12 min read
Diving head-first into a new business idea can be incredibly intimidating.
When you don't know where to start, it's easy to let your fears and uncertainties take over. Before you know it, that fear turns into procrastination—and you end up putting off your big ideas until another day.
Reality check: All those things can wait.
Right now, all you really need is a way to gather all your tribe in one place—a place where you can share your original work and begin building relationships.
And no matter how many shiny marketing tactics you might think you need to get started, the best way to stay connected with your audience is through email.
Your email list is the glue that holds your online business together. Whether you're a blogger, a video creator, podcaster, freelancer, coach, ecommerce shop owner, or a digital product creator, building an audience of true fans is the single best way to turn your online work into a sustainable income.
Having a list makes your life as a creator easier because you can ask your audience what they want. You will get emails and comments with questions that you can turn into content or products. Owning your own audience allows you to control your future and build a sustainable business that changes lives.
Janelle Allen, Zen Courses
Growing your audience used to mean learning how to code a website from scratch, setting up complicated forms, and connecting everything to an email tool. These days, it's much easier to get started. You can launch a landing page and start collecting emails to build and cultivate an audience in only a few minutes—all without paying a cent.
Share what you love to connect with your followers and grow your business with a free ConvertKit account.Create a free ConvertKit account
No more excuses—it's time to make 2021 your year of hustle. It's easy to create a free landing page and grow your email list today—here's how you can get started.
Landing pages are like the superstar salespeople for your online business. That's because every landing page is designed for one singular purpose: to convert visitors into subscribers, leads, or customers.
Here are a few reasons landing pages are one of the best ways to start an email list:
Your home page and your landing pages serve different purposes. You might already have a business website that shares details about what you offer, the clients you serve, and how people can hire you. The problem? Most websites tend to be full of links, navigation, information about your company, and other distractions that kill your conversion rates.
Take a look at this comparison between Well Paid Geek's homepage and their email newsletter landing page. Both pages might look similar, but I'm willing to bet the landing page attracts many more subscribers:
Landing pages eliminate distractions, offering visitors a single targeted call to action. Fewer distractions and a clear call to action leads to more subscribers, with zero effort from you. Who doesn't want a mini-salesperson who collects new subscribers even while you're asleep?
Your inbox is precious real estate—you wouldn't just hand over your email address to a random stranger, would you? Most visitors are the same—they won't hand over their email address unless you promise something valuable in return.
Offering a free guide, downloadable, or email course helps encourage visitors to opt into your list, giving you the opportunity to follow up with more emails and build a trusting relationship.
(If you're looking for inspiration for your lead magnets, check out these 8 lead magnet ideas!)
When it comes to landing pages, the more the merrier. It's easy to build a separate landing page for each new product or service, target audience or persona, or free incentive.
If you need to communicate with various types of customers, run multiple different promotions at the same time, or match your messaging to different marketing channels, the easiest way is to create separate landing pages. In fact, businesses with 40+ landing pages generate 12x more leads than those with 1-5 landing pages.
Landing pages are also fast to create and launch. With a landing page builder like ConvertKit, you can be up and running with your first landing page in under 10 minutes, so there's no excuse for not launching a new page for every offer.
Launching a new business idea or side hustle can be risky. You're investing enormous time and effort into your big idea, with no guarantee of success—so it's important to test your ideas as early as possible.
To avoid your big idea turning into a flop, you can use a landing page to validate your new business ideas. When you use a simple landing page to gauge interest in a product or service idea before you spend hours creating it, you’ll save time and feel more confident when launch day finally arrives.
Landing pages are also a wonderful tool for collecting additional information on visitors, like the type of business they run or their job title. When visitors sign up, they're automatically tagged with any information they provide on your opt-in form.
You can use these tags to split your audience into segments, letting you target the right people with the right emails at the right time.
Alright, enough of the benefits—let's dive into the specific steps you should take to start growing your audience in 2021.
Launching a new business or side hustle used to mean learning to code, designing a website from scratch, signing up for a hosting plan, wrangling WordPress plugins, and connecting clunky forms. And all this before you could even think about growing your list.
These days, building an email list is a lot more straightforward:
I probably sound like a broken record by now, but the first step to build your list is to create a landing page. Your landing page is the central hub where you'll direct visitors from social media and other channels to find out more information and to join your mailing list.
Your landing page should include a few essential elements:
You can also include any other important information for visitors, like your personal bio or answers to frequently asked questions—check out the complete anatomy of a great landing page right here.
Now you can always design and code a landing page from scratch—but unless you're already an expert, that can take a lot longer. Instead, use a free landing page builder like ConvertKit to launch your first landing page.
In just a few minutes, you can validate your next business idea, build a pre-launch list for your online course, book, or podcast, host an online workshop, or even build a professional-looking personal site—all without writing any code.
Next, you'll need something valuable to tempt visitors into joining your list. A free incentive or lead magnet is a great way to prove your expertise and provide massive value—it gives you a “magnet” that attracts visitors and convinces them to become email subscribers. Once they join your list, you can nurture them and provide even more value through your email sequences.
How do you know what lead magnet will work best for your idea? First, think about what your audience will find most valuable. What's something they can understand and put into action in just a few minutes?
Once you have an idea in mind, you'll need to decide on a format. Lead magnets come in all shapes and sizes:
Once you've created your lead magnet, you can set up an incentive email in ConvertKit to automatically deliver an email with a link to your awesome freebie. One click, and your subscriber gets access to your lead magnet—and confirms they really want to be on your list. Neat!
Your landing page is up and running, and you're delivering your free lead magnet to new subscribers. Nearly 75% of new subscribers expect a welcome email, so you need to make sure you don't leave them hanging.
Even though you've convinced someone to sign up, they still don't really know who you are or how you can help them. Sending just your lead magnet without following up is like asking someone over for dinner, welcoming them at the door, then leaving them alone in the living room.
Not a great first impression.
You need to warm up new subscribers with a short series of welcome emails.
A great welcome sequence serves a few different purposes:
Your welcome sequence doesn't need to be complicated. It can be as simple as a single welcome email or as advanced as an educational email course. No matter how you choose to roll out the red carpet, it's easy to set up your welcome sequence and connect it to your landing page in ConvertKit:
Now comes the fun part! It's time to share your big idea with the world.
Unfortunately, though, just because your shiny new landing page is open for business doesn't mean visitors will just stumble across it on their own. You need to get out there and tell people to come visit.
Not sure where to promote your landing page? Think about where your target audience is already hanging out and start there. There are dozens of ways you can get the word out—Facebook groups, your Twitter profile, LinkedIn posts, webinars, Pinterest, online communities like Hacker News, or your email signature are all great places to share to your landing page.
If you have the budget, you can even try advertising on Facebook—even though the costs can sometimes be high, it's an easy way to reach your target audience.
Sharing your landing page is easy—since landing pages are hosted separately, you don't have to embed them in your website. Simply grab the shareable link for your page, and paste it on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or anywhere else you'd like to share your page.
Landing pages are like cookies—it's hard to stop at just one. Once you've launched your first page, it's easy to create more pages for each new idea you have.
As you drive more visitors to the site, you'll start to see which messages, images, and offers drive the most conversions, and you can use your newfound knowledge to test changes and improve your landing pages even further.
There's no limit to how many landing pages you can have. More landing pages means more opportunities for growing your list.
Launching a side hustle and building a thriving email list seems overwhelming when you're starting with nothing. It's easy to look at successful online creators with lists numbering in the tens of thousands and feel like you'll never be able to launch your idea and grow your list.
The truth is, those people all started from the same place you're at right now. They took the same first steps, overcame the same doubts, and accomplished their goals.
You can do the same. It's OK to start with just a free landing page and a valuable lead magnet. Share your landing page with the world, learn what works, and start growing your audience over time.
It's time to stop letting fear get in the way of launching your big idea, and to start growing your list with a free landing page from ConvertKit today.
I can't wait to see what you create.