The Best Tools & Strategies to Grow Your Email List On a Shoestring Budget

 
Hi loves! Welcome back to our Email List 101 series.
 
In the first post in this series, we talked about how to get your email list up and running using the free platform, MailChimp. But now comes the hard part: how do you actually get people to subscribe to your list?!
 
Never fear, friends – I have plenty of tips, tools, and strategies coming your way to help you get your first 100 subscribers, 1000 subscribers + more! And the best part is that most of the tools I recommend are free or very budget-friendly.
 
(Pssst. wanna see the exact strategies I used to get my first 100 subscribers in 30 days? Click here to read the post!)
 
Enough dilly-dally, let’s jump in.
 
The Best Tools to Grow Your Email List on a Budget. email list tips, list-building, email lists for beginners, blogging tools.

*This post may contain affiliate links for products I love. This means I earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of these links. For my full disclaimer, click here.*

 

My Top 5 Strategies to Your Email List

1. Offer content upgrades

A content upgrade is a bonus piece of value or information that adds to or enhances one of your blog posts.
 
For example, in my Epic on Pinterest series, I include a link to download a free 40-point checklist. The catch? In order to download it, you have to sign up for my email list. Simple, but effective!
 
Content upgrades can be absolutely anything, from something like a PDF version of your blog post, to a checklist of the key points, or anything else that adds extra value.
 
Just remember, the content upgrade that another blogger’s audience loves, might not be the same thing your audience is into. Play around with different types and topics to find what works best for you and your audience.

2. Offer freebies

The difference between a content upgrade and a freebie is that your freebies don’t necessarily have to be tied to one specific blog post. Other than that, there’s not a huge difference between upgrades and freebies. They can both be anything from a worksheet to a workbook to a free email course.
 
Related: 5 Steps to Create an Opt-in Freebie Your Audience Loves
 
The key is to create things that appeal to your ideal reader. Something that helps them solve a problem, get organized, be more productive, etc.

3. Guest post on other blogs with your content upgrades

Your blog isn’t the only place you can get subscribers! Try reaching out to bloggers in a similar niche and asking if you can write a guest post on their blog.
 
Once you’ve written the post, create a relevant content upgrade and include a link to download it within the post. Of course, make sure the other blogger is okay with this first (most of them will be totally fine with it!)

4. Promote your freebies and upgrades on social media

Along with regularly promoting your blog posts on social media, you can share pins and tweets about your freebies, too. Try adding a “mockup” image to make the offer seem more real and enticing (more on mockups later!)
 
Pinterest is an amazing platform for growing your email list. Every time you have a new opt-in freebie, design 2-3 pins to promote it and share them to your Pinterest boards. You can even create a BoardBooster campaign to re-share these pins on autopilot!
 
Related: Pinterest for Beginners: 12 Action Items to Start Off with a BANG!

5. Cross-promote with other bloggers

Have some super close blog besties? Why not ask them to share your freebie or content upgrade with their followers in exchange for you doing the same for them? Just make sure what you’re sharing is valuable to your own subscribers, and vice versa, and you’re golden.
 

10 Freebie Ideas to Grow Your List

To get those wheels turnin’, here’s a list of 10 things you can offer to your readers in exchange for them joining your mailing list:
 
1. Email course
2. Ebook
3. Workbook/worksheets
4. Webinar/video workshop
5. Cheat sheet or checklist
6. Styled stock photos
7. A list of resources or tools
8. A discount code
9. Free or discounted membership to a special group
10. Access to your password-protected Resource Library

 

The Best Budget-Friendly Tools To Grow Your Email List

Now that you have a grasp on the different ways you can grow your email list, let’s talk about the tools you need to put these strategies into place!

The SumoMe plugin

Not only is SumoMe great for encouraging social media sharing on your blog, it also allows you to collect email sign-ups effortlessly. The SumoMe plug-in comes with a ton of different ways to promote your email list, including a smart bar across the top of your website, a scroll-up box, a pop-up box, and more.
 
Although I love all of the SumoMe applications, my favorite would have to be the smart bar. It’s un-intrusive, but seems to be the first thing a reader’s eyes are drawn toward when they land on your site. Even with a free SumoMe account, you can customize all of your opt-in bars and boxes to match the color scheme of your blog so nothing looks out of place.
 
Once you create your SumoMe account and log in, you’ll see a little blue rectangle with a crown on the right-hand side of your blog. This is your working bar, so click here to design new SumoMe opt-ins or make changes to your existing ones.
 
PRO TIP: You do NOT need a paid SumoMe account to collect email addresses. You just need to change your SumoMe forms from the “collect email addresses” option to the button option. Then for the button link, enter in the link to your landing page.

Mockup generators

Mockups are a great way to show people exactly what they’ll get before they commit to clicking and downloading your freebie. People like to know that what they’re getting is something real and tangible.
 
There are a lot of awesome and easy-to-use mockup generators. A few of my favorites are:
 
+ dunnnk.com
+ magicmockups.com
+ placeit.net
 
To create a mockup, you’ll first need to take a screenshot of your freebie or content upgrade – whether it’s the cover of an e-book, a checklist, a workbook, etc. Then head to the mockup generator site of your choice and search through their images until you find one you like.
 
Next, click on the section of the mockup image where your own screenshot will be inserted (it might be the screen of a cell phone, computer, tablet, etc.). A box will pop up for you to browse your computer files and upload your screenshot. And just like that, your freebie is inserted into the image and you have your mockup!

A design program or tool

One of the most crucial things you need to grow your email list is a program to design your freebies and upgrades with. There are lots of free websites you can use, like Canva or PicMonkey.
 
If you’re able to spend a bit, I recommend Adobe Illustrator, Photoshop, or Apple Pages.
 
When designing your freebies, be sure to use your brand colors and fonts. You want everything you create to have a similar look and feel, including your freebies. That way, people are able to recognize anything you’ve created as being “yours”.
 
You should also include your website address or domain name somewhere on your freebie, so people know where they downloaded it from (and hopefully come back for more!)

LeadPages

Now this last tool is by no means a necessity, and it definitely doesn’t fall into the “free” category. But if you’re looking to step things up a notch and are ready to invest in growing your list, I highly recommend LeadPages.
 
LeadPages is a platform for designing landing pages and opt-in boxes. When you sign up, you’re given hundreds of templates to choose from, all of which were designed by professionals to produce high conversion rates (meaning that when people see them, they’re really likely to opt-in).
 
Check out LeadPages here!
 
If LeadPages is out of your budget, don’t worry. You can also create opt-in boxes and landing pages using a free MailChimp account or ConvertKit.
 
 
Which of these strategies are you going to implement in the next 7 days to grow your list? Let me know in a comment!
 
Read The Other Posts in This Series:
+ How to Start a Free MailChimp Account
+ 12 Do’s and Dont’s of Email Newsletters
 
 


Posted by Krista in EMAIL LIST

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  • Amy Bellows, PhD

    Email lists – Now this is an area that I have been hiding from! Thanks for the great pointers to get started! One of these days…. 😉

    • It took me a long time to see the value in them, but now I wouldn’t trade my list for the world! I’m so glad you liked the post Amy, let me know if you have any other questions and I’d be happy to help you out!

      x Krista

  • Seriously, I cannot WAIT to implement all of this! What a “meaty” post that really gives us a LOT to go off of. Thanks!!!!