Start HERE if You Don’t Have an Email List

Jenna Kutcher 

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August 22, 2019


I talk a lot about how to grow your email list, how to improve your open rate, how to write interesting subject lines, how to draft email copy that converts readers into excited buyers… But what if you don’t have a list, like, at all?

I polled my followers on Instagram this week, asking who amongst them already has an email list set up, and a whopping 75 PERCENT said they don’t. For all the hubbub I preach about improving and capitalizing on your list, the poll got me thinking I might need to back up one or two steps.

So, if you’ve felt unsure of where to even start, or if the tech side of a list scares you, or you’ve just plain been putting it off, now’s your time, sis. My email list is the number one driver of profits in my business. When it comes down to it, it’s also the only thing I have total control over… Social media is a wonderful tool, but I don’t OWN that platform.

My email list, on the other hand? It’s all mine, and I get to create an ongoing, mutually obsessed relationship with subscribers that ultimately serves them well and impacts my business more than anything else.

So, if you have no clue where to start, today I’m serving up my three steps to getting started right now. Plus? This very week, I’m launching a ZERO to 250 email list challenge to grow your list from nada to 250 subscribers in one month flat. It’s totally FREE and only requires five days of list-building training to learn my best strategies, resources, and all the info you need to take your list from zero to 250, and beyond.

Step 1: Pick an email marketing service provider.

One of the BEST parts about the list building challenge is that my friends at Flodesk are giving participants access to their super easy-to-use email system for FREE for the next 30 days… like, zero credit card needed to even sign up. You’ll be able to send beautifully crafted emails fast and easily while you get used to list building.

I know that one of the biggest hang-ups for so many people wanting to start an email list is the tech side of things: picking an email provider, integrating a sign-up form onto your website, tracking the analytics. But the magic of Flodesk is that they take the heavy lifting tech out of it and totally simplify the process of getting set up and sending out emails regularly.

 There are other providers you could go with, too: Convertkit and Infusionsoft, to name a few. The price options of each vary widely, but the key is to just pick one and go with it. You can always move later! 

Step 2: Start building with whos in front of you.

When you’re staring at a big 0 on your list, it’s easy to get discouraged and feel like you’ll never get 10 people to sign up, let alone 250+. But don’t make the mistake of simply adding all your email contacts to your newsletter without getting permission first. Not only does this feel spammy and annoying to those people, but (surprise) it’s also illegal.

Crazy, right? We allll start somewhere — just a couple years ago, my own list was a big goose egg zero. But the point of an email list is to build the principle of “know, like, and trust,” which is the biggest way to run a profitable, sustainable business.

If you’re not a business owner yet, start with your connections and followers, there are likely people already following you who are likely interested in what you’re passionate about! If you are already a business owner, you probably have a list of people you’ve worked with in the past. They know you and your business, and they’d be a great addition to your list to be sure you stay top of mind with them and have a way to communicate news and sales! Even though you can’t just add them to the list, you CAN ask for permission, and here’s how: 

  • Start the experience off with an invite. Write a template email that tells them about how you’d love to keep them up to date about future events, news, and services and how they can join.
  • Set expectations and how you’ll reach out. Include how frequently you’ll be emailing them with helpful topics, such as [insert the types of subjects you plan on sharing.
  • Make the call to action prominent, you want them to join you formally! Give them the option to click the link and join you! Think of it as an invitation to a friend, not a sales pitch.
  • Pro tip: add a sentence to each individual email that personalizes it and shows it’s not a mass e-blast. Trust me, this effort will pay off and be much better received!

Step 3: Make it as easy as possible for people to sign up for your list.

Flodesk (and most other email providers) allow you to embed and integrate signup forms on your website and social media sites easily. You can also embed a signup in your personal email to past clients outlined in step 2. They have a helpful guide that will walk you through the embedding process to take the stress out of this more “techy” step — it’s simple, I promise!

It’s KEY that your email signup form is prominently showcased on your:

  •     Home page of your website
  •     Social media pages
  •     URL on Instagram
  •     Calls to action in blog posts + social media posts
  •     Email signature

The best part of an email list is that you don’t have to battle social media algorithms for attention. People will start to know they can trust that you’re out there to serve them, not just sell to them! I love sending out weekly pep talks and bits of inspo to my people, plus tactical information and advice they can apply to their lives and businesses.

When you approach email list building from an act of service, and not as a means to blast out sales pitches, it becomes a way that people connect with you and eagerly await what’s next for you! I utilize the 90-10 rule for my list, serving them motivational tips and real life stories 90% of the time and selling 10% of the time.

This will endear people to you so that when it is time to sell, they know they can trust what you’re offering and will be much more likely to press “purchase” and stay on your list indefinitely. And that’s the goal, right?!

Psst! Don’t forget to sign up for the ZERO to 250 email list challenge right here! It’s completely free and will walk you through and simplify each step it takes to initiating and building an ever-growing email list, starting from nothing!


Need more guidance in starting your list?

Join my Zero to 250 email list challenge right here!

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  1. Megan says:

    Hi Jenna! I love your content. Question. How do you integrate Flodesk (amazing!) with Kajabi? Thank you!!

  2. […] do you start? As aptly described by Jenna Kutcher, a small business growth guru we respect, it’s a step-by-step […]


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A small town Minnesota photographer, podcaster, educator and puppy rescuer, my happiest days are spent behind my computer screen sharing my secrets with the world. I'm glad you're here.

I’m an expert at online marketing, a nerd when it comes to the numbers, and my obsession is teaching others how to make a living doing what they love (without it taking over their life). 

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