How These Experienced Female Entrepreneurs Build Their Email List When They Start Over

by | Email Marketing, List Building

Copywriting Godess

Joanna Wiebe

If I were to start list-building from scratch, I would begin with some serious segmentation pre-planning. There’s this sense that you’re supposed to wait until a certain point to begin segmenting your list… but by the time you have anyone on your list – even one person – you need to know who they are and what they want from you. Without knowing that stuff, how are you supposed to send them relevant emails that offer them value and grow your business??

So I’d start by acting as strategic as a big-fish email marketer would. Create a list of possible tags – don’t limit yourself (tags are free!) – and get new subscribers segmented right off the bat. The best email campaigns are targeted, segmented campaigns. So for me it’s a no-brainer to start with good tagging that gives me a strong head-start with smart segmentation.

Joanna Wiebe is the creator of Copy Hackers and the cofounder of Airstory. For nearly 15 years she has worked with incredible companies like Intuit, BT, Tesco, Crazy Egg and MetaLab to help them optimize their copy. She has spoken at conferences like Mozcon, INBOUND, SearchLove and HeroConf and taught their audiences to write copy that converts.

Email Marketing Magican

Val Geisler

If I were starting over I would experiment more often. I’d do webinars, guest posts, new opt-ins, JV partnerships. And then when I saw one working I’d go all in on that channel. I suppose I’d also have to define “working”.

When I started out I thought I was just after any subscriber. Now I know that good list building is focused on attracting the types of people who will ultimately become your customers. It’s the top of your marketing funnel, not a vanity metric. If I had known that I would have had more success from my email list a lot sooner in my business.

Val has spent the last six years deep in the world of customer experience and research. I built the content and email marketing for a fast-growing startup, wrote around the Internet about what makes for good email. She also spent over a decade behind the scenes of everything from non-profits to multi-six-figure businesses.

Facebook Ads Queen

Mojca Žove

Valuable and actionable lead magnets. When I started the strongest CTA I had for my email list was “Sign up for my newsletter to keep up with the latest news!” Guess who spent more time tearfully watching how no one is subscribing to the newsletter than actually writing that copy? Yes, that was me.

I didn’t get it back then. I thought all I need to do is to MAKE IT POSSIBLE for people to sign up to my email list. Like a pop up on your webpage or opt-in form at the bottom of your blog post. Totally not the case.

A LOT OF TIME passed by and my list was growing too slow. I did my research and decided to launch my first lead magnet. It was a one-page PDF that took me a couple of hours to produce.

It generated 400 subscribers.

Why was it so successful? Because it was highly actionable. People took the information I provided and could instantly implement it and see the results.

So when you’re looking for ideas for your new lead magnet, make sure to listen to your audience’s pains. What do they NEED? What do they want to LEARN ABOUT? What would be a WIN FOR THEM? Then do that.

Mojca has been running Super Spicy Media, a boutique Facebook Advertising Agency, since 2014. She now works with multimillion-dollar businesses from all over the globe. Mojca is a Facebook Ads expert, author of the Facebook Ads Manual, and international speaker.

Copywriter Genius

Hillary Weiss

If I were to start my list building all over again, I would 1) actually have more of a proper strategy out front (more on this in a sec), and 2) have fun with the funnel, and do it my way.

While my first website had a lead magnet (something terribly boring about writing better social posts), it didn’t get much traction. So when I rebranded in 2015 I completely turned up my nose at the concept of freebies or aggressive list building in general. This was due, in part, to the folly of youth, the general stodginess of email marketing as a strategy back then, and my eternal dislike of pop-ups. My attitude at the time was “I’ll keep writing and providing value. If people want to subscribe, they’ll subscribe.” That was true… but only to a point.

Now I’m playing catch up on list building 7 years into my business. However, while my list is rather small, it is highly engaged, and it’s allowed me to fill up challenges and coaching offers, and sell out every live version of my course without spending a fortune on ads. So, while less isn’t always more, smaller isn’t always the kiss of death either.

These days I’m working on a new approach for my next rebrand: A framework I’ll be giving away for free, and an email sequence that feels fun, unobtrusive, and an easy “yes” to open. I’m looking forward to making it a worthy journey for my readers, and enjoying the process of segmentation and email strategy in general — though you’ll still drag me kicking and screaming into using a pop up. 😉

Hillary Weiss is the creator and teacher of The Wordshops copywriting course (, and the chief copywriter, ghostwriter, and brand voice expert over at Through her speaking, 1-1 client work, and coaching, she’s helped over 500 brands find their voice, and get seen & heard with content that truly speaks their language, and fits their phenomenal work. Because words that lift hearts, ignite minds, and get results can do more than just change your business – they can change the world too.

UI/UX designer Whiz

Jane Portman

Ultimately, your list building is a long-term process and a result of multiple efforts, and you could leverage many different things.

Here’s what worked for me at the earliest stage: self-publishing a book — not a free one! — and then promoting it at different platforms with a free chapter as a lead magnet.

Deal sites work well for this, too — my first 100 subscribers came from Mighty Deals in 2013.

This way, besides building your list, you’ll also establish yourself as an authority and even make some money.

Jane Portman is an independent UI/UX consultant specializing in web application design. She’s an active speaker, podcaster, and author of four books, including The UI Audit. Jane’s currently focused on her SaaS product called as a co-founder.

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