When I first started building my email list, I was a university researcher providing training for classroom teachers in reading education as part of a series of research studies.
The teaching of reading has been a passion of mine for 20 years, ever since I discovered that I had middle school English students who couldn’t read. Initially I didn’t know how to teach them, even though I had a master’s in education.
That’s when I decided to start an email list around the topic of teaching reading to beginning or struggling students.
Fast-forward one year and I had built an email list of 1,329 subscribers.
How did you do it?
I got my first 100 subscribers by doing one thing: reaching out friends and family.
When I saw Videofruit’s video explaining the need for and technique of reaching out to 100 family and friends, I immediately knew I HAD to do that.
I had been procrastinating on this for too long. Videofruit’s message of focus and singular strategies really challenged me because I knew I was inching along with minimal progress. I was learning about everything but not taking specific, targeted action.
The challenge of getting 100 subscribers in 7 days was very motivating and I did that.
I was surprised by how many encouraging things folks said back to me. I mostly used email and dabbled with a little Facebook messaging to old high school friends.
Here is the message I sent:
This got me my first 100 subscribers.
Currently my email list is at 1,329 email subscribers.
I went from 11 to 1,329 by doing 3 things: 1) blogging, 2) posting on Facebook, and 3) using Facebook ads
With the recently added 100 subs of friends and family under my belt, I felt a strong sense of mission to get out blog posts regularly and to email my list about these posts.
Over Christmas break 2015 and early January 2016, I finished about 7 epic blog posts with content upgrades and I posted one about every week.
For each of my blog posts, I created a small and large opt-in form via ConvertKit (which was super easy to do).
Early on I was surprised to find that 40% of folks who visited these pages were opting in to the content upgrades (adding the 2 ConvertKit forms together).
Now that opt-in rate for some of the posts has dropped a bit but it’s still strong. I also had a site-wide opt-in in the right margin and a scroll box and exit box from SumoMe.
The Top 7 Apps for Teaching Reading converts at 4.6%.
Posting in Facebook
By February 7, 2016, I was at 260 subscribers.
In February, I discovered that there was a huge world of Facebook teacher groups, so I joined several of these. Most of them allow welcome links to products or blog posts in the comments if they’re relevant. So I spent a lot of time over the late winter and spring commenting in FB groups and linking back to a post that addressed their concern. (A few even allow posting a main link to your blog post.)
This period of FB group commenting led to me getting 500 subs by April 2–my birthday! During those 3 months, it was HUGELY helpful for my motivation to see teachers, who were strangers to me, coming in every day. Plus, I knew that more people were seeing information about easier and more effective ways to teach reading.
As I was getting ready to launch my flagship course/membership, the Reading Simplified Academy, I decided that I should hit 1,000 subs first.
So I dabbled in FB ads in late September and early October. I advertised a blog post that had a strong opt-in rate. I targeted my list, my FB likes, a lookalike list and other folks in education. [Education is still under-developed in FB advertising, which makes it cheaper, but it’s rare that FB will populate a field of someone like me in the targeting interests. So I never found anyone with the same niche to target.]
I eventually got down to about 45 cents per website click. I spent $200 and got just over 200 subs and stopped the ads when I hit 1,000 (on October 11, 2016) because I still didn’t have any revenue.
Finally, I was ready to launch my membership in November. It’s not a good time for launching to classroom teachers but it was the last best time left until the New Year, and I wanted some forward progress after all the time I spent creating the membership.
At the last minute, I realized a 5-day challenge would work well with my content and message. A colleague put me onto Zach Spuckler’s 5-day challenge method and I followed that as best as I could for my launch. Again, I used FB advertising to add nearly 300 new subscribers to my list and fill up the challenge with 350 participants.
Here’s Day 1 of my 5 day challenge:
For 5 days, I went live on Facebook (very scary for a newbie!) and taught 1 student live using the activity I was teaching to the challenge participants via email and the FB live trainings.
Teachers were highly engaged and had lots of questions. The student got a lot better from just 10 minutes a day of instruction and it was all live, so I think that added a lot of credibility.
At the end of the 5 days (Nov. 19, 2016), I announced the opening of the Reading Simplified Academy.
The following Friday was Black Friday, so I also ran a $10/day ad directly to an $11 e-book. I don’t want a lot of little products, but I thought there could be interested folks who didn’t want to spend $29/month on the membership just yet, so the e-book gave them my top 3 activities. I let this offer run through Cyber Monday as well.
I had 26 people purchase! Altogether, the total of 26 members yielded about $1728 immediately, with an annual potential of nearly $8K. The e-book sold 24 copies for a total of $264. Not bad for over Thanksgiving weekend!
What has building an email list changed in your life and allowed you to do?
Building an email list to 1,000 has led to the confidence to launch my flagship product, the Reading Simplified Academy. I’m still in the early stages of launching this membership but I’m so gratified that my efforts are paying off in the lives of teachers and students.
Teachers with the membership are saving tons of instructional time and are seeing their students’ reading achievements accelerate. I can now pay my online business bills with money left over to market for growth.
I look forward to hiring a part-time VA in January so I can spend more time serving my audience and members with ongoing content.
And I look forward to working less and with less anxiety… I’ve been planning or learning about online business for over 2 years, so the productivity in list building and course creation that the last 12 months yielded is extremely important for my motivation and for allowing me to continue to pursue this passion of helping teachers teach reading… without bankrupting the family!! 🙂
What’s next for you?
I’m spending all of my time focused on three things:
Me + Husband + 3 daughters
I wallowed in just learning about online business for over a year before I joined 10ksubs and began implementing the strategies. Videofruit's coaching and action-taking mentality helped me move from inertia to progress. Through the 10ksubs course, Videofruit's encouragement and coaching, and the accountability and inspiration of the Facebook groups, I have been much more single-minded this year, moving from practically no list to over 1300 and a successful first course launch. Now I actually have a business and a clear foundation on which to build...bye, bye to just good ideas.