How To Build An Email List From Scratch

Email marketing might be considered old fashioned by some, but it is still an important tool for bloggers.

email marketing image

(Image “Email Sign And Laptop Showing Correspondence” by Stuart Miles,

An email list is like your dedicated audience and they are at the forefront of everything you produce.

They can respond to surveys, receive announcements of new products or blogs and they will probably be interested in any new service you offer.

The question then is how to build a list and maintain contact with your audience of subscribers? (along with everything else you are trying to do).

After playing around with several different options, I have finally settled on two main tools that I  use to collect e-mail addresses and manage my subscribers. These are;

  1. a free plugin for WordPress called SumoMe
  2. a paid subscription service called Aweber.

The first tool that I use is to set up the collection forms, and that I do through SumoMe


SumoMe is a multi-tool plugin which means it offers a  number of different services including social media sharing, heat map analysis and direct access to Google analytics, as well as the email marketing tools.

This also means that it can cause some sites to slow down slightly especially if you have lots of other plugins. So because of this problem I try and restrict what I use within SumoMe and not activate everything it offers.

One of the tools that I do use is the List Builder and Smart Bar options, which are both tools that can be used to collect e-mail addresses.

SumoMe dashboard

SumoMe has a range of tools that it offers within one plugin. List Builder and Scroll Bar both collect email addresses

These two tools let you create sign up forms for email and to choose where and when you want them to appear on your site. SumoMe also has a paid Premium service which offers greater variety in the templates and design options for the forms.

Once you have activated these in your WordPress dashboard and designed your forms, then you will have the option to link them to your email auto responder service, and for this I use Aweber.


Setting up an account with Aweber is fairly straightforward and you can use their test drive option to see whether it works for you, before agreeing to subscribe either monthly or annually to the service.

The main advantage of having an auto responder service is that a prompt reply can be sent to all new subscribers. As they join they are instantly greeted and asked to confirm their intention to subscribe.

Once this has been done they will receive all your automated messages or newsletters, along with the other subscribers.

The following short video gives you an idea of how this works and shows how Aweber acts an auto responder and can manage your email sign ups for you.

Try AWeber’s Autoresponders for Free

Aweber Dashboard

One of the things that attracted me to Aweber was the ease of setting up email campaigns and monitoring email sign ups.

The dashboard is easy to read and at a glance I can monitor a number of different websites and their email subscribers. You can see how this works for 3 of my sites in part of the dashboard shown in the screenshot below.

Aweber dashboard emails subscribers

Managing email lists is easy to do with Aweber

Collecting Email Data

The system that I use is a two stage sign up. In other words subscribers sign up on my site and this information is collected by SumoMe.

The dashboard for SumoMe has a number of graphs and data including a daily stats chart like the one shown here. You can see your conversion rate and the number of email prompts that are given compared to how many subscribers actually sign up in this chart.

SumoMe dashboard for e-mail subscribers

SumoMe dashboard for e-mail subscribers

Each subscriber name is then passed onto Aweber, who send a confirmation email to make sure that the person really does want to subscribe.

This does tend to lose many subscribers as people often sign up out of habit, or to remove the sign up form.

On the other hand it ensures that your email list has subscribers that are more dedicated and truly interested in your site and what you have to offer. It also ensures that the email address is valid and belongs to an actual subscriber.

Staying In Contact With Your Subscribers

Once you have started to build a list the next stage is to stay in touch with everyone on it. The easiest way to do this is to send an email newsletter with links to new blog posts.

Aweber newsletter email

A sample email showing links to 2 blog posts

For example what happens with this site, is that subscribers receive an email alert after every second new blog post has been published.

But you can change the frequency or send a separate email every week, it’s your choice.

This is the real advantage of an auto responder service such as Aweber. I can publish a post, and without doing anything else Aweber will send out an email to all my subscribers, with links to my last two posts.

It will also convert this same email into a tweet and send it out on my Twitter profile.


Email marketing is an important way of developing a sample group of your intended audience and understanding what their needs really are.

It does a bit of time and effort to set up a proper email system initially. But once it is in place then updates and email newsletters, with links to your most recent posts, should ensure that you maintain a core readership for your site.

Further Reading

There are a number of other articles on this site that you might also find relevant, which include;

If you have any further questions please leave them in the comments section below and please feel free to share this article on your own social media channels, thanks.


12 thoughts on “How To Build An Email List From Scratch

  1. Bobbi

    Great website, really easy to read and understand. I’m sure when I get ready to make lists and stuff I will be reading your information.

    I subscribed so I will be able to follow you and figure out what to do.

    I didn’t notice but I hope you have a place where I can ask questions.

    1. Marie

      Hi Bobbi thanks for dropping by, I’m glad you found it useful and hope you enjoy the email updates and offers I pass onto subscribers. Anytime you want to ask questions just leave a comment on any post, and it will show up on my dashboard.

    1. Marie Post author

      Hi no problem what were you thinking of, I see you are in the email list selling business which is a slightly different approach to the one taken here which is about developing your own personal list of dedicated supporters?

  2. Vinnie Prasad

    Yes! finally, an article that really explains how simple it can be to get started building an email list. I’ve been looking for ways to begin email marketing with my already established website but honestly didn’t know where to even begin.

    Both of these programs look really worth the try and Aweber seem very simple to use. I heard other people mentioning ‘Mailchimp’. What are your thoughts on this program?

    1. Marie

      Hi Vinnie thanks for your input, I think Mailchimp and Aweber are probably the main two services that many bloggers use. I started with Mailchimp and didn’t find them as easy to use but then I hadn’t got SumoMe on the site then. Personally I prefer Aweber’s dashboard and found it easier to put together broadcasts (newsletters) but both are worth looking at definitely.

  3. roamy

    Hello Marie
    As a new website owner, my biggest question has been,how do l build a list? although im new to IM,the first thing l heard was *the money is in the list*.
    Many will tell newbies to build a list but they will not go into details explaining on how to go about it.
    Although i have heard and read much about sumome, l did not up to this day know it can do so much.
    As a newbie just getting started,l might have to wait if im going to use AWeber.This makes it even more interesting that you have also shown a free version than just to show what to use and pay money.
    Really appreciate your post and how well it is written and all the easy to follow details.Thanks so much.

    1. Marie

      Hi I agree list building is useful, there is a free service available with Mailchimp but as I mentioned in another comment I found the platform harder to work with and very time-consuming although others say it is good.

      At least with SumoMe you can start collecting names and even if you wait until later you can add those email addresses manually to your auto responder service. Aweber also offer a 30 day free trial for when you are near to starting, so at least there isn’t an immediate cost involved. Thanks for commenting and good luck with your site, Marie

  4. Medu

    Great tips on email list building! I made an attempt at building an email list with my very first website. I am far from pleased with how that turned out. I am not quite sure what plugin I used for the form, but I used the free version of MailChimp.

    Maybe from now henceforth, I will be using SumoMe and Aweber as per your suggestions. Hopefully that will lead to better results. Thanks for this post!

    1. Marie

      HI I also used Mailchimp in the beginning especially as they offer a free service for the first 2,000 subscribers. However I had difficulties with their platform and gave up before starting again with Aweber, so I know exactly what you mean. It’s worth keeping at it though as longer term an email list is really useful.

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