Grow Your Email List from 1 to 101

July 7, 2020  •  Marketing Strategy

Building a loyal email subscriber list is crucial to the success of your platform. The only problem is, when you’re getting started, that list is quite small. It may even be empty.

How do you spread the word when no one is listening?

Is This Thing On?

When you work hard at something, only to be ignored, the discouragement can be overwhelming. But this is not a unique position. Not by a mile.

In 1990, a Scottish woman jotted down an idea for a book while sitting on a delayed train to London. For five years she struggled to complete the manuscript, enduring the loss of her mother, the birth of a child, divorce, poverty, and mental health struggles. In a desperate financial state, she pitched her book to publisher after publisher in search of a break.

Twelve publishers passed on the book. One dozen rejections.

Finally, the 13th publisher agreed. They printed just 1,000 copies, but that was all it took. The awards began rolling in, and soon, her book about a boy’s first year at a school for wizards and witches became a series—the best-selling book series in history. J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books have propelled the author to become the world’s first billionaire author.

Rowling’s story teaches us the importance of pushing through the discouragement. To keep creating (or building or preparing), even when no one is paying attention. This will only add depth and skill to your work, which will only benefit your platform as it grows. 

This story also reminds us that we have to work hard at getting our work noticed. This is especially true for you as you build your all-important email subscriber list.

Pick Up the Phone. Literally.

Building your email subscriber list can be deeply discouraging. After all, you’re creating and publishing content, but for who? With no subscribers, who is reading? The list is so difficult to build because you do not yet have the online word-of-mouth to point people to your website.

But the good news is, you don’t need it. In fact, we’re going to show you how to add 100 people to your list the old-fashioned way. We recommend you pick up the phone.

When you’re just getting started, momentum is critical. You need to collect a group of highly engaged email subscribers and get your first 100 subscribers right away. 100 isn’t a magic number, but it is a good one. You could tell a group of ten people the same things you’d write in a blog post, but it’s rare you get an audience of 100 or more.

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Yes, you need some kind of opt-in form on your website but your first 100 subscribers can come quickly if you get right to the work by picking up the phone to contact people the old-fashioned way.

Here’s are four simple steps to get your first 100 email subscribers:

  1. Make a list of 10 people who you know would be interested in what you’re writing, no matter what niche you wrote about.
  2. Add to that list 10 people who you know are working in the same industry or following the topic you cover.
  3. Text, call, or email each of those people individually. Let them know what you’re creating, and ask if they would like you to follow along with email updates.
  4. Once you’ve finished that list, repeat steps 1 – 3.

Start with people who want to see you succeed and will cheer you on (or hit share). After that, you should be reaching out to people in your industry directly. You may have a list of clients, colleagues, or other contacts who would be interested in your content. If not, there are plenty of people out there—you just have to find them and reach out to them, where they already live online. You’ll have 100 names in no time.

About John Meese

John Meese is the author of the #1 bestseller Survive and Thrive: How to Build a Profitable Business in Any Economy (Including This One). An entrepreneur himself, John is on a mission to eradicate generational poverty by equipping entrepreneurs with the tools and training they need to build thriving businesses from scratch. He is the founder of Cowork Columbia, co-founder of Notable, and regularly publishes interviews and insight at