown to them. Make it benefit rich and let readers know the benefit of providing of becoming an email subscriber.

They’ve been interrupted and you need to make the interruption worth their time.

Most of the time, your efforts will go a long way if you provide a high quality giveaway in exchange for an email address.

Use the tips that I covered earlier to develop giveaway ideas for the signup forms on your blog.

If your blog has been around for a while, Take a look at some of your most popular past posts and then create giveaways based on what they covered.

You can also collect emails by having a sidebar opt-in box.

Here’s one that Brian Dean uses.


Here’s one that I use on my Quicksprout blog.


Notice that in each opt-in box, there is a clear value proposition that encourages people to enter their email address on the signup form.

You can also place an opt-in box at the end of your blog posts.

Here’s what I use on my Quicksprout blog.


Here’s how Derek Halpern does the same thing on his Social Triggers blog.


You can also use a bar at the top of your website, like Ryan Holiday does.


You can install a email sign-up bar like this by using HelloBar or by using the suite of tools from SumoMe.


20% of marketers state that email marketing services are the primary source of revenue for their business.

In this post we have taken a look at the email sign-up strategies you can use in order to collect your first 100 email subscribers, so that you, too, can use email marketing services to drive revenue for your business.

We’ve taken a look at methods that cost money and methods that cost time.

For example, you can use paid traffic in combination with a landing page or you can use guest posting in combination with a landing page.

We’ve also taken a look at how you can use your own blog to build an email subscriber list.

For many people, the key to effective list building is having an incredible giveaway.

Once you have that taken care of, people will be more than happy to provide their email address in order to receive your free offer.

In any case, you now know what needs to be done in order to build an email list. You just need to get started and watch these strategies work for you.

What have you found to work well when it comes to building an email list?

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