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The Exact System I Used to Build My Email List to 140,000 Subscribers

by | Mar 12, 2023 | Making Money Online

99% of people don’t understand the power of an email list.

They think they need to be a writer or business owner to have one. Wrong. An email list is a place to add people to your community.

Once you have people’s email addresses, you can occasionally email them and say hello.

Whatever your goal is in life, you will need people. Therefore, we all need an email list. Otherwise you’ll be relying on “build it and they will come.”


I recently hit 140,000 email subscribers. Here’s my system you can copy to produce similar results.

The 101 version

I started my email list by writing in online publications.

The first was called Addicted2Success. Then I wrote for Entrepreneur.com later on. At the bottom of each article I was allowed one tiny call-to-action.

I’d mention my email list and tell readers to click.

At the time the chimps at MailChimp provided my email software. Then they banned me for life without telling me why, so I signed up for ConvertKit.

The link I gave readers led to a ConvertKit landing page (one-page website) that gave them my eBook for free in return for their email address.

This is the 101 strategy that requires zero qualifications. Let’s level up.

The biggest traffic driver of all time

I’ve progressed beyond publications now into the permissionless economy.

I don’t beg to be published anymore. I just hit the publish button myself.

The biggest driver of new subscribers to my email list is Sub$tack. This may surprise many people (it’s shocked me). Sub$tack causes 35% of the growth on my email list. They used to only contribute 10% not long ago.

A healthy email list needs a powerful driver of traffic.

The more drivers of traffic the less risk there is that one source dries up and leaves you starving.

The next biggest traffic drivers

LinkedIn has been a huge source of email subscribers for years.

I place links to the email list in my bio, the comments section of every post, and in my LinkedIn featured section.

Some days this can get me as much as 200 subscribers in 24 hours.

After a LinkedIn ban a year ago, I added Twitter to my tech stack. I reset my account and built a new following.

Slowly this has led to even more subscribers. Because I only tweet about one topic, I find the email subscribers I get are much more targeted to my writing academy than other sources.

And 18 months ago I overhauled my personal WordPress website to create a place for readers where I could control the experience end-to-end.

Yesterday I had 100K people visit my website in 24 hours.

The email subscribers I got from it were a nice little boost to my subscriber numbers. About once a month an article on my personal website blows up.

I do zero SEO, so thank you universe 🙂

No one talks about this

All those sources of email subscribers are nice. But not all are even.

Some platforms convert traffic into email subscribers better than others. Sub$tack converts traffic a million times better than anything I’ve seen.

If I throw 100 people at them they’ll convert more than half. On LinkedIn though, I’d convert roughly 20.

So going forward I’m thinking about linking to my Sub$tack newsletter instead of sending people to my website, landing pages, or social media accounts.

What good are 100,000 people reading your article if you can never communicate with them again?

Conversion rates matter more than anything else.

Just ask TikTokers.

Creator Nat Eliason had 10M people watch his TikTok videos and he got 32 email subscribers. LOL. TikTok is a joke with an enormous take-rate that’ll leave you starving and begging for ‘likes’.

The part I overlooked (it’s embarrassing)

My email list system has been incomplete.

For 9 years people joined my email list and got silence. I didn’t tell them a story or welcome them or do … well … anything.

Recently I fixed the problem. I added a welcome sequence with the subject line “Read this if you plan to just steal my free stuff.”

The strategy I’m using is ballsy. I tell new subscribers right upfront to “Smack that unsubscribe button so hard your finger falls off.”

Or there’s a second option which is to read a bit about my story and decide to learn about what I have to teach. I get subscribers all the time who email me and love how bold the welcome email is.

They feel like they know me a little because I share the highs and lows in the first email they get.

I also share some social proof of what people have said about my writing over the years, so they can be confident of who I am and what I can do for them.

Too many creators stuff this up.

They welcome cold leads into their email list and then whack them over the head with “here are some daily ads for ya ass because I gotta make bank dontcha know.”

Selling anything on a welcome email is what amateurs do.

A simple way to triple your email subscriber growth

Dan Koe taught me this.

For over a decade creators have put call-to-actions at the end of their written content because publications forced them to.

When you join the permissionless economy and own your main traffic sources, you can make up new rules. Dan told me to put the CTAs at the start. So I did. 3x more people clicked through to my email list.

Place your CTA at the top of the content. Make it the first thing.

The simple technique to explode your email list

My system for growing my email list is straightforward.

I publish as much content as I can each week on the birdy app, Sub$tack, LinkedIn, on here, and on my personal website. All the content has CTAs on it and links to my email list in my bio.

Then I watch the email subscribers flow through. That’s the secret. The more content you publish the more email subscribers you get.

Consistency rewards creators.

What I’d do if I had more time and wanted to grow to 1M subscribers

140,000 email subscribers is enough for me.

Wait, what?

Yep, I have no desire to grow some huge email list and become a James Clear or a Tim Ferriss. That’ll only lead to fame, and fame is a bloody nightmare. I like my walks through town to be uninterrupted. Being a nobody feels sexy to me, so now I’m out of growth mode.

But if I had the time and desire to be famous then I’d do two things to make my email list grow 10x faster.

  1. Launch a free email course. This is a desirable product subscribers want and it helps strangers get to know you over a series of emails where you teach them something and show a bit of your personality.
  2. A second eBook. I have one free eBook I give away. To grow my email list more I could write another eBook in a different niche such as personal finance. Then I’d have a more specific CTA for my content about money. The more lead magnets the better. It allows you to A/B test what book or email course converts the best.

Final Thought

An email list gives you a path to freedom.

It’s the holy grail of freedom seekers looking to escape the rat race and have something they own.

Building an email list requires no special talent. I mean, look at me. I’m not that smart. So go write free content and link to your email list.

I’m sure it’ll change your life after 12 months of consistency.

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