“How big is Talking Shrimp’s email list?”
Oh my, aren’t you forward! That’s quite the personal question. When you ask, what you’re probably also wondering is:
“What’s a good email list size?”
I’m happy to answer both questions, the best I can.
So, not to brag, but around town, I’m kinda known for my list size.
That is, my relatively small list size. People point and say, “It’s so tiny!”
They’re not being rude, they’re impressed. Because my little list is also mighty.
My Shrimpers? They are engaged. And they invest in themselves (that’s self-development/coach-y-pants speak for “they buy”). They’re mostly what you’d call “organic leads” because very few of them came through ads.
Not only that, but their numbers have grown by a lot in the past few years. In fact, close to tripled! By 2019, I had not a huge list, but a true Million-Dollar List.
What’s a Million-Dollar List and how do you get one???
It’s a list that generates a million dollars in sales. In other words, a list of subscribers who, cumulatively, spend a million dollars on your offers. That’s what happened in 2019 and again in 2020.
How did I get there? Let’s go back.
How do you go from zero subscribers to a million dollar list?
Everyone starts at 1 (zero + Mom). I got my first few hundred subscribers from people visiting my website and signing up for my one freebie (the same 5 Secrets to Non-Sucky Copy that’s there now. A classic.)
For years, I was under 1,000 subscribers. I was terrible about driving more people to my opt-in, because the benefits of a list were still abstract to me. Other than my services, which I only mentioned occasionally because I was booked enough through word of mouth and had TV clients to juggle, I didn’t have anything to sell in those emails.
…That is, until I tried my hand at being an affiliate. With a handful of emails, I was able to make over $20k in commissions the first time I even tried. So this was the magic everyone talked about! The magic of email.
I wanted more people to email.
In 2015, I got a sweet boost from one source, which I’ll mention in my list of list-building strategies below.
I started putting more energy into building my list, and went from over 4k Shrimpers in 2016 to nearly 13k at the end of 2019, to 20k+ as of January 2021.
So, they might seem like a tiny list to the million-subscriber big Kahunas in the marketing space….
…But I think the average person starting a business would say:
“Wow, how’d you grow your list? What should I do to grow my list?”
And to that question, first, I say…
Here’s what’s worked for Talking Shrimp
1 – Use Calls To Action (CTAs) on social
I use frequent (if not constant) CTAs in my Instagram captions (posted automatically to FB) to sign up for my freebie or my emails.
2 – Put opt-ins all over your site
3 – Make visibility a priority
I do this by:
- Going on podcasts and always offering a gift – usually, the link to my non-sucky subject lines freebie
- Guest posting in big publications, especially ones that allow a shirttail bio with a link (Business Insider)
- Speaking on stages (when there are actual stages) and offering a link to my opt-in at the end
- Guest teaching in OPP (Other People’s Programs) – I regularly agree to be a featured speaker in various friends’ masterclasses. I always offer a “gift” (my opt-in), and encourage people to story it.
*If you want more visibility opportunities like these, consider joining my friend Selena Soo’s Impacting Millions program when it opens. Get notified when it opens by grabbing her free 2021 Publicity calendar now.
4 – Use the “headline” feature in your Linkedin bio
Mine says: “I write the only emails anyone opens anymore.” People sign up to see if it’s true. (It is.)
5 – Give great testimonials
Fun fact: When my friend Marie Forleo first asked me for a testimonial for her site, I demurred. I was afraid TV clients would see me on a coach-y site and think it was weird. When I came to my senses and did give her a testimonial, later, I got found by so many people. For years. Lesson: Give testimonials to people you’ve worked with, especially mentors. Those aren’t usually linked, but people look you up. When you offer a testimonial, make sure you include your title (what you want to be called). Otherwise, they’ll just put your name.
6 – Offer multiple lead magnets (opt-in freebies)
I could do a lot more of this. This post you’re reading could be a lead magnet. I’d probably soup it up, make it into a pdf with nice Talking Shrimp-branded graphics.
7 – Put a signup button in your newsletter emails.
I only recently put a signup button in my own emails. Mine is like so:
8 – Have a featured landing page for your lead magnet or just your emails.
I have a featured landing page for just my emails, with tons of social proof about how good they are. (Seriously, have you not signed up yet? Go here and you’ll be convinced.)
9 – Use “gated content” (use a blog post to tease more information that they have to opt in for)
Try writing the occasional “epic” blog post that becomes a super-resource, full of ways to sign up for my list. This one, on writing emails that sell, is my cornerstone content.
10 – Partner with badasses
I partnered with indisputable badass Marie Forleo to create our course The Copy Cure. That course has brought me a vast portion of the exposure I get – both because Marie’s platform is monstrous and because the course is incredible. Get on the interest list for The Copy Cure here. (Partnering with a juggernaut like Marie isn’t an easy opportunity to come by, but make connections and they’ll pay off. If you admire someone and want to learn from them, join their programs, participate actively, help other people generously, and you’ll be noticed.)
11 – Create free, ungated content full of links to sign up for your stuff.
Yes, this post could be accessible only as an opt-in, but then it wouldn’t get found by google. It’s free information, but don’t you want to click the links and sign up anyway? Here’s another: CLICK HERE TO SIGN UP AND BECOME A SHRIMPER
12 – Put your newsletter in your email signature
I have a line at the bottom of my personal email signature like so:
13 – Create a roundup featuring other people
I did this for the first time with my “Shrimpmukkah” post featuring freebies from Shrimpers in my mastermind, Shrimp Club. I didn’t even have to ask them to share it. They shared it everywhere. It was a win-win-win-win-win to the nth degree. (Shrimp power!)
What else I could be doing:
- Giving testimonials and submitting my site as a case study to apps and platforms I use and love, like Convertkit (for emails to my list) and Kajabi (for digital courses). These two are affiliate links. If you sign up for either, I get a commission! Win-win.
- Pitching articles more regularly
- Paid ads. I’ve dabbled, but not to great effect. I have a weird block about these, always have. Part of it is pride in my organic list. And fear that the people I attract through ads will suck. That’s my own cuckoo thinking. For my therapist.
- A quiz! Haven’t done one of these, have considered it. I haven’t landed on what the quiz would be about. Or tried that hard to. But I’m not opposed.
- Webinars. Free live or recorded video trainings are a great lead magnet. Most marketers use them to pitch something, usually something big, at the end. But you can use them to get people on your list. Why not?
- Pinterest, Youtube. These are both search engines, great places to be posting regular content that drives traffic back to your site. Some people are everywhere and do it all. Me, I have Real Housewives episodes to watch. Gotta draw the line somewhere. But never say never!
- Run a free summit, drawing on the star power and promotional efforts of your guests. This can get thousands of opt-ins in one go.
- Start a free Facebook group where the questions to join include, “What’s your email? (Providing this gives me permission to subscribe you to my mailing list and contact you)”
Before signing off, let me tell you how NOT to build your list:
By adding people to your list without their permission. They must, by law, “opt in” to hear from you if you’re sending to a list of people. It’s one thing to add a few (true) friends to a brand new newsletter and explain that you’ve done that, and that they can hit unsubscribe any time. But please don’t import your list of contacts into an email service provider and start sending them your marketing emails. That’s called spam.
SO: Which of the above list-building strategies could you start doing right away?
And, what’s worked for you? What did I leave out?
Comment below. Or, if you’re shy, write back to any one of my emails. If you don’t know where to write me back, it’s because you’re not on my email list. And if you’re not on my email list, WHAT ARE YOU DOING WITH YOUR LIFE?