You’re currently reading Chapter 12 of The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your E-mail List.
If you’re reading this, you probably already have a few hundred or close to 1,000 e-mail subscribers on your e-mail list – but you want more.
You want to get to your first 1,000, 5,000 or 10,000 e-mail subscribers (and beyond).
If that’s the case, you’re in the right place. In this post, I’ll be focusing on specific ways in which you can grow your e-mail list beyond your first 1,000 e-mail subscribers (and 7 reasons why you might not have done it yet).
If you don’t have at least 500 e-mail subscribers yet…
Then I have you covered as well.
If you have less than 100 e-mail subscribers, you should read about:
- Finding a Profitable Online Business Idea
- Validating Your Business Idea
- Getting Un-stuck With Your Business Idea
If you have 100-500 e-mail subscribers, you should read about:
- Finding Problems Worth Solving
- Creating an EPIC Lead Magnet
- Writing Mouthwatering Opt-in Copy
- Setting up Your E-mail List
- Getting Over Your Fear of Putting Yourself Out There
- Learning How to Promote Your Content
- Creating Your High-Converting Website
These resources will help you get to your first 500-1,000 e-mail subscribers, at which point you’ll benefit the most from reading this article.
If you already have your first 500-1,000 e-mail subscribers…
You’re in a great position to launch your first product or service online and make your first few hundred dollars, OR, if you choose to do so, grow your e-mail list beyond 1,000 to 5,000 or 10,000 e-mail subscribers.
At this point, you’ve reached a turning point in your online business career:
- Some entrepreneurs stay “stuck” at a number like 537 e-mail subscribers and never really grow their e-mail list past that magical 1,000 subscriber mark
- Others continue to gradually grow their e-mail list beyond their first 1,000, 5,000 and even 10,000 e-mail subscribers and build a serious online business
In this post, we’ll explore the differences between these two types of entrepreneurs and why some of them succeed, while others don’t.
We’ll also outline the key list-building strategies that you can use to grow your e-mail list to 5,000-10,000 e-mail subscribers (and beyond).
Let’s dive in!
Table of Contents
- 1 If you don’t have at least 500 e-mail subscribers yet…
- 2 If you already have your first 500-1,000 e-mail subscribers…
- 3 7 Reasons Why You Can’t Get Past 1,000 E-mail Subscribers (And What to do About Them)
- 3.1 Reason #1: You aren’t consistently creating new content
- 3.2 Reason #2: You publish too much “thought leadership” or “engagement” content
- 3.3 Reason #3: Your content isn’t unique or remarkable enough
- 3.4 Reason #4: You’re spreading yourself too thin
- 3.5 Reason #5: You’re not putting in enough effort
- 3.6 Reason #6: You’re doing what you “should” be doing
- 3.7 Reason #7: You aren’t putting yourself out there
- 3.8 Summary: 7 Reasons Why You Can’t Get Past 1,000 E-mail Subscribers (And What to do About Them)
- 3.9 Download The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your E-mail List
7 Reasons Why You Can’t Get Past 1,000 E-mail Subscribers (And What to do About Them)
It’s surprisingly easy to predict why most entrepreneurs never get past the magical 1,000 subscribers mark.
Every time I receive an e-mail from one of my readers saying “I’ve been stuck at 537 e-mail subscribers for months! HELP!”, I take a look at their website, and quickly notice one or more of the following 7 reasons why their e-mail list isn’t growing.
Let’s look at these in detail (and talk about specific ways how to fix them).
Reason #1: You aren’t consistently creating new content
The great thing about creating an Epic Lead Magnet and getting a few hundred new e-mail subscribers within a few weeks is that it can help you build a lot of momentum (and grow your e-mail list quite fast).
But after that, there’s often a dip in motivation.
Instead of working HARDER to keep the momentum of your new e-mail list growth, you might be lost as what to do next.
This is easy to spot by looking at your website. When was the last blog post you published? How many new blog posts did you publish over the past 3 months?
If your last blog post is published back in June of 2018 and you wrote a whopping 2 blog posts within the whole last year, it’s no wonder that your e-mail list isn’t growing. If you aren’t consistently publishing new content, there’s no way your new readers could even be finding you or subscribing to your e-mail list.
Of course you didn’t do this intentionally.
Maybe you took a few months to develop and launch an online course. Maybe you experimented with different list-building strategies, like being a guest on podcasts.
Whatever the reason, the end result is quite similar: You have only a handful of blog posts on your website that are months old, and your monthly traffic is getting closer and closer to 0.
SOLUTION: Consistency + Volume
After you publish and promote your Epic Lead Magnet and get to your first 500-1000 e-mail subscribers, the real work begins.
That’s when you need to KEEP the momentum and turn it into explosive growth.
The best way to do that, as I observed with more or less all the entrepreneurs I interviewed that have e-mail lists of 10,000+ e-mail subscribers, is to continue consistently publishing remarkable content.
For example, Luke McIntosh said:
“Consistency & volume of publishing YouTube videos was a game-changer for me. Publishing a new video 1x/week changed everything.”
Luke only created roughly 20 videos over the course of 4 years on his YouTube channel, then decided to “buckle down” and created weekly videos for over a year now, to bring his total to 77 videos:
He now has an e-mail list of 25,000+ e-mail subscribers.
He’s not alone. Look at almost ANY entrepreneur with tens of thousands of e-mail subscribers, and you’ll notice that they’ve been consistently creating blog posts or YouTube videos to build their audience for years and year.
For example, Christina Rebuffet has created 259 weekly videos to grow her e-mail list over the past few years (that’s a lot of weeks of consistent content creation!):
It’s no wonder her e-mail list has grown by 10,000+ e-mail subscribers since last summer.
You can think of every new piece of content you create as a “layer of traffic”.
Danny Margulies described this concept brilliantly during our interview:
“Here’s how my e-mail list grew over time. In the beginning, e-mail subscribers started trickling in, and it was like a plane taking off, “up and down”. After that, I did a lot of guest posting, and more people started trickling in. Eventually, I would get to 10, 12, 15 subscribers / day. It was then that I thought to myself “good, we’re getting 15 email subs, it’s working”.”
Every piece of content that you ever publish online (whether it’s on your website or on someone else’s) will add another stream of traffic and new e-mail subscribers to your website. The more streams you create, the more your e-mail list will grow over time.
If you only have a handful of blog posts on your website, it’s time to buckle down and start consistently creating Remarkable Content. You can’t expect to grow your e-mail list to tens of thousands of e-mail subscribers if you only publish a handful of pieces of content every year.
Don’t worry though – I know that consistently creating content is HARD – so I’ll teach you exactly HOW to do it in this chapter of this guide.
Reason #2: You publish too much “thought leadership” or “engagement” content
There’s this idea of “thought leadership” in the online business space that I’m not super fond of. The idea behind thought leadership is to lead others with your thoughts and ideas and answer their burning questions related to the topic you’re teaching.
The problem I have with thought leadership is that while it’s often misinterpreted as “you should always share your ideas and lead people with them”, while completely forgetting the second, more important part of the equation – answering questions of your audience.
It’s easy to get caught in the Thought Leadership Trap where you create a lot of content that YOU care about and you think is important, but few people actually resonate with.
You might even create “engagement content” that’s interesting to the existing readers that already care about you, but won’t attract new readers to your website.
For example, let’s say you’re writing a blog about productivity and you have a few hundred e-mail subscribers.
If you start writing articles about:
- My 5 favorite productivity tools
- The biggest productivity lessons from my dad
- Why I wake up at 5am every day
These posts can all be interesting to your existing readers, BUT it’s unlikely they’ll attract a lot of NEW readers to your website.
Think about it.
Would you read a post about “5 favorite productivity tools” from someone you don’t know? Probably not.
Would you read about 5 favorite productivity tools from your favorite productivity expert? Probably!
There’s nothing wrong with engagement content and thought leadership content. The only problem is that it’s intended to ENGAGE your audience (or spread your ideas ONCE you have an existing audience). It’s not meant to GROW your e-mail list.
There’s a time and place for engagement content, which we’ll explore later in the Content Startegy chapter of this guide.
But when you only have a few hundred e-mails, you shouldn’t really be wasting your time with engagement and thought leadership content.
Here’s what you can do instead.
SOLUTION: Create an Online Textbook
I recently talked to a friend of mine who gets over a million visits to his website every year.
When I asked him how he did it, he shared his Online Textbook Strategy with me:
“When I started my business, I spent a few years working closely with my clients, and created a list of 104 burning questions they had. I decided I would create an “online textbook” that answers all of these questions and write 104 articles with the best possible responses to them. It took me over 2 years to get it all done, but now I receive over a million visits to my website every year.”
I can’t promise you to attract a million visitors to your website by following the Online Textbook Strategy, but I can promise you that your business will get a lot more traction if you focus exclusively on answering questions of your audience (rather than sharing ideas YOU care about).
If you think about it, it makes sense. Whenever you seek advice online, you usually have a specific Problem Worth Solving. Maybe you want to buy a leather jacket. Or figure out how to fire your employee. Or you want to learn how to play Paradise City on your guitar.
When I talked to Sam Gavis-Hughson about how he grew an e-mail list of 10,000+ e-mail subscribers, he shared a similar experience:
“My list grew because I was creating growth content, “how do I do X”, that generated a lot of traffic over time (How to crack the coding interview, how to use the book correctly, how to study data structures, 6 questions you need to know to prep for your coding interview). I wasn’t super strategic about it, I just created a TON of content that people actually WANTED”
Even when we look at the most popular content from Christina Rebuffet’s YouTube channel, we can notice that the majority of her content is “How-to” content:
“How to order food in an American restaurant, How to introduce yourself, Understanding the cashier at a supermarket, getting through US customs…” – these are all Problems Worth Solving of Christina’s audience.
If we look back at our example of a productivity blog, better articles to write would be:
- How to get work done when you don’t feel like working
- How to stop procrastinating
- How to avoid getting distracted while working
Now I’m not saying that you SHOULD start a productivity blog and write about these topics and that they would take off (I think there are far too many productivity blogs out there already, and you should validate your idea first before writing content anyway).
But when you’ve found a great business idea, and you started talking to your audience to identify their Problems Worth Solving, simply start writing content that actually answers their questions (rather than content that you care about).
Then, to take things a step further, you can think of your website as an interconnected “online textbook” that solves all the possible problems of your audience and answers all of their burning questions.
If you approach your website that way, you’ll be on the right path to further growing your e-mail list.
Reason #3: Your content isn’t unique or remarkable enough
In one of the first chapters of this guide, when we talked about finding a profitable business idea, we established that you need a unique business idea in order to successfully build an e-mail list today.
You either need to serve a unique audience, solve a unique problem, or solve the problems of an audience in a unique way.
For example, starting a business teaching bass guitar was a great idea for Luke McIntosh at a time when nobody was teaching bass guitar all that well online.
The same thing that applies to your business idea also applies to creating your content. If it “blends in” with all other content, especially if you’re in a highly competitive market, it’s unlikely your content will get noticed and that your e-mail list will grow.
That’s why I cringe every time I see another “productivity blog” with articles like “how to stop procrastinating”.
The problem with running this type of a blog or writing content like that is that we’ve seen this type of content so many times that, unless you’re reaching a brand new audience, your content will usually fall flat, UNLESS you are solving a problem in a really unique way and you have a big enough initial audience to help you spread the word about your solution.
When I look at entrepreneurs that DO create a lot of content consistently and actually talk about Problems Worth Solving, the culprit for their lack of email list growth is usually that there’s nothing new.
They are sharing a regurgitated message we’ve heard hundreds of times before, and fail to generate enough interest for their ideas.
SOLUTION: Create Unique, Remarkable Content
To win the content game today, especially if you chose to enter a more competitive market, your content needs to do one of the two (or both) things:
- It needs to be UNIQUE and different from all other content out there
- It needs to be the BEST content out there by a large margin
This way, your content can stand out in the sea of all other content out there, and become content that your readers will read, share, and remember for years to come.
Here’s a real-world example.
When you google “How to Buy a Leather Jacket”, you’ll find a sea of mediocre content like this post on Men’s Health:
Just reading through this piece of content makes me cringe. Not only is it impossible to read through a weird “gallery”, it also offers poor, generic advice like “you can find a good leather jacket for less than $500, and great ones for under $1,000”. UGH.
On the flip side, take Peter Nguyen’s guide to buying a leather jacket:
This guide goes into so much more detail on types of leather jackets, different leathers, zippers, and even the difference between a $500 and $2,000 leather jacket:
These two articles are literally night and day.
And for the record, the leather jacket guide brought Peter 1,000+ e-mail subscribers within the first 30 days of publishing it, still ranks on the first page of Google to this day, and brings him hundreds of new e-mail subscribers every year.
When I asked Peter about what kind of content helped him grow his e-mail list the fastest, he shared 2 interesting gems.
Gem #1: Create content that can’t be copied
“What worked best for growing my e-mail list: Posts that were long / epic AND had a narrative or a story that couldn’t be copied. A great example is my dating post (“I Asked 101 Women What a Man Should Wear on a First Date”). I started talking about this subject at a party, surveyed 100+ friends about it, and wrote a post about it. The winning combination was STORY + QUALITY + DEPTH.”
Gem #2: One EPIC post beats 4 shorter posts
“I also tested posting shorter content 1x/week vs. longer content 1x/month. The shorter posts generated an initial spike in traffic but initially died off, while longer posts kept attracting more readers for months. The 1x/month longer post won by a large margin.”
You can read more about Peter’s data behind how writing an EPIC post 1x/month helped him double his monthly traffic in a guest post he wrote for me.
A great strategy that you can follow if you want to gradually grow your e-mail list over time is to:
- Google Problems Worth Solving for your audience, and find problems where no really good content shows up
- Take the extra time to write the absolute best piece of content online on a specific topic
As you might have noticed, that’s exactly what I’m doing with this list-building guide (I know that list building is a problem worth solving for my audience).
Even though list-building is a topic that a lot of people already write about, I felt like I could do better and write a better, more comprehensive piece of content than everyone else.
That’s why I’m 270+ pages into writing this massive guide for you that goes through every single step of building an e-mail list into so much more detail than anything else out there – and I know that it will be a resource that will bring new readers to my website for years to come.
To learn more about how to create Remarkable Content, read this guide.
Reason #4: You’re spreading yourself too thin
For a while, “omnipresence” was a popular theme in the online entrepreneurship waters. You’re supposed to be “omnipresent”, and be everywhere all the time!
I agree that staying on top of mind is important and that playing the CONSISTENCY + VOLUME game with your content will pay off.
But here’s an important caveat – it pays off to be omnipresent on ONE major content platform. Trying to be omnipresent on multiple platforms at once, especially when you’re not yet running your business full time, only leads to a lot of burnout, mediocre results, and disappointment.
I see so many entrepreneurs try to do everything at once after they publish their Epic Lead Magnet.
They go on podcast interviews. They write guest posts. They write blog posts. They start a YouTube channel. They start an Instagram and Pinterest account. They do Facebook LIVEs. They try to take advantage of all the different outlets that they can get their hands on to spread their message.
The problem with this approach is that it quickly takes time away from creating Remarkable Content, which takes time to create.
For example, this guide that I’m writing has already taken me well over 100 hours to write, and I’m focusing on it as the only list-building strategy for my business. If I wasted my time with other list-growth tactics while writing the guide, it would probably take over a year to write (rather than a few months).
Many online entrepreneurs I interviewed spend anywhere between 10-20 hours creating every piece of content they publish, and there just isn’t enough time to do that on multiple different platforms (it’s the same with the most successful Instagrammers by the way – they spend hours and hours creating new Instagram content every day and ignore everything else).
By spreading yourself in 10 different directions, you won’t really be able to create enough Remarkable Content on a single platform to get noticed.
Do the math – if they spend 10-20 hours on a single video, and they also want to create and sell online courses, talk to their customers about how to improve their products and services and to discover new Problems Worth Solving, manage their teams… The time quickly melts.
If you currently have more than one list-building strategy and you feel like none of your strategies are really moving the needle for your business, it’s time to start doing things differently.
SOLUTION: Master ONE Method
When I interviewed different entrepreneurs how they grew their e-mail lists from 1,000 to 5,000-10,000 e-mail subscribers, one pattern quickly became obvious:
They focused on just ONE key list-building strategy until it kept working, and ignored everything else. It was surprisingly simple.
For the vast majority of them, their primary list-building method was either:
- Creating weekly YouTube videos (Christina Rebuffet, Geraldine Lepere, Luke McIntosh,…)
- Writing regular Blog Posts or Guides (Danny Margulies, Peter Nguyen, Gabriela Pereira,…)
And then, there were a few outliers, but even they had one thing in common – they only pursued ONE list-building strategy at a time.
For example, Jenni Waldrop built a large chunk of her e-mail list through Pinterest (as her audience spends a lot of time on Pinterest), and Karen Dudek-Brannan got to over 2,000 e-mail subscribers by simply writing World-Class Blog Posts and sharing them in Facebook groups.
To further break it down, here is what their process looked like:
- They chose ONE key content platform (like blog posts, YouTube videos or Pinterest)
- They immersed themselves in learning and mastering the specific method
- They consistently created Remarkable Content and distributed it through their method
- …and they did that consistently for months or years
They doubled down on what was working, and ignored everything else.
The key pieces of the puzzle here are the CONSISTENCY + VOLUME which we already talked about earlier in this chapter, sticking with ONE method, and mastering it.
Only over time, once they mastered a specific method, they started learning about new methods and layering them on top of existing ones (we’ll cover this in Part 4 of this guide when we talk about scaling beyond 10,000 e-mail subscribers).
Karen Dudek-Brannan and I talked about how she does this in detail during our interview:
“I started growing my e-mail list by posting an article in a Facebook group and going from 0-186 e-mail subscribers. After I did this, I worried that it was beginner’s luck. So from October to Match I did the same thing in a number of Facebook groups. For 5 months, I repeated this, and got to 2,000 subscribers through hustling in the FB groups. I got the same response and over and over again, and people wanted to opt-in to my e-mail list. I’m glad I didn’t just stop after the first post, I kept doing it, knowing it’s working.
Later on, I focused on layering one strategy at a time, and I tried to always have one paid and one free strategy that was working. I now have over 14,000 e-mail subscribers, and get 50 new e-mail subscribers a day. For the next 6 months, I’ll be focusing just on Instagram, that will be another organic method I add to my system.
When I start learning about a new method I know I’ll take online courses, try to look for a specific person and take their course. I took Melissa Griffin’s Pinterest course, binge-watched it for a few weeks, spent 3-4 weeks doing small stuff, 4-6 weeks watching the course and doing a set up. Then I was in the routine of implementing the strategies. I followed advice on how much time I should spend, what to pin, which apps to use, tried a bunch of different things, and saw what worked for me.
Notice that even though Karen uses multiple list-building strategies, she always:
- Picked a new strategy
- Spent 6 months intensively learning about it and creating content through it
- “Squeezed the lemon” out of it before she added a new layer
So here’s the good news: When you only have a few hundred e-mail subscribers, the data suggests that you really don’t HAVE to pursue multiple list-building strategies at once.
Instead, you could just focus on getting insanely good at ONE strategy, and getting in the CONISTENCY + VOLUME by creating Remarkable Content. That’s a proven and tested approach for growing your e-mail list to 5,000-10,000 e-mail subscribers (and beyond).
Only if you feel like you’re hitting a plateau with your strategy and you really feel you got everything you could out of it (like Karen did after a while with Facebook groups as they became more and more saturated and less effective), should you layer on a new strategy, or switch to a new one.
Reason #5: You’re not putting in enough effort
I remember having a conversation with Derek Halpern about how he grew his e-mail list to hundreds of thousands of e-mail subscribers, and he talked about something few online entrepreneurs publicly talk about:
It was a grind.
He said that period of his life was intense. He spent hours and hours writing blog posts for his website, doing research to support them, promoting them, doing website critiques for other entrepreneurs, creating his own podcast, researching the guests to record great episodes…
He said that it was hard. And that it was supposed to be.
That’s something that almost nobody in the online business talks about. Many people say that “you can start a business even if you are super busy, on only 5-10 hours a week, even if you have a full time job, 3 kids, a dog and 5 hobbies”.
Umm, not really.
While it’s true that you CAN generate some initial traction relatively quickly through list-building experiments and by creating an Epic Lead Magnet, building your e-mail list is a LONG game. It requires a lot of work to create World-Class Content consistently, promote it, and then to turn your hobby into a business you also need to create, sell and deliver online products and services…
It takes A LOT of time. And sacrifices.
Unfortunately, the stories of “building a business on 5 hours a week” are more like unicorns in the online business space. The less sexy truth is that you will need to regularly put a lot of time into your business if you want it to take off as fast as you want it to.
If it takes you 20 hours to create a World-Class Blog Post or a YouTube video and you’re only spending 3-5 hours a week doing it, you’ll move at a snail’s pace.
To get decent CONSISTENCY + VOLUME (like publishing a YouTube video every week or 1-2 Blog Posts every month), you’ll need to put in a lot more time.
If you’re not ready to put in the effort and make sacrifices to really build your e-mail list, you have an expensive hobby, not an online business.
But if you ARE ready to do it, there’s definitely a way.
SOLUTION: Go all out for 3 months
When I talked to Ryan Hildebrandt about the biggest “inflection points” in his business, he said:
“I used to work on my business here and there while traveling the world, and I did okay. But when I put in more effort and started taking it seriously and worked on it for a few hours every day – that’s when my email list started to grow”.
It’s not impossible to build an e-mail list or an online business on the side of a full-time job, if you make it a priority.
One of my favorite examples is Nagina Abdullah, who built an e-mail list of 16,000+ e-mail subscribers on the side of a full-time job and having two kids (while having plenty of time to take vacations and rest).
Nagina wrote a detailed article about how she did it, which you should definitely read.
She learned how to use her time more wisely, spent some time working on her business on weekends, and even took “staycations” from her work to work on her business.
The result? She ended up working on her business for 13 hours / week (plus a few 30-hour staycation weeks a year). Now that’s time you can really accomplish something in.
If you’re not ready to make sacrifices yet to put in 10-20 hours a week into your business yet, that’s fine – just acknowledge that that might not be enough to build an online business or an e-mail list of tens of thousands of e-mail subscribers.
If you ARE ready to put in more effort, here’s something I encourage you to do:
Go all out on your business for 3 months.
Make it your top priority. Say no to other things or hobbies in your life temporarily to make time for your business. If it’s important enough to you, you’ll find the time.
Use the time to work on your business (and this guide to guide you along the way).
EMBRACE that it’s going to be a grind, and that it will take a lot of time and energy. It definitely won’t be easy.
Then, after 3 months, reflect on how you’re doing and whether you want to keep working as hard on your business or not.
3 months is plenty of time to get some serious work in. If you spend 10-20 hours a week, that’s 140-280 hours – you could write 14-28 World-Class Pieces of content in that time (or a few less if you choose to heavily promote them).
That should be more than enough to keep the momentum and grow your e-mail list well past your first 1,000 e-mail subscribers.
Reason #6: You’re doing what you “should” be doing
Sometimes, you’ll have plenty of time working on your business, but you won’t use it as wisely as you could be.
You’ll spend a lot more time on social media, browsing the internet and watching Netflix, and procrastinate working on your business.
If that ever happens to you and you aren’t working on your business as hard as you want to (but just don’t know why), it doesn’t mean that you don’t “have what it takes”.
Instead, it could be that you’re doing things that you “should” be doing, rather than things that you “want” to be doing.
I don’t blame you.
This often happens because there are so many people teaching how to build an online business these days, and everyone has their own “system for success” that you should follow step by step.
If you follow more than one person, it’s very easy to split yourself too thin. But even if you just take advice from one person, chances are that while their advice is good, they might not be good for you.
Here’s what I mean.
Let’s say you HATE writing.
Should you then really “force yourself” to write for 20 hours a week just because you “have to” write blog posts to grow your e-mail list?
Well, you can try – but chances are you’ll spend more time THINKING about writing than actually writing. And you’ll secretly start to resent your business along the way.
Your business shouldn’t feel like fighting uphill battle. And there’s NOTHING you absolutely HAVE to do in your business.
As you might have noticed by reading this guide, there is always more than one way of getting the same result:
- Want to validate your online business idea? You can do it by asking a question in Facebook groups, by writing a post in a Reddit community, or even by talking people about it face to face.
- Want to promote your content? You could do it through guest posts, podcasts, online summits, media publications, Facebook groups, Quora,…
- Want to create content? You can do it via YouTube, your blog, Pinterest…
You don’t HAVE to use a specific list-building strategy if it’s not working for you, you’re not good at it, or you simply don’t enjoy it.
Here’s a perfect example from Will Darling:
“A mentor of mine said, “you should stop doing organic stuff to grow your e-mail list, the money is in the ads”. I ended up wasting 3k pounds and over 100 hours without getting any meaningful results.”
It’s interesting. One of the main reasons why many of us start online businesses is to NOT have someone tell us “what to do”, and yet, we often accidentally get stuck in following advice of others that we don’t resonate with.
I’ve gone through periods of time like this in my own list-building journey, and they always ended in the exact same way:
With a lot of frustration, procrastination, hundreds of hours of wasted time and not many results. I would be better off doing things I enjoyed (like writing this guide) than doing what someone else wanted me to do.
If you find yourself not pushing yourself as hard as you want to be, ask yourself:
“Am I doing this because I really ENJOY it, or because I “should” be doing it?”
If the answer is the latter, I have good news for you: There is a better way.
SOLUTION: Find your Zone of Genius
As we established earlier in this chapter, growing your e-mail list beyond 5,000-10,000 e-mail subscribers requires a LOT more effort than many people care to admit.
Do the math – if Christina Rebuffet created 259 YouTube videos to grow her e-mail list to tens of thousands of e-mail subscribers and the average video took her 15 hours to make, that’s precisely 3885 hours of just recording videos.
To make sure you’re actually putting in the necessary effort, I’ve found that doing the things you actually enjoy, you want to do, and you’re good at makes ALL the difference.
I call these activities tasks in your Zone of Genius.
Tasks in your Zone of Genius are tasks that:
- You happily work on (even when you’re tired after work)
- You can’t stop thinking about (in a positive, productive way – like thinking about an article that you’ll write in the evening while taking an afternoon walk)
- You could do for hours on hours on end (and the time just seems to fly by way too fast)
For me, one such task is writing – that’s why I’ve probably written 60,000+ words of this guide so far, which is more than half a solid book manuscript already.
Now it doesn’t mean that the tasks in your Zone of Genius will ALWAYS be easy to do or easy to sit down (let me assure you that there were plenty of times when I worked on this guide even when I was dead tired or didn’t feel like working on it), but MOST of the times, you’ll enjoy doing them and you’ll be happy you did them.
As you’re choosing your content platform, your content promotion strategies, the topics you write about, or even the type of content you create, always try to think about the most exciting way of doing them. Stick with those strategies, and ignore all others.
A great example comes from my interview with Danny Margulies:
“I just focus on writing some great content. All these other things, like “20% writing, 80% promoting” – I’m NOT a believer. I do almost no promotion, all my creative energy goes into WRITING, pushing the bar. Some people are great at networking and those strategies work for them, but they’re not for me.”
Danny just focuses on writing, which is in his Zone of Genius – and he has built an e-mail list of 40,000+ e-mail subscribers doing it.
If nobody else has given you permission to do what YOU want to do, I’m giving it to you right now. Even as it concerns this guide – pick the things you WANT to do, and ignore the rest.
Even if you just implement 10% of what I share in this guide, you’ll see your e-mail list take off!
Reason #7: You aren’t putting yourself out there
The final reason why your e-mail list isn’t growing is that you aren’t putting yourself out there enough (something we already touched on in the chapter about overcoming your fear of putting yourself out there).
While just focusing on creating great content CAN be a great way to grow your e-mail list (and once you hit thousands of e-mail subscribers, you can rely purely on that strategy together with some SEO knowledge, like Danny Margulies who we just talked about), just creating great content often isn’t enough to get your e-mail list over the first big hump of getting to 1,000 e-mail subscribers.
When you have too few e-mail subscribers that spread your idea and too little recurring traffic on your website, you might notice that your list growth is excruciatingly slow if you don’t promote your content or put yourself out there.
Now, when I mean “putting yourself out there”, the other element that we haven’t covered yet was the element of putting your IDEAS into the world.
There’s an interesting phenomenon I noticed with many up-and-coming entrepreneurs.
A lot of them are absolutely amazing at what they do, and when you talk to them (or hire them to coach you), you notice that they’re sitting on a wealth of information that they’ve collected over years and years of getting good at their craft.
And yet, their information is nowhere to be found online.
They don’t blog about it, create YouTube videos, or write guest posts about it. They don’t consistently create content, or promote it. The information is there – but it’s in their head, away from everyone else to see.
If they just put the information out into the world, their e-mail list would grow – but unfortunately, many of them never end up doing it.
If you feel like you fall into that bucket, you’re likely afraid to put yourself out there – and that psychological fear, NOT knowledge, is stopping you from growing your e-mail list.
So what can you do about it?
SOLUTION: Download your brain
If you notice that you’re stopping yourself psychologically from putting yourself out there, work on it. Read my chapter on 5 ways to get over your fear of putting yourself out there, and put it into practice.
Don’t use your fears as an excuse not to build your business, use it as a weakness you can work on, an opportunity for improvement.
Here’s what I wouldn’t recommend doing though: Spending months (or years) “working on your mental game”.
Because the thing is, you won’t become “mentally tough” or overcome your fears by reading books about fears and mental toughness (you’ll just get better at “understanding” mental toughness and fears).
Instead, you need to face your fears, and SEE that they’re just in your head.
The way I recommend you do that is by “downloading your brain”.
You know you have a lot of ideas in your head that your readers need to hear about. And with the help of this guide, you’ll learn exactly how you can share these ideas with the world through Remarkable Content.
Now it’s up to you to make that happen.
You can think of your blog (or YouTube channel) as a future Online Textbook or a Wikipedia page for your readers. You’ll build this interconnected wealth of knowledge by simply “downloading your brain” and putting it on the internet through the content you create.
Don’t think about list-building. Don’t focus on specific e-mail subscriber benchmarks.
Instead, just focus on downloading your brain and sharing it online through all the content you create. THAT should be your main goal.
If you succeed in doing that, the results will come as well.
That’s exactly what I’m doing with this guide.
I know I collected a wealth of information about list-building over the past few years of running my online business (and working with 1,000+ online entrepreneurs to help them do the same). I performed 20 interviews with entrepreneurs about how they built their e-mail lists to thousands of e-mail subscribers.
The sole purpose of this guide and what I think about all the time is “downloading my brain” and getting the information out of my head and into this massive guide, rather than worrying about attracting a specific number of e-mail subscribers with it.
Then, once the guide is finished, I know I will have created something truly incredible, and I won’t think twice about sharing it with everyone I know because of all the effort I put into it.
If you notice you’re stopping yourself from putting yourself and your work out there, change your focus to just downloading your brain and creating that Online Textbook – and see what happens.
Summary: 7 Reasons Why You Can’t Get Past 1,000 E-mail Subscribers (And What to do About Them)
In this chapter of the guide, we covered the 7 reasons why you can’t get past 1,000 e-mail subscribers, and what to do about them.
Here is a quick summary of each of these reasons, and solutions for them:
- Reason #1: You aren’t consistently creating new content. If your last piece of content is from January of 2017 or you only published a handful of pieces of content last year, you need to focus on CONSISTENCY + VOLUME. To create new layers of traffic, start creating and promoting Remarkable Content on a consistent basis.
- Reason #2: You publish too much “thought leadership” or “engagement” content. If you write about things only YOU care about (rather than answer questions of your readers), you’ll struggle with attracting new readers. Instead, focus on creating an Online Textbook that answers ALL major questions of your audience on your blog / YouTube channel.
- Reason #3: Your content isn’t unique or remarkable enough. If your content blends in with all other content out there and isn’t different in any way, you need to step up your content game and start creating better content. Focus on creating Unique, Remarkalbe Content that’s better than all other content out there.
- Reason #4: You’re spreading yourself too thin. Don’t focus on 10 different list-building strategies at once. Instead, Master ONE Method. Pick a strategy you enjoy, spend 6 months learning and mastering it, create a ton of content on it, and “squeeze the lemon” out of it while ignoring all other strategies.
- Reason #5: You’re not putting in enough effort. It’s not enough to work on your business just a few hours a week. To succeed online today, you need to be in it to win it, and you need to put in the work. Go all out on your business for 3 months. Say no to other hobbies to make time for it, find 10-20 hours a week for your business and embrace the fact that it will be a hard grind initially.
- Reason #6: You’re doing what you “should” be doing. Stop doing things you think you should be doing in your business, that others have told you to do, if you don’t enjoy them, aren’t good at them, or they aren’t bringing you the results that you want. Instead, focus on list-building strategies in your Zone of Genius that you happily work on, can’t stop thinking about, and could work on for hours on end. You’ll be a lot more productive AND happier this way.
- Reason #7: You aren’t putting yourself out there. If your fears are stopping you, face them and work on them. Start the project of Downloading Your Brain and make it your focus to put your knowledge on the internet in the form of blog posts, guides, guest posts, YouTube videos (or your preferred strategy). That’s the best way to put your ideas out into the world.
In the next chapter of this guide, we’ll start talking about how to create Remarkable Content – from how to come up with ideas for your content, to how to structure it, to how to make it remarkable.
Continue to Chapter 13: The Complete Guide to Creating Remarkable Content
Your turn: which of these 7 reasons are you “guilty” of? Share them with us in the comments below!
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