I came across Growtheme by chance, but it immediately grabbed me.
Besides having an awesome design, there was something curious about it. It was clearly a sales page for a product (a WordPress blog theme), but there was no option to buy it.
Instead, the only action I could take was to sign up for an email list — which, of course, I did.
That added me into an email drip campaign that turned me from a cold website visitor into an excited, ready-to-buy almost-customer.
Being an email geek, I decided to reach out to the founder of Growtheme and chat with him about his strategy and its effect on the revenue he made from his product.
Jascha had a fascinating story, so I felt compelled to share it with the world. It’s full of lessons that YOU can apply to grow your audience, make money blogging, and build a sustainable, profitable online business.
What follows is a case study on Jascha’s journey — a failed bubble tea franchise, a popular nutrition blog, his nomadic life, and the birth and growth of Growtheme.
There is also a special bonus for action-takers at the end of the post: a compact guide with 3 list-building strategies that don’t get talked about online (hence their effectiveness). If you’re serious about growing your email list, be sure to check it out.
The Long (But Worthwhile) Road to Email List
Jascha started out early — when he was 16 years old — by helping his friends and family with web design. He noticed he could earn significant $$$ for these side projects, so he started doing it for big clients.
Gradually, he took what he learned working for others, and started implementing that in his own projects, both online and offline.
Most of them failed.
Here’s one example: a bubble tea chain franchise.
At first, it seemed like a great idea. Jascha and his partner worked really hard trying to get it off the ground. They put two years of work into it before Jascha realized it wasn’t working, and that he didn’t want to be in that business.
Here are a few reasons why:
He came from a world of working with clients, and having the freedom of being anywhere he wants. Having to operate several stores wasn’t like that. It tends to tie you to places.
He felt trapped, like he couldn’t move anywhere or even leave the business alone for just a few days.
Moreover, scaling was hard. The only way to scale the business was to duplicate himself — with all his knowledge, insights, and experience. Every new store ment doubling the workload and problems.
The only way to scale the business was to duplicate himself — with all his knowledge, insights, and experience.
Going through these learnings was painful, but useful. He was learning the foundations that would help him create a sustainable business, the cornerstone of which would be a dedicated group of people who kept coming back to him, happy to purchase his products.
How to Choose The Ultimate Business Model
After Jascha got out of the franchise project, his wife Tania and he decided to start a business together.
As they searched for the perfect idea, a few things were clear. It had to fit a few criteria they’ve learned the hard way from past experiences.
The new business had to be:
- Product-based (vs. service-based), so it can be scalable
- Based on returning customers (vs. one-time customers)
That last point was, perhaps, the biggest lesson Jascha learned from the bubble tea experience.
One of the main outposts of his franchise business was Barcelona — a touristic heaven. There was one problem with that. As tourists, his customers never came back.
Even if they loved it, they’re gone forever.
That’s when Jascha realized it was very hard to build a sustainable business based on one-time customers.
It’s hard to build a sustainable business based on one-time customers. Tweet It
So when he and his wife were looking for a new business idea, they knew it had to be based on returning customers. Dedicated followers that they could contact and invite to see, like, and buy their stuff.
They came to a conclusion that a blog business was the ultimate business model for them — it fit all their criteria:
- It was location independent (they are now living a digital nomad life, traveling the world and living wherever they like);
- Scalable and product-based;
- All about returning customers.
They knew how to make money blogging: make one-time readers return.
The secret sauce that allows to turn a random blog visitor into a loyal follower and, eventually, a happy customer — is an email list.
So from day 1, Jascha and Tania knew building an email list was their #1 focus.
Building A Blog And Growing An Email List
“I knew when we started a blog I would need to find a niche where there is a need, which is not yet served.”
They wanted to find a place where they have advantages.
Jascha’s wife is from Mexico, and they saw that the Spanish-speaking market was a bit behind the English-speaking market in terms of supply of blogs and online material, but it was still a HUGE market.
So they decided to go after it.
Jascha’s wife is a nutritionist, so a nutrition blog was a natural choice.
They spent 3 months researching the market, and discovered there were dozens, if not hundreds, of nutrition blogs.
But there was still space for one more.
You see, all nutrition blogs were busy posting “list posts”, and making people feel like they’ve done something good for their health by reading a list of 5 foods they should stop eating.
“Wow, this is amazing!” Jascha and his wife finally had an epiphany. The problem of someone who is overweight is not they don’t have information, or that they don’t know what to eat. It’s actually their behavioral habits and psychology, which were built over time and take more effort to change.
That was their insight.
That approach was how they were going to be different.
After they came out of that 3-month-long research process, they built a website in 2 or 3 days.
“After researching the completion, it was really straight-forward how we could stand out from thousands,” Jascha said. “It was so easy to write the copy and explain the benefit of joining our list, because it was very clear to us.”
The blog was focused on collecting emails from day 1.
That was another way in which they were going to be different: none of the other nutrition blogs were building an email list.
They were based on the one-time customer approach that Jascha intentionally was running away from.
They got their traffic from Google, and, at maximum, tried to send visitors to their Facebook page. Most readers dropped in on those blogs once, and then never returned. Every single month they had to build up their traffic from zero again.
That was painfully similar to Jascha’s Barcelona experience.
“I felt that an email list was something we ABSOLUTELY had to built to make money blogging.”
50,000 Email Subscribers
Fast-forward one year, Jascha and his wife had 10K+ email subscribers on their list.
Fast-forward one more year, their list is at 50,000 subscribers.
There were lots of lessons in between that allowed them to continually improve and revise their strategy and products.
However, one thing stayed constant: their revenue followed the email list growth.
And being a web designer, Jascha made sure their list continued to grow.
He had developed a custom WordPress blog theme for their nutrition blog, building in the most effective list-building features. That was one of the reasons their email list grew so fast.
By the way, if you’re anything like me, you’re tired of seeing the same five-year-old strategies for growing your list, that are only half as effective as they used to be. If you want to get your hands on 3 fresh hacks that are working like a charm right now, I highly recommend you check out the guide below.
Around the same time, Jascha kept seeing questions in forums and blog comments from people with the same need, looking for a smarter and more powerful WordPress blog theme.
“Where can I get a theme like Michael Hyatt’s?” “Where can I get a theme like Pat Flynn’s?”
Nobody could answer these questions, because of course, those big-time bloggers had custom websites that cost them thousands of dollars.
And the WordPress blog themes on ThemeForest tried to please everyone at the same time: a single theme could be used for mom-and-pop shops, bloggers, teachers, etsy businesses, fitness clubs, etc.
Jascha knew that “if you want to build an email list, it must be your number one focus. You shouldn’t waste time trying to accomplish all other things.”
If you want to build an email list, it must be your number one focus. You shouldn’t waste time trying to accomplish all other things. Tweet It
So he sought out to build a WordPress blog theme that would empower bloggers to stay laser focused on list-building. He has experienced the power of a business built around an email list, which ensures engaged, loyal fans and returning customers, and gives the freedom of time, location, and having a life you’ve always dreamed of.
He knew he could help other bloggers have that too.
Growtheme: Turning Your Website Into a Converting Machine
And so, Growtheme was born.
Growtheme is single-purpose, clean, versatile, and incredibly powerful WordPress blog theme for bloggers growing an email list.
It answers all list-building questions for bloggers, and replaces a dozen of plugins and redundant workflows.
It’s the solution everyone has been asking for.
It’s the solution Jascha dedicated months of hard work for.
And yet, when you go to Growtheme.com, you won’t be able to buy it.
What’s going on? Instead of putting a “Buy” button on his website, Jascha wants visitors to join his email list and wait for an invitation to buy it.
“Before, you could buy it from the website,” Jascha says. “But I wasn’t able to talk to you. I wasn’t able to ask what you’re searching for in the theme.”
Those 1-on-1 conversations allowed Jascha to understand what his customers value even more, and keep improving his product.
His revenue also quadrupled when he turned that “buy” button into “join the list” button, and implemented an email funnel:
Turns out, those one-on-one conversations are really important. “I want to communicate my message, and it’s really hard to do from the first-time encounter.”
An email drip campaign gives Jascha time and space to talk to his customers, ask them what they are looking for, get them excited and provide a bit of urgency for making the purchasing decision.
“I often get testimonials, and people describe the solution even better than I can. That’s the ultimate value out of it.”
The Hardest Thing
When I ask Jascha what he thinks is the hardest thing about building an email list, he thinks for half a minute, and then says:
“I think it’s actually really easy to build an email.”
He added: “If you know what you’re doing and have the tools.”
One time, long before Growtheme and the nutrition blog, he collected 3,500 emails in 4 weeks just with a landing page and a few guest posts.
“If you have a plan and have an idea of what you’re doing, it’s pretty easy to build an email list.”
There are two parts to it:
- Strategy (including tools)
- Discipline and hard work (execution)
The first part is having a crystal clear value proposition, a strategy and tools for collecting the emails.
The second part is putting in the work to keep every little piece of the machine moving.
Most of the time bloggers that struggle with building a list are missing one of those things.
You are either SUPER hard working, put in the work by writing blog posts, pitching guest blogs, interacting in Facebook groups, etc, but not seeing results because you are all over the place.
Or it’s the other way around: you have a clear value proposition and great material, but you don’t take the time to promote it, so you don’t see the results.
Pause for a minute, and think about it.
Which part are you missing?
Do you already have an enticing value proposition for customers and a strategy for building your list, but you just can’t seem to get it together or find time to execute on your strategy?
Or are you hustling day in and day out, but don’t have a big-picture plan in place, and are just trying tactics without being super clear on how to connect the dots?
If you’re in the latter camp, I can help.
First of all, grab a copy of my 14-page guide on list-building strategies no one talks about. They’ll help you get ahead, because not that many people use the strategies described in the guide, and that’s why they are very effective.
And second, I’ll be launching a course on growing an email list that gives you exactly what you need — reliable strategies (vs. tactics and hacks) that grow your list consistently, even when you sleep.
When you download the list-building guide, you’ll be added to the waitlist for the course, so just sign up below.
Most Important Takeaways
Jascha’s story is fascinating in how many lessons it offers for bloggers, online business owners, and anyone trying to figure out how to make money blogging (he had even more lessons on product building, but I’ll save them for another time).
Here are a few big ones (for skimmers and listophiles):
- It’s hard to build a sustainable business based on one-time customers.
- An email list is the ultimate tool for turning those one-time visitors into loyal followers and returning customers. Here are 3 list-building hacks no one talks about.
- Revenue follows email list growth.
- Find a niche where you can have an insight and do something differently.
- Constantly communicate with your readers / customers. Utilize your email list to have one-on-one conversations and find out what they need, struggle with, and how you can help them.
- Don’t go into brick-and-mortar businesses if you like a nomadic lifestyle or value your freedom 😉
- If you want to scale, think products, not services.
Definitely go and check out Growtheme: growtheme.com. It might be the last website expense you have in years.
Check out Jascha’s wife’s nutrition blog, Habitualmente.
And pleeease, let us know your thoughts and questions in the comments below. We’ll personally reply to every single one.