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The Worst Piece of Email List Building Advice I’ve Ever Heard + What Actually Works!

I am shaking right now. No, I’m not cold. No, I didn’t drink 25 cups of coffee this morning…I’m shaking because I just heard the WORST piece of email list-building advice I have ever heard in my life! I can’t believe someone who is selling a course on list building would even recommend such a stupid tactic! WHAT??

I’m not in the habit of blowing up anyone’s spot, BUT I wanted to write a post about it because I don’t want any of you to follow this advice in the hopes of growing your email list. First… I’m going to tell you what that worst piece of advice was (no I’m not going to tell you who said it) and then I’m going to give several tactics that actually DO work!

The worst piece of advice I heard was this:

“In order to build your email list, invite your friends & your family and anyone in your contact list to subscribe to your list”

I’m sorry, what?? At first…that may sound like a great way to get your email list started…but then if you think about it…why would you want to invite your 78 year old aunt to subscribe to your Millenial Fashion Blog? Why would you invite your babysitter to like your SEO blog? Do you see where the mismatch is, there? You are just adding people to your email list who will NEVER be your target market? They will never buy from you? What will happen is that you will be paying your mailing list provider to keep these people on your list…for absolutely NO reason! That doesn’t make sense, does it?

When it comes to building an email list: Quality > Quanity Click To Tweet

The best advice I can give you is to build your email list with people who actually want your information. People who crave your knowledge and would pay money to get into your brain. THOSE are the people you want in your email subscriber list. The question however, is always…well where do I find these people? Touche…and I’m about to tell you how to find targeted email subscribers!

How do I get targeted email subscribers?

Add a newsletter sign up form on your blog  – This is going to be the easiest way to get targeted email subscribers. If they are on your site, reading your content and want to know more, they can sign up for your email list through your signup form in the sidebar or embedded within the blog post.

Provide a content upgrade – I know what you are thinking…What the heck is a content upgrade? Don’t worry..for a long time I didn’t know what that was either? A content upgrade is bonus content associated with a blog post. For example, let’s say you did a blog post about the importance of creating a meal plan for your family. You could include a downloadable PDF of a meal plan. BUT, in order to download the PDF they need to provide their email address. ConvertKit also has an easy way to also deliver a content upgrade to your subscribers!

Want a step-by-step tutorial on an easy way to provide a content upgrade? Enter your email below:

Ask your social followers to sign up for your email list – If you have a Facebook page, a Twitter account or an Instagram account, you can ask/ remind your followers to sign up for your email list. These people are already following you, they are already interested in what you have to say..which means they are perfect candidates for your targeted email list.

Now that you have a few actionable tips to building your email list, I challenge you to put these into place and grow your email list with quality (not quantity) in mind!

Did you find this blog post helpful? If so, share it with someone you know that might also find it useful!


Chrystie is a mom of 3 kids and wife to one. She's sold 4 blogs in the last 10 years and now helps other women start their blogging empire. Her love for really bad reality TV is only trumped by her love for margaritas without salt. Her other addictions include spray painting everything gold and embarrassing her kids at the bus stop. #thatmom

This article has 39 comments

  1. Claire @ Fashion + Feathers

    You mean Grandma won’t ever buy the over-the-knee black leather boots from Forever21? Touche.

  2. Karen

    Your tips are always helpful — thanks for making so much sense! 😉

  3. Cassie

    This is a great response to that advice. I agree that your warm market is not the best place to go. I don’t usually even share my blog with mine.

  4. Molly

    Ha thank you for this! There are so many “tips” for building email lists and yours actually make sense!

  5. Abbie

    Never stop blogging about how to blog. PLEASE. This is so so so useful. Thanks girl.

  6. Becky @ Disney in your Day

    I so agree that quality is better than quantity, particularly when it comes to an email list. I’ve sometimes asked people that maybe aren’t 100% interested to do something such as like my facebook page to boost my numbers – but that’s because people judge a lot on those numbers. For my email list I never go after people who aren’t truly interested. I want them actually opening and reading my emails, not deleting them!

  7. Katy

    I love that you said this out loud! So many people spam their friends and family needlessly. Nothing awesome happens for your blog and everyone you love gets annoyed.

    Also, thanks for the tips on additional content. I’ll have to try creating a free PDF to try and get more ladies on the mailing list.

  8. Emily

    Ah. Yes. I have heard that advice before and it confused me!! Not only would it be annoying, but they wouldn’t be the audience that cares the most!

    Through sign-up forms, freebie printables, and challenges I have grown my list to a group that is actually more engaged. 🙂

  9. Ashley

    LOVE this! There is so much advice out there saying follow people to get them to follow you back and have everyone and anyone follow you! What?!?! Ummmm……I’d rather grow slowly with people that are actually interested than have a bunch of fake numbers that don’t mean anything. Thank you!

  10. Gretchen

    This was so helpful. Guess I should kick grandma off my email list. J/K LOL Thanks for sharing.

  11. Rachel Stokes

    Yes! Thank you for some actual advice that works. I have always been confused when I hear others say to invite your contact list!

  12. Angie @ My So-Called Chaos

    Yeah, if you’re constantly nagging your friends and family they start to ignore you completely. It’s kind of like how I”m SO exhausted from everyone I know trying to sell me some kind of MLM stuff that I just wont even hear of any of it anymore.

  13. Rachel

    Great tips! I’d definitely prefer a group of engaged people vs. people who will just hit delete!

    • Chrystie

      Exactly! Why do people stay on lists if they don’t open or delete anyway? 🙂

  14. P.Jeanne

    Thanks for the tips! Definitely going to put these into practice this month 🙂

  15. christa sterken

    Amen sister! I learned this was not good advice the hard way too. Led to hurt feelings

    • Chrystie

      Yikes! Sorry to hear that. BUT it was a valuable lesson I’m sure 🙂

  16. Corinne

    Love your blog. As a new blogger, I do ALOT of Google searching/reading everything I can to help myself and your blog by far had been the most helpful. Thanks lady!!

  17. Lucy

    I totally agree with this! As a new blogger, this sounded like an awesome way to promote my blog in the beginning, but I have found that it has been a complete waste of time so I stopped promoting my blog on my personal FB account. I also find that my warm market could give a rats ass about my blog haha.

  18. The Home Loving Wife

    Yes, yes and YES hahaha!!! Ps – are you using Convert Kit??? How do you like it? I’m using Mail Chimp but really want to make the switch.

    • Chrystie

      Hi! Yes, I’m using ConvertKit..and I don’t super love it yet. But it’s only been about a week and I still have a lot to learn. I will keep you posted 🙂

  19. CourtneyLynne

    Hahaha I learned a long time ago that the people you actually know in every day life, they are not the ones that will be supporting your business ventures!

  20. Heather with WELLFITandFED

    This is really good stuff! The content upgrade thingy. Is that some sort of widget you are using for that? Just curious.

  21. Sarah @ Foxy's Domestic Side

    this totally makes sense. The whole email, newsletter thing is something that I need to eventually do, but so far I haven’t done it. But this is very helpful. Thanks!

  22. Liv

    That is really horrible advice (not yours, the other one). My mom doesn’t even know about my blog…so no.

    Your tips are great – and actionable. Thanks!

  23. Lezley

    This is really great advice. I am a new blogger and I have had a couple of people suggest that to me but it really didn’t sit right with me. Thank you for confirming that this is a bad idea!

  24. Vivianna

    I won’t lie, I basically did this at first & yes, lesson learned!

  25. Sacia Ashe

    I know who this was, because I got just as aggravated(and actually had a post on the queue to talk about it!) Why would you want people on your list who don’t care about what you’re doing!?

    • Chrystie

      Exactly! And what’s even crazier is that he had over a $500k+ launch with that list building course! Crazy!

  26. Stephen Walker

    Comment by: Stephen Walker

    Hi Chrystie,

    You make a good point about the cost of the email list.

    Perhaps others don’t think of that but, the cost (what you pay your mail list provider) is directly proportional to the number of subscribers on your list.

    Well not DIRECTLY proportional but it is proportional so you only want to have engaged members.

  27. mama on the mend

    Thanks Chrystie! Your worst piece of advice example about starting an email list is the best advice to keep in mind.

  28. Adria

    Everyone kept telling me to do this, but it just didn’t logically make sense to me. I am glad that you confirmed this! My grandma can keep proofreading for me, but no need for her to subscribe:)

  29. Anupam

    Hey Chrystie, thanking for writing this article and letting us know what we shouldn’t do when we are building email lists. And I completely agree with you that content upgrades are one of the best ways to build email lists quickly. I have personally got a huge success with a gated offer. What do you say about it?

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