How To Create a Email List From Nothing (Beginner's Guide)

How To Create a Email List From Nothing (Beginner's Guide)

You might have heard it before, “the money is in the list”. Meaning, if you have a big email list, you can monetize it and earn money just by emailing them. But how do you start building one? In this beginners guide I want to give you a step by step guide on how to build your first email list from nothing.

Why do you need an email list?

There are many reasons why you want an email list, the best one is that you own it. If you create accounts on social media, you cannot export or import your subscribers, and if you lose your account, you lose all of them. An Email list belongs to you, you have direct control over it. You can export them and import them, and you can directly message your audience, which is a lot more difficult now on social media. 

And Did you know that 72% of customers prefer email as their main channel for business communication? And that 86% of professionals give priority to email connection? Source:

Here are some more reasons:
  • Emails help you build close relationships with your audience.
  • Email is highly targeted.
  • Email is still relevant and will be in the future.
  • Emails can convert subscribers into customers.

Why do you need an email list?

I hope that that convinced you to start making your own list, here is a guide how you can start:

How to start building a list?

Create a landing page

The first step that you need to do is to create a website or landing page. This could just be a single page or you could have a blog or shop. This depends on you and your business. You can build a website with Blogger or WordPress. If you use WordPress you need hosting and I suggest Bluehost for that.

We need a landing page to send our traffic to. On the landing page you will have a short story about your business and the benefits of joining your list. Or you write a blogpost and if people feel interested enough they can decide to join your list. The landing page is used to persuade your audience to join your list. Websites you can use to create a page are:, MailChimp or

Choose an Email Marketing Platform.

The next most important step is to choose a good email marketing platform. There are a lot of good ones out there, And I recommend one of these three. MailChimp, Sendinblue, Optinmonster. All of them have good reputations and should work fine for beginners. Although, MailChimp might be a little bit easier to start with for beginners.

Optimize your website for subscriptions

After you choose your email marketing platform, it's time to optimize your website. You need to make sure that your website is optimized as well as possible to get subscriptions. To do this you want to create banners or in-article references to let people sign up.

You can create sticky banners at the top or bottom of your page. An example from the State Government of Victoria:

State Government of Victoria screenshot from email signup

Or you can create banners at the right side or at the bottom of each blog post, like Campaign Monitor is doing.

Campaign Monitor screenshot from email signup

Create Pop-Ups For Your Website.

You can also create a popup on your website, personally I don't like it because it might annoy my readers. but for e-commerce it might be an interesting way to get people to sign up. You could for example let people sign up in return for a coupon code. This way you can increase your sales and at the same time grow your list.

Send Traffic to your Website

After you have set up everything, and your website is ready to receive subscriptions. You want to start sending traffic to your page. There are many different ways you can send traffic, I will mention a few here. But please bear in mind that the better the traffic, the higher chances you have people will sign up. And more chances for you to actually monetize your list.

Besides that, the better your landing page, the more people will sign up. So, just sending traffic to your page isn't a guarantee for lots of signups. Just ask yourself, would I want to sign up?

Create Engaging Quizzes

People like to be challenged, therefore, a recommended way to get people to sign up for your email list is by creating quizzes. People are always curious to learn new things and to find out how much they already know about a certain topic. You can also reward them at the end with a freebie or eBook.

Create CTAs That Make People Want To Click

Creating CTAs (Call To Action) that are interesting and make people click can be hard. A good tactic here is to create different CTAs and test which one works the best. A CTA can be just one word or a sentence. But they should not be too long in my experience. 

CTA examples are: sign up now, order now, find out more, get your discount now, or YES, give me that sweet discount, etc. Be creative and test different versions to see what works best.

How To Increase Your Email Sign Up Rate?

How To Increase Your Email Sign Up Rate?

Run A Engaging Contest

Contests are engaging and fun. So if you already have an audience, let's say Facebook or Instagram, you can hold contests to grow your email list. People would have to take a certain action or complete a task, like writing an answer, designing a logo or T-shirt, etc. And of course they have to sign up for your email list to participate. The winners should be rewarded with interesting prizes. The better the prize, the more signups you can expect.

Use Giveaways for List-Building

Besides creating contests, giveaways are also a great way to build your email list. This works best if you already have an active audience, let say on twitter or Instagram. But if you are creative you can also find ways to do this without a following. Eg. paid ads, shuts outs, etc.

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You can contact local celebrities or influencers on social media and ask if they are interested in collaborating with you. Influencers often have a wide reach and this can boost your signup rate. The trick is to find the correct partner with an audience that matches yours.

Create Powerful Lead Magnets

One of the best ways to increase your sign up rate is by creating interesting lead magnets. What is a lead magnet? A lead magnet is mostly a free item that is given away, like an eBook or printable in exchange for an email address or other contact info. But these magnets could be anything depending on your niche, for example they could be a trial subscription, freebies, free printables, cheat sheets, free samples, or free consultation.

Run ads

Another good working method to gather more leads is by creating compelling ads on places like Facebook or Google. Google or Pinterest might be best suited for bloggers. People are searching Google and other search engines to get help with their questions. And if you can help them answer their questions they might be more willing to sign up.

Leverage Your Social Media Accounts

Besides creating giveaways or contests, you can also add links on your social profiles or inside your posts to let your followers know that you have an email list. Important to note is that you want to explain to them the benefit of joining your email list.

Have a signup button on your Facebook page. Instead of sending your Facebook traffic to your homepage. You can directly send your traffic to your signup page. Facebook lets you easily change the button to sign-up button. Take a look at my page:

Leverage Your Social Media Accounts

Add A Reminder In Your Email Signature

If you regularly send emails, don't forget to remind your recipients that you have an email list. If you place a small reminder in your email signature, you increase your chances of growing your list.


An email list is an important part of your business. You can quickly reach your audience and it's a great way to boost your sales. Email marketing can also be used to deliver news or to announce a new product. All in all email marketing is very important and you cannot start early enough building it.

I hope this post was useful, please let me know what you think in the comments below. 


About the author:
Hello, my name is Ron Hoekstra, founder of The Liberty OnDemand. I hope you like my content, if you want to know more about me, please read here or subscribe to my newsletter where I will keep you up to date with new posts and other useful content.