How to grow your email list without spamming

Grow your email list, lead magnets, content upgrade, email list growth, email marketing

Yeah yeah yeah, we’ve heard many times that an email list is a must for any blogger who is contemplating monetizing their blog. Just in case you’re not convinced, check out the four reasons why bloggers who’ve got email marketing right are #winning.

But how do you grow a list without spamming people? There are two parts to that question: growing a list and nurturing a list. Let’s look at each aspect in detail. We’ll deal with growing an email list below, and will talk about list nurturing HERE.

Growing An Email List 

Before we get to the actionable tactics and strategies for growing an email list, here are two fundamental rules for skyrocketing your list:

  1. Make signing up irresistible by offering something that your readers really need AND want.
  2. The ABC rule of email marketing = always be collecting.

1. Make signing up irresistible  

You need to know 2 things to make signing up irresistible.

First, you need to know what your readers really want: a pressing headache that you can solve. There might be a difference between what your readers want and what you know they need. Start with giving them what they want, because this way you won’t need to do the additional convincing, and then later on you can deliver what they really need.

To give them what they want, create a seductive lead magnet: a freebie packed with valuable info that you’ll send them in exchange for an email address. A lead magnet is an absolute must if you want to grow your email list. It’s a rocketship that drives signups through the roof.

I separate lead magnets into two groups:

  • primary lead magnets, and
  • content upgrades.

A primary lead magnet lives at the top of your front page. It’s always there, and it is something that’s related to the overall theme of your blog. It should be able to entice someone who wandered onto your page and doesn’t really know your brand or what you write about. A good example of a primary lead magnet is an ebook or a report in one of your main areas of expertise.

A content upgrade is a freebie that is specific to a blog post, and offers additional resource on the topic of the blog post. A good example is a checklist version of the post, a workbook, or a video tutorial on the subject of the post. Because a reader has already invested time in reading your blog post, he or she is very likely to take one additional (free) step to get even more on the topic, so content upgrades are amazing for growing your email list.

There are SO many ways to execute a lead magnet that this topic requires a separate blog post. I’ve curated a list of all types of lead magnets that I could possibly think of (both primary lead magnets and content upgrades). Click this link OR the image below to get the list and use if for lead magnet inspiration (it’s free).

The second thing you need to know to make signing up irresistible is a little bit of psychology, particularly how FOMO (fear of missing out) works. Throughout your blog, consistently make it clear that your email subscribers receive something exclusive, something you never share on your blog. For example, when you publish a blog post on topic X, mention that you just recently sent a 1,500-word email about the [essential problem] in the topic X, and that it was exclusive, you either get it (if you’re on the email list), or you don’t — you don’t share that info on the blog. People will immediately feel like they’re missing out, and wouldn’t want to miss the next value-packed email like that.


2. ABC = Always Be Collecting

If you want to grow your email list, always be collecting! Yes, I know it’s easier said than done.

There is a plethora of ways and places where you can collect email addresses. I’m going to list and describe as many as I can. Since most of the bullet points below deserve their own blog post, if you want me to dive deep on any of them with actionable how-to’s and powerful examples, just leave a comment below and I’ll be on it!

Fundamentally, there are two places where you can collect email addresses:

  • Your website
  • All other channels



Before we begin, one note: you might think pop-up windows are annoying, but the statistics show that they convert really, really well, given they are done right. So try them out, and iterate, iterate, iterate to find your optimal conversion driver.

Here are ideas for how you can collect email addresses on your website:

  • Top of your website / ribbon

This is the primary real estate of your website, so put it to good use. You can have a slim bar across the website with smart call to action (CTA), or a full-fledged feature box with the image of the freebie you’re offering in addition to smart copy. PRO-tip: an image of the freebie multiples the conversion rate.  

  • Exit behavior pop-ups

A box (with or without the image of a freebie) that will pop-up when readers navigate their mouse towards the top of the window.

  • Unobtrusive slide-in forms

A little box in the corner of the screen that slides up upon a certain behavior (for example, when the reader is 60% done with the post). Such pop-up doesn’t interfere with readers’ experience as much, and still reminds them that they can get more if they subscribe.

  • Content upgrades

Content upgrade is packaged information that’s complementary to the blog post, which readers can only get if they sign up. This is genius, because if a reader already invested time in reading your post, they are so much more likely to want to get that additional info (content upgrade). Just make sure it’s an essential addition to your blog post, so that readers can’t resist it.

  • About Page

About page is another valuable parcel of your website’s real estate, so take the opportunity to utilize it for converting readers into subscribers. All of the principles above still apply — use FOMO and make a tempting, value-packed offer.



Using your website to collect email addresses is essential, because you control 100% of it. However, other channels, like social media, present more opportunities to grow your list, and here are the ways to collect email addresses on most of them.

  • Twitter lead generation cards. Read how to set it up here. To access the Lead Generation Card feature you must use Twitter Ads with an associated credit card information.
  • Facebook “sign-up” button. Here’s how to set it up: you’ll see a “Create Call To Action” button at the very top of your Facebook page, in the bottom right corner of the cover photo. Click the button, choose “Sign Up” from the drop-down menu, and add a link to your website. The newly created CTA button will take users to your site, so either make sure that the signup form is front & center on your site, or create a landing page with the sole purpose of signing people up for your list (and link FB “sign-up” button to that landing page).

If you want the signup process to happen directly on Facebook, you’ll need to integrate your email service provider (ESP) with your Facebook page. Here are instruction for MailChimp. If you use a different ESP, google “[your ESP name] + signup form on Facebook page” and it should pop right up.

  • Instagram doesn’t give you as much list building leverage, but you can be creative and take every opportunity to optimize it for list growing. A link to your website or a landing page in the bio is essential. Additionally, sprinkle images that promote lead magnets (freebies) you’ve already created on your wall, with an easy way (short links) for your followers to locate them.
  • Periscope is the fastest growing social media channel, and one of the best places to connect with your audience and engage with them on a deeper level. The formula for growing your list through Periscope is to deliver valuable and actionable content during your scope and then share a link to one of your freebies and invite your audience to download that freebie. Make sure it’s an easy link, like . To make it easier for the viewers to locate the freebie, you can use props like a piece of paper with the handwritten link during your scopes, or add the link to your Periscope profile. MAKE IT EASY for the audience to click and sign up.
  • Snapchat is a hit, and it’s very addictive with certain demographics. If you’re using Snapchat as one of your primary channels, make sure you post stories regularly (at least every other day). Make them truly interesting, share a bit of your personal self in them, because that’s why people like Snapchat — it’s real. Your followers can comment on your snaps, so make sure to talk about your freebie and ask them to comment with their email address if they want to get it. You can also simply say that if they want to get more of “awesome tips like these” or “stay in touch and be the first one to find out about X”, they can comment with their email address. Make it clear that they will be subscribed to an email list.

PRO-tip: create a special welcome email for those subscribed through Snapchat and mention how they were subscribed, since they’ll be checking their inbox at a later time and might have forgotten that they’ve given you their email address.

  • Pinterest is amazing for directing traffic to your blog. To grow through Pinterest, you need to consistently share your content on Pinterest, especially blog posts that include content upgrades. For each blog post that you want to share, create a vertical graphic / image that shows what your post is about and mentions your freebie. Do that for every blog post that includes a content upgrade, and get consistent with sharing those images on Pinterest. That will channel traffic to your blog, and hopefully your content upgrades are so irresistible that the traffic will convert into subscribers.
  • Email Signature in regular email. That’s what I mean by ABC! Definitely have a signup link in your email signature. Just do it.
  • SlideShare is a very specific channel, and will only suit you if you make lots of slide decks / PowerPoint presentations. If you do, post them on SlideShare and connect LeadPages, which will allow to ask for viewers’ email addresses after a certain slide. The conversion rates on SlideShare are astonishing, so do make use of it if SlideShare is a good fit for your brand.  
  • Podcast. This is a VERY labor intensive channel, so only use it if you’re already producing a podcast for your business. To grow your list through your podcast, create a freebie for each episode and mention it throughout the episode, with an easy download link.  
  • What else? What tool outside of your website are you using to grow your list? Lets chat about it in the comments section.


Final word

All of these channels have a potential for amazing email list growth, but don’t spread yourself thin over all of them. You’ll get disoriented fast and won’t be able to take full advantage of any of them. Instead, find out where most of your peeps hang out, take that channel and master it to grow your email list. Let me know in the comments which is your primary channel.