30+ Killer Ways to Build Your Email List

This post was originally published on the NMX blog. It is reposted here with permission.

Who doesn’t want a biggest email list? It doesn’t matter if you’re a blogger, podcaster, web series/video producer, or business owner – having a bigger email list allows you to reach out to your target market on a one-on-one level.

This post is a compilation of every technique and tip I’ve come across or used to grow my own list. Of course, you don’t have to (and probably shouldn’t) use all of these tips. Pick and choose the ones that make sense for your needs. And feel free to add more by leaving a comment below!

1. Put a sign-up form on your sidebar. This seems like a no-brainer, but every day, I see lots of blogs and websites that have no way for someone to subscribe for content. DIY Themes lists the top of your sidebar as the first place you should have your sign-up form.

2. Put a sign-up form at the bottom of every blog post. Someone who readers a blog post all the way to the end is very engaged, so you need a call to action (CTA). Put a sign-up form there as your CTA and you’ll capture email addresses at a higher rate. Read more about compelling CTAs from Flyte New Media.

3. Put a sign-up form on popular pages. At the very least, put a form on your about and contact pages. (And learn about creating a better About Page here.)

4. Ask your current subscribers to tell their friends about your list. Give them easy options within your emails to forward and share your content.

5. Use QR codes for easy sign-ups at live events. They’re free to create and give people a very quick way to sign up with any smartphone.  Come QR code creation options include Kaywa and Microsoft Tag. You can put them on signage and promotional material like brochures.

6. Put a QR code on your business card. That way, you’re leading everyone you meet to your list.

7. Tell your social followers about your mailing list. Ask them to sign up if interested in receiving more content from you. You can even add a custom sign-up tab on your Facebook page.

8. Tease your content on social media. Tell people how great your latest email is – and give them a link to sign up if they want it.

9. Tell people how many subscribers you have. People like to be part of a large group. So, if you can show a number or say “Join 592 other people…” you’ll play into that heard mentality and get more sign-ups.

10. Try a pop up ad asking for an email address. Some people like them, some people hate them, but for most people, they do convert. The good news is that you don’t have to use a pop up ad that smacks someone in the face the moment someone gets to your site. Play with the settings to find a good solution if you’re going to use pop up ads. Not sure about pop-ups? You’re not alone. Check out The Great Pop-Up Debate.

11. Ask for subscriptions when people comment. Blog commenters are engaged and already giving you their name and email address. Here are some tips from Moz about getting more comments.

12. Get customers to sign up. If you have a physical store, have a sign-up sheet by the cash register where people can give you their email address. If you have an online store, ask during the checkout process.

13. Print a link to your subscription form on your receipt. If your product is digital, you can include the subscription form directly instead of asking them to click a link.

14. Use testimonials. What are people saying about your emails? Show social proof to entice people to sign up. Check out Copyblogger’s tips for getting better testimonials.

15. Offer a free ebook. Make sure the ebook has an enticing title and a well-designed cover, and choose a topic that really grabs readers. Here are some ebook tips worth reading.

16. Offer an in-depth case study, report, or white paper. Give your readers something special that they can’t get anywhere else.

17. Run a contest. To enter, people have to be signed up for your email list. TopRank has some great tips on running an online contest.

18. Give people exclusive content. It can encourage people to sign up if they get something via email that they can’t get elsewhere.

19. Host a webinar. Either require people to be on your email list to attend or ask them to sign up afterward. Check out Hubspot’s post on how to host your first webinar.

20. Link to your sign-up form in your email signature. It goes out to everyone, so you should capitalize on the opportunity.

21. Speak at events. Put a link to your sign-up form on the last slide or, even better, create a resource page with all the notes to your presentation (including a sign-up form) and give it to your audience so they can just listen to you instead of trying to take notes.

22. Create a useful tool, app, theme, etc. for people to download. People love free gifts beyond the text documents that most people offer. If you typically sell this kind of downloadable, create a free version as well to help you collect email addresses. As a bonus, this helps you give people a sample of your product!

23. Offer a discount for email subscribers. This works best when you give a substantial discount or bonus freebie on orders that people really want.

24. Promote your email list at the end of guest posts. It’s typically more effective to have a specific CTA at the end of a guest post instead of just linking to the homepage of your blog.

25. Ask people to sign up to your list at the end of videos. Videos are extremely engaging, and not only will you pull in new subscribers via YouTube, but you can also post the video on your blog (and hopefully other people will too).

26. Host an offline event (like a TweetUp). Afterward, email attendees to thank them for coming and invite everyone to sign up for your list. Here’s a post from Mashable about hosting a successful TweetUp (with many tips that can apply to other meet and greet type of events as well).

27. Play around with the language on your sign up form. Test what works best. What happens if you say “Please sign up…” versus “Please join us…”? What about if you call it an email list versus an email club?

28. Play around with sign-up form colors and dimensions. Sometimes a form that blends into your site works best. Other times, you need a bright, jarring color that stands out. KISSmetrics has some great examples of sign-up forms that work you can check out.

29. Make it as easy as possible for people to sign up. The more information you ask people to submit, the fewer people are going to fill out the form. People don’t like the work of a long sign-up form, and they may not understand why you need the information.

30. Partner with another blogger. Offer a giveaway, free product, or other special jointly to anyone who signs up for both of your email lists. Or, you can do a deal where you promote one another (i.e. you send an email to your list encouraging them to sign up for their list and vice versa). Want to work with a “big name”? Here are some tips for getting past the gatekeeper.

31. Partner with a group of bloggers. This works even better than partnering with just one blogger!

32. Promise future content. A great example is to write a blog post series or regular feature. At the end of every post in the series, ask people to sign up for reminders of more content.

I’ll continue to add to this list as I hear of more techniques for growing your email list. Got a suggestion? Leave it as a comment below!

58 Ways to Get Noticed as a New Blogger

This post was originally published on the NMX blog. It is reposted here with permission.

Ten years ago, it was easy to stand out as a blogger simply because the number of blogs in any niche was limited. Today, this is certainly not the case. If you’re new, it can seem impossible to make a name for yourself among the hundreds (or more likely thousands) of bloggers out there covering similar topics.

One of the advantages you do have, however, is the ability to learn from those who came before you. When I first started blogging about six years ago, the blogosphere wasn’t nearly so crowded, but there were still bloggers who came before me. So I absorbed all the advice I possibly could, and more importantly, I studied. I learning what successful bloggers did to get noticed when they were new. As a new blogger today, you have even more bloggers to study.

I’ve compiled the techniques I’ve come across in one place for you, in this blog post. Of course, not every technique will be right for your blog. It depends on your niche and your goals. I also want to caution you to manage your expectations. Overnight success as a blogger is like catching lightening in a bottle, and the element of luck is something you can’t control. But this list can help you get started if you’re looking to stand out as a new blogger. Hopefully, these techniques will help you build a foundation for success over time.

Getting Noticed with Your Blog Content

1. Write good content. (This one should come as no surprise to you. If you write amazing content, you’ll attract attention.)

2. Create other forms of content, rather than just blog posts. A lesson I learned from Lou Mongello is that you can build an audience from scratch if you’re everywhere doing lots of different things at once. Pat Flynn is also someone who does this extremely well. So don’t just write. Record podcasts, shoot some videos, take some pictures, write some ebooks, and otherwise diversify.

3. Interview other bloggers in your niche. Derek Halpern mentioned the importance of doing this at BlogWorld New York 2012. All you have to do is ask; most people will say yes.

4. Mention other bloggers. If you can’t interview others, at least mention them on your blog (kind of like I’m doing here), and don’t be afraid to let them know when they’ve been mentioned.

5. Compile lists of the top people in your niche. Whether it’s the top bloggers or another kind of “top” list, this kind of thing always gets attention. Be prepared from some controversy, since there will always be people who disagree, and make sure you do your research so your list is complete and valuable, not just an arbitrary listing of people you like.

6. Be the first to cover a news topic. This might seem impossible, but if you’re diligent about staying on top of what’s going on in your niche, you can often beat other bloggers to the story. Don’t be afraid to pick up the phone and get some relevant quotes from valuable sources. Old school reporting is something other bloggers will be too lazy to do – they’ll just link to you instead.

7. Fill a gap. Don’t just start another social media blog. Find your unique spin — something no one else is doing.

8. Be personable. Telling interesting, personal, or funny stories can help you stand out in a sea of how-to and list posts. Tell people about you — storytelling is an extremely popular way to bring people into the fold.

9. Write a manifesto. This is something bloggers like Jonathan Fields have spoken about at NMX and other events, and several bloggers, such as Chris Guillebeau, have done with extreme success.

10. Put your nose to the grindstone and write! More content leads to more readers, as long as you can maintain quality. John Lee Dumas is a great example of someone who publishes new podcasts every day, and Chris Brogan has talked about how important this is to his traffic numbers.

11. Write great headlines. There’s no faster way to catch the attention of people in your niche than an intriguing headline.

12. Be controversial. People love posts with strong opinions. Of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to be controversial online, and  no matter what the topic, be prepared for trolls and negative comments.

13. Create a comprehensive guide to something that is needed in your niche. Yes, this takes a lot of work, but you will get lots of attention if you take the time to offer such a valuable resource for free. You can release this as a serious of blog posts or create a downloadable ebook.

14. Interview someone in your niche who is not a blogger. Bloggers tend to interview one another fairly regularly, and while this is a good technique to use, you can also get noticed if you interview people outside of the world of blogging. For example, if you’re a book blogger, you could interview an agent to learn what they look for in manuscripts.

15. Do reviews. If you’re new you might not get products for free or be paid to do review yet, but you can still review products you love. Make sure to notify the company/author/etc. whenever you do, and they’ll often share your post via social media or email.

16. Do something wacky and different. For example, on one of my blogs, I wanted to do some product reviews, but everyone does reviews. So instead, I wrote some fiction, which included the products in question (kind of like product placement in a movie) instead of a traditional review. I got a very strong positive reaction from this, including several companies contacting me and wanting to pay for “product placement” in future stories. Now, writing fiction isn’t the way to go for everyone obviously, but the point is, do something different with your posts.

17. Be funny. People share funny because it’s a nice way to interrupt in their work day. One thing I learned from Jordan Cooper is that in most niches you don’t have to be as talented as a stand-up comedian. You just have to be a little funny, because in comparison to others in your niche, even a little funny is hilarious.

18. Feature reader questions – and answer stuff that others might be too shy to talk about. Not only is answering questions a great way to boost your search engine rankings if you use keywords properly, but once people start to realize that you’re the go-to person for answers, they’ll start to visit your blog in waves. Don’t have any readers with questions to answer yet? Look for questions on forums, reddit, and Twitter and ask people if they mind that you answer in a blog post. (I’ve never had a person say they minded – it’s just a better way of giving them the link, since it won’t make you sound so spammy.)

19. Write long-form content, rather than show 400-word posts. This takes a really long time – four hours, five hours, maybe even more. But if you’re willing to do things that others aren’t willing to do, as John Jantsch suggests, you’ll find success. Glen Allsopp is a great example of someone who writes really long, detailed posts that people absolutely love.

Getting Noticed via Social Media and Social Bookmarking

20. Tweet replies to people in your niche. They might not notice you at first, but if you’re consistently engaging them (not spamming), they’ll start to recognize your name. You just have to be devoted.

21. Interact on people’s Facebook pages. Don’t just reply to the content they post. When possible, write something on their wall. Again, it’s important that you’re not spamming by promoting your own content. You simply want the people managing that page to start seeing your name pop up. When other bloggers in your niche start to notice you, they’ll start promoting you to their readers.

22. Advertise on Facebook. This isn’t a free way to promote your blog, but it can definitely help you find new readers who are interested in your content. (You can also, of course, advertise on other sites, pay for sponsored tweets, buy keyword ads with search engines, etc.)

23. Start interesting conversations on Google+. This social network lends itself to deep, meaningful conversation with others in your niche, so take advantage of that.

24. Host hangouts on Google+. This is how singer Daria Musk built an audience. If your content lends itself well to a video format, this is definitely an option you should consider.

25. Comment on interesting pins on Pinterest. This is something few people are doing and is an especially good way to get noticed in your niche if you blog about something visual like food, travel, or fashion.

26. Explore niche social networking and bookmarking sites. Big networks like Twitter and Facebook are great, but in many niches, there are specific social networks you can use to get your content out there in front of new readers. For example, if you blog about web design, you can check out DesignFloat or if you blog about video games, you can check out N4G.

  27. Participate in Twitter chats (also called Twitter parties). This is when everyone gets on Twitter at a specific time to tweet with one another using a specific hashtag. Usually, one person hosts and guides the conversation, and there may or may not be specific guests and a Q&A format. A great example is #blogchat, hosted by Mack Collier.

28. Create public lists on Twitter. Make them really good resources so others can use them to find new people to follow as well.

29. Be active on LinkedIn groups that relate to your topic. This is especially good for bloggers in niches like business and career.

30. Make it easy for readers to share your posts. Word of mouth marketing can drive tons of traffic if you’re a new blogger, but if I can’t really quickly find sharing buttons, I’m probably not going to bother. Don’t make it hard for your readers.

31. Create an amazing free resource (ebook, course, guide, etc.) that requires payment via social currency, like tweeting, liking or pinning. Lots of plugins can help you with this functionality, including POPSHOP (which does it all in pop-up fashion) and Tweet&Get it!, Like to Download, and Pin to Download (which give you individual functions based on the social network).

32. Participate in #FollowFriday (#FF) on Twitter. Don’t just tweet a list of people. Give a reason why you’re recommending people follow them. Also make sure you take others’ #FF advice and find some new people to follow.

33. Use hashtags (#) on Twitter (and Pinterest). This helps people find you, even when you aren’t participating in a chat/party.

34. Use Twitterfeed to make sure every post you write is tweeted out at least once. Follow up by promoting your post a second or even third time – just make sure that if you do this,  you also tweet other stuff between the links, so you’re doing more than just promoting.

35. Manually add your posts on Facebook. Networked Blogs is a great app that will do this automatically, but with Facebook’s Edge Rank set up, these posts will not be seen by as many people as the posts you share manually.

36. Make sure ever post has a really good, pinable picture associated with it. Not only is this more pleasing for people reading your post, but it will also help you catch the attention of users on Pinterest.

37. Answer questions on question social networks like Yahoo! Answers and Quora. You can write blog posts to share your answer (see point #18) or, even easier, you can simply answer the questions on site and link back to your blog as an additional resource.

38. Submit your posts to social bookmarking sites. Your choices include sites like Stumbleupon, Reddit, and Delicious.

Getting Noticed on Other Blogs

39. Participate in link parties. If you’re in a niche like parenting, food, or DIY (do it yourself), link parties are a guaranteed way to bring new people to your blog. Basically, with a link party, you visit the host every week to add your relevant posts to their list of links, typically which all fall into a certain category.

40. Participate in blog hops. These are similar to link parties and specifically set up to help you find new blogs to follow (and hopefully have others find your blog too). Blog Hops Everyday is a great place to learn more about blog hops.

41. Write guest posts on other blogs. Danny Iny is someone who has done this extremely successfully. Individually, guest posts aren’t a big deal, but if you start posting dozens of them across a single niche, people start to recognize your name, which means they’ll be more likely to check our your blog.

42. Comment on other blogs consistently. One comment isn’t going to get you much traffic, but if you become part of a community, others who are fans of the blog will start to recognize your name. Blogs with Comment Luv are especially good for this technique.

43. Use the Zemanta plugin on your blog to help you find places to link within your blog posts. When you join the Zemanta network, your blog will be recommended to other bloggers as well, so whenever they write a post related to one of your posts, you might show up as a recommendation for them. This is a great way to get links from other bloggers, even if you’re relatively unknown.

Getting Noticed in Other Ways

44. Team up with other people. Joint ventures are always tricky to orchestrate, but when done successfully, you both reap the benefits. Think about what you can bring to the table. Otherwise, an established blogger won’t have any reason to want to work with you. An audience isn’t the only important asset you can add to a project.

45. Create infographics. You can upload these on Visual.ly or My Blog Guest to make them available for other bloggers to use (with a link back to your blog of course).

46. Do some article marketing. No, this technique is not dead! Don’t just “spin” articles (i.e., rewrite them as quickly as possible) and publish low-value content. Write really valuable articles that actually help people. Think of it like guest posting.

47. Choose a killer blog name. Using your own name can work, but it might not be very memorable. One of the reasons my mom, sister, and I chose “The PinterTest Kitchen” for our new blog is that the name is a cute play on words that, we hope, will be memorable. Some other examples of really great, memorable blog names include food blog Pinch My Salt, career and lifestyle design blog Life Without Pants, and ER nursing blog Emergiblog.

48. Put your URL everywhere. Add it to business cards, forum and email signatures, social media profiles, etc. Make it easy for people to find your website. Every click helps when you’re new.

49. Do something cool with your blog design. Most blogs don’t have a lot of personality and follow a similar format. Take some risks with your design and you could attract some attention.

50. Do some live videos on Ustream or other livestream sites. Using Google+ Hangouts is great (see point #24) but not everyone uses Google+. So give some people other options.

51. Add you blog to blog directories like Technorati and Alltop. Some are definitely better than others, but doing this can help new people find you. If there are directories specific to your niche, these are often best for this technique.

52. Join YouSayToo. This is a blog directory at its core, but it is on a completely other level, as it brings in the curating and social sharing element as well.

53. Participate in forums in your niche. Don’t just be promotional. Be helpful and become part of the community.

54. Hold a webinar about your topic. If you have a good idea, other bloggers who are more established will be happy to co-host with you or at least help promote the webinar. Lewis Howes, for example, promotes webinars all the time. Often, he isn’t the expert on the topic – he just hosts with someone who is.

55. Dominate search engines. This isn’t possible if you’re a new blogger looking to rank well for a very popular keyword, but there are several keywords out there that you can absolutely dominate if you read up on top SEO practices and create stellar content to go along with those keywords.

56. Introduce yourself to other bloggers. You don’t want to be pesky, but we were all new once. There’s nothing wrong with a (short) email that says hello. Don’t ask for blogging advice. Don’t ask them to check out your blog. Don’t ask for a link or share. Just say hello!

57. Sign up for HARO. Check it regularly and submit inteview proposals whenever an opportunity is posted where you could be a good resource (you can also submit photos to HARO, too!). Traditional media is a great way to get exposure when you’re a new blogger.

58. Apply to speak at conferences. You might not have loads of traffic yet, but that doesn’t mean you don’t have anything to teach others.

The final tip I have for you – and this is a no-brainer – is that you should attend as many conferences as possible, even if you aren’t speaking. Join Meetup groups, organize Tweetups, and network with other bloggers. Absolutely nothing beats introducing yourself to people in person, and this is often the only way to network with popular bloggers in your niche who are inundated with people trying to grab their attention online.

Want More People to Download Your Free Ebook? Follow These Steps.

Is it just me, or do most free ebooks really…well…suck?

On one hand, I’ve always said, “You get what you pay for,” but on the other hand, the entire point of adding a free ebook to your editorial calendar is to give away awesome information to convert a one-time reader into a rabid fan. If your ebook isn’t awesome, epic content, why should I want to read your blog posts, stay subscribed to your email list, or pay for premium content?

If you want to get more downloads for your free ebook, you need to be above average. The more above average you are, the more downloads you’ll get. Makes sense, right?

The general process for creating an ebook is this:

  1. Write the content.
  2. Edit and proofread.
  3. Design and convert into a pdf (or format of your choice).

You can create an epic ebook using these same three steps; you just have to alter the process a bit to create something that will stand out above the rest.

Step One: Write the content.

You’ll get more ebook downloads if your content is awesome. Why? Because people will share it! Social sharing is one of the best ways to increase your downloads, but it takes more than a snazzy title to get your readers to promote your ebook. Think about it: if you see a free ebook online, what’s the likelihood that you’ll take the time to download it? But what if a trusted friend of yours recommends the ebook? You’re probably going to grab that ish before it is no longer free! Word of mouth is still the best form of advertising, in my opinion.

So step one to getting more downloads for your free ebook is to write better content. Already have great content? Cool. Make it better. If you think your content can’t be improved, you’re wrong. Online, stagnation is death.

How do you create better ebook content:

  • Go into way more detail.

Most ebooks just skim over a topic, presumably because the author wants you to buy a product about the topic. Instead, give it away for free. You’ll blow people’s minds if your free content is just as good (or better) than the products most people charge for, and this starts with details. Whatever your topic is, create an ultimate resource, leaving no stone unturned. Give away your secrets and best tips. Trust me: there is always more for someone to learn in the future, so don’t worry about giving away content you could sell.

  • Get quotes from people in your niche.

Your ideas matter, but more and more, people are interested in knowing what the collective thinks. Reach out to the a-listers in your niche and ask them for a quote on the topic. It lends tons of credibility to your ebook, and as an added bonus, the people you quoted will often help promote the ebook when it is ready to download.

  • Add stats.

I don’t just want to know that “Lots of people like cupcakes.” I want to know the percentage of people who like cupcakes. I want to know whether people like cupcakes more in certain areas of the world. I want to know how many bakeries existed last year and how many cupcakes they typically sell on a given day. Stats add credibility to any argument, so adding them to your ebook can significantly improve your writing.

Step Two: Edit and proofread.

Last week, I was reading a new ebook from someone I admire…and then I saw a typo. And another one. And another one. Listen, we all make mistakes, and I can be the queen of typos in my blog posts, but an ebook is a little different. Too many typos can be so distracting to the reader that he or she simply gives up and moves on to the next shiny Internet object.

I highly recommend hiring someone to look over your book before you make it available for download. Not only will that person pick out typos, but he or she will also help you tighten your writing, making sure that your ideas don’t get lost in a sea of prose and that everything flows well.

If you are self-editing, the best tip I have is to try to cut our at least 50% of your words after you’re done with the first draft. It may feel like murdering your babies, but being brutal with the red pen can help you learn to keep only what is truly needed for the book.

Need an editor? I recommend Amber Avines, who has done a fantastic job of editing my work in the past and who has oodles of experience.

Step Three: Design and convert.

Just like it makes sense to hire an editor, it makes sense to hire a designer as well, unless you are exceptionally skilled in this area. It isn’t just about adding a few images here and there. If you really want your ebook to stand out above the rest, you need to have a truly beautifully-designed ebook.

Marketo is an example of a company that has beautifully-designed ebooks. Here’s where you can download one of their latest ebooks, The Definitive Guide to Marketing Automation. Even if you’re not interested in marketing automation, give it a gander to see how well-designed their ebooks are.

The good news? You can hire an ebook designer on Elance at a fairly inexpensive rate, especially for a shorter 20-30 page ebook. You can also have a designer make a template, which you can then use for all of your future ebooks, so you don’t have to pay a designer every time you want to release a new ebook.

If you do go the route of designing yourself, here are a few tips that will elevate your ebook:

  • Add a little color.

Color can break up the monotony of an ebook. Even if you have the best information in the world, text only can feel like a chore to read. Color can help you highlight important stats, add an aside to any chapter, or pull out an important quote that you want to ensure people read, even if they are skimming.

  • Keep the pages looking consistent.

Think of your ebook like a PowerPoint presentation. The best presentations use a template so even though not every slide is the same, they all fit together in a way that makes sense. If you use blue boxes to highlight quotes on one page, use them throughout the ebook, for example.

  • Remember that you’re designing for multiple devices.

What looks good on your laptop might look horrible on an iPad. What looks good on your iPad might look horrible on a smartphone. Test your design across multiple devices to make sure it works no matter how someone likes to consume your content.

Here are a few more great tips for designing ebooks, especially if your target market likes to read on tablets.

Some Final Thoughts…

The very best tip I have for creating an ebook that you need to create something that…

  1. …people really need.
  2. …people can’t get elsewhere.

If your ebooks is extremely helpful, you’ll get more downloads. Likewise, if you can offer something that most people don’t offer, you’ll get more downloads. Unless you’re famous, people don’t typically want to give away their email address for an ebook that is nothing but opinions (rather than practical tips), and if the topic you’re covering has been covered before by others, it will command the attention of fewer people.

Ebooks, when done right, take a long time to create. Do yourself a favor and spend your time creating content that people actually want.

Need help creating your ebook? Check out my ebook package!