How to Grow Your List for Free

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So you want to grow your list but you’re not willing to throw down any coins? I get it. I had a $200 budget for my first online course and it didn’t last long at all. There were very few free tools when I started out so my budget was totally unrealistic. Once I had bought a course plugin, some stock images and a program to record my power point presentation there was nothing left for list building marketing.

I also feel like I need to fess up to something …

I didn’t understand how important list building was. It was totally lost on me. I cringe when I think about how much bigger my list would be today if I had embraced list building. A bigger list means bigger income so that mistake cost me a lot!

So how do you start building your list without spending a money? There are a number of different ways, I have listed out my favourites below. 

Lead Page

A lead page is a simple opt-in page that has a great free offer. Don’t wait until your course is ready to go before you do this. In Create Your First Online Course I teach members how to put this together before they have even started writing their course content together.

The beauty of a lead page is that it is distraction free. Don’t be tempted to link to other content like blogs. A good lead page is designed to convert not to educate. 

Don’t rush the design and make sure you take the time to measure and track your results so you can make adjustments as needed. A good lead page will help grow your list day in and day out for years!

how to create a lead page for your free lead magnet how to build your list business coach for women

This is my highest converting page. It took a good few months of tweaking to improve results but now it works like a charm!

Website Opt-In Boxes

When visitors land on your website you want to make it super easy for them to join your list. Make sure there are several places to capture email addresses. This can be in your header, sidebar and throughout your blog content. 

Before you go crazy adding opt in boxes you need to ensure they add value for your visitors. No one want to “join your newsletter list” so you can dump who knows what into their inbox each week. I see this mistake all the time, especially when people use the template their website or email provider gives them. 

Check out the two examples below of opt in boxes. Which would you be most likely to hand your precious email address over to? The one that gives zero indication of what is to come or the one that instantly adds value by giving you something awesome in exchange for your email address. One says “let me give you something great that will help you, just enter your detail so I can send it” the other says “give me your details so I can send you crap”. 

How to build your email list for free example of what to do and what not to do

 Podcast Interviews

Check out all the amazing podcasts there are available now. It is a great way to start the know, like and trust process with your potential customers. There is something very powerful about hearing someone speak about their chosen topic.

There are podcasts for the most random topics so you should find something that suits your market. If you’re not sure where to start Google your competitor’s name + podcast to see where they have been interviewed or Google someone you admire who has a similar target market + podcast.

When you find a list of podcasts to approach make sure you keep a detailed list so you can follow up. I was given the advice to follow up at least 3 times. More popular podcasts get a massive number of requests so they may miss your first few contact attempts. Remember too that podcasts are often looking for unique stories so you don’t need to be an expert before you start reaching out. 


podcast interviews to drive traffic to your opt in for your online course launch

Podcast interviews are fantastic for showing off your expertise and allowing potential customers to connect with your unique story

Guest Blogging

Contact influencers who have a similar or the same market but a different product or service and offer to do a blog swap or ask to be featured on their blog.

Make sure you offer up your absolute best content to full of awesome tips and hints. You should be providing out of this world value or chances are your blog post won’t see light of day. Choose a topic that you know will be of great interest and make sure you promote via your own list and social media channels. 


Unlike Facebook and Instagram which are social networks, Pinterest is a search platform. You might not have thought about it that way but Pinterest is the second largest search engine that Google doesn’t own.

Get a good strategy in place and start pinning regularly. I have never paid much attention to Pinterest but thought I would add it to my list building strategy. In just a few months I saw an increase in traffic. Pinterest has a strategy of its very own and like any platform you need to be committed to consistency before you will see results. This is a long term strategy, not a short win!  

how to use pinterest to build your list for your ecourse launch

Pinterest is a very new traffic driving source for me but so far... I am LOVING the results!

Facebook Groups

You can begin to grow your own group or you can participate in groups where your target market hangs out. Keep a list and note the dates that you’re allowed to post links to your offers and content. Be respectful of the group rules, I am ruthless with rule breakers in my group!

If you intend on building your own Facebook group remember that you need to include it in your marketing funnel and you will have to spend time managing and growing your group. I see many women create large thriving groups that they’re too scared to sell in. If you’re not going to use the group as part of your marketing and sales strategy then you need to be prepared to spend a lot of time and effort for no return. 

Content Upgrades

Writing a killer blog post full of awesome actionable pointers will give your potential subscribers a taste of how fabulous you are. If you blow their mind with free blog content and downloadables they won’t question if your paid products or service will be of value. Offer them a content upgrade in your blog post so they can download a piece of content like a workbook, checklist, tools list etc..

two step opt in process for building your list for your ecourse launch

What about Facebook Pages and Instagram?

Yes, you can drive traffic from both platforms back to your lead page or content upgrade. The problem is most people don’t have huge followings when they start out so they don’t get a lot of traction.

Business owners, particularly online business owners, have become very marketing-lazy. Posting a few times a day on a platform with a few hundred or thousand followers will help you grow your list but it will be very slow. These are now pay-to-play platforms. If you want your posts to make a real impact on your list building you will need to pay up for some ads!


So we are getting a little technical here but this is an awesome way to grow your list by investing in paid ads then offering a quick super high-value offer straight away. The idea is that you run ads to send people to a super-blog (this ain’t no everyday blog, it is FULL of awesome free content). Once people click over to the blog they see your amazing free content upgrade and enter their details. They hit a thank page with a low price point offer ($7 – $37) available only for a short period of time.

If you have a $27 offer and 5% of people take up the offer you can spend $1.35 per lead. That means you add 100 people to your list but it costs you nothing unless your ad costs go over $1.35 per lead.

Finally… Spend some money!

I know this blog is about free list building but I don’t want you to be scared about making an investment in your marketing.

I get a really good return on my ad investment so I have no problems spending $500 to $1000 on a campaign. I make 3 to 6 times my ad spend. Don’t rely on free marketing just because it is free! It might take you years to reach your goals when a small investment each month could get you there much faster. This is especially important if you don’t have a huge amount of time.

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