Solidifying your audience through email
An email list is key to owning your relationship with your audience. In Chapter 11, you’ll learn how to make signing up for your email list a no-brainer.
What if you could always communicate with your audience regardless of which platform you're on? Building an email list is a great way to own your audience and secure your access to them long into the future.
What does it mean to “own your audience”?
Most creators grow their audience on social media because it's where the people are. It's also somewhat risky because social media platforms aren't always predictable or reliable.
“I had seen people on social media who had lost their accounts before. It happens like every year, I’ll know someone or see an acquaintance that loses their social media for some weird reason.
So I’ve kept email in mind from the beginning. You have to own your audience because you can’t rely on any of these social media companies to do anything in your best interest unless you’re paying for it. Because otherwise, you’re the product. Email’s always been the focus because I can’t rely on algorithms.
I remember when reels came out, all the grid posts went away, and that’s what I primarily do. I thought, ‘Well, I’m actually not ready for reels, so I guess social media is not really in my forte anymore,’ and I just stopped.
I refocused all that energy that I would do on social to my newsletter because that’s what I can control. I can control what the newsletter looks like, the branding, and how I write it. I can learn more about copywriting and reach followers directly.
There are tools to make sure I resend messages to people who don’t open the email. I can track people that open the most and send them a special message. I like that email has the most control with analytics so you can understand the customer more than on social media.”
Artist Emily Mills is highlighting some important things to keep in mind when building an audience. Social media platforms change their terms of service, update their algorithms, evolve to favor certain mediums over others, go offline and, on rare occasions, disappear for good. If you grow your audience in one of these places, there’s no guarantee that you’ll have the same access to them tomorrow as you have today.
In Emily’s quote, she used the phrase “own your audience.”
Owning your audience means having the ability to reach the audience you’ve built no matter what happens to a given platform and being able to take that audience with you wherever you go.
An email newsletter is the best way to own your audience.
So when should you start building your email list?
When you have a hundred followers?
A hundred thousand?
None of the above?
The correct answer is “D” none of the above. It’s never too early to start building your list, but don’t just take it from me. Here’s what Em Connors has to say:
“I signed up for Amy Porterfield’s course about how to make an online course. Right off the bat, she started saying, ‘You need an email list. You need an email list.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, geez. I don’t have an email list.’ Every podcast, every marketing guru was like, ‘Email list, email list.’
I figured there was clearly something to this. Plus I have seen friends’ and creators’ Instagram accounts disappear, get hacked, and get ransomed. It’s the wild, wild west out there. I knew that it was really important for me to tap into that email list and start collecting emails off the bat.”
Starting an email list isn’t just about avoiding some of the negative aspects of social media. Your email newsletter gives you the ability to connect with your audience in ways that social media falls short.
Your audience is more likely to see your email newsletter
Here are some surprising ways an email newsletter can enhance your relationship with your audience.
“Half of my people want to hear from me, they’re opening most of my emails. I can’t say that about social media. When I post, I don’t know if they’re going to see it. I don’t know who’s going to see it. I don’t know if they’re going to care.
Also, Facebook can go down. Instagram can stop working. What was cool today, TikTok or something, won’t be tomorrow. But guess what? For the foreseeable future, people are going to use email.
They need a way to communicate, right? And they’re going to have their email address. And most of us like to hold onto our email address, like our phone number. We keep that for a long time.”
Becky Mollenkamp shares two key insights here:
First, content shared in an email newsletter reaches a larger percentage of your audience than sharing it on social media. Because email isn’t affected by algorithm changes and doesn’t rank content based on what’s good for the platform, you have the same chance of reaching your audience every time.
Second, people typically hold on to their email addresses for a long time, even as new platforms come and go. Once someone gives you access to their inbox, unless they unsubscribe, they can be with you for the long haul.
This is something Podia creator Casey Richardson recognized when she was first starting as a creator:
“On Instagram, to be honest, you don’t own the relationship. You don’t know what their email address is and if their handle changes, you better hope you know what the handle is. I wanted to build an email list to own these relationships and get in front of them often to build brand awareness and trust.”
Your audience is also more likely to engage with your emails–and purchase your products
Your newsletter subscribers aren’t only more likely to see your content. According to Emily Mills, they’re also more likely to engage with your content.
“Email is the main way that I communicate with people because that’s where my largest responsive audience is. I have more followers on Instagram, but just because you have a bunch of followers doesn’t mean that they actually engage with you. My email list is highly engaged, and so that’s my number one method of communicating with people.”
Newsletter subscribers can also be more likely than social media followers to purchase from you because email newsletters make it easy for your audience to get to know and trust you.
“I curse in my email sometimes. I’ve had a few people say it’s unprofessional. I say, ‘The unsubscribe button’s right below,’ because I know they’re not a good fit. But the people who stick around, I have people say all the time, ‘I love how honest you are. I love that I know we share the same values. I like the way you show up and I get that you’re real.’
I have people tell me all the time that I’m real. You can’t do that and be generic. You have to say, ‘This is where I stand. This is how I show up in the world. If you show up in the same way, we’re going to get along. We’re going to be great.’ It’s really scary to do. It’s so scary and I know that, but I have seen the difference that it makes.”
If you can build an engaged email list, your audience will see more of your content, feel more connected with you, trust you more, enthusiastically share you with others, and ultimately buy more of your products. The best news of all is that you can start building your email list today.
If you’re a Podia user, you already have access to a free and easy email tool . You can find the email feature in the email tab of your Podia dashboard. If you don’t have a Podia account yet, you can sign up for free.
How to get the right people to join your email list
Now you know why an email newsletter is the best way to connect with and own your audience, what’s next? Do you simply drop a signup form on your website and hope for the best?
It’s not quite that simple. Unlike that epic neighborhood lemonade stand you started when you were eight, email newsletters aren’t an “if you build it, they will come” situation.
Here are some things you can do to attract subscribers and tips from successful creators.
#1 Think of your email list as a product
Put yourself in a potential subscriber’s shoes and think about what you can offer to make them feel like giving your space in their inbox and their attention is a no-brainer.
#2 Make it easy for your audience to sign up by linking to your newsletter where they engage with your content
People can’t join your newsletter if they don’t know it exists. Make sure you’re pointing people to your email newsletter signup form on your main website pages, in your social media bio link , and within your content. Include links to it from places like your blog posts, YouTube captions, or Instagram stories.
#3 Make your newsletter a “can’t miss” by letting your audience know what they can expect
Explain to people who your newsletter is for, what happens when they sign up, what content they’ll get, and how often they’ll get it.
Which one sounds more appealing to you?
Subscribe to my newsletter
Subscribe for weekly interior design tips and be the first to know about articles and podcast episodes with design professionals.
The second one is a lot more enticing, and it allows you to attract a targeted audience that’s actually interested in the information you provide. In this example, subscribers know that you’ll be messaging them once per week with tips, podcast episodes, and article updates. They can sign up with confidence knowing they’re interested in what you’re offering.
Em Connors does this on her email sign-up form by offering a very clear description of what’s in it for her subscribers: three ideas for your life, brand, or business; two things she’s loving right now; and one must-know Canva tip or update.
#4 Make your newsletter irresistible by offering something in exchange for signing up
Your followers have approximately nine-hundred-thirty-eight-thousand-two-hundred-seventy-six newsletters they can sign up for on a given day. To make yours stand out, offer something of value in exchange for their email address.
Some creators offer special deals on their products or early access to new content. Emily Mills, for example, gives email subscribers first dibs on new program registration before launching to the public.
Portrait photographer and photography business mentor Felicia Reed also gives away early access and discounts to people on her email list.
And Foylo founder and website design leads expert Robert Williams gives new subscribers a free sneak peek at his signature community as an incentive to sign up.
Other creators use lead magnets to grow their lists. A lead magnet is a free product like a checklist, digital download, ebook, or mini-course that a subscriber can access in exchange for providing their email address.
A lead magnet is how Veronica Green grew her list from zero to over 500 members in record time.
“I created this PDF newsletter and the day I announced that I was going to make it–I hadn’t even made it yet–I got 250 people signed up. By the time I sent out the first newsletter, the PDF, I got another 250 subscribers. So I was up to 500 by then. And I knew I needed to get an email platform.”
Now, Veronica has several lead magnets and free resources like this Loose Parts Play Guide that give her audience value.
Rad Reads founder Khe Hy offers a free 10K Training that teaches how to take control of your life’s biggest priorities using three frameworks for radical prioritization. A visitor can get the training sent straight to their inbox in exchange for entering their email address.
Unsure what to make for your lead magnet? Try using a piece of existing content and transforming it into a different format, like turning a video into a PDF guide or combining blog posts around the same topic into an ebook. You don’t need to reinvent the wheel, and lead magnets don’t have to be overly complicated.
Becky Mollenkamp reminds creators that the most important thing is giving your followers a win, even if it’s a small one.
“You don’t have to give away the farm to get them on the email list. You can give them a checklist, something really simple, as long as it’s speaking to their pain point and that they feel like they’re going to get some sort of win out of that.”
You can learn more about how lead magnets work, including how to set one up in Podia, in the resources below.
#5 Don’t forget about 1:1 connections
Finally, you can also grow your email list through 1:1 connections, both online and in person. Casey Richardson grew her list five minutes at a time by reaching out to people and having quick conversations.
“I set five-minute timers. And I used a five-minute timer for my most recent text message recipients, my most recent Instagram DMers, Twitter, Facebook, I went down a list.
And I sent the same message. I set the timer and I tried to send as many as I could in five-minute increments to just say, ‘Hey, I’m building a newsletter to help people understand business better. Do you want to be on my list?’
Anybody that responded, ‘Yes,’ I said, ‘Give me your email address and I’ll add you.’ And so that’s how I built that email list.
Then the second thing I did was I went to all of my social media platforms and I said, ‘Hey, I’m building a course to help Black women understand business management. If I can talk to you for five minutes to ask questions, let me know.’
By the end of most of those calls, people were asking if they could buy the course now. I had their email addresses to circle back with them so those are the two strategies I used to build this targeted audience. Some of them were cousins and friends that just wanted to support, but that’s how it started.”
Whether you’re offering exclusive content or deals, creating a valuable free lead magnet, or simply reaching out to audience members one by one, the important thing is to start building your email list today. You’ll never regret having direct access to more people, so choose a tactic that makes sense for your business, and start getting the word out.
Coming up, we’ll cover how to keep followers engaged so they’re primed to take action.