It’s not the size of your email list that matters. It’s how you use it.

List building

Who else is tired of hearing about the size of people’s email lists?

Maybe it’s just me, but it almost feels like being told the size of someone’s…ahem…you know what.

It’s just TMI.

And it’s also TLI (too little information), because when you hear those numbers, they don’t mean anything. Not really.

It’s not the size of your email list that really matters.

It’s the relationships you have with your readers.

It’s whether your readers feel like they’re your BFFs or just… subscribers.

And it’s whether your readers actually share your stuff and buy from you or not.

So many people focus on growing their email list because they’ve been told it’s what they need to do.

And yes, in order to have a successful blog and business, you probably need an email list.

But in order to make your list actually matter, you need to build it – and use it – the right way. Here’s how.

It's not the SIZE of your email list. It's how you use it. Click To Tweet

Step one: Grow your email list

Get the right people on your list.

How do I grow my list? is an incredibly common question.

But a more important question is How do I get the right people onto my email list?

Why are you building your list in the first place?

It’s because you want to connect and build relationships with your people. The people who will love everything you put out there. The people who you can truly serve. The people who will share your content around and make sure all of their friends read it, too. And the people who will eventually pay you for your expertise.

So if your list is filled with people that aren’t that into your stuff, it’s not going to do much for you.

When you think about growing your list, ask yourself the following questions:

  • What can I offer that will really and truly help the people I’m trying to attract?
  • What small wins can I help my ideal readers achieve? (If you don’t know who your ideal readers are, that’s a whole other box of stale cupcakes.)
  • What can I offer as a freebie that would make my ideal readers jump up and down for joy?

That’s what you should focus on creating to get people on your email list.

Create freebies that invite interaction.

So, an ideal reader finds your site. She downloads your delicious freebie. Now what?

If you set up your freebies to invite interaction, you can start building a relationship with your new reader right away. If not, they might download your freebie, use it, and then disappear forever. Or they might download your freebie, plan to use it, and then disappear forever.

Or, in the best case scenario, they download your freebie, use it, and then go out of their way to connect with you and thank you.

But you never want to make your email readers go out of their way. You have to be the one to build the relationship.

Here are a few ways to set up freebies to invite interaction:

  • Have a link in the freebie that they can click to share their learning in a private Facebook group (or in an email to you).
  • Create a free challenge or course with a social component that motivates them to connect with you and your community.
  • Tie your freebie to a challenge or contest. For example, if your freebie is a recipe printable or art project, create a competition where people can share a photo of the recipe they made or their art project in return for a mention on your blog (or maybe even a real prize).

Step two: Build relationships with the people on your email list.

It’s important to remember that your email list is full of people with whom you could potentially build relationships.

If you get the right people on your list, and approach each of them as a potential friend, collaborator, or customer, you don’t need a huge list to make money.

So…how do you build relationships with your email subscribers?

Set up a welcome email that invites them to connect with you.

As soon as someone gets on your email list, you can set up your email provider to send out a welcome email that is specifically designed to help them connect with you.

The first email that gets sent out to all of my new subscribers tells my story, and then invites them to email me and share their story.

This accomplishes 2 things:

  1. They feel like they know me.
  2. They are given an opportunity to reach out and connect with me.

When someone joins your email list, they are more excited about you than they ever will be again. They’ve just chosen to get to know you better, and it’s your chance to reach out and build the relationship.

Your first email can be all it takes to turn a subscriber into a friend.

Set up a longer series of emails to automatically go out to new subscribers

If you want to get really fancy, you can set up a sequence of emails that is designed to build trust and showcase your best stuff.

If you’re selling something, your email sequence should lead people to want to buy from you.

But even if you’re just trying to get people into your tribe, you can send out a few emails that help them find your best blog posts and give them access to your most valuable freebies.

Here’s a sample series to give you an idea of what I mean:

Email 1: Welcome – your story & a request for an email back with your subscriber’s story
Email 2: Name the top struggle you see your readers face and give them a blog post to help them with it
Email 3: Show new readers what is possible when they accomplish their goals in your niche
Email 4: Give them a list of your best blog posts about a specific topic or an exclusive download
Email 5: Invite them to connect again (or buy your thing)

Of course, the email content will vary depending on your niche and your goals for your subscribers.

Regularly connect with your readers

There are many ways to regularly connect with your email subscribers.

You can send them a weekly or monthly newsletter, you can email them your newest blog posts, or you can just check in on a regular basis and let them know what’s going on in your world.

It’s important to email your subscribers often with helpful, valuable content.

The more familiar people are with something, the more they like it. So when they see your emails on a regular basis, they start to feel like they know you. And the more they know you, the more they will like you.

Lots of bloggers struggle with this.

They worry that they’ll be annoying people.

They worry about losing subscribers.

They worry that they don’t have anything valuable to send.

I know, because I used to worry about these things, too.

Every time I sent out an email, I would feel like I was sending my self-confidence along with it. I stressed about un-subscribers. I felt like a failure when I had a low open rate.

But I’ve gotten over all that.

Because I know that the people who are truly interested in what I have to say will love to get my emails.

So…stop stressing and email your subscribers regularly.

Because if you don’t, you’ll lose out on building relationships with your ideal readers. And your list won’t really be all that valuable if your subscribers don’t know who you are because you never email them.

A few things to send your subscribers:

A weekly or monthly newsletter.

It doesn’t have to be long or complex.

You can give them a teaser of your most recent blog post. You can send them a picture of your dog, an update on how you’re doing, and a few quick tips about your niche. You can even send a short and sweet note with one action step to take that week. (I did that in my last blog, and it was very well received.)

Whatever you choose to send, make it your own. Infuse it with your brand and your voice. Get creative. (My newsletter goes out every Thursday. It is called Cupcake & Coffee, and gives something sweet and something strong for your blogging journey.)

Random love notes

One of my favorite people to get emails from is Jordana Jaffe. She sends out emails that always feel like a cozy (her word) dive into her life. They are full of insights and depth. And they make me feel like I know her.

She doesn’t send them out at the same time each week. But every time I get one, I open it.

Exclusive downloads

Every so often, create something for your current email subscribers. A PDF checklist, or a template, or even a free course. Send it out like a little gift in their inboxes.

Step four: Turn subscribers into customers

If your end-goal for your blog is making money, at some point, you will want to turn your subscribers into customers.

You can do this as soon as people join your list, through a well written email sequence, and you can do it over time, through occasional promotions and launches.

The key is to balance great, helpful content, with compelling promotions.

It isn’t easy to sell online (despite what many online marketers would have you believe).

But it’s a lot easier to sell to your list if you’ve already done the work of building trust and creating relationships with your subscribers.

I won’t go into all of the details of how to sell to your list here. (There are entire courses on the topic.)

But the important thing to remember is that before you can sell, you must build trust and convince them that they need what you’re offering.

Email list

It’s not the size of your email list that matters. It’s how you use it.

And that means…

  1. Filling your list with the right people
  2. Creating freebies that invite people to engage with you
  3. Building relationships through email sequences and regular communication
  4. Selling to your list AFTER you’ve created trust and excitement
  • Monica Bruno

    As usual, you’ve provided great information, Daniela. Too many people focus on growing their email list without focusing on what to do and how to build relationships with their subscribers. Thanks so much for all you do!

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks, Monica! I’m glad you enjoyed the post!

  • Anika

    Really great tips! Thank you for this article… I am in the process of creating my newsletter and this really helps!

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks, Anika! What are you planning to send in your newsletter?

  • Lisa Hutchison

    Thanks for the tips, Daniela! I am a big believer in building relationships and connecting with others.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Lisa! I know you are!

  • Deby N Nigel Coles

    I really love these tips. It’s true, it’s not always about the numbers. A list of 10k people who never open your newsletters is costing you money and not helping with your goals. I do wonder though about offering sign up incentives such as freebies and downloads in case it leads to people who sign up for the freebie without really wanting to follow. I guess I’ll just have to jump in and see how that goes.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks, Deby! If someone signs up for the freebie and doesn’t want to follow, they can always unsubscribe…but freebies are much more appealing than just signing up for updates.

  • Femy Praseeth

    As always, loaded with useful information. Thanks so much Daniela.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks, Femy! I really appreciate it!

  • Peggy Nolan

    Another top notch article Daniela! Love the tips. Now…off to create a private FB group for those who’ve downloaded my freebie 🙂

    • Daniela Uslan

      Sounds like a plan, Peggy!

  • Daniela Uslan

    Wow, that’s a huge list! That’s a great idea to add other forms of value and not just coupons and promotions!

  • G2W

    You are so brilliant Daniela!

    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks Gigi! You are the best!

  • Renee Gladden Kemper

    Love this! I am just starting to build my email list so this is so incredibly helpful!

  • Thanks for this post. I always want my subscribers to feel really special when I connect with them. I like the idea of a challenge where you ask people to post the results. I’ll be giving that idea a try very soon.

    • Daniela Uslan

      Hi Wendy, that’s great. Let me know how it goes!

      • I will Daniela. It’s on my to-do list for after the school holidays. Going to have a bit of a switch off next week.

  • Hey Daniela,

    What a super awesome post and fabulous advice.

    As you know with my post this week I was also talking about why numbers don’t matter as much as they used to. Okay, they matter to us as far as people reading our content but to the world they’re just numbers. Just because you have a ton of visitors to your site to make those numbers impressive doesn’t mean they’ll be opting into your list and buying from you right! Oh how we only wish that were true.

    I love the tips you offered and I’m pretty personal with my list although I could step it up a notch and share even more. I love your suggestions and I think I just might incorporate some of those moving forward. I have a pretty high open rate but still to this day I have a small list. I like it that way though because I know why they’re there. They are very interactive with me and I look at my list as my friends. It’s great and within just these past three weeks I’ve had people email me for consultations that I’ve never even heard from before but they read my content, are on my list and feel like they know me and like me. They’re ready to take that next step and dive into working with me. It truly is an amazing experience and I hope everyone is taking this opportunity to make that connection with their list.

    Thank you Daniela for this awesome information and I sure hope you’re having a terrific day.


    • Daniela Uslan

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment, Adrienne!

      Even though I don’t know you personally, it is very apparent how thoughtful and giving you are, based on your blog posts, tweets and blog comments.

      I think that the first step to building relationships with your readers is creating an atmosphere of trust and connection. The level of authenticity and kindness you give online is special, and as one of your readers, I immediately connect with you, both as a person and a blogger.

      Thanks for stopping by! I will definitely be hanging out on your blog more often!

      • I’m back Daniela! (((wink wink wink)))

        Thank you for that compliment, that truly means a lot to me. That people see me in that light because I do really appreciate the people who read my post and then take the time out of their busy day to comment and then share it. SO many people take that for granted but without those people I would be nobody. It’s so true…

        I SO agree with you, you want them to feel comfortable, that it’s a great place to hang out and want to learn more. I’m flattered that you read my content as well. It’s those people we’re touching that we never know we are that tell us, well that just makes my day. Helps me know I’m moving in the right direction.

        My pleasure and I’ll be hanging out here more myself too. It’s going to be FUN!!!


  • Hi. It is nice to meet you. I owe it to Adrienne Smith for sharing your post on Facebook.
    I have know her for quite some time time now and can attest to her kindness and expertise. Definitely hang out at her blog!

    As for myself, I am a freelance writer and blogger (and author and coach and…) who thought this postvof yours was just FABULOUS!

    WELL DONE!!!

    I learned a thing or two about attitude AND use of my list. Very cool. Thank you.

    Of course, I knew the steps already, and have used them to build MY list, but the way you outlined everything here and then summarized it was awesome!

    I do hope we stay in touch, too. 🙂

  • Yes!

    I was giddy as I read through this post, Daniela.

    I published a new rant video on this very topic last Tuesday… stop focusing on only numbers!

    The goes not just for mailing lists… but for web traffic, social media followers, etc.

    Who the hell cares if you have 100,000 subscribers / weekly visitors / followers is none of them care about you or what you have to say? I think it’s so important to focus on real, authentic, human engagement… to build meaningful connections with real people.

    Otherwise, our numbers just represent numbers… and that’s no good to any of us, right?



  • The London Dater

    Hi Daniela,

    I loved, loved, LOVED this post.

    I have put a shortcut to this post in the middle of my desktop and it’s staying there until this advice is implemented.

    Thanks for being awesome


    • Daniela Uslan

      Awww, thanks Joe! It’s an honor to have a spot on your desktop!