If you clicked on this link with the burning desire to know how I managed such an amazing feat like doubling my email list in only 14 days, well, you’ve come to the right place. I did it by…
…making you opt-in to secret shit like this.
Okay, hear me out.
We’ve all seen those posts around saying “Grow your list in 30 days”, “Get your first 1000 subscribers now!” and so much more. And you know what? They work, they really do. Creating a free email course WORKS. But where can you find an awesome email course idea, eh?
The method isn’t the problem, it’s the value.
Get ready for some super shocking news: if you combine the methods many of these posts spell out for you with the absolute BEST value you can provide to your audience, then you will be successful.
If you can’t provide any value, everything falls flat.
I know, real groundbreaking shit.
“Provide value. Gee, thanks, Michelle, but how do I do that?” you might ask.
That’s what I’m gonna walk you through today. Not only implementing a quick, easy way to grow your list, but how to provide real, tangible value to your audience, aka provide them what they want!
I doubled my email list in two weeks by creating a free 7-day email course about blog content strategy and planning. This course, to be exact.
Here’s how I created my free email course and marketed it, step by step!
Step 1: The Email Course Idea
Okay, this is the most important step because it’s, uh, kind of the whole thing?
It can be tough to come up with an idea for a free email course, video lesson or other big freebie (otherwise known as a “lead magnet”). I thought about mine for a long time.
The secret to coming up with a good idea? Stick with what you know, and what your readers need help with.
The idea is probably right under your nose.
For me, I love content strategy and writing… which is obviously why I started this blog, to help others with content marketing too. After awhile I realized, oh, I can teach others how to never run out of content ideas, and to effectively plan out a content system so they are never scrambling to get a post done, or wondering what to write about.
Not gonna lie, I have like 147 unfinished drafts laying out in various states of outline, 1st draft, 2nd draft and so on…
But I also have a no-fail system that makes it possible for me to write 2000 word posts in an hour.
So, once I realized that system would be helpful for other bloggers, I decided to create the free email course around that topic.
Still struggling to think of an idea? Download my cheatsheet of 60 amazeballs epic email course ideas for all kinds of blogs right hurr.
Step 2: Plan Out Your Idea
Once I decided on the topic, the first thing I did was create an outline of my free email course. I realized there were 7 things I wanted to teach.
So, it made sense to make it a 7-day email course, duh.
I wrote down the topic of each day (or “chapter”) and then a brief description of what I would cover. Like so:
- Day 1: Why content strategy matters and what it can do for you + how to define your audience.
- Day 2: What does your audience want?
- Day 3: Overall blog content strategy – your categories, topics, pages, offerings.
- Day 4: Set up an editorial calendar.
- Day 5: Brainstorm and fill out the content planner for actual posts, related to Days 2 and 3.
- Day 6: Content time! Homework to create 3 solid, rockstar blog posts.
- Day 7: How to measure results and when to tweak your strategy.
Once you’ve got your basic outline down pat, it’s time to decide on a format. It doesn’t have to be an email course.
You could create a video that’s exclusive to your subscribers only, or an in-depth ebook, or so many other formats. Don’t think you need to do an email course just ’cause everyone else is.
Although, it is ridiculously easy to setup and a fun way to deliver value to your readers!
Step 3: Write/Make Your Thing!
Write it down, make it an ebook, write each email, film your video… whatever kind of format you’re using, make the thing!
It doesn’t need to be perfect. Remember that nothing digital lasts forever.
You can always replace whatever you’re offering with a new and improved version later on. And hey, your subscribers will appreciate that you updated old content to make it fresh again, too.
I like to write all my ideas in Evernote or Google Docs, and then copy them into their final destination later on. I find having the blank page of either of those apps helps me write the best content and get all my ideas out, instead of focusing on how something looks or how to format it.
That’s what editing is for, so make sure to run your thing through a rigorous editing process before moving onto the next step.
So once you’re like 85% happy with it (lol), launch the thing!
Step 4: Launch Your Thing
For my email course, I copied my content that I wrote in a Google Doc to ConvertKit as an email sequence.
If you don’t already know about ConvertKit, it’s email marketing made especially for bloggers. It’s so easy to use to deliver content upgrades, keep track of subscribers and what they’re interested in, and send out quality content-driven emails. I love it!
Some people are put off by the price. I certainly was. If you wanna start small, I recommend Mailerlite or Mailchimp (both free). Then when you’re ready to get serious about blogging, definitely sign up for ConvertKit. That’s what I did and I’m sooo glad.
ANYWAY, back to making a sequence in ConvertKit… (If you use Mailchimp, I believe a similar feature is called Automation.)
Here’s how to do that:
Login to ConvertKit, and click on Sequences in the top menu.
Once you’re on the Sequences page, hit Create Sequence at the top right, pick a name for your Sequence, and then you’ll see this page.
So all that content is there when you make a new sequence, and is designed to help you lay out a traditional sales funnel which is super helpful. I love the tips they write in the content area for you.
But before we get too carried away, let’s set up our free email course…
Click on Settings at the top (just under the main menu).
You have a few options here. You can choose certain days not to send emails out. If you’re doing a 5 day/7 day/whatever day email course, I recommend making sure all the days are checked so your subscribers will get the full course, uninterrupted.
An important item to setup is your email template. You can choose to use your regular one (in that case, click Account Default), or create a new one just for your course. If you want to make a new template, ConvertKit has a great tutorial for that on their website.
Once you’ve got your settings figured out, click Update Sequence at the bottom. Then click Content at the top to go back to the previous screen.
On the Content page, it’s as simple as taking your email course content and pasting it into the Email Content box of each email. Check it over, make sure it looks right – tweak it to add spaces, bolding, whatever you need to do.
Then you have to set your content rules. You can choose to send the first one immediately (as soon as someone signs up) – in which case you want to change “1 day” to “0 days”. I think that’s the best approach because if someone signed up, they probably want to get started right away.
For the following emails, you can choose how many days or hours to space them out. You might want to send an email every day, so to do that just leave the setting as “1 day” for all of them. Or, maybe you want to space it out so the first one gets sent immediately (0 days), the next one gets sent the following day (1 day) and then the third email gets sent four days later (4 day). Up to you!
Once you’re happy with your content pasted in, and the number of days for each email, I recommend sending the whole thing to yourself via email as a test. Click Browser under Preview to view it in a new window, or click Email to send it to yourself. Checking it via email will show it to you just like your subscribers will see it, so that’s the best option.
Also, if at any time you want to save it and come back later, just click Save All at the top. 😉
So you pasted in all your content, set up your email timing settings, and sent a test to yourself? Great! YOU’RE READY TO GO!
To activate the sequence, just change the Status box from Draft to Published for ALL the emails in your series. That’s it! You’re ready to automatically send out your knowledge into the world, on demand… Pretty cool, isn’t it?
Now you gotta get people signed up to your free email course, aka called “launching it”. There’s a lot of hype online about launching and what you need to do, etc. I’m sure those strategies do really help but sometimes just wingin’ it is the best way to go. No stress, no drama, just get your shit out into the world!
If you’re doing an ebook, etc, “launching” can be as simple as adding it to your website as a link to buy it. For the email course route, see below for what I did to launch mine. Remember: don’t overthink it!
Step 5: Market Your Thing
Honestly, I didn’t do much to launch my free course. There’s a lot of hype out there about “launching” and all that jazz, usually for paid products.
I just created this blog post about it, made a Leadpages landing page, and promoted it in my usual ways: Facebook groups and Pinterest, mostly.
I didn’t even send it out to my email list for a few weeks because, I, uh… well, I wasn’t so good at sending things to my list for a long time! Now I do weekly newsletters full of subscriber-only action (seriously, yer missin’ out if you’re not on it) but back then, I was but a wee newb.
Just tell people about your thing.
And, super important? Make it the main call to action on your blog! If you have a snazzy “hero spot” like mine, you can add it there to draw people into your offer as soon as they land on your site.
If you don’t have a big spot like that (or want to leave that for something else), you can also add a snazzy image to your sidebar that directs people either to a landing page to sign up for your free email course (or other thing), or to the blog post you wrote promoting the thing.
Just make sure to add your THING to key areas of your blog… and tell people about it regularly!
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