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List Building: Why You Should Make List Building Your #1 Priority

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One of the most important things you’re going to do for your business is to build your email list.

What’s the bottom line?

When people tell you that, “the money is in the list”, they’re not just blowing smoke or using keywords. They are telling you the truth.

Think about the fact that when you build an email list, you have access to your audience 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year, and that you own that list.

How Content Plays a Role in List Building

Here’s the deal:

Content plays such a big role in list building because it’s content that brings people to your website, content from your Lead Magnet freebie they’ll download onto their computer when they get on your email list, and content you will send in emails to add value and make offers that help them solve their problems.

Do you want to know the best part?

List building is so important that you should think of it as your main goal when working on marketing, brand awareness, and adding value to your audience.

While your website is the hub of operations your email list is the foundation for the longevity of your business.

What Is “In-Content” List Building?


When you build your email list, you will use Lead Magnets (freebie opt-ins) and Content Upgrades (specific content opt-ins for that post or category of posts).

In-content list building is putting the freebies within the content of your website.

They can live on your blog posts, within your pillar content, on your About Page and everywhere else on your blog.

Let’s look at a few examples:

The best way to explain how this works is to give you a few examples of in-content opt-in freebies that will help build your list.

Your website targets people are on keto diets.

You write and publish pillar content about several low-carb diets and the reasoning behind them.

Within the content, you can link to an opt-in offer that gives more info about keto dieting.

For example:

You could offer a “Low-carb Diet Starter Kit” as a freebie.

The kit could include a 7-day menu, a shopping list, and recipes along with tips to stick to the diet.

Your opt-in offer could be an extensive comparison sheet of the various hosts, their pros, cons, costs, and whether they have good customer service.

Your website is for mothers who have home-schooled elementary age children.

You write a blog post about teaching letters and numbers to your children.

Your freebie (linked to within the content of that blog post) could be coloring sheets with letters and numbers on them that your audience can download, print, and let their kids color.

Here’s the deal:

It’s still a freebie, opt-in, or lead magnet, it’s just presented in a new way.

Instead of being sitewide, it’s included in the content your blog visitor is reading.

Offering additional information that adds value to what the viewer is consuming at the moment makes it more likely they’ll sign up to your list because they want that freebie because it applies to them right at that moment.

By having several in-content opt-in options on your site, you not only give your audience more opportunities to get onto your email list, but you give different segments of your audience an even better reason to sign up.

In-content offers, due to how laser targeted they are, make these types of email list members even more valuable and usually more responsive to your offers.

A quick Way To get started

A Quick Way To Get Started: Add An Opt-In At The Bottom Of Your Posts

Now you know about in-content opt-in offers, let’s talk about where to put them in your content.

There are several high-converting spots to add an opt-in outside of your sidebar, slide, or pop-up offers.

But here’s the kicker:

Add an opt-in at the bottom of every blog post.

If someone reads all the way to the bottom of a blog post, they are interested and will probably also be interested in your freebie opt-in offer.

I consider this offer a site-wide offer even though it appears at the bottom of each post.

(Although you can put a different opt-in at the bottom of each post you create based on the blog category you use.)

The Technology

To add opt-ins, you will need to…

Create a sign-up form and a thank you page.

You can do this in a few ways but at the absolute minimum, you need to get an email autoresponder software like ConvertKit or Drip.

This allows you to create the form you use to collect an email address to add to your list.

Develop at least one landing page for the opt-in offer.

You can do this easily by creating another page on your website that is not added to the menu and is not indexed for search.

You can also accomplish it with specialized landing page software that works with the email autoresponder software such as LeadPages or, my new favorite, Instapage.

(ConvertKit also has landing page ability included in their regular price). Clickfunnels is also a choice but I find it harder to use.

You also may need a service to create pop-ups, slide-ins, sidebar opt-ins, Welcome Mats, etc. that will help you put your freebie opt-in offers in different places on your site. My favorite is Optinmonster.

You also must create the opt-in for downloading.

The easiest is to create something in Word and then turn it into a PDF file.

You can make it look professional using Google Docs or Word or you can even hire a graphic artist to lay it out for you to make it really stand out.


It’s up to you how you do it but you cannot go wrong using PDF documents as your actual freebie that your readers opt-in for and receive.

Choosing the Right Blog Posts

Before you create your opt-in, analyze your blog posts to find out which of your blog posts already get the most views and comments.

You’ll want to reach the most active and engaged part of your audience by creating something for the most read posts on your website.

Finally, once you’ve decided what opt-in to create, just make an outline and then write it.

Keep it short:

A cheat sheet, checklist, worksheet or some other one or two page opt-in works best.

Once you have created it, use the software to get it up on your site so they can download it, and you can make list building a priority.

The faster you get it up, the faster you’ll build your list.

5 Reasons That In-Content List Building Works

When you’re focused on list building, it’s better to have many points of entry to your list.

Some visitors are coming over from social media, from your guest posts and perhaps even from paid ads.

The more points of entry you have mean more of your audience will also see the in-content lead magnets you’re offering, and the more who will sign up and end up on your email list.

Ends Side Bar Blindness 

Blog readers are smart and can block out the information on your sidebar so they can just read your content.

But, by putting your freebies within the content of your blog will help avoid this problem.

Grabs Your Audience’s Attention 

When you put additional (especially free) information within the content of your website, whether it’s on a blog post, a content upgrade to give additional information, or under your blog posts, it’ll become more clear to your audience that this is something they should pay attention to.

Provides Relevancy 

When creating a freebie this way, you’re forced to be laser targeted so it has something to do with what the blog visitor is looking at.

That makes it more likely that they’ll download it and get on your list.

They’re Already Interested 

Another reason in-content lead magnets work so well is that the person reading the content that the lead magnet exists in happens to already be very interested in what they’re reading.

This makes them much more likely to download the lead magnet and sign up for your email list.

Gives Deeper Understanding 

This lead magnet is laser targeted and designed to give a deeper understanding of your customers’ problems and pain points and the solutions.

The More Targeted The Offer, The Better

When using in-content list building, one thing you must remember is that focus is everything.

The more targeted your offers are to your ideal audience, the better.

To create a highly targeted opt-in, offer here are things to consider.

  • Know Your Audience

You hear this constantly because it’s so important. Continuous study of your audience so that you can develop your ideal customer personas or avatars will help you not only create better products and services but lead magnets. Once you develop your ideal customer persona consider also making them for subsets of this audience so you can laser target your audience even further.

For example, if your audience comprises divorced women who want to learn to get on with their life, you may have subsets of this population. Some with kids, some without kids, some who decided to divorce, and so forth. If your products are right, you can dig deeper with your targeting.

  • Know Your Products & Services

It might seem obvious, however, if you’re not a product creator but instead promote other people’s products as an affiliate, it’s up to you to understand the products and how they really work beyond the sales page information.

The best way to do this is to buy and use the product. If you’re a super affiliate, you may contact the producer and get a free review copy, but otherwise, until you’re more known you must buy the products so you can know them inside and out.

  • Determine Your Goals & Objectives

Before creating any content at all, you need to know what the purpose is.

  • Why are you creating this freebie?
  • What content will the freebie go with?
  • What do you want the audience to do?
  • What do you want them to learn?
  • How do you want them to feel about the content they download after signing up for your list?
  • Remember: One Problem Means One Solution

It also helps to keep in mind that you need to create lead magnets and offers that focus on only one problem and one solution at a time. This is the best use of a lead magnet. Your audience wants the solution and they want it fast. They want it instantly, in fact. People aren’t very patient these days, so you must give them what they want.

  • Expand the Content

One way to create an effective lead magnet is to expand on the content in the blog post.

So, for example, let’s say you’ve created a recipe for roasted chicken. You’re making a lot of assumptions they know how to carve the chicken but what if you added a lead magnet to the recipe on how best to carve the chicken to serve it? How many people would want that extra information, grab it, and sign up for your email list?

  • Help Them Do Something

Another idea is to help your audience complete something that you’ve written a “how to” blog post about. For example, let’s say you wrote a blog post about How to Build a Basic Website with Self-Hosted WordPress. Include an opt-in within the content that is a checklist that they can use to ensure that they don’t miss a step.

Know Where the Lead Magnet Should Be Placed

Before you even create the opt-in, you want to know where you will put it for maximum impact. You can put it in over one place too if it has something to do with other content and will fit in. Knowing where you want it will help you focus it better. After that, you can use it elsewhere if you want to.

Creating highly targeted offers requires that you understand your audience and you understand your products and services. Knowing this information helps you develop better lead magnets because they all have a reason for existing.

Eventually, you’ll get so good at thinking about list building and lead magnets it’ll come more natural with each type of product you create.

Join me next week for the 2nd post of the List Building Series, “Using Content Upgrades To Build Your List”.

Here’s what to do next…

Want to make real money blogging? You should join my free 5 day Start a Blogging Business Crash Course.

In it, you’ll learn the ins and outs of what it takes to build a blog capable of making $1,000+/month in just 12 months without quitting your full time job.

This is the exact formula I used to start my pest control blog and scale it to 7 figures.

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