Picture this: I hit publish on a video that told the entire internet at large that I am working on doubling an email subscriber list in 30 days, from 15,000 to 30,000 subscribers.
My hands are a little sweaty, my heart is racing, and I hope I didn’t make a huge faux pas in front of my existing audience by making such a bold goal public.
Today those 30 days are over, and I’m happy to report that although I didn’t reach that audacious list building goal, I did create a lot of positive buzz about my business and brand… and more importantly, my challenge encouraged others to build their lists too!
Now I’m going to share with you the three biggest lessons I learned from issuing this challenge to myself and others who wanted to join me in this list building journey.
1. Setting A List Building Goal Inspires Massive Action
There are different types of motivators that work for different people. For some, just an inner knowing that they want to achieve something is necessary for them to take action and make it happen. For others, no matter how good their intentions are, if they aren’t being held accountable by an outside force, they’ll continue to avoid doing it.
I think audience building is one of those activities in business that tend to take the backseat if your business is already humming along. Maybe you already have a steady stream of new subscribers joining your list on a regular basis, and there are enough items on your todo list as it is… so new list building tasks fall to the wayside.
That’s where setting a list building goal comes in, and you get brownie points for announcing it to the public or to an accountability partner. Even just writing down a goal can be enough to get you to work toward it with renewed enthusiasm.
But don’t let your list building goal force you into such a driven mode that you sacrifice the values of your business.
I love the late martial artist Bruce Lee’s take on goals for perspective:
“A goal is not always meant to be reached, it serves as something to aim for.”
2. Not Every List Building Effort Will Yield Results Immediately, If At All…
When you have a goal to reach, and you set a time limit like 30 days you really need to prioritize what activities you have time to do. One of the things I learned during this challenge is that not all list building activities are made equal: some will give you a quick boost in the short-term, others take longer to show their effects. Still, others might be total flops.
That’s why I believe that having proper metric tracking in place before you undertake a major traffic or list building effort is crucial. If you can’t evaluate how effective each of your list building efforts was, how will you know which ones to repeat in the future and which ones to avoid?
Here are a couple of examples of the different list building activities, and how they panned out:
- A high quality guest post at LifeHack.org about How To Get More Done In A Day: 7 Ideas That Really Work.
This post got a lot of traction on social media and was shared over 620 times as of writing this piece. However, due to the nature of a big site like LifeHack, the post only generated 10 clicks to my website. So although I had high hopes for this avenue, I realized that it’s not the best way to bring people back to my website.
- The 30 Day List Building Challenge contest
The way I organized the contest, participants could gain points by sharing it on social media or having friends sign up. Because of this built-in sharing capability, I was able to reach 40% more people than I would have directly through my social media and subscriber channels.
- Upcoming podcast interviews
One way to reach a new audience is by being a guest on someone else’s podcast or web show, and these shows usually take more than 30 days to go live. So while I was able to secure some spots on a few different online shows, I don’t know how these will impact my list building efforts since they haven’t gone live yet!
3. List Building Is Not A Solo Activity, It Takes a Village
As a work-from-home introvert, I have a preference for focusing on a task and doing it all myself. What I’ve learned through years of audience building is that the nature of the work is not “solo work”. Writing guest posts or coming up with ideas might be things you can do by yourself in your office, but the act of getting these out there takes a village.
The whole concept of building an audience is a social one, so it only makes sense that you’d need to get outside of your comfort zone if you’re an introvert or you sometimes get shy about asking for things. Putting yourself out there means asking to be interviewed, offering a guest post, or connecting with a joint venture partner to host a webinar.
You can’t build a list in a vacuum! Even one of my darling strategies of writing search engine optimized content can’t work in isolation. If your site doesn’t have inbound links or any social love, then it doesn’t matter how perfectly optimized your posts are.
So if you are undertaking a list building effort, know that you’ll need to enlist the help of your friends, peers, and existing fans. It’ll go much better that way, especially if you remember how valuable your know-how and business is to the new people who are about to discover you!
I’d Love To Know Your List Building Lessons…
I know I’m not the only one who has focused on building an audience here, so I’d love to read your lessons learned. Please leave a comment below, and let me know which of these lessons resonated the most with you!