How To Be Successful with a Small List

Build Your Audience

One of the biggest myths for bloggers to get over is that you need a huge following to be successful. It makes sense right? The more people you have on your list, the more revenue you’ll make, and before you know it, you’ve gone pro and you’re making your living on your blog alone. Seems pretty obvious.

So many people believe that all their blogger dreams will come true once they hit X amount of subscribers. For everyone that number is different, but generally speaking, I’d say they’re trying to hit in the tens to hundreds of thousands of readers.

But can I share a little known secret with you? – It’s not about having a huge following. It’s about having the right following.

That means if you’re working with a small list, find out what your subscribers are most engaged with, become an expert on that topic, and create a product specifically targeted to them.

Again, sounds obvious, right? But to do this well, you have to be very specific about your process.

Let me tell you a story about a guy named John Meese.

Short story- John launched his first membership site: The Get Noticed! Theme Unlocked with only a 9-day registration period, and generated $10,541.85 in total sales.

Want to know how he did that? Of course you do!

you can grow your small email list with a course

John had a blog about productivity and leadership that was maxing around a few hundred email subscribers when he decided to add a membership site as new revenue stream to his repertoire.

With a goal to hit $10,000 with his first course launch, John set aside his current email list, started completely fresh (that means ZERO subscribers) and created a separate site dedicated to teaching the secrets of the Get Noticed! Theme. From here, he had a couple steps:

Step 1- Be the Authority

He understood to hit his goal he needed to be seen as the authority for the Get Noticed! Theme. To do that, he hit the forums. Every week he blocked out time to answer questions in those forums until he was getting asked directly for one-on-one help. For the following six months, John kept up with his one-on-one coaching for dozens of users.

Step 2- The Targeted List

During all this time, John began building his list. But this was no ordinary list- this was a super dedicated, super targeted list of subscribers who were using or wanting to use the Get Noticed! Theme. These subscribers came from his time in the Get Noticed! Theme forums as well as free video tutorials he created, and the largest amount came from a giveaway.

Step 3- The Giveaway

Over two hundred of his three hundred subscribers at the time John launched his course came from a very intentional giveaway. To make it as enticing as possible, John offered VIP access to his course and the Business Builder’s version for the theme.

Step 4- The Launch and Pay off

In a brief nine day launch period, John hit and exceed his $10,000 goal.

You see, because he drew his audience from places that were already rich with information about what his course was about, he didn’t have to spend time explaining what the Get Noticed! Theme was. There was no need for the soft pitch in this scenario.

He knew he had an email list full of interested subscribers who trusted that he knew what he was talking about. Because of that, John was able to directly pitch his course to a welcoming and excited audience.

How to pull of a targeted launch

Once you understand this one thing, you’ll be able to create a targeted launch for your own products-  Don’t make it easy for just anyone to sign up for your launch.

“I didn’t spend a lot of time explaining what the Get Noticed! Theme was because in my mind the only people I wanted signing up for that giveaway were the people who already had the theme or wanted the theme.”- John Meese

You’ve got to create some barriers to protect your launch from hitting too wide of audience. Everything you do needs to be specific to the product you create. So here’s how to do it:

Niche down your audience

I can’t emphasis enough that if you’re launching a course, a product, or a service for a small audience, make sure that audience is as niched as you can get it. The more niche your audience, the more they will engage with what you’re offering.

Be picky about where you find your future subscribers. For John, that meant finding forums where people were only asking questions about the Get Noticed! Theme. What does that mean for you?


I’m sure you hear it all the time, but giveaways really work. Without his giveaway that brought over 200 subscribers, John wouldn’t have met his $10,000 goal. So a) Always do a giveaway and b) Make sure you create a giveaway that will appeal specifically to the crowd you’re pitching. You only want people signing up that are niched down, so stay away from anything that will appeal to the masses.

For John, it was VIP access to his course as well as an upgraded version of the theme itself. What can you create for your giveaway?

Stick to what works for your audience

You don’t need to be everywhere. If you’ve done your homework and niched down your audience, I bet you’ll find that the majority of them are only using one or two social media platforms. So don’t worry about the rest!

Concentrate on building that little list of loyal followers on the couple platforms you know they’re hanging out on. This could also mean forums, using Facebook ads, replies to content specific Twitterstorms – whatever you know they see, be there and only there.

Everything about your course needs to be targeted

I can’t reiterate this enough. Be picky about your subscribers, don’t cast a wide net – anything can be reigned in, reign it in.

Even the video John created to give as a free opt-in was insanely targeted. He named it “My 5 Favorite Updates in the Get Noticed! Theme Version 1.5.6.” I mean, come on. There’s no way any person outside of his targeted niche would have ever cared about that.

Job well done, sir.

Don’t stress about the quantity.

Focus on the quality.

What you want is subscribers that stick around. A few hundred engaged readers are way better than thousands and thousands of visitors that bounce on and off your site, right?

So niche away, my friends. Go searching for those specifically targeted subscribers and create something of value. They’ll love you for it and you’ll have a whole new batch of loyal readers.

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Dani Stewart

As a daughter of an entrepreneur, the wife of an entrepreneur, and an entrepreneur herself, Dani has lived and learned all sides of creating and growing businesses. She is excited to bring all that life experience as well as a decade of crafting content to the ConvertKit community. She is a part-time baker, dinner-party planner, and lover of good bourbon living the simple life in Nashville with her husband, Sean.

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