How to start and grow an email list using ConvertKit

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You will need to have a Squarespace business plan or higher to use the embed code option outlined below.

An email list is a GREAT way to grow your online business. If you want to be able to make more impact (and sales) in less time and with less effort, then an email list is a must. But oftentimes, starting an email list can feel overwhelming. Where do you begin? How do you do it? What do you need to know? 

Well, this blog post is for you, because we are going to cover all the steps you need to know in order to start and grow an efficient email list for your online business.

So, let’s dive in!

sandra houseman how to start and grow your email list

What is an email list?

An email list is basically a compilation of email addresses that you are able to send emails to easily and regularly. The people on this list have given you their email address and have agreed to receive updates/emails from you. 

What makes having an email list so great?

Having an email list is a really great asset in your business because it gives you a group of people who are already interested in your business and what you’re offering. You are able to nurture this group of people by sending them tips, valuable content, information, and also promote your offers to them as well. Since the people on this list already gave you their email address (typically in exchange for a freebie you offered), that makes them WARM leads. (Warm leads are people who are already interested to some degree in your business.)

The more your list grows, the more people you have to put your offer in front of… and we know the BEST, guaranteed way to grow your business more this year vs last year… is to get it in front of more people. The more qualified people you put your offers in front of, the more sales you’ll make. Period.

Generally speaking, you can expect to sell about 1-3% of your email list (this is an average). So, if you are offering a new product or service (and you have been nurturing your list by regularly sending valuable content), then you can expect to make 1-3 sales per 1000 people on your list.

The purpose of this post…

The purpose of this blog post is to help you set up an email list that works well for you. This will help you grow your business, sell more stuff, and reach more people.

Imagine having a list of hundreds or even thousands of interested potential buyers at your fingertips every time you have a new business announcement or product/service to offer!?

So, let’s start at the beginning…

1. Create a captivating lead magnet (also referred to in this post as a freebie or opt-in).

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In order to grow your list, you need to get people to give you their email address. Sounds great right?! But, how do you do that??? 

The best way to get people to give you their email address is to offer them something in return. This thing you offer them is often referred to as a lead magnet.

Your lead magnet should be something that you can give your potential clients that is free and that they find very intriguing. This will most likely be the first step that someone takes in learning more about you and your business, so I recommend that you over deliver with the value you give in this freebie. Don’t worry about giving too much away for free with this first step. You want the recipient to be in love with you and the content you have given, so they are eager to open your next email that lands in their inbox.

So how do you create an awesome lead magnet?

1. You first have to know who the lead magnet is for. Know who you are trying to reach and a common struggle that they currently have. Your opt-in should help them solve a problem that they have. You should also be able to talk directly to this person in the copy that you write in your lead magnet. 

2. Make it value packed. Again, don’t worry about giving too much away for free. Make this awesome enough that your followers can’t wait to get more from you.

3. Make it easy to transfer electronically. Typically, lead magnets are exchanged in one of the following forms…

  • A PDF document – printable, guide, workbook, checklist, etc.

  • A video file – A pre-recorded training or webinar. This would contain helpful info they can learn from.

  • An audio file –  Same as the video file except audio only. You can also bundle this with a PDF guide, checklist or worklist that they can work through while listening to the audio.

  • An online quiz – There are quiz creation sites out there that allow you to compile questions that can give insight or answers to what your ideal client is going through by partaking in it.

  • An excel sheet template – If you’re an excel formula junkie and can create something that will make your followers lives easier… then go for it!

  • A free resource list – If you have a list of useful (and free) resources that solves your potential client’s problem, then you can direct them to a pdf document with links to the resources or even direct them to a page on your website containing the links and info.

  • A resource library. If you have a ton of resources that will be really helpful for them, why not bundle them all together and give them access to all your resources upon signing up for your email list? An example of this is on Melyssa Griffin’s website under the FREE RESOURCES link 

2. You will need to pick an email marketing platform.

Once you have your freebie created, you need a way to collect email addresses. I prefer ConvertKit ($29/month for the basic plan) because it is so easy to use and it has quite a few features that make it a really valuable option. 

Here’s some of my favorite features: 

Landing pages - Gone are the days of ugly landing pages that take forever to set up! ConvertKit makes it SO easy to set up a simple landing page that looks really good.

Here’s an example of one of my highest converting landing pages: 

sandra houseman how to grow your email list

(Want to grab this free checklist? You can download it instantly here.)

Tagging - ConvertKit makes it really easy to keep track of who has clicked on links by letting you ‘tag’ someone. Basically, this means that when someone clicks a specific link, you can put them into a ‘category’ so you can go back later and send them specific messages. This is used a lot by people who want to ‘segment’ their list. You can ask a couple qualifying questions in the first email of your funnel, and this will allow you to send appropriate information to different groups of people. 

Conversion rates - You can EASILY see your form conversion rates (whether it’s an embedded form or a landing page). 

Subject line split testing - You can set up two different subject lines for a specific email and test the two. ConvertKit will automatically send the majority of emails with the winning subject line!

Subscribers at a glance - when you first log into your ConvertKit account, you can see a graph of your new subscribers (or unsubscribes) without having to search for it. 

Automation - You can set up multi step automation. So for example, if someone joins a list, you could have an automation set up for just that form that then sends that person to a sequence of emails… then once that sequence is finished they could be sent to another sequence. You can also set this up to take tags and different actions into account. 

sandra houseman how to grow your email list

3. Create a landing page.

There are two different landing page options that I like to use. 

The first is a super short and simple landing page in ConvertKit (or another landing page platform). This is basically one that just has the title of your freebie, a supporting line of text, and the opt-in boxes. 

The second is to have a longer landing page that is set up more like a sales page. This will highlight the target market’s biggest stressors, their biggest desire (what the freebie will give them that they REALLY want), and list a bullet point list of what they can expect to get from the freebie. I usually self host these pages on my Squarespace website and just hide the header and footer (because landing pages shouldn’t have other links but instead they should only encourage action to opt-in). 

Here’s what you should consider having on your landing page…

  • A captivating title – This step is HUGE. The title can make or break your freebie and whether or not people want it. you can test different titles to find the perfect one.

  • It should be relatable - Your target market should feel like you’re talking directly to their biggest problems/frustrations and offering the solution they have been longing for. List their biggest struggles, show them that you know what they really are looking for, and offer a solution to that problem. 

  • Make it easy to sign up – Don’t make someone scroll back up to the top of the page or all the way down to the bottom to sign up. One form should be above the ‘fold’ and one at the bottom of the page (unless you have a super short page where all the content is at the top, then one form is fine).

  • Simple and to the point – Make sure your landing page is simple AND speaks to the freebie you are giving. If they have clicked onto your landing page from a Facebook ad or promotion, the landing page should immediately let them know they are in the right place and support the wording used in your ad. Also, a good landing page only has one objective… to get them to sign up for your freebie! So, it’s a good idea to turn off your navigation links and hide your footer. The ‘sign up’ buttons should be the only links on the page.

So when do I use a long copy page vs a short page?

I would say it all comes down to testing! You can always try them both out and see which converts better. If you find that the short page converts way higher, then get rid of the other page and just use the short option. 

On the other hand, if you’re providing a lead magnet that is covering something they may have never heard of or might be confused about, then having some copy to explain it might be good.

4. Create your thank you page

I always like to have a specific ‘thank you’ page that the subscriber is redirected to to instantly download the freebie vs having to go to their email and wait for it. In order to do this, I just create a new unlinked page on my Squarespace website where simply put a picture of what the freebie looks like, put a button where they can download the freebie right then and there (make it open in a new page), and then have a tripwire or ‘learn more’ section at the bottom of that page. 

If you’re focusing on selling a tripwire upon signup, then you may want to leave off the instant download button and JUST market the tripwire on this page. 

Here’s an example of one of my thank you pages…

sandra houseman how to grow your email list

5. Embed your form into your landing page (if self hosting)

(skip this if you’re just using the ConvertKit landing page option)

If using Squarespace, you can easily embed your ConvertKit form or newsletter block by pasting the embed code from ConvertKit into a code block in Squarespace (you’ll need a Squarespace business plan or higher to use the code block). 

Just follow this quick video to embed your code. 


In order to get your form centered onto the page, just use the following hack (watch the video for full explanation on where to put this code)



6. Set up your sequence and / or welcome email (plus automations, if needed).

Once your subscribers sign up, you will need to get the freebie to them. You can do this by setting up an automation in ConvertKit that sends their gift to them. This welcome email will deliver the freebie to them and introduce who you are and what your business does. Plus, you will outline what they can expect to receive from you as they move forward. 

Here’s how I’ve set up my automations and sequences…

1. I’ve set up my freebie welcome email (I set this up as a sequence with just one email). 

2. I set up a sales sequence or nurture funnel that drips valuable content + an offer to buy from me to my new subscribers when they join. 

3. I set up an automation that gets a new subscriber onto the welcome sequence for their specific freebie… and then the automation automatically triggers the sales funnel sequence after receiving the initial welcome email. 

Here’s a short video to explain how I’ve set this up...


Note: You can turn off your double opt-in which is what I prefer to do because it’s a much simpler process… this creates fewer steps and less confusion for your subscribers. (you’ll want to check the legalities of turning this double opt in feature off in your location. This is necessary in some places). 

7. Test it all out.

ALWAYS, always, always test your embedded forms to make sure they will actually work before promoting your landing page (otherwise you’ll be losing leads if people are signing up and it isn’t saving properly!).

Go to your live landing page and actually fill out your form like a subscriber would. Then make sure you actually receive the email in your inbox with the confirmation email and freebie.

sandra houseman how to grow your email list

8. Promote it!

Now that you have it all set up you will want to promote your landing page as much as possible! Here are a few ideas…

  • Turn your Squarespace announcement bar on and link it to your landing page.

  • Create a new blog post talking about how awesome your freebie is and embed a sign-up form (or just link to your landing page) in the post. Put some Pinterest ready images in the blog post and pin these images to Pinterest. If you’re serious about using Pinterest to grow your business, then I highly recommend the Tailwind app and getting some awesome strategy set up!

  • Drop some ladder posts in Facebook groups to grow interest in your freebie.

  • Promote your freebie on your Facebook business page.

  • Promote your freebie in your own Facebook group (want help DIYing your website? Join my group here!).

  • Promote your freebie on your personal Facebook profile.

  • Promote your freebie on Instagram (and other social media platforms you use).

  • Talk about your freebie in a live training or webinar and drop the link in the comments.

  • Put a post online talking about your target markets struggle and offer the freebie as a call to action.

Additional bonus step.

You can direct your subscriber to a thank you page on your website that contains your freebie vs only sending it in an email. This is a great option as it makes them happy (instant gratification!) and it decreases the number of hoops they need to jump through to receive their freebie in their eager little hands. If you do this, make sure to turn off that double opt-in and give them instant access. (You don’t want to give them instant access if they have not confirmed their subscription first!)

I can’t wait to see the lead magnet and landing page that you come up with! Would you share it with me? Just drop a comment below or find me online and share it with me! You can follow along on Instagram at @iamsandrahouseman. Feel free to send me a DM and show me what you create. 

Always cheering you on! 



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