[Day 15] Why You Need an Email List (and How to Build Your Own)

Posted on / by Natalie Sisson / in Entrepreneurs / 106 comments
Day 15 - Why You Need an Email List & How to Build Your Own

Confession. When I first started my blog, I didn’t have an email list for around the first 8 months.

Gasp, I know.

When I think about this now I really want to kick myself for taking so long to figure out how important an email list actually is – and let me tell you it’s very important.

Basically you can build a whole business from one engaged and responsive list – no matter how small.

This is why I am constantly telling my clients and community to build their lists because as clichè as it is, the money is in the list.

It’s a non-negotiable.

Day 15 - Why You Need an Email List & How to Build Your Own

What an email list is

If you’re not already familiar, a list is made up of blog subscribers, newsletter readers, Twitter followers, Facebook fans, LinkedIn followers – all of the people who are following what you’re saying because they want to.

They have taken that extra step to optin to hear what you have to say on a regular basis, most likely because they like what you do or they read your blog posts and they want to hear more. They have given you permission to talk to them.

You use an email list service, like Mailchimp or Aweber, to send your list regular emails to offer them priceless information, updates, and valuable offers.

What really matters in an email list

Be consistent enough with your audience so they don’t forget about you – on average once a week – so you can get to know your list and they can get to know you.

It’s just like keeping up with friends. If you ignore your friends, they’re going to start to wonder why and then they’re going to move on to other people who will communicate with them. They may even forget about you if you don’t stay in touch.

When you create consistency and set up clear expectations with your list, they’re better trained to react in a certain way. I send out my Highflyer email every Thursday and this works for me as I release a video that day too.

However during my book launch I sent a few emails a week as I had something important to say – and that’s a great rule of thumb – much like blogging – email when you actually have useful things to write about and deliver.

I know people who email daily and I know people who email once a month, but their emails are always worth reading and that’s what counts.

The thing is it’s pointless emailing if you don’t have anyone on your list, so you can motivate people to sign up for list in a couple of different ways.

How to motivate people to sign up for your list

First and most importantly, always offer quality content. Think quality over quantity. And be mindful of the rule that everything you should put out should motivate, inspire or inform.

If you solve their problems, people will always come back for more.

Second, offer a free resource that does one of the concepts mentioned above through an:

  • Audio recording

  • eBook

  • Short video

  • Twenty minute complimentary coaching or consultation

  • Manifesto on what you’re passionate about

Example in Action

When I ran the BYOB Build Your Online Business blog series, it added 250 new subscribers to a product specific list during that month of creating 12 blog posts.

At the end of this period, I offered to send the final blog series as a PDF book for free. I also sent bonuses along the way.

This is now a paid product and audio book, even though people can access the info from my site if they look under the BYOB category. However, many new visitors prefer to purchase the digital product instead as it contains more specific information, examples, and resources and it’s been updated regularly.

I talk in detail about building your email list, your newsletter strategy and how exactly how to set them up in my BYOB guide.

Which email platform is the best to use?

While there are a plethora of email platforms out there including iContact, Constant Contact and Mad Mimi to name a few, two really stand out in my mind.

Both Mailchimp and Aweber offer full functionality you’d want from an email client manager. This includes setting up an email campaign, creating autoresponders (emails that get sent out automatically when someone signs up for your list), reporting, tracking and templates to choose from.

If you learn to use them in the most effective way possible, they’ll serve your business’ best interests. At the end of the day it comes down to your personal preference as to which you choose.


This email platform has been around forever and has a huge user base of very satisfied customers. Aweber is the longest standing platform renowned for having the best deliverability rates and highest open rates.

Besides being known for its smart segmentation services, or being able to target certain members of your list based on their previous activity, they also have a great system where no matter how many times one person signs up to your different lists, you’ll never accidentally email them more than one time, which can happen with Mailchimp (and many other platforms actually).

Aweber’s ability to track newsletter campaigns to sales has always been one of their strongest points, but Mailchimp has been working to make their conversion tracking more robust.


This email platform wins many over with its easy-to-use interface, range of great email templates, and its ability to seamlessly connect and share to your social media sites.What’s more, you’re able to use their service for free for up to 2,000 subscribers.

It also connects with Google Analytics and has several plugins to integrate with other services you may already use, including a new one for a shopping cart so you can see if your email campaigns are converting to actual sales.

Personally, I began with Mailchimp and stuck with it for a long time as it was really easy to use, effective, and straightforward in delivering communication to my list. Plus I loved the easy-to-customize templates and the plugins that connected to services like Freshbooks and Eventbrite.

Day 15 Blog Challenge to accept in 3 easy steps

1. Write a response blog post to this question:

How are you building your email list?

Top Tip: If you’re not at this stage you can instead choose to answer what the purpose of your email/ newsletter would be, how often you’d like to send it and the type of content and value you would provide to readers. In fact this is good to include in your blog response regardless!

2. Share your blog post response:

Don’t forget to leave a comment below or a trackback to your blog response. Share your post from your own site on social media using #TSE30DC at the end of your tweet or post.

3. Embed the 30 Day Blog Challenge badge in your post:

Choose the badge you most like from right here. Then just COPY the HTML code already pre done for you, and PASTE it into the HTML tab of your post or on your sidebar using the TEXT widget and pasting the code straight in.

Read these resource posts to help you

Check out this post to learn more Who deserves your time? A lesson in managing your newsletter strategy

And if you’re experiencing email overwhelm from signing up to too many newsletters then read My 3 Step System To Reduce Email Madness

What’s next in the 30 Day Blog Challenge?

If you want to go above and beyond you can:

Click to tweet this: Why does an email list matter & how are you building yours? #TSE30DC

Grab a copy of my Suitcase Entrepreneur book – Just hit No. 1 Best Seller List on Amazon.

Follow the 30 Day Blog Challenge Pinterest board (and see if you can spot your own post there)

Stay tuned for tomorrow’s blog post for Day 16 Work Smart, Not Hard. Why You Should Outsource & Where to Start.

Round up of your blog posts today