5 questions to ask before building your first mailing list

Notebook with notes about building a mailing list

“Focus on growing your list all of the time as newer subscribers are more engaged adding to healthier open rates and ROI.”  Karl Murray, Founder of Send.ie

There’s one marketing strategy that will never get old.  Grow your mailing list.

Of course, today we would rarely call it a ‘mailing list’ – it’s your list of followers, enquiries and clients.

Sure, you want Instagram followers, more retweets, YouTube subscribers and more site traffic. But none of those can compare to…

an email from you being opened and read by a loyal follower.

More on that in just a minute…

In this post we will share why a list is so important and how to build a list with your blog.

Why a mailing list is so important

Something magical happens when someone joins your list (read this post to learn the 5 ways to make money with your blog).

When a reader of your blog accepts an invitation to join your list, the relationship with you and your company changes.

They are now one step further down your sales funnel. You can email them directly to their InBox. They recognize your emails and are more likely to read them.

They see your sales offerings and consider them (not sure how to make this happen? Book a call for a free consultation).

To use the old marketing line – they know, like and trust you. And you now have a follower.

And here’s the most important benefit…

when it comes time to buy your product or service, you are now a preferred supplier.

A real life example

In 2013 James Clear, a part-time photographer, weight lifter and neophyte writer started publishing two blog posts a week. To nobody.

Cover of James Clear book Atomic Habits

No list, no reputation, no marketing…nothing…just a desire to learn how to blog and to see if there was a possible business opportunity.

Fast forward to early 2019 and Clear is a New York Times best seller (his book Atomic Habits takes a fresh look at the now-classic 3-part habit building model popularized by Charled Duhigg in The Power of Habit.)

How did he do it?

He built a list. From the very start, Clear invited readers to join his list. At the time, the offer was simple: join my list and I will email my blog directly to your In-Box as soon as I publish the next article. That’s it!

To give you a more concrete idea of the bizarrely viral growth of his following, in 2018 alone he added over a quarter million readers to his list!

To put this in perspective, it is extremely unlikely any of this would have happened without a list.

What about you? Are you growing your list?

How to grow your mailing list

To get serious about growing your list, there are 5 considerations:

1. Where to keep my list?

This question deserves an entire post, but the basic questions you need to ask are:

  • What is a simple, inexpensive way to get started? Mail Chimp is the gorilla (sorry) of inexpensive mailing list tools. Constant Contact and ConvertKit are great alternatives to get started.
  • What tool offers room to grow, but is also simple to use? Resist the temptation to dive into the deep end with a subscription to a full-blown CRM (Keap, ActiveCampaign, HubSpot, etc.) until you are ready. You can lose hundreds of hours learning how to use a system you aren’t ready for.
  • How can I quickly get started? Ask anyone who has subscribed to a mailing list tool and they’ll admit that all their learning came from just getting started. If you are new to the game, simply sign up for Mail Chimp, get started and consider moving your list to a more robust system once you have experience growing the list.

2. What’s the offer?

Surprisingly, you don’t need a fancy, complicated offer to attract followers. To get started, you can simply offer to send your articles to their InBox.

mailing list opt in form

Once you have some experience, you can add a “Lead Magnet”, like a free self-assessment tool, or self-help How-To article (see our Lead Magnet on our site).

3. What opt-in to use?

The two ways to position an opt-in on your site are a static “box” or responsive pop-up. If you know how to log-in to your site, you should be able to add (or update) a static box opt-in in a few minutes.

There are lots of excellent tools (plug-ins) to add a pop-up on your site, like Optin Monster, Thrive Leads and Convert Pro.

example of a site pop-up

At BlogWorks we use both a static opt-in (at the bottom of our site pages) as well as a pop-up. Despite the possible annoyance for some readers, when used well, a pop-up will consistently get you better results.

4. How to promote the offer?

Having a static invitation to grow your list is a good first start. Even better is promoting the offer.

Remember, getting an additional 1,000 interested followers on your list could turn into more subscribers to your membership program, sales of your online course, or sales of your product line. Every year.

Some of the easiest ways to promote your optin offer are:

  • Invitation in your blog post.
  • Experiment with settings on your pop-up optin.
  • Change the invitation message on your optin.
  • Signature on your emails.
  • Monitor and adjust your current campaign with new Lead Magnets.

5. How to use my mailing list?

The most obvious way to your list is to announce every new blog post. Even with a 15-3-% open/click through rate, this will give you a nice boost in blog traffic.

More sophisticated campaigns use lists to promote book launches, product sales and new products, surveys, conferences and anything that your followers might want.

The bottom line

Here’s the bottom line…

You can spin your wheels chasing YouTube subscribers or fixing your hair for the next Facebook Live, or you can build followers on your land.

You own your list (you don’t own followers on any other platform) and you can use it any way you want. Over time, that list will turn into loyal followers who will read what you write and buy what you offer.

It’s time to get started.

Liked this post? Got another 5 minutes? Here are 3 more of our most popular posts all about putting your blog to work:

How to (finally) make money with your blog
5 brilliant ways to start your blog post with a bang
9 blog topic ideas your audience will love


4 Blogging Tools That Will Save You Time

“Time grabs you by the wrist. Directs you where to go.” -Green Day

We’re all busy.

And new projects and opportunities are always waiting to fill any spare moments.

And then, there’s your blog. You know sharing your best content will build followers that know, like and trust you – followers that will build your business. The trick is to find ways to keep the blog publishing efficiently.

We’ve written posts about creating a Standard Operating Procedure (highly recommended if you are thinking of outsourcing any part of the blog publishing process), how to compose, write and publish faster and how to dress up your post to get better results.

In this article I want to share 4 simple tools that will cut of few minutes off your blogging work.

HubSpot Blog Topic Generator

You’ve decided to finally update your blog. The kids are asleep. Your partner is happy watching Game of Thrones. It’s time to start working.

What are you supposed to write about?

A really useful tool to start your blog topic search with is the HubSpot topic generator. Simply type in a topic and then, 5 blog title ideas will be generated for you. Enter your email and it will unlock another 250 topics.

In this post we describe the process we use to generate ideas for this blog.


If you’re like me, you might just have a drawer full of random bits of paper. Or two drawers. Or maybe a room whose door is best left closed. That’s fine for collection—terrible for recall.

Instead, use a free system like Evernote. With this tool you can keep all your ideas, articles, To-Do lists and reminder notes in one place. Evernote syncs quickly with your smartphone, laptop and desktop and with the paid version you can access your information off line.

There’s no need to rummage through the junk drawer, trying to find that great idea you had last week. Instead, simply open the app and everything will be there.

To learn more about the power of Evernote check out this article.


If you like visuals and seeing projects move from start to finish, you might like Trello. This free project organizer is popular with solopreneurs and small teams. In Trello, each project is a Board and each Board has a list of tasks for that project. Team members can log in and slide work from left to right as they progress through their responsibilities.

For those that write for multiple blogs, it can start to become quite confusing just what content needs to be posted. Luckily, there’s a handy tool for all this.

Trello allows you to create different boards for each blog. You can fill in important information, such as your WordPress password.

For each blog board, you can create a title card of a blog. Then, you can attach the document for it and even images.

Finally, all your creative output can be stored in one, easy to find place.


You’ve found a topic to write about. You’ve started making notes. You even managed to write and publish a few blogs – now what?

It’s time to promote them. And one of the best ways to get leverage in your promotion is to put your blog in front of your followers. Think of it this way…

If you add up your social media followers and, let’s say that number comes to 6,000 on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, combined. And if you announce your new blog post to those followers and only a fraction see the post and an even smaller fraction share you post with their followers, your reach could be in the tens of thousands.

how blogworks works

Of course, you still want to share you blog with your email followers, but don’t ignore the viral potential of social media.

That’s what BlogWorks was designed to do. You publish the blog, we turn your blog into daily updates on social media.

And if you don’t have time to write your blog, we can also help you with that.

Get Started

Now that you know a few tools that save time for blogging, there’s nothing stopping you from writing. Pick up your pen. Start typing. I expect to see your next blog post soon!


Need more ideas on how to start writing a blog post? Check these out:

5 steps to writing an awesome blog post in less than 60 minutes.

How to write your blog posts better and faster

7 WordPress plugins you need to create amazing content 


3 Social Media Activities Actually Worth Your Time

3 Social Media Activities Actually Worth Your Time

By now, you probably know that Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and Linkedin are the top five most used social media sites (in that order). Want to know something about social media activities that will blow your mind even more? Check this out…

Image Via: pewinternet.org

Studies show that people who use one of the five social media sites tend to use all of them.

How is this good news for you and your business? Simple! We’re about to explain to you three social media activities actually worth your time. Get ready to dive into some hardcore marketing strategies!

1. Facebook Ads

Did you know that 78% of Internet users use Facebook on a day-to-day basis? That means that if you’re marketing the right way, you’ll obtain a lot of viewers.

In order to gain viewers, you have to know who you’re targeting. Take this chart, for example:

Image Via: pewinternet.org

If you’re targeting a younger audience (anywhere from 18 to 49) you’re in luck! As shown in the chart above, more young adults (as well as some middle-aged adults) are currently using Facebook.

So, what’s the best way to target them? Facebook Ads.

Facebook Ads allow you to target your audience based on what they’re searching the web for. Meaning, if they recently looked up “best skin care products” (and you run a skin care shop), they’ll see your ads on their facebook page!

How? Facebook uses its own demographics system to track what people have been looking up. Before you know it, your ads will be blowing up and you’ll be gaining customers faster than you’ll know what to do with.

Check out this guide to Facebook advertising if you’re keen to get started! You might also want to know the benefits of a Facebook page vs a Facebook profile.

2. Follow Similar Instagram Accounts…

…and unfollow whoever doesn’t follow you back. Not only is this tactic incredibly simple, but it’s a great way to get targeted followers.

This is easily automated with a tool like Crowdfire.

You should also repost your follower’s pictures.

If you designed hats, for example, you could post a picture of one of your customers wearing the hat they bought from you.

Must have more hats! @blueburd6 goes to the #villagehatshop.

A post shared by Lindsay DeLong (@lindizzaster) on

People love to be noticed. Showing your love for their support by reposting a picture they took of themselves in your merchandise will be the highlight of their day!

While many people think they should buy their Instagram followers, we don’t recommend doing that.

When you buy followers, you’ll gain a slew of spam accounts that will most likely comment things like “Want more followers? Click the link in my bio!”.

Think of it this way: would you rather have 500 loyal followers who buy your items or 10,000 followers who spam your account?

3. Hashtags, Favoriting, Reblogging, Oh My!  Why Twitter Influencers matter

Have you ever noticed that people favorite and reblog their idols’ tweets?

For example, if J.K. Rowling were to tweet something as simple as “It’s a great day, hope you’re all well.” her followers will instantly blow that tweet up by liking, reblogging, or even tweeting her back with a “Thanks Jo! You too!”.

Just look what happened when she said happy birthday:

65 replies and 129 retweets.

Why do people do this? Because they want to be noticed. They want to reach out to someone they care for and show just how much they appreciate their idol. Even if a tweet isn’t directed at them, they want to be in on it.

Here’s what to do with this information:

  • Find a loved influencer that’s related to your blog topic in some way.
  • Connect with them by following them and liking, commenting on, and sharing their posts.
  • Repeat this process for a few weeks to a few months so that person gets an idea of who you are.
  • Reach out to them and ask them to share your blog content. Increase your chances by asking them to contribute to it.

These are just three social media activities to help you make the most of your precious time.

Now it’s your turn. What social media activities have given you returns? Let us know in the comments below!