How to grow your email list

By Greg Turnquist

Greg L. Turnquist worked on the Spring team for over thirteen years and is a senior staff technical content engineer at Cockroach Labs. He was the lead for Spring Data JPA and Spring Web Services. He wrote Packt's best-selling title, Learning Spring Boot 2.0 2nd Edition, and its 3rd Edition follow-up along many others.

April 24, 2018

Something I learned about last year, was this thing called “reader magnets”. It was listed at the #1 way to grow your email list. Essentially, people love free stuff, so if you wish to sell books, you need to curate an email list of people that like your work. The easiest way to find such people is to give away a free copy of your work that people can sink their teeth into. I created such a short story last year. The secret sauce in that was to put on Amazon and dial the cost down to $0.00. At the end of the book, you include a link to your website, where they’ll get ANOTHER free ebook if they subscribe.

Well I just dialed it up to CRAZY. By joining BookFunnel, I uploaded the same book and linked it directly to MailChimp. I also signed up for a handful of cross promotions where myself and several other others share a collection of free short stories. What caught me by surprise is when I logged into my wife’s BookFunnel account and configured the same thing for her freebie novella magnet.

I had registered it with a clean historical romance promotion. She posted a link or two sharing the event, and then went to work on some other stuff. Peeking at her email list 7 days later, her eyeballs almost popped out. Almost 400 people had been added to her list!

Reeling from the reaction, we confirmed this promotion event had indeed found a burst of people interested in reading her work and signing up to her email list. So she went and did what she always does and wrote a special “Welcome to my list” email to all those people. And then I asked, “what about NEXT week? And the week after that?” We can’t keep slugging out the greetings all the time. We’ll never keep up.

So I sat down and created an “auto responder”. Essentially, I snagged that email she just published and linked it to an automated workflow that mails it out ANYTIME someone joins her email list. (I already have a similar one in my own). Putting it together took me maybe half an hour. I activate it and immediately found everyone that had joined since she published that email two days ago. Total: 111 people. BOOM! Into the queue. Everyone that joins will receive an automatic greeting, welcoming them into the family.

I remember Sara writing this novella last year. She spent a solid three days of focused writing. It seemed like a big commitment for something you just give away. But now it’s paying off. And it will KEEP paying off. So take this as testimony that if you want to build your email list, the fastest way is to create something free, link it to your list, and then join in a cross promoting effort that is able to reach out to possibly 10s of 1000s of people.

Happy writing!


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