How To Build An Email List From Scratch

how to build an email listHow to build an email list from scratch is one of the most important lessons for people who are just starting their online business or for people who are entering a new niche.

If you have a big list and you actually have a cool relationship with them, making money online is not a problem.

Marketers have engraved the idea that knowing how to build an email list is essential if you want to make money with your online business. I’ve yet to come across anyone who disagrees with this.

But it’s easy for online entrepreneurs to say this. They’re already making money, they already have traffic coming in from search engines and they already have a huge list to leverage from.


Do you think they can use their own advice on how to build an email list? They’ll be struggling like you right?

Newbies get so frustrated when they’re told repeatedly to build a list. Initial thoughts are ‘building an email list is difficult’ and will ‘take a long time’, and ‘how to build an email list requires joint ventures’.

In actual fact, knowing how to build an email list is not too difficult. You can build a list of subscribers quickly if you focus on only doing the tasks that matters (i.e. methods that produce results).

But before you learn how to build an email list, you need to prepare the following:

1. Your Free Offer (Bribe!)

how to build an email listCreate an offer which you can give away for free. It could be a video you recorded, a short report you wrote or a PLR product which you can give away.

Make sure that this offer truly delivers good information and advertises your business products/services on the last page or screen of the video.

We are hoping that the person reading/viewing this offer, will be motivated to buy your product at the end.

This offer should be on a Download page which is shown after the visitor subscribes to your email list successfully.

The first step towards mastering how to build an email list is to make your free offer irresistible and appeal to the masses. Topics like how to build an email list are always popular. You want as many people as possible to download this offer.

2. A Squeeze Page

This is a webpage that promotes the free offer to your targeted prospects. There’s nothing for them to do apart from signing up to your list to get the freebie. This is why it’s called a squeeze page.

No matter who teaches you how to build an email list, squeeze pages and free offers are always advised. It’s what works in the real world.

Your squeeze page, should contain a headline that is targeted to your prospects and seducing them with benefits.

For my squeeze page which you can see here strategic blog traffic, I have targeted the headline to bloggers and explain what they can achieve (the benefits).

The headline tries to hit their “pain points” and makes them curious.

I then go on to explain in bullet points, what they can learn from the freebie and provide an optin form telling them how they can get the freebie (which are videos in this particular case).

If the visitor owns a blog and wants to generate more traffic to it, then it’s likely they will sign up to get this free offer.

3. Your Offer (get paid!)

money making offerAfter your subscriber signs up to your list, they will be added to your autoresponder service (if you don’t have one already, I recommend using aWeber).

The first webpage they’ll see after they submit their email address, will be a message asking them to check their email to confirm they are indeed the owner of the email address.

Now immediately below this message, you can ask them to check out an offer which could be a product with your affiliate link or your own product.

Since the visitor is interested in getting your freebie, you can now promote a product to them right away and make some money. For best results, choose a product which is closely related to your free offer and something which is cheap (i.e. under $10).

So now you’re building an email list and selling something at the same time. If you’re buying ads to generate traffic to your squeeze page, then this tactic will help you make back your expenses.

4. Your follow up emails

After the visitor confirms the email from aWeber and has downloaded your freebie from a webpage, your autoresponder series should kick in.

Ensure that you email your subscribers regularly, giving them good content and promoting your products ocassionally.

NOTE: Before you start building a list, make sure that the above are implemented first. You don’t want to build an email list of subscribers just for the sheer hell of it. You want to build a relationship with them and sell your products.

After you’ve implemented this funnel, you can now start generating targeted traffic to your squeeze page and actually start building  a list.

How To Build An Email List From Scratch…Fast!

The problem with a lot of people trying to build a list is…they focus on things which are slow and need time to get results.

I’m talking about things such as SEO (search engine optimization).

Trying to rank high on the search engines so that you get a ton of visitors to your websites takes a long time. Building an email list using this technique will take ages.

This includes tasks like building backlinks, writing press releases, creating social profiles and submitting articles to article directories.

The following techniques are proven methods which can help you build a list fast. Some require money and some don’t. If I were to enter a new niche these would be the exact same methods I would use to quickly build an email list.

1. Participating on forums

Go to the busiest forum in your niche and start writing useful posts. When possible ask others to check out your web page (squeeze page) for more details.

You need to check with the forum’s policy though. Make a note of how others promote their websites and if there are any rules in not allowing promotion with forum signatures.

You don’t want to be seen as a spammer on these forums. Just help the members and write quality posts giving out great information.

Posting on forums is an excellent way to generate targeted traffic to your squeeze page and turning them into subscribers.

If your posts are really good and you become a popular member, you’ll be adding subscribers to your list every day.

This is one of the cheapest ways to build an email list from scratch. Its effectiveness depends on the amount of traffic on the forum and the quality of your posts.

2. Buying Solo-ads

buy solo-adI know that this is a paid method of generating traffic, but it is hands down the quickest way to build a list of targeted subscribers.

Whenever I get asked how to build a list from scratch, I always try to persuade the person to buy solo-ads.

If you’re seriously on a tight budget, then this may not be right for you. However, when you start to make any money from your online business, I would highly recommend you to use the profits to buy solo-ads.

A solo-ad is where the owner of a list, sends your email to his subscribers. There are no other advertisements on that email. Just your message.

The best way to make use of a solo-ad is to offer something free that is targeted to the list.

So if you’re in the computer niche, you would target list owners who have a list of people interested in PCs, and offer a free report on how to fix computers for example.

The subscribers would read the email and see that they have a free report to download. Then they would click on the link and go to your squeeze page where they can sign up to your list.

What you’re actually doing is transferring the subscribers from the list owner, to your own list.

Since the subscribers are now on your list, you can build a relationship with them and start selling.

When purchasing a solo-ad, don’t consider the size of the email list. Base your decision on the number of clicks the solo-ad will deliver to you.

In the Internet marketing niche, a solo-ad of 100 clicks would sell for an average of $40. So 500 clicks will cost $200 and so on.

How many subscribers you will receive depends on how well your squeeze page converts.

On average, your squeeze page should be able to convert at 40%. The more the merrier.

So purchasing a $40 solo-ad for 100 clicks, will give you roughly 40 subscribers. If you do the math then that’s $1 per subscriber.

Obviously, if your squeeze page converts better, then you will get more subscribers and more value for money.

In general, the number of clicks you get will be more than what’s guaranteed. e.g. 120 clicks instead of 100 clicks.

So on average, you should be able to get a subscriber for less than $1.

Buying solo-ads is the best and fastest way to build your own list of subscribers. The list you are buying from are subscribers who are interested with what you have to offer and thus have a good chance of becoming your customers too.

I’m currently buying solo-ads to promote my squeeze page on how to generate traffic to a blog at blogging squeeze page.

On the backend, I’m selling my product strategic blog traffic. Notice how this product and the squeeze page are tightly related and thus gives me a better chance of making sales.

3. Adswaps

After you’ve bought several solo-ads and have built your list to 500 subscribers or more, you can now leverage your list and do adswaps.

An adswap is when you send a free solo-ad for a list owner, and they do the same for you. Both of you should have approximately the same number of subscribers or the ability to deliver the same number of clicks.

Do you see how brilliant this concept is?

You’re getting free subscribers and all you’re doing in return is sending another list owner’s offer out to your list.

Some people are only using adswaps to build their list. I’m talking about people doing adswaps with their list every day.

I personally don’t like doing this because it annoys the subscribers and it increase the number of unsubscribes. Plus you’ll get a lot of hate mail 🙁

However, some marketers don’t mind doing this and it has enabled them to grow their list by leaps and bounds.

I would try the sol0-ad method and see if I can break even with my purchase.

For example, if I’m able to buy a $500 solo-ad and make a profit or break-even with my offers on the Thank You page, then obviously I’ll make even more money when I begin selling to my subscribers with my autoresponders.

Therefore, I’ll buy as many solo-ads as I can and will do the occasional adswap i.e. once every 2 weeks.

But it really depends on you. If you’re comfortable doing adswaps every day then go for it.

4. Autoresponders/Thank You pages

You can also contact other business owners who are in the same niche as you to promote each other’s squeeze page on your autoresponders.

For example, after a person subscribes from your squeeze page, they can download your offer on the Download page. On this same page, you can also promote another person’s squeeze page.

i.e. Unadvertised Bonus: Get This Free Report On…

You can also put this message on their autoresponders for your squeeze page.

This is basically like an adswap but you’re putting it on your autoresponder and Thank you page. You need to keep a track of it though because if the person is not promoting their squeeze page, then it means you’re not getting much subscribers. Then obviously you should end the agreement and promote someone else’s squeeze page.

5. Guest Post

guest postAnother way to build a list for free is to do guest posts for other blogs.

This involves work and also it depends on your luck as some blogs don’t deliver many visitors to your blog.

However, the effort won’t go wasted as you will build a relationship with the blog owner, get some cool backlinks from that blog and you’ll reach an audience who has never heard of you before.

How to build an email list by guest blogging, requires you to:

– have a killer resource box that is related to your post.

If your post is about designing a blog, then your resource box should offer a report on how to generate traffic to a blog. See how closely these two relate to each other?

This will increase the number of clicks to your squeeze page and build a list for you.

– An anchor text with call to action

With your blog post have one anchor text and make it a call to action. e.g. Click here for a list of powerful email titles

The link should be to a squeeze page where the readers can download your offer.

So instead of promoting your squeeze page in the author’s resource box, promote it within the content of your guest post as well. I find that this area generates the most subscribers.

– Your blog capture form

On your resource box, mention your blog where the readers can go for more information. If you wrote a good post, your readers will check out your blog.

So to build a list, have an exit pop-up on your blog and a subscription form on the side bar. No matter what…get the readers on your list first!

6. Twitter

Here’s another great way on how to build an email list for free.

You need to know that it’s very hard to sell using Twitter. But it’s easy to build a list.

What you do is create a good Twitter background displaying a link to your squeeze page.

Then start to follow people who are targeted to your niche and have a lot of followers. Follow their followers.

Whenever someone follows you, automatically send them an email from Twiter that asks them to get your free report/video by going to your squeeze page.

You can spend 10 minutes a day, following other people and occasionally tweeting useful information. This looks very quite simple but works.

An excellent list building method if you’re on a tight budget.

Summary of How To Build An Email List From Scratch

The methods above are by no means, the only ones you can use to build an email list. There are lots of methods on how to build an email list. Popular examples include:

– Facebook Fanpage
– Submitting articles to directories
– Banner ads
– Video marketing

The 6 methods I mentioned are the ones I feel more comfortable with when building an email list from scratch…fast.

These methods work for me every time when I enter a new niche. The key to mastering how to build an email list is to consistently do the things you’re comfortable with that are producing results. For me, solo-ads and adswaps work extremely well.


  1. Wow! That was like a full course, Alan. I have a list, but I still have to learn some of the techniques on how to build a list fast. There are some things I do not know how to do such as, make a squeeze page and making a download pop up after the opt-in.

    • Hi Tisha,

      Learning how to create a squeeze page and showing the download page after the opt-in are important skills.

      I’ll probably create some posts later on about these topics.

      Glad you liked the article.

  2. One thing to keep in mind about your free offer: it should be something that you’d be comfortable charging money for. And the better quality your free offer is, the better your conversions will be. People will think that you must have a ton more to share if you are giving this away (even when you don’t!).

    • Hi Lesa,

      You made a very good point.

      I would like to add that you need to remind yourself the purpose of building your list. It is to sell.

      Therefore, for the free offer, always leave something out that is very important to take them to another level. Either more detailed steps or a video showing advanced stuff.

      Your subscribers should be able to get this advanced info. by buying your product.

  3. Having a email list is very beneficial for bringing you more money. I have tried until now on my blog only with a free mini course which worked quite well.

    I haven’t tried the other methods explained by you here, but for some time I am trying to do a course with followup emails. Also the squeeze page sounds interesting and I will try this one to in the future.

  4. Wow, love the idea of the solo ad. I’ve never thought about that. I think this is definitely going to give my subscription rate a boost. These are great tips to help one quickly grow their first 1000 subscriber. Thanks for sharing.

    • Hi Joyce,

      It’s comments like yours that makes posting to this blog worthwhile.

      I really hope that you take action and start seeing results.

      Let me know if you’re stuck with any of the steps.

      Best of luck!

  5. Hi Alan,

    So great information here. You have pretty much covered it all.

    It’s essential that you have something to give but not just anything you have to be able to creatively craft something that will make people turn on their bed if they dont put in their email 🙂

    Your offer must be irresistable.

    Great work here 🙂


    • Hi Tosin,

      You got it right. One must have an irresistible offer to build a list.

      If the free offer is worthless, no professional layout or excellent copywriting can save it.

      Thanks for dropping by.

  6. Hi Alan,

    This is a post that I could come back to time and again, because even though I use some of the tools you mention, I haven’t had good results building a list. Thanks for the helpful tips.


    • Hi Lou,

      Good to know that you found the tips helpful.

      Building a list is not easy. The first step is get the opt-in page sorted out. Make sure it’s enticing. Get people to review it.

      After that it’s just a matter of driving traffic to it. Free traffic methods take a long time which is why I personally prefer the paid method.

      It’s money that you should pay if you treat it like a real business.

  7. Hi Alan,

    These are some great tips, thank you for sharing! I’ve already gone in and made some adjustments to my autoresponder. I haven’t been making full use of my list and that’s about to change!


    • Thanks Stacy. Yes, don’t make your list turn cold. Best of luck!

    • Thanks for dropping by Reed. Great idea of publishing solo-ad results on your blog!

  8. Hi Alan,

    You have a lot of great information here – thank you for sharing! I have found solo-ads to be very effective in building a list, and want to explore this a bit more in the future. Also, I am interested in the methods that are both budget and time friendly, such as using social media – facebook, twitter, linked in and forums.

    • Rachael,

      Solo-ads are cool and effective.

      I still need to remind myself of being careful who I’m buying the ads from. If you can find some positive feedback first from previous customers, you’ll less likely get burned.

      “You have a lot of great information here” – I’m so happy to receive feedback like this. Thank you.

  9. Hi Alan,
    Great tips on building a list. I have been thinking
    about using solo ads and will check out the resources
    you recommended

    I totally agree with you about how important it is
    for people to build a list. It is your golden egg.

    Another thing you mentioned I have been working on
    doing is guest posting.

    Thanks for your contribution,
    Jeff Faldalen

    • Hey Jeff,

      Definitely check out buying solo-ads. You won’t regret it.

      As for guest posting, I should be doing a lot more of it myself if I’m not that busy 🙁

      Thanks for the kudos.

  10. Hi Alan, list building is definitely the way to go when it comes to earning additional income.

    Sadly, I hate writing the emails, so I have to take a day at a time to sit down and get them all written… otherwise I’m gobsmacked wondering what to write.

    The tips you have provided are excellent though… and yes Solo Ads work and are a great way to break even on your investment in a short time period.



    • Hey Jane,

      Glad you liked my article. I’m not too keen on writing emails either, but I HAVE TO DO IT. If you leave your list cold, you may as well not bother building a list in the first place.

      I learned that the hard way 🙁



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