How to Build an Opt-In List

How to build an email opt-in list.

Marketing experts constantly tell us to build an opt-in list because the "money is in the list". Here is how to build an opt-in list that will get great results. Also, read the three ways to grow your list faster.

It does not matter how you monetize your blog or website, email marketing needs to be a top priority.

In my experience, it takes time to setup, but it is crucial to your long term success and survival online.

Happy couple reading your email message.

A responsive email list will create a solid foundation for your business. Even if your website crashes and you lose all your visitors, your business will survive if you have a responsive email list.

Think about that for a minute...

Hopefully, you will see the importance of building your own opt-in email list.

How to Build an Opt-in List

While many of the Internet marketing tools and strategies I recommend are completely free or close to it, email marketing is the one thing you need to spend a little money on. (besides a domain name and web hosting.)

To build an opt-in list, you will need an email marketing system (EMS). Also, frequently called an autoresponder service. This tool will help you grow, manage, broadcast and send emails to people who have subscribed to your list.

In my opinion, ConvertKit is the best at all of those tasks. That is the service I use and recommend.

In the last 20 years, I have used many different autoresponders. I have used desktop email programs and databases, free autoresponders and a number of paid autoresponder services. Paid autoresponder services included Aweber and MailerLite, which are very good, as are a few others, But ConvertKit is still my personal favorite. What you need to look for in an autoresponder is high delivery rates and unlimited broadcasting without extra charges, and that is what ConvertKit delivers.

Many marketers say ConvertKit is expensive, But when it comes to reliability, ease-of-use, and scalability, it is a bargain compared to how much income your list can bring you every month.

As you can see from the email marketing system comparison chart below, they are all similar. This chart shows the services provided at the entry level. Prices increases as you get more and more subscribers. But keep in mind that by the time you surpass 1,000 subscribers, you will likely be making plenty of money to afford it anyway.


The email marketing platform built for you.




  • 0-500 subscribers
  • Free 30-day trial
  • Unlimited Sends
  • Full integration
  • Full support

Your business was born for this.




  • 0-2000 subscribers
  • Free up to 2,000 
  • 12,000 sends/mo
  • Limited integration
  • Mailchimp footer ad
  • 30-day support only

Hopefully, you understand the importance of having a list. Now let’s talk about how to set it up.

I won’t go into details of using ConvertKit itself, there are plenty of training guides at their site to teach you how to set up an autoresponder and how to use their service. For example, here is a screenshot of their Getting Started Guide:

ConvertKit Getting Started Guide excerpt

ConvertKit has some great email marketing training.

I want to talk about strategies for implementing it on your WordPress site.

First of all, most people miss a golden opportunity with email marketing services and other related services. They create an opt-in form, put it in one place on their site and then broadcast to subscribers after their list grows. This is NOT how a smart web marketer uses email marketing.

3 Steps to Great Email Marketing

Here are the steps the top marketers take…

Step 1: Get an email marketing system (autoresponder) account.

You can pick any one of the three mentioned above. Or search the internet.

Then watch or read the EMS training and set up your first list.

Step 2: Write a series of email messages for your follow-up campaign (autoresponder campaign).

Too many people skip this step altogether, but I consider it the most important step of all!

Remember, email marketing means growing relationships one at a time. You do that with email follow-ups that build rapport with subscribers by offering them helpful tips, asking them to email you back if they have questions and only very occasionally sending them to an affiliate link or other monetized link that earns you money.

I highly encourage you not to skip this step.

Once you have your series written, plug the messages into your followup campaign so your subscribers get a message every 3-4 days for a month or so. I like to have at least 30 messages set up.

Again, don't make them all marketing messages with affiliate links. Make sure at least half of the messages simply contain helpful info and your offer to help them as needed. I like to include freebies every once in a while. Freebies may include ebooks, checklists, infographics, etc.

Step 3: Get Subscribers.

You do this by strategically placing your opt-in form on your web property in multiple locations.

Once your list is set up and follow up campaign is in place, it’s time to start getting subscribers. Too many people miss the boat here too. In fact, I’ve been quite guilty of this myself.

The fact is, one small signup form on your site will get you only a tiny number of subscribers compared to when you place your signup form at multiple locations. Here are 7 great locations:

a. The top of your sidebar at all your pages

b. Immediately after each post

c. On a dedicated landing page detailing the benefits of signing up

d. As a checkbox when they comment

e. On entry or exit pop-ups

f. In an "above the fold" feature box if your theme offers that option

g, Within your website articles or blog posts.

Note: There are lots of free WordPress plugins that can help you get opt-ins.

Oh, and as far as what information to ask for in your signup forms, here’s the inside scoop…

You should ask for first name and email address only. If you want to simplify things further you can ask for email address only, which does increase signups slightly. However, I feel you lose the ability to personalize your follow-up emails.

How to create a subscriber list

3 Ways to Grow Your Opt-in List Faster

Now that you know how to set things up, let's talk about how to grow your list faster.

1. Offer An Ebook or Software

You can get lots of opt-ins by offering an irresistible ebook or software such as a WordPress plugin for free. You don't even have to create the giveaway yourself. Just grab an ebook or plugin with Private Label Rights! 

You’ll also need a “virtual ecover” made with your URL and name on it so the giveaway is customized to you. You can create an eCover using Easy Cover Builder and you will have your complete giveaway ready to go to work getting you new subscribers. I recently wrote an Easy Cover Builder review.

2. Offer PDF Versions of Your Posts

If your blog is full of great content, you can display a "download this post as PDF" button on all your best posts using this clever plugin. It takes just a few minutes to set up and it will grow your list on auto-pilot.

3. Get a PAID product up and tied to your autoresponder

Once you've been blogging for a few months you really should create your own info-product or service. In fact, you can simply use the blog posts you've been writing as content for your own digital product. There are a few affiliate networks to sell your digital products, JVZoo or Clickbank, for example.

Then get it into Clickbank when it is done and start recruiting affiliates. If you pay them 75% on the front end you'll get some people to promote it for you. (You'll find more details on this strategy in a friend's recent post on how to get traffic to your blog.)

When you add a product to Clickbank or JVZoo make sure you create a new EMS "customer" list and connect that list to the product so customers are automatically subscribed. (That's an option in the JVZoo product setup area.) Now you'll be growing a CUSTOMER list which is the best opt-in list you can have! 😉

Your customer list should be single opt-in, and not require confirmation from the subscriber. That's because the person has just bought something from you. 

Making Money From Your List

Your follow-ups will grow a relationship with your opt-in subscribers. You can strengthen that relationship by sending out an email newsletter every week or two as well. When people get lots of free, useful content they will open your emails more often.

You can even sell some products and services via your follow-ups and your newsletters. But your real bread and butter will be your list broadcasts.

Once your list size surpasses 50 or so subscribers, I suggest you start sending broadcast emails recommending top products and services in your niche. Just be sure you personally try the products and services before you recommend them. A few bad recommendations can hurt your credibility, so you need to be very selective about what you recommend. If you have been subscribed to my list for any length of time, you will know I don't send many recommendations.

And don't just send one email then move on. You should plan a multi-email promotion for every week or two. Send an early bird deal, an FAQ email, a "how to use the product" email and a deal ending email. That's 4 times the chance of making sales.

Get personal in your emails and make them different than what the product vendor offers its affiliates.

Building Opt-in List Summary

If you want a growing, profitable business, then email marketing is essential. It helps create a relationship with website visitors and subscribers. In turn, this creates a bond of trust essential in helping your readers solve problems and challenges.

  • A responsive subscriber list will create a strong business foundation.
  • Create a number of ways for your visitors to subscribe to your list.
  • Offer a variety of incentives to encourage more people to subscribe.

There is more to email marketing systems than building opt-in lists. Consequently, I hope I have encouraged you to explore more about email marketing.

If you have questions or comments, please fill out and submit the form below. I am looking forward to responding.

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