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How to Grow Your List Virally

Social Media
Growing your list can seem like a lot of work. You’ve got to write articles each week, guest blog, be active on social media sites etc. Once you stop doing all those things, your list will stop growing as well. Or will it? Not if you put a few things in place that will allow your list to grow virally and passively.
 
Does that mean that you can just sit back and count your subscribers/money? Of course not! What it will do however is give you some leverage and make sure that your lists are growing faster.
 
 
 
I’ll share two methods of growing your list virally with you. Both are quick and easy to implement, yet incredibly powerful. Take a little time to read through the following paragraphs and more importantly implement what you’re learning.

Word of Mouth Advertising

One of the easiest and best ways to get your list to grow virally is to ask your current subscribers to recommend it to others. Makes sense, doesn’t it? They are interested in what you have to say and like what you’re emailing them about (or else they would unsubscribe in a jiffy). Chances are that they have friends and colleagues that are interested in the same things.
 
Ask them to recommend you to family and friends. An easy way to do this is to simply include a little note or a P.S. in your email messages. Don’t do it every single time, but make a point to include it on occasion. Here’s a basic example:
 
Thanks so much for subscribing to my gardening newsletter. If you enjoy it and find value in my tips, consider recommending my blog and this newsletter to family and friends who also love gardening. Just send them here to sign up:
[insert link to your optin page]
 
That’s all it takes to grow your list virally. Give it a try this week and see if you don’t see an increase in subscribers.

Give Them Something to Share

Another option is to give your readers something they can share with others interested in a similar topic. This could be a report, or a small printable, like a planting calendar for example (using the gardening example again). Use a call to action in your report or printable to invite readers to sign up for your newsletter.
 
Once your report is ready, upload it to your website and then ask your readers to spread the word about it. Tell them they are welcome to email the report to others, post it on Facebook, tweet about it etc. In other words, get your readers to help you spread the word.
 
Extra Tip – One last idea for you…Include a note in your report that anyone is welcome to share the report. This will make the report even more viral and who knows…over time it will spread far and wide across the web, continually sending new subscribers your way.

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Monetizing Your List from Day 1

Social Media
We’ve talked quite a bit so far about setting up your first list for your blog. What we haven’t talked much about is how to go about making money from that list. A question that gets asked quite a bit is when to start mailing the list and when to start sending them offers (for your own products or affiliate products). The answer is simple. You should do both from day one. Let me walk you through a simple step by step plan to follow for your first few auto responder messages.
 
 
 

The thank you page

Before we move to the actual email messages you’ll send to your subscribers, let’s talk about the thank you page. This is the page your readers will land on after they submit their name and email address. Most people will simply thank their readers for signing up and let them know that they will receive a welcome email in just a few minutes.
 
What they are missing out on is a great money making opportunity. Think about it… these people just proved that they trust you and are ready to learn more on a certain topic. Give them the opportunity to do just that by adding an offer on your thank you page.
 
For example, if I’m building a list about growing tasty tomatoes, I might recommend a little eBook about growing tomatoes organically on the thank you page.

Your welcome email

The next place to monetize is within your welcome email. This is the email that goes out to your readers as soon as they are signed up. Welcome them and let them know what they can expect over the coming weeks. If you’d like, share a quick little tip or link to a great blog post you’ve written.
 
Last but not least, repeat the offer that you’ve made on the thank you page. You’ll be surprised how many readers will take you up on the offer this second time around.

Alternating good content and solo offer emails

From there you want to email your readers a mix of great content and offers for various related products. A good rule of thumb is to send one solo email for every 3 content emails.
 
A solo email is an email message you write and send out with the sole purpose of getting your readers to buy something. In it you explain what the product is and why it would benefit them along with a call to action to have them buy it right now.
Content emails can be a variety of things. You can share some tips and information right in the email, you can link to a couple of good blog posts you’ve written, or you can even share links to short reports or videos you’ve created.
 
The goal is to find a balance between sharing content & building a relationship with your readers and making money from your list.

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List Building Strategy #5 – Guest Blogging

Social Media
Guest blogging is a great shortcut when it comes to getting traffic and subscribers for a new blog. Think about it for a minute. There are already some popular blogs out there that have a large readership. Those readers are interested in what you have to say, the things you blog about, the content you share in your newsletter or autoresponder messages and of course the offers you have to make (be it your own products or affiliate offers).
 
 

How to find guest blogging opportunities

Start with some blogs you already know of in your niche. Look for popular blogs that get at least 5 comments per post. Comments are a great way to judge how popular a particular blog is.
 
You can also find blogs by using Google’s blog search engine at http://www.google.com/blogsearch. Search for some of your main keywords and see what posts and blogs come up.
 
A third option is to use Technorati.com. It’s a directory of blogs and you can search for posts or entire blogs that fit your criteria.
 
No matter what method you use, spend some time this week to find about 10 popular blogs.

How to approach the owner

You may be tempted to sit down and email each blog owner about a potential guest blog post. Do yourself a favor … DON’T. Instead, spend a little time reading each of these blogs and get in the habit of commenting on it a few times per week.
 
After a week or two of doing this, the blogger will start to recognize your name, especially if you take your time and write great comments.
 
Your next step will be to write a great guest blog post. Once it’s all done, email the whole thing to the blog owner. The idea here is to make it easy for them to post it. If the blog post is right there, nicely formatted and all they have to do is copy and paste it they’ll be much more likely to do it.

Don’t forget the follow-up

Once your guest blog post goes live, you may think your work there is done, but you’ll get a lot more out of each post if you spend a little extra time and effort. Keep an eye on the blog and as soon as you see your blog post on there, tweet about it, mention it on Facebook and bookmark it on a few social sites like delicious. This will create a little extra buzz and traffic for both you and the blog owner.
 
And that’s a good thing. Obviously the more traffic and attention the guest post gets, the more traffic your own blog gets. More importantly though, the blog owner will notice your efforts and the positive effect your guest blog post has on his blog. Once that happens, your chances of being invited back for more guest blog posts go way up.

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List Building Strategy #4 – Social Media

Social Media
Social Media is an excellent way to build your list. In fact, just by participating in those popular sites, you are building a list of sorts. On Facebook they are called friends, on Twitter they are your followers etc. Now your goal is to move as many of them as possible into your list of email subscribers as well.
 
Start with whatever social media accounts you already have a presence in. I’ll quickly walk you through the two big ones (Facebook and Twitter) and then talk a bit about niche specific social media sites. Of course all of these tips and suggestions work just as well on other social media sites.

Facebook

Facebook is great for list building. It’s easy to connect and make friends with other people interested in similar things. From there you want to start a conversation with those people. Share quick tips and ideas, ask questions etc.
 
A simple, indirect way to build your list on Facebook is to occasionally link to a new blog post you’ve written. Provided you have a signup box on every page of your blog, you’ll start to see signups each time you do this.
 
You can also post your opt-in page link directly and ask people to join. I find this works best if I have some sort of “goodie” to give them. A short report, a small collection of recipes, or a special coupon code all work well. My Facebook friends can get this goody sent to their email inbox if they sign up for my list.

Twitter

Again, start with your profile. If you have an opt-in page set up, use that link in your twitter profile and encourage readers to click through to sign up for your list. From there you can start occasionally promoting your opt-in form from within your tweets.
 
For example, if you publish a weekly newsletter, let your readers know that you’re working on putting this week’s edition together. Tweet your progress, including a link where anyone can sign up to get a free copy.

Niche specific sites

Depending on what niche you’re in, you’ll also be able to find specific social media sites on these topics. For example, Etsy and Ravelry are two big social media sites in the crafting niche. Search around and find similar sites for your own niche. A great place to start looking for these is on popular forums. People will often talk about these sites and of course you can also post a question asking what sites you should check out.
 
Once you find one or two niche specific social media sites, sign up for an account, fill out your profile information and start participating. I recommend establishing a bit of a presence before you start posting links to your blog or asking people to join your list. Instead be helpful, ask questions and make friends. After a few days of doing that, you can slip in the occasional link back to your site and mention your newsletter.

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List Building Strategy #3 – Article Marketing

Social Media
Now that you have an opt-in form on every page of your blog and a dedicated opt-in page, it’s time to start getting traffic. One of my favorite strategies is article marketing. The basic idea is to write a short article, include a resource box with a link to your blog and opt-in page and then submit it to some of the popular article directories.
 
You’ll get some traffic directly from those sites, but the real purpose behind this strategy is to allow other webmasters and bloggers to find your article and publish it on their sites. Whenever that happens, you’ll see a nice increase in traffic to your blog and a boost in subscribers.

What should I write about?

That’s a question I hear quite a bit. You want to write articles that are closely related to your blog. You also want to be very specific in each article. Think about some of the problems and issues your readers are facing… those are the types of topics you want to write about. As your site becomes more popular, this will get easier because your readers will tell you what they want to learn more about. For now, think back to some of the questions you had when just starting out.
 
Another option is to visit popular forums and look for questions that are asked. You can also browse some of the article directories and look what other people have written about in the category that best relates to your blog.
 
Once you have your topic, write a helpful article of about 400 to 500 words. Answer the question you started out with or simply share 5 to 7 tips on a topic.
 
Don’t forget to spend some time crafting your author resource box. This is where you’ll lead readers from the article page back to your blog. I like to include two links. The first goes directly to the home page of my blog, the second to my opt-in page to get readers on my list.

Where should I submit my articles?

Now that you’ve written your article, it’s time to submit it to some of the popular article directories. Below you’ll find a short list of directories I like to use. This is by no means a complete list. As you get more comfortable with article marketing, you’ll find other directories, but this is a good starting point.
[list_orange]

  • Ezinearticles.com
  • ArticleBase.com
  • GoArticles.com
  • Isnare.com
  • IdeaMarketer.com
  • ArticleSnatch.com

[/list_orange]

How many should I write?

If you’re just starting out, a good goal may be to write and submit one article per week. That’s enough to get a small trickle of traffic to your site. Of course more is always better (provided the quality of your articles doesn’t suffer). If you can manage three articles per week, great! If you’re really ambitious you may even write one per day. I don’t recommend aiming for more than that or you’ll quickly get burned out.
 
Article marketing is all about consistent effort. Find a number you’re comfortable with and then make sure that come hell or high water you’re getting those articles written and submitted.

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List Building Strategy #2 – Create an Opt-in Page

Social Media
After making sure you have an opt-in form on every page of your blog, I recommend you start working on a dedicated opt-in page. This is a page with the sole purpose of getting people to sign up for your list. It’s a great way to grow your list quickly because you now have a destination you can send people to. Use it in social media posts, articles, guest blog posts, forum posts etc.

Easy URL

Start with an easy to remember URL. If you’d like you can go all out and buy a dedicated domain for your opt-in page, but that’s certainly not necessary. Instead you can simply pick a short and easy to remember link. For example if your site is called gardenblog.com, a good URL for your opt-in page maybe gardenblog.com/signup

Captivating headline

Next, you want to write a compelling headline that will grab your reader’s attention and keep him or her on your opt-in page. Going back to our gardening example, are a few examples of good headlines:
[list_orange]

  • Find Out How to Grow Delicious Tomatoes in Half the Time
  • Sign Up Today for Expert Tips from a Gardening Enthusiast
  • Creating a Garden That’s The Envy of the Whole Neighborhood is Easier Than You Think. Sign Up Today for Expert Tips Delivered Straight to Your Email Inbox

[/list_orange]
Take a look at magazine headlines and other newsletters to get ideas for your own opt-in page. Make your offer sound great, but don’t go overboard. You want to make sure you can deliver on the promise you’re making here.

Keep it short

You don’t need a lot of text on your opt-in page. It’s been tested over and over again and pages that are short and to the point tend to outperform those with long paragraphs of text.
 
Instead, focus on the benefits. What’s in it for your subscribers? What will they get out of signing up?
 
Start with a short introductory paragraph, and then move on to what’s in it for your readers. List those benefits as bullet points on your opt-in page.
 
If you’d like, you can also include an image that relates to the topic of your blog. In our gardening example, I may add an image of a nice looking tomato plant right next to the benefit statements.
 
Right below that, include the opt-in form.
 
I like to close with a sentence or two letting my readers know that I look forward to sharing those tips with them. If possible, include a picture of yourself and your handwritten signature. Both elements build trust and will make it more likely that someone will sign up.

Submit button

Of course your page will include a submit button. It’s often a simple grey button with the words “Submit” on it. I recommend using either a color that goes well with your theme or even better, a bright red button. Good options for wording on the button are “Join Now”, “Get Started” and my personal favorite “Sign Me Up!” If you are using Aweber to create your opt-in form for this page, changing the button can be done right within the web form editor. Otherwise, ask your web designer for help changing this on your opt-in page.
 
Once your opt-in page is set up, it’s a just a matter of driving traffic to it. You can link to this page from the navigation bar of your blog and from within your posts. You can also use this page in social media posts, on popular forums you participate in and any other form of traffic generation.

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List Building Strategy #1 – Your Blog

Social Media
One of the easiest ways to grow your list is directly on your blog. It makes sense when you think about it. The readers of your blog already know you a little bit and are more likely to trust you with their email address. They have also shown an interest in the topic, simply by reading your blog. This is why before you do anything else, you should start your list building on your blog.

Opt-in Form on Every Page

Start by adding an opt-in form on every single page of your blog. The easiest way to do this is to add it to your navigation sidebar. You’ll get the best response if you add it to the top of that bar (in the upper right or left hand corner of each page).
 
Log into your autoresponder account and create a new web form. I recommend using a field to capture the first name of your subscriber and one for the email address. Tweak the form so it’s narrow enough to fit into your sidebar. Include an attention grabbing headline that invites them to sign up for your newsletter or blog updates. Last but not least, grab the code for the opt-in form.
 
If you are using WordPress to manage your blog and Aweber to manage your list (which I highly recommend), you have two options here. You can either manually add your form via a widget text field, or you can use the Aweber WordPress plugin.
 
The plugin will walk you through the steps of including the widget, but the text widget option is very simple to use as well. Log into your WordPress admin area and go to the widget page. Drag a new text widget into your side bar, then just copy and paste the code for your opt-in page in the field and save.
 
Take a look at your blog and make sure your opt-in form is looking the way you’d like it to. Once it does, your readers will have the opportunity to join your list from any blog post or page on your site.

Encourage Readers to Sign Up In Your Content

Of course it doesn’t stop there. One of the things I do on a regular basis is to encourage my readers to join my list from within my blog posts. There are two different ways you can do this. The easiest way (and often the most effective) is to just ask your readers to sign up from the content of your post. Just work it in there naturally.
 
The second option is to add another opt-in form somewhere inside or post or toward the bottom. I recommend you only use this on occasion to avoid annoying regular readers. Just sprinkle it in here and there when appropriate.
 
Doing those two things will greatly increase the amount of subscribers you’ll get directly from your blog.

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Getting Your First 100 Subscribers

Social Media
Let me share the big secret to building a list with you. It’s all about figuring out how to get your first 100 subscribers. Once you’ve learned that, you can simply do more of what you’re already doing to build your list faster. I’ll share three simple strategies with you that you can use to build your list. Best of all, all three of them are free and won’t take you long to implement. Let’s get started.

Blog Commenting

One of the easiest ways to get traffic and subscribers to your list is to comment on other popular blogs. Find about 10 of them and visit them several times a week. When appropriate, leave a great comment. Don’t just write “Great post, enjoyed reading it.” Instead, add to the conversation and share something of value.
 
This will encourage readers to click on your name and click through to your blog to learn more about you. From there you can start to get them on your list by having a signup box in the sidebar of your blog.

Forum Participation

Find 3 to 5 active forums in your niche and start participating. The important thing is to find forums that get quite a few new posts per day. They are the ones that get a fair amount of traffic and have a loyal readership. Look through posts and make sure there are at least 10 or so from today before you add it to your list of forums to start participating in. Sign up for each of those active forums and spend a few minutes creating a profile that includes a picture, some info about you and most importantly a link back to your blog.
 
Answer questions and be helpful on the forum. If allowed, include a signature file that invites readers to check out your blog and sign up for your newsletter. I recommend spending 15 to 30 minutes a day on these forums. You should see a few new signups per week from this activity alone. As you start to accumulate more and more posts on these forums and become known as a bit of an expert in your field, you’ll see signup percentages increase.

Write an Article

Last but not least, sit down and write a 400 word article on a topic that’s closely related to your blog. Make it helpful and interesting. At the end of your article, you’ll include an author resource box that will link back to your blog. I also like to encourage readers to sign up for my list. You can use the following template to write your own.
 
Now that you’ve learned how to [insert topic your article was about] I would like to invite you to check out my blog at http://www.pragmaticsocialmedia.com/blog. While you’re there take a moment to sign up for more tips about Social Media.
 
Submit the article to several article directories. You should see a steady little stream of new visitors to your blog and a percentage of those will sign up for your list.

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List Building Service of Choice – Aweber

Social Media
Once you’ve decided you’re ready to start building your list, it’s time to sign up for an autoresponder service. I highly recommend using Aweber and there are a couple of good reasons for that. Let me give you a quick overview of why I highly recommend this particular list building service.

It’s Easy to Use

Aweber has been around for quite some time and they are constantly making improvements to their system. What does that mean for you? They continue to make it easier for you to grow your list and to then turn around and email them.
 
One of the things you’re going to want to do is to set up your first list. Aweber has a step-by-step wizard that will walk you through the entire process. And if you’re not sure what to do along the way, there are video tutorials to help you.
 
By the way, since so many people are using Aweber, there are lots of helpful tutorials on YouTube as well. Just go to YouTube.com and search for “how to [insert whatever you’re trying to do] in Aweber”.
 
Next, you’ll want to include a signup form on your blog. Aweber makes it easy with an entire library of templates to choose from. No matter what niche or industry you are in, you’re bound to find one that’s a good fit for your blog. Once you’re done editing your form, you can just copy and paste the code. Or… if you’re using WordPress to run your blog, you can use the handy Aweber plugin to include the form in your blog’s sidebar.

Deliverability

Another big reason why so many marketers use Aweber is because they have one of the best email deliverability rates in the industry. In other words, they make sure that your emails get into your subscribers’ inboxes instead of their spam folder. I don’t have to tell you that that’s a big advantage.

You Can Get Started for $1

Yes, you read that right … you can get started for just a dollar for your first month. After that you’ll pay $19 per month. This gives you 30 days to start growing your list – and more importantly – start profiting from it. Getting to the point where you’re making at least $20 per month as a direct result of your list, isn’t very hard. Let’s run through a simple little example.
 
Let’s say you build a list of 100 subscribers (I’ll show you how to do that in the next section). You also find a product you can promote to that list that pays a $20 commission per sale. You email your list, recommending the product and get just one person to buy and your Aweber bill for next month is taken care of.
 
The following month, you get better at this list building stuff and add 150 new subscribers to your list. This is in addition to the 100 you already have, so you are now the proud owner of a list of 250 subscribers. You send a few more emails to them, including one promoting the affiliate product again. This time, 3 people end up buying, netting you an extra $60.
 
From there you just rinse and repeat. Keep growing your list and keep emailing them. As your list grows, so will the cost of Aweber, but that’s ok because as your list grows, so will the online income that you’re making from it.

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What is List Building and Why Do You Need to Start Now?

Social Media
If you’ve been working online for any length of time, you’ve heard people talking about their lists. They compare size, opt-in rates, click-through stats and of course profitability. If all that sounds like a foreign language to you, don’t worry; we’ll start at the beginning.

What is a List?

A list is simply a database full of email addresses (and often names) of your readers or subscribers. You collect those emails from your website and something called an autoresponder service takes care of storing those names for you and gives you the option to send emails to that group.

What is List Building?

List building is the process of building that list of names and email addresses. One of the easiest ways to build your list is to add a signup form to your blog. Autoresponder services like Aweber will give you the tools you need to do this. Using a simple form, you set up your list and create a form (using one of hundreds of templates) that works well with the theme and look of your blog. You copy the code Aweber will give you for your form and paste it into your blog design.
 
Down the road you may want to look into other ways to build your list like creating opt-in pages for example. List building is one of those things you want to continually work on and get better at. Ultimately, the bigger your list, the higher your online income will be.
 
This brings us to the next point …

How Can You Benefit From a List?

There are quite a few reasons why you should consider building a list. The first is that you can now bring people back to your blog. How many times have you come across a great site that you loved, then clicked through to another page and 20 minutes later you’ve forgotten all about that new site you meant to spend some time exploring? It happens to all of us – including your site’s visitors. But if you capture your visitor’s email address, you can reach them later and bring them back to your site.
 
I’m sure you’ve also heard the expression that the money is in the list. If you have a mailing list, you can occasionally email them with product offers. Those could be your own products, or something you are recommending as an affiliate. Either way, being able to email a list of people about those offers is one of the best ways to monetize your blog.

When is the Best Time to Get Started Building a List?

That’s a question I hear quite a bit. When should I start building my list? The answer is as soon as possible. If you haven’t already started, start now. Don’t worry if you’re not getting a lot of traffic to your blog yet. Even a few visitors can turn into a couple of subscribers and that’s a great start. Then as your traffic grows, your list will grow with it.