List Building – Questions & Answer Style

email list buildingAre you sick of hearing the phrase, “The money is in the list”.

To be honest, I am.

But I have to say that unlike many of the urban myths that are peddled by some in this business, it is completely and utterly true.

So let’s take a look at the list building topic in a straightforward question and answer style!

Q: Why is building a list so important?

Because the list of prospects and customers is the most valuable asset in an online business.

Actually, there often aren’t that many other assets in web-businesses. They don’t (usually) have much in the way of fixed assets like factories, machines, real estate and so on. Instead it’s all about the contact details of the prospects and customers.

Another way to think about this is by looking at traffic. If you set up a web page that sells a product and drive traffic to it you’ll be doing very well if you can get 5% of people to purchase (the online average is actually closer to 1%). This means for every 1,000 visitors you will lose 950 people that you’ll most likely never see again anywhere near your website!

Obviously, this is a huge waste and especially because that traffic will have cost you time and/or money to generate.

So what if you send that traffic to a squeeze page offering a free gift instead of trying to sell straight off?

If your squeeze page is good then you should be able to get 50% of people (500) subscribed to your list. After they opt in you can still present your sales page to them and still make money.

Some will buy, some won’t, but either way you can now follow up to build trust and promote more relevant products that will help them.

Even better: The follow up emails can be done automatically using your autoresponder (I use and recommend Aweber – my affiliate link).

Q: How many subscribers do I need to make $1,000 per month?

This is a very common question from people that don’t have a list yet.

Often it gets dismissed but I think it’s a very fair question.

Unfortunately, it’s difficult to give an accurate answer as it really depends upon the niche you are in (e.g., weight loss is more profitable than needlework) and also how much time you put in to building trust with your subscribers.

This said, the benchmark figure is $1 per subscriber per month. Based on this the answer to the question is 1,000 subscribers.

Two things to remember here:

1. Remember this is $1,000 every month, not just this month. Which is why having a list is the best way to develop an online regular residual income.

2. $1 per sub per month is just a guideline. I can tell you I earn a lot more than this. And of course you can too. But only when you build your skills in relationship building and list management. It’s not hard and you learn as you go along but if you ignore it then you’ll earn less and (in the extreme) burn out your list by promoting to them too much!

Finally, and I’m almost certain you’ve heard this before but it’s the quality not the size of your list that matters. This is something else that you can easily get sick of hearing but again, it is true! To see this let me ask you a question:

Of the different lists I have let’s take two of them: One is 110 subscribers in size, each of whom purchased a $700 product from me. Another list is 800 in size and contains around 60 people who have purchase some kind of product through me (my own or affiliate product at $5-$97 price points) the rest have not yet purchased.

If I offer you ONE of these lists to keep for yourself, which one would you prefer to have?

Q: List building still sounds like hassle to me. Aren’t there other ways to make money?

Oh yes, of course. There are many ways to make money via the internet:

  • Sign up as a freelancer and provide services like transcription, graphics or WordPress set up on sites like Elance or fiverr
  • Create videos reviewing popular products and upload them to YouTube
  • Place ads on your site and work to get traffic to those sites

There are many more besides but the problem is that you either swapping your time for money (i.e., the same as a J.O.B!) or making your life extremely difficult by working tirelessly to generate traffic and then wasting most of it!

On the other hand, picture this: You have a list of 1,000 amateur photographers. You write an email to them with a review of a new online photography course (or another product like a new tripod that’s come out) and place in it your affiliate link.

The email might take you 30 minutes to write (much less when you get used to it!), and you click send. Over the next few hours and days you’ll get affiliate commissions into your account. Better yet, whether your subscribers buy or not, they are still on your list so you can do the same thing again!

I can tell you, it’s a wonderful feeling when you write the email whilst on holiday/vacation click send and then check again an hour or so later and you’ve made a few hundred dollars already!

I don’t like the phrase really as it sounds hypey but what I’ve just described is the closest thing you’ll get to “cash on demand” ever.

But you need to build a list first.

Q: I don’t have a list. What’s the fastest way to build one from scratch and how do I get the traffic?

As we’ve talked about before on the GHG blog there are only 2 ways to build a list:

  1. Sell something
  2. Give something away for free

In the first you use a sales page to add customers to your list, in the second you use a squeeze page (or optin form on your website/blog).

I recommend you do both (as I do) so you have more than one “on-ramp” for new leads to enter your business.

For more information on this and traffic methods check out the previous post here where I show you exactly how I built my list from scratch.

There’s no magic, just consistent action required. Sounds like hard work and it can be (as I always say here on the blog) but the rewards can be life changing.

Q: How long does it take to build a list from scratch?

Good question.

The answer of course could be “it depends” but to give you an idea I’ll share with my own experience:

I made my first money online in the collectibles niche at the back end of 2010 (here’s the site which I still own). This was before I even knew that list building was important!

Then, in 2011, I moved into the stock market niche (something I’ve always been interested in and had worked in a related job as well). Simultaneously, I started this blog where I talk about “internet marketing” related stuff. I put up an optin form (see on the right) and gradually started getting subscribers (using guest posting, blog commenting, giveaways etc).

It probably took me 4-5 months to get to 400-500 subscribers. Then another 6-7 months to reach 1,500 subscribers.

From there I grew my list much faster but basically I reached around 1,500 in list size after 1 year.

This can be done much faster but of course, I was learning (and making plenty of mistakes) as I went along!

Also, if this seems like a long journey just remember that the next 12 months is going to fly past anyway, whatever you do. So why not spend it building your list? If you’d read this post and started a year ago then you’d be making regular residual income each and every month by now.

So don’t think too far ahead, just get stuck in and take consistent baby steps forward each and every day.

Agree/Disagree? Please do Tweet/LIKE if this helped you and let me know below of your thoughts! 🙂 Cheers, Rob

23 Responses to List Building – Questions & Answer Style

  1. Paul Dunstan May 7, 2013 at 1:37 pm #

    Great Post Rob.

    It is my belief that the only sensible way to make money online is to create a focused list and then build a relationship with that list. All other methods are likely to be hit by some change in the marketplace and are risky for that reason. Like you, I would urge everyone to so this FIRST, and then use that list to move into other areas if necessary.

    Having your own list is like having your own traffic. Traffic is the one thing most struggling IMers search for, but they often ignore the whole concept of building a list.

    Like you, I made a few mistakes along the way too and certainly put the right amount of energy into list building too late!

    Now – I tell all my subscribers and customers this should be their only focus until they are making consistent money each month.

    As always – a pleasure to read your blog!

    Paul Dunstan

    • Rob May 7, 2013 at 3:41 pm #

      Hi Paul,

      Great stuff thanks for your kind words and you make some excellent points there, especially on doing this first. I wish I’d have done that because it would have saved me months of struggling with strategies that just weren’t going to make any money at all!



  2. IanWhite May 7, 2013 at 2:25 pm #

    Hi Rob,

    Nice post.

    The only thing I’d add to it is while it’s correct to say “The Money’s in the List”, it’s also just as important to add ‘The Money’s in the Relationship with the List”.


    • Rob May 7, 2013 at 3:42 pm #

      Thanks Ian!

      Yes, you make a very important point there – something that too many people forget!



  3. Voilet Francis May 7, 2013 at 4:07 pm #

    Thanks very much Rob for that interesting post. I can always rely on you for some good information. Actually, I am starting over and has done so for about 2 months now. I was just thinking of the best traffic strategies I am going to use to build my list fast. Thanks for the ecouragement. I have come to realise that list building is a journey! (:)

    • Rob May 7, 2013 at 5:59 pm #

      Hi Violet,

      My pleasure and great to hear you found this useful!

      You’re right, it is a journey and the best time to start is right now.

      Cheers – Rob

  4. Pay Per Click Specialist May 7, 2013 at 7:30 pm #

    Hi Rob, Thanks for the information. I noticed you are using Hybrid Connect down on the bottom form there. How do you like using it? I was thinking of purchasing for my site!

    Thanks and happy blogging 🙂

    • Rob May 7, 2013 at 7:36 pm #

      Glad you liked the post 🙂

      Hybrid is great and I use it for a lot of my other sites as well – extremely flexible and easy to use!

      Cheers, Rob

      • Pay-per-click specialist May 15, 2013 at 5:56 am #

        Thanks. I actually bought it myself about a week ago and I love it! Much better than the other list building plugins I have tried. Support is second to none!


  5. Ron May 8, 2013 at 10:11 am #

    Hi Rob,
    Thanks for a great post.
    Question: When you generate traifflc, do you send that traffic to a squeeze page or do you send them to a post on your blog?


  6. kak zarabotat v internete May 9, 2013 at 2:05 pm #

    Hi Rob, great article as always from you , my question will be , if I have not good English to write email sequence and articles my self do you provide any PLR of above for your members in membership?

    • Rob May 9, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

      Hi Kak,

      Thanks for your comment and glad you enjoyed this!

      There aren’t PLR email swipes in the membership site, mainly because it’s difficult to do that for all niches that people work in. However, if you search online you’ll find many inexpensive packages out there which you use or get adapted with an outsourcer (again very inexpensively) on a site like Elance to oDesk.



  7. will May 9, 2013 at 3:56 pm #

    This was somewhat informative Rob…. after doing IM for a while you do start to hear the same things over and over….and so far my experience has been no one can really tell you how to build a list…and no one can really tell you how profitable that list will be…but everyone will tell you the money is in the list…to me list building is whatever works for you…like IM when you tap into something do it over and over and over and……….

    A side bar here: Your SPYBAR tool is GREAT!!!!!

    • Rob May 9, 2013 at 4:09 pm #

      Hey Will,

      Thanks for your thoughts on this 🙂

      I think you might be looking for some secret that doesn’t exist here. The post I linked to above (also here) tells you EXACTLY how I built my lists. If there looks like there is something missing then honestly there isn’t. If it appears that is looks a little chaotic then it was at times, mainly because I was learning as I went along. There really isn’t any big secret or magic and the only 2 ways to build lists are by giving away something for free or selling something.

      I hope this helps and thanks very much for your kind words on SpyBar! If anyone reading this isn’t aware of it already then here’s a link (blatant plug alert!).



  8. John Banks May 11, 2013 at 8:18 pm #

    Hi Rob,

    Great post – I think people should also be wary of the “flogging a dead horse” syndrome – there is no point sending people offer that just don’t convert.

    I have changed my list tactics somewhat over my first year online and now hardly promote at all – but when I do I try to really pick a useful, high converting offer.

    I am always tweaking my autoresponder to try and get the best open rates. One thing I have learned is that my most “active” subscribers are the buyers of my own products. I spent some money on solo ads in the past and rarely get any interaction at all from them.

    Best Regards,

    • Rob May 14, 2013 at 8:18 am #

      Hey John,

      Thanks (as always!) for your input on the 🙂

      Great point on testing – it’s easy to let our opinions drive our actions but testing is the key thing as the market always knows best!

      Cheers – Rob

  9. howard berry May 18, 2013 at 9:36 pm #

    Hi Rob,

    Really good post. I think that everyone who has thought about IM marketing has heard the phrase ” the money is in the list” but until you actually start doing it i don’t think you really appreciate what it is all about. And being in the process of starting my own blog i have yet to find all this out. Hope i can put into practice some of what you teach.



    • Rob May 19, 2013 at 9:37 am #

      Hi Howard,

      I think you’ve made a very good point here – the true power of the list doesn’t reveal itself until you have one!

      Keep taking consistent action though and you’ll discover this for yourself though 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to provide your input 🙂



  10. Kevin May 28, 2013 at 10:13 pm #

    Hi Rob,

    Thanks for posting this no bull post. I have read on many sites that, yes you need to grow your list in order to make money with your online business. They do also talk about squeeze and sales pages. This is something that I have not implemented on my site as yet, but I have decided now that this is the next thing that I need to do. I will be checking out your how to build a list post.

    I appreciate your frank writing style. Thanks again.


    • Rob June 3, 2013 at 8:08 am #

      Hi Kevin,

      Great stuff and thanks for sharing your thoughts on this 🙂

      Good luck implementing your list building. Keep taking consistent action and you’ll start to see the results build up over time. Never a better time to start than right now!



  11. Will November 3, 2015 at 11:20 pm #

    Thanks for the share Rob

    List building really is that one thing online that is not hype.

    I like to look at it as Controlled Traffic.

    Other traffic flows to and away from your site UNTIL you
    build a list with it.

    The money in the list obviously then comes as you build a
    relationship with the list.

    Thanks again

    Will D

    • Rob November 4, 2015 at 8:06 am #

      Spot on Will – very wise words and couldn’t agree more 🙂

      Thanks for taking the time to comment!

      Cheers, Rob

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