You’ve probably heard the “money’s in the list,” and want to start growing your email list right away.
But here’s the catch:
You don’t want to spend weeks — even months — designing your website and writing the copy for it as you wait to grow an email list.
Or maybe you just want to give yourself some time to create your blog content in the background as you watch your email list grow.
I get it:
I’m also pretty impatient.
But I have good news for you:
If you’re wondering how to build an email list without a website, then you’ve come to the right place.
I created this 6-step process you can use to grow your email list before you even launch your blog or website.
It’s super simple:
Keep reading to see how you start growing your email list ASAP starting with a quick primer on list-building.
A Primer On List-Building
Before I get into the checklist, I wanted to outline the basics of list-building for you.
Basically, you need three things to build your email list:
- A lead magnet: what you provide your audience in exchange for their email addresses
- A landing page: the web page your audience “lands” onto where they’ll sign up for your lead magnet
- An email service provider: the platform you use to collect email addresses and send out your lead magnet
Now, here’s how the entire list-building process works:
- Drive traffic to your landing page
- Convert traffic (have people sign up for your lead magnet)
- Repeat steps 1-2!
Here’s a diagram of how all these elements work together:
Now that you get the basics on the list-building process and the key elements to growing a successful email list, you’re ready to jump right into the 6-step method below.
1. Create your lead magnet
What’s a lead magnet?
As the name implies, a lead magnet is something that attracts a lead, or a subscriber, to join your email list.
But here’s the real question:
How do you know what to offer your audience?
What’s a good lead magnet?
Since you don’t have a blog or website yet, you don’t have an idea of who you’re writing for.
If you’re building an email list without a website or before launching your blog, you don’t want to invest your time, energy, and creative brainpower to create a lead magnet nobody wants.
That wouldn’t be a good return on your investment.
So, instead of creating a long email course, challenge, or bulky ebook offer, I suggest you create a checklist.
Chances are, you know quite a bit about the topic you want to blog about.
The lead magnet will be a subsection of that topic and it’ll provide your readers with a lot of value and actionable takeaways.
That’s why checklists convert browsers into subscribers so well: they have high value and actionable takeaways built right into them!
Checklists convert well because they are both actionable and valuable to an email subscriber.
Here’s the general process you can use in creating your checklist lead magnet:
- Find a process, method, or step-by-step guide that people are dying to learn about and implement quickly
- Break this process up into a series of steps
- Outline the look and feel of your lead magnet
- Name your checklist lead magnet
- Design your checklist on a tool like Canva or PicMonkey
Steps 1-3 are relatively easy:
You probably already know what people are dying to learn about in your niche.
You don’t have to over-complicate this process.
Your lead magnet doesn’t have to be longer than a page (depending on the amount of content you have).
And the name for your checklist can follow this format:
[X] Steps to [insert big benefit] for [call out your audience, e.g., marketers, creative biz owners, etc]
When you’re done with this step, you’re ready to set up your email service provider.
2. Set up your email service provider
An email service provider is a software that allows you to capture email addresses, grow your list, and send emails to your subscribers.
I absolutely love ConvertKit — it’s the email service provider I use for all my businesses.
It’s intuitive, easy to use, and has solid deliverability (in other words, I’m never worried if my emails are actually going through).
It also has some important features, like:
- A landing page builder
- An automation tool
- An email sequence builder
Here’s what the sign-up page looks like (you can sign up for your first 14 days for free on ConvertKit here):
Once you create your account, you’ll have to verify it with ConvertKit:
They emphasize that if you don’t have a website, then it’s no biggie.
You’ll just have to provide a description of what you’re planning to blog about.
Once you’ve completed this step, the next step is to build your landing page on ConvertKit.
3. Create your landing page
Remember how I mentioned your landing page is one of the three key ingredients to growing your email list?
The truth is:
Your landing page has a huge impact on whether or not your audience will subscribe to your email list.
For your first landing page, I recommend you have a clean layout, simple design, and direct, no-fluff web copy (the words you use on the landing page to get people to subscribe).
Write a click-worthy headline for your landing page
Did you know that more than 90 percent of visitors who read your headline will also read the offer you make?
That means you should create a stellar headline.
You can use CoSchedule’s free Headline Analyzer tool to see which headlines score the highest.
I have to emphasize this part because, truth be told, most headlines are boring.
They don’t entice me to keep reading at all — even though the whole point of a headline is to get you to keep reading.
If there’s one rule you have to learn about web copy, it’s this:
Keep the person reading!
Set up your landing page on ConvertKit
This is where ConvertKit comes in handy.
They have a built-in landing page builder so you don’t have to worry about doing this on your own (which would require, at the very least, for you to have a website set up).
Click the “Forms” menu item in the top section of the ConvertKit dashboard to get started:
Next, click on “Landing page.”
You’ll end up on a page that looks like this:
ConvertKit gives you some basic layout options for your landing page.
I picked the first one because all the elements were centered and inline with one another.
(I want to make sure the landing page looks good on mobile).
You can start working on your landing page right away:
Here’s a sample of my pretend landing page (my alter-ego is a gardening blogger who lives in a tiny apartment, apparently 😜):
See what I said about the catchy headline?
Try to create a headline that grabs attention and uses “power” words — like “secrets.”
Remember to save your progress by clicking on the “Save” button in the top-right corner of the landing page builder every 10 minutes or so.
(Every 2 minutes if you’re like me who once-upon-a-time had a terrible run-in with Microsoft Word after it crashed and failed to save a 3,000-word essay.)
Also, notice there’s a little space to put a photo:
You can post the pin you’ll create for your lead magnet there (you can finish this once you complete Step 5 later on).
4. Connect your lead magnet to your landing page
So far, you’ve:
- Created an enticing lead magnet
- Set up ConvertKit
- Created a landing page on ConvertKit with punchy web copy
Now, you have to put the puzzle pieces together.
Puzzle pieces = landing page + lead magnet.
You can do this on ConvertKit, too.
Click on “Settings” right from the landing page builder:
Then, click on “Incentive Email” in the left-hand sidebar:
You want to leave the “Send incentive / double opt-in email to confirm new subscribers” checked off.
You can edit the subject line and the body of the email, too.
Under where it says “Thank you page,” make sure to click on “Incentive download.”
This means that after your subscribers confirm their subscription, they’ll be able to download your lead magnet straight away.
Upload your final lead magnet file to where it says “Upload a File.”
Lastly, make sure to click “Save Landing Page” in the bottom-right corner of these settings.
Hint: make sure the name of your file indicates it’s a final version, too; in other words, don’t let your final name be, “draft_500_lm1” because that’s just confusing for your subscriber.
You’re done with the most important technical bits and lead magnet creation!
I don’t want to leave you hanging and wondering how you’ll promote your landing page.
That’s why I outlined below how you can get traffic to your landing page quickly.
5. Create a Pinterest pin for your landing page
Our secret sauce is Pinterest in this traffic strategy.
And they do so to:
All three which imply they are actively looking for solutions and tips that you offer.
Pinterest is a search engine (like Google), so this makes it far easier for you get found by Pinterest users.
You can start with creating a pin for your landing page.
Because Pinterest is a very visual search engine, a high-quality, good-looking pin will attract the right audience to your landing page.
The plus side to Canva is that it’s completely free (but has a really awesome paid Canva for Work plan that offers free stock images, branding toolkits, and free resizing options and more).
The plus side to PicMonkey is that is has a better photo editor (if your blog-to-be is focused on photography and has a large visual element to it, I suggest investing in PicMonkey).
I’ll show you how to create a pin using Canva.
Head over to Canva and create a free account:
Next, on your Canva dashboard, click on “Create a design.”
You’ll end up on a page that looks like this:
Canva already has presets for different graphics and sizes.
Click the Pinterest graphic template.
You’ll see Pinterest templates on the left-hand side that Canva and its users already made for you:
You can go with one of those and modify it.
Here is an example of my own pin for my landing page offer:
(Let me remind you again that this gardening-in-a-crowded-city blog is completely imaginary. 😂)
You can use this Pinterest image for the image slot you saw in the landing page builder form before.
Doing this will make your landing page 10x more attractive because you’ll get people to visualize your offer.
Lastly, here’s some key takeaways on the kind of pins that do well on Pinterest:
- Bright colors
- Warmer colors
- Brighter images (try to avoid dark overlays unless you plan to use it for contrast)
- Taller images (2:3 ratio; don’t worry – this is the built-in ratio in the Pinterest graphic template on Canva)
When you’re done tweaking your pin, you’re ready to move to Step 6 which is all about promoting your pin.
6. Promote your offer on Pinterest
Now that you’ve created your pin, you’ll have to promote it on Pinterest.
Using a personal vs business Pinterest account
If you already have a personal account on Pinterest, you can promote your pin on there.
(Especially if you currently have a larger following on Pinterest, upwards of 10,000 followers or so. Leverage your following and share your pin with that account and don’t start a new account in that case.
You can also turn this personal Pinterest account into a business account, but be warned:
It’s probably best not to share your personal pins here anymore on your business account — you only want pins and content related to your blogging business on here.
(You can pin unrelated pins to secret boards, or have an entirely separate Pinterest account altogether.)
Creating your pin
Once you’ve decided on your Pinterest account, it’s time to set up your pin on Pinterest.
In the top-right on your Pinterest main feed, click on the “+” sign and click on “Create Pin.”
You can drag and drop the pin you created in Step 5 to the left-hand side:
In the Pinterest URL, you’ll copy-paste the URL of your ConvertKit landing page.
You can find the URL of your landing page by heading back to your landing page builder.
Your URL is that entire snippet, minus the “edit” part:
That means after you copy-paste your URL into the pin builder, delete where it says “edit.”
For your pin’s description, add a detailed explanation highlighting the benefits of downloading your lead magnet (e.g., “you’ll learn how to grow a beautiful garden right inside your apartment”).
Finally, click “Done” when everything is ready, and pin it to a board on your Pinterest page.
Promoting your Pinterest pin
When I say “promote,” I really mean “market for free.”
It’s outside the scope of this blog post to teach you how to use Promoted Pins (Pinterest’s paid advertising).
What I can teach you is how you can get traffic to your landing page on Pinterest really easily.
One of the best ways to do this is to join relevant group boards and promote your pins there.
I like to find group boards through Google because I find it easier to do this rather than searching through Pinterest.
Just type in your general topic into Google + the keyword “group board pinterest” and look for a board this way.
Here are some boards that had the word “group board” in them:
Click over to one of the boards:
You know it’s a group board because there will be more than one contributor in it (in this case, there’s around 3K contributors).
You can apply to the group board by contacting the group board organizer, who is always the first person you see in the contributor section of the group board:
Usually, the group board organizer will tell you how you can apply to the group board in the description of the board.
If the group board organizer doesn’t tell you a way, I’d go ahead and message her any way by clicking on the “…” in the top right corner, then “+ New message.”
Search for her Pinterest name, and send her a message complimenting her on the group board and ask if you can contribute!
Hint: Once you’re accepted into several group boards, try not to spam the board with your landing page pin and be respectful of any rules the group board organizer set forth.
I suggest you join 10-15 relevant group boards and start promoting your landing page pin on them daily
You’re bound to get traffic to your landing page and grow your email list using this simple Pinterest promotion method.
Over to you
Congrats, you’ve reached the end of this 6-step checklist on how to build an email list without a website (or blog)!
This is an efficient way to build an email list as you’re getting your blog or website ready before its launch.
Just to recap, these are the steps you completed going through this guide:
- Created your lead magnet
- Set up ConvertKit
- Created a landing page on ConvertKit
- Connected your lead magnet to your landing page on ConvertKit
- Created a pin for your landing page
- Promoted your pin on Pinterest using group boards
I’m excited to see your highly-converting landing pages and pins!
Let me know in the comments below how all of these elements came together for you (and you’re welcome to share what you made, too).
And if you’re ready to finally build a blog that makes money, be sure to sign up for Blogging Biz Bootcamp, my free challenge that’ll take you from “I-have-no-idea-what-to-blog-about” to brainstorming, branding, and launching your profitable blog in just 5 days.
Sign up for Blogging Biz Bootcamp below!