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The Good The Bad & The Ugly of Lists & List Building

These days it doesn’t matter where you go, you always read the same thing, “The Money Is In The List!” Yep, no matter who you talk to they’ll all tell you that the only way to make it online is to have a list. Only the other day I was reading a review that some A Lister did on someone’s blog and he basically told him that he didn’t have a hope in hell of getting anyone to subscribe to his List because he wasn’t offering anything of value that would encourage them to subscribe.

Yep, it seems the only way to suck people into subscribing to your list is to give something away. The problem is that most people haven’t got anything to offer and so they put together some crappy Ebook that promises to reveal their secret to success even though the majority of the time the author is struggling to make a buck himself.

The thing with lists is that just like you need targeted traffic to your blog to increase your chances of a sale, it’s just as important to sign the right kind of people to your list if you expect to sell them anything. Take for example a talented web designer who’s offering free templates to those who subscribe to his list. He may get hundreds of people opting in but he won’t have much success of making a sale if he then tries palming off life insurance. Once he sees that doesn’t work this failed marketer then starts sending out more emails trying to push other affiliates that he’s promoting only to find that instead of making sales his list is actually decreasing.

It’s unfortunate that the ones actually making heaps of money out of lists are the same ones who have attained Pro Blogger status because they have credibility. They will tell you that the only way your going to succeed is if you buy their Ebook, something they offer to you at a price after wetting your appetite with their freebie opt in product, and it’s that very credibility that causes people to buy it. Once they’ve bought it and they find it’s not working for them do you think they will tell others they made a mistake? Nope, instead they rave about how good it is thereby increasing the credibility of the author and hoping to make their own sales as an affiliate.

Keeping this in mind the only real and moral way to make money from a list is to get quality subscribers. This means if you’re going to give them a product, or a teaser that will lead to buying the actual product, it has to be actually worth something to them otherwise they’re not going to buy future products and you’re going to shoot down your credibility all to hell.

Unfortunately this form of list building takes a lot of time and effort to build a sizable list but the positive of this list is that although it’s a lot smaller the potential for conversions is a lot higher.

To summarize, if you’re going to build a list there is one very important thing you should keep in mind…
[list style=warning]

  • Do not go for quantity of subscribers, go for quality because the strength of the list is not in the numbers but in selecting those who are interested in what you are promoting.


In my post Why The List Hater Has His Very Own List I wrote about why I started my own list which was quite a shock for my regular readers as they knew how negative I was about having one. I don’t expect to make any money from this list but I’m hoping it will increase this blogs readership.

So if you want to join a list where you will never be spammed and will only receive an email to your inbox when a new post is published then you should definitely join mine. Subscribe To WassupBlog’s New Posts! Who knows, I may even add something personal about myself in some of those emails. I’ll certainly try to make them entertaining and informative. As an incentive to join I will select some posts from my subscribers and include them in the mail out. As the list grows I believe there will be a great potential to send traffic to my loyal subscribers.

Speaking of link luv and promotion if you have a blog that supports commentluv, keywordluv and is dofollow I suggest you head on over to Kimberly’s post Can You Help Me Find The DoFollows! Leave a comment on her blog telling her that you qualify and she will include you in her post listing all these special blogs.

Those of you who are serious about building quality opt in lists may find some of the following reading material to be quite helpful.

  • List Building Quick Tips – Latest 2010/2011 Version – How To Instantly Triple The Size Of Your Customer Lists Using Opt-Ins
  • Opt-in List Building For Beginners – The Essential Step-By-Step Guide To Building Your Very Own Responsive Opt-In Mailing List!
  • Opt-In List Building for Beginners
  • The Expert Guide To Opt-In List Building

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Peter Pelliccia

I'm an Aussie blogger who loves to blog and share everything that I've learned on my blogging journey, including blogging tips and ways to blog for money. I am also trying to make my way on YouTube. You can follow my progress by subscribing to My Bonzer Channel.

This Post Has 31 Comments

  1. Yup, quality subscribers are what one should go after in list building. I’m no expert in this, as I myself am still aspiring to have one, but I’ve read somewhere (and I think I’m taking that path soon) that the best way to gather quality subscribers is to create a quality product which you could sell for say, $47. But instead of selling it at that price, you offer it to your readers for $1 only. This way, you’ll know that each member of your list is ‘interested‘ and ‘can buy‘. This certainly goes the other way of the usual ‘free offer‘, but I think it makes perfect sense if you’re after razor-sharp-targeted subscribers.

    1. The way I look at it James is that you want to make sure that most of all future products that you’re hoping to sell to the list is somewhat related to the one you used to get them to sign up in the first place. I honestly feel if you can do that then the chance of future sales is greatly enhanced.
      Sire recently posted…There’s More To Helium Than Meets the EyeMy Profile

  2. Excellent points Sire! As a naïve newbie to blogging for bucks I was shocked and dismayed as I learned what you just described above. I’m starting to see more of these sorts of posts (and I have one of my own in draft form now) so I hope that together the honest people will help deter others from falling into that trap.

    Also, I received my first copy of your newsletter; very well done. It is brief enough that I wanted to read it right away instead of filing for later, has several great resource links (just got back from Kim’s) and some useful information. Great job!

    Here’s a question for you. I currently use Feedburner to offer an e-mail notice of new posts, and RSS for readers and home pages. Between them it is almost impossible to know how many subscribers I actually have. (OK, HERE is the question!) Would there be any value in taking those down and using an opt-in mailing list instead?

    1. Thanks Allan and I’m glad you liked the that newsletter.

      As to your question I wouldn’t take the Feedburner or RSS links down at all as it offers your reader a choice, and that is always a good thing. They may not want to opt into you list and if you don’t have any other option for them they’ll leave with nothing.

      Regarding lists, I should have started one ages ago as I can now see some of the advantages. One such advantage is that it’s so easy to monitor who joins and leaves your list as well as seeing how well your newsletters are performing.

    1. How exactly is that done Barbara when most of the time you’ve never seen these people before? That would be a great tip for people starting their lists.

  3. Hi Sire,
    Good points, many people know that they have to offer a freebie to entice people to subscribe so that they can bulk up their list. I don’t think this people think about the quality of what they offer, what kind of subscribers they are getting. They sometimes even offer a ebook about something totally unrelated with their blog.

    The only time I bought something from a sales email, was from someone that I bought something then they had some great new offers, so they send an email to all their customers. It seemed great and I bought it.
    Alex recently posted…Sania pe partieMy Profile

    1. There’s nothing wrong with buying something that you find useful Alex and I’m sure the only reason you found it useful was because it was something you could relate to. if it wasn’t you probably wouldn’t have bought it.

  4. Twitter:
    Well, you know me Sire, I must have my say.

    First, I don’t disagree with the thing about having buyers on the list. What I’ll ask is how you would make a determination as to who’s a buyer and who’s not if they sign up for your list?

    Second, if there was a way to determine it, should people bounce others off the list?

    Third, you should check the first half of your article again; I found at least 3 errors, though I think I was forgiving of a couple along the way. Guess that’s what happens when one gets whupped in chess. lol :king_tb: :innocent1_tb:
    Mitch recently posted…Social Media Marketing Tip For A Small BusinessMy Profile

    1. I suppose there is no way of really knowing until you try. The point I was trying to get across was that if you’re going to offer a freebie it should relate to what you’re going to be selling. I figure that way at least you know they have some interest in it.

  5. This is so true, why would anyone want any simple plain person to subscribe to your email list. Its all about the quality of your subscribers. I did a blog post on how to build a quality email list.

    The money is not in the list, the money is in how beneficial the information you provide to the subscribers of your lists and how it directly impacts what ever it is they use the information supplied to them.

    1. Yes indeed and while it may be harder to build such a list the benefits of having one would make it worth the extra effort.

  6. I agree, I think that you have to actually give value before anyone will want to subscribe. Also, don’t make your potential subscriber fill out more information than necessary, you could be driving away people.

  7. Eastwood and Sire — a couple of handsome icons!!

    I’ll be giving freebie MP3s of my new tunes as they get more together.

    Happy Day.

    Jannie Funster recently posted…Merry Christmas- 2002 and 2010My Profile

    1. Hey Jannie. Hope you had a good Xmas and an even better new year.

      MP3’s of you singing? Now that would be a great incentive.

  8. Makes sense… and agree quality will always beat the quantity!
    I rather have 100 subscribers interested than 10000 ignoring me.

  9. I said the quality is the first, then you can double it by the quantity, it makes sense I think.

  10. People don’t realize that the way these guys are making money is by selling them a product entailing “how to make money” LOL! So your not really learning anything, expect that you just wasted $47 and the best lesson you could learn is just looking at the sales page. Most of these guys never made money before, they are making it when you buy the crappy ebook that says they made money but leads to nowhere! Great post.

    1. Thanks Dan. There may be some good stuff out there, but I think they’re probably more inspirational than instructional. Still, I haven’t found any but I’m sure they have to be there somewhere. :ponder_tb:
      Sire recently posted…Are Your Goals For 2011 AchievableMy Profile

  11. well i think I should have started one ages ago as I can now see some of the advantages. One such advantage is that it’s so easy to monitor who joins and leaves your list as well as seeing how well your newsletters are performing.

  12. Sire,

    So far, i don’t know what to do with my subscribers LOL, except they do receive my post updates..

    Though i am thinking of getting aweber or something, but they are too expensive to me..

    Plus i don’t like the way people recommending me stuff via email, a bit spammy in my opinion, so i won’t do that to my subscribers.

    Kimi recently posted…WordPress random ads plugin rotating wordpress ads widgetMy Profile

    1. That’s the way Kimi, we’ll start a new group if Internet Marketers, one with morals that won’t spam their subscribers. We may not make as much but at least we can go to bed with a clean conscience.

      PS, see my post on MailChimp

  13. I am pretty sure that what you are saying is right, cause I am sure that if your list is not built with conversion rates at the for front, then your just wasting time.


    Patrick Simpson

    1. Yep, if you’re not converting your subscribers there’s no point in having a list.

  14. I’ve jumped on the mailing list ownership wagon too though I’m only sending my blog updates to them for now. No intention whatsoever of spamming them with make money online offers every day. I’m using PHPList for now till I can afford to pay Aweber ;-)

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