There is nothing more powerful in business than building relationships. And one of the best ways to do that is with a list. The problem is that most business owners are so focussed on the sale they forget to build their list.

There are (at least) 5 ways to make money with a list. And all of them start by building a know, like, trust relationship with the people on your list.

  1. Sell your own products and services.
  2. Promote and sell someone else’s products and services.
  3. Promote and sell affiliate products and services.
  4. Get referral business.
  5. Get repeat sales.

Let’s dig deeper into the wonderful world of list building and turning your list into gold.

How to get started

How to build and market with your list can seem at first a bit overwhelming. It doesn’t have to be.

The basic idea is you are going to invite interested buyers (prospects) to join your list. Next, you develop a relationship with them through regular emails and events – like webinars. This is often called “nurturing” your list.

Finally, you make offers to your list to buy your products or services.

Like any business relationship, you need to find that happy balance between relationship building and selling.

Like any business relationship, you need to find that happy balance between relationship building and selling Click To Tweet

Too much relationship building is nice but not great for revenues. Too much selling might be great for immediate sales but can scare off people who might have bought from you in the future.

In this article, I explain in detail where to keep your list and how to create an offer to get people on your list. Once you’ve got your list set up in a CRM (Customer Relations Management) tool like Convertkit or Mailchimp you are ready to start building your list.

Before we get to how to make money with your list we should talk about the reason why people join your list.

Solve your customer’s problems

People who join your list have put their hand up for a relationship, not to buy. At least not at the time they joined your list.

Of course, you want to get people on your list to put their hand up for a sale – right? Well, first you need to build trust with them.

You build trust with people on your list by continually proving you are an expert at solving their problems.

You build trust with people on your list by continually proving you are an expert at solving their problems Click To Tweet

Here are some ways to build trust with your list:

  • If you are a leadership consultant, invite your list to a free webinar about leadership skills.
  • If you are a financial advisor, invite your list to take a survey about retirement planning.
  • If you are a fitness expert, write blog articles about staying fit without going to a gym.

Offering a free webinar is a great way to build trust and prove your value to your list.

1. Sell your own products and services

The most obvious (and profitable) way to make money from your list is to sell your own products and services. But first, you need to have a sales funnel.

A sales funnel is a system of attracting people who are interested in your solutions, adding them to your list, and then moving them to a sale. Just like a real funnel, you will always have more people at the attraction (top of the funnel) phase than in the sales (bottom of the funnel) phase.

A sales funnel is a system of attracting people who are interested in your solutions, adding them to your list and then moving them to a sale.

The 4 phases of a sales funnel are:

ATTRACT – use your social media updates, YouTube videos, and advertising to attract new prospects to your website to join your list.

EDUCATE – solve problems that are 1) important to your customers and 2) related to what you sell.

ENGAGE – move fans to become followers and followers to become customers with webinars, surveys, enquiry calls, interviews, demo videos, and product pages.

CONVERT – ask for the sale! Launch a webinar or sales campaign, or announce your new book or new service.

2. Promote and sell someone else’s products and services

You don’t have to do it all on your own—once you have a list you can promote and sell someone else’s products and services. Before I get into how to do this type of campaign, let’s first look at why you might want to.

You don’t have to do it all on your own—once you have a list you can promote and sell someone else’s products and services Click To Tweet.

One challenge with email marketing is you can’t ask for a sale every day—if your pound away at your list to buy from you and pretty soon they will fight back and unsubscribe.

Enter, someone else’s products or services.

Here’s a scenario of how it can work to sell someone else’s products or services…

Imagine you are a fitness expert (actually, maybe you are!). You built your business from one-on-one coaching and group classes.

But you don’t have an online course your followers can enjoy from home and get many of the same benefits you offer through your programs.

So, you reach out to a colleague who does have the course you’re looking for. You take his course, like it and make him an offer like this:

You will launch a campaign of emails to your list, leading to a webinar, to sell his course. In return, he will pay you 50% of the sales. This type of “affiliate” campaign can be profitable for both parties:

  • You get to serve your clients with an opportunity you don’t have, plus you earn commissions on sales.
  • Your colleague gets more sales and grows their list.

You don’t have to do it all on your own—once you have a list you can promote and sell someone else’s products and services

Often, this type of deal is reciprocal. In other words, if you are going to promote his course, you will agree that he will launch a campaign to promote your programs to his list.

Of course, the bigger your list, the more power you have to secure affiliate deals.

3. Promote and sell affiliate products

One of the easiest ways to make money from your list is to promote affiliate products, like software and books.

For example, you might be using a software tool you love and you think your list would love as well. When you become an affiliate, you profit every time someone on your list buys that software.

One of the simplest ways to get started as an affiliate is with Amazon’s affiliate marketing program. Simply sign up to become an Amazon affiliate, get your unique URL code, and then every product you promote earns you a small commission.

The commissions from Amazon have gotten smaller over the years, but one of the bonuses of their program is that you earn a commission on anything else that customer buys over a 24 hour period. For example, if someone uses a link from your website to buy a book you recommend and then decides to also buy a barbeque (within 24hours), you get a commission on the book and the barbeque!

Here are some examples of other affiliate programs:

Many popular software programs make it easy to register as an affiliate

Pro tip: If you have a product you love, but can’t find information about it, try adding “/affiliate” to the company’s URL.

4. Get referral business

Got happy customers? Now, use your list to ask for referrals. According to a global survey by Neilson, 84% of people rely on word-of-mouth referrals as the most trustworthy form of advice.

You can start by encouraging your list to recommend your business to their family, friends, and colleagues. But, that only goes so far.

Another approach is to offer an incentive for referrals.

In addition, you should be collecting testimonials from your happy customers. And there are two benefits to collecting testimonials: 1) you get a great reference you can use on your website and in your marketing and 2) your happy customer is reminded of how much they love your products and services and is more likely to spread the word.

PA Fitness in Washington state offers a simple invitation for members to refer their business.

Sometimes all you need for a great referral offer is a great invitation

And now we come to the easiest and best way to make money from your list…

5. Get repeat sales

People love what you do, the solutions you provide, and the service you deliver. Great, but how often do you ask for a repeat sale?

I’m often amazed that the pizza shop I frequent once a month, or the restaurant I just dropped $70 at has zero interest in me once I walk out the door.

I am often amazed that the pizza shop I frequent once a month, or restaurant I just dropped $70 at have zero interest in me once I walk out the door. Click To Tweet

Do that math and you can see that a $70 customer could be worth at least $800-$1,000 over a year. That’s a big customer!

Every customer and prospect needs to be added to your list and you need to remind them that you are there to solve their problems.

Customers who have already moved through your sales funnel to the sale should be reminded of special offers, repeat customer discounts, and special events just for customers. Increasing sales from existing customers is always easier than finding new customers.

And prospects who are still at the “educate” or “engage” phase need to be encouraged to move to the convert phase.

If you have a list already, read this article about using a performance dashboard to track your list growth and get you excited about getting better results from your list. If you don’t have a list, read this article all about how to get started and how to avoid common mistakes.

Here are 3 of our most popular articles all about putting your blog to work:

Hiring a Blog Writer? Here’s What to Look For
Why you should be re loving your old blog posts
3 Ways to Grow Your Financial Planning Business With a Blog


This Neilson report explains in more detail the power of word-of-mouth advertising.

This article discusses why “Lack of trust is identified as one of the greatest barriers inhibiting Internet transactions.”

This article in Forbes gives the example of the net zero effect of winning a new customer, but also losing an existing customer because of a lack of attention.

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