How To Start An Email List For Your New Blog

Last updated on July 21, 2019  ∙ by Edwin Contreras3 comments
How to start an email list for a blog

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Starting an email list is the best investment you can make if you want to make money blogging. But yet here you are, still without an email list!

I was the same way. I didn't take building my email list seriously my first year of blogging. As a result, I didn't make any money even though I was publishing blog posts like a maniac. You can read more about my blogging journey here.

My biggest mistake as a blogger was not starting an email list sooner. 

Don't be like me and let's do this right now! 

You might be wondering why a new blogger would even need an email list anyway. Let me convince your right quick. Here are 4 reasons why you need to start an email list right now.

why you need to start an email list

1. blogs don't make money

Blogs don't make money. How many bloggers do you think make a lot of money from their blogs? Not too many. If you think you can make money blogging by just splashing a lot of ads on your blog - you're doing it wrong.

We're going to use your blog only to funnel traffic (people) to your email list (where the money is made).

You can go ahead and apologize to your blog right now for pimping her out like this.. but it's got to be done!

2. you establish trust

Many have tried (and failed, me included!) to skip starting an email list and just try to make sales from a blog post. But when's the last time you bought something from a complete stranger directly from a blog post?

When you email your readers value after value, it makes you at worst... not a stranger. And at best... you create a rabid fan who will throw money at everything you create!

3. traffic comes and goes

Some days your blog traffic will be good. Other days, not so much. And what happens at midnight every night? The stats get reset to zero and you have to start over again.

Traffic comes and goes, but your email list is forever, son! If you rely solely on traffic to make money, you're playing a dangerous game, rockstar.

4. You can sell to your list again and again

You might get lucky and make a drive-by sale here or there via your blog. If you do, more love to you. But what happens after that? If you don't capture that buyer and keep in touch, they probably won't buy from you again.

But when you make a sale via your mailing list? That customer can come back and buy from you again and again and again...

This is the real power in having an email list. The power of repeat customers.


1. I don't have anything to sell

Nobody has anything to sell when they're a new blogger. In fact, you can be blogging for 3 years and still don't have anything to sell. That's okay. You can still send your list product recommendations and earn a commission.

2. I'm not an expert

Got a mean case of imposter syndrome? Yeah we all get that. That's normal. You don't have to be an expert to be a blogger or start an email list. You just have to be further along the path than your readers are.

3. I don't know what to write

Nobody ever knows how to do anything, until they do it. Writing to your email list is easier than writing for your blog, because everyone on your list already likes you.

An email idea can be as simple as the first paragraph of your latest article with a link to the full blog post.

4. I don't have a lot of traffic

You can still build a list without a lot of traffic. Sure, if you had a lot of traffic you would get more subscribers, but you should still start now. A lot of new bloggers want to wait until "the time is right", but the right time is always right now.

Seriously, your email list will become your blogs' best asset. It will be your main source of income for years to come.

Here's a super simple step by step guide on how to start an email list.

5 steps to start an email list


The first thing you need to do is to sign up with a company who will store the email addresses for you and send your emails.

Two popular choices for new bloggers are Mailchimp and ConvertKit.

Mailchimp has a "forever free plan" with the following limitations:

  • You can have a total of 2,000 subscribers. If your goal is to not grow your subscribers, this is fine.
  • You can send up to 12,000 total emails per month. That's roughly 8 emails per month on a list of 1,500. If you're hosting a 7 day challenge you won't be able to send follow-up emails.
  • No direct affiliate marketing. Good luck monetizing if you use Mailchimp!

The email marketing provider I use is ConvertKit. Here's why I prefer it.

  • It's newbie friendly. ConvertKit is super easy to use. Composing an email, creating an email sequence, setting up visual automations. All super easy with ConvertKit. Good luck figuring out how to use Mailchimp. Their interface is a bit messy and uninviting to say the least. But hey you get what you pay for.
  • ConvertKit was made for bloggers. On the other hand, Mailchimp was made for eCommerce businesses.
  • You will switch to ConvertKit anyway. It's just a matter of time. Starting with them now avoids the messiness of importing your list (and their associated data).
  • You can hide your home address. US law says you need to put an address where you are reachable at the bottom of every email. With Mailchimp, that means your home address. With ConvertKit, you can use their address.
  • No Mailchimp branding. If you're using the free version of Mailchimp, the Mailchimp mascot has to be at the bottom of every email - not very professional.

ConvertKit has a FREE plan. Check the video below to see how it works.

You can sign up with ConvertKit here without entering any payment info.

STEP 2: add an OPTIN FORM on your blog

Great! We're all signed up. The next step is to add a simple optin form on your WordPress blog to begin collecting emails.

Here's how to set up an optin form with ConvertKit.

  • 1. Go to Forms & Landing Pages > New Form > Inline Form
  • 2. Select a template, make your changes and save the form.
  • 3. Back on WordPress, install the ConvertKit for WordPress plugin.
  • 4. Copy + Paste the shortcode found in Embed > Shortcode directly into your blog posts.


Nobody signs up for newsletters anymore. Sadly, it took me a long time to figure this out.

When I got around to starting an email list, my first attempt was a simple optin form that said "Subscribe for updates". How did it go? I collected a grand total of zero emails my first year of blogging.

What I learned is that nobody wants to give up their email unless they're getting something valuable in return.

It’s a fair exchange. You give them a freebie and they let you into their personal inbox.

Here are some examples of freebies (also called lead magnets) you can give away:

  • eBook
  • eCourse
  • PDF report
  • Cheatsheet
  • Checklist

Need some more ideas for lead magnets in your niche? Google some blogs in your space and see what others are doing. If it works for them, it can work for you.

STEP 4: write a welcome email

The first email you send is called the welcome email. It will be the most important email you ever write. Reason being that almost everyone who signs up to your list will open this email.

You should introduce yourself and deliver the lead magnet you promised in this email.

Here's how to get this done:

  • Upload your lead magnet to WordPress (Media > Add New).
  • Copy the URL of your file.
  • In ConvertKit, go to Sequences > New sequence > Create a sequence.
  • Your first email is your welcome email. Change "when to send" to immediately.
  • Say thank you, drop a link to their freebie and let them know you plan on sending them more cool stuff later.
  • You can add more emails to this sequence to be sent 7 days apart for example. Here are some email subject line tips to get higher open rates.

STEP 5: start using thrive leads

If you want to grow your email list you're going to need something more than a boring optin form in your sidebar.

What we need is full customization of the optin form and their locations.

To start growing your list you need to use a lead generation program like Thrive Leads.

Here's why I recommend using Thrive Leads:

  • Templates. You can set up beautifully designed optin forms on your blog without needing to be a web designer. Just choose a template, change the text and colors and you're done.
  • Optin form types. In addition to sidebar, footer and in-content forms, you can also add exit intent or timed pop ups, welcome mats, top bar (ribbon) and slide-ins.
  • Two-step optins. If you don't want to clutter your blog with forms, you can use the two-step optin. This way, you can turn a regular link into a lightbox pop-up form. This two-step process is proven to increase conversion rates, since the person has already taken the first step.
  • Content locking. Thrive Leads also has "content locking". With this feature, all content below the optin form is obscured. In order for the reader to continue reading your article, they need to enter their email address. What an ingenuous way of getting more email subscribers!
  • A/B testing. If you don't test your forms, designs and offers - you won't know what works and what doesn't. Thrive Leads has built-in A/B testing to run tests on your forms and determine which form converts best.

Thanks for reading. If this post has helped you start an email list, please leave a comment below and save this post on Pinterest!

How To Start An Email List For Your New Blog

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?

learn more > earn more

let's continue > the conversation

  • Winnie Xu says:

    I’ve literally never thought of starting an e-mail list, and don’t usually associate that with blogging but you’re absolutely right about the importance of traffic.

    I do have a question about sending e-mails — I’ve always been curious about how spam mail is classified. Is there a chance of e-mails being sent to spam if you keep sending them out? If so, is there a way to prevent this?



    • Yes emails can be sent to spam – especially if users start marking your emails as spam.


    • Hello Winnie,
      In the welcome email you can ask subscribers to add your email to their contacts. This will prevent your next email from being classified as spam by Gmail accounts.


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