9 Ways to Grow Your Email List to 1,000 Subscribers

Last updated on June 9, 2020  ∙ by Edwin Contreras1 comments
How to grow your email list fast

I may earn a commission for purchases made through links in this post.

If you want to grow your email list fast, you're in the right place.

When you start a blog one of the first things you need to do is start an email list. Let me explain why.

Let's follow the path of a typical reader. They land on your blog post (from Google, Pinterest, Facebook, etc). They read your content, click around... and then leave.

If you don't establish a way for that reader to come back - your blog is just a revolving door.

Having an email list lets you connect with your readers again and build an audience of loyal followers.

This is your tribe. These are the people who will try what you recommend and buy what you create.

Here's the workflow we want to avoid: Traffic -> Blog Post -> Exit

Here's a much better workflow: Traffic -> Blog Post -> Email List -> Sales

If you're getting traffic but not email subscribers, this blog post is for you.

Here are 8 list growth hacks to get your first 1,000 subscribers fast.

This article assumes you've already started an email list and have an email marketing service like ConvertKit.


If you don't, sign up here for free. If you use my link you unlock the ability to send emails to up to 1,000 email subscribers for free.

1. Use a list-building plugin

If you're just starting out, slapping up the generic opt-in forms offered by ConvertKit (or MailChimp) is fine. This will get you started on the right track to collecting and sending emails.

However, boring forms like this aren't going to explode your list growth the way we want it to.

To truly grow your email list fast, you need to have the power of a list-building plugin.

Here's what you can do with the power of a list-building plugin:

  • Choose high-converting pre-made templates.
  • Have complete control over when and where forms show up.
  • Create multiple forms and A/B test them against each other.
  • See the what conversion rate is of each form.
  • See what pages subscribers are joining from.

Here are the best list building plugins for WordPress:

Each of these plugins can integrate with ConvertKit, so your leads can be sent and tagged (more on tagging later).

2. Create an irresistible free offer

When I started blogging, I didn't even have an email list. I wasn't selling anything, so I thought I didn't need one. Strike one!

When I finally got around it I had a simple opt-in form that said "Subscribe for updates". Strike two!

But it gets worse. The few subscribers I had only received sporadic emails letting them know I published a new blog post. Strike three, you're out!

I learned the hard way that nobody joins newsletters because nobody really wants to receive more email.

Just putting up an email sign-up form asking people to join your list isn't going to cut it.

In order to get signups, you need to give away something in exchange for their email address. The freebie you give away is called a lead magnet.

Here are some examples of lead magnets you can give away:

  • Ebook

Creating an ebook is not difficult. That's because you can use your own blog posts for the content.​

For example, say you have 4-5 articles on the same subject. You can put these articles together (each one as a different chapter) and your book is done.

To do this, open a document in Google Docs, paste the content, and make adjustments. Then, save/export the file as a PDF and your ebook is ready!

You can design an ebook cover using Canva Pro and beautiful ebook mockups with Mockupshots here.

Half the time, the mockup "sells" the freebie more than your actual text and design do.

  • Course

Offering a digital course is another great option, depending on your niche. I offer a free course as my freebie because it directly relates to my main product, the Six Figure Bloggers Blueprint course.

One of the challenges of offering a course is that many readers don't want to give you more of their time. Often times, they just want a "tangible" item like a PDF.

To create a course you can use the Thrive Apprentice plugin (what I use for my courses). Another option is to use the Teachable platform instead.

  • Cheatsheet / checklist / report

Sometimes, the simpler the offer, the better the conversions. You can offer a quick win to your readers by giving away a PDF file like a printable checklist, for example.

  • Challenge

Rather than receiving a tangible file, some people want to be a part of something.

Create a short 3 day challenge where you teach something different each day. Challenges work really well, especially for the personal growth niche (like finance and health).

  • Quiz

Using a quiz or a survey is a highly effective lead magnet.

The reason it works is because it doesn't even look like a signup form - because it isn't! It is just a quiz to test their knowledge or learn something about themselves.

At the end of the quiz they will need to enter their email address to get the results.

You can set this up using Thrive Quiz Builder.

Creating a lead magnet is incredibly simple. You can create most of them with Canva for free.​


Start by searching for a template in Canva (look for report, calendar, checklist, etc. When you're done, save as a PDF.


If you create a checklist and want your checkboxes to check use pdfescape.com.

3. Content upgrades for the win

Lead magnets are nice, but nothing converts better than a content upgrade.

A content upgrade is a lead magnet that directly relates to the content. Here are some examples of a content upgrade.

  • Content lock

You can have a list of 10 tips but to get the last 3, they need to enter their email to unlock the rest of the content. You can do this using Thrive Leads.

  • Blog post as PDF

You can convert a blog post into a short PDF guide. You can do this for free using printfriendly.com.

They even have a Chrome extension to make it even faster. Your links (affiliate and internal) will remain in the PDF version.

  • PDF file

For example: Workout sheets, recipes, case study, a report, infographic or a guide. You can create these for your most popular blog posts.

  • Checklist

This is essentially the main points of your article, but delivered as a checklist as a downloable PDF.

  • Printables

An example of a printable is a calendar. A checklist can also be considered a printable.

  • Cheatsheet

This is still just a PDF file like the others. You can call it a cheatsheet to make it sound more interesting. For example: "Get my exclusive cheatsheet with the 9 hacks to XYZ!"

Don't create content upgrades for each of your blog posts. To make it worth your while, only create them for the blog posts that are bringing in the most traffic.


While you can find this data by going to your Google Analytics, I use the ExactMetrics plugin to see this data right from the WordPress dashboard. It shows me my most popular content, average time on site per page, and other useful metrics for bloggers.

4. Create hyper-targeted opt-in forms

You don't want to show the same exact form to all of your traffic. If you have a blog that focuses on several main subjects, create a different opt-in for each subject.

Let's say you have a finance blog, it wouldn't make sense to offer a debt ebook in your investing articles.

You could just create a generic finance lead magnet. But all that would do is ensure nobody would want it.

No, the solution here is to create multiple optin forms for each of your blog categories.

Offering a relevant lead magnet is key if you want to grow your email list fast.

In Thrive Leads, as with other list-building plugins, you can set up targeting rules based on blog category to pair the reader with the correct form.

But that's just the first part. The second part is you could also use your list building plugin to add a tag to each subscriber. Tags help identify which form the user signed up from and thus what type of content that reader is interested in.

Creating a segmented list is powerful stuff.

I go into more detail in my course about this, but let me give you this example:

Sometime visits an investing-related blog post. You should probably offer them an investing-related freebie. If they sign up, you should send them investing-related content. And finally, you should be promoting investing-related affiliate programs in those emails.

Here's how to set this up with Thrive Leads and ConvertKit.

  • Step 1

Create multiple lead magnets for each of your blog categories.

  • Step 2

Design multiple optin forms for each of your blog categories.

  • Step 3

Set up targeting rules in Thrive Leads to pair the reader with the correct offer.

  • Step 4

Tell Thrive Leads to assign a specific tag to subscribers on each form.

  • Step 5

In ConvertKit, create an email sequence for each of your blog categories.

  • Step 6

Create an automation so tagged users get sent the correct sequence.

Having a hyper targeting list lets you send hyper-targeted offers, leading to less unsubscribes and more sales.

I believe in learning from successful bloggers in your niche. To get an idea of what freebies to create, see what other bloggers in your space are doing.​


If successful bloggers are offering a certain type of freebie, maybe you should too.


Take it a step further and actually sign up to receive their lead magnet and automated email sequence. If it works for them, it can work for you too.


My strategy is: see what others are doing... and do it better!

5. Take advantage of high-converting opt-in form locations

If you have an opt-in form on your sidebar and nowhere else - you're doing it wrong. If you want to capture more email leads, you need to capture their attention first.

Here are some opt-in form types you can add to your blog:

  • Widgets (low conversion rate)

You can add an opt-in form in the sidebar and in the footer.

These are generally going to be the worst-converting locations to add a form. This is because on mobile, the sidebar is shown below the content, followed by the footer below that.

But if you do have a sidebar, it's still a good place to add a form. Just be sure to place it above the fold, so desktop users can see it front and center.

While the footer will get you an even worse conversion rate, it's still a good place to add a form since it won't negatively affect the user experience.

  • In-content (average conversion rate)

These are embedded inside of the blog post and are very effective at getting email subscribers.

You're going to want to put the form within the content - not at the end of the blog post.

I usually place mine at the point when the reader is most engaged, which is about halfway down the post.

Not to get too technical, but I use ExactMetrics to look at the average scroll-depth and add my form before most readers begin to drop off.

  • Lightbox popup (highest conversion rate)

When a visitor goes to leave your blog, a lightbox pop-up gives you one last chance to get a subscriber. You can also choose to have the form pop up after X seconds or a scroll-depth percentage has been reached.

I recommend only using any two of the optin form types above. The goal is to get as many email subscribers as possible without negatively affecting user experience.

There are other opt-in form locations you may want to explore. These are: 

  • Welcome mat

A welcome mat takes over the entire screen when the visit arrives at your webpage. While this converts at an amazing rate (20%!), it is also bad user experience.


And Google has said that page experience is a ranking factor starting in 2021. So, I'd avoid using this type of form.

  • Slide-ins

When you get to a specific scroll-depth, this form slides in on the lower right hand portion of the screen. It's a real attention-getter.

  • Ribbon

This is a thin bar that stays at the top of the screen as the user scrolls. Can also be activated after reaching a scroll-depth percentage.

6. Create a dedicated landing page for each offer

A landing page gives you an entire page to convince the reader to join your email list.

For a landing page, remove all links - even your menu. You want there to be only one goalsign up to my email list.

Creating a landing page is not a complicated process.

  • Use a page builder

If you're not using a page builder, your header, sidebar and footer will still appear on the page.

While you can use the default Gutenberg page builder in WordPress, it doesn't compare to what you can do with Elementor, Divi, and Thrive Architect.

  • Create a page on WordPress

Go to Pages > Add new. If you're using a page builder, click to edit the page with the page builder.

  • Choose a landing page template

If you're using Thrive Architect (like I do), you can choose from one of hundreds of pre-made landing page templates.

  • Use your brand colors

Edit the template colors and change the text to match your offer.

  • Keep it simple

Your landing page should have a value-driven headline, a sub-heading to describe what they're getting, a picture showing what they're getting and the form itself.

Here are a few ways to get traffic to your landing page:

  • Add a link to your landing page in your main navigation menu
  • Create pins on Pinterest linking directly to your landing page.
  • Post about your landing page to your Facebook and Twitter pages and pin the post to the top.

7. Turn your blog comments into subscribers

Thrive Comments conversion settings

You can use the comments section of your blog to get additional email subscribers. Let me show you how.

  • Subscribe directly from the comment box

If you use Mailchimp, the Mailchimp for WP plugin lets you add a checkbox below the comment box that can automatically subscribe anyone who leaves a comment.

If you use ConvertKit, you can use this plugin to do the same thing.

While this sounds a bit aggressive, you can choose to use double-optin to ensure they really want to join your email list.

Keep in mind that you should not pre-check the box.

  • Redirect commenters to a thank you page

After a user leaves a comment, you can redirect first time commenters to a thank you page. On this page, say "Thank You For Your Comment" and offer them a free gift (aka your lead magnet).

You can use the Yoast Comment Hacks plugin to achieve this.

  • Use Thrive Comments

I'm using the Thrive Comments plugin instead of the default WP comments. Using this plugin, I can show an opt-in form to anyone who leaves a comment.

I can choose to show an opt-in form to first-time commenters, and show a thank you message to repeat commenters.

8. Leverage your social media followers

If you have a following on social media - but not too many email subscribers - it's time to change that.

Social media followers are (almost) worthless. The number of followers who see any given Facebook page update or Tweet are somewhere between slim and none.

What we need to do is find a way to convert your social media followers into email subscribers so you can actually engage with them. Here are a few ways to do this:

  • Slide into their DM's

Directly reach out to your followers and offer them your freebie (with a link to your landing page).

  • Use the bio

Say who you are, what you do and mention your freebie in your bio.

  • Link in your bio

Switch the link in your bio from your homepage to your landing page.

  • Pin your landing page

You can pin a link to your landing page to the top of your Twitter profile and Facebook page.

  • Use video

Create a Facebook live, make an Instagram story, and make a YouTube video about your freebie.

9. Build a high-converting opt-in form

Designing a high-converting opt-in form can be challenging. You need the right design and the right offer shown to the right person at the right time.

Here are some steps to take to building a form that converts:

  • Use your brand colors

Your opt-in form should not look like an ad, but rather a part of your website.

If you're designed-challenged, just use a pre-made template and change the colors to match your brand.

To make your form stand out, consider using your main brand color as the background of the opt-in form.

Read more about brand colors in my design your own blog guide here.

  • Optimize your Submit button

Make your submit button stand out by choosing a color that contrasts with the background. I'd avoid red since that signifies stop or danger.

While you're at it, change the text from "Submit" or "Subscribe" to something more exciting. Mine says "Let's Do This!" but yours can say "Send Me The Checklist!".

  • Eliminate unnecessary form fields

The more fields you add to a form, the less likely someone is to sign up. The most you should be asking for is First name and Email. But if you want the best results, only ask for an email.

  • A/B split testing

I didn't become good at creating a high-converting opt-in form by taking a course. It happened with testing and then looking at the data.

This one tip has had the single biggest effect on growing an email list fast.

With Thrive Leads you can create multiple versions of the same form and see which design converts best. Without being able to test what works and what doesn't, you're just going to be spinning in your wheels.

If you truly want to grow your email list fast, you need to continue to make changes until you have perfectly optimized opt-in forms and lead magnets.

To make your opt-in form more appealing, you need to show a preview of your freebie right next to the form itself. 


To do this, you can print and take a picture of your lead magnet. However, I recommend using Mockupshots for this, especially if your freebie is an ebook.

Thanks for reading! If you did learn something new about how to get more email subscribers, please save this on Pinterest.

Grow your email list fast

Until next time,
Edwin, DoSixFigures.com

just a little > about me

About edwin

Edwin Contreras is the professional blogger behind Cash The Checks and Do Six Figures. Over the last 17 years, he has started over 100 profitable blogs on his way to a six-figure income as a full-time blogger. He is now obsessed with helping people just like you escape the 9 to 5 and make serious money online. You in?

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continue > the conversation

  • Winnie Xu says:

    Hi Edwin, I recently read your article about starting an e-mail list and this was a great follow-up article with more information! You made a lot of important points, especially about interacting with first-time commenters. This is definitely something I haven’t put much thought into before but thank you for the heads up!

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