How Pros Make Money Online

Income Diary

Outstanding Email List Building Success In 6 Easy Steps

By:     Topics: Email Marketing     More posts about: ,

Follow My 6 Step Plan For Mailing List Success

How To Build Your Mailing List – My Easy 6 Step Plan

In the past I have done a fair number of postings about building an email list here at — but with today’s post I wanted to take a slightly different approach. But first I would like to ask you a question.

Are You Too Embarrassed To Build A Mailing List?

You see when I have been speaking to some coaching clients recently I noticed just how many of them felt EMBARRASSED about using their website / blog to build up a list of subscribers / potential future clients.

It was almost like they were afraid to ask for the money? I mean, what is the point being in business if you are afraid to ask for the money?

And when it comes to blogging — your mailing list is a lot of the money.

I was speaking to one person recently who is a great writer – who has filled their website with lots of great content but was reluctant to add an option for people to join a mailing list – and even when he did add it — he buried it within the site so no one would see it.

When I challenged him about it he gave me the most surprising reply. He didn’t want to be considered a spammer! My jaw almost dropped of my face!

Building an email list does not make you a spammer!

Thinking that adding the option for visitors to OPT-IN to your mailing list / download your free report somehow makes you look bad is complete Nonsense!

But then I made a realization also – you see I thought this was such a daft idea I never thought anyone could possibly think this but when I asked around I actually found other people who felt similarly. So this post is particularly for you if you feel uncomfortable building a mailing list.

Why Would I Want To Join Your Email List?

As you can imagine I am on a large number of email lists myself and I must join several new lists each week (as well as opting out of several lists each week as they no longer serve my needs)

And the reason why I join is simple — because I like what you have written and I want to read more from you!

I mean I don’t want to have to check your website daily to see if there is a new blog post to read – I want you to email me and let me know when there is a new blog post or something that might be of interest to me.

Not 100% related — but I am even on Mailing Lists for products not even directly of interest to me — simply because I like to keep up with what is going on in other industries / markets. Of course in these cases I am only on the list of the top players in those niches – it is like a Free Education – I get to see what they are doing, what subject lines they are using and I am able to think how can I apply what they are doing to my NICHE?

Of course the truth of the matter is that those people who are a bit SHY or Embarrassed about building a mailing list do in fact suffer from POOR SELF IMAGE.

Basically they think they are not worthy of attracting followers. They don’t actually think the have the right to be successful.

Remember as my good friend Jerry Gillies puts it:

Making a dollar and making a difference do not have to be mutually exclusive

It really is OK to make money doing something you love and helping people at the same time.

You are in fact doing your visitors a disservice by not giving them an option to opt-in — NOT the other way round. Add an OPT-IN and let your website visitors decide for themselves.

Another Thought…

I was reviewing this post and thinking it odd that we had a SIX Step plan (rare to see a 6 step plan — it is usually 3 steps, 5 steps and 7 steps — rarely 6 steps). Anyway I made an important realization — because this is in fact a 7 step plan because the 1st step is in fact HAVING THE RIGHT ATTITUDE.

Unless you believe in yourself and the value you deliver to your subscribers – then frankly you may as well never even get bothered building a mailing list.

Our Attitude to building a mailing list determines the SUCCESS of our mailing list

When I publish this blog post I will email my subscribers to advise them of it and in return 1000’s of them will visit this blog post because of that one thing.

Really it is not that difficult (I like to think it is simple — but people seem intent on making it difficult!)

Here is just a few of the many reasons why having a list is really important:

  • You can email your list every time you have a new blog post, sending a huge surge of traffic to your site!
  • If you decide to launch a product, you can instantly inform all your readers and fans to come check out the sales page.
  • Email promotions, sending out emails promoting a new product launch!

1. Creating Your “Hook”

Starting with the most important part of list building, giving some away in return for their email address. Creating a hook is easy, all you have to do is produce a product that you could sell but instead you give it away. Most people say this is important to get more people to sign up, it definitely does increase conversions by a lot but it also has an even powerful-er part to it, it can make you a lot of money. In fact my first 6 figures made online was through a FREE report I gave away on one of my blogs.

Let’s say you have a web design blog, you could created a report called “17 Ways To Make More Money As a Web Designer“. In this report you teach visitors these ways, some things include them buying something that of course will genuinely help them but also make you money as an affiliate. So for example, one tip is to get business cards created and you suggest their buy them through Vista Print which of course is an affiliate link. Another suggestion could be they should become hosting resellers for their clients and then they buy a reseller account via your affiliate link. All your content needs to help them and of course make you money. If you are new to affiliate marketing, I suggest you read this guide. If you struggle for time, a 17 tips type report can be done in a couple hours quite easily so don’t feel you need to go all out with a long eBook.

My report being sent out in a email deliver by Aweber, they report is the emai. Most people don’t bother putting together a design for an email template, however those who want to, Themeforst have some great ones to choose from.

Hopefully now you have some sort of idea of what FREE report you want to create, it doesn’t have to be a really long thing, it just needs to help website visitors in some way so that they want to buy something in the report and stay subscribed for more content. Some bloggers deliver their report in a PDF format which is automatically sent to new subscribers via your email marketing solution (I use Aweber for this) and some bloggers fine it easier just to deliver the report in one long email, which is what I do.

2. Setting Up Your Email Opt-in Box & Funnel

I use two email marketing providers, Aweber and iContact. Both are similar, I hate to rely on one company, using multiple company’s is just good business sense. What these company’s do is allow you to collect email addresses, send and track emails, plus a lot more techy stuff that the typical person doesn’t really need.

Using any email provider, you will have the option to send a visitor to a page, you can either use their default thank you page but I like to do is create a new page in WordPress and thank new subscribers for opting in and to let them know that their free gift will be emailed to them straight away. As this is the point where their most interested in your subject, I also suggest several affiliate products related to my free gift which they may be interested in.

3. Have a Page Dedicated To Your Free Gift & Signing Up

The thing I see over and over again is people really enjoying the free gifts they get from signing up to a newsletter – so you must make it easy for them to share the source of this free gift (report, tip sheet etc) where their friends, customers and even family. Simply having a sidebar opt-in isn’t enough. You want to give your subscribers a link to a page detailing your offer, which they can pass on to friends, family etc. Something else I recommend is using OptimizePress – this allows you to create squeeze pages which have converted higher then 50% which means if you can send 1000 visitors to your squeeze page, over 500 will opt-in.

I use OptimizePress for my squeeze pages and it only took around 5 minutes, saving me at least $500 and a whole bunch of time. They have 10 different pages to choose from, depending if you want to show a video on your squeeze page, show a preview of one, a free report with an eCover – frankly they cover everything!

TOP TIP: Have your download page include comments so that readers can leave testimonials and share thoughts, this makes for great social proof!

4. Using a Lightbox Opt-in Popup

When you visit IncomeDiary you would of seen my popup which was produced using my WordPress plugin called Popup Domination. I knew lightbox’s like this worked but the ones Aweber provide had some flaws, firstly poor design, I’m not going to spend all my time and money on the perfect blog does just to devalue it with a free lightbox design. As well as that, it was missing a lot of the options I required such as setting how soon the popup showed up, how often, what pages, customizing the design and so on. Using Popup Domination I was able to go from around 15 opt-ins a day to over 50 a day almost immediately, which really helped me take off with my online marketing. Here are a couple Popup Domination settings I think work really well:

  • Shown every 14 days, on the second impression and not on the homepage. This means when they visit the site, the popup doesn’t show up on the first page they visit, if they enjoy your site and further navigate to a second page, this is when they are shown the popup. These settings work very well for those who are worried about upsetting regular visitors. Additionally you may want to consider having the sign up link open up in a new window so that the visitor stays on your page.
  • Shown in one particular category on the first impression and target the traffic that visits the posts in that category, for example if the category on your website is about six pack abs, provide a free gift on getting six pack abs. This is for those who want to build a super targeted email list.

We have also seen that people using Popup Domination using a theme which you can use an eCover have converted a lot higher then those without so I highly recommend you invest just a small amount of money in an eCover design related to your free gift.

5. Making Money From Your Email List

Most people reading this who want to monetize their email list will probably want to do it by promoting affiliate products. It is seriously easy money, can you imagine just sending a email to your, taking you what, 5 minutes and in return you make thousands of dollars. We are so lucky with the opportunity we have today,  we just have to make sure we take advantage of it while we can. When emailing promotions, you have three main ways to go do it:

  • Directly email your list a link to the sales page
  • Email your list a review on your blog
  • Email your list a link to a bonus page on your site where you take them through the product and offer them a bonus if they buy through your link.

Depending on the product, you will want to do different things. I prefer to email my list a link to a review on my site, this brings them back to my site, gives me a better chance at selling it as well as a better chance of them looking else where on my blog and buying something. If the product is a high price, try the bonus page, this has definitely increased my conversions. Directly emailing your list the link to the sales page is the easiest solution, it doesn’t convert as well but it literally takes 2 minutes to do. I have to admit, I feel bad emailing a link directly to the sales page because it makes me look like I don’t care, I prefer to put in more effort and in return I make a lot more. For more help finding affiliate products to promote, check out this post.

6. Increasing Earnings and Email Open Rate

The most exciting feature for me is being able to send another email to the same list that I emailed the day before, but this time it only sends to the people who didn’t open the email the day before. I simply keep the email the same but change the title in case the other one wasn’t enticing enough for them. Figures don’t lie, let me show you how it performed:

The first email sent out got: 33.8% open rate getting 523 clicks to my website.

The second email which went to only the unopened emails got: 16.1% open rate and an additional 156 clicks to my website.

This is an example of a small list I have hosted with iContact. 156 extra visitors to my post may not seem like a huge amount but when I tell you it was convert at $3.00 a click, that’s an extra $468.00. Before using this option that would not have been possible. This feature comes with both iContact and Aweber.

The second thing I suggest you do is try split testing part of your list or if you have several different lists, try split testing one before sending to the rest. Split testing basically allows you to send different emails to the same list and compare which converts the best. In the example below you will see I sent an email to one of my lists with two different headlines, it was sent to 12,000 people and one email title performed better than the other, now that I know which one converts best, I can send that title to the rest of my email lists.

The next thing you want to do is add an autoresponder series to your email list. What this does is automatically email your subscribes at a set time for months to come, for example 1 day after signing up, then again 4 days later, then again 3 days later and so on. You want to do this because new subscribers most likely would not have seen past content and this gives you another opportunity to earn from those blog posts you have done. For example I have a review I did a while back that earned me over $7,000 when I emailed my subscribers a link to the article, that clearly converted very well for me. It’s proven to convert so I want to send future new subscribers to the post, so I set up an auto-responder for a few days after they opt-in to send out automatically that email I sent months ago to my list, this means they will get fresh content and give me a chance to earn again and again.

BONUS: Email Marketing FAQ’s

I’m stuck trying to do some of these things with iContact/Aweber.
No problem, the thing I love about these companies is the fact that they both have live chat so you can just login and talk to one of their team and ask them questions about any problems you may be having.

How often should I email my list?
I email every time I have something that is WORTHWHILE them looking at. (Note the word WORTHWHILE – think every time you email — are you adding value, are you creating value) It is easy to be lazy (and I have been guilty of it) but it is vital to keep the VALUE up there and in turn keep your connection and rapport with your subscriber. This can only be done by putting them first and delivering value and products that improve their life / their business.

I know a lot of marketers who email promotion day after day. I would say not to do that – rather you should split up your promotions with free content posted on your blog as well as your affiliate marketing promotions. This way visitors are less likely to object to being heavily marketed to and indeed are more likely to buy because they appreciate the value you deliver.

VERY IMPORTANT: Don’t promote for the sake of promoting and earning some affiliate commissions – PROMOTE only when you are a 100% confident in the product and the individual who created it.

What should my FREE gift format be?
To be honest, it can anything you like, such as a Video, Audio or PDF download. The reason I prefer to have a written gift is because you can’t skim video or audio and people live very busy lives and you can’t expect them to sit through something with out knowing whats coming up.

There are so many email providers (AWeber, iContact etc), which one should I choose?
I have tried many different providers, I personally use AWeber because that’s who all the big names were using, if it was good enough for them, it was good enough for me. I personally like having accounts with two different company’s (2 hosts, 2 autoresponders, 2 domain registrars etc) because I feel safer then relying on one company, that is why I started using iContact. I like iContact and would happily recommend either of these providers.

Your comments and feedback below is always appreciated.


By the way, the most profitable follow up series I ever wrote came only 10 minutes after I completed the most amazing email marketing crash course we’ve ever come across – the McIntyre Method.

"Do Not Write Another Blog Post Until You Watch This Free Video..."

Traffic Domination

Watch this free video to learn...

  • How I got over 10,000,000 people to visit my websites.
  • The types of blog post that got me all that traffic.
  • How to get someone else to do it for you!

Where should I send your video?

Your privacy is safe. We will never share your information.

How We Get Over 64.73% Of New Email Subscribers

We first added a popup opt-in box to IncomeDiary back in 2010. Today, it gets us more subscribers than our homepage opt-in, footer opt-in, sidebar opt-in and squeeze pages combined.

After seeing how well it worked for us, we decided to develop it into a plugin our readers could use. It's been so popular that over 60,000 websites now use it!

Click Here To Get Instant Access


  1. Azzam Sheikh says:

    Outstanding post.

    I am currently in the process of uploading an free report and was just haggling over which mailing service to use.

    This post has come at the perfect time and gives me a lot of food for thought

  2. Mark A Carbone says:

    Great post! Thanks for sharing some of your best practices with us.

  3. The list of activities are correct when we are into online business.
    Good post

  4. Clive at says:

    This rang a lot of bells for me – I only started list building last year. Crazy! The thing is that the longer you leave it the harder it becomes to start as you’re kind of stating to yourself that you were dumb!

  5. Great post right on and BTW thanks for not being one of those that promote anything good or bad just to make a buck! Those guys make me crazy.

  6. Hey Michael!
    Very cool and informative post about building email lists.
    I’ve been using Popup domination and on days where I do guest posts on bigger blogs I get over 40 new subscribers in a single day.

    I haven’t really been able to make as much money from affiliate links as I thought I would but I guess that’s due to my copywriting/ structures of the emails. I donno.

    What are your thoughts about using PPC do build a list?

  7. Jersey Shore Workout says:

    I love OptimizePress.

    Don’t forget, it also builds sales letters as well.
    You can’t beat the price either…

    Optimize Press + Pop Up Domination = Perfect List Building Tools.

    Thanks for the post, I always love reading your stuff.
    Take Care.

    P.S – Where can I get that ‘STOP!’ Plugin at the bottom of each of your posts? That’s pretty cool.

    • Michael Dunlop says:


      It’s not a plugin but there are stop sign graphics in my Site Profit Domination course.

      Check it out 🙂


    • Theres a plugin called “end content”, I believe, which lets you put anything you want (customizable html section) at the end of every one of your posts

  8. Owen McGab Enaohwo says:

    Do you only send those who do not open the initial email a second email when you have something for sale (affiliate products or yours)? Or do you use this strategy for when you send emails with regular blog post updates?

  9. Great info Michael, as always. Think I need to start putting these things in place!

  10. Radu Tyrsina @ Smart About Things says:

    Awesome, thank you Michael!

  11. Very well said Michael. I too use Aweber and cannot imagine marketing without my own list! 🙂

  12. Your Post couldn’t have come at a better time Michael. Top advice. I just finished creating my first giveaway report (in which I mention your site as a great resource) and I’m pretty proud of it. I’m trying JV giveaways to build my list. Hope it’s going to work…
    I use Mailchimp as an autoresponder, since it has a great free option for those on a budget.
    It took me a long time before I started to put an opt in on my site for exactly the reason you described in your post. Shy, not convinced I could actually offer value. Glad I’m past that now.
    Happy new years,
    Regards Andy

  13. Dennis of Flip a House says:

    Thanks for the tips Michael..

    I see where Diggy says guest blogging. I’ve thought about having guest bloggers on my site but never thought about doing it myself. Thanks

    but yea these lists work great. You build a relationship with your subscribers and they’ll buy a lot of stuff from you. Now you do have those few people that seem to just have their eyes glued to the “report spam” button everytime you send something out but other than that, I love being able to get a message out to thousand of people at a time

    Michael have you figured out a way to find out who’s reporting the spam with aweber. I had a subs. recently after sending out 3 messages over 5 days about a product I was trying to sell, go back to the older messages and report all of them for spam. I need to get them off my list asap

  14. Joshua Zamora says:

    Great tips Michael! List building should be on everyones agenda!

  15. Hi Michael. thankf great tips, I’ve started emplementing the solutions you’ve provided on your ebook & things look guit good. after doing some optimization, i’ll be starting to do the list building. great tips…. check out my sites… , ….keep on inspiring us….

  16. Blog the bank says:

    Great post very useful information Micheal keep up the good work.

  17. Peter Lusinde says:

    Another great post from Micheal, great tips and very informative. I just finished creating my own squeeze page and was looking at ways to promote it. After reading your post I think I now have a better idea of what to do.
    Once again, Thanks Micheal


  18. Dutchys Fitness says:

    Great tips as always Michael, only starting out so trying to build my list at the minute, will be a slow process no doubt

  19. Ian McConnell says:

    Thanks Michael… A great reminder for me.

    I use aweber and optimizepress and love them. I need to work out how to do that bit where you can email the people again that didn’t open the first email.

    It looks like you create follow up messages to deliver your daily training initially and then you use broadcasts to advise people of the new content on your blog. Does this mean some people will get 2 emails from you if you send a broadcast while they are receiving your daily training?

    Great post… Thanks

    Ian McConnell
    Western Australia

  20. What advice do you have if you’re in a niche you love, but there are no affiliate products?

  21. John from Electricians in Paddington says:

    This is very helpful. Well for me setting up mailing list is very convenient to use. And thanks anyway for making things clear about mailing list does not really make us spammer.

  22. Phill Turner says:

    I so needed that post again Michael right on the money!



  23. Very nice article! What do use for your screenshots and what wp plugi do you use to make them render so beautifully. I sure would appreciate an answer on this:)

  24. Mark Aylward says:

    Hi Michael
    I think the free education advice about opting in (AND OUT) of lists is great. I do it as well, but probably don’t pay enough attention to “techniques” as much as content.
    How long does a post like this take you to complete?

  25. says:


    I just created my hook last week and let me tell you how successful it has been. I created a free guide titled 7 Steps To Starting Your Own Business. I have been using aweber and your popup domination to get people to sign up for the guide. Since doing that, my list has never grown faster. Thanks!

  26. Building a profitable list is my main focus for 2011. That’s the key for long term success for just about any online business. This is the best way to connect and build trust with customers.

    Thanks for the detailed post Michael!

  27. Hi Michael, as usual great tips for list building. I have built lists in different niches over the last 2 years, yet I don’t with my blog. Really need to sort that one out.

  28. Dean Saliba says:

    I’ve launched my mailing list to a very very low fanfare. I’m hoping to learn little tips and tricksl for making it work, from reading posts like this. 🙂

  29. Awesome post Mike! I agree with your points bro. Thanks so much for sharing. Have fun 🙂

  30. Alan Valdez says:

    Wow.. Thanks for this massive information. I’m doing affiliate marketing from the spanish-speaking market and I’m going to follow your advice.


  31. Adam W. Warner says:

    This is a great article and as others have mentioned, timely for me as well. I have just released my first free video series (link in my signature) and have setup Mailchimp as my autoresponder.

    I have many more products outlined and I believe what I’m giving away for free is of real value. I’m excited to see my list grow!

  32. Thanks for those email list building tips Mike. Hey, how do you get that ad at the end of your posts? Is that a plugin?

    Dwight Anthony
    Financially Elite Blog dot Com

  33. Terrance Charles says:

    Well said and illustrated, Thanks 🙂

  34. This is a really great post Michael. . . I’m in the process of writing my report. I will be using iContact or Aweber. Thanks

  35. Michael, this site is “very” professional. Great job. I have a question and was wondering if you wouldn’t mind answering by replying or emailing me. Do you use the HTML editor within WP or do you design the pages and posts in another program and then insert the code? For example, I cant figure out how to put my youtube videos next to any pictures? Your site is just SUPPER professional looking. Please respond and great job on the site.

  36. Wow, great article Michael. You really did broken down the individual sections and it was really easy to understand. Keep up the good work and keep them coming. Knowledge is perfection.


  37. Mark Savard says:

    I like the post. However I would have to advise against using html formatting in an E-mail since many people using web based inbox’s to view e-mails will not be able to see it correctly.

  38. Stanislav Lem says:

    Michael, it’s a great idea to include Bonus section. It’s valuable.

    I’m agree that aweber is the best provider. All gurus actually use it and there are reasons why…

  39. Michael as always with your posts, outstanding quality information. Thanks for sharing, it’s greatly appreciated.

  40. Justin Germino says:

    I often tell others on my own blog that one of my biggest mistakes was waiting 2 years after I started my blog to start a mailing list, I missed out on lots of opportunity there.

  41. Nice post. I use GetResponse and sometimes wish i’d started with Aweber. Stil, not too bad though. You are so right about asking for emails. People will make a decision to give something when they feel like what they’re are receiving is worth it. Simple as that.

  42. Awesome post Michael! my favorite ones are #2 & #6.

  43. Thank you, another great post from Micheal.

  44. I’ve been using Aweber to grab emails over the past year and finally launched my own product (using optimizepress) and the results have been awesome so far!

    Thanks for another great blog post

  45. Thanks Mike for sharing this awesome post with us! I totally share your point of view, hope to read you pretty soon!

  46. Micheal – this if my first visit to your site and very good information

  47. Rebecca Williamson says:

    Some great outside the box ideas for building email lists. I agree, it’s important only to email when you have something worthwhile to say. Otherwise they’ll stop reading your email. Thanks for the great tips.

  48. hi amazing article
    i m begginner bloger
    my question is how many keywords in all in one seo pack i can use? if there are 20 or 30 relevant keywords regarding my post can i use them all or is there any restriction?

    how many post tags in wordpress i can use?
    what is ideal length of title?
    waiting for your advice friends

  49. Sean Mathena says:

    Thanks for sharing these tips! I have started focusing more on my email list lately and it has really started to take off. I still need to setup a landing page though.

  50. Nate @ Strayblogger says:

    Solid advice. A technique I just stumbled onto has been getting one of my lists 15-20 new subscribers every day… hungry audience I guess.

  51. John Burnside says:

    There are some excellent tips in here and with my focus for the first few months of this year is to increase my emailing list so its perfect for me.

  52. Great post, you really know what you’re talking about when it comes to email marketing Michael! Popup Domination is a great tool too, I see it all over the web now from people trying to build a mailing list. Keep it up.

  53. George - AffWatch says:

    What’s up Mike?

    Fantastic post. I especially enjoyed the mindset part.