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10 Steps Guide How To Build An Email List

Susanne Rieker manifesting her dream life with her puppy, Luna.
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When it comes to marketing your offers, such as your regular yoga classes, workshops, retreats or any other services, email marketing is hands down the most effective way to grow your business.

It’s a fact and Instagram and Facebook don’t come close (maybe unless you’re Yoga Girl).

I love Instagram just like the next yoga teacher, it’s free and fun and easy to use, but fact is you don’t truly own your followers… Instagram does. And boy, don’t they let us feel it, what with all the Algorithm changes that mean that only a tiny part of your followers actually sees your updates.

There’s no way around it my friend, you need an email list and a newsletter that you send out to your subscribers regularly. Plus a few other things that I’ll get into next.

There may be affiliate links in this post which means I may receive a commission if you purchase something through a link. Please be assured that I only recommend products I personally use and love!

Step 1 – Choose your email marketing provider

If you want to send out emails as a business and not to your best friend or sis, you need to use a so-called email marketing provider. Don’t simply use your Gmail account to email your clients. Not only will you be breaking email marketing laws (yep, they exist), you’ll also have no real way to grow your list, because people can’t sign up for it. And the good news is, you can start for free, so there’s really no excuse!

There are tons of options but the one platform that I recommend is ConvertKit because you have so many more options to grow your list while still being intuitive and easy to use. They have a free plan for up 300 subscribers where you can create multiple forms and landingpages and it’s great to get started.

Here are just a few reasons why I love it:

  • The platform is well designed and extremely easy to use.
  • It comes with powerful tagging and segmentation features that you get with a paid plan, which starts at $9 per month. For example, you could exclude people who already signed up for your upcoming retreat when you send out a last-minute discount promo to everyone else. AND this is really easy to set up, too.
  • Their customer service team is super helpful.
  • Finally, emails are delivered reliably (what you would expect but don’t always get elsewhere).

Sign up with your chosen email marketing provider and set it up. If you want to go with ConvertKit, check out this article: how to get started with ConvertKit.

Step 2 – SET UP YOUR DOMAIN EMAIL ADDRESS

To send out email newsletters you need to have a domain email address. This is an email that’s set up with your unique website URL, for example mine is hello@susannerieker.com. You can’t use Gmail or Hotmail or any other tool to build your email list and send out newsletters.

If you already have a website, check if your website platform also allows you to set up email addresses. For example when you have a WordPress website, you can normally set your emails up in your hosting dashboard.

If you don’t have a website yet, you can register a URL with Google and also set up your email address with them. Please note this feature might not be available in all countries yet. If not, you can register a URL for example with Siteground.com and also set up your email address in their dashboard with just a few clicks.

Step 3 – Create an opt-in form for your website

Next you want people to be able to sign up to your list through your website. In Convertkit create a naked form that you can then embed for example on your homepage.

Above the form add a title and describe in a few words what people can expect when they sign up. Make it engaging and fun. Whatever you do, don’t just say “Sign up for my newsletter”.

Instead use something like:

JOIN MY INNER CIRCLE

Subscribe to my magic love notes and get exclusive emails delivered weekly to your inbox. I aim to only send out awesome stuff that is guaranteed to inspire and help you live your best life.

Here’s a sign up form that I have on my homepage:

Email Form Homepage Example

Step 4 – Write your first newsletter

Before you start sending out random notes or shout out stuff you want to promote to your subscribers, think about how you can best serve them.

You have a huge opportunity—responsibility, even—to provide value to your subscribers. When someone essentially says, “Hey, I like you enough to give you my email address,” you owe it to them to offer up everything you can to ensure that they make progress, stay informed, or are entertained.

So how do you do that?

I like to start with subscribing to newsletters from people I admire. They don’t all have to be in the same field as you, some online marketeers like for example Marie Forleo are definitely worth signing up for as well. Start analyzing their emails. What do you like, what annoys you? This will help you find your voice and content structure.

Here are a few things to consider before you write your newsletter:

How often will you send it out? Quality is more important than quantity, but consistency is everything. If you wait too long between emails, your subscribers might forget about you (who the heck is sending me this?), and if you only send out emails very inconsistently, it’s not building trust. I think a weekly newsletter is great if you produce new content every week, like for example yoga videos, otherwise once a month works as well.

What do you want to put into it? It’s good to have a bit of structure so your subscribers know what to expect. For example, you could start your newsletter with sharing a personal story or insight. People want to know what’s happening in your life. Then you want to provide value, like an early-bird discount for your next workshop or a link to your new yoga video.

Write like to you’re talking to a friend. When we read conversational content, we instantly feel a connection with the writer. We feel like we’re getting to know him or her. This is your aim. But how do you actually do this? Writing conversationally doesn’t mean you actually write as you talk (for me this would be wishy-washy words, grammar mistakes, and unfinished sentences…). Instead, edit your text so it doesn’t sound like writing and don’t forget to add a dollop of personality. In a world of endless pixels and meaningless likes, we crave human connections and voices that resonate with us. Just try to be yourself and write like you’re having a cozy chat with your student over a cup of chai tea.

Click here for more tips how to write great emails

Step 5 – Create a welcome message

It’s highly recommended that you use double opt-in when you set up your forms and it’s actually a legal requirement in the EU and other countries. This means that your new subscribers must confirm their email address by clicking on a link in the double opt-in email before they are added to your list.

It’s a little bit annoying but it will help you grow a more engaged email list with people who are really interested in your content and offers. After all, if someone can’t even be bothered to confirm their email, they are probably not really interested in you.

When you’re using the free plan with Convertkit, the double opt-in email will also be your welcome email, so use this email to welcome your new subscribers and remind them of who you are and how you can help them.

Here first impressions absolutely matter. That’s why you should put some effort into your welcome message.

In your message you want to acknowledge how grateful you are to the folks who actually took the time to subscribe to your list. So, start with saying “Thank You”.

Next, tell your new subscribers what they can expect to get from you now that they are on your list. Weekly updates? Fun stuff? Invites to upcoming workshops? First dips at new retreats? Exclusive deals? You want them to get excited about being on our mailing list.

Here’s my welcome message for people who subscribe to my list:

Welcome Email Example

Step 6 – Design a freebie

People freaking love getting free stuff. Offering someone an unexpected gift is one of the quickest ways to form a bond with that person. And when that gift or freebie that you give someone who signs up for your email list happens to be totally awesome, beautiful, inspiring or helpful? Instant love and connection happens.

Here are a few common types of opt-in freebies:

  • Workbook
  • Checklist
  • Cheat Sheet
  • Yoga Class
  • Video Tutorial
  • Email Course
  • Discount Code
  • PDF Guide

The point is to be generous, while showing people how smart & awesome you are — not just “build a bigger mailing list” for the hell of it.

If you’re feeling stumped and not sure what kind of freebie would be ideal for your customers — here’s a great question to ask yourself:

What is the biggest thing my customers are struggling with?

And what’s one gift that could help them with… that?

It probably won’t be the full solution — you should encourage your subscribers to come to your classes or workshops for additional support, of course — but it could be a great start.

The key is to find a topic and format that your subscribers strongly resonate with and are happy to hand over their email addresses for.

Click here to learn more about how to create a great opt-in freebie.

Step 7 – Create a landingpage

When you have your amazing freebie, you want to promote it and show it to as many people as possible. But if it’s hidden somewhere on your homepage not everybody will find it and people will get distracted by everything else going on.

That’s where a landingpage comes in. On your landingpage you introduce your freebie, tell people what they get, and give them the possibility to sign up for it. Nothing else! You share the link to this page as much as possible, for example put it in your Instagram profile, post it on Pinterest and in Facebook groups.

Here’s an example of one of my landingpages:

Freebie Landingpage Example

Step 8 – Drive traffic to your freebie

Now that you’ve created a kickass freebie – it’s time to GET IT OUT THERE!

There are a million and one ways you can promote your freebie, but here are a few of my favorites:

  • Facebook Post
  • Instagram Stories – save the images in a story highlight
  • Blog Posts
  • Website Sidebar
  • Facebook Groups
  • Forums or other places your readers hang out
  • Guest Posts
  • A quick one-liner or “PS” in the signature field of your emails, below your name & contact info.

The worst thing you can do is spend days actually creating the freebie, and then not spend enough time promoting it!

Step 9 – Create a content plan

Having a plan is the key to consistency. First, brainstorm topics and look up upcoming events you want to promote. Next, plan your newsletters for the next 2-3 months so you’ll know about every event or update that’s coming up or promotions you can include in your emails.

This strategy will prevent any last-minute disaster, you can make your email newsletters in a comfortable way and prevent sending random, unstructured emails.

Step 10 – Test, test, test

Taking some time to test each email thoroughly before you send it out is super important. Read it at least twice and check all the links.

Next comes testing different options to improve your performance, like for example:

Which day of the week leads to higher open rates?

What subject lines are most effective?

Should you use a different name in the “From” field?

Testing EVERYTHING is the secret of successful marketeers. How else will you know if what you’re doing is working?

What’s next?

Starting an email list might take a little time and effort, but it’s totally worth it if you’re serious about growing your business. When you start to gain loyal fans who really want to receive your emails because your content adds value to their lives, well, that’s an exciting thing indeed. Later, you can use all those email subscribers to send out invites to yoga retreats, upcoming workshops or even to sell your new online course to earn some passive income. It’s all in the list!

I hope this article has been helpful to you in coming up with your own strategy for building your email list.

PERIMENOPAUSAL. DOG MOM. GERMAN LIVING IN SPAIN.

Hi, I'm Susanne.

I’m here to help you turn your passion into profits and build a successful online business.

I went from working in digital advertising to become a yoga teacher, move to Bali and build my online business that allows me to work from anywhere in the world. Now, my mission is to help you do the same. I want to empower you to embrace the transformative potential of midlife and menopause, build a purposeful online business and create your unique legacy.

I’m also obsessed with my little terrier Luna, love traveling in my campervan, and am happiest when I can wear yoga pants all day long. 

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