Why Smart Bloggers Build Their Email List–Here’s How to Get Started

March 7, 2014
Email is just mail reinvented.



Email lives.

I say this without hesitation because my inbox is just as full of email today as it was two years ago. Plus I’m seeing great results using email here with Build Your Own Blog.

Does email appear dead to you?

Despite a few hastily written obituaries, email is quite alive and still kicking with relevant energy.

Oh sure, email has a few obvious imperfections, yet it STILL delivers great results today for bloggers and the online entrepreneur.

That’s because email is a fantastic tool to grow a strong relationship between you and your followers.

And for those who want to generate income with their blog, email provides an extremely cost effective means of turning leads into sales and buyers into repeat buyers.

Consider how many websites ask you for your email address….how else would they stay in touch with you? Postcard?

Sometimes we need to remember how email is still free and saves us a lot of time and money.

Email deserves more love.

You will only get her respect in return once you put email into action, though. So don’t let this incredible, free tool go to waste.

3 Ways to Build a Ginormous Email List in a Short Amount of Time

To gather subscribers to your newsletter or blog promotions, here’s a few ways to start building your email list.

As a blogger you can use any or all of these strategies. That’s totally your decision. Let’s begin.

1. Blog on a Robust, Growing Niche

Most experts advise people to blog on something they are passionate about, and I basically do agree with that….but if your passion is Rare Icelandic Christmas Plates, you may have a difficult time creating an email list that reaches into the hundreds.

Blogging to the same small group of people can cause your sales to stagnate, even fizzle out relatively quickly.

So as you begin blogging, consider finding a large niche like I did (the build a blog niche) or something like sports, health, technology or music. Even medium sized niches like southwestern cooking or a blog about your city can be large enough to build a solid email list.

2. Provide Beneficial Information for Free

Giving something away that people want has proven to effectively build an email list.

I’m talking about information here. This isn’t about giving away a gift card or any sort of merchandise. That might get you a surge of new subscribers, but those folks won’t be loyal, because your message and information are not their top priority. They will unsubscribe quickly later on.

Giving away free info related to your blog niche that truly provides value to people is how a dedicated email list is built.

Many times these list building offers are described as a “Free Report” or an “eBook.” How much information you provide is totally up to you.

I don’t advise creating a 100+ page eBook to use as your free giveaway…..most of the free reports and eBooks I’ve downloaded from various blogs are around 4 to 20 pages in length and are in PDF format. Some include visual elements such as charts, graphs, illustrations or photos. As you plan your email list building giveaway, keep in mind that the size of your free report also depends on how you design it.

You will want to invest in a quality design for this free information, as the appearance reflects on you, your blog and brand.

Here are a few examples of how bloggers can use a free report or eBook offer to build their email list. (Btw, if any of these examples interest you, you can use the link I provide to go check it out.)

1. Hillbilly Housewife

On the upper right sidebar of the home page, you can see the Hillbilly Housewife opt-in for the newsletter, and her promise to email you the “family budget report” after you provide your email address:

Casserole Cooking Tips – Free Report   Hillbilly Housewife


After I put in my name and email addresses, I clicked through the confirmation email and was then able to download a nice looking, helpful 12 page report. This is highly targeted information for a particular audience:

Hillbilly housewife free report



2. Faithful Bloggers

On this blog you will also find the email sign up and free report offer on the upper right side of the page.

free report opt-in example


After subscribing I received this sharp looking 15 page eBook:

free eBook example


3. 12 Minute Athlete

Here is a third example. See how there’s a concise, urgent call-to-action that’s appealing. The free eBook I received looked like the one you see here and it was 38 pages, filled with illustrations and light on copy, but the illustrations clearly demonstrate each exercise.

free eBook


One thing you may notice is that all of these examples have placed a prominent email sign up at the upper right area of their home page.

Eye tracking studies do support this to be a good location for your email opt-in as long as the opt-in is not close to a banner ad or looks like a banner ad. Banner ads can cause banner blindness in web users.

I do not have an email opt-in in the upper right side of the Build Your Own Blog home page..at least not yet. There is one down lower in the right sidebar, but I also have one in the footer and I use a pop-up opt-in on most of the website’s pages. The pop-up performs the best, and the footer comes in second as far as pulling in the subscribers. Honestly I’ve been experimenting and learning as I go along, which is what I’m always telling new bloggers to do to help them learn. Based on my research here, I’m now planning to test an email sign-up box on the upper right side of the page.

Back to the free info: Now being a writer by trade, I would hire someone else to design my eBooks or free reports. You may have high quality design skills but if not, you should consider finding some to help make your free offer look top notch.

What about you? Have you already started offering a free report to build an email list? Tell us what’s been working for you in the comments.

3. Create a comfortable squeeze page (landing page) for an email marketing campaign

If you have never done any online marketing, let me first define what “email marketing campaign” actually means…email marketing is using electronic mail (email) to acquire customers (or regular readers for those bloggers not interested in monetizing their blog). It can also be used for branding and promotional purposes.

A landing page that has the primary purpose of obtaining a visitor’s email address is also known as a squeeze page in the online marketing industry.

There are a variety of ways a blogger can use a squeeze page to build an email list. A few examples include…

  • You provide a webinar related to your blog niche. People must provide email to sign up
  • Offer a free trial on a product or service that requires an email address
  • Offer access to an exclusive part of your website only members can see that needs their email address

There are squeeze page template services available or you can hire a designer to create your page.

Here are a few examples of a squeeze page:

Photo: makemoneyinlife.com



Photo: unbounce.com


squeeze page4

However it gets designed, the squeeze page should feel comfortable to your target audience.

What I mean by a “comfortable” squeeze/landing page is one that doesn’t feel high pressured or overly “salesy.”  Some direct response professionals may have different opinions on this, but the fact is many people have encountered a “squeeze page” before and opted-into something that ended up being more hype than substance. How much of a sales approach you should take can depend on your blog niche…over time you’ll learn what attracts your audience (what they want), so your landing pages will get more comfortable (effective) over time. As long as you can back up what you say, go for it. Test and see what works for your audience.

Before creating your landing page, imagine your audience as someone who has been standing on their feet for 6 straight hours…..now consider your landing page. How can you construct a landing page that resembles a super comfy sofa–not a slab of concrete? Of course, your audience will choose the cushy sofa.

Also, make your landing page unique, put some branding  in the design and copy, and you’ll end up with an effective squeeze page.

Choosing Your Email Service

One final piece you will need to build an email list is setting up the email service that collects the email addresses people give along with providing the platform you need to send out emails and newsletters to your list.

If you have read through my blog setup, you know that I don’t normally recommend a free service for blogs. Well, this is also true when it comes to email service. Although you can use a free service using WordPress, you will be limited in what you can do with it. Like a free blog, you will end up looking amateurish, and tests show that emails not being dispensed through a quality service can easily end up in the spam folder. Spam filters look at what platform the email was sent from, and tend to deem free email services as “spammy.”

But there is one awesome email service that actually is free when you start and I do use it now (but I’m past the free stage.)

The email service I use for Build Your Own Blog is Mail Chimp.

email service

Mail Chimp is one of the most popular services today. Their dashboard is super user friendly and has many cool features to help make your emails and newsletters pop. Other free email services just don’t compare (I’ll cover those features in a moment.)

The cool thing about Mail Chimp that new bloggers will like how they offer free service until your email list reaches 2,000 people (or 12,000 email sends per month. So if you have a list of 1,000 and you send 13 emails in a month, your account would no longer be free.)

Here are the three plans offered by Mail Chimp:

Can't get much sweeter than to start with the Entrepreneur plan for free.


You will see on the next page (after clicking Learn More) that you get several different segmenting features, split testing, and other features with their Forever Free option. Two features you don’t get with the Entrepreneur plan are Autoresponders and Spam Filter Diagnostics. I wanted to use autoresponders to I went ahead and paid for the service, which has been a great investment.

Once you’re ready to start, you can do so without even giving Mail Chimp a credit card number.

After you set up your account, you can then add Mail Chimp to your blog.

How to Add the Mail Chimp Email Newsletter Opt-in to Your WordPress Blog

Side Bar Opt-in:

Earlier we looked at some other blogs where the email opt-in is prominently displayed in the sidebar. You can do this by using a free WordPress plugin for Mail Chimp.  You can see on the page that this plugin can be added and your opt-in form ready to go in less than five minutes.
Of course you can use a different service to generate your form then paste the text into your WordPress widgets.

Pop Up Opt-in:

For my pop up I use Ninja Popups for WordPress. I’ve had good results with this and it’s easy to use with Mail Chimp. Ninja also works with other email marketing tools such as Aweber, Constant Contact and even integrates with social media platforms like Facebook, Google Plus, Twitter and Pinterest.

I can tell you from experience that exporting/importing emails has been hassle free using MailChimp.

The most important thing is not which email marketing service you use but whether or not you are using one…I wouldn’t have a list that grows daily without an email opt-in on this site.

Are you now hungry for a super sized mailing list for your blog? That’s good, because

Nobody Brings Home the Bacon Like Email

money monkee


Email may not be a perfect tool, but it helps you make a lot more money with your blog than you would make without it.

Even if you have no desire to generate income with your blog, building an email list is still the best way to grow an audience that is engaged with your message and has a desire to come back to your blog again and again.

What I mean by “engaged” in this context is your audience responds back to your blog through leaving comments, sending you emails and interacting with you on social media.

You can see how effective email works when you think about how many websites ask you for an email address to join their mailing list….Most of them, right?

That’s because email works.

In Closing

What about you? Have you already started building an email list? Tell us what’s been working for you in the comments.



P.S. This article wouldn’t be complete without the inclusion of one of my opt-ins. If you want to continue reading my blog posts, I hope you will leave your email below.

Author Bio:

Matthew Kaboomis Loomis is the owner of Build Your Own Blog. Connect with him on Google+



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  1. Ruth Zachary says:    •   7 years

    I had several blogs on Google blogspot since 2008, each with a different g-mail attached to it. In December of 2013 Google began directing each of my blogs through a fourth URL I designed for a blog associated with my church group, Chalice Arts. Now, If I want to make a post on any of the old blogs I am directed to the URL and dashboard for that site.
    I cannot make any changes to the old sites, so I set up similar blog sites on the Chalice Arts Url and dashboard. I can link in the new blogs to the old blogs, but not the other way around, so any interested bloggers cannot find my new posts or find me on the pages of Google as they did until December. New references to my name and blog names have not appeared on Google. Requests to Google regarding my problem from mid Janunary 2014 until now, have been ignored. Essentially I am having to start over from scratch. ANY SUGGESTIONS? RUTH Z

  2. Ruth Zachary says:    •   7 years

    I seem to have run out of space in your window. I came onto your Newsletter offer on Google, and was looking for help with the above problem. Your ideas are extremely helpful, but do not address the particular problem with my Google blogs. At present I am trying to make my new blogs better using some of your suggestions, which are great! Anyway, thank you very much for putting out as much information as you have. (I copied it so I can periodically refer to it in the future as well as the present.) Ruth Z

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   7 years Author

      Hi Ruth,

      I think you are going to need to start over, unfortunately. This is why I recommend new bloggers to start off with a quality product that costs a little up front. I advise people to avoid free blogs, as they are a pain once you are ready to progress to a better blog.

      Sorry you are having this issue. Just keep reading the blog here and I’ll do my best to help you get this new blog up and running strongly. 🙂

      1. Rob Philbin says:    •   7 years

        Sound advice as always Matt.

        Ruth – if you really want to take your blog to another level, then the best thing you can do is start over, buy your own domain name and treat yourself to an awesome WordPress theme (many great ones are out there for free).

        If I was in your position, I’d follow Matt’s simple Steps for Building Your Blog first (near the top of this page, on the right sidebar). Then I’d cherry-pick the best posts from my blogspot websites, and repurpose them on the new WordPress platform.

        Then I’d make sure to delete them from my old blogspot sites, to avoid any duplicate content issues that may occur. Alternatively, you could keep the original content on your blogspot and insert a canonical tag to the code, to TELL Google not to index each post – so it sees each new version on your shiny new WordPress site as the original.

        Then I’d write a BIG blog post on how and why you did it. Must be thousands of people in the same boat who’d love to hear that story.

        Hope that helps.

        The best news is that you’re already in safe hands following Mr Loomis – he’s been looking after me and my writing from across the Atlantic Ocean, going on about 18 months now 😉

        1. Helen says:    •   4 years

          I love your posts and am subscribed to your posts. Here is my blog: http://www.frib.info
          Please, I am having g the challenge of setting up Adsense on my blogger blog. I need help.

  3. Sherri Grotts says:    •   7 years

    Matt, as always, you’ve provided great content, and answered my most urgent question about how to build a email list on my blog. As you know, I am very new to blogging and Affiliate Marketing. Obviously, I need to generate extra income to my household, but just as important, I want to help those nearest to my heart (Military Veterans, Disabled people, Senior Citizens) to learn how to generate income as well. I want to give them back some of the hope and self respect they so richly deserve. With GOD’s help and great people like you, this will be possible.

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   7 years Author

      Always great to hear from you, Sherri!

      You’re putting action behind your blog dreams, and that’s a beautiful thing.
      You’re going to help a lot of people.

  4. Umer Iftikhar says:    •   7 years

    Hi Matthew
    I setup ninja popups for my blog and added mailchimp.
    But when someone enters his/her detail via popup, the person does not get verification email.
    Can you please help me to figure it out?

  5. Jesse Wisnewski says:    •   7 years

    Great stuff, Matthew.

    Recently I’ve been researching email marketing. This is one of the more helpful posts I’ve read—especially adding Mailchimp to your email newsletter.

    Thanks for sharing.

    Cheers, Jesse

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   7 years Author

      I’m glad you found this helpful, Jesse! Thanks for dropping by. Hope you’ll add your knowledgeable input into other conversations here.

  6. Terry Lynne Hale says:    •   7 years

    Thanks for this well-researched information, Matthew. I’m still reviewing email service options & agree the autoresponders are worthy of a paid subscription. Will keep an eye out for your posts as I appreciate credible resources- thanks, again.

  7. Paul Maxx says:    •   6 years

    Good information as usual Matthew-
    I am just a beginning newbie, and unfortunately not always computer literate, which does not help. Reading your blog voraciously, and I have locked in WordPress with some pages and posts ready to go, but this post on emails is what I needed. I guess once Mail Chimp or ??? is downloaded one just has to cut and paste or copy the squeeze page, etc.
    I have an acquaintance who recommended 1Shoppingcart.com. I guess besides good customer service you get unlimited autoresponders, affiliate software, pop-up software, ad-tracking software, complete shopping cart service, and more. Not sure the price at this point, nor does it work well with WordPress.
    Any comments are greatly appreciated.

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   6 years Author

      Hi Paul,

      I use mailchimp, love it, so that’s what I recommend. Its free until you reach 2K subscribers, so I’d go ahead and start learning how to use it.

      I know nothing about the shopping cart thing you mentioned. Also not sure what you mean when you said, “just cut and paste or copy the the squeeze page, etc.”

      Good luck and keep me posted on your progress.

  8. Kaycee Ekufu says:    •   6 years

    I will like to get more information on how to optimize my blog.

  9. Judy Wright says:    •   6 years

    Matthew, are you for real? With your help there is hope for my blogging success. I have a blog account with Network Solutions (wordpress) that is waiting to be utilized. Use Constant Contact for newsletters; mailing list of approx. 1100 email address. Open rate is between 33 – 39%. Click throughs about 14-18%.

    Our niche is “addiction recovery” from a Christian perspective. I’d love to be able to interact with readers while offering helpful God-honoring encouragement from an existing inventory (archive) of .pdf files. Envision the blog being the user-friendly “hub” of the ministry with hot links to the resources. When newsletter articles usually have a “read more” link embedded in Constant Contact and website … there’s so much back and forth that I’d like to eliminate.

    Being hip and modern is not easy for me (I’m 72) … so I’m thinking I need to simplify (whatever that means). The website “sitemap” is incomplete and uninviting. Any hints?

    Enjoyed your videos! Very encouraging!

  10. Ivey says:    •   6 years

    This is a great read, but I’m not sure exactly what to include in my emails besides “Hey! Here’s my blog!” What other content would be good to add to an email to make it something my normal followers on social media want to opt in to?

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   6 years Author

      Great question, Ivey! What niche is your blog? You could subscribe to a few other blogs in your niche and see how they’re doing emails to get some ideas.

      1. Ivey says:    •   6 years

        It’s diet/healthy living. I just re-read an article of yours and saw you reference monthly newsletter. I like this idea of including a few blog topics from the month and perhaps other tips and tricks or a monthly recipe even. Thanks for all the help! I am learning so much from you!

  11. Walt says:    •   6 years

    Hey Matthew…thought you might want to know.

    The links for the plugins Mail Chimp & Ninja Popups are the same. It points to Mail Chimp in both instances.

    Love your blog. I’m using your instructions to get started.

    I’M ALL IN…

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   6 years Author

      Thanks for the feedback, Walt. Glad you’re “all in.” 🙂

      Much Success,


  12. Jerica says:    •   6 years

    Thank you so much for writing such a clear and concise post on growing an email list.
    For me I was struggling to get my mind wrapped around all of it.
    Your post helped me more clearly understand and I greatly appreciate it!

  13. Koiled Expressions says:    •   6 years

    I’m having quite the issue: my site covers multiple topics so my question is, what is a good way to incorporate a newsletter into my website? I’m not even sure if my newsletter should be a single niche or include a lot of different topics like my site?

  14. Tonya says:    •   6 years

    Hands down THE most useful information and exactly what I needed! I’ve been looking for an email service that would work with a new blog with zero followers. I’m going to check out your recommendation and FINALLY become a blogger with a purpose!


  15. Mickey Smythwood Sr. says:    •   5 years

    I have been enjoying your blog for some time and have learned a lot from you. So I do want to thank you. Building your list I have learned is of extreme importance. Excellent post! http://MickeySmythwood.com

  16. Tanja Turner says:    •   5 years

    Hi Matt, Thanks for sending me here and replying to my email. Much appreciated. I’m just wondering – given that this was written a while ago, do you still use Ninja Popups or do you recommend something else now?

  17. Florence says:    •   5 years

    Hi Matt,
    What is an Autoresponder, and how does it work?
    One thing I have been confused about is….let’s say I have something free to send out, and someone subscribes to the freebie. Is that the same as them subscribing to my blog?
    Also, I have no subscribers yet, so why is having Mailchimp important now? I have subscribe forms on my blog already. The only people that have subscribed are spammers…LOL. (they got deleted.)
    Thanks ahead,

  18. Cathy Wentz says:    •   4 years

    From this post, it looks like it is time for me to work on my email list, which is something I planned to do anyway because it seems like tweeting and sending out Facebook updates whenever I write a post bring in only limited response.
    By the way, some guy sent me a comment on my blog asking me what platform I used by my blog because he is thinking about doing a blog himself. I told him I was using WordPress, and then I recommended that he look you up for help in setting up a blog because you have been so helpful to me.

  19. SURESHA B says:    •   4 years

    Hey Matt

    Great one post, but I have doubts. email list building is it easy for beginners using free services?. because I fail several times. So decide its a hard process for beginners. is it right?

  20. Anupam says:    •   4 years

    Hey Matthew,

    Thanks for writing such a useful post. I completely agree with you that providing beneficial information for free is a sure-fire way to grow an email list. I have personally gained great success through a gated offer on my website. Also, having a content upgrade will also fetch subscribers quickly. Again, thanks for writing the post.

  21. Shelley Plunkett says:    •   4 years

    Hi Matt….added the Mail Chimp plug in for Contact form 7 but have no idea how to set it up. All of those places I’m supposed to fill in made my brain short-circuit….aye yi yi……Any suggestions? Is there a Mail Chimp school somewhere online? I’m not stupid just more artistic than technical….lol

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hi Shelley,

      I would start here:https://mc4wp.com/kb/connecting-contact-form-7-and-mailchimp-for-wordpress/

      Let me know how that goes! Very cool you are doing this!

      Much Success,


  22. Carole Williams says:    •   4 years


    The :https://mc4wp.com/kb/connecting-contact-form-7-and-mailchimp-for-wordpress/ doesn’t seem to be working, and I’m having the devil of a time getting comment and contact forms set up. I’ve slogged through the rest, and this is my last step before launching myself on the unsuspecting world!

    1. Matthew Loomis says:    •   4 years Author

      Hmmm. Talking to MailChimp support would be your best bet with that. The should be able to help you finish that.

      You’re so close, Carole! Keep us posted.


  23. Nadia says:    •   4 years

    Hi Matt,

    Thank you very much for this article! 🙂
    Just sent you an email to ask you what popup opt-in tool you would recommend, but I found the answer here: Ninja Popups for WordPress.
    To be sure: is this plugin developed by arscode?
    Meanwhile, the best rated one I found in WordPress plugin search is: Popup Maker.

    Thank you again and always for your help!

  24. Judith says:    •   3 years

    Excellent thanks Matt, that made things a lot more clear for me. Now to navigate Mail Chimp….

  25. Jessie Emerson says:    •   2 years

    Very informative. Now I need to see some Blogs. Jessie