How I Accumulated 10,000 Email Subscribers in 13.5 Months

When I started this blog back in October of 2008, I had made the newbie mistake of not including a way to accumulate email addresses. No newsletter, no opt-in form – nothing.

Over a year later, I finally got my head on straight and made the decision to invest in an AWeber account and start building my list. (For details about why one should build an email list, I recommend you read this post.)

I went live with my newsletter on January 2nd, 2010.

how to build an email list1 year, 1 month and 14 days later (yesterday), I surpassed 10,000 subscribers – a mark that I never thought I’d reach, at least not this fast.

building an email listPlease realize, however, that 10k is just an arbitrary number. The only difference between 9,999 and 10,000 is the extra digit. But, in the same way a lot of people strive to become a millionaire (are you less accomplished if you have only $999,999?) – it does feel pretty awesome to reach the 10k milestone. A lot of people have way more, but I’m proud of what I’ve accomplished in such a short period of time.

As always, I’m not here to boast. In fact, I try really hard (especially in my monthly income reports) not to come off as cocky or better than anyone else, because I’m not. This site is all about the methods and lessons I’ve learned from my accomplishments (and my failures), so in true SPI fashion, here are some of the unique strategies I’ve used to build my list.

A New Vision for Email Lists

I’m subscribed to almost every internet marketing guru’s email list so that I can learn their marketing techniques first hand. These are professionals who know exactly what to write to get us to open their emails, click on the links inside and potentially earn a commission from us.

So what was the biggest lesson that I learned from these experts?

Getting sold to via email sucks.

The hard sell doesn’t make me like that person any more or want to connect with them any further.

It was because of my dry experience with all of these experts and their emails that I decided to go a totally different route with my email list: no selling.

It’s a simple concept, but for some reason “that’s not how you’re supposed to do it“.

Some people might ask, “Then what’s the point of an email list if you’re not going to use it to sell anything?”

I use my email list like I use social media – a medium to further connect with my readers, followers and subscribers. A place to interact (gasp!) and inform – not a place to promote and sell.

Because of this methodology:

  • My open rates are through the roof since my subscribers know I’m not just trying to sell something.
  • People trust me and my brand more.
  • I have subscribers who are more than happy to spread the word about my newsletter and help grow my list.
  • I have some subscribers who want to pay me for products I haven’t even created yet.

I also use my list as a way to give away awesome, unique content, and occasionally I’ll drive traffic back to my site, which is where any promotions or recommendations for products I’ve used take place. It’s all non-aggressive, non-direct and totally soft sell. For example, I may link to blog posts that relate to the content in the emails that people receive, and within those blog posts I may describe a product or two that I use.

The experts may still find success with their old school methods, but I guarantee I have a list that’s built for the long-run, one that will continue to grow quicker as the hard sell becomes less and less popular both for the expert and for the consumer.

An Unforgettable First Impression

A standard, but powerful technique for increasing the number of subscribers is to offer something for free in return for signing up. Typically, this is something like an eBook, a free report or some type of email course – although it could be anything.

You probably know this already.

That said, not too many people spend enough time on their giveaway because all of the focus is on getting people onto the list, which is, of course, the point of offering the giveaway in the first place.

The Problem

We’re forgetting that when people sign up and get something in return for free, that something is usually the very first thing that they’re going to look at. The followup emails and broadcasts come later.

If the giveaway is anything less than impressive, it weakens all of your interaction with your new subscribers – forever.

If you over-deliver and truly create an unforgettable first impression, you’ll have a long-term subscriber who will be more likely to share your content, help grow your email list and potentially become a customer too.

I spent over 2 months designing eBooks the Smart Way, the eBook that would become my free download for those who signed up for my newsletter. I highlight the word “designing” because that’s exactly what I did. The content was already written, since it came from a popular 10 post series I wrote about publishing an eBook in early 2009.

2 months of work, for a free eBook…but why?!

Because I knew that if I could blow people’s minds with the design and delivery of this content, it could, on it’s own, grow my list, increase overall readership and heighten my authority.

Now, my eBook is constantly being mentioned on other blogs (there are over 2000 instances of the title in Google), people are tweeting and retweeting my landing page, and a few people actually offered to pay me for it.

Here is some actual proof that the time spent creating my eBook was well worth it:

ebooks the smart way comments

Again, remember that your giveaway is one of the first and best opportunities to leave a long lasting, unforgettable impression that could also help exponentially and virally grow your list.

Planting Seeds

sidebar opt in areaThe most common place to accumulate new subscribers is in the sidebar of our blogs. Because the opt-in form is in the sidebar, it’s shown on every single page, so it doesn’t matter what page people are viewing for the first time – there’s always an opportunity to subscribe.

You can do a few things within this area of your blog to slightly increase your conversions:

  • Use colors that stand out and catch people’s attention. I have big green box with a bright red button inside. You can’t really miss it.
  • Include a high-quality graphical representation of your giveaway.
  • Make a piece of your graphic come off the page a little, to give more attention to the area.
  • Use words other than “subscribe” or “submit” inside the button. “Free Instant Access” seems to work best for me, although I’d recommend split testing with other copy such as “Get Your eBook Now!”, or “Try My Course for Free!”, etc.

A lot of people stick to just the sidebar to promote their list, but really you have an endless opportunities to plant seeds in many places that will help grow your list. Here are locations where I do just that:

1. At The End of Each Post – I have a second opt-in area that can be seen at the end of my posts. The idea here is that when people read our content, they scroll down the page and our sidebar opt-in form may disappear (depending on the length of our posts). We definitely want to give our readers an easy, second opportunity to subscribe here because this is after they’ve consumed our content and are most engaged with us.

2. Within Each Comment Form – Using the Subscriber’s Magnet Plugin (which is 30% off until Friday), I’ve enabled a way for people to subscribe to my list when people leave a comment, which is pretty cool. After testing this for several months, it actually does work very well. Over 1000 people have signed up this way.

Of course, if you’re not getting any comments on your blog this particular feature of the plugin won’t do you any good.

Subscribing via Comments3. On My Podcast

One of the best things I ever did to increase my traffic, readership, authority and my email list was start a podcast.

In nearly each session, I mention an easy url that forwards to my landing page here on the blog that describes my eBook, shows a few testimonials and includes an opt-in form.

The “easy url” is key because people are not reading the content – they are listening to it. So, you’ll have to rely on either show notes, or a very memorable url that people can plug into their browsers.

This is why I picked up It’s much more memorable and easier to read than “smart passive income dot com slash ebooks, dash, the, dash, smart, dash, way”.

Every time I mention this url it’s an everlasting seed that can grow into a subscriber from the moment I publish the episode.

4. In YouTube Videos

Same as the podcast, except with video on YouTube.

5. In Guest Posts and Interviews

When submitting guest posts to other bloggers, or if you’re fortunate enough to land an interview (email, audio or video) instead, you’re typically given the opportunity to link back or say the url of your website. If you have an “easy url” that forwards to a landing page that describes your newsletter and giveaway, you will mostly likely be able to drop in that link as well and you’ll get some hardcore targeted traffic going straight to into your list.

You can also promote your list on Facebook and Twitter, and even on articles that you write for article directories too.

Don’t just stick to one method if you really want to grow your list. Diversify, diversify, diversify.

Thanks again to everyone for your support, and a special thank you to those of you who have subscribed to my email list and downloaded eBooks the Smart Way. It really means a lot to me.

All the best to you! Cheers!

  • Glen Allsopp

    Hey Pat,

    Awesome to see another post. Just out of curiosity, are you using this to inflate your Feedburner feed count? I know it’s possible in Aweber. If so / If not, are those 10,000 people getting your post updates?

    Just curious :)

    Keep it up man. We have a bright future ahead!

    • Pat

      Actually nope – you called me out on that before, remember, back when I had started my email list, so I changed it back. I want to keep the two separate, and the only updates the email subscribers get about my posts are the ones I send out manually through broadcasts, which I think has a greater impact since they aren’t regular. The other day I sent a broadcast to a post and it actually killed my site 😛

      I’ve since updgraded my hosting plan and things seem to be much better now.

      Cheers Glen, and seriously I’m really diggin’ the new design. Thanks for the mention in your debut post.

      • Glen Allsopp

        I did? My bad!

        I have 4X as many subscribers as you on Google Reader which is very strange. I guess you have a ton on the Feedburner email list, which I actually think is better. Nice.

        Yeah I remember your downtime issues. Glad you have it sorted.

        And no worries :)

  • Daniel Roach

    Nice job, Pat, that’s a huge success! You’ve got me really interested in trying the Subscribers Magnet Plugin and I’m really blown away by the success of mentioning your newsletter in your podcast, that’s a technique I’m going to have to steal 😉


    • Pat

      Thanks Daniel – the plugin is pretty cool, although I have to admit that’s the only feature (out of the several) that I use. Good luck with your list! Cheers!

      • Hector Cuevas

        I got Subscribers Magnet for the same reason Pat. It’s the only feature I use because the other features, like the popup, sidebar opt-in and the form that shows up after someone leaves a comment, don’t look very nice.. – Plus it might be a little much, don’t you think? :/

    • Veronique

      I must agree with Daniel Roach. I’ve just written a comment and was a bit surprised to be asked whether I wanted to subscribe or not. But I found the Subscriber’s Magnet Plugin very good because I wanted to subscribe long ago but never did. This opt in form within the comment form reminded me of this fact and made the signing up easier, simpler and quicker for me since I just needed to tick a box. I’ll definitely use it for my own niche site as it worked for me as a subscriber. Now I’ve got the hardest task left which is to decide on what to ask people to sign up for. Have a peak at my website and let me know what you would be happy to have for free. This might give me some ideas on what to design. By the way thank you so much Pat for this post, very good and informative as always. Tell me how do you manage to have the opt-in form at the end of your post, the share button and the related posts at the end of each post? Is it another specific widget? Thanks

  • Mark | Wealthy Affiliate Revolution


    Building your email list is something you always mention as “the thing” you wish you did sooner and yet, I still have not done it. I am going to make this a priority. Thanks for cracking the whip!


    • Pat

      No worries Mark – as long as you know what you should be doing and then start taking action! WAAAPISHH!

      • Bolaji O |

        I’ve always wondered how to spell that… (“WAAAPISSH!”)

        Three As, Two Hs.

        Thanks Pat.

  • Tim @ Faith and Finance

    Pat – growing my newsletter is the VERY next thing on my to do list.

    Have you ever put together a post about crafting newsletters? I think you do an awesome job with a few follow-ups that come after you subscribe…it’s something that I hope to imitate. (in fact, I’m writing the newsletter follow up emails this weekend :)


  • Hector Cuevas

    Another awesome post Pat. Congrats on reaching 10K (arbitrary as it may be, it’s a damn cool number) Lol

    I was thinking about redesigning my Smart Blogging Guide to give my subscribers a better experience but I haven’t had much time. (dumb excuse, I know) I’ll be taking some design ideas from this post and your actual ebook – I’m sure you won’t mind :0)

    Keep the great content coming..
    talk to you soon


    • Pat

      No worries Hector – I know what it’s like to have too many ideas and too many things we’d like to do, but little time to do them. I try hard to stay at 4-5 hours a day so I don’t try to abuse the extra time I have, but it’s tough, hehe.

      Cheers dude!

  • Diggy

    Hey Pat,
    Wow, very impressive to see how fast your site has grown.
    I keep referring back to your facebook fan page post when I need to make changes to it:)

    I started building a list about 10 months ago on Aweber and it’s slowly gone from 2 subscribers per day to a regular 15 and on some days even over 100. It’s nice to see that growth.

    Keep it up!

    • Pat

      Haha – yeah I try to stay up to date with Facebook, but it’s hard! They keep changing stuff. At least it keeps me on my toes.

      Great numbers Diggy, keep up the good work. I love to see those days of 100+ subscribers too :)

  • Cory Shanes

    I gotta test how this comment subscription works.

    • Cory Shanes

      Is it the checkbox to subscribe?

      • Pat

        Yup – hehe. I’ll probably get a lot of people “testing” this out today because of my post. It’s just like filling in an opt-in form, except it’s the comment forms and you leave a comment at the same time.

  • Joe

    Congrats on the 10k Pat! Which is more important, getting people to subscribe to your feed or subscribe to your aweber newsletter? Also are you using a plugin to allow the reply to comment options here? Thanks!

    • Pat

      Thanks Joe! Personally, I think both are important for different reasons, but I love the email list because I can take that with me where ever I go. If SPI died for some reason, I’d be able to pick up almost where I left off somewhere else.

      For the reply to comments, this is something that WordPress has built in, I believe, in the newer updates. Check the Settings > Discussion area in your wordpress admin.


      • Joe

        Understood and you are correct about the comments. It is called enable threaded (nested) comments and you can choose how many levels deep. Thanks!

  • remco

    I like your policy of no selling with your follow up emails. These days I’ve been unsubscribing from people like MIke Filsaime, Ryan Deiss becaus it is all affiliate emails you get.
    I realized that Frank Kern, Eben Paegan and Jeff Walker are much more cautious with these kind of emails.

    I’ve been having a problem of setting up my follow up emails. How many emails do you recommend to start with? and with what frequency?

    • Pat

      Thanks Remco – i think a lot of other people feel the exact same way as you.

      I recommend maybe 5 emails to start with, and sending them out once a week. That should give you enough time to create more on the end so that people can continue to go through the sequence. I now have about 25-30 emails that go out once a week, sometimes once ever two weeks.

      Good luck!

  • Onibalusi Bamidele

    Hi Pat,

    This is awesome and I’m really aspiring to be as successful as you; the best way to do this is to learn and implement things learned from you. It’s really awesome to hear that your email list killed your blog…your conversion rate must be awesome.

    I used to use popups to promote my mailing list before but after reading a post by you in which you compared it to advertising to visitors who barely know you I could relate with it and I’m now seeing some improvement in my email open rates and subscriptions without it.

    I will be releasing my free ebook very soon (hopefully before the end of this month) and I’ve spent a lot of effort creating and designing it so I hope it really brings results :)

    Thanks so much for the awesome work you do on this blog, and also for the results that proves it, keep up the great work!


  • Allison


    I lurk a lot here because by the time I get to reading your posts there a bazzilion comments and I get shy.

    I have an email opt in service and work on it often but no subscribers yet, unless you count 2 of my emails, lol.

    Anyway, I am new so I don’t really have content for an ebook just yet. What other offers can I give? I contemplated giving away someone elses ebook or a list to great free ebooks (I love Hector’s and yours). Any tips?

  • Eppie

    Congrats on reaching 10k. Another very timely post for me, as I was just thinking about my list this morning (mine’s only 2k right now). I got an email from a guy who’s list I’m on that stopped me in my tracks and made me realize that I had been neglecting my list lately — I had let other stuff get in the way of communicating with them. Sent out a message this morning and got some great replies from folks. Certainly glad I did it.

    By the way, I’m totally on board with your soft sell approach to your list. I hate it when I get lots of affiliate promotions sent through from lists I subscribe to. Want to make sure my readers never feel that way about me.

    • eric

      Eppie, What do you and Pat want to do with your list if you don’t sell them? Generate a relationship? Not sure I understand. Pat, chime in if you have time…. I guess I wonder what the point is. For instance, what’s the value of quality content reaching your visitors via an email instead of your blog? Thanks for any thoughts guys!

      • Pat

        Yes – exactly. It’s the same reason you may ask what’s the point of having a Facebook Page or a Twitter account. The email is actually the best of all the methods to connect with people because we all know how often we check our emails. Again, if we all just stuck to the blog to deliver content we’d be limiting how much we’re able to connect with people.

        I know once I come out with my own product, and I do announce that on my email list, that email will be read and people will be more than happy to check out what I’ve been working on for X months.

        Check out the part this article that says: “Then what’s the point of an email list if you’re not going to use it to sell anything?”

        Great question Eric.

      • Eppie

        Sometimes I take my list for long walks on the beach. I whisper sweet nothings in its ear, and gently caress it. Seriously, I still use my list to generate income, but I’m cautious about what I promote and how I promote it.

        I’ll give you an example of not “selling” via email but still creating income. Back when Popup Domination was launched, I didn’t promote it right away. I put it on my site and tested the results. When I got good data from it, I wrote a post about my experience showing the stats from my Aweber account. I also extrapolated that growth out over a period of time.

        The email I sent out to my list was about how I had experienced success growing my list with a WordPress plugin that took 5 minutes to install and configure. I gave them real percentages. People clicked through to read about my experience with the plugin. Obviously, most people on my list know I’m going to get an affiliate commission if they buy through me, but they *don’t feel sold to*.

        That’s the kind of “selling” that I think is appropriate. The biggest thing is it’s ethical — I used the product, got real results with it, and shared those results. I didn’t hype the product or beg people to buy it… I just showed them how it worked for me and gave them a link to buy.

        The other thing to consider is that if you use your list as a relationship building tool, you create a greater likelihood that you’ll create a fanatical following. The kind of following where people tell others about you. I’ve got a ways to go before I’m there yet, but when people think of me (and my website), I want them to think, “great guy who provides tons of value.”

  • Marie Williams

    Hi Pat – another excellent post and it definitely got me to subscribe to your newsletter too!

    I just want to comment to say (especially for new readers and people not yet that familiar with you) that you were one of the very few Internet Entrepreneurs that actually bothered to reply to a question I had.

    You took the time to reply when other people just didn’t bother. You even added in a link to a product but not an affiliate link. So, again, you really were not just trying to sell me something!

    That speaks volumes to me. I appreciate that people are busy. But when your whole business is based on making money from people who read your blog – I feel that there is a duty there to connect. As a result, I’m following you. I’m not bothering about the guys who didn’t spare me a minute of their precious time.

    So thank you.

  • Steve-Personal Success Factors

    Pat, I appreciate you leading the way in your niche, and showing us how business can be done in this new wave media. I’m working to put together a higher quality newsletter than I currently have, so I’ll be continuing to read your tips on how you run yours. :)

  • Akil

    Great content on how to build an email list as I needed this and I am also aiming to increase my subscriber to my site. I need to be more focus on what my readers want as I am attracting good page view and visitors daily but unable to get them to opt in. I need to focus on what to give them in return as you stated above.. Funny thing I know all the things I should do and now will put them into action.
    Thanks again Pat.

    This is the reason why I also recommend your site to everyone I speak with in the UK

  • Lukasz

    Good post. Congratulations. Numbers are pretty impressive.

  • Caleb

    Thanks Pat for the last kick in the pants I needed to get my newsletter started. I’m signing up for Aweber tonight…

  • Mike Reeves-McMillan | Living Skillfully

    On Mars Dorian’s suggestion, I split-tested adding an ebook image to my signup box, and it almost doubled my opt-in rate. Well worthwhile.

    Out of interest, if you don’t mind saying, what percentage of visits to your blog result in an opt-in? I’m at around 7% (since adding the ebook image), and was wondering how that compares to others.

  • Rachel @ Pen Meets Wallet

    I have been thinking of creating an e-mail list for a newsletter for a while now, and I am so glad I read this before I started! I do seem to sign up for other email lists when a giveaway is involved, so I’m definitely going to do this! Thanks for all the great ideas as always.

  • Andrea

    Another great post Pat! Thanks!

    Have you tried other WP plugins to Subscribe to Newsletter upon commenting to a post…besides Subscriber’s Magnet? What did you think of them?
    I really want to do this but $97 seems a bit steep for a checkbox….YET, if this is indeed the best/only way, I of course will click-through to give you the affiliate credit. ;o]

    Would love to hear your experience, as I’m sure you’ve researched this.


    • Rich Polanco

      Great job Pat. Little things like that make all the difference.

      Andrea, there is a plugin I use called Qoate Newsletter Sign-Up. It is totally free, however, I had to dig up some technical info from my mail provider to tell Qoate where to send the subscriber info. Took me 10 minutes tops of digging around (don’t like to bother tech support if I don’t have to). They have a webpage that helped to find what I needed. It’s simple and adds the little check-box to subscribe to your comment box.

      Aweber is recommended by everyone because it just plain works. I decided to start with MailChimp because of the great reviews and because it allows you lists of 2,000 subscribers for free. Loving it so far.

      As for Qoate, yes, it is free. But from looking at Pat’s screenshot above, it looks like Subscribe Magnet has way more tracking options and more to offer. Part of Pat’s success is that he tests everything and the reason we rave about him is because he’s upfront about what works.

      Maybe Pat can shed more light on the features that rock.

  • Jacob Sokol

    As always, i dig it dude. Thanx so much for the insights -=)

  • Ann Marie @ CHEESESLAVE


    Someone recommended your blog to me, and she recommended your e-book. I downloaded your e-book, scanned it and was like yeah, OK. Scanned your blog, yeah OK.

    Then she happened to recommend your podcast.

    That was what did it for me. I listened to all your podcasts and BOOM I was hooked.

    I now check your blog and your Facebook — whether or not you email me. I check your blog at least once or twice a week just to see what you are up to.

    I really think podcasts help form a bond that you just can’t accomplish with blogging. I think video works the same. When we develop a relationship with the author, that is what keeps us coming back.

    Thanks, Pat, for everything you do!

  • Jack

    The definition of “a leader” = someone with followers. That is you buddy!

    I fascinated how your soft-sale approach is working so well. I think it actually is raising your authority higher by going against the grain of the mainstream guru bunch because as people turn those 10 to 20 people “off”, they are turning you “on”. I’m betting your list and your guru status shoots like rocket… straight up for the next few years as you capture the authority market share. The caveat, for you, is that it will be a much more loyal following due to your more psychologically pleasing tactics. You ROCK!!

    I just started my first blog a few days ago, I’m so inspired by you, I think I mentioned you in both my first 2 posts….LOL (I will keep the bows to a minimum)

    Like others, I’m gonna try to emmulate your approach as much as I can. In the 2nd post today, I put in my first affiliate link in the body. I also put the text next to link “affiliate link”. That was really hard to do. The salesman in me says DON’T do it, but I’ve that whispering Pat Flynn sound in my ear says DO it….it will pay dividends.

    Anyway, thanks for your great post and the leadership.

  • GZ

    Great Site/Great Post! Just listened to one of your podcasts and was equally impressed! New to passive income but will see you @ the top!

  • Chris Alta

    This is definitely true. I’ve still yet to throw an opt in on my blog since I’m still a newbie and don’t have the finances to create an Aweber account even though it’s only a buck haha I’m that broke. But I’m still writing content and showing appreciate to whomever I can when credit is due.

    I actually just finished the interview with Kute Blackson and after some editing I should have it up in the next day or so, so I’m super excited about that. I wonder how well you would have done if you would have put together your opt in at the beginning? Maybe another 10,000 subscribers?

    That’s great that you don’t SELL in your email. That’s the one thing I can personally say I’ve appreciated about your newsletter. I recently signed up and UNSUBSCRIBED to Trey Smith and Frank Kerns newsletters withing the past week. It’s like every email I get is “Hurry Don’t miss this opportunity!” or “3 hours left until the sale closes!”

    Come on guys give me a break. Although I highly respect these guys I don’t respect there sales pitch on every single email they send’s annoying and really led to me unsubscribing. I don’t want to be spammed and I know no one else does, so why do it?

    How did the Smart Passive Income blog look before you had it redesigned? I’d love to see an old school snap shot! Your green and red opt in box definitely caught my eye, so cheers on that!

    Other than that I’m still working on getting that user friendly appeal and until I have the money to invest I’m going to stick to my guns and just create great content.

    All the best Pat thanks for keeping it transparent and 100% REAL!


    I’m always in the kitchen
    -Chris Alta

    • Eppie


      You can use MailChimp for free for your first 2,000 subscribers. I personally use (and love) aweber, but you can’t really beat MailChimp’s pricing for new accounts. Their user interface is pretty friendly, too. Get started on that list right away, man!

      • Chris Alta

        Eppie I’ll definitely give it a look brotha! A list is definitely critical to building relationships so I really need to start doing that ASAP! Thanks for stopping by the website! I should have that interview with Kute Blackson up today so be sure to give it a look! cheers!

        I”m always in the kitchen
        -Chris Alta

      • marianney | A Life Set Free

        it’s not actually 2000 subscribers, it’s 2000 emails per month. so if you have 2000 subscribers, you can only send 1 email per month. if you only have 100 subscribers, you can send 20 emails per month. just wanted to clarify that.

        • Chris Alta

          way to step up to the plate Marianney!
          Definitely something I didn’t know, thanks!

  • Robert (WebsiteToolTester)

    Hi Pat, excellent post. Thank you. Is there a particular reason why you are only sending out plain text emails and no HTML?

    All the best,

  • Wasim Ismail

    Pat giving something for free to gain readers is great way, such as your e-book, im currently working on my e-book, which will hopefully be launched in the next couple of months.
    Thanks for sharing your tips.

  • mike

    yo, great info and tips as always. i love the design of your site and the book on the right hand side really pops out.

  • Will @ Every Day Seo

    I wonder how many subcsribers you would have if you had started when you started the blog?

  • Colt McCormack

    There may not be any real difference in 9,999 subscribers and 10,000 BUT there is an $80/month difference in Aweber cost for going from 10,000 to 10,001! Which makes me think that it might be advantageous for you to consider running server-side newsletter management software. Pair that with Amazon’s Simple Email Service and you could be sending out all 10,000 emails for less than $2 a pop (provided you are properly linking the images to your CDN rather than as attachments, which would be bad form due to email delivery time and such). You could definitely save a lot per month and all of your links for confirmation and such would be from your own domain rather than aweber’s which, in my opinion, looks more professional. Plus we all know how those little amounts of money each month add up! I would venture that you could save just under $1,500 a year (12 x $120ish) (assuming you send 5 emails a month). Would definitely be worth checking out.

  • Karo Itoje

    Hello Pat,

    This is a very timely post because I have been wondering whether or not to put off my newsletter since the opt – in rate is very low.

    I offer a free e-book that I believe offer real value to my target audience and the newsletter offer unique content different from what is on the website. But I can’t understand why the sign up is very low. The newsletter has been up for some months now and I have only 18 active subscribers.

    I am beginning to wonder if it is worth the time I put into writing the unique monthly content for it. The only reason it is still up is that the back-issues are displayed on my website so they add to the site. But that is not the primary purpose for it. I really want to connect with my audience.

    Anyway, I’ll bookmark this page and when I have some time I’ll work on some of the points you’ve offered.

    • Colt McCormack

      What is your opt-in rate as compared to your traffic? i.e. how many subscribers are you getting for every 1,000/10,000/100,000 viewers? Could it be that your traffic is low and your actual percentage of viewers to subscribers is on target? Looking at your site my biggest recommendation would be to get a new theme! For $30-40 you can get some really nice themes from or or similar sites.

      • Karo Itoje

        Thanks Colt, Yeah a new theme is in the new future plans. About traffic it fluctuates. But usually within 100/day.

        • Colt McCormack

          In the right column you might try combining that nice newsletter graphic that you have with the newsletter signup itself. Right now they are in two separate boxes. I would put the graphic right above the text inside your signup form. A quick SEO sweep of your site noted that you should make sure that you designate your title with h1 tags (so Google knows it is your title) and shorten your meta-description to less than 150 characters (and less than 30 words). You also need to make sure it is keyword rich. Same goes for your content (the keyword rich part). If you aren’t subscribed already I would check out and to read more on SEO optimized articles.

        • Karo Itoje

          Hello Colt, I just want to add that I have changed my site look. Not elegant themes of course because it’s a website. But it’s a CSS based template which is even more cool because the site can now have same styling across pages.

          Like the headline tags and many others. They are now uniform across the site and I believe my pages are good in regards to SEO because I use very good tool to analyze my pages for SEO before building them.

          As for long descriptions, they are within 150 words and I make sure to put the keywords I am targeting in the first line of words. So it doesn’t matter.

          People are really loving the new look!

          Thanks for all your suggestions.

      • eric

        Colt, where’d you get your theme? That is SHARP!

        • Colt McCormack

          It is the Memoir theme from Elegant Themes. It is actually just a placeholder right now as I will be doing a lot of custom theme work. They do have a ton of top-notch designs though and you get unlimited usage to all of them for less than what a single theme would cost from most other sites. I have been really happy with them. You can get unlimited access for $39 (about $.70). I actually do a lot of web design (11 years worth) but just can’t compete with his pricing.

  • Hector Avellaneda

    Hey Pat! As someone who has downloaded and read your “ebookstheSmartWay” ebook, I can say that it is, in fact, one of the best ebooks that I have ever read. In fact, I would go as far as saying that you could very easily publish hard copies and sell them. It’s inspiration, it provides tips and some of your own personal resources to give us your perspective on how an ebook should be written.

    When I do get my ebook out there, your ebook will definitely be referenced over and over again!

  • Samuel

    Awesome post Pat. Love the way you shared your opinion. I hate the way which some internet marketers do use their mailing list. Most of their update is about buying this and that. I’m not saying that using your email list to sell is a bad idea, but you have to add value to your subscribers, connect and engage with them. And don’t plan to rip them off. Thanks so much for sharing.

  • Alan

    Hey Pat,
    Another great post.

    I just signed up to your email list after a couple of months hanging around this blog. I stumbled across it late last year.

    I too am tired of the pushy experts who regularly send out blatant or thinly disguised emails with “buy it now before it’s too late” or “get this widget and make a killing in under 30 seconds” messages. But your freshness, openness and enthusiasm are a real inspiration to me.


    P.S. Take a look at the sidebar opt-in cos I got an invalid account error :(

  • Bill Biko

    It’s great to see your success Pat, I’ve been lurking along watching your success for the last year and love your podcast and most excellent tutorial videos. I continually recommend your people check out your eBook as well. Keep up the success and great work.


  • semmy @ Make Money Online

    Hi Pat another great post!!! Congratulation!! I really love your blog, you always delivers good contents for your blog reader!! Congratulation again!

  • Nick Berggreen

    As always, great stuff Pat. Currently e-mail is the ONLY way readers can subscribe to my site. A little dangerous, but I think it will make an interesting experiment.

  • gina

    wow… great achievement Pat.. How I wish I will be like you soon.

  • efrat

    Awesome post Pat!!!!

  • TariqnShaheera

    Hey Pat,

    Thank you for sharing another great experience here. It has made me more certain with the importance of email list to a blog. It’s also better for us to start it during early days of our blogging business.

    Honestly, I really adore the “no-selling concept” with your email list that has made you’re so good in building relationship with your subscribers. It is such an inspiration to me, thank you for that.

    I first thought of starting the list through my newsletter only, but I totally agree with you that people prefer a giveaway in order to make them keep coming back to our blog as well as recommending it to their blog visitors etc.

    I will definitely practice the above secrets and tips you shared here. They are shared at the right time since I’m publishing my ebook soon on my blog. Look forward to reading more tips and guide from you on other issues.

  • mark

    Hi Pat,

    This is an interesting take on using email lists. I especially appreciate your ideas about making a good first impression & “planting seeds”. It seems like those are often not considered as many marketers seem to just be in a mad rush to get money from people.

    I have not been here for a while & saw a link to this posted by someone today. I am glad I did.

    Have a great day!

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  • Harlan Yee

    Pat, a great timely post for me! This month, I finally started my email list using Aweber. I’ve been working sporadically on my ebook for months and now I offer it as my free giveaway. Since starting the list 3 weeks ago, I have 3 subscribers. It’s small but I have to start somewhere! Just getting into split testing to find out what works best in my opt in form.

    Like you, I’m using the list for mostly information and relationship building but will include some soft sell emails in the mix occassionally since I review as many products as I can get my hands on.

  • John McNally

    Great advice for newbies Pat. Like you I didn’t try and get subscribers for my first 12 months. Then I got disillusioned with email marketing and deleted my opt-in form. Now I’m reinstating the opt in form with a promise of only one email per month, I shall also use your ‘no selling’ promise as well. I feel better already. 😆

    Leamington Spa, England

  • FutureExpat

    Pat, do you promote your rss email opt-in at all? I’m curious about how many people are signed up to receive your post updates as compared with the opt-in, handcrafted messages list.

    • Colt McCormack

      He has 18,212 people subscribed to his RSS feed according to the stats at the top right of the page. This would indicate about 1.75 times as many people using RSS as opposed to email (factoring in some growth in the email list since this posting), although there are probably many people who use both.

      • FutureExpat

        Duh – didn’t even think to look. Thanks Colt for pointing it out. :-)

  • Jim Hopkinson

    Great post Pat. I totally agree on all your techniques, especially the free eBook. I can honestly say I used your eBook as the primary reference for creating my own eBook — and it led to a book deal with a major publisher. Thanks for all your great posts.

  • Raj

    I started an awber account some time back and created a free ebook with in a few days. But it didn’t work much. Now I know why it did not work. I will put more time in it to make the free ebook much better. Thank you very much for the article.


  • Dalas

    Thanks so much for this great post! I have been implementing some of these strategies already, and it’s nice to see someone who has “made it” who is doing the same thing! I also make a habit of subscribing to “guru” newsletters (Yes, I subscribed to yours!) to see how they write copy on their follow-up messages. But I have thus far been quite disappointed with what I have found.

    Most still use the hard sell methods, and even those newsletters that fill their emails with valuable content, only do so in order to reel you in for a hard sell, or they are inconsistent with their content and I never know what to expect. I look forward to reading what you have to say, as it sounds like your newsletter will be a refreshing addition to my inbox each week.

    Also, thanks for the podcast and youtube syndication tips. I have heard them before, and was planning on putting those into practice next week. Knowing that there are other successful bloggers out there doing the same thing is a motivation boost for sure!

  • Jane | Find All Answers

    Hey Pat,

    This is my first visit to your site and I found you through Onibalusi. Great blog you have here.

    I completely agree with your point on over-delivering with the free gift that comes with subscription. After all, first impression makes the best impression.


  • Siew Yik

    Hey, your blog is great. I have just downloaded the ebook and its quite impressive. Keep up the good work!

  • Danny

    Hey Pat,

    Good post, awsome to see that you’ve reached the 10k benchmark in just a little over a year. One little heads up for readers that would like a fancy checkbox like yours at their comment form, i’ve developed a (free) plugin that does this for free. No tracking (yet), but it does the job.

    More info about this plugin can be found here:

    Best of luck to you, Danny.

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  • Marco

    Thank you very much for your help!
    Your blog is a bible for me 😀

  • Gary

    Hi Pat,

    Great Blog btw. I like the way you describe how to make your optin form stand out. Out of interest, I was wondering where you got it designed, as it is a design that i would like to try out on one of my blogs.

    all the best,


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  • Financial Freedom

    i too wasted a lot of time without putting up a lead generator, so many bloggers would do much better to get this up faster than later. Some people put up nothing and that’s the problem.

    10K subscribes in 13.5 months is nothing to sneeze at.

    Dwight Anthony

  • Anton Zaleski

    Hi, I’m first time here and I must say the blog is awesome as much as the article above.
    So nice of you to deliver your knowledge – thx a lot :)

  • ray

    I just hope that this works well as you have been claiming throughout this post. But really not sure about it. The way you explained the working and logic behind is really appreciable. The pictures and examples are also very clear. But I would prefer a demo or a little more research on this before actually switching to it.

  • Sam Clarke

    Hey Pat,

    I finally got my opt-in form up and running today after about 3 months of not having one. I was able to get it free from mailchimp (at least for the first 2k subscribers. Check it out and let me know what you think (visual appeal). I would also love your feedback on my free ebook if you have the time.

    Cheers and keep up the great work!


  • John Banks

    Hi Pat,

    I have been a ‘lurker’ of your site for a few weeks now, and I have to say to get to 10,000 in about a year is awesome! i have just started my blog after dipping my toes in the water for many years, I have decided to go for it this time. I have a long way to go but you have to start somewhere right? As, I look up to my target board in front of me, I see ‘Get 10 Subscribers’ ticked, ‘Get 50 Subscribers’ ticked, ‘Get 300 Subscribers’ not quite ticked….. I like your traffic techniques you mention above – I have found the most value in guest posting so far.


  • Abhik

    I have been reading SPI for a few days and this is my first comment, that too on a very old post.
    Pat, I must say, you have something special in your blog posts and yours is one of very few blogs I have subscribed to.

    I have been actively blogging since last few months and I already managed to get 1K+ subscribers in Aweber. Thanks to you, I might be able to increase the rate.

  • John

    Hi Pat,

    I really appreciate this information. I have not long finished an ‘Internet Incomes Funnelsl course’ with a guy called Rob Cornish. it was a good course over 5 weeks but I am still really struggling to build anything like a list of subscribers.

    This is how my luck goes. I bought a solo ad and got 6 subscribers and no sales at all. I hope things will improve but I find it difficult to keep motivated.

    I have tried lots of lead generation methods, that have failed from the off.
    So I am hoping I can improve things a little from your advice.


  • jwrex

    Are you still using the Subscribers Magnet plugin? Is it still the best 2 years later?

  • jwrex

    Just retesting this Subscribers Magnet plugin with a different email as it didn’t ask me to signup in the post above ^

  • Tanya

    Hi Pat,
    I love your site. Just curious, I set up my aweber and did everything you talked about, free give away/opt-in form, thank you / follow up and am gearing up to send out my first newsletter. Did you let your email list know that they have sign up to your blog separately? If so, how did you do that?

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  • Kim Auclair

    Merci Pat pour ces conseils. Pour le plug-in des commentaires. est-ce que vous l’utilisez toujours ? Je crois que ce n’est pas le cas car vous utilisez maintenant Disqus pour les commentaires. Je me trompe ? Avez-vous une alternative avec Disqus à proposer ?

  • Patrick McNease

    Great method Pat. Thank you.

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