How To Grow Your Email List Fast

Last updated on July 20, 2019  ∙ by Edwin Contreras1 comments
How to grow your email list fast

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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, 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 converting them into email subscribers, this blog post is for you.

Here are 8 things you need to be doing to grow your email list fast.

This blog post assumes you already have an email marketing provider like MailChimp or ConvertKit. If you don't, read my guide on how to start an email list here first.

1. design a high-converting signup form

When I first started blogging, I didn't even have an email list. I wasn't selling anything, so I thought I didn't need one. I had no clue what to even write. I ignored creating a list for a long time. This was a major mistake.

Eventually I got around to starting a list and added a simple opt-in form that said "subscribe for updates". Another major mistake.

What happened? I got zero subscribers my first year of blogging. I learned the hard way that nobody joins email newsletters anymore. And especially not from boring forms.

Something had to change, so I signed up with Thrive Leads to help me create a high converting optin form. I went from a boring black and white form to a vibrant one that stood out on the page.

Here's how to use Thrive Leads to create a high converting optin form:

  • Choose a template that stands out. I am not a designer, far from it! Having pre-made templates really helps. I think there's 100+ different designs to choose from at the moment.
  • Find a style that matches your brand. Use your brand colors in your optin form design - but make it stand out. Consider using your brand color as your background on the form. It will contrast nicely with the white background of your blog post. Read more about brand colors in my design your own blog guide.
  • Make your submit button stand out. I never use "Submit" on a submit button, nor do I use "Sign Up" (at least not anymore). And a boring gray button with black text? Nope, that doesn't work either. Choose a bold color for your submit button and big uppercase text. For mine I say "LET'S DO THIS!".
  • Add icons to your form. I learn by seeing what other successful bloggers are doing. I saw an optin form somewhere with a paper airplane icon in the submit button and a mailbox icon in the email field. Being able to replicate that on my forms was pretty neat.
  • Remove unnecessary form fields. The more fields you add to a form, the less likely someone is to sign up. At first I experimented with First name and Email, but through testing found that email-only yields the best results. 
  • Conduct A/B testing. This one tool had the single biggest impact to my conversion rate. 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.

2. create an irresistible free offer

You could have the hottest signup form ever, but if the reader doesn't want what you're offering, it just doesn't matter. 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.

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. Take it a step further and actually sign up to receive their lead magnet. My strategy is: see what others are doing... and do it better!

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

  • eBook. Creating an ebook is easy. You can create a document in Word or Pages and then Save As PDF. You can use your blog posts for the content. For example, I have 2 blog posts on email marketing. I can combine both of them into an eBook and call it "Email Marketing A-Z" (that is not a good name btw).
  • eCourse. This is the freebie I offer. The reason why I offer a free course as my freebie is because it directly relates to my main product, my Six Figure Bloggers Blueprint course. I am essentially conditioning the user to be comfortable with me + courses. ?
  • Challenge. Rather than receiving a tangible file, some people want to be a part of something. Create a 3 or a 7 day challenge, where you teach something different each day. Challenges work really well 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. Oh and at the end of the quiz you need to enter your email to get the results. ? You can do this using Thrive Quiz Builder.

Creating a lead magnet is incredibly simple. You can create most of them with Canva for free. Just save as a PDF. To edit the PDF file, such as making checkboxes check and text fields editable, use

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 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.
  • Checklist. Do these 10 things to succeed at XYZ.
  • 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!"

4. optin form targeting

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

Let's say you have a finance blog and your main blog categories are Investing, Saving, Making Money and Debt. 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.

In Thrive Leads you can set up targeting rules to pair the reader with the correct offer.

But that's just the first part. The second part is you could also tell Thrive Leads to tag that subscriber to identify which form they signed up from.

Creating a segmented list is powerful stuff.

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

Person 1 visits Investing blog post and signs up for Investing-related lead magnet.

What should happen next? If you said send them Investing-related content, you're right!

Here's how to do this.

  • 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.

5. different optin form types

If you have an optin 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 optin form types you can add to your blog:

  • Widgets. You can use these in the sidebar or in the footer.
  • In content. These are embedded inside of the blog post. Very effective.
  • Slide ins. When you get to a specific scroll-depth, this form slides in on the lower right hand portion of the screen.
  • Ribbon. This is a thin bar that stays at the top of the screen as the user scrolls.
  • Lightbox popup. 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.

6. create a landing page

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 goal: sign up to my email list.

To get traffic to your landing page you can add a link to it in your main navigation menu. You can also send traffic directly to your landing page. You can do this by creating pins on Pinterest linking directly to your landing page.

Creating a landing page is not a complicated process.

  • Create a page in WordPress. If you're not using a page builder, your header, sidebar and footer will still appear through.
  • Use Thrive Architect. By using a page builder like Thrive Architect you can start with a clean slate, removing the header, sidebar and footer.
  • Choose a landing page template. 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.

7. turn comments into subscribers

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

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.

If you choose to skip this route, you can still get subscribers from your comments.

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.

8. leverage your social media followers

If you have a following on social media - but not too many email subscribers - you'll want to take advantage of this.

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. Here's 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. Mention who you are, what you do and your lead magnet 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. measure your results

Finally, if you do not measure your results, you won't know what's working and what isn't.

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

Keep testing (and testing) until you find the right design and offer.

For this blog, my first offer was a 4 page ebook I wrote titled Authority Blogging (it failed). My next one was a "start a blog guide" (it failed too). It wasn't until I started offering a free mini-course that my conversions began to increase.

Likewise, my first optin forms were also pretty bad. I didn't get better by learning about design, I got better by testing, testing and then more testing.

But changing things over and over again isn't itself going you help you if you don't know what works and what doesn't. The only way to know for sure is to conduct A/B testing.

Here's how A/B testing works with Thrive Leads.

  • Design your first optin. Start with an offer and design you think looks good (most people stop here).
  • Duplicate the design. It's as easy as clicking the duplicate button.
  • Change one thing only. Edit the color or text on the button, the headline or even the offer itself.
  • Run a test. Thrive Leads will show half of your traffic one form and half to the other form.
  • Wait for the results. Gather up the data and see which version performed best.
  • Make a second change. Edit another aspect of the form and continue running tests until you create the highest converting optin form possible.

Thanks for reading! If you did learn something new about how to grow your email list fast, please save this on Pinterest. 

How To Grow Your Email List Fast

Until next time,

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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let's 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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