Note: Affiliate links may be used in this post. When you buy through my affiliate links I may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Full disclosure here.

How to Start an Email List

Are you a blogger wondering how to start an email list? Or maybe you are wondering WHY you should even start one in the first place?

Starting an email list can seem overwhelming and confusing, but it’s one of the most valuable investments you can make in your blog.

Here’s why you should start an email list:

  1. Your email subscribers are your most loyal readers. You can stay in touch with them, cultivate a relationship with them, make sales, and keep them updated on your blog through your emails.
  2. Unlike social media, you’ll always be able to reach your email list. Instagram and Facebook are constantly changing their algorithms and making it harder to reach your own audience? There’s no guarantee that your followers will even see your posts. But your email subscribers will always be there.
  3. If you want to monetize your blog, an email list is your greatest asset! Your email subscribers are more likely to trust you and buy whatever you are selling than some random person visiting your blog.

Since starting my email list, my blog and income have grown a ton!

Having an email list has allowed me to drive more traffic back to my blog and make sales of my own products and affiliate products.

Every time I send an email to my list, I make a sale.

Whether I am promoting one of my own products or just mentioning a product I’m an affiliate for in a weekly newsletter, I am guaranteed to make money. In fact I have earned upwards of $400 in a day just from sending ONE email!

So, are you ready to start your own email list and grow your blog and income too? This guide will show you how to start an email list in under thirty minutes.

Let’s get started!


Setting up your email list

Step one to starting an email list is choosing an email provider.

When I very first started my blog, I decided to go with Mailchimp because they offer a free plan up until you reach 2,000 subscribers.

However, after having issues with Mailchimp, I ended up switching to ConvertKit after a few months because of the following reasons:

  • ConvertKit is designed specifically for professional bloggers
  • You have the ability to easily create and track multiple opt-in incentives which will help you grow your list faster
  • It’s super easy to design opt-in forms and landing pages
  • You can segment your audience so easily and in so many ways

UPDATE: ConvertKit now offers a free plan up to 1,000 subscribers, but you can only access it by signing up through this link. The free plan offers almost all of the features of the paid plan (except one, which I’ll discuss how you can work around it.) I highly recommend starting off with the free plan!

I personally recommend making the investment in ConvertKit if you are really serious about growing your blog, email list, and income. When I made the switch I had just a few hundred subscribers and I haven’t looked back. ConvertKit has definitely been the most worthwhile investments I’ve made as a blogger.

For the purpose of this post, I will be explaining how to set everything up with your email list using ConvertKit since that is what I use.

You can also check out some other Mailchimp alternatives. 


Step 1: Sign up for ConvertKit

Sign up for ConvertKit. (This is the link to sign up for the free plan.)

Now, there are a few steps you have to take for ConvertKit to approve your account. The whole process should only take a few minutes!


Step 2: Create a Form

The first thing you will do is create a Form in ConvertKit.

This is just a sign-up form that you can embed anywhere on your blog (such as at the top of every page, in the sidebar, at the end of a particular blog post, etc.)

For now, you can just create a generic “Sign up for my newsletter” form if you want. Eventually you will want to create an opt-in incentive, which is a free gift you offer to convince your visitors to subscribe to your email list.

To place a form on your blog, go to your Form > Settings > Embed and grab the code there, then paste it in a widget area or HTML editor on your blog.


Step 3: Create a Sequence

Now that you’ve made your first form, it’s time to make a Sequence in ConvertKit. The sequence is what your subscribers will receive after they sign up for a form.

At minimum, you need one email in your sequence. This is your “welcome email” and it should include the following elements:

  • An introduction of yourself and your blog
  • A link to download the opt-in incentive (see ideas below!)
  • A thank-you for subscribing
  • What your subscribers can expect from your email list

For the purpose of getting your account activated by ConvertKit, you really don’t need to put much thought into your sequence yet.

NOTE: If you’re on the free plan, automated sequences are the one feature you won’t have access to. You can still deliver your opt-in incentive to new subscribers though, by redirecting them to a page on your blog with a link to download the opt-in incentive after they subscribe.

You can find this in your opt-in form settings:

Just select “Redirect to an external page” and make a page on your blog with a link to download the opt-in incentive.


Step 4: Linking Your Form to Your Sequence

So now you’ve created a Form and a Sequence. It’s time to link the two of those together with an Automation.

Create a new automation and select “Joins a form” as the first event. Select the form that you just created.

Then add an action “Add the subscriber to email sequence” and select the sequence you just created.

Finally, make sure to publish the automation by toggling the button in the top right corner of the screen to “Live.”

Once you’ve done this, your form and sequence will be linked.

This means that when someone signs up on your form, it will automatically trigger the first email in your sequence.


Step 5: Account Approval

Congrats! You’ve now created your first Form, Sequence, and Automation in ConvertKit. These are the tools that are going to be very important in marketing your ebook down the road, so it’s important to understand them now.

Once you’ve completed these tasks, you can submit your account for approval. This is just a quick check to insure you’re a real person and not a spam robot. It only took a couple hours for ConvertKit to approve my account.

Once that happens, you are ready to go!


Opt-in incentive ideas

Here are some ideas of opt-in incentives that you can create and offer on your blog. It doesn’t have to be anything big, but it should provide value to your new subscriber and give them a “quick win” or help them solve a common pain point.

These 18 opt-in incentive ideas should give you some inspiration:

  • Cheat sheet (ex. 5 Simple Ways to Increase Blog Traffic)
  • Checklist (ex. The Ultimate Carry-on Packing List)
  • Email course (perfect as a lead-in a paid online course)
  • Quiz (LeadQuizzes or Interact are great for this!)
  • Short ebook (perfect as a lead-in to a paid ebook)
  • Webinar (ex. How to Set Goals and Keep Them)
  • Access to a Pinterest group board
  • Access to a private Facebook group
  • Video tutorial (ex. How to Use Canva to Create Blog Graphics)
  • Stock photos (great for photography business owners)
  • Printables (ex. Printable budget tracker)
  • Templates (ex. Templates for social media posts)
  • Swipe files (ex. The pitch you use to work with brands)
  • Worksheet (ex. Blog Post Planning Worksheet)
  • Planner (ex. Wedding planner, travel planner, day planner, etc.)
  • Free challenge (ex. 30 Day Minimalism Challenge)
  • Resource library (ex. Top resources for homeschool moms)
  • Live call with you (great for service-based business owners)


Sending newsletters

If you want to send a regular newsletter to your subscribers, just click the Broadcast button in the top menu of your dashboard. Broadcasts are what ConvertKit calls newsletters. Whether you’re on the free plan or paid plan of ConvertKit, you will have access to sending unlimited broadcasts.

Some things you can send to your subscribers in your newsletters are:

  • Links to your latest blog posts
  • Helpful tips/content that can’t be found on your blog
  • Product launches (your own products or affiliates)
  • Behind-the-scenes look at your life or blog
  • Special promotions or sales that are relevant to your audience
  • Blog posts repurposed for your email list

You should aim to send a weekly newsletter to establish trust and build a relationship with your subscribers.

So that’s everything you need to know on how to start an email list!

Don’t forget that you can sign up for ConvertKit’s FREE plan here and grow your blog email list for free up to 1,000 subscribers.


4 Reasons Why No One Is Signing Up for Your Email List

So we have established that having an email list is important for your blog, but the question remains: how do you get people to actually sign up?

Once you’ve followed the steps above to start your email list, you might still be struggling with getting people to sign up for your list.

Here are some common reasons people aren’t signing up for your email list, and what you can do to fix it so you get new subscribers every day!


No Opt-In Incentive

Does your email list have an opt-in incentive to go with it?

An opt-in incentive is a small something you give to subscribers in exchange for signing up for your email list. It should be something useful that provides value to your target audience and helps solve an immediate need or problem.

Some popular opt-in incentive are checklists, printables, a short ebook, templates, a free email course, etc. It doesn’t need to be anything big.

People are a lot more likely to share their email with you if you give them something they want in return. For example, let’s say you are a travel blogger. Someone is more likely to subscribe if you say “Hey! Sign up for my email list and I’ll send you a free guide with secret tips on how to get the BEST travel deals!” versus “Sign up for my newsletter to get weekly updates.”

Without a juicy opt-in incentive to draw them in, visitors to your blog might skim right past your email subscribe box. So draw them in!


 Is Signing Up for Your Email List


Bad Opt-In Incentive

Another reason why no one is signing up for your email list might be because unfortunately, you might just have a BAD opt-in incentive.

I know it’s sad to hear, especially if you spent hours painstakingly creating what you consider to be the perfect incentive for your blog. But the fact is, some opt-in incentives just don’t convert as well as others.

If you’ve had an opt-in incentive on your blog for a while, but you aren’t getting many subscribers, you may need to evaluate if your opt-in is the problem.

The main reasons why some incentives don’t convert well is because:

  • They aren’t very useful
  • They don’t address an immediate need or problem
  • They aren’t relevant to your target audience
  • They are confusing or unclear

Sometimes it just requires testing multiple incentives until you find one that works. If one is converting after a few months, try something else instead!

Tip: If you end up scrapping an old opt-in incentive, you can re-purpose the content from it as a blog post! That way the time you spent creating it doesn’t go to waste, and it might gain more traction as a blog post instead.


They Don’t Trust You

Most people won’t give their email address to just anyone. No one wants to have an inbox full of junk mail or spam, or receive emails that aren’t useful to them.

Visitors to your blog will only hand over their email address if they feel like they can trust you. This means having a professional-looking blog, publishing valuable and relevant content, and establishing yourself as a credible expert in your niche.

If you aren’t getting many sign-ups, one reason why no one is signing up for your email list may be that you don’t seem trustworthy.

Take a look at your blog:

  • Is your site cluttered or poorly designed, or does it look clean and professional?
  • Are the graphics/photos on your site of low quality, or do they look polished?
  • Do your blog posts look like you just slapped them together in fifteen minutes, or are they detailed and packed with information?
  • Are there lots of spammy pop-ups and ads, or is your site clear and readable?

All of these factors contribute to whether or not someone trusts you enough to hand over their email address. If you aren’t getting any subscribers, you may need to work on cleaning up your blog and establishing trust.


 Is Signing Up for Your Email List


Can’t Find Where to Opt In

This last mistake is actually an incredibly common one. Where to opt in to your email list may seem extremely obvious to you: duh, you put a subscribe box right in your blog’s sidebar where everyone will see it!

But people scrolling through your blog may miss that one single opt-in box, which is why no one is signing up for your email list.

And that is why you always need more than one place to opt in. Try at least two or three! Some places you can include an opt-in box:

  • Above the fold (the space at the top of your website that people see right away)
  • Sidebar
  • Header
  • Footer
  • Within individual blog posts when relevant
  • Pop-ups

Having multiple places to opt in to your list ensures that visitors to your blog will see at least one of them, and makes them much more likely to subscribe.


Why No One Is Signing Up for Your Email List

It’s super frustrating when you aren’t getting many new email subscribers.

But by addressing these common reasons as to why no one is signing up for your email list, you can easily boost your subscribers and grow your list!


How to Start a Blog

Don’t have a blog yet? That should be step one before starting an email list!

I recommend signing up for my free email course called Blogging Bootcamp. This step-by-step course has helped hundreds of my subscribers start a blog!

Blogging has an extremely low start-up cost: You really only need to pay for web hosting (which I recommend getting through Bluehost because it’s only $2.95 a month) and a domain name for your blog. And you will even get your domain name FREE with Bluehost, which saves you about $15-20.

For the complete guide on how to start your blog at a low cost, sign up for my free email course or check out my guide on how to start a blog here.