How to Start an Email List (The Complete Guide)

Want to start an email list? Want to know why list building is crucial?

Email marketing has an average ROI of $38 for every $1 spent.

Derek Halpern from social triggers said – “if you’re not building your email list, you’re an idiot.”

Email marketing has the highest conversion rate among all marketing channels.

Starting an email list is seriously one of the best ways to build a foundation for your online business’s future. You need to act fast and create your own mailing list so that you can collect visitors’ emails from the very beginning.

Email is the fastest way to reach and educate your visitors about any new products you release, a new blog post you publish, new events you are going to speak at, and almost anything. It’s the fastest way to connect with them.

Less than 20% of your website visitors will come back, and more than 80% of them will never look back.

Each person who comes to your website or reads your blog content is a potential buyer or an affiliate customer.

Turning them into your email subscribers is the best way to keep them with you for longer.

Over time, if you keep building your list, you will have a broad audience who trust you, follow you and keep running your business no matter what happens to your website or the platform you’re using.

List building is a smart way to keep all your eggs out of the same basket.

In this guide, you’ll learn exactly how to start your email list, step by step.

Start Your Email List From Ground Zero

You are new to online marketing. You’ve learned what email marketing is, and you wish to start from level zero.

I’ll help you out.

Not only that, but I will also show you how to get your first (and more subscribers) on your list with smart optin forms, lead generation techniques and tools.

Even if you are just beginning to establish your online presence, your blog and your business, collecting emails from your visitors is the smartest thing you’ll do, and you’ll see the results in the future.

#1 Sign Up For An Email Marketing Service

The very first thing you need to have is an email marketing service (EMS). Without it, there’s no start.

An EMS will let you know:

  1. Create forms to collect emails
  2. Create an email list
  3. Collect email subscribers on that list
  4. Manage your email subscribers
  5. Delete emails from it
  6. Send emails to your subscribers
  7. Create autoresponders to automatically send out your campaigns
  8. Tag your email subscribers, create segments, structure a pipeline, drip, and funnel marketing (We’ll get to that later)

You’ll discover how you can do many more things once you pass out that learning curve of your first email marketing service or software.

The best email marketing service is ConvertKit.

ConvertKit makes email marketing tasks easy for anyone, and that’s why I recommend it to every beginner.

Plus, you can get started with ConvertKit free for 30 days.

It is powerful, and as you start to grow, you won’t have to look for another EMS. It will scale as your business will. It has been created for marketers and bloggers, and just because of that, it is actually a lot easier to use it.

Once you sign up for ConvertKit, create a new list. Name your list and save it.

#2 Create An Autoresponder

You will have to create an autoresponder, an email that your subscribers will receive automatically as they subscribe.

It is very important that you welcome your subscribers as soon as they join your email list because it helps to build a personal relationship with your subscribers immediately, an essential factor for online business.

The first impression is the last, so don’t just send anything in your first welcome email.

Here’s exactly what I sent in my welcome email:


It’s a pleasure to have you on my insider’s list. {Introduce yourself, your objective, goals.}.

I’m able to connect with more than 7000 people through email. I would love to see you take a step further by joining my:

  • Social media links

Here’s what you’ve got as a gift for being my loyal subscriber

(The resource I promised)

I’ll be sending you more awesome tips to help your business grow out of the crowd. Don’t hesitate to reply to this email anytime you need help.

Aayush Bhaskar

An autoresponder isn’t fixed for welcome emails. It is about building your brand and generating sales with automation. Too few emails to your subscribers and they’ll forget who you are. Too much of it will make them annoyed.

ConvertKit has an impressive set of automation workflow templates. You can pick any of it, so you don’t have to guess and build it from scratch.

You can send anything in your autoresponder sequence including:

  • Blog post updates
  • Affiliate product promotions
  • New updates about your business
  • New tools or products you launch

Send a few emails a week and create an autoresponder for at least a week ahead. If you plan to sell online products from your blog, I recommend you to set up a blog sales funnel right away.

If you do it now, it will save you from future headaches.

#3 Get A Powerful List Building Tool

The next thing is to get a powerful list-building tool.

A list-building tool is what you’ll use to create optin forms, lead flows, and subscription forms to display on your blog or website.

If you use WordPress, here are some of the best lead generation plugins and best optin form plugins for list building. There are also some of the free lead capture tools to choose from.

However, the best one you can choose is Thrive Leads for WordPress and OptinMonster for other CMS, including WordPress.

Only these two tools are identically powerful enough that they let you create multiple types of optin forms and trigger them with advanced targeting options.

Head over to this post to see how exit intent and slidein popups increased my conversion rate without hurting the user experience.

#4 Grow Your Email List

Now that you have got an excellent list-building tool, you need to convince your visitors to opt-in or subscribe to your email list.

Generic “get weekly articles in your inbox,” “subscribes to get updates,” and “Subscribe to free email notifications” don’t work. Not anymore.

You have to give them something in return.

You have to bribe them to join your list by using an “ethical bribe” or the lead magnet. These are known as optin or lead incentives that you give your visitors as a free gift to join your email list.

Just like I do by adding my call to action including affiliate marketing strategies, ebook in my optin forms as an incentive using Thrive Leads.

Sometimes my conversion rate goes as high as 10.7%, and on posts, I have an average of 6.52%:


The content upgrade. 

Using content upgrades on a few of your cornerstone content, you can increase your conversions and reach above the industry average. Start using any of these techniques and watch your mail list grow fast.

To connect any tool to your email list, you’ll have to enter your API in the integration settings.

In ConvertKit, go to your account info to find and copy your API key.

Using your list-building tool, create an optin form. Use popups, on-click popups, and slide optin forms on your website and include any of these incentives in it right from the beginning.

Landing pages are also a great way to grow your mailing list faster. You can easily create a landing page in 5 minutes.

You should also read how to capture leads on a ZERO budget.

#5 Placing Optin Forms

Not every area on your blog is best for your optin forms. Your visitors should be able to see it so that they can subscribe through it and you have to make sure it is as easy as possible.

Here are some of the best places to put your static optin forms:

  1. Your homepage featured section
  2. You’re on the About page
  3. Your footer area
  4. Below content area
  5. between your posts (inline)

Now the static forms you create should be in contrast to your theme color.

Some of the best types of optin forms I’ve seen so far are:

  1. Popups
  2. Slides-ins
  3. Welcome mat (scroll mat)
  4. Page takeover
  5. Two-step popups (on-click)

And there are a lot of triggers to choose from. When your optin form appears has a direct and huge impact on your conversion rate. Here are some of the best trigger and optin form combinations I’ve come up with so far:

  • Popup + 35% scroll
  • Popup + Exit intent
  • Page Takeover + 20% scroll
  • Slide-in + Immediately
  • Page Takeover + Exit intent

These optin forms with the trigger settings next to them have given me the highest conversion rate in different A/B split tests.

Getting more leads and adding more subscribers to your list has no overnight formula. Staying consistent with your strategy and content to attract more visitors to your posts can help you to get more opportunities to convert more people into your subscribers.

Start by using some of the WordPress plugins to create and show optin forms on your blog.

Content upgrades are also one of the few ways which are proven to give an excellent conversion rate. It’s easy, and you can learn how you can make a content upgrade for your posts.

There are many free lead generation tools as well that are great for anyone to get started with lead generation on a much faster scale. You can also look at some of the best lead generation plugins available for WordPress that make our life more comfortable.

You’ve made it – Congratulations!

Next Steps

Starting and building an email list is not as hard as it looks. It is neither scary nor something you can’t. It is not even that time taking.

If you’re serious about getting more email subscribers, you’d want to take these next steps:

I hope you’ve found this guide useful and easy to understand.

Share this and let me know about your first experience in the comments section below.


  1. Thanks for this bhaskar, i have been trying to use mailchimp all these while but am not getting it so i will try convertkit

    Thanks for this

  2. It’s an ultimate guide …Thanks a lot for sharing. Convertkit is actually the best software to start email marketing.

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