How to Grow Your Email List from Scratch – Email Marketing Series PART TWO

Fun fact: before I started blogging, I worked as an admin manager for a small finance company. A big part of my job was implementing the email marketing systems that drove sales, and I looooved that part of my job! This ‘grow your email list’ stuff is sort of my jam. And I know how to make the whole process super easy for people that are just getting started.

So that’s my goal today.

In part one of this series, we talked all about the importance of creating an email list so that you can keep in touch with your audience and connect with them on a deeper level. You can review part one RIGHT HERE

Now that we have our email marketing accounts set up, we are going to talk about growing our email list and sending great content to our subscribers. We’re not going to spend much time on the actual process of designing your opt-in forms and subscription boxes because, let’s face it, it’s dinnertime and I’ve got tacos and cerveza waiting for me!

But we are going to talk about the fastest way to grow your email list, the best freebies to offer your audience, and the best content to send after your subscribers join your mailing list. A lot of this can be automated, which gives you more free time for living life (and going to the beach)!

Grow your email list

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I highly recommend using MailerLite as your email marketing service, and here’s why:

– Your first 1,000 subscribers are FREE and after that, it’s just 10 bucks a month

– They have an easy drag-and-drop design system for creating your emails

– They are known for higher open rates because of their 2-step verification system

– The free automation system is super user-friendly and perfect for running on autopilot

There are other systems out there that can perform many of the same functions, but MailerLite is free and user-friendly, so that’s why I recommend it. If you need to review the set-up process, head back over to PART ONE of this series to go over the steps again.


I know a thing or two about growing an email list. When I worked for an employer, I managed to single-handedly grow their mailing list to 6,000 subscribers in one year. I’ve also built a sizeable mailing list of my own and managed to snag 500 new highly engaged email subscribers over the past two months. Here are a few things I’ve learned…

There are two important parts of growing your email list:
  1. Having something valuable to give your audience in exchange for subscribing to your email list.
  2. Having an easy process for subscribing to your email list and collecting your valuable freebies.
First, let’s talk about giving something valuable to your audience.

The specific value that you provide is going to be different for every blogger, because your audience wants something different than mine. But we need to keep in mind that people join our email list because they want something specific from us.

Maybe it’s a free downloadable checklist, maybe it’s a weekly blogging tip, or maybe it’s an accountability group. Whatever value you have promised, give it to them.

If you don’t have something valuable to give people, they won’t want to subscribe to your mailing list, and it won’t be able to GROW…but trust me: you DO have something valuable to give your subscribers!

Give some thought to who your readers are and what problems they have that you can solve. It might even be something super simple.

Here’s an example:

Most of my readers are female bloggers trying to grow their blog and make more money. They want more blog traffic, and I know they can get more traffic from Pinterest and Pinterest group boards. So, I created a free guide to help them join more group boards and gain more visibility on Pinterest.

That guide is one of my best-performing opt-ins. I solved a simple problem and my email list has grown immensely over the past two months because of it.

Moral of the story is: think about what your audience needs and give it to them.

Second, let’s talk about the process of subscribing to your email list.

We have to make things super simple for our readers and followers. If things are too complicated, they’re going to click out and leave our site…and they might not ever come back.

You need to design simple opt-in forms that make your readers want to subscribe to your list. This is one of the many reasons that I love Mailerlite. If you login and click on Forms, you are given 3 easy ways to create subscription boxes for your readers. You can create pop ups, landing pages, or embedded forms that are tucked into your blog posts. All of the options are great and can be used in various ways across your blog and social media accounts.

When you create an embedded form, you are given a unique URL that you can share anywhere online (this is one of my favorite and best-performing email capture systems)! Here is an example of one of my forms.


Now, let’s say that you have an awesome opt-in form and a valuable freebie ready to share, but still, no one is subscribing to your blog. What gives?!

Here’s the thing: your reader needs to know exactly what they are getting from you and how valuable it is for them personally. If you aren’t getting any email subscribers, then you need to do one (or all) of these THREE things:

1) Get your opt-in boxes in front of more eyes
2) Adjust the wording of your opt-in box to appeal to your reader
3) Or improve your content upgrade (that valuable freebie that you’re giving away)

If you need help boosting your blog traffic, check out this article. We all need eyes on our blog if we expect to get any email subscribers. So, read the article above and take a little time each day to work on those strategies. More blog traffic = more opportunities for people to join your email list!

The wording of your opt-in box also needs to be honest and on point. When I first started my email subscription box on my blog, it seriously said something like “sign up here for updates.” Boooooooring.

And guess how many email addresses I got from that subscription box? ZERO.

Make sure your subscription opt-in box has a very CLEAR call-to-action that is valuable and enticing. It doesn’t need to be complicated. Just clear and valuable. The opt-in form on my homepage (the one that used to be totally sucky and boring) now simply says, “Grab your copy of my Pitch Guide and start working with brands today!” I get about 20 new email subscribers a day from this simple opt-in form…so it’s working.

And lastly, you need to make sure that the content upgrade you send to them AFTER they hand over their email address is actually valuable. There’s nothing more annoying than eagerly awaiting that valuable guide or checklist, and then opening up the email and seeing some crappy, unorganized content that looks like it was thrown together in a few minutes.

It doesn’t have to be STUNNING. You don’t have to be a designer. Just do your best to create organized, helpful, clean-looking content for your readers.


Once you get people to subscribe to your email list, you have a little more work to do. You need to provide personable and valuable email content to your subscribers on a regular basis.

The days move fast and our inboxes are overflowing. If you want the opportunity to influence your subscribers, you need to be sitting at the top of their “unread messages” on a fairly regular basis. I’m not saying to email your people twice a day (that’s super annoying, don’t do it).

I’m simply saying that you need to show up and deliver interesting, engaging, and valuable emails that get your subscribers excited about hearing from you. Remember how I talked about CVS Pharmacy and how much I look forward to their emails?? Okay, I’ll admit I just like them for their killer discounts, but I can’t wait to receive and open their emails. And then I head over to their business and start spending money. Mutual benefit, people! Everybody wins.

Here are some things you can send your email list:

– A free worksheet that helps your subscriber accomplish something. Examples: worksheets that help them write a business plan, create a blog post template, or start a weekly accountability group on Facebook. Free worksheets could also be used as your content upgrade to get people to join your list!

– A peek into your life or biz. Remember, we want to reach our subscribers on a personal level and connect with them. There’s no better connection than honesty about our life and business. Let them know who you are, what you love, what your challenges are, and ask them to share their stories too!

– A step-by-step guide to help solve a specific problem. Examples: a guide to uploading blog posts on Pinterest, getting started with calligraphy, or starting your own Etsy shop. Helping your email subscribers to solve their problems is ALWAYS a good idea.

An organization chart that fits your niche. Examples: a chart for organizing your house, your garage, your car, your business schedule, your college assignments, your summer travels. Anything your readers might need help organizing!

Printables that fit your niche. Examples: inspirational quotes, homeschool curriculum, chore charts.

– Latest news, reminders, and blog updates. Just because someone is on your mailing list doesn’t mean that they read all of your blog posts or follow you on social media. A post with your latest news and blog updates will keep your subscribers in the know and encourage them to visit your blog (yay for blog traffic).


Let’s wrap this party up, because the comal is hot and the tortillas are calling my name.

So yeah, your email list is important. Every blogger should have one, and you should start your email list right away.

You’ll need to join an email marketing service, like MailerLite, to collect email addresses and send your people updates. You’ll also need to create/write some valuable stuff to send them after they subscribe.

When I first started my email list, I would send an update to my handful of subscribers once or twice a month, which is fine! As your list grows, you can bump it up to once a week for your newsletter and updates. I personally don’t send more than one email a week, but you’ll have to find what works for you and your readers.

And try not to stress about it, because this part of your job can be really fun!

Play around with some design software like PicMonkey, create some pretty graphics and some email templates. Have fun with it!

As your audience grows and they see your value, they will spend more time on your website and pay more attention to the products and services you offer. Yay.

I hope these tips have been helpful! If you enjoyed this article, please pin for later! 


  1. Danikka

    September 26, 2018 at 9:09 pm

    This has been so helpful Cate! Thanks so much <3

    1. Cate

      October 1, 2018 at 12:52 am

      I’m so glad it was helpful!

  2. Jane

    November 27, 2018 at 4:26 am

    Looved this post and sooo helpful! And what I wonder, is cerveza, and comal, I am sure delicious though. This post is so helpful. This area of blogging I very complicate d for me but you make it sound easy. I hope that when I buckle down to it it will come as easy as you make it sound. I will keep these great tips handy so I can review them when needed. And I wish I had a picture of my dinner tonight. But was interrupted by life while reading your post and dinner was done by the time I got to this part of the post. So next time. Oh and how I envy you, living out there in Cali and near the beech. Used to live near Venice beach, but now I am in the mountains of TN. So miss the beach. So this blogging thing needs to work so I can steal away to the beach and still make money. Thank you for all your helpful content.

    1. Cate

      November 27, 2018 at 4:46 am

      You have absolutely made my night commenting on my post and sharing your feelings with me! My hubby is Mexican, his family is from Mexico and we are raising bilingual half-Mexican babies, so I try to pepper some Spanish into my website … really just to help me learn the language haha! Cerveza = beer and comal = a flat pan that heats tortillas on the stove! We have friends that moved from CA to TN and they are always encouraging us to come visit and try it out… you never know where life will lead you. I’ve never been to TN but I would absolutely love to visit… And, as clarification: blogging is awesome, but it is such hard work! I try to keep things as simple as humanly possible, but it’s still a lot of work. Once you have all the pieces in place, it gets easier… but learning and growing takes time and training. Give yourself some grace and try to enjoy the ride. You can do this!

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