How I Build an Email List of 18,000+ Subscribers Within 13.5 Months (From Scratch)?

Blogging Basics

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“But how did you do it? No one is signing up on my forms. I’m rarely getting one or two subscribers in a day?”, Gourav asked peevishly.

He has been taking a few blogging tips from me for the last two months. In fact, I was the one who motivated him to start blogging.

What are you giving them in return?”, I asked politely.

“I’ll be sending them my weekly newsletter…. I’ll send them the best articles published every week”, Gaurav replied energetically.

Gaurav owns a tech blog where he gives reviews on the latest electronic gadgets and technology. In the last two months, he has written over 40 blog reviews.

“No, I mean what are you giving your subscribers right away when they sign up….

…What you’ll be giving them in the future is of no value to them unless they really get it. As of now, they don’t know how valuable your weekly newsletters can be… What are you giving your potential subscribers instantly- for an exchange of their personal email id?”, I tried to explain the question further.

“Ah… a promised… of useful newsletters in future”, Gaurav smiled awkwardly.

“Haha, but that’s not enough Gaurav!! You need to give your potential subscribers something valuable right away to motivate them to enter their email id in your opt-in form…

…Most people are now habituated to ignore these opt-in forms as they are everywhere. No one bothers to sign up for these forms anymore. Until and unless you give them something of big value for FREE, their reflex will be to close that form.”, I added.

“But I’m giving value to them through my blog posts. I have written so many awesome contents. Why won’t they subscribe then?”. Gaurav replied quickly.

Because they can come back and read your article whenever they want. Why share their personal email information for that?…

…Unless it’s really something ‘that’ valuable, no one will give their precious email id. When was the last time you subscribed for any email list without getting any ‘amazing’ thing for FREE?”

“I signed up on Snapchat for free…” , Gaurav smiled wickedly.

I know why you joined Snapchat, buddy 😀 ….

… anyways, the point is that you should give something valuable to your readers for FREE to get their email id in exchange. Many people also call it a lead magnet or bait. But, don’t mind the term… 

…This FREE valuable thing can be an ebook, checklist, guide, tool-kit, resource list or anything that can be useful to the people. But the bottom line is that it should motivate people enough to give their email id in exchange.”

Finally, after a half an hour of explanation, Gaurav slowly stated grasping the concept that I wanted him to learn. This was something that I learned the hard way. And that’s why I didn’t want Gaurav to repeat the same mistake that I did for a long period of time.

The Shoddy Beginning of My Email List Building:

I started my blog Trade Brains in January 2017. However, until April 2017 I didn’t place any sign-up form on the blog to collect emails. The first time when I placed the opt-in form on my blog was May 2017.

During the start, I placed the sign-up form on my blog just because I read on many marketing websites that every blogger should collect emails. Therefore, I also placed an opt-in form asking for ‘Name’ and ’email-id’ with a sign-up button. I didn’t monitor the number of sign-ups for the next two month. I was happy that I’ve placed the sign-up form on my blog and was dreaming that my list will be built soon.

However, at the end of June 2017, the result was totally different than what I expected. There were less than 200 subscribers, even though my blog was getting a monthly traffic of over 20,000 pageviews per month.

Also read: How I grew my blog from 0 to 133,891 monthly page views within 12 months? [With a Day Job]

How I grew my blog from 0 to 133,891 monthly page views within 10 Months - Trade Brains google analytics

After reading the report, I started learning a lot about how to build a massive email list. I just could not believe that I wasn’t able to convert the majority of my blog traffic into the email subscribers.

And that was really hurting me from inside. At one specific moment of time, I even started considering that my blogs were not good enough and that’s why people are not subscribing to my newsletters. However, the pageview stats were saying a completely different story that my subscribers count.

How I really build my email list of over 18,000+ Subscribers?

I got sincere about building an email list from July 2017. I read over a hundred of famous marketing blogs like QuickSporut, Backlinko, Social Trigger, Shout me loud etc to learn the different strategies and tips to build the list.

And then I learned the beautiful concept of lead magnet…

A lead magnet is an incentive that marketers offer to potential buyers in exchange for their email address, or other contact information. Lead magnets usually offer a piece of digital, downloadable content, such as a free PDF checklist, report, eBook, whitepaper, video, etc.

Source: Digital Marketer

How I created an awesome lead magnet?

I write blogs in investing niche – Stocks market investing and personal finance. And the most valuable topic in this niche is- “How to select stocks to invest for consistent returns?”

Whether you are a beginner or a seasoned investor, this is the topic that will fascinate anyone related to this area. This is the golden question which everyone is looking for.

And I am giving away an 18 page of a comprehensive guide on this topic for FREE on my blog.

I wrote a post of over 4,000+ words, added lots of relevant pictures and converted it into a pdf. It took me around 5 days to write this massive post… And I am giving this pdf to all my subscribers for FREE.

Anyways, those hard work of 5 days- helped me build a huge list of over 18,000+ subscribers and beyond (It is still helping me to build the list bigger).

In short, there’s a very simple formula to build a gigantic email list. Give something really valuable to your subscribers for FREE… in exchange of their email id.

Few Important Guidelines to build a huge email list:

Giving something valuable is just the formula. However, you should also know how to use this formula effectively. Otherwise, if you put the wrong values in any formula, the results will be wrong, won’t they?

Here are few important guidelines to build a huge email list:

1. Add Multiple Opt-in Forms on every page (without any guilt)

opt in form locations

I use three Opt-in forms on every single page of my blog. My main aim is to increase the subscriber list. So, I put it everywhere- shamelessly. Even if a single ‘off-placed’ Opt-in form helps me to get 4 subscribers in a day, I can get around 1500 subscribers from it in a year.

You can’t be both shy and also wish to collect emails automatically. If you want to build a huge list, then you have to ask to give the email id from your readers. Place your Opt-in forms everywhere- Header, Footer, Sidebar, After post etc.

2. The pop-up form works the best

pop up-min

First of all, I would like to mention that Google doesn’t hurt your ranking for using pop-up forms. Many of my articles still rank in the first position and first page of Google for multiple keywords.

Moreover, most people are now used to ads and pop-up. They won’t get annoyed seeing these forms. So, use the pop-ups freely.

Now, I’ve experimented with opt-in forms on headers, sidebars, embedded between articles, footer, scroll bar and a lot of many places. However, the conversion rate (visitors converting into subscribers) of the pop-ups are the best.

That’s why if your main aim is to build a big email list, you should sincerely consider placing a pop-up form on your blog.

Quick Note: If you are feeling a little diffident to show a pop-up just after a person enters your blog, then you can always use the exit pop-ups. These pop-ups only show up when the readers are about to exit (if you move your cursor towards the top of the browser to close the tab, then it will show a pop-up in between). Further, as your readers are already going to exit, what harm can you do by showing a pop-up at that moment? Most of the marketers use exit pop-ups these days. Its conversion rate is high (but not as high as a regular pop-up form).

3. Use opt-in in ‘About’ Page

The people who visit your ‘About’ page are really interested to know more about you. And if they like your story, they will readily become a subscriber. Therefore, always include a sign-up form on the ‘About’ page of your blog.

However, the only problem here is that very fewer people will actually read your about page. If a person is looking for a quick answer on your blog (through a google search), he might not be ready to read your about page.

Nevertheless, for the other population of people who reads your about page, the conversion rate is quite good.

4. Add social proofs

“Join 18,000+ Subscribers” vs “Join our Newsletter”. Which one is more appealing?

The first one, right?

Here, the fact that 18,000+ people have already subscribed to this newsletter, acts as a social proof and makes the people think that it should be really something awesome- that’s why so many people have subscribed for the list.

In short, just add the numbers and it will help you build even a bigger one.

NOTE: Don’t worry if you have just 1,000 subscribers when you start this strategy. Just be honest and write the numbers. Further, it’s good to have some social proof rather than none.

5. Create a FREE eCourse


This is my final tip. Again- here you are going to give a great value to your subscribers. Although it might take you a lot of time to build a good course. However, the conversion rate of email courses is ‘damn’ high.

In my case, I didn’t start the eCourse to build the list. I created the 7-day eCourse with an expectation that people will read the emails every day and if they liked it, they will come back to my website and engage with me if they have queries. Doing so, I wanted to build a trust and relationship with my readers.

But, woohh!! The conversion rate of that free course was really good.

Again, the conclusion is the same… People love getting valuable kinds of stuff for free.

The eCourse helped me a lot in increasing my subscriber count. Further, it also helped me in building a consistency and momentum among my subscribers to frequently refer my blog– which additionally helped in increasing the repeat traffic.


When I first started blogging, I was always astonished while seeing the famous bloggers having 100,000+ subscribers. But now that I have got a successful blog- Trade Brains, I can say that building a massive email list is not that difficult.

A huge newsletter subscriber is a side product of having a successful blog. If you are already getting a good traffic on your blog, it’s not much burdensome to turn them into subscribers- ‘if you know the strategy’. Just add value to your reader’s life and you can easily convert them into your loyal subscribers.

Enough Said! Now you know all my secrets. And it’s your time to act right away- Start building your list. Good luck!!

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