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A Proven Step-By-Step Strategy For Growing Your Email List For Free [Podcast Ep. 2]

By Jessie Festa. This guide to email marketing for bloggers contains affiliate links to trusted partners!

While social media can be helpful for blogging success, nothing is more powerful than list building.

By growing your email with the right people, you can easily nurture your subscribers into raving fans — ones who you can truly help through your content.

With all of that said, building an email list is still one of the strategies many travel bloggers ignore, either because they’re unsure of why they should do it or they don’t understand what steps they need to take to get started.

Luckily, this episode of The Profitable Travel Blogger can help.

Psst – Don’t forget to pin this post for later! 🙂

How to Grow Your Blog Email List - A Free Step by Step Guide

In this episode, you’ll learn:

  • Why growing an email list is vital from bloggers
  • A tactic for growing your list with your *ideal* subscribers
  • A step-by-step strategy for building an email list (for free!)
  • Clever ways to get your subscriber opt-in in front of the right people
  • How you can warm your community members up to want to purchase your products and click your affiliate links
  • And more!

Growing An Email List – Podcast Episode Audio

Listen to the full episode using this embedded player…

…or click the links below to tune in on your preferred audio platform:

Click here to listen on Apple Podcasts/iTunes

Click here to listen on Spotify

Click here to listen on TuneIn

To help you really jumpstart your blogging success, I’ve added 55+ blogging resources like printables, video tutorials and workbooks into a FREE resource library for travel bloggers.


Additionally, you can click here to snag a list of clever opt-in freebie ideas.

Don’t worry:

If you’re not sure what an opt-in freebie is you’ll learn in this episode.


Grow & Monetize An Email List With These Helpful Past Episodes:

How To Grow Your Travel Blogging Income With A Tripwire Funnel

Create A Challenge That Grows Your Email List & Business Income

How To Make Money With Affiliate Marketing As A Travel Blogger

Create A Profitable Automated Email Sequence (With Template!)

How To Create & Monetize A Blog Series

How To Pitch A Brand Collaboration Proposal With Confidence

How To Create A Free Resource Library That Grows Your Email List

How To Write Better Emails With Email Storytelling

Email Marketing Membership

List of inclusions for Liz Wilcox's Email Marketing Membership

If you need help with email marketing, my friend Liz Wilcox, aka the Fresh Princess of Email, runs an amazing Email Marketing Membership – and it’s only $9!

The membership comes with so much to help you save time and gain clarity around email marketing, including:

  • 😍 Weekly newsletter templates and swipe examples delivered straight to your inbox (there are currently over 100 templates inside the membership!)
  • 🙌 Weekly video email mini-trainings on how to use the templates and swipes to build a list of buyers
  • 📈 Larger trainings on things like List Building and more
  • ✨ Monthly Q+A sessions
  • 💪 Quarterly guest experts
  • 💸 Themed templates to help you get clicks, make presales, and even an entire sales launch sequence (one she used to have a 100% conversion rate, btw)

The included templates work for business owners and bloggers trying to sell products, grow website traffic, increase affiliate conversions promote their podcast, get replies and connect with their audience, pre-launch a new offer, and more!

➡️ Click here for full details on the Email Marketing Membership.

growing your email list as a blogger

A Proven Strategy For Growing Your Email List – Episode 2 Transcript

Hey friends! I hope you are doing well.

So right now as I record this episode, Instagram is all the rage.

It’s the number one thing on most bloggers’ minds — and I get it, to an extent.

I am also active on Instagram and it’s really helpful specifically for working with brands; but in my opinion, there is something even more important than social media that you should be focused on because it is extremely powerful for growing your community and taking control over your income as a blogger.

This thing I’m talking about is your email list, and here’s why:

You own your email list.

If your email marketing service goes out of business, you can simply export your list of subscribers and upload it to a new one.

The same is not true with social media as we saw a few years back with Vine.

Now, while it’s unlikely that Facebook or Instagram will go under anytime soon, we’ve all experienced those dreaded algorithm changes.

For example, in 2018 Facebook devalued business pages, making it tougher for bloggers to get seen by page fans with email.

But with email, there’s no worrying about algorithms.

Simply send value-packed emails and use an email marketing service with high deliverability and you’ll get your message seen.

Also, email tends to see higher conversions than social media, meaning in terms of getting your community to click those affiliate links and purchase your products, you’ll likely see more success with email than social media.

This is something important to keep in mind if you want to monetize your email list. Personally, whenever I host a product launch, I always see almost all of my conversions through email.

In fact, according to OptinMonster, email sees, on average, a 6.05% conversion rate versus 1.9% on social.

Finally, almost all internet users have an email account, so if you’re having trouble finding your people on Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, chances are you’ll be able to find them in their inbox.


Okay, you get it. Email is a must and it’s a great tool to grow your blog.

But how do you actually grow an email list?

In this episode, we’ll be diving into an eight-step list-building strategy that won’t cost you a dime, but will get you loads of subscribers.


Let’s dive in.

Step #1 with the strategy is knowing your blog’s mission.

This is an important part of niching down and creating a unique brand identity for your blog.

We dove into this in-depth in the last episode of the podcast, but let me just touch on it quickly here.

Before you can start attracting people onto your email list, you need to know who you’re attracting and why.

This can be boiled down to your blog’s mission and I love using this template — which, again, I mentioned it in the last episode:

“I help [group of people] do [how you help them].”

This template is wildly powerful for helping you gain clarity in your blog and business. It can also help you more easily monetize your blog from day one.

Once you have this fleshed out, you can use it to guide every single piece of content, whether on your blog, social media, Youtube, or your email newsletter, and just keep it all very cohesive. A cohesive content plan means visitors will know exactly what they’ll be getting and why they should stick around.

Of course, this is the simplified version of crafting your blog’s profitable foundation. Go back to that last episode for more information on that, but it’s a really good start to understanding what you truly want to put out there.

For instance, if you say “I help empower females to take their first solo trips” you’ll now have a good idea of what topics you should be covering across your channels.


Step #2: Know how you’ll earn an income.

Now I know a lot of speakers and teachers and coaches leave talking about monetization until the end; however, I think it’s really important to understand in the beginning so that you can really create a business vision for yourself and you’ll know exactly how to get there.

It’s really important for list building, too, because you want to be attracting the right people onto your list, the ones who will purchase your products and take those actions you want them to take.

So let’s just backtrack for a moment with our email marketing for bloggers strategy:

  • In Step #1 you pin down how you can help people and who you can help.
  • Now you want to become clear on how you can further help these people through a paid service, whether it be your own or the product or service of an affiliate partner.

In my opinion, courses make great products for bloggers of all niches, especially because you’re already helping your audience in some way.

Think about it:

If your mission is to help rookie photographers take better travel photos without needing fancy equipment, and you’re consistently sharing juicy posts and social media shares that help fulfill this, wouldn’t it make sense to offer a robust paid course that puts these pieces together?

You’ll be pitching a community who already sees you as an authority on the subject of travel photography and who is already coming to your blog to learn from you about this topic.

So that’s just my two cents.

Personally, I have done really well offering courses, and I know a lot of other bloggers that have, too. So do consider it.


Step #3: Create your content upgrade.

Some people call it an opt-in freebie, some people call it a lead magnet.

We’ll just call it a content upgrade right now.

Okay, so you’ve got your mission that you’re fulfilling by publishing high-quality free content via unique blog ideas, social media shares, and regular emails because you want to stay front of mind for your audience. You want to be regularly emailing them.

Now, you’ve also got your product that you plan to pitch your email list. Maybe you haven’t created it yet, but hopefully, you have an idea of what it might be.

Now we need to close the loop by offering a content upgrade.

This is a free gift you provide your readers and social media followers to entice them to opt into your email list.

Here’s the deal, at least in my opinion:

It’s not enough anymore to say “click here to subscribe for the latest updates”. Instead, you need to give people a reason to subscribe.

You also want to entice the people who would be interested in your product.

So the content upgrade also acts as a primer; it warms your audience up through your content upgrade.

You’re not only getting people on your email list, but you’re helping them right away while growing your authority even further on the topic.

The content upgrade you choose should be something high quality that helps your audience solve a problem while attracting people who’d be interested in your paid product.

So if you need some inspiration, let me just share a few ideas. I’ll also be linking a graphic that has these ideas in the show notes (and here) so that you can easily pin it for later.

Workbooks work great, as do checklists, cheat sheets, training videos, free email courses, mini-courses, resource lists, templates, scripts and swipe copy, webinars and webinar replays, free challenges, stock images, PDFs and printables, bonus strategies.

For instance, if you write a blog post with 10 great strategies, you can tell people, “hey, if you subscribe to my email list, you’ll get three bonus strategies”.

Well, if those first 10 were really good, of course they’ll want the bonus three.

You could also offer a free trial of something. Or, you might learn how to create a resource library.

If you’re writing a content series — for example, three to five posts that teach a strategy — you can tell readers to opt in to be notified when the next publishes.

You could use a case study as your content upgrade.

These are just some ideas that tend to work well.

Pro tip:

You can make money quickly while growing your email list by setting up a tripwire sales funnel, which is a valuable limited-time offer showcased on the opt-in freebie thank you page!


Step #4: You want to create irresistible opt-in graphics.

So once you have your content plan laid out, it’s time to create some gorgeous graphics to attract your readers to click.

They should include vertical Pinterest-optimized graphics as well as inline graphics throughout the post.

For instance:

I invite people into my free profitable blogging e-course, which is one of my content upgrades, by showcasing a graphic that has some images on it and it’s really bright and it says “snag access to my free profitable blogging e-course, click here!” and that image is linked so that when they click the image, they’re taken to the form to opt-in.

Additionally, when I create Pinterest graphics, I’ll create them for my content upgrades. This really should be a part of any Pinterest strategy for bloggers who want to grow their email list.

Or if I’m writing a blog post — say I’m writing a blog post on how to brand your blog for success — and I want to promote my blog branding workbook. I’ll actually put that on the pin that there is a free workbook inside just to make it a little juicier.

By the way:

I use Canva, which is a free tool, to make almost all of my graphics, so definitely check that out if you haven’t yet.


Step #5: Have a way to deliver your content upgrade.

Okay, so you’ve created your snazzy on-brand freebie.

Before you can promote it you need to plan how you’ll deliver it.

Here are a few ideas:

  • You could store the freebie — let’s say it’s a printable of some kind — in Google Drive, and then share the link to the Google Drive page in a welcome email to your new subscriber.
  • You might also create a free resource library that includes various printables to make an even more valuable opt-in freebie for your subscribers. You can provide them the password and link to the library in their welcome email.
  • Another idea: Instead of sending your new subscriber to a thank you page, redirect them to the freebie.
  • You might also include the freebie on the thank you page that they’re taken to.

This is something you’ll just need to pin down before.


Step #6: Promote your content upgrade.

Now there are tons of ways to promote your content upgrade for free. The sky really is the limit.

Here are a few ideas:

  • You can promote it in your social media bios
  • In collaborative Facebook groups where there are self-promotional threads
  • On your homepage menu — above the fold is what I recommend (as in before your reader scrolls) <– Remember, this is really important, so make sure that opt-in freebie is being seen by people who visit your site
  • in a Pinterest pin, like I mentioned
  • On your Facebook page’s cover photo — and make sure in the cover photo description you have a link for them to opt in to grab that content upgrade

Now, like I said, there are so many strategies you could use to promote your content upgrade, and I can’t go over all of them right now, but there is one I want to talk more about, and that is:

Promoting your content upgrade within your content.

Here are some examples of what this might look like:

  • If your content upgrade is a printable cheat sheet for mastering manual camera settings, you could write a blog post on how to master your camera’s manual mode, offering that cheat sheet as a printable the reader can carry around until they get comfortable.
  • Or if you have a more business-centric blog, maybe your freebie is a workbook that helps people craft a brilliant about page for their blog. Publishing a blog post titled “How to craft an irresistible about page” would be sure to attract someone interested in doing just that.
  • Maybe you cover ski travel and your content upgrade is a printable ski travel packing list. You could promote this freebie in all of your ski travel guides.

Keep the above in mind as you fill out your blog content planner.


Step #7: Add an automated opt-in box at the end of your posts.

This is actually another way to promote your opt-in freebie, but it’s really easy and you can automate it.

This functionality might actually be built into your blog’s theme. It’s built into mine, but if not, there’s a free plugin called Magic Action Box that will do the trick.

So basically the person is reading the post, and you won’t have to physically grab a graphic and upload it. Instead. Magic Action Box — or whatever plugin you’re using — will automatically show a box with an image and a call to action.

For example, mine shows a PDF with one of my printables in it so people can see exactly what they’ll get. And it says:

“Do you want to live your best life through travel? Subscribe for free access to my library of fun blogging worksheets and learn how to get paid to travel more.”

Then there is a button that says, “Come join me!”. When they click that they’ll be able to subscribe for access.


Step #8: Promote your content.

So once your post publishes don’t just let it sit there. Promote it. This is important even if you’re not working to grow your email list.

Many bloggers spend a lot of time writing content, and then they don’t spend the time to actually get it out there; but that’s so important.

And I don’t mean just sharing it on social media once and calling it a day.

  • Maybe you create an Instagram story around the post and have people swipe up for the full content. If you don’t have Instagram’s “swipe up” feature, no problem. Simply have people DM (Direct Message) you. This is such a great opportunity to build meaningful connections and really get to know the people who follow you.
  • Create 20 unique tweets with images and schedule them throughout the month.
  • You could take part in collaborative Facebook groups.
  • You can even create your own collaborative group where you share each other’s content.
  • Maybe you craft a high-quality infographic to entice people to pin your post on Pinterest or spend time asking others to post your infographic on their blogs and offer to craft a unique introduction to go along with it.

Here’s another idea:

Add the content upgrade to your top 10 blog posts that are already bringing in traffic. Start there with creating these content upgrades so you know that they’ll get seen.

I also recommend including sources within your post and letting them know they were mentioned, enticing them to share on their channels. I do this for every single brand, blogger, every restaurant, every hotel — basically everyone who is mentioned in my blog posts, they get an email letting them know.

You might also guest post on a blog that has the same target audience as you, and promote your content upgrade within the guest post to leverage their audience.

There are so many ways to promote your content.

If you really want to see results, you’ll want to spend just as much — if not more time — spreading the word about your new post as you did writing it.


Now I hope you enjoyed this strategy, but before I end this episode, I want to leave you with one last vital piece of community-building advice:

Even though what we’re doing here is known as “email marketing,” and deep down your goal is to market and grow your blogging business, I don’t want you to think of list-building as purely transactional.

Instead of using email to broadcast, use it to converse and grow a relationship.

Does forming a true relationship with your community take time?

Yes, but trust me when I say it’s so worth it in terms of downright “this feels darn good”.

You get to know the problems and pain points of your readers to better serve them.

On the blogging business side of things, when you can better help your audience, you make more sales. More sales equals a more sustainable business. And a more sustainable business equals more time and resources to help your audience.

Thus, the cycle continues.

If you run your blogging business using this list building strategy, you’ll truly be able to make a positive impact through your website.

And isn’t that just the best?

Now to prove what I’m saying is true and that you can create an ethical list-building strategy for free that also helps you grow your blog and business, here is a testimonial someone left me recently on Facebook. This person commented on an image I’d shared promoting my free profitable blogging ecourse and it said:

“This blog course is a valuable source for beginners like me. It is intuitive, practical, and fun. Jessie makes her course as simple as possible, yet high level, and I’m learning a lot from her courses.”

Then I said:

“Thank you so much for the kind words”

And this person responded, “Jessie, you have helped me so much to understand blogging and how to get started. Honestly, I had prayed for the right place to find how to begin blogging and then I saw you on Facebook. Your encouragement means a lot to me.”

It is messages like these that truly move me and help remind me of my purpose.


My email marketing efforts help me further fulfill this purpose by nurturing my community — which is especially true if you know what kinds of emails to send.

And let me also just say:

In a lot of my emails, I’ll ask a question and I’ll encourage people to message me back. I’ve been able to form some really genuine relationships with my community, even meeting up at conferences, grabbing a drink, getting to know each other.

It’s really, really incredible and I hope that you don’t pass email marketing up.

Now I hope you enjoyed this episode.

I hope you feel inspired and empowered to go start building and nurturing your own email list.

Don’t forget to grab access to the free travel blogging resource library that I’ve linked here. There are a ton of resources in there on growing your email list.

And of course, make sure to subscribe so you don’t miss future episodes sharing these bite-sized strategies for bloggers who want to turn their blogs into profitable full-time businesses.

Happy blogging!

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Do you have additional tips on growing an email list?


Step by Step Guide to Growing your Email List - for FREE!
Jessie Festa standing in front of grafitti wall

Hi, I’m Jessie on a journey!

I'm a conscious solo traveler on a mission to take you beyond the guidebook to inspire you to live your best life through travel. Come join me!

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  1. Niko on at 7:05 am

    This may be a good strategy. As a part-time blogger it may be too time-consuming. So many things to do but not everything can be implemented. That may be reason why many have not started a post list.