How fabric designer Bonnie Christine doubled her email list 5 years running with free content

Case study Email Marketing
4 min read
In this Article

Fabric designer Bonnie Christine never guessed that she would be running a million-dollar business someday.

“I was crafty growing up. I loved to draw, but I wouldn't have considered myself an artist at the time,” she says.

She started blogging and creating designs in 2009 and hasn’t looked back, fashioning interactive courses for beginners, a design community, and partnering with brands. “I found success as a designer first and then I had the opportunity to teach,” she says. “I never set out to be an educator, but it has totally been incredible.”

But it wasn’t always so easy.

Realizing that she was missing something after six years of building her business from the ground up, she went back to the basics: her email list. In 2017, Bonnie had 4,100 visitors email subscribers—but only 6% of them ever opened her emails.

I remember feeling like the whole world was talking about email lists, and I just could not wrap my head around how to grow or engage my list. I buckled down in October and started a nurture sequence for the first time. Within six months, I had 7,900 subscribers and increased my open rate to 58%.

That was only the beginning. Bonnie has since doubled her email list each year, up to 62,000 subscribers. How? By giving away valuable content to build confidence and trust with her audience.

ConvertKit growth
Bonnie Christine’s growth trajectory since 2016. Image via Bonnie Christine.

Own the relationship with your audience

ConvertKit helps you build a relationship with your followers and own that connection you make with them through your email list.

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How Bonnie sets up free content to engage her audience

Give your prospects a reason to like you, know you, and trust you before asking them for a sale. For Bonnie, that means offering free content upfront.

Bonnie Christine Design Guide
Bonnie’s 52-page ebook has its own section on the website’s homepage and brought in 22,000 leads in 2020 alone. Image via Bonnie Christine.

Bonnie has created free content for four different segments of her audience that connect to where they are in their won creator journey to her marketing funnel:

  • Awareness: A top-of-funnel mini-course on creating gift wrap, just in time for the holidays
  • Nurture: A five-day challenge for current subscribers on creating your own repeating designs, similar to the mini-course
  • Lead Generation: An in-depth, 52-page ebook covering every possible topic on surface pattern design (and drove 22,000 leads in 2020!)
  • Conversion: A course preview that leads directly into the next cohort of launches. Around 11% of students convert directly into the launch.
Bonnie Christine signature program
Mini-courses and challenges nurture leads before they’re ready to join Bonnie Christine’s signature program.

Ultimately, the prospects that consume her free content make better, more engaged students—and that’s where the magic happens.

The people who come through the course really understand how much more there is, and the depth of it. You have to know that you like the way someone educates before you decide to commit to a bigger course with them.

Bonnie deploys these content offers at scheduled times throughout the year using ConvertKit, based on how close she is to launching her next cohort.

All of this is completely free. There’s no sales pitch, and there’s no offer. You have to have something that works first. You have to know your ideal customer inside and out. You have to know their heart, you have to know what keeps them up at night, and then you have to have something that truly serves them.

You have to win hearts and minds before making an ask. You need to have a relationship in place with your subscribers where you're delivering them value and building trust over time- before you can go all-in asking for purchases. The key is that everything delivers immediate value while setting subscribers up for nurture sequences.

Bonnie Christine gift wrap
The signup form for the gift wrap mini-course. Image via Bonnie Christine.

Send free content with ConvertKit to grow your email list

It comes back to giving them time serving them with free content, and then I would just say, trusting the process. To grow your list confidently, you do have to trust what you're doing.

Once you understand who your audience is and what problems you can help them solve, giving away freebies to nurture them is easy with ConvertKit.

ConvertKit makes it easy to build your email list with confidence. Try a free 14-day trial and start connecting with your audience today.

Own the relationship with your audience

ConvertKit helps you build a relationship with your followers and own that connection you make with them through your email list.

Start a free 14-day ConvertKit trial

Kayla Voigt

Always in search of adventure, Kayla hails from Hopkinton, MA, the start of the Boston Marathon. When she's not using words to help businesses grow, she's probably summiting a mountain or digging into a big bowl of pasta. Like what you're reading? Come say hi:

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