How to Build an Email List with Your Blog (A 6-Step Process)

Email is, hands down, the most successful marketing tool that a business can use.

If someone has signed up for your email list, you get to build a relationship with them. And you’re far more likely to close a sale with someone that trusts you.

So if building an email list is so important, how do you do it?

Here’s a proven six-step process that will show you how to build an email list with your blog posts:

1) Create content that people want to read

Do you know what your target audience wants to read? Have you asked them?

At Sweet Fish, we do 2 specific things to get a pulse for what our followers want to read:

a) We send an automated email to every new email subscriber, asking them what aspect of their blog they need the most help with.

How to Build an Email List | Sweet Fish Media

b) We created a one-question survey and several people from our team tweet the link to the survey every couple days (we use Social Oomph to schedule the survey tweets from our team members).

2) Make your email opt-in easy to find

Your email subscription box should be somewhere “above the fold” (before the reader has to scroll down). Your audience shouldn’t have to hunt around your website to find out how to subscribe.

CopyBlogger and Michael Hyatt both do a great job of placing the subscription box in smart places.

Another great way to grow your email list is to put your email opt-in front and center on your website. or even are good examples of how to do this. This method is all about the lead—do you want to know more? Are you “in”?

Notice on both of these sites, the email subscription box is “above the fold.”

Turning Your Blog Posts into Email Collecting Machines: A 6-Step Process | Sweet Fish Media

Here are a few other locations on your website where you should give your visitors an opportunity to opt-in to your email list:

  • The footer of your website
  • Your “About” page (here’s an example)
  • Make signing up for your email list the sole call-to-action on your blog posts

A quick note on designing your email opt-in box: the fewer form fields, the better (this can be applied to your contact page as well)

No one enjoys filling out forms. And if the goal is to get more email subscribers, why do you need their name?

3) Offer “content upgrades” in your blog posts

A content upgrade is a resource that is directly related to a specific piece of content (see #10 from this list).

Here’s an example from Brian Dean at Backlinko:

Turning Your Blog Posts into Email Collecting Machines: A 6-Step Process | Sweet Fish Media

Content upgrades don’t have to take you tons of time to develop.

Instead of thinking that your content upgrade needs to be an in-depth ebook, think of something more simple, like a PDF version of the blog post or a simple checklist.

Here are 11 great examples of content upgrade ideas that you can create in less than 30 minutes.

4) End every post with an opt-in opportunity

Ending every post with a subscription offer is an easy win. Michael Hyatt does a great job with this.

His subscription box is loud—both in color and all caps. He asks, “Like this post?” Then he offers a content upgrade with it.

If you have WordPress, a great free plugin to do this is Optin Forms.

Turning Your Blog Posts into Email Collecting Machines: A 6-Step Process | Sweet Fish Media

5) Use a pop-up

The dreaded pop-up box.

No one liked them in the ’90s, so why are we still doing them? Because they still convert visitors into customers!

The pop-up box is one of the best ways to increase your email subscribers—and fast.


There’s definitely a science to a great pop-up ad. You don’t want it to pop up too soon because then it’s a distraction. Yet, you don’t want it to pop up long after 60 seconds because then there’s a significant loss in conversion rates.

SumoMe has several free tools that allow you to easily create opt-in opportunities. Our favorites are Welcome Mat, List Builder, and Smart Bar — again, these are free…so why not at least try them?

6) Link to other content on your site

Every business should be making an effort to decrease their bounce rate.

Remind your readers of a post that you wrote earlier and keep them on your site as long as you can.

The longer your reader is on your site, the more likely they are to subscribe. This step requires a lot of great content worth reading, which is where we come in.


Don’t let this post overwhelm you…you don’t need to implement every step this afternoon.

But if you start to implement each of the 6 tips above, over the next few weeks you’ll start to see a substantial increase in the size of your email list.

Writing blog posts that convert readers into buyers is really tough. This free 5-part email course makes it way easier.

Katie Allred
Katie teaches grad students how to be social at the University of Florida. She loves the Gospel and curates content as the Web Content Manager at Brentwood Baptist Church. She’s a native Alabamian residing in Nashville, Tennessee.

Posted on July 30, 2015 in Content Marketing, Small Business Tips

Katie Allred

About the Author

Katie teaches grad students how to be social at the University of Florida. She loves the Gospel and curates content as the Web Content Manager at Brentwood Baptist Church. She's a native Alabamian residing in Nashville, Tennessee.

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  • I just started doing #3 and it’s amazing! Thanks for such a great checklist, Katie.

    • Katie Alllred

      Right? I got 40 sign ups in one week after implementing a content upgrade. Would love to hear what you’re offering that’s working!

      • I have a few on my blog already – they are specific to each post and they are all working so far. I’m trying to offer them every other week so it’s not on every post but only the most helpful.

  • Beth

    Awesome tips and a great reminder for me to actually start implementing these!

    • Katie Alllred

      Have you done a content upgrade yet? For me, it was revolutionary!

  • Awesome tips! I see a couple more opportunitues for me here.

    • James Carbary

      Glad this was helpful, Christine!

    • Katie Alllred

      Let me know if you go with any of them!

  • Good suggestions. I’ve implemented some of these because they jive well with my brand – others however, not so much!

    I don’t want to be caught dead with a pop-up on my site.
    I don’t care how well they convert. I don’t care about the numbers. I prefer the engaged subscribers who don’t need to be shoved a pop-up down their throat, but scroll all the way to the end of the post (or sometimes even the website footer) and sign up because they really want to.

    A content upgrade on my top visited post (from Google) did miracles to that post’s conversion rate, though and enabled me to segment a group of subscribers to send them the kind of content they’d probably find the most useful. It’s a great thing to do if you have several distinct target readers, instead of just one.

    • James Carbary

      Hey Nela, try Welcome Mat from for your content upgrades…might help increase conversions even more without implementing a pop up 🙂

      • I checked out Welcome Mat earlier, and while it’s *technically* not a pop-up, it still hides the content below the opt-in screen, which to me is the same thing.

        I had the chance to see the Welcome Mat on other people’s websites and the first time I saw it, it left me a bit disoriented.
        “Wait, wasn’t this supposed to be an article about [topic]? Where is it? Is it behind a pay-wall? Oh, I have to scroll further… hmmm.”

        Thanks for the suggestion, though.

    • Katie Alllred

      I’ve been using Bloom’s locked content feature to deliver my content upgrades. It’s a paid plugin through Elegant Themes. I bought the lifetime deal that was well worth it.

      • Thanks, Katie 🙂 that’s sounds very interesting, I’ll keep in mind to recommend it to others. I personally don’t use WordPress on my own blog, though.

        • Katie Alllred

          Ah, I see! Squarespace?

          • Nope! 🙂
            It’s a CMS guys at my former company developed called Webiny.

  • Janet Hoover

    Great ideas! Love #3. Thanks!

    • James Carbary

      Glad it was helpful, Janet!

    • Katie Alllred

      #3 changed the game for me! Let me know how it goes for you!

  • Sweet strategies! I haven’t tried #3 yet but the rest I’m on top of 🙂

    • James Carbary

      That’s great! Let us know the results you get when you try #3 🙂

    • Katie Alllred

      #3 is gonna be a game changer for you!

  • Jamie Lynn Galley

    What a great list. I don’t even have an email list (It’s been on my list of things to start doing). I know I need to at least set up a subscription box and get going. Pinning this post and definitely going to start implementing over the next few weeks. Thanks.

    • James Carbary

      If you need any help at all getting started, feel free to reach out Jamie! james at sweetfishmedia dot com

    • Katie Alllred

      Start with mailchimp (cause it’s free!), create an email header with Canva (cause it’s free!), and then use something like Optin Cat to create a nice opt in on your sidebar. I do highly recommend creating some type of content upgrade, like a resource list or list of favorite websites related to your niche, to give away.

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