Try these 3 new tricks to jump-start your stagnant email list

Bryan Harris —  Bryan Harris - March 30th, 2016

Raise your hand if you’re frustrated with how fast your audience is growing.

<C’mon, raise it.>

Why is that?

Why have other people broken through, rapidly built their email lists and launched products, yet you are still floundering?

Here is why: Because you are doing the same ol’ outdated strategies that worked in 2012 but don’t work today.

The same lame guest posts on the same 10 “influencer” blogs.
The same lame blog commenting strategy.
The same lame round-up posts then emailing me to tell me to share it.
The same lame procrastination technique of “redesigning your website.”

Stop doing what everyone else is doing.

Note: We’re doing a big $2,400 list building giveaway at the bottom of today’s post. So be sure to read through for full details.

Think of it like this: Imagine you’re a 35-year-old dude (ladies, stick with me). And let’s say you and your wife just had a kid. (Funny story, we had our first a few months ago. He’s adorbs.) And let’s pretend that you FINALLY get your very first date night together.

The babysitter is lined up. Friday night is your oyster.

And you go the lame route. You do what every other stereotypical American couple does on Friday nights: you go to dinner and a movie.

Would it be fun? Meh. Maybe.

Would it be memorable? No.

Would your wife be impressed? No.

Would any “extracurricular activities” occur afterwards? Negatory.

It was boring. Non-creative. And predictable.

Your audience growth is the same way. If your list-building strategy is a carbon copy of what 100,000 other bloggers are doing, your results will suck.

You have to have a little creativity. A little imagination.

You need to stop doing what everyone says you need to do and start paying attention to what’s actually working.

What are some unique and unconventional strategies you can use?

If you want more traffic and a bigger list and to have your first massive product launch… look for the fringes.

Look for the strategies that are working but that no one is talking about and do those!

(Instead of taking your wife to dinner and a movie, go here.)

What are those strategies? Glad you asked!

Over the past 2 years we’ve been testing countless list-building tricks and strategies (over 100 in total). Some of those strategies used to work really well, like guest posting. And some are just over-hyped crap that need to be discontinued from the internet (like commenting on a bunch of blogs).

But the only way for you to know what works and what doesn’t is to wade through the countless blog posts and podcasts out there on list building.

And that takes way too much time. It’s taken us over 2 years(!!).

So, in preparation for the upcoming Get 10,000 Subscribers enrollment (2-ish weeks away) the team and I have analyzed what’s been working for us and our clients this year. 2016.

What we found was super interesting…

There are 3 strategies that are working like crazy right now. So I wrote a detailed breakdown of each strategy, showing you what it is and why you need to use it. Then I shot a video for each strategy, showing you how to implement each one.

Then we got our good buddy Iker to design it all up into one short, sexy and compact PDF Strategy Guide just for you.

Click here to download your copy now.

(You can also click the snazzy picture up there ^^^^ to get a copy.)

The e-book will be up for the next 10-ish days, so grab your copy now.

After that it’ll be coming down and we’ll transition to the enrollment of 10ksubs. (Pumped to share some awesome content around this for y’all!)

PS: What is the most unorthodox list-building strategy you’ve seen? Share it in the comments below.

We’ll pick the best comment and give you an all-expenses-paid scholarship to our premium list-building course, Get 10,000 Subscribers (worth $1,200).

To Enter the contest

  1. Leave a comment below with the most unorthodox list-building strategy you’ve seen.
  2. Download the free PDF Strategy Guide.

Chat soon!

  • Great guide, Bryan.

    I like your new take on the affiliate referral opt-in (a/k/a the one-click opt-in).

    My email list went from 0 subscribers in October 2015 to nearly 10,000 subscribers as of March 30th, 2016 (I started my blog late last year). Bryan’s course 10,000 Subscribers is worth every penny and millions of pennies more. I highly recommend it and no, he didn’t pay me to write this genuine testimonial.

    Bryan is a good guy who puts in the effort to make things happen. Bryan dug for 2.5 years in the trenches, starting at 5am everyday, to come up with the proprietary list building strategies he discusses in his flagship course.


    • WHAT? Cody, wow. I started my blog around the same time as you have, and only have 2,200 subs, and I got on The Huffington Post.

      Great numbers!!

      • Hey Cherlyn, 😉 My goal is to hit 50,000 subscribers by year end using the strategies Bryan outlines in his PDF guide and upcoming course, 10k Subs. 🙂

    • Ryan McRae

      It’s a bit unconventional but on Reddit I put a post that said “Great F-ing post on Getting S&!# Done.” and put it under Productivity. I was on the front page for a bit. 200 subscribers. Huzzah!!

      • That’s pretty great, Ryan. Did you buy upvotes on Fiverr or was that traction all naturale? I read a post by Ryan Stewart (of Webris) about how to siphon off traffic from Quora (similar upvoting system to Reddit). Pretty interesting and worth checking out. I also recommend checking out Bryan’s 10ksubs course when it goes live. It’s legit. The great part about having a big email list now is that anytime I send out an email to my list, my Statsbot for Google Analytics does a double take. That’s not 100% traffic from my email list in the screenshot (some is from, guest blogging and other bloggers referencing my posts in their guest posts) but 74.6% of it is from my list.

        • Ryan McRae

          It was natural. I think the title for people interested. I don’t have a huge list (that’s why I need the scholarship so bad!!)

    • Wow! 0 to 10k in 4months is insane. Great job Cody! Seriously, major kuddos!

      • Thanks, Bryan. You’re the equivalent of my Noah Kagan.

    • Wow, awesome success, Cody. Great to hear that you got sh$t done! This motivates me to do the same..and put Bryan’s material into use immediately.

      I wonder, many folks here are probably like me (i’m guessing) working a pretty long work week. How early do you get up in the morning? I would imagine you’re up at 5 am as well, me sometimes 4 am but usually around 5:30/6 am I’m up. You?

      • Hey Ed,

        Some days 5am, other days 8am, just depends. I find it’s less about what time I wake up and more about how I schedule tasks and execute with the time I have during the day. I write at least 1,000 words per day, some days 2,000-3,000. I block out my mornings for writing and focus time, except right now.

        Bryan’s material rocks.


    • Zhabiz Moshari

      I’m impressed almost by everyone who had something about himself but what I think is something big and super magnificent similar to Cody’s project. The fact is my abilities don’t match with my ambitions and even expectations. It’s like an ocean and there is absolutely no limit or boundaries to make you stop. I’m thinking about a list of millions subscribers otherwise my plan will fail. In the similar field a few others had done some progress but as big as thousands not millions.

  • Nathalie

    Hmmm, what worked best for me was a video with animated slides with a funny song I recorded myself. It’s a promo video for a course that hasn’t launched yet, but I put it up in a Facebook group and asked people whether they’d be interested in learning how to create videos like that. It worked pretty well, although it wasn’t even meant as a list building strategy. I was just curious to know what people think … 🙂

    • that was awesome, Nathalie! You got it!!

      • Buck McDaniel

        W O W ! ! !

        That was fantastic. No wonder you filled your list! You are great!

        • Nathalie

          Thank you, Buck! I almost didn’t publish it after someone told me I’m obviously no Alicia Keys. But now I’m glad I just gave it a try because it was fun and gives a good idea about who I am and how I roll ;-).

          • no, you’re no Alicia Keys, and that’s a GOOD thing, ’cause you’re being you! 🙂 It shows your personality and who you are. It may not work for many people (not many will want to take the risk at looking “goofy” or “casual”) but many people will like that too. You only want to work with people that dig the things the way you do, and not work with stuffy or boring people or people not wanting to follow your process, IMHO.

            Great work and good luck with your launch!!! 🙂

          • Nathalie

            Haha, Ed, you are right, absolutely. I’m indeed a little quirky at times and I tend to do borderline crazy things, so THANK YOU for your kind message. I really appreciate it and you totally made me smile :-).

      • Nathalie

        Ahh, thank you, I’m glad to hear you like it, Janice! 🙂

      • kristie

        Love it !

    • That was SWEET Nathalie!

      • Nathalie

        THANK YOU, Pamela 🙂 🙂 🙂

    • Shahla

      That was so creative… and catchy.
      Id love to learn too 😀

      • Nathalie

        Haha, Shahla, I’m always happy to share what I know. So happy to hear you enjoyed it, thank you :-)!

    • Sajatha

      I love love love it!!! I am glad you published the video! It shows that you have a wonderfully fun and creative personality. Your course it gonna be Wonderful and full of wonder!!! 🙂 P.S. I would LOVE to learn to make videos like yours!

      • Nathalie

        Oh, wow, THANK YOU :-). You just totally made my day :-). And I’ll publish a free video on my youtube channel soon so if you like, keep an eye open :-).

    • MacushlaB

      Natalie – I LOVED this. It was just great!

      • Nathalie

        Thank you, Macushla, so glad to like it :-).

    • Love the video, great work!

      • Nathalie

        Thanks so much, Bryan :-). And thank you for your great work, you really are an inspiration :-).

    • What did you use to make this video? Please do share! 🙂 I’ll give you my email.. hehe!

      • Nathalie

        Haha, Suzi, you are too funny :-). I’ll record a video for my youtube channel soon and then I’ll share how I recorded the video :-).

    • Lino

      Add me to your fan list Nathalie.
      I also want to do follow this technique.
      And I’ll be subscribing to your list as well.
      Very nice job. I can’t wait to do something like this.

      • Nathalie

        Oh, that’s GREAT, Lino, thank you! 🙂 I’ll be shooting the video this or next week and will provide a free link on my blog or youtube channel then :-).

        • Lino

          Thank you so much Nat.
          Best regards.

    • This video is amazing!

      • Nathalie

        Thank you so much, Huw. I’m really glad you like it :-).

    • Great video Nathalie. Love to see innovative ideas well executed in video! And as others have said the biggest strength is the real you! Good luck with the course and I hope you are hosting it somewhere where you own the subscribers and the pricing. Ask Bryan about that. 🙂

      • Nathalie

        Hi Dave, thank you so much! 🙂 I’m almost done with the course and will be hosting it on Udemy. I’ve already been thinking about other platforms but I could indeed use a little input in this regard. Right now I’m figuring things out one step at a time ;-).

        • I have some ideas that I am happy to share, I’m in a webinar at the moment but will connect with you in about an hour or so.

          • Nathalie

            Oh, that sounds fantastic, thank you :-). I’ll be offline then though since it’s already late in my time zone. Can we connect on FB and maybe chat some other time? I’d really love that 🙂 Thank you and enjoy the webinar! Nat

          • Ok – just sent a friend request – Dave Howard – Circle Learning Inc. and MomentStorm Media Inc. so you recognize it.

  • I once built a list of 4063 in 2 days. I emailed 10 marketers in my niche who hadn’t launched a product in 6 months and offered to create a unique product for them. The deal was they got 100% of the income and I got all the optins. I said i would only do it for the first 3 people to reply I had 5 replies within an hour.

    • This is pretty smart! Congrats, Mark!

    • Dang. Really. A few follwups:

      1. Mind sharing the email you sent?
      2. Did you have a pre-existing relationship?
      3. What did the process look like to get their subs on your list?

  • Keith Gutierrez

    Hey Bryan,

    I’m sure you’ve probably seen this one, but one of the best list-building strategies that I have seen was provided by Josh Earl as a guest post on Pat Flynn’s blog back in 2014. “What I Learned From Growing My Email List by 3418% nearly (200k) in just 11 days. Here’s the link to the post: It was done as a giveaway and a tool called KingSumo. It’s an awesome idea for anyone looking to grow their email list extremely fast!

    • firenrain

      I love Josh’s stuff but I’m not a huge fan of this particular strategy. I did a giveaway and I did gain about 400-500 subscribers. The problem, in my opinion, is that those subscribers weren’t really interested in me or what I had to offer. They were interested in the giveaway prize (in my case, 5 books from authors in my niche). So yes, many of them stayed on my list but engagement (email opens, click throughs) hasn’t been what I wanted/expected.

      • I agree, mostly. I was part of a giveaway and at least half ended up dropping out or getting purged for never opening emails. But some are interested, so if it’s not time consuming, why not?

        • firenrain

          Well you also have to pay for the prize! Josh actually did another giveaway recently that bombed. He thinks it’s because the prize wasn’t well known enough. But he still had to follow-through and award the prize to the winner.

          • Yup. 🙂 I gave away a license for Thrive Themes, which is awesome but apparently not a hot commodity for my audience. $250 down the drain.

      • Giveaway subs can def vary in quality. But still a solid strategy IMO. Our first giveaway product 2,300 new subs and those folks spent over $50k last year.

      • Thanks for the props, Keith. 🙂

        And firenrain has a very valid point. I think about giveaway email addresses as “leads” more than actual subscribers.

        You still have to do legwork to win them over.

        It’s a lot like getting cheap PPC traffic. The clicks are just step 1—you still have to build a relationship.

        I was able to take my list of 187,991 subscribers (!) and prune it down to a very engaged list of around 65,000. That list routinely gets open rates of 30-35%, which is pretty solid for a list of this size.

        And there are definitely buyers in there, since that list has generated close to $50K in revenue.

    • Ah yea, that post by Josh was a BEAST. And he had other worldly results on that giveaway.

    • Keith,

      This is a great strategy, and it has worked well for us. We were able to grow a list of almost 1500 subscribers in about 3 months. I highly recommend KingSumo Giveaways. Make sure that you don’t add these subscribers to your main list until after you have removed the ones who only subscribed for the giveaway. This will prevent a lot of issues in the future.

      • Hey Steve!!!


        One of the best ways I grew my list when I had really no list was hijacking speaking event with a guy who invited me out. I say hijacked because I simply had the ideas I ran with that he hadn’t. He was giving half day workshop on the DISC profile to 500 educators. He invited me out to record it with him and gave me 5 Minutes talk time since he was keeping the $750 he got paid.

        Well I stole that five minutes like a rock star. Had the whole room laughing, and invited them to my back table after to sign up for a half day seminar I was doing on Fatherhood later that month. ( To be clear I had not planned or intended to do an event up until that moment.) I literally asked them to sign up for a Free Audio product on confidence that hadn’t existed and a workshop I would put on. The idea just came to me right before I stood up to speak. He actually walked up and cut me off during the middle of my time, but

        Results were I got 50 emails at the back of the room, connected to two other organizations to go speak at, and had an email list to communicate with their after. Also ended up making the audio the next few days and now I use that as another lead magnet to get sign ups. Worked like a charm for a half idea that came up on the fly.

        • Jason, Sounds like you rocked that event!!

  • Daily Orders

    A creepy dude walking along the beach and offering business cards for a brothel and a discount if you signed up…..yep….it happened….. (p.s. that is not my business, I saw someone else doing it!)

  • Socially Good

    Sadly, I don’t think I have seen anything ‘unorthodox’, perhaps I have too much insider knowledge. I can spot a “seats filling up fast/limited space” on what is clearly an automated webinar. A PDF that you have to opt-in to receive that teaches you how to get people to opt-in to get a PDF you create (meta), competitions, win a session type opt-ins. I’d excited to read which of these are working, thanks for the guide. *goes off to download*. – Clare

    • I had the same feeling, Clare. I haven’t directly seen anything new since the popup. No wonder we’re all hurting for Brian’s course!

    • Read all of these comments too. Some gems in here.

  • Musanete Sakupwanya

    Typical hot dude puts up a facebook post for his thousands of friends and says “I’m starting a blog, about how to get your boyfriend to be sexy like me… Sign up and I’ll send you my phone number as well. Strictly for advice of course, with my hot voice!”

    Over 2000 emails in 5 days… But no blog after 2 posts because of death threats from boyfriends lol!

    I only know this cos my ex was one of the subscribers… And it’s why she’s an ex.

    Would’ve loved to try this…but plastic surgery is too expensive!

    • wow…

      • Musanete Sakupwanya

        See.. Which is why I stick to listening to people like you.
        1. You know what you’re doing
        2. You’re happily married!


    • That was funny to read! 🙂

      • Musanete Sakupwanya

        Hindsight is always 20/20
        ….and usually a lot funnier when it involves random stuff like this!

        This is why I avoid gyms.Sheesh!

        OK seriously though.. The guy got 2000 emails by promising the impossible: boyfriend improvement. Maybe I could hack that market and not risk my life. 🙂

  • I saw a guy a while back at Fisherman’s Wharf in San Francisco who was performing these awesome magic tricks. He was a really good showman and got a big crowd to gather around him. He started performing all sorts of tricks, tricks with cards, ping pong balls, anything, you name it.

    Then at the end of the show he asked if anybody wanted to learn these tricks for free (although he made it sound a lot more enticing than that, he was a really good salesman). He then held up a clipboard and a pen and told everyone to simply write down their email address.

    I was shocked.

    These people couldn’t get enough of it! There were at least 4 dozen people all around him trying to write down their emails.

    In total his act took about 25 minutes and in that time I’d say he got at least 50 email addresses. But these emails were really hot leads, they saw the tricks in person and now they wanted more and I’m sure that guy made a lot of money from them.

    And the beauty of it is that there’s so much foot traffic in the area he was doing the tricks that he could have run 9-10 shows every day, day-in day-out! That was DEFINITELY the most unorthodox list building strategy I’ve ever seen.

  • Katie Goodman

    Last night for the first time I tried this: At my comedy show I told the audience to pull out their phone (this literally after a song chastising people who have their phones out at a comedy show) 🙂 and then I told them to text to a certain SMS code I signed up for (called Textiful) and then a code word (too Rated R for polite company here but hey it was a comedy show). They did it and a message came back asking for their email which they entered and I promised a free digital download of my CD for giving us their email address. I was SHOCKED how well this worked. Literally the entire audience gave me their emails on the spot. I made it fun and funny and part of the show and gave them something worthy for free. And now I have a slew of new fans I can contact directly. It was an experiment but it turned out to be a slam dunk!

    • Super smart. How many shows do you do a year?

    • This is awesome, Katie. A similar tactic that can work well if you’re speaking at a conference is to create a Twitter “lead gen” card that offers the slides from your presentation as a giveaway. Pin the card to the top of your timeline, and people in the audience can opt in to get the notes with a single tap.

  • Paul

    Wilco de Kreij gave away free access his twitter lead product in exchange for getting 5 people to sign up to his lead magnet.

  • Leah Rosen

    Really loved the webinar yesterday. I have some questions. Is there a way I can contact you?
    This was the first webinar that actually provided real information. Absolutely wonderful.

  • J Jackson

    I’m brand new to list building and don’t have any crazy strategies to share. But I’m taking notes and super eager to learn more from everyday. I’m a sponge! 0 to 10k soon!

    • soke it up. get the pdf + read all these comments. lots of smart stuff here.

  • I hate links which promise one thing and deliver you to another. I have been blogging for ten months and have just 140 subscribers (who I love and treasure dearly) but I have a whole lot more love to give!

  • I can’t wait to read the guide! The one thing I found to build my list was to offer more than one opt-in. Instead, now I have an opt-in page where there are lots of goodies for subscribers. It is password protected and the password is at the bottom of each RSS feed email.

  • Greg

    We do a lot of in person dinner seminars for retirement. One coworker of mine suggested we test that during our seminar that in order to sweeten their dinner (we are giving dinner for free) if they wanted say wine as a drink option they had to sign up to our newsletter and post on Facebook where they are now and post a link we provide them so their friends could click it to our website. Sorta an ethical bribe. Well I have done it twice and very very mixed results. I can’t get a sense of who it puts off and who loves the idea.

  • Amored Flaneur

    King sumo giveaways has doubled my list. Twice in 3 months!

    • Love it, what did you giveaway? How did you promote it

      • Amored Flaneur

        I give away over $50 in ergonomic quilting supplies. I run a Facebook ad for the duration of the contest, with a budget of $4.00 a day. Works out to something like $.40 per lead, I think….Anyway, I have gotten great subscribers this way, and my audience is really easy to target on Facebook.

  • Ben Gross

    Bit different but this is for bars & restaurants in the UK to grow their lists. A simple data capture when someone signs in to the places wi-fi. It’s all about creating your tribe

  • Deb samuels-peretz

    Thanks, Bryan! Looking forward to reading this as I am struggling with list-building. Like one of the previous commenters, I’ve seen lots of strategies because I’ve been immersing myself in this topic for a while, so not much is new to me anymore.

    The most unconventional strategy I’ve seen is when one person sent me an opt-in offer that included about 15 or so lead magnets by OTHER people in a similar field. I have to say, I’d never heard of any of them but the lead magnets were super interesting and all there on one page for download so I clicked, opted in, clicked, opted in over and over to get them all. It worked on me!

    • I saw this recently for the first time too. Was really interesting. Who did you see that was doing it?

  • I like the 3 recommendations in your ebook, Bryan. What also seems to be a great way to build a list is by offering an ebook for free (like you) that adds value to your target audience. I’ve seen Michael Hyatt do it multiple times with different products. I’m guessing it must work well for him since he keeps doing it! Now I need to try it!

    • Can work if you use it as a part of an affiliate launch or in conjunction with some lead gen angle. Alone, promoting a ebook to your audience generally doesn’t have a huge affect for list growth.

  • musicman

    Looking forward to your coming 10,000 List Building course. I really enjoy watching all your webinars and you offer so much fantastic information in all of them that really does works. I like the way you shoot straight from the hip and really tell it like it is. There aren’t a lot of internet marketers like that anymore. Keep up the good work.

    • Thank you 🙂

      • musicman

        Hi Bryan:
        Just wondering, do you have anyone taking your courses that have websites who teach guitar lessons?

  • Marnie Ginsberg

    Always love what you put out! Thank you for this freebie.

    Would this one-click opt-in work for a Facebook ad or post?

    • Thanks Marnie! Nah, only from another email list.

  • Andrew

    I did social media outreach to get 200 downloads of my e-book. Whenever someone added or followed me, I asked them if they set any goals lately. That usually morphed into a convo about goal setting and I would slide in some info about my e-book. Not exactly scalable but it’s good for early lead generation.

    • Did you do all of that manually?

      • Andrew

        Yep, mainly on Twitter and Instagram. Made some pretty cool connections that way and even booked a podcast with the outreach method.

  • Buck McDaniel

    I am afraid the most unorthodox list building method I have seen, you already teach. Seriously, a pen and paper and call your friends? Love it, but they aren’t in my niche. I would have to change niches and I have a purpose for the one I chose that goes beyond my own self.

    Not that aquaponics would be a bad niche, and I love it, but I have to focus only on one.

  • I went to one of those free financial freedom conferences that travels around the country once a couple of years ago. The place had about 30,000 people. The speaker said he was going to give a live visual presentation of list building and for everybody who participates would receive a free gift from him. He asked everybody to pull out there cell phones and text message a code w/o having to optin or double optin with your email because the cell phone is already associated to an email address. He showed the total numbers of attendees in the conference and the total numbers of text messages he just received live. It was something like 30,000 attendees, 25,800 text messages, that is an 86% optin rate. So within 5 minutes, he just got over 25.8K subscribers. He also said that for those who could not text message, that they could email him with a special email optin link and they would be automatically added as well. He probably squeezed another 10% out of that as well. Crazy. Guest speaking at conferences can give you those opportunities.

    • I’ll have to try that this year. I’ve heard that story before. Interesting…

  • Karolina Westlund

    It’s probably going to be the “List building: reflections from an animal trainer / could animal training techniques improve your conversion” guest blog post that I’m publishing at Mirasee in May..! 😉


    • heh! make sure you use the expanded guest post.

  • firenrain

    Unfortunately my theme doesn’t have an option to put the menu at the bottom of the page, though I might be able to create something in the footer.

    And as an FYI, you might want to modify/update your examples of upside down homepages in the ebook. Andrew Warner still has a traditional “at the top” menu. Elle and Co have both top and bottom menus on their home page. And Jeff Goins doesn’t really have a menu anywhere on his home page. Just a couple of stacked buttons, one of which takes you to his blog, the other which takes you to a different site of his.

    • Mixergy is 100% UDHP. You might be loading a cached version. E&C is a modified version. Jeffs menu is at the bottom.

      • firenrain

        Thanks. You might want to clarify that you’re referring to Mixergy. Andrew has another site ( which has the menu at top.

        As for Jeff Goins, I’ve looked at his site repeatedly and see no menu, either at the top or the bottom. I assume you’re referring to

  • IshaBell3421

    I remember years ago I wanted to build my list so I went to and used their discussion group link to send a question to their 300+ members. In the message I asked them to reply “yes” or “no” to a question. When they replied it revealed their email address, which at that time they were replying to a gmail address which was automatically hooked up to my mailchimp. So mailchimp always did an automatic email “contact” import, so that’s how they got on my list lol of course they had the option to opt out once I sent an email from mailchimp, but I couldn’t believe it worked. I got my first 100 subscribers that way, and because it was a very targeted group of people in a subject they were interested into, I had very few opt outs.

    • This is interesting. A little black hatty tho 🙂

  • Thanks Bryan!

    Here’s a recipe for slow (but engaged) growth that I have been using:
    1. Go to a networking event or random bar
    2. Be awesome and interesting
    3. Get lots of biz cards and contacts
    4. Remember something personal about each person
    5. Follow up within a couple days with everyone using a template email, and add a personal element to it (from what you remembered).
    6. Throw in a P.S. with a super soft no pressure sell to join your insider list if they are interested, and what you typically send out.
    7. Add them to your list (and set your email client to send a welcome letter when people subscribe OR are imported. Make sure it is a cool welcome letter and not a boring crappy one).
    8. Watch that list grow!

    I am getting a 70% conversion rate with this. With one networking event per week, and 7 emails added each time (I can only remember personal info about ten people at once so that’s my limit on biz cards) it should only take me 1,482 weeks to get to 10,000 subscribers.

    On the plus side, these tend to be very engaged subscribers since I have met them all face to face.

    On the negative side: it’s a 1,482 week process.

    Committed for the long haul,


  • Thanks for the guide. So far, I have tried a lot of things on the seminars, but still seeking the platform.

  • Bart

    Hey Bryan!
    I’ve been reading your blog for just a couple of days – and it’s amazing! Thank you for all the hard work you do to pass your knowledge onto us – me especially :).

    The most unorthodox strategy I’ve witnessed is cake. List building made literally by self-made cake.
    I once joined an event of a friend, who wanted to share with his colleagues that he was starting a business. We all gathered to celebrate it and when things were less “official” (shortly after beginning) we got a cake. There was a written link to a site on the cake, which led actually to the special “promo” of the service, made only for us. Of course, the promo was available once we joined the “waiting list” (the page was a simple squeeze page).

    I have never seen anything more unorthodox than that :).


  • Nathan Rofkahr

    Google Advanced Functions and emailing individually.

    If your niche is “Pet Food” type in something like “Pet Food Conference filetype:xls”
    This works really well for B2B, but some of the lists can be a few years old.

    Then send them a freebie:
    “Hey I thought you might be interested in this new Pet Food health guide I made”


  • Recently, I saw a FB status update from a girlfriend who went to see the Northern Lights in Finland. But that update was actually reposted from the tour guide’s FB page. The guide tagged everyone in the pics, nothing new there.

    What was ingenuous was that he would send my friend the original photos (taken with a professional camera) *only* if she shared the album and liked his page.

    The Northen Lights can’t really be captured with a point-and-shoot camera so the guide should be quite successful with this strategy.

  • What has worked crazy good for me is doing challenges. I am currently wrapping one up now that grew my list by 200 people.

    • Interesting, how do you run them? how does it grow your list?

      • I create a step by step process for the prticipsnts to follow that will yield them a result. I advertise on social media and send them to a landing page. Once they opt in I send them a quick daily video and action step for the day. The one we had this week was on how to create at least 3 months worth of content so by the end this was the result some had more. I also provide support in my Facebook group. And my goal at this point, since my group is kind of small, is to comment on each persons progress and help them out.

      • I create 5 days of little action steps they can take to get them a certain result. Then After they opt in the get an email with a video and PDF outlining the action step. At the end of the 5 days they get the specific result. So in this weeks we planned out 3 months worth of content in less than 30 min per day for 5 days. I also provide them individualized support in the FB group and ask them to comebt with their progress. Bc my group is small I interact with every person that posts their progress.

  • jbogs101

    I’m like all you guys… I really appreciate cool marketing things. And since I’ve been poking around videofruit this whole list building thing has really been on my radar.

    Sooo last night I’m in the package store (what we here in Connecticut call liquor stores… don’t ask me why) getting my wife a bottle of wine.

    I get to the middle of the store where there’s a HUGE stack/presentation of products.

    First thing that I see (it screamed off the display) was a PINK, tag with black ink hanging on the neck of one of the bottles.


    yea… in all CAPS.

    Sure got my attention….

    In smaller letters “Download the app and get cash back on your beer, wine, & liquor purchases in 48 hours”.

    Also showed 2 small graphics. one was the app store and the other the google play store.

    Bein’ nosey I flip it over. It shows the app name, 3 steps to follow and a sketch of a smart phone.

    The 3 steps are: 1) BUY NOW 2) TAKE PHOTO 3) GET CASH

    So I did 🙂 and I’ve got pictures…

    Here’s pictures (below) of the tag (both sides), screen captures of searching for the app, how the app appears before you install it, how they ask for your mail.

    AND they ask for WAY MORE then your email, just look.

    I put the pixs up on my personal G+ collections page it you want to go have a peek.

    You can see all of the pictures here

    I thought it was pretty cool. The right offer, in the right place and at the right time. And made me want it. I was buyin’ because I sure didn’t feel like I was being sold 😉

    • Dr steve G

      i need this in a candy store 🙂

  • I’ve heard of someone who started a podcast and produced about 8 value packed episodes just to build an audience for an upcoming event. They reached their target audience where they already hang out.
    Kudos on you contest format. Talk about a win/win. I should try something like this next time i want to know what my audience thinks!

  • Carol Butler

    I will blog with my powtoon creations, 30 seconds or 60 seconds because time is short, and I know you’re either informing, transforming, entertaining or improving someone’s life when they give you their time.

  • Gate the content that you send to your current subscribers using Smart Bribe so that they have to email a friend to get access to the free guide. Then the same one-click optin strategy kicks in. Just instead of partners, your current subscribers send it off to someone they know that might be interested in the content.

  • Most unorthodox strategy…asking someone at the end of a 5k race to join the list.

  • Jason C.

    I tell my contractor clients to visit the neighbors next to the house they are currently working on or have just completed a job for and ask directly for their permission to send information about their services and ask for an email address. When you are a “working contractor,” this goes on daily and can really stack up.

    Yes, sometimes you get the door closed on your face, but you’d be surprised how well it works.

  • Jason C.

    Another is to create a meetup group in your space and begin speaking on your expertise subject matter. As you attract crowds over time, you always pass out a signup sheet with an email address section. You already know they are a warm lead because they came to the event.

  • Sam

    The most unorthodox approach to building an email list is through podcasting. This particular podcast is run for the UK market, the problem with podcasts is you don’t get email subscribers.

    So the organisers casually dropped within the podcast how they had one more juicy tip, at the end of the show they gave the URL to download the bonus tip, which naturally was gated behind an email submit wall!


  • Awesome! Thank you 🙂
    Well, I did something a bit crazy, I gave away a lifetime membership for a product I haven’t launched yet. I got 2.5k sign ups in less than 24hrs.

  • I was at an event where Nathan Latka was speaking about webinars. He has that influential Steve Jobs type approach to speaking that really gets you into what he’s talking about. He was going through all these statistics slides and how his approaches changed his viewership and buys, and he pitches his formula for getting people to stick around and buy within his slide deck. He tells us to pull out our phone and text his SMS number and reply with our emails for the slide deck. It was pretty genius after captivating us.

  • Looking forward to checking out the guide.

    My most unorthodox method for building our list is that when our customers place an order, we’re able to identify those who have subscribed and those who have not.

    For the Non subscribers, we send them a post card with their name hand written and personally signed by the warehouse person – also hand writing a Bible verse – the card explains that we’d love for them to join our newsletter and we’ll send them a $5 gift card if they do. Also we put a sticker on the outside of the package that says “Get $5 Off” and has a lead digit text optin on the sticker.

  • Abby Grace

    The most unorthodox list building strategy? Gosh, I feel like I have some serious homework to do on that. I’m accustomed to the typical “here’s a free content upgrade! Just gimme yo’ email address!” sort of thing. Or while you’re listening to a presentation and someone says “hey! text this number for an ebook directly related to what I’m talking about right now!” Beyond that, I haven’t really seen much that’s struck me as particularly innovative. Maybe I’m just not following the right people!

  • Daniel Reifenberger

    My business partner owns a physical therapy clinic. His most unorthodox method is partnering with local furniture stores that specialize in back pain to host workshops.

    The furniture store promote the workshop to their list and he promotes it to his.

    The furniture store gets foot traffic and he gets a room full of people with back pain. After a 45 minute presentation he offers a free back pain screening at his clinic and converts around 80-90%.

    For the remaining 10% he offers his book, but he only has one copy on hand for show, so attendees give their name, mailing address, email address, and phone number. Then he mails out the book and puts them on his physical and email newsletters.

    After the book arrives his front desk follows up and converts a good percentage of folks to patients as well.

    2 hours of work a month = about $15k – $40k a month in revenue and a whole bunch more people on his list which generates return patients and referrals.

    • Syed Kazim

      This is a brilliant strategy!

      • Daniel Reifenberger

        Thanks Syed!

  • I don’t really have an unorthodox tail to tell. All I know is what you taught me yesterday, I’ve just been asking my friends, family and connections on social media for the support and I have felt sooooo loved & supported!! Thanks for what you do 🙂

  • So you have to picture this…



    100+ degree heat.


    Hot Sun.

    An un-airconditioned ballroom.

    8 hours.

    Imagine a bunch of academics–it was a conference for professors–who had been sitting in a long lecture style meeting for hours discussing statistical significance and effect sizes.

    Right outside the ballroom one of the vendors set up a table filled with cool, icy water bottles (you know the type that have condensation on them). They were strategically placed right as we exited the ballroom. All he asked was for us to drop our business cards on the table or fill out a sheet with our email address.

    A few steps down the corridor was another table and there was someone handing out those little blister packets of aspirin. Again, all they asked for was our business card to join their lists.

    A bottle of water (that I was in desperate need of), aspirin (for my blooming headache), and all I had to do was drop by business card on the table. I was more than happy to sign up for those lists. It was unorthodox, creative, and genius!

    So there you have it that’s the most unorthodox list building method I’ve ever seen.

    This was a fabulous question to ask! I’ve already learned so much from this blog post and the What’s Working Right Now e-book, and now I’m learning so much from these comments. This is brilliant group of individuals and their comments! Good luck choosing a winner…what a fabulous prize!

  • I’m brand-new to list building, so can’t wait to read this guide. Thanks Bryan.

    I’m not sure if this is unorthodox or not, but I plan to run a weekly instagram assignment/contest to help (myself and) fellow photographers/photo enthusiasts to actively create and to engage with the medium. On IG, the weekly “winners” will simply be regrammed, but an in-depth discussion and critique of each will be available via a newsletter sign-up linked in my bio. Will it work? We’ll see!

  • AsylumCricket

    I don’t know if it’s unorthodox, necessarily, but I haven’t seen it elsewhere.

    There’s a site called CoSchedule, and their posts all had this little number below the headline. I was curious, so clicked it. When I did, it took me to their tool, which ideally rates a headline’s quality based on certain characteristics. Out of curiosity, I tried one of my headlines, and got an above average score. I played with it a bit to see if I could score higher. On the third attempt, an opt-in popped up suggesting a freebie of a page containing words to try and use.

    Long story short, the site used an opt-in popup once the user demonstrated an active need for the help.

    • Syed Kazim

      That’s a great way to make sure that you have hot leads on your list.

  • Liz Morrow

    My favorite unorthodox list-building method is about this girl who used to be a booking agent for concert venues around town.

    She would go to concerts, stand at the door, and as people were leaving ask for their email address and/or phone numbers if they wanted to be contacted when that band or similar bands played again.

    She used this information to not only create crowds when bands played, but ask the people on the list what other bands they liked and book them to come too, knowing she already had an audience that would come!

    These people were such hot leads because they stayed to the end of the concert and even showed interest in coming back, so they were the exact raving fans she was looking for.


  • Jim Medina

    I remember one effective and unorthodox method. I don’t remember who it was, but the speaker was on stage and asked the audience to pull out their phones and join his list right them. He had the information on a large presentation pad or on a PowerPoint slide. He waited for a few minutes before moving on, and while he was waiting, he continued to coax the audience to join his list. I believe he got hundreds of subscribers just by doing that. Wish I could remember who it was. It was great. Anyone remember who that was?

  • Liz

    There’s this one guy who created an app that bribes people to opt-in and share your content in order to download freebies. I thought that was a pretty genius plan. =D

  • Sakari Turunen

    When we started our newsletter, for the first 3 weeks the only way to enroll was to see a poster at our office and text your email to the given number. (It took several weeks to put a sign-up form on the website). Hey, it worked for some time (scarcity can have a massive pull!) and now we are just at 1800+ subscribers (with an ongoing 50+% open rate).

  • Ashley Furin

    One quick comment because I thought it was kinda funny.

    So I completely agree with, well, everything you said, and especially with the audience being tired of the same old bs techniques for list-building. What made me laugh is that you used the tactic of “commenting on a bunch of different blogs” as being one that needs to go and I haven’t actually tried that before as a tactic, but I did get two clients by commenting on blogs. I seriously didn’t even know that it’s considered a “tactic” and I rarely comment on blogs (Neil Patel, Brian Dean & Brian Harris are my only 3 exceptions). But oddly enough, like I said, two of my clients are guys who found me through my comments on Neil Patel’s Quicksprout blog. Weird right!?

    Anywho, I’m sure the tactic you were referring to wasn’t about someone who comments on a blog post once every few months. But I thought that was kinda funny how gaining subscribers or clients can sometimes happen in strange ways/places and when you’re not even trying lol.

    Thanks for sharing the guide! Can’t wait to take a closer look!

    • That’s awesome! Well, at the end of the day always ahere to this…


      • Ashley Furin

        Lol thanks Bryan! Oddly enough, that’s the same exact advice I give whenever I’m asked, “Ashley, you have three kids, do you have any advice for a new parent?” YES, do whatever works!

        I don’t think I’d ever comment on other people’s blogs for the sole purpose of gaining clients or subscribers, because that seems disingenuous and I don’t like that. But, it goes to show that sometimes you can have a great strategy that helps, but end up finding success through the unintentional sources.

  • I’ve seen people do giveaways, tripwires etc.. that now seems to be “mainstream” The most unorthodox list-building strategy I’ve seen would now be the old-school ways. Identifying prospects and physically going door-to-door to them to offer value to get them on your list. That is very unorthodox these days! Slower? More effort? Yep. Unorthodox? Definitely.

  • MaliQue_NG™

    Great post, the PDF strategy made an intresting read. There exist a non exhaustive list of unorthodox list building strategies although opt-in bribes are conventionally used, I think quizzing an audience by asking their problems and challenges in exchange for their email address and afterwards segmenting stereotyped value driven solutions tailored to their various needs increases opt-in rates. I’ve seen Danny Iny and Alex and Steve of PBI used these method to their advantage.

    Personally I don’t own a blog right now but have had experience in the past. Plan to launch back online in the coming week. Thanks for the great insight Bryan.

  • Kirsten Oliphant

    I’ve seen gross people do the unorthodox thing of signing people up for their list without permission. Ugh. But as far as COOL things that do actually work, I love using Noisetrade and putting up free books. The audience isn’t huge, but it’s big and often a different one than you’d get from Amazon. It’s also a relatively uncrowded space.

  • Brian Berni

    Great insights Bryan, thanks! (By the way, Brian is properly spelled with an I like in my name :). I was at a conference once here in Italy. The guy was really serious, suit and tie and all of that. No jokes during the presentation whatsoever. At the end of the speech he literally strips off his jacket and shirt and is left wearing only a white t shirt with a gigantic QR code printed on it. Yes, you guessed it right: he had everyone pointing their smartphone at him, which got them to a landing page. Genius!

  • Daniel Stephens

    This is a spam technique that I DO NOT recommend, and to my shame, was the first list building strategy that I tried. Opt-out, instead of opt-in. Sync all your email accounts, facebook, LinkedIn, and twitter to one app that pulls out all the email addresses (I forget what the app was). Then in one campaign tell them about the new blog/newsletter/product you’re going to launch and then ask them to unsubscribe if they’re not interested. When I did this, my first run list was ~2,000. I upset a few people.

  • MacushlaB

    Bryan – Appreciate you sharing this material. It’s a real help to a late-to-list-building clown like me. I don’t have an unorthodox list building strategy, but if I did, this is where I’d share it. Heading over to put my name on the wait list. Now.

  • Pete

    I was shopping one day with the gf. Not going to name it, but we were in an upper-end women’s undergarment store. Saw a woman examining a few items and then placing something on the tags. Once she finished up her business and left, naturally I went over to see what she had been up to. She was placing little stickers on the tags of some of the premium lingerie. The stickers had a QR code and a call to action that led to a premium information product for women.

    By far the most off-the-wall (and seemingly difficult) list building technique. But hey – even if she only converted at 0.5% she was probably making a killing on that product.

  • I ask people in person to join my list. The shit is totally groundbreaking!

    The most unorthodox strategy I’ve seen is building lists…who thinks that’s a good idea?!

  • Janet Ripley

    I really have not seen a wild list building syategy that really works yet…..but I know that there is one as people are getting largw lists……

  • Jon Lewis

    Saw some guy downtown with an ipad who was asking for an email in exchange for entering some sort of contest. Great hustle but not sure how targeted the emails would be 😉

  • milica

    HOW do you post a comment and build a list of emails, or contacts? And what is the difference in what you are suggesting here and your premium list-building course? And if you have that kind of traffic do you have to have dedicated server and how much does your email service costs?

  • I actually just ran across a really unorthodox list building strategy. It’s a documentary about cancer that has you opt-in to get the free video (which they haven’t posted yet). Once you sign up -instead of a simple ‘share this’ page- there is essentially a reverse affiliate program. While the video they are giving away is free, they offer prizes (DVD’s containing more information) based on how many referrals your receive. Since you are obviously interested in learning about cancer, this is a great way to get shares. Who doesn’t like prizes? Points go to them for building their list, although I’m not sure how this is going to make them money. They are obviously doing something right, since it has been share 625K times as of this comment.

    Heres my fancy referral link if you want to check it out:

    A great post, Bryan! I struggle with finding a balance of staying true to my voice…. and doing what everyone else tells you to do. Perhaps I need to focus on having more fun.

    • bobcrawford

      They are monetizing it by selling the replays. Massive success last year, and today was day 1 of this promotion and their opt-ins are way ahead of last year. Great concept.

      • Thanks for the info Bob! It seems like it is a great way to get a viral product, have some social proof, and get lots of reviews. So I guess that means they will get more sales than they would have without this method. Definitely something to consider in the future: i.e. opt into this free video series. But wait! Share it with your friends and if one of them sign up you could get the training for free. I have seen this around, but it was more of a raffle method.

  • Chantelle

    Hey Bryan … quick question … I noticed that you do not use a sidebar for your blog. Wouldn’t this be a great place to get subscribers? I’m just wrapping up my website development, so would love to hear your input. LOVE the upside down homepage, btw 🙂

  • Eric Maier

    I put links to free content into my books so even if someone buys a book and I don’t get their email, I might be able to capture it from within the book.

  • I’ve seen this multiple times in Facebook Groups where a person would post a very enticing offer and ask directly for emails. And it works! The thread gets super long. I’ve seen them get up to over 200 emails in a day. And every time an email or comment is added, the post jumps back to the top of the group wall bringing in even more visibility. This is a strategy frequently used in Facebook Groups. Seems like not too many people are nervous about sharing their email publicly in a group. xox

  • What’s really really worked for us has been Content Upgrades… Sure they may be done to death,in some niches, BUT at the same time, I’ve found that if your upgrade is an excellent add-on and value-based, it really boosts subscribers and also, social shares. In the last 3 months, itself, we’ve been able to add 1500+ subscribers using upgrades that then, lead into our info products and services 🙂

  • Daniel Stephens

    Would it be possible to use the one-click opt-in on the email gate step in SmartBribe?

  • Ok, so I’m on a dating site right now, and I was really really dismayed at the number of men who just didn’t know how to talk to a woman (the messages I received were just blah).

    I decided to change that, and linked to a pdf of the first few chapters of an eBook by one of my favorite dating coaches for men. At the end of that pdf is an affiliate link for the full version of the book.

    Just for curiosity’s sake, I added a tracker to that link.

    That pdf got downloaded 3x more than on my own site! And to a very targeted audience too.

    I might not be having much success with online dating, but at least I’m making some money! Probably will use it for my own date night with the girls haha!

    I see definite potential in using this as a list building strategy. =)

  • Denise Esse

    Hey Bryan, nice PDF. The most unorthodox strategy I’ve seen is also the most basic. The one you introduced me to. Just simply asking people. Easy, but often overlooked.

  • Jim Beeghley

    I saw a blogger post a video and beg that his kids needed to eat. It was pretty pathetic.

  • Thanks for the guide! I love the concept of the upside-down home page . . . and since I’m still working on the lame procrastination technique of “redesigning your website,” I’ll put it on the list!

  • My list was at 0 on February 1 and is at 1472 today–two months later exactly. The most unorthodox thing I’ve done is offer a freebie that pretty much everyone in the world (except the people who have signed up for it!) said was WAY too big, and WAY too much, and no one would ever give me their email for it. I made the first 8 weeks of the paid year-long course I wanted to offer (it’s a novel writing course) free to subscribers. The early enrollment in my paid course ended today and I sold 89 spots. My whole life has changed, because I decided to build a list.

  • Hi Bryan – love the “upside down home page” tactic from your PDF. I’m going to implement a version of that this week (still need to build up content before I can implement all parts of it).

    The most unorthodox list-building strategy I’ve seen was a few months ago from Vick Strizheus from High Traffic Academy. It goes like this:

    1. Get people to sign up for a free e-lesson or video lesson
    2. Send the lesson packed with over-the-top value, then let them know if they want another lesson that builds on that one, they can either: A) Pay for it ($7, $27, or whatever), or B) Share the original opt-in page (via email or social media).

    When I saw this it blew my mind – I’ve not seen anything like it up to this point. I think it’s effective because it juxtaposes the pain of paying with the far less pain of sharing, so the sharing seems like a no-brainer. Plus it automatically feels valuable because there’s a price attached to it, but you’re getting it for free, so you kind of feel like you’re cheating. At least that’s how it felt for me 😉

    I haven’t tried it yet myself because I haven’t created anything “sellable” yet, but it did get the gears in my head turning about trying something similar: offering a bonus freebie for a share. I couldn’t find anything out there that would do this, so I manually created it for a giveaway I was running & tracked all shares in an excel spreadsheet. It was very effective, but a big pain in the rear & time suck. Then you went and created SmartBribe and made my life easier 🙂

    Thanks for all your great content!

  • Tara Cole

    The most unconventional and frustrating one I’ve seen is websites that make me give them my email even before they will let me view the products I want to purchase from their site. I usually just walk away.

    • Clare Walker

      I’m with you. If I go to a website that has a big page requiring me to give my email before I can even enter the site, I usually click away. If I’m not mistaken, this is called a “Welcome Mat.” (?) If so, it should be called an “Unwelcome Mat!” 🙂

  • Sofia K

    So many unique strategies here, pdf and the comments! Thanks everyone.

    An unconventional, but very effective strategy I saw recently was an up and coming business that did coaching. They had made some courses and then approached a huge figure in their field, a man thats well-known and very respected. The business asked if he would review their course and give them some feedback as they didnt want to reach out to the public (religious niche) without knowing their products would only do good.
    The guy, probably feeling flattered and responsible agreed to review their courses for quality and gave some feedback.
    After incorporating his feedback into their courses, the new business asked the man if at his next big speaking engagement he would refer to their course for people needing coaching on those issues. He agreed.
    Because the rec came from such an authority and the event had a large attendance…plus it was streamed live and then put on YouTube, they got the best shout-out ever and their course sold out the night after he referred to it almost in passing at the end of his talk.

    Good luck to everyone trying to grow their list, I have my goal saved as my Desktop background with a deadline of May 1st. (its just 100 subs, so it will def happen!) Thanks again.

  • I saw people write ebook put on Amazon for free or 0.99 dollars, people purchase and tell them sign up for bonus for the book.
    I wonder who’s winner get the giveaway!?

  • Mandy Rosko

    Thanks for the book! Can’t wait to read it!

    Okay, do these have to be real strategies or ones we make up? If so, a hot guy standing on a curb, claiming to be a male prostitute, but offering all the ladies who walk by a free twenty minute sample of his services. I’m sure that’s happened somewhere at least once

  • Fabian Markl

    Thank you for the ebook. I haven’t found any unorthodox list-building strategy.

    But, here are two I use for my book:

    A) I’ve created a free audiobook for my kindle/paperback. Then, I’ve put a page at the front and end of the book that says, “Here is your free audiobook”. At the bottom of this page is a link to a landing page where they can click a button, enter their name and email to get the full audiobook.

    The experience is that around 25% of the people who buy the book, sign up for the audiobook. My email open rate on average is 50%, but I only have 30 people on my list.

    B) From my book I’ve created a set of 80 “Meditation Cards” that visitors can get once they sign up at my website. The copy of that landing page says,

    “Don’t have time to read my book? Own my book, but want a “quick start” that you can put in your pocket or wallet to take everywhere? Click the button below to get a PDF with 80 meditation cards – printer friendly.”

    BONUS: I’ve implemented your “Upside-Down Hompage” technique on my Home page. I love it.

    So far, I’ve started guest posting on HuffPost and Positively Positive, but I’m looking forward to learning more strategies from you.

  • Cathy Jordan

    I perform stand up comedy and spoken word. I once “double dog dared” the audience to text different codes throughout my routine as things I said resonated with them. Not only did I get a standing ovation, there was so much more engagement throughout the show. There were about 600 attendees. In less than an hour, 310 were on my list and already segmented based on the message code. I even saw a lil old lady getting assistance with texting. She was cute. I think I should perform more…hmmmm

  • Chantelle

    I’m just starting out on my list, but one of my main strategies is to do a Quiz Show … so put out a weekly quiz … with a question from my focus topic… and a $10 amazon gift card as the reward. Hopefully if it’s successful, I can have companies within my niche offer the prizes eventually. I’ll let you know how it goes!

    In the meanwhile, I have a question – I notice you do not have a Sidebar signup – is that on purpose? Do you recommend for someone trying to build a list?

  • Huge fan here, Bryan. I made an online course based on one I already teach at a top university, following David Siteman Garland’s recipe (except that I don’t have a list). I sent an email looking for beta testers for my course on how to write winning campaign plans (so you can change laws to improve lives and protect the planet) and I now have about 40 people from the biggest organizations in my field testing it. They forward it to others because it meets a need and they can see what I’ll charge for the final course because I send them to my sales page with a dummy credit card number. Are these people opting in to be on my list? Not exactly, but they’re interested in my course so they’re good candidates. I would be thrilled beyond belief to take your course.

  • Mayer Miklós

    Hi Bryan, thanks for this great guide.
    Never really understood upside-down homepages, but I know why many do it 🙂 I’ll implement it on my sites as well.
    Can’t think of anything that unorthodox list building I came across… But I love those ones that give you a free course for your email address.

  • Peter Cutforth

    Great post Bryan. Whats the one-click app to put in emails?

  • Felecia Farmer

    I think that it’s quite unethical to just still friends from your friends list on Face Book without their permission. I know of people who do this and then just begin rapport with those people while implying that the friend gave them permission to contact them. That really seems like spamming to me.

  • The unorthodox strategy is creating a case study using a product or service that is popular. Example of this in action is writing about Soylent

  • Ethan

    Something we did that got a good group of engaged people was a series of monthly events (English speaking parties for English learning)

  • Brian Smith

    My unconventional list building was when I do supporting acting in various movies and TV dramas (extra money while in startup mode). Gathered names of lots of upcoming actors and directors as well as from the crew and ADs! Showed loads of people my designs! Now have some great celeb endorsements!

  • Colleen

    The most unorthodox list-building strategy I’ve seen is Sean McCabe’s principle of giving away the best 10% of your content for free. Mind-blowing.

  • Matt Peyton

    I once saw a presidential candidate plug his website at EVERY debate….leveraging platform to build list.

  • I don’t have an “unorthodox” strategy but one that works for me is just to ask people that I connect with offline. Since they already know me, they are warmed up to what I have to say via email.

  • Stephen Brooks

    Hi Bryan,

    My unorthodox list-building strategy is to create a pinterest type video site to get people into an engagement trance… and when they finally snap out of it a bit they’ll click an ad link to your money site were you capture them into your list, because they’re already drinking the coolaid. You know they already have some interest in what your laying down and it justifies the time they’ve just spent perusing related videos.

    — Steve

  • I enjoy your strategies. I like to use to build my lists. People in my groups come to my webinars and I can send things out to them once they’ve registered.

  • Eve Tokens

    I set up workshops and publicise using eventbrite and Meet-Up.. I make sure to leave the website address in the more info section so that viewers can click forwards to see more of what I do. They’re then taken to my upside down page. 🙂

    I’m currently doing the Rapid List course and seeing improvements. Thanks Bryan!

  • I’ve started posting inspirational quotes about success, learning, change, women, creativity, music etc that I find on PostPlanner that have gone viral to our Facebook page. I see which resonate with my audience within the first few hours and then edit the post to include our website and how our “freebie” relates to the quote. It drives people back to our site big time because people love sharing inspirational quotes. The reason I don’t put info on each inspirational post is that I don’t want to be “over promoting” our site. Just want to target the most viral posts. It works great and the shares and organic reach are through the roof compared to our normal reach. It also boosts the organic reach of many of our other posts. Here’s an example viewed by over 2,000 people and with 23 shares:

  • Andre Khrisna

    Brian, I already have 5,500 subscribers on my list.
    Got it from giveaways and buyers who bought my product (drinkware and apparel for firefighters). I have a Shopify store and selling on platform like GearBubble, Represent, and Teespring.

    Send them content that’s funny, engaging few times, and send offers about new products, custom design offers for FREE, but still don’t get any traction.

    Seems like my email is just lost.

    Used MailChimp before until it become too expensive for me because they charged me $75/month and I can’t even get profit to pay its bill.
    So I paused my account and search for cheaper but more reliable solution.
    Found Sendy, but not using it yet.

    Do you have any strategy to send email to my list?
    Because I really feel that I have the resources (the list), but couldn’t maximize its potential.
    Please help…

  • My newest strategy just employed for the last week – Hotjar polls. I put a Hotjar poll on my homepage – a small box that comes up in the corner after they’ve been on the site for 10 seconds – asking “What is your biggest struggle right now in your music career”. It then asks them if they want an answer by email. They put in their address. So far everyone who has responded to the question has given their email. I have responded to them personally. It created a great deal of rapport and many times i can truly help them by pointing them to a podcast or article on our site. Although only a small percentage of visitors will answer the question, the ones who do are HYPER responsive and definitely future customers.

  • Aasiyah Ghazi

    Not sure if this is unorthodox Bryan but right now I am in a program and the first thing we jumped into even if we didn’t have a list to begin with was to do an online virtual interview series – a summit. That’s helped me get 214 people within the last week and a half but I would love to get up to 10,000 people on my list!

  • thirru

    Great guide. Hope to implement some of these tricks for our coming product launch of ShapeScale.

  • One potential list building strategy I’ve seen is popular among yoga instructors on Instagram – they’ll host contests between 4-5 other yoga instructors, they schedule a “30 day challenge” with a yoga theme (strength, flexibility, whatever their audience is looking to improve). Then everyone schedules an image each day of them doing a pose, that the audience has to try and take a picture of themselves doing.

    So then it ends up being 4-5 really popular yoga instructors with huge instagram followings hosting this challenge for 30 days, one of them posting a pose, the rest of them sharing that pose with their following. And then thousands of followers posting their own pictures doing the post, hashtagging the challenge and tagging the members.

    The way I would improve this (maybe they do this already, I’m not sure) – right now, this just builds a bigger following on Instagram. And it’s great because they require hashtags and tagging the yoga instructors to win prizes from sponsors. I would go the extra mile and link to a landing page (especially using your Smart Bribe) – and offer the yoga calendar as a PDF in ADVANCED as a sharing bonus (their audience would LOVE this). And then send an email each day there’s a new pose and link to the yoga instructor that posted it (some times it’s hard to find the original post between all the followers and instructors posting). And then offer prizes through EMAIL with the instructions (require hashtag and tagging the instructors, etc).

    I see their Instagram followers grow like crazy with this challenge – so I’m sure this could be a great list building strategy too. Especially because a lot of these followers find a calendar of poses really valuable (just look through pinterest and search “30 day workout challenges & calendars” lol)

  • Leah H

    My list was regional and pretty targeted to young folks who liked wine, so I did free pop-up wine tastings all over Los Angeles.

    They got insane blog and media coverage, so I required an rsvp with email. Everyone flakes in LA, so I got TONS of sign-ups of my target, along with a packed house (but usually not too packed) for the tastings. It worked for me because I just had to have the idea, set up the RSVP, and run the tastings (very informal) – media and word of mouth would do the rest because um FREE WINE.

  • The most unorthodox tactic I’ve seen was in an answer on Quora about how to drive traffic to a site quickly with 0 marketing dollars. It involved a fictitious story on theChive about a young woman who quit her job via dry erase board messages outing her abusive boss. All the elements to go viral including the photos that made up her resignation. Search “$0 marketing budget” if you want to read the details

    The best alternative idea I think is to jump on new social or distribution platforms where your posts don’t so easily get lost in the fire hose of content. I’m thinking of giving Quuu a try for a couple of targeted posts. What this tells you is I really need your course so I knuckle down, “figure it out” and get the basics done!

    Bryan you’ve totally earned my respect over the past several months for the awesome value you share for those of us still outside of your course. Truly exemplary of Gary Vee’s Jab, Jab, Jab Right Hook with your Give, Give, Give, Ask.

    And hey,,,I’m confident Nathalie will really benefit when she wins the scholarship. ;o)

  • Honestly… I haven’t seen any unorthodox list-building strategies, because I haven’t kept my eye out for them! I’m definitely interested in learning more, now that I’m aware!

  • Sacia Ashe

    The most out there strategy I’ve seen is to snailmail cards to everyone in your phone book, with a link to join your list. Old fashioned, huh? I’ve never tried it.

  • Hey, can someone who understands disqus help me figure out how to stop receiving notifications for this thread? I keep clicking the unsubscribe button in the emails I get, but it takes me to my general disqus settings . . . I don’t want to stop receiving all disqus notifications or change my general settings, but I can’t find any way there or here to simply unsubscribe from new comments to this one thread.
    Thanks in advance!

    • Hmm, strange. Honestly I’m not sure how to do that Peter. Definitely doable though.

  • Honestly, I had been floundering with my newsletter. I only recently tightened my brand and got clear on how I could serve a list that was in line with my brand and purpose.

    Part of that was because I took your workshop and asked people directly. I even included some casual punctuation to remind people I am just a person…as opposed to sending super salesy copy. In less than a week from taking your list-building workshop and asking, I got to my first, modest goal (100).

    Then I shared the strategy and information about your workshop with friends in my industry. They wanted to see what I was doing, so they subscribed to my newsletter too!

    I’m still experimenting with the right copy, but for the first time I had emails back from subscribers, comments, and shares. I had multiple people talking about how much they loved my newsletter and what I’m doing – people I didn’t think were in my demographic who said they loved it and recommended it to others… and all I did was ask for comments at the bottom of the letter!

    Thanks so much for sharing your strategies! It’s already amplifying my message!

  • Jared DeValk

    I called PPC referred buyers for my physical products on Amazon directly. I ask them about my product and asked for their email to send them a coupon. I also requested to stay in contact with them about future products and feedback.

  • Hi Bryan,
    Thanks for the awesome guide.
    A restaurant in my town invites every customer to join a monthly draw for free dinner for two in return for joining their email mailing list (only they call it a Fun Club membership). Club members get discount coupons every week, priority booking, free home delivery and other perks. This offer is also printed on their menu cards, brochures, business cards and bags. They also have banners announcing the winners of the previous draw with their photographs and testimonials.
    It does seem to be working!

  • jkao

    Note to those looking for subscribers: Using inappropriate language even when substituting it with symbols (like @*#!) and when speaking in webinars using foul language in your communications can be considered offensive and/or unprofessional. I left a webinar and will be unsubscribing from their list. FYI -to be clear I am not referring to Bryan Harris.

  • Hi Bryan
    Thank you for make this nice looking ebook gone free,
    Is awesome! I’ve been blog for almost 2 years, only have about 300 subs(I know how sad:( haha) good thing I find your blog, trying all the tips you share here, and its increasing now slowly, but faster then before!
    1. I try tips one for upside down homepage from sumome, or that’s call welcome mat, I think maybe because I use free version, there no picture can upload just word and submit button, did not work so well for me, but popup work better in that point. I think I will change a theme to see how it goes, because I don’t have lead page. And I op-in lot of people’s email list because upside down homepage, so I should try that on my site too.
    2. Working on number 2 one click op-in. Hope
    See result soon.
    3. Webinar that tips work really well for me, most my list increase because this one!
    Thank you so much for share all this value tips! I will try couple more to get my 10K subscribers, hoping take me less than a year! Haha
    Thanks a lot! Have a good day!

  • Awesome stuff as usual!

    I think the most unorthodox list building strategy I’ve seen is the one you teach in the rapid list building course – asking people you know to become eager sneezers on your list! What, ask people you actually know in real life? Shocker!

    I know this probably doesn’t even seem unorthodox to you Bryan, since you’ve been doing this for a long time, but you’re the only one I actually see teaching this extremely effective strategy (which got me past my first 100 subs milestone, wohoo!) instead of strategies like having a popup box of color X enter after Y seconds using animation Z…

    So from the perspective of the current state of online marketing overall, as opposed to just us as a Videofruit audience, I do think that this is an unorthodox, but mind-blowingly effective list-building strategy.

  • Sacia Ashe

    Awesome post, Bryan! I think the most unconventional list building strategy I’ve seen is “affiliate” partner for your list. You actually pay people to spread the word about your list. Interesting strategy, but it probably works! Oh, and thanks so much Bryan. Because of you, I was able to grow my list to 40 subs in 2 hours even without a landing page!

  • As a European most of the time we cannot enter into this type of contests. My list building strategy is non existent. Just trial and error. Is that unorthodox enough?

  • Stephen Mayall

    I think one of the most unorthodox I’ve heard this year, is using free Ebook to generate leads via Amazon. You create an Ebook free on a topic and add calls to actions at 3-4 places throughout the book to a landing page. You publish the book on Amazon set the price for $0 Optimise the listing full of keywords etc.

  • Frank Taeger

    Being a bit controverse, I guess. There are always people in an industry that are already strong and many are looking at them not knowing there might be alternatives. So one of my main strategies was doing what I do anyway every day: Looking for dumb stuff that has been put out, trashing it as amusingly and in most detail possible and then providing an alternative.

    Controversy gets talk going, emotions going, which means posts will stay visible in social media.
    So, basically waiting for everyone else to really fuck up and then being there to profit from their fuckups. Kind of predatory, but it is a nice tactic.

  • Bryan,

    Way to speak to the masses…

    So here is my strategy… I dress up like Batman and crash random room.

    Viva le FLACKO!!!

  • Shirley

    Awesome guide! As for unorthodox list-building strategies, here’s what I’ve done: I contacted some artists on Instagram and asked them if they could hold a contest with me, offering them some money and providing prizes. The contest’s theme was related to my company’s, and in order to enter, the entrants had to follow my company’s Instagram account and subscribe to the newsletter. Not only was it very effective in getting an active audience (+around 2000 subs), it really didn’t cost that much (maybe around $40, and it probably could have been done for nearly nothing, but with fewer results).

  • Sonia Bracegirdle Moerloose

    The most unorthodox thing we’ve tried is messing about in Central London with a sandwich board that had a QR code on it. We did things like pretending to climb into Buckingham Palace, jumping into a street dance ring, climbing statues, getting told off by the police etc. We didn’t get many emails from our actions on the day, but the video I shot (will post the link when I find it again) got way more traction!!

  • Bonnie Boucek

    The most unorthodox list building tactic I have seen was just in my inbox this morning. The person was informing me of a webinar training s/he had coming up in a few weeks. To build his/her list s/he offered everyone on his/her list to be paid into the list member’s PayPal account, $60.00 if someone we (as individuals) invited to the webinar bought the low end offer at the end of the webinar. Then it got crazy wild with the promise of $600.00 to the member’s PayPal account if the person invited purchased the high end offer at the end of the webinar. Absolutely wild!!

    • benallfree

      Hi Bonnie, nice thought! I had to read your post several times but now I think I understand.

      The marketer was offering list members affiliate/referral commission.

      Is that a simple way of summarizing your idea?

      • Bonnie Boucek

        You could break it down to that but there was something more to his/her post that made it seem desperate for his/her list to find people for him/her. The tone used didn’t seem to be confident with the offer.

  • tracybabler

    The most unorthodox strategy I’ve seen is to do absolutely nothing and hope people find your site and sign up for your list.

  • benallfree

    I used to teach singing lessons. There is a subreddit where singers would post performances and ask for critiques. Instead of typing one, I would share my expertise on Reddit in the form of a 90-second personal “lesson”. I would literally record a personal response directly from YouTube and reply with the link.

    Each video would get 30-100 views over time. Some converted to private lesson students, and my list grew by about 200 subs per day. So roughly 1k subs per week for about 2.5 hours of work per week.

    The abstract recipe is:
    1. Find a subreddit or other community where people are seeking information in your space
    2. Build genuine relationships by responding with short videos
    3. Somewhere in the video, provide a signup link or another call to action.

    Over time, I became recognized as an authority with a massive archive of advice clips on YouTube. And because my responses were genuine and personal and valuable, my videos were sought after rather than avoided. I even had people private message me *asking* if I would provide a critique for them or give them private lessons.

    I stopped because I was having trouble scaling into a product and did not want to continue selling private lessons for $50/hr. The singing community was only so big and I eventually decided it wasn’t going to scale or I didn’t know how.

    A strategy like this would probably catch fire in a bigger industry like an SEO or web marketing expert doing this in a “critique my website” forum. Heh…maybe I had a case of right strategy, wrong vertical 🙂

  • The most unique and entrant-friendly one I’ve come across was similar to Rafflecopter, but it didn’t lessen and entrant’s chances of winning every time someone participated. I wish I could remember the name of it, but it encouraged the entrant to share the contest and to get others to share the contest through a unique algorithm that increased their chances each time they shared it instead of reducing them, which is what normally happens each time someone throws their name in the hat. Statistically, the more times you play the same lottery, the less likely you are to win.

  • Lisa Love

    I have been captivated by the efforts of Buck Flogging of Buck Books. His campaigns are highly relevant yet wildly irreverent, full of profanity and silliness. For example, he was generating leads from writers by offering 30 books for free and access to free courses on writing and promotion, plus a gift worth $1000. He called the program “Goodriter,” and signed off as “Buck Flogging, the Goodest Riter Ever.” Now who doesn’t find that just charming and fun?

  • Rick

    Went to a Job Fair Open House the other day. Their list building method – write your name and email address on a sign-in form. Paper and pen! Crazy right?

  • bevin1gaines

    Most unorthodox? I’m not sure. I’ve seen some tacky things. Going to a conference and walking around to all the booths with a clipboard to get the paying exhibitors and the people stopped at their booths to sign up for the list. Maybe just ballsy.

  • Most unorthodox list-building strategy

  • My newest favorite method I just discovered yesterday that leverages other peoples amazing content and articles about subjects that interest your audience and are congruent with your brand. Using PostPlanner you can put a “Sharebar” at the top of any post that you share of other people’s content. You get a logo, a headline and subhead like a banner that links to your website. You can use it to tell them about your freebie, announce a webinar, anything you want. They click it to get the thing and they’re on your website. You can also use it as an email optin with fields to enter your email, but I think this is more likely to scare away cold traffic so I’m sticking with the irresistible headline to draw them to click through to my site. Form there I’m confident my freebie or my podcast or my blog will entice them to stay..

  • K Moose

    Thanks again for helping me choose a topic, Bryan! Everything you’ve said and sent has been incredibly helpful thus far!

    The most unorthodox method I’ve heard was from a friend using Snapchat. He sort of dubbed himself the unofficial photographer at a pop-up event he attended, so he took people’s pictures and posted them to his snapchat story (with their permission), gave them his business card which included his snapcode and email address, and instructed them to add him on snapchat to get their photos (or email him if they didn’t use Snapchat). Not entirely list building, but community building strategies that could be applied in a similar fashion.

    Also, I don’t know if this is unorthodox, but one of my favorite strategies I’ve seen is Tim Ferriss’s site – he offers the first 50 pages of his books plus a language learning guide (written by a guest poster). Added bonus that the free pages get people hooked so they buy his books also.

    Thanks! Enjoyed reading the other comments as well.

    – Kaitlin Moose

  • dumspirospero

    Thanks for the post, Bryan. The coolest list-building trick I’ve seen is using social sharing in order to build your list. Your Smart Bribe app is an example of this. I first saw this through an app called Social Funnels that was on Warrior Forum last month. The idea is that you provide a lead magnet and allow users to download it after sharing on social platforms or emailing to a friend. Not only do you gain social shares for your blog post or helpful content upgrade or lead magnet, but you get people to effectively share through word of mouth with the people whom they are connected to. This is an incredibly powerful idea and I look forward to implementing both tools and reporting back on results.

    I think creating a texting component or something that allows users to text directly to friends who are interested in the material they are sharing could also have good results and act as an even more personal word of mouth share, especially considering the impact of mobile now and going forward.

  • John Stroup

    In my nacent approach to blogging towards publishing series and books, I have simply asked people for their email in person, and without any trouble had over a hundred – of which value is yet to be seen.

  • Jonathan McCary

    When I was working with a music producer he had a guy who would walk up to people after his live performances and ask them to write down their email for a recording of what they just heard. Pretty cool.

  • I feel like I’ve seen all the list building strategies in the last 5 years. And yet, none of them has worked for me. So please, enlighten me!!

  • I wish I had a crazy strategy to share, but I’m on the ground floor at the moment! I teach several classes on writing and I don’t know why it hasn’t occurred to me before now, but I can use my list to deliver post-lesson content to them (and also keep them as a segment specifically interested in my teaching-writing messages as opposed to my other writing messages).

  • Meghan Hartman

    I don’t know that I’ve seen an “unorthodox” list-building strategy but, by far the most annoying list-building strategy is the obnoxious pop-up that prohibits me from reading content without clicking away.

  • Breffni Ronan

    1. The most unorthodox list building strategy I can remember was a young couple who had a handmade jewelry stall at a farmers market and the guy went around to everyone who came anywhere near that stall to get them to signup for a contest to win a scarf made from Aplaca hair! Yes that guy was me.
    2. Thank you

  • Andy

    The most unorthodox list building strategy I’ve seen is a simple no gimmicks, no pop up, nothing fancy strategy: just asking people to join. Just sending a text, email, Facebook message, to someone and asking them for their email to add it to your list. Really simple, and effective!

  • Hi! May I ask who win the giveaway in this challenge? Thanks!

  • This sounds exactly like what we all need. No more BS and an actual system that brings results. I am very tired of hearing from “experts” things like “instagram!” “facebook!” “guest post before you launch your blog!” and etc. I am starting a business now and more motivated than ever. I just cut my ‘day-job’ hours in half to focus on my side-business and grow it into a full-time gig. I am up at 5 am everyday full of energy and determined to make it work abut I am not all that keen on trying things that everyone else is doing with very variable results. That’s just losing time. I am happy to experiment of course but sometimes you can tell “gurus” are just selling you what worked for them, not something that could work for you. I just discovered your blog and am bookmarking it right now. Hopefully I will find in it the wisdom and honesty that online entrepreneurs need so badly.

  • Very meta. To get the strategies, you have to download the book, but that’s the strategy. Like a haiku.

    Build your list quickly
    I’ll tell you 3 strategies
    Just get my free guide

  • Sherri L. McLendon

    I have a fantastic networking follow up letter. If I’m looking in the right places for my niche audience, I get up to an 80% return on opt ins when I touch base within the first 24 hours of contact when using this letter. I tested and tweaked until I got the response rate, resource, and customization ‘just so.’ It includes consistency of timing and enhanced personal touches, like reminding the contact of relevant conversational touch points. What makes this unconventional is that so many people who know “better” actually fail to follow up in service-centered way that’s meaningful to the recipient. When I do what I say I will do, it’s a difference that speaks volumes.

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