Grow your email list cover photo

3 steps to grow your email list from 0 to 100

Pop quiz: Which of these is more valuable for your business?

  1. 100 email subscribers
  2. 100,000 Facebook fans
  3. 10,000 website readers

It might be surprising, but the answer is actually A.

Why? Because you own your email list.

With Facebook’s algorithm, only a portion of your fans actually see your content. Facebook also controls your relationship with them; you don’t. And 10,000 website readers could’ve visited a trending post once without expecting to return. Or they could’ve visited your page, read a few sentences, and then left for another site.

But if you have 100 email subscribers, that means 100 people heard about your business and actively opted to learn more. With this list, you know that you can reach those 100 people at any time with any message.

You’ll eventually want to grow your email list to thousands of subscribers. But you can’t get to 1,000 without your first 100.

That’s why we’ve created a step-by-step blueprint for getting your first 100 email subscribers.

Let’s get started.

Step 1: Create a lead magnet

Estimated time to complete: 5-10 hours

Your lead magnet is a downloadable asset, like a PDF or video, that your readers can access in exchange for their email. Without one, you won’t be able to grow your email list effectively.

To figure out the best lead magnet for your business, ask yourself these three questions:

“What is my audience’s biggest pain point?”

If you don’t know, ask. Send an email to five connections whom you consider to be in your target audience. Or browse Reddit or Quora and see if people have already answered this question about your industry.

“What solution can I offer them right now to help them get results?”

Find a way to share some of your knowledge and expertise.

“What’s the best way to deliver this solution?”

It might be a PDF, video, or ready-to-use template.

For example, Zero to Launch graduate Matt Jager needed email subscribers for his health coaching business, True Wellth. So he created an infographic about “The Chipotle Method,” his guide to building plant-based meals in five minutes or less.

Here’s how he might’ve answered these questions:

  1. What is my audience’s biggest pain point? They want quick ways to make healthier meals.
  2. What solution can I offer them? My catchy and effective “Chipotle Method.”
  3. What’s the best way to deliver this solution? An easy-to-read infographic.

He included the graphic in his guest post for

How to grow your email list with lead magnet

Image source

Creating the lead magnet isn’t enough, though. You need to get people to download it by making them an irresistible offer. For instance, Jager invited readers to access a “free and printable PDF version” of his infographic by simply signing up.

To draft your offer, start with this template:“Hey, if you’d like to learn more, I put together a little [PDF/video/infographic]. Just click here, and I’ll be happy to send it to you.”

You’ll also need to create a landing page so readers have somewhere to go once they click on your link. You can use tools like Leadpages, Unbounce, and Instapage to build your site. They each have monthly pricing plans, but they also offer free trials so you can see which one is the right fit.

When building your page, you should include these elements:

  • A headline that greets your reader
  • A reminder of your offer
  • A short explanation of how the content is going to help people
  • A form for people to enter their email and access the content

Here’s how Jager incorporated these elements into his landing page:

How to grow your email list with lead magnet landing page
Image source

With lead magnets like this one, Jager gained 300 subscribers in less than a week. And you can, too.

Onto the next step….

Like this blog post? Learn how to create amazing content like this that attracts and engages your target buyers with our FREE Ultimate Guide To Remarkable Content.

When you signup, I'm also going to send you my newsletter full of my best advice for free.

Step 2: Write a high-quality, targeted guest post

Estimated time to complete: 10-20 hours

Once you have your lead magnet, it’s time to get it out there. The best way to do this is by writing a high-quality guest post for a site in your industry. After all, you might not have an audience yet. But you can tap into someone else’s.

Here’s an easy checklist to help you complete this step:

  • Research blogs in your niche
    • Find out how many readers each blog has.
    • Check their top posts and comment sections to see what readers are saying.
    • Make sure their audiences are similar to the one you want to reach.
  • Choose five of those blogs to pitch
  • Outline ideas for three different pieces
    • These pieces should uniquely convey your message, engage your target audience, and address the pain points you identified in Step 1
  • Pitch your three ideas to those five blogs

Not sure how to get their attention? Afraid of being too salesy? That’s what this pitch template is for. Just plug in your name and ideas, and send it off via email.

Hi [Blog owner],

My name is [Your name] and I run [Your website]. My site hosts about [#] readers/month and I’m trying to grow it by reaching out to other bloggers. I’ve been reading your site for [#] years and I’m a big fan. (My favorite post was [Blog post title]. I really like how [something you gleaned from the post].)

I’m interested in writing a guest post for you — something you’ve never posted on — and I have 3 ideas that I think your readers would love:


– Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 1
– Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 2
– Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 3


– Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 1
– Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 2
– Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 3


– Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 1
– Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 2
– Some interesting, fresh sub-idea 3

I know you’re busy, so I can write everything up and send it to you in one document, which you can drop right into WordPress. I’ll handle all editing, bylines, etc (feel free to edit) so this is super-easy for you. Plus, I promise the guest posts will get your readers thinking and talking to each other.

What do you think?


-[Your name]

Once you get an editor to bite, you can write your post, polish it, and submit it. Just don’t forget to include that lead magnet! That’s how you’ll get people to actually subscribe.

Just take business coach Felicia Spahr. She gained 500+ email subscribers overnight after publishing her guest post on

How to grow your email list with an amazing guest post
Image via

And check out her lead magnet at the end of the piece:lea

If you have one post idea you really like, you can also write it up first and then pitch it to those websites. You might say, “It’s already written, edited, and ready to publish. Just give me the go-ahead, and I’ll send it right over.”

They get free, ready-made content, and you get access to a built-in audience.

Step 3: Place a lightbox on your website

Estimated time to complete: 1 hour

With your guest post up, new readers will be checking out your site. These might be people who didn’t sign up for your lead magnet but still want to know more. Or they might not have even seen your lead magnet, and they’re just browsing.

Either way, you have another chance to grab them. And you can do it with a lightbox. This is just a simple pop-up that asks readers to subscribe for more content. It might appear after a reader has been on your page for a certain amount of time, after they start scrolling down, or after they click on a piece of text.

You can always include a signup box in the sidebar or footer section of your site. But pop-ups are proven to be more effective. As AWeber found, lightboxes drove 1,375% more email signups than sidebars.

For instance, here’s how Marie Forleo uses a lightbox on her site:

How to grow your email list with a pop-upImage source

To write the copy for your lightbox, try including some or all of these elements:

  1. Ask a question.
    1. Want to learn more about X?
    2. Enjoying what you’re reading?
    3. Having trouble doing X?
    4. Want to receive updates about X right to your inbox?
    5. Want to receive helpful tips to keep you on track with X each week?
  2. Make a confident statement.
    1. You’ve come to the right place.
    2. We’re here to help.
    3. Look no further.
    4. We love helping people do this.
    5. Check out X.
  3. Ask the reader to sign up.
    1. Just enter your email.
    2. Fill out your information.
    3. Sign up right here.
  4. Tell them what they’ll get.
    1. Two free weeks of videos.
    2. Fresh tips and tools each day.
    3. New blog posts each week.
  5. Include a form, asking for the reader’s name and email.
  6. Create a compelling call-to-action button.
    1. Let’s go!
    2. Take me to the content.
    3. Start my new journey now.
    4. Join for free.

Check out how dating coach Evan Marc Katz — who has over 65,000 newsletter subscribers — uses these elements in his lightbox:

How to grow your email list with a pop-up
Image source

Just remember to disable these lightboxes on mobile. Google now punishes sites that interrupt smartphone users with pop-ups.

31 hours = 100+ subscribers

The first 100 subscribers are often the toughest to get. You can get stuck thinking, “Who wants to sign up for my content? How can I engage them without being too pushy? Where do I even find these people?”

To keep yourself from getting too overwhelmed, just follow these three steps. You can complete them in a matter of hours and get that subscriber count rolling. The best part is that these assets will continue to bring in subscribers as long as they’re live. Just remember to keep your copy and lead magnets up to date.

If you can put in these hours now, it’ll pay off in 100 — and eventually 1,000 or 10,000 — subscribers who are ready to engage with your business.

Want to build a business that enables you to live YOUR Rich Life? Get my FREE guide on finding your first profitable idea.