Why You Need An Email List and How To Grow One

***Note: some of the links below are affiliate links (marked with an asterisk*); meaning I receive a small monetary thank you from the company if you choose to join them through my link.***

There is a whole lotta confusion surrounding list building.

For those who aren’t in the know, the idea of building an email list can seem so overwhelming that it stops many entrepreneurs (who have incredible gifts to offer the world!) right in their tracks.

But growing your email list has so many benefits that it makes all of the effort more than worth it!

I’ve found that most questions involving list building fall into two main categories:

Why the heck is it so important?


How can I build mine?

Today, I’m going to shed some light on ☝️those questions☝️ there.

After all…

“The best time to build a list was yesterday. The next best time is today.”

This quote by list building genius Amy Porterfield basically sums it up. 

One of the best ways to make sure that your business stays exactly where it is now is to do nothing. If something is holding you back from building your list, push through it and get started today! 

Why Is Having An Email List So Darn Important? 

  • You’re in Control of Your Email List

One of the most significant disadvantages of social media marketing is that you don’t control any of the information of the people who are following you.

If you get locked out of your account (for instance if you can’t recover your lost password, or Facebook/Instagram ban your account) – all those followers you worked so hard to build?


But with your email list, you’re in control.

You can easily add who you want, delete who you want, and tag or segment them so the right people see the right message at the right time. You can even export your email list  to a spreadsheet and take it with you if you ever switch platforms (like from MailChimp to Convertkit* or ActiveCampaign*).

  • Creating Laser-Focused Offers that Get To The Right People So You Can Boost Your Revenue and Get New Clients When You Need It

I’m always surprised at the number of business owners I meet who solely rely on social media to grow and reach their audience. Talk about putting all your eggs in one basket. And not even a basket you own – scary. 

The next level up are those who use social media to drive traffic to their website (usually a blog post). Which is great, but if you don’t have a way for people to get on your email list, they’re going to hit it and quit it. Meaning they’ll happily enjoy the brilliant insights on your blog, then move on and never think of you again.

However, if, when they get to your site, you present them with an answer (or solution) to a big question (or problem) they’re having in exchange for their email address — now you can continue to show up, be top of mind, and move them forward on their buying journey.

And, unlike social media, you can ask and gather deep details about your new friend by simply asking questions and recording their answers (we’re talking tags people!) so you can show them exactly the right info at exactly the right time. 

For example; let’s say you’re a mortgage broker who specializes in difficult mortgages. 

On your site, you offer three different opt-in opportunities, each focused on one of the top 3 difficult mortgage scenarios that you help with. This means that as people enter your email list, you already know what they’re interested in getting info on and can segment your list like this —

  • People with damaged credit
  • People who are buying a house for the first time
  • People who are self-employed

Once you know what they’re interested in, you can be strategic about the information you send them and lead them to an offer they’re more likely to be interested in.

For the people who have bad credit – send them an offer about credit repair services!

For first time home buyers, an offer that tells them everything they need to know about buying their first new home would be perfect.

And for those self-employed people? An offer that will tell them exactly what they need to do to be an attractive opportunity for a lender would certainly be helpful.

And the best thing is, once you help them with the initial reason they got on your list, you can ask them questions (and document their responses) to find out what the next opportunity to help them with is. 

  • Find Opportunities Beyond Just Getting Clients

Getting clients is important (obviously), but the benefits of growing your email list don’t stop there. By having an engaged email list, you open yourself up to opportunities like:

Guest Podcasts – not only can you share your guest appearances with your list, but you can tell the people on your list that you’re looking to be featured on other podcasts.

If they put the word out to their network, you may be invited to make guest appearances or be told about some amazing podcasts to send a pitch to that you’ve never even thought about.

In turn, making these guest appearances can build your list when the people listening to it are directed to your website to sign up.

Vendors – Need some help? Let’s say you’re looking for a kickass copywriter or social media manager (these are just a few examples). Put the word out to your email list! 

You’d be surprised how many people are eager to help. Your inbox may be filled with suggestions for people who are fantastic to work with that you’d never have heard of otherwise.

Advocates – Sending regular, story-filled emails to your list doesn’t just help them know, like, and trust you — it also fosters raving fans. By building a real relationship with them. 

The result? A network of individuals who know and love what you’re about and will talk about you to their people at every opportunity.

Joint Venture Partnerships – One of my clients (a spiritual business coach) hosts retreats in Hawaii and Nova Scotia with a money coach she met in her network. By getting to know the people on your list and having them get to know you, you may find yourself partnering up with other like-minded entrepreneurs for incredible business growth opportunities.

How To Use Lead Magnets And Opt-ins To Grow Your Email List

An effective way to get people to subscribe to your email list is to create a lead magnet that your people will want.

A lead magnet is something you give to someone in exchange for their email address, and here’s a really good example of one:

^ Go ahead and pop your email address and name in there. I’ll wait. ????

Also, see what I did there? Put an opt-in form in a blog about opt-ins! So meta… 

If you’ve never created a lead magnet before, here’s a suggestion: Take the most common question that you get asked – then make a PDF that answers it, but still leaves people wanting more.

For me, people always ask me, “What can a VA do?” — so I made a PDF guide that answers that.

But your lead magnet doesn’t necessarily need to be a simple PDF. It could be a:

  • Quiz (one of our clients puts together amazing quizzes that grow email lists like crazy!)
  • Worksheet (this could help them take a big step forward by getting them to do the work that needs doing)
  • Cheatsheet (something they can refer to often to help with a common process or issue)
  • Mini-video training (like a guide but in video format)

It could be anything really – get creative! One of my clients has a lead magnet that’s an audio meditation!

While you want your content to be good — please remember that done is better than perfect. 

Don’t get so hung up on it being perfect that your lead magnet never sees the light of day.

Once you’ve created your lead magnet, you can use a tool like OptinMonster* (this is what my team uses) to create an opt-in form that integrates with your website and email marketing tool. 

If you’ve browsed the Any Old Task website, you’ll notice that we’ve strategically placed opt-ins throughout to help make it an easy “yes!” to signing up when a visitor sees the opportunity. 

OptinMonster* is super-powerful and has a ton of customization features that allow it to work seamlessly with your site. Not only can you change all the design elements so it matches your brand, you can also control how, and when, and to whom your opt-in is displayed. 

Pro Tip: Due to anti-spam regulations in many places, people who give their email address must provide explicit consent to keep getting emails from you. Not only is it law in those places, it’s also a simple courtesy. Don’t be like that party crasher at your aunt’s third-wedding – uninvited with people wondering what the heck you’re doing in their inbox.

Of course, a lead magnet is useless if people don’t know about it. Not only do you need to make something valuable for your potential subscribers, you have to tell them about it! 

Here are just a few ways to do that:

  • Create an ad that leads to a landing page all about your lead magnet (think Facebook or Instagram ads – paid traffic).
  • Post about it on your social media accounts, linking to that same landing page (Mmm… free organic traffic. Yum!)
  • Appear on podcasts or write guest blog posts for well-known influencers in your industry and offer your lead magnet to their audience. I’ve had some of the biggest jumps to my email list this way.
  • Be a guest expert and teach in private masterminds and course groups (same as above – send them to your lead magnet at the end of the lesson).

How to Not Drive People Crazy With Opt-ins

Ever been to a site where the first thing you see is a giant full screen opt-in? (They call it a “welcome mat” :/)   

Sure – that’s not so bad, right? Just click the ‘x’ in the corner but then – 

*Bang* Pop-up!

And before you can even close that another little box slides in from the side?


Super cringey. I don’t know about you, but annoying ads will make me bounce from a website like a Super Ball. 

One of my biggest pet peeves is over sensitive exit-intent opt-ins because they show up as soon as I get anywhere near the website’s menu and stop me from doing the simple thing that I want to do – getting to another page of the website!


OptinMonster has display rules* where you can control, not just what opt-ins appear on a page of your website and when, but also who they are shown to!

Have an offer that’s only for returning visitors? Or a pop-up that you don’t want to display on mobile? Or a Christmas promo that’s available for only 24hrs? OptinMonster lets you do all that and more!

Why not try a nice slide-in set to display a special offer to returning visitors only who have been on the site for at least 10 seconds? Go a step further and make it a 4th of July offer that only displays to people in the US on that day. Yup – with OptinMonster*, you can do that.

The Takeaway: Be mindful of the journey of the person looking at your website, and use the features of the tool you’re using to set up the opt-in for when it’s most advantageous.

It’s a great big world out there with infinite possibilities when it comes to getting people on your email list, and the results can be incredible! 

Give setting up an opt-in a try – if this doesn’t give you the results you’re after right away, you can tweak and optimize as needed.

See that comment box down there ????? I want to hear all about your favourite list building tip!

Meet your host

Sandra Booker, Founder of Changemaker Inc. (home to Sidekick COO and The VA Studio) and creator of Scale Society and The Advisory Board, is a mentor, Fractional COO  and growth strategist. She specializes in helping overworked, overwhelmed, multi-hatted entrepreneurs become the CEOs of sustainably scalable, and powerfully profitable businesses. 

After helping local businesses thrive, and receiving accolades in her community (like the 40 Under 40 award) Sandra turned her attention to the world of online service providers, and her clients include familiar names like Chanti Zak, Tarzan Kay, and Laura Belgray.

In her (efficiently used) spare time, she teaches others how to build and grow their own 6-figure virtual assistant practices and is on a mission to create a million jobs by helping her clients and students scale their businesses.

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