How to Get 1,000 Email Subscribers in 7 Days

Monetize Your List

A couple years ago, I wrote a guest post on the popular design blog Smashing Magazine titled, How to Launch Anything. At the time I was just getting into launching products and learning about marketing, so I just wanted to share everything that I’d learned at the point. I wrote this pretty epic 4,000-word blog on the high level view of a product launch. I covered everything you can think of – building an audience, announcing your product, how to not kill your email list, etc.

I’d written guests posts before and I wanted to try a new way to wrap up the ending. Instead of concluding the blog with my little author bio, begging people to come follow me on Twitter,  I wanted something more engaging.

I knew those little bio links just weren’t enough. Even when I’d guest posted on really popular sites I wasn’t seeing any real results from those clicks. So instead of pitching a product or linking to my social media I decided to create a free email course called Mastering Product Launches.

It was a fairly simple setup – just link to a streamlined landing page asking people to sign up for the course. The course itself was powered by the very first version of ConvertKit, so after you signed up, you got the first email and a couple days later you got the next one and so on. Each email walked you through the tactics of actually running a product launch.


What happens with guest posts in general is that right from the beginning, your audience is getting all this great free value from your blog, but then your conversation comes to an abrupt stop. Instead of saying, “Ok, BYE!”, I wanted to give them even more. So at the end of the post I actually wrote, “I don’t want your education on product launches to end here. There’s so much more to know and there’s so much we can get into on the tactics. So I’ve created this free email course. It’s eight emails over three weeks. Click here to sign up.”

I ended up getting a thousand email subscribers from the one blog! All it took was a logical call to action. The audience needed to see that logical conclusion of reading that blog was to sign up for my free course.

The two mistakes that people make when writing guest blogs are:

  1. They don’t pitch something strong enough. It’s not good enough to just have a link in the author bio.
  2. Or they do pitch and it’s too strong. Trying to get someone to buy a product can be too pushy. The blog your guesting on most likely doesn’t want their audience being pitched that way and people aren’t going to buy a product from someone they just met.

My free email course was the perfect way to get people to sign up and start building a relationship.

My guinea pig, Wes Wages.

After this post ran, I bumped into my videographer friend, Wes Wages. He’s worked with a lot of top bloggers and Internet markets and had just started creating videos to teach people how to get better at online video.

While his actual videos were great, they were just on his blog without an exciting call to action. All he had was newsletter sign up button.

Newsletter sign ups don’t speak to any value, why you should care, why you should hand over your email address, or any of that. So I told him what I had just done with my email course and asked if we could do something similar with his videos.

So, to test my method, I followed the same recipe I used for Mastering Product Launches. We took the videos he already shot, bundled them together, and created a free email course called Mastering Online Videos. Again, I created a streamlined landing page and let his emails drip out with one video per email. He actually went live with this before all the videos were even finished. That’s one of the sweet things about an email course –  you’ve got some extra time to keep creating your content even after you launch.


After firing up the course in ConvertKit and some promoting, Wes went from close to zero subscribers to 950 in seven days! It was amazing.

So here’s a couple things I learned from these two email courses:

Having something of value to giveaway creates a shareable situation. Using the campaign tracking in ConvertKit, we were able to see where his subscribers came from. A few from me on Twitter, 70 from Facebook, 267 from Product Hunt, and couple from friends who shared and so on. The point is, he pieced together this large list from a lot of different places because he finally had something to promote. Before when it was a simple newsletter sign up, there was no real value for his audience and therefore no one was sharing it and the conversion rate was really low. But with the free email course, he finally had something people wanted.

Email courses help train and condition your audience. If you’ve ever done content upgrades, lead magnets, or that kind of thing with a PDF, I’m sure you’ve gotten the question, “Why do I have to give you my email address to download a PDF?”. With an email course, what you’re doing is two things:

  1. It’s obvious that I have to give you my email address in order to receive an email course from you.
  2. It’s training me, as a subscriber, to get used to opening your emails, reading them, and responding. You’re interacting with me. That’s good for later on when you want to launch a product or pretty much anything else.

And here’s a couple extra case studies if you’re interested:

  1. Paula Versa:
    Paula saw the case study I wrote about Wes Wages and wanted to do the same  thing. She had this really great book on a bunch of case studies on iPhone app design so she put together a landing page promoting her free 14-day course. The plan was to do what Wes did, promoting in many places, asking everybody to share it, etc. After hustling to get that done, one of the sources that she submitted to – Product Hunt – ended up taking off and she got 3,000 subscribers in three days. It wouldn't have happened without her email course and it certainly wasn't happening just promoting the book directly.
  2. Paul Jarvis:
    My friend Paul teaches people how to build a better freelancing business with something called The Creative Class. He had a good audience and that was getting great sales, but he wanted an easier way for people to access the product, learn how to get used to his content, and get a taste of his training. So he put together a free, seven-day email course on freelancing. It was something free he could promote everywhere (which could get more traction than his paid course), but it was also a logical call to action and a pitch for actually buying his paid course later on.

Yeah, free email courses will definitely help you grow your list.

If you’re looking to grow your email list, I highly suggest taking some time to consider adding a free email course to your repertoire. What can you teach? What can you give away piece-by-piece over a couple days or weeks? What do you know that someone else would find value in?

Now go forth and create! Give your readers a reason to stick around and they’ll be your friends for life.

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Nathan Barry

In previous careers Nathan has been a designer, author, and blogger. After learning the power of email marketing he gave up a successful blogging career to build ConvertKit. Outside of work Nathan spends his time playing soccer, woodworking, and chasing after his two little boys.

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