You’re currently reading Chapter 1 of The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your E-mail List.
How do you get your first 10,000 e-mail subscribers from scratch?
I interviewed 20 online entrepreneurs with e-mail lists of 1,000-40,000 e-mail subscribers to answer that exact question.
To get to your first 10,000 e-mail subscribers and beyond, you’ll have to go through 4 different stages of e-mail list growth:
- STAGE 1: TRACTION (Your First 100 Email Subscribers)
- STAGE 2: MOMENTUM (Getting to 500-1,000 Email Subscribers)
- STAGE 3: GROWTH (Growing to 5,000-10,000 Email Subscribers)
- STAGE 4: SCALE (Scaling Beyond 20,000-40,000 Email Subscribers)
In this post, I’ll give you a high-level overview of how you can go from 0 to 10,000+ e-mail subscribers and beyond, and guide you to other chapters of The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your E-mail List that will give you specific strategies and tactics for moving through each of these stages.
You can use this as a high-level guide and refer to it whenever you’re in doubt what you should be doing to grow your e-mail list to the next stage.
Note that these stages aren’t set in stone.
- You might find that you can use the strategies from the TRACTION stage to go to well over 500 e-mail subscribers.
- You might find that you can use the strategies from the MOMENTUM stage to go to over 2,000 e-mail subscribers.
- Or, you might find that you’ll have to move to the SCALE stage earlier than expected, at 5,000 e-mail subscribers.
These are general benchmarks that I created based on the common patterns I noticed among the entrepreneurs I interviewed, but will differ from industry to industry.
Table of Contents
- 1 STAGE 1: TRACTION (Your First 100 Email Subscribers)
- 2 STAGE 2: MOMENTUM (Getting to 500-1,000 Email Subscribers)
- 3 STAGE 3: GROWTH (Growing to 5,000-10,000 Email Subscribers)
- 4 STAGE 4: SCALE (Scaling Beyond 20,000-40,000 Email Subscribers)
- 5 WARNING: Don’t skip the earlier stages!
- 6 Too simple to be true?
STAGE 1: TRACTION (Your First 100 Email Subscribers)
When you’re just starting an online business, the first big benchmark that you’ll pursue is getting to your first 100 e-mail subscribers.
Finding this initial traction will tell you that “there’s something there”, and you’ll want to hit this benchmark within 1-2 weeks of choosing a new business idea.
This stage doesn’t require you to set up a website, write any major content, or put a lot of effort into growing your email list.
It’s a much more experimental stage where you’re dipping your toes in the water and figuring out if your business idea is a good idea to pursue, and finding your first few potential customers for your new business.
The most important thing at this stage is to see one or more Moments of Traction – signs that there is a lot of demand for this idea.
Throughout this stage, you will:
- Come up With a Profitable Online Business Idea
- Run List Building Experiments to Validate Your Idea
- Experience Your First Moments of Traction
- Collect Your First 100+ Email Addresses
You won’t need a website or to write a ton of content at this stage. You won’t need to spend months in this stage either.
By running List Building Experiments and experiencing your first Moments of Traction, you’ll be able to collect your first 100 e-mail subscribers in a matter of days or weeks.
You can read the chapters of the TRACTION stage to get to your first 100 e-mail subscribers below:
Chapter 2: How to Find a Profitable Online Business Idea
Chapter 3: How to Validate Your Online Business Idea
Chapter 4: How to Get Un-Stuck With Your Online Business Idea
STAGE 2: MOMENTUM (Getting to 500-1,000 Email Subscribers)
Once you’ve got to your first 100-ish e-mail subscribers and successfully validated your Unique Business Idea, you’ll have your first 100 potential customers that you can talk to and better understand how you can help them.
You’ll also have your first 100 Raving Fans that will give you feedback on your first few pieces of content, help you spread the word about it, and maybe even become your first paying customers.
You’ll then create (and spread the word about) an Epic Lead Magnet that will solve a major problem of your audience and help you attract more Raving Fans to your business.
Creating and spreading the word about this resource will help you make a name out of yourself and make a big entrance in your industry, as well as grow your e-mail list to 500+ e-mail subscribers.
You’ll also create a High-Converting Website with all the essential elements that will help you convert your website visitors into e-mail subscribers.
Throughout this stage, you will:
- Find Problems Worth Solving
- Create Your Lead Magnet
- Learn How to Write Mouthwatering Opt-in Copy
- Set Up Your Email List
- Get Over Your Fear of Putting Yourself Out There
- Promote Your Lead Magnet
- Create Your High-Converting Website
If you squeezed the lemon out of the TRACTION stage, you will be able to go through this stage over a couple of weeks.
After you complete this stage, you’ll be able to create your first online course or get your first few coaching clients or to continue to the MOMENTUM stage to grow your e-mail list to thousands of e-mail subscribers.
You can read the chapters of the MOMENTUM stage to build your e-mail list to 500-1,000 e-mail subscribers below:
Chapter 5: How to Find Problems Worth Solving
Chapter 6: How to Create an EPIC Lead Magnet
Chapter 7: How to Write Mouthwatering Opt-in Copy
Chapter 8: How to Set Up Your E-mail List (Plus my 3 Favorite E-mail Providers)
Chapter 9: How to Get Over Your Fear of Putting Yourself Out There
Chapter 10: How to Promote Your Content
Chapter 11: How to Create a High-Converting Website
STAGE 3: GROWTH (Growing to 5,000-10,000 Email Subscribers)
By the time you reach the GROWTH stage, you’ll feel like your business idea is turning into a real business.
You’ll have an e-mail list of 500-1,000 e-mail subscribers, and you’ll likely already have your first few paying clients through coaching or online courses you created.
You’ll also have a High-Converting Website with an Epic Lead Magnet that will convert your website visitors into e-mail subscribers.
At this point, the real work will begin.
You’ll spend the next few months consistently creating Remarkable Content, which will become a core driver for adding new streams of email subscribers to your business.
There’s no “one size fits all” strategy here in terms of choosing the right Content Platform for your business, though the vast majority of established entrepreneurs either use blog content, or YouTube to get to their first 5,000-10,000 email subscribers.
What more or less everyone has in common though is that they:
- Stick with ONE Content Platform that suits their industry and their strengths well
- Consistently create World-Class Content to keep growing their e-mail list
- Don’t worry about pursuing multiple platforms (like Pinterest, Instagram, Facebook Ads,…) at the same time
The focus on mastering ONE List-Building Strategy, consistently creating World-Class Content that your readers love and building a Bulletproof List Building System will help you go from 1,000 to 5,000 or even 10,000 e-mail subscribers.
Throughout this stage, you will:
- Choose Your Ideal Content Platform
- Learn How to Consistently Create Remarkable Content
- Develop Your Long-Term Content Strategy
This stage will take longer than the previous two stages, in most cases anywhere between 6-12 months.
The key in this stage is staying focused on your one core List-Building Strategy and consistently building and growing your Content Base so you can continue to attract new, fresh potential customers to your business every day.
The less you get stuck in random List-Building Strategies, the more steadily your e-mail list will grow.
Throughout this stage you might want to take a “break” from list-building to create and launch online products and services (which is a big reason why your list growth might slow down), which will help you bring in the revenue to your online business.
At this stage, you’ll likely be able to make anywhere between $10-$50k/year with your online business (or in some cases even over $100k/year), which might be enough to run your online business part time or even full time.
You can read the chapters of the GROWTH stage to grow your e-mail list to 5,000-10,000 e-mail subscribers below:
Chapter 12: How to Break The Magical 1,000 Subscriber Mark (and 7 Mistakes to Avoid)
Chapter 13: How to Create Remarkable Content
Chapter 14: How to Consistently Create New Content Every Week
Chapter 15: Your Long-Term Content Strategy
STAGE 4: SCALE (Scaling Beyond 20,000-40,000 Email Subscribers)
Once you get to roughly 5,000-10,000 e-mail subscribers, your steady growth of your e-mail list might slow down, especially if you frequently launch online products or services and clean up your e-mail list.
Just doing “more of what works” won’t be enough to break the plateau, and even though your email list will grow, you’ll want to grow it faster.
To break this plateau, you’ll want to:
- Streamline your Remarkable Content Creation through automation, systematization and delegation
- Layer one or more new List-Building Strategies on top of your existing strategies to create additional streams of e-mail subscribers
Streamlining your existing system will help you create the time and space to master and layer on a new strategy, so you can reach new audiences and diversify where you get your traffic from.
For example, if YouTube is your main List-Building Strategy but you feel like you’re hitting a ceiling with it, you might want to start blogging, learning about SEO or using Pinterest to add a new, fresh stream of traffic to help you grow your e-mail list.
Doing this might take longer than you’d want it to (as adding each layer could take 6-12 months), but it’s what will ultimately help you keep growing your e-mail list to 10,000-40,000 email subscribers and beyond.
You can read the final chapter of the SCALE stage to scale your e-mail list to 20,000-40,000 e-mail subscribers and beyond below:
Chapter 16: Advanced List-Building Strategies
WARNING: Don’t skip the earlier stages!
The #1 reason why most entrepreneurs fail with growing their e-mail list (that nobody talks about) is that they skip one of the earlier stages of growing your e-mail list.
For example, you could create an incredible lead magnet (MOMENTUM stage) and write all the content in the world (GROWTH stage), but if you haven’t got the initial traction with your Unique Business Idea, chances are you’ll hear crickets as you try to attract people to your website.
Each of the foundations you create is the foundation for the next stage:
- Going through the TRACTION stage helps you validate your business idea, so you can invest more time and energy into pursuing it (and helps you attract your first 100 Raving Fans)
- Going through the MOMENTUM stage helps you make a name out of yourself in your industry, turn new visitors into Raving Fans, and convert traffic into e-mail subscribers.
- Going through the GROWTH stage helps you create a repeatable system for growing your e-mail list, that will make sure your e-mail list keeps growing every day.
- Going through the SCALE stage helps you streamline your existing list building system and add additional layers of list building systems to your business
If you skip (or half-ass) any of the stages, you’ll sooner or later hit a plateau as you try to speed through the remaining stages.
Instead of breezing through the stages, focus on squeezing the lemon and getting everything you can out of every stage.
I’ve seen entrepreneurs attract 500+ e-mail subscribers in TRACTION stage within a few weeks, and well over 2,000 e-mail subscribers from the MOMENTUM stage within a few months, with far less work than if they quickly moved to the next stages.
Too simple to be true?
This high-level breakdown might sound super simple, perhaps even too simple.
Notice I didn’t talk about e-mail list segmentation, 5-day challenges, giveaways, chat bots or other List-Building Tactics many people like to talk about.
That’s because almost every entrepreneur I talked to didn’t rely on those tactics to grow their e-mail list to thousands of e-mail subscribers, at least not in the long run.
90% of entrepreneurs I talked to used a system very similar to this one and agreed that the other List-Building Tactics were mostly distractions and shiny objects that slowed down their list growth.
In essence, going from 0 to 10,000+ e-mail subscribers IS simple:
- Find a Unique Business Idea, test it and collect your first 100 e-mail subscribers
- Create and spread the word about an Epic Resource and create a High-Converting Website to get to 500-1,000 e-mail subscribers
- Create a lot of World-Class Content through a core List-Building Strategy that works for you to get to 5,000-10,000 e-mail subscribers
- Streamline your initial List-Building Strategy and layer on additional strategies one by one to beyond 20,000-40,000 e-mail subscribers
But of course, just because list building is simple, it doesn’t mean it’s easy.
There are a lot of details that go into each of these stages, a lot of mistakes you could make along the way, and a lot of distractions that could slow down your progress.
The Ultimate Guide to Growing Your E-mail List will help you navigate each stage in A LOT more detail, and help you build your e-mail list of tens of thousands of e-mail subscribers throughout the next chapters.
Continue to Chapter 2: How to Find a Profitable Online Business Idea
Your Turn: Which stage of E-mail List Growth are you in right now? TRACTION, MOMENTUM, GROWTH or SCALE? Let us know in the comments below!
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