How To Create A Killer Email Subscription List From Scratch For Free

As a blogger having an email list should be essential. I was actually quite reluctant to start an email list when I first started blogging.

What would I need one of those for?

If you’re a blogger, you need to know 2 things:

  1. You should have started your email list yesterday
  2. In the future, you will be kicking yourself that you didn’t start your email list sooner.

This post is going to tell you exactly what is an email list, why you need to start one, and you will be learning from my own list building mistakes about what you can do to get more subscribers (with juicy screenshots of my own stats).

Why Build an Email List

There are two phrases I’ve heard repeatedly since I started blogging. Chances are you’ve heard them too. These are:

  • The only list you own is your email list.
  • The money is on the list.

But what exactly does that mean?

The only list you own is your email list

Say you get the majority of your blog reader comes from social media.

Basically, you can have all the Pinterest/ Instagram/ Twitter followers and Facebook likes in the world. But the only way you can reach those people is through that social media site. And if it goes, all your hard work gaining those followers and likes does too.

So like I said, the only list you own is your email list.

The money is on the list

I heard this one a little while after I’d started my own email list, but it’s only now I really understand it. It basically means if you want to make money blogging, an email list is one of the best ways to go about it.



An Email list is a direct way to message people interested in your blog! Whether they are possible clients and you promote service to them, or readers you know will love a product you are an affiliate for.Click To Tweet

You can even promote your own products.

Most bloggers do the same. What they do is they promote products to their email subscribers and whenever a subscriber purchases from their recommendation they make money.

So if you want to make money blogging and you haven’t started an email list, you need to now.

How To Build An Email List From Scratch

So now I’ve convinced you to build an email list. But here lies the next problem I faced- How do I even create an email subscription list for free?

Email list building tips for bloggers

Here’s a roadmap to help you.

STEP 1: Sign Up for An Email list Building Service

You need to sign up for a service that will collect emails for you. Some obvious choices are:

  • MailChimp- This is good for beginners as you get up to 2,000 contacts and 12,000 emails per month (with adverts) for free.
  • Mailerlite- This is also good for beginners as you get up to 1,000 contacts for free, and is easy to use.
  • Sumo- You get up to 200 subscribers free, including analytics and templates, but the price increases to $29 per month after the startup plan.
  • Convertkit- Not so great for beginners as pricing starts from $29 per month but has more features, and all the pros seem to use it.
  • GetResponse– GetResponse is one of the most reliable and cheapest email marketing solutions for bloggers and affiliate marketers. The plan starts with a tiny amount of $15/month. But the results are incredibly awesome.

Getresponse is a top-most email marketing solution. You can know more about GetResponse from this article

There are more pros and cons to each, so I suggest researching them thoroughly. But remember you can always swap to a different one at a later date if need be!

STEP 2: Create an Opt-In Form

Once you’ve picked one and sign up, you will need to create a subscribe form.

This will differ depending on what platform you use.

I use Mailerlite and found it really easy to make a signup form. It was even simple to change the design to match my blog branding!

If you’re struggling, here is the official tutorial from the providers themselves. 

STEP 3: Add The Sign Up Form To Your Blog

Once you’ve designed the signup form, go ahead and add it to your blog!

I downloaded the Mailerlite plugin, which allowed me to basically transfer the design I had made on the Mailerlite website straight into my blog.

  • There are ways of doing it without a plugin, however, like copying the code over.

And that’s a basic overview of how to create a signup form. It might seem scary, but it really easy quite easy with a few tutorials and practice!

How Can I Get People To Subscribe To My Email List

Creating the form and adding it to your blog is pretty easy. It’s getting people to actually sign up that’s is the main task, which demands your understanding about your audience.

When it comes to gaining subscribers, there are three things to consider:

  • What type of opt-in you have?
  • Where you’re the opt-in box is placed?
  • What your opt-in incentive is?

Let’s have a look at each.

What type of opt-in you have

There are generally four types of email opt-ins to use. These are:

  • A landing page. These are good as most of the time they do not have other buttons or options, meaning the person has to decide then and there whether to sign up or not.
  • A smart bar. These are very thin opt-ins at the top or bottom of your blog. 
  • An opt-in box. This is an opt-in box that can be of any size and can be placed in a number of places. This goes usually in the sidebar or in between the posts.
  • A pop-up. Having a pop-up is a great way to grab your reader’s attention, and these can occur at different times or for different demands, e.g if someone clicks on something, scrolls a certain amount of page, etc.

Where you’re opt-in is placed

I feel like I need to write this because you need to hear it over and over; nobody will sign up for your emails if they can’t see it. It might sound obvious, but I knew this, and I still wasn’t placing my opt-in boxes in obvious places.

Placing your opt-in in the header section or near the top of your blog is a great idea, as it’s guaranteed people will see it. Especially if that header appears on every page of your blog. Regardless of how you obtain your readers, they will see it!

To make your opt-ins more visible, you can place them:

  • In your blog header
  • High up in your sidebar
  • Throughout your posts

For comparison, I have one opt-in place throughout a number of posts and in my sidebar. Compared to another opt-in I have placed only in one post, look at the difference in the number of subscribers:

List building tips

The Pinterest design guide opt-in is in far more places on my blog. So more people see it, and more people have signed up through it!

What you’re opt-in incentive is

Just putting a box and asking people to sign up isn’t really going to hack it.

You have to really give people a reason to sign up for your blog.

According to Sumo, the average email opt-in is only 1.95%. So basically for every 100 people who see it, around 2 will sign up!Click To Tweet

If your opt-ins fall below this number, then you need to give people more incentive or you need to reform your incentive. You can do this by:

  • Providing sought-after information- If you’re a blogger who makes $10,000 every month, that’s going to be of interest to a lot of people.
  • Giving a discount- If you sell a service or products, offering 10% off if someone subscribes is a great way to get new customers.
  • Offering freebies- This is perhaps the best way to get people to subscribe. Who doesn’t want something free?! You can offer free guides, checklists, video training, access to a resources library… Whatever it takes to convince your target audience you are worthy of obtaining their email address.

My List Building Strategies

When I first started my email list, I just stuck a box in my sidebar saying to sign up for blogging tips. I offered no freebies and no insight into the fact that my blogging tips were any good! It was safe to say that opt-in performed below average…

Build an Email list for free

Out of 1,726 people who saw it, only 4 signed up. Rubbish.

Then I realized I needed to offer a freebie. So I started to advertise my free Pinterest design guide and Pinterest group board list, both in my sidebar and in most posts.

Email list building strategies

This is a lot better, but the conversion rate is still below average.

Following this, I realized I need to consider who was coming to my blog. Most of my traffic is from Pinterest, and people are clicking through to read a specific blog post. And I write on a wide range of topics for blogging, from making money to design.

I realized that I needed specific opt-ins depending on what post my readers were on, to really engage them.

For my post on Facebook groups, I wrote a really detailed post all about how helpful Facebook groups were for bloggers and how to use them. Then I offered a freebie of 30 Facebook groups for bloggers as a subscriber freebie.Email list building tips

This opt-in actually perform above average, and should technically mean if 2,940 people see it I will get 60 subscribers.

And that’s because I told my readers about how good Facebook groups are beforehand. They already thought they should join some after reading my post. But I was at hand to save them time with my opt-in freebie.

Note that for some blogs, a low conversion rate won’t matter as much. But for my niche, I mostly make money through affiliate marketing. So it’s better for me to have a really engaged and specific email list.

Sum Up About Creating Email List

If there’s anything you take from this post, it’s to start an email list today! It’s not as difficult as you think and you’ll thank yourself in the long run


  • Anything above 1.95% is considered a good conversion rate.
  • It’s good to experiment and use multiple opt-in incentives to see what your audience wants.
  • Sometimes it’s better to have sections for your subscribers so you know they are interested in a specific thing.
  • It’s okay to have a small engaged email list, but it can never hurt to have more!

And to get more subscribers here are some List Building Tips:

  • Think about the type of form you use. A landing page means people can either sign up or exit, and there are no other distractions. Or you can use a pop-up that activates after a certain action or amount of time. You can use a bar at the top or bottom of your blog, or even just have a traditional subscribe box.
  • Remember to put it in a place people can see it. At the top of your blog, in relevant posts, or in your sidebar are good ideas.
  • Give people an incentive to sign up. Offer really good information, discounts, freebies, or anything else you think your audience would enjoy.
  • Writing about how good something is/how much someone needs something and then offering it in exchange for their email is a great way to gain subscribers.

A must-read after this post-

I really hope this post has encouraged you to start a subscribers list and given you more direction with it. Now, go and get emailing!

Please share the post on social media and pin this on Pinterest-

Email list building tips for bloggers

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