How To Create an Irresistible Opt-In Freebie to Explode Your Email List

Have you ever wondered how bloggers grow their email lists to reach such explosive numbers? Like the viral pins you see on Pinterest proclaiming “How I got 20,000 email subscribers in 9 months!” or “How I tripled my email list in 24 hours!” Maybe you just started your list and are struggling to get people to sign up besides your mom. Or you’ve had your list for a couple months, but just aren’t growing. Well I got an answer for you: opt-in freebies. But not just any opt-in freebie, you need yours to be so irresistible that your readers won’t bat an eyelash and instantly hand over their email address.

How to Create an Opt-In Freebie to Get More Email Subscribers

What exactly is an opt-in? It’s the one thing you absolutely NEED in order to grow your email list, that’s what! To be more specific, an opt-in is anything that you can give someone in exchange for their email address. Other names for opt-ins include: content upgrades, freebies, opt-in gifts, triggers, and lead magnets.

Okay Sheila, I get it. I need an opt-in to grow my list. But what kind of opt-in should I use? And how do you make one? Oh, and how do I get it out there for people to see?

Girl, I got you. Just keeping on reading!

My very first opt-in freebie was a list of 25 morning mantras, which only two (yep ONLY TWO!) people have since signed up for. I thought it was a good idea (at the time) and since I am trying to incorporate mindfulness into my life, it’s something that I would totally download myself.

My most popular freebie, on the other hand, is my free Instagram Hashtag Library. It’s gotten over 100 sign-ups and is the reason my list has grown to over 200 subscribers.

Why did my list of mantras only get 2 sign-ups and my Hashtag Library got over 100? We’ll come back to this at the end of this post. As you’re reading along, try to think of some reasons why one did better than the other.

DO YOUR RESEARCH


1. Figure out what people want
Before you dive in, you want to make sure you’re actually making something that people will want to sign up for. The best way to figure this out is to ask yourself what your readers would be most interested in downloading.
Can’t think of anything? No worries. Here are a few questions to ask yourself:
  1. What are my target readers currently struggling with the most?
  2. What is one question that I’m frequently asked?
  3. How can I use my expertise and knowledge to help them?
Still stumped? Head to the source! Read through your (and other people’s) blog and Instagram comments. Conduct a reader survey with Survey Monkey or Zoho or a poll on Twitter or Facebook. Another great place are Facebook groups. People are always asking questions about what they’re struggling with the most, so it’s a gold mine. A good hack for finding what you want is to utilize the search function for topics you’re researching. 
2. Offer a quick solution to a problem
Once you figure out what your readers are struggling with, provide a solution! But not just any solution–a simple, actionable, and fast solution that will provide RESULTS. We’re all pressed for time, which means people LOVE instant gratification. The majority of the time after someone signs up for your opt-in, they are going to expect an answer to their burning question right away. 
3. Keep it simple
You also want your freebie to be as simple as possible, while still being jam-packed with value. Avoid trying to cram a bunch of information into your freebie with broad topics. In this case, less really is more. You want your content to get to the point as fast as possible, otherwise your reader will get frustrated and deem your it unhelpful and invaluable. And that’s not a good way to build trust.
Focus on delivering ONE big point, rather than a bunch a little points. For example, instead of offering a mini e-book called “How to Drive Traffic To Your Blog with Social Media” go more specific and focus on just one platform, such as “How to Drive Traffic To Your Blog with Twitter.”

This is one area I’m working on. I’m the kind of person (IRL and on my blog) that wants to be so helpful, that I always try to share as much information as possible. I’ve slowly learned that this isn’t necessarily the best way to present information and as a student, it’s not the best way to learn. Think of whenever you start a new job and your new colleague is “showing you around.” You end up leaving your first day at work with so much information, that you know you won’t remember anything the next day.

4. Gain your readers’ trust
The name of the email list-building game is building trust with your readers, so that they will eventually become potential customers in the future. This is why it’s so important to start your email list as soon as possible, and to start pumping out valuable and FREE content on the regular.

In a nutshell, your opt-in freebie should give a simple, quick solution and gain your readers’ trust. If you can deliver this, you’ll make yourself more credible, and your readers will stick around for more.

Your opt-in freebie should give a simple, quick solution & gain your readers’ trust. Tweet: Your opt-in freebie should provide a simple & quick solution to your readers' problems https://ctt.ec/857ec+ via @searchofsheila

MAKE YO FREEBIE!

Yay, the fun part!

1. Choose a Format
Now that you have a clear idea of what to include in your freebie, you need to choose a format to present your information that will make the most sense to your readers and will be easy to digest. 
Here are some format examples:
  • E-book
  • Email course
  • Mini eCourse
  • Workbook
  • Worksheets
  • Video or tutorial
  • PDF guides
  • Printable
  • Checklists
  • Cheats sheets
  • Webinars
  • Consultations
If you end up conducting a reader survey or poll, you can ask them which way they prefer to learn.
2. Think of a Memorable Title
Your title should be catchy and intriguing, but also short and simple enough to remember. 
3. Create and Design!
Get creative! There are many different programs and software out there that all essentially do the same thing, you just need to pick one you’re comfortable with depending on the type of format you’ve selected. I personally enjoy making PDFs, which I use and recommend Canva for, because it’s free and easy to use. When I want more control, I’ll use Photoshop, but it’s not necessary if you’re just starting out!
PDFs (checklists, worksheets, e-books, printables)
Free: PicMonkeyMicrosoft OfficeGoogle Drive, PDF Escape
$$$: Photoshop, Adobe In Design, Illustrator
Here’s what designing in Canva looks like. You can use your own custom dimensions are use presets such as “U.S. Letter” (great for PDFs), “Ebook” or “Blog Graphic” (great for Pinterest). They also have a bunch of different layouts, font options, and graphics to use and get inspiration from, or you can totally start from scratch. I like to keep my opt-ins pretty minimal, so I always start with a blank canvas!

Email Courses
You’re going to need an email service provider with automations.
Free: MailerLite
$$$: MailchimpConvertKit

I really recommend ConvertKit just because it makes the whole process easy and super organized. 

Video
Free: smartphone, Screencast-O-MaticJing

Audio
Free: smart phone, AudacityGarageBand (Mac)

Webinars and Consultations
Free: Meeting Burner, ZoomYouTube  

4. Stay On Brand
It’s important to make sure your freebies reflect you and your blog or business aka are “on brand.” When someone sees your freebie, you want it to scream Y-O-U so people know exactly where it came from. Use similar aesthetics (colors and fonts), keep the same tone of voice, and add your logo or website URL. Also make sure to title the file appropriately and include your name. I’ve downloaded so many PDFs that if the author didn’t include their name in it somewhere, I would honestly have no idea who it came from.

You also want your freebies to be visually appealing, while still staying on brand. Use your own photos or stock photos from sites like Creative MarketShutterStock, and UnSplash.

PROMOTE YOUR OPT-IN

Now it’s time for your freebie to get noticed! First, I recommend incorporating your opt-in into one blog post directly related to the same topic, and add it to all other relevant blog posts. I’m not going to stick my Blog Traffic Booster Cheat Sheet in my How To Start Meditating Right Now post because that would make no sense to my readers!

Other places to stick your sign up forms are in the side-bar, top-bar, footer, and pop-ups.

Here are two examples of how I have opt-in forms on my blog: one is embedded in my blog post, the other is a pop-up.

If you use ConvertKit, they provide simple opt-in forms that you can embed right into your blog post or main page. You can also create a landing page that features just the opt-in, making it less distracting for potential subscribers. Additionally, I also created separate pages and a drop down menu on my blog that is dedicated to my freebies.

The next place you want to hit up are your social media platforms. Create a promotional graphic for Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest. Add a link to your freebie in your Instagram bio and share it on your story. Pin it to your Twitter page. On Pinterest, go wild with pins. The more, the merrier! Mix up designs and titles to appeal to different audiences. Take advantage of Facebook groups and post in daily threads and on the main wall depending on the group rules. Because I promoted my Hashtag Library on the main wall of one of my favorite Facebook groups, my email list exploded.

DELIVER YOUR OPT-IN

On ConvertKit, you can add your opt-in into an incentive email if it needs to be attached as a separate file. It will be automatically sent when someone signs up to your form.

On Mailchimp you can upload your freebie as an attachment to your email and on MailerLite you’ll have to upload the freebie to a separate host, such as Google Drive.

MY MINI CASE STUDY

Remember my least popular and most popular freebies I talked about at the beginning? Lets examine their success and failure now that I’ve explained how to create an opt-in that people will love.

My least popular: List of 25 Morning Mantras. Was this solving anyone’s problem/biggest questions? Not really. I soon figured out that my target readers struggle with blog traffic and Instagram, so a list of mantras isn’t really going to help them, nor does it offer any quick fix to a problem.

My most popular: Instagram Hashtag Library PDF.  It offers a solution to problems of low Instagram engagement. It provides a quick solution, because it lists over 350 hashtags that you can instantly use on your next post that will boost your engagement. In summary, it provides a quick solution to one of my audience’s biggest problems.

Ready to craft the perfect opt-in freebie that people will devour, share, and patiently wait for more? Download my free checklist below which outlines 7 easy steps to craft your freebie that people won’t be able to resist! These are the main criteria your freebie NEEDS in order to deem yourself trust-worthy to future customers.

Explode Your Email List with the Perfect Freebie!

Checklist-bsmall
Learn the 7 easy steps to create an IRRESISTIBLE opt-in freebie that will gain your readers trust and turn them into future customers!
Success! Now check your email to confirm and get your checklist.

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Have any freebie ideas rolling around in your head yet? Feel free to share them down below! And if you are still stumped, just leave comment and I’ll help you brainstorm!

In Search of Sheila Wants To Hear From You

One thing I’ve been working on in my life is learning when and how to ask for help. I’m a bit stubborn and sometimes I think I can handle things on my own. Well, one thing that I can’t do on my own is continue to run In Search of Sheila without having some input from the people that read, comment, share, and follow along outside this little blog on my email newsletter and social platforms like Instagram and Facebook. So this is me asking for your help: what do you want to see on In Search of Sheila?

So, a little bit of a different post today…I’m turning the tables and want to hear from YOU, the reader. You might be wondering, hmm, Sheila, why do you want my opinion? I’m not sure if I can help you.

Well, uh, actually you can help me…a TON.

Let me explain myself.

I want to continue to bring you fresh and valuable content that you want to see. I’ll keep the details at a minimum (for now), but In Search of Sheila is heading in little bit of a new direction.

I’ve been doing some soul (and blog) searching and I’m not feeling fulfilled in my life outside and inside this blog and I’m going to change that. Life is taking me on a new path and I can’t wait to share that with you. (!!!) Don’t worry, nothing too drastic. I’m not abandoning the blogging tips for beauty tutorials (gosh, that would be horrible for both of us), but I am refining my focus and overall mission.

I want it to be a place for you to get inspired, learn, grow, and share your journey too. Because it’s so fascinating to me that we are all on our own, unique journeys, but we can still somehow connect with one another, all through the power of a thing called a blog.

Whether you’re struggling to grow your blog and social media following, or are looking for more direction and fulfillment in your life, I want to help you find intention in everything that you do. Because that’s kind of where I am right now. So why don’t we discover and grow together, here on ISOS?

If you would be willing to spend a little bit of your time (no more than 5 minutes I swear!) and answer a brief reader survey I’d love ya forever (and ever and ever and ever.) Your answers will help me identify what you want to see from me and how ISOS can better serve you.

CLICK HERE TO TAKE THE SURVEY!

Again, thank you for taking time out of your day to answer my questions and help me out, I truly appreciate it and will do my best to bring forth the content that you wanna see 🙂

Affordable At Home Teeth Whitening Review (Plus Giveaway!)

This post is in collaboration with Smile Brilliant and contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase by clicking on any of my links, I will receive commission that helps keep In Search of Sheila going. I received a complimentary at-home teeth whitening kit in exchange for my review, but as always, all opinions stated are my own.

What is the first thing you notice about people? For some, it might be a person’s eyes, but for others, it might be their smile. Nowadays, first impressions are EVERYTHING, especially if you have a big job interview or are going on a first date with your crush. For me, my smile is one of my favorite parts about myself. Having whiter teeth definitely boosts my confidence, but y’all know I love my coffee. My one to two cups a day have definitely caught up with me, and nobody likes coffee stained teeth, am I right? Luckily Smile Brilliant came to my rescue.

Today I’m sharing my experience with Smile Brilliant’s affordable at-home teeth whitening kit and providing an honest review of the whole process. I’ve also teamed up with Smile Brilliant to give away a whitening kit to one lucky reader! Be sure to read through until the end to find out how to enter 🙂

How to get whiter teeth to feel more confident

MY STORY

Perfect teeth was not something I was naturally blessed with. I grew up with a little gap between my two front teeth and was fortunate to get braces in middle school thanks to my parents. But having straight teeth is only one piece of the confidence puzzle.

I wanted to have whiter teeth too.

I’ve always struggled with keeping my teeth white. I remember trying out my first set of Crest White Strips in high school, but always felt so awkward wearing them and I would ALWAYS DROOL. Can anyone else relate or am I the only drooling weirdo out there? LOL.

Since my smile is one of the first things people notice about me, I want to make sure my teeth are nice and bright, so that I look and feel my best on a daily basis. When you look and feel great, you will be much more confident. And when you are confident, it will shine through you and other people will notice!

Smile Brilliant At Home Teeth Whitening Kit

With Smile Brilliant, you get the same results as if you went to the dentist, but at a much lower price and all in the comfort of your home and DROOL-FREE! And don’t worry if you have sensitive teeth, because I do too, and will be covering all that in just a bit.

Smile Brilliant At Home Teeth Whitening Kit

HOW IT WORKS

Allow me to explain the whole process so you can get the 4-1-1. Smile Brilliant will send you a set of impression trays (1 upper and 1 lower) and three sets of impression material to make your dental impressions. By mixing the catalyst paste and base paste, it’ll form a blue substance that you place evenly onto the upper and lower impression trays. Then you make your teeth molds by placing and holding them onto your teeth. The kit comes with a really easy to follow step-by-step guide which I really like, because I always need directions lol.
The whole process doesn’t take longer than 15 minutes and don’t worry if you are worried about messing it up, because I did! Thankfully, Smile Brilliant provides an extra set of impression material if you end up like me and messing it up. Once your molds are done to ship it back to the lab (postage is free!)
How to whiten your teeth without going to the dentist

The lab will craft your trays and mail the custom-fitted trays to you within 3-5 working days. No trip to the dentist necessary! Then the whitening process begins.

How to whiten your teeth without going to the dentist


You will receive your whitening trays (1 upper and 1 lower), whitening gel and desensitizing gel which are actually made with vegan and cruelty free ingredients! The initial process should take 7-10 sessions (once per day). I started how with short durations and increased my session times as I got used to the gels. I started with 30 minutes and increased to an hour. After you complete your initial sessions, Smile Brilliant recommends an additional 1-2 applications every 2-3 months to maintain your results.

How to whiten coffee stained teeth at home
How to whiten tobacco stained teeth at home
Smile Brilliant custom fitted whitening trays
The custom fitted trays are super comfortable and it doesn’t even look you’re wearing them, which makes it great to go about your normal routine, while getting whiter teeth! I would wear mine a couple hours before bed, so they became part of my night time routine, haha. Custom fitted whitening trays are the best way to whiten if you want on-point results, because they ensure that the gel actually comes in contact with your teeth. Go figure, right?! Options like whitening strips just don’t provide the same precise results, because they’re missing stains in certain crevices of your teeth.

Smile Brilliant custom fitted whitening trays

If you have sensitive teeth like me then the desensitizing gel is AMAZING, haha. After you wear the whitening gel, I highly recommend wearing the desensitizing gel for at least 15-20 minutes to help with gum pain.

MY HONEST REVIEW

After my first session I saw dramatic results, and I’M NOT KIDDING! My teeth were definitely a lot whiter which kept me motivated to keep up with them. The custom-fitted trays are comfortable and easy to clean, and the whole process was a breeze.
At home teeth whitening before and after pictures
And here are my results after my first 7-10 sessions! I’ve had pretty decent teeth all my life, but my lower teeth have always been a lot more stained than the upper set. You can definitely see a different in my before and after, woohoo!  It took me a couple of weeks to get through my first sessions and now I just have to apply 1-2 times every 2-3 months to keep my pearly whites, white!
I only have one negative comment, however, which is because I have sensitive teeth (or at least found out using this kit that I did…) Towards the end of my sessions I started to have what I thought was a canker sore. Now, I get canker sores from time to time, so I treated it as one, but soon noticed that the sore wasn’t going away plus I started to have pain in my lips and gums. After a few days I emailed Smile Brilliant and they said I was probably reacting to the whitening gel and suggested that I try Vaseline or coconut oil to help with the pain. So, I rubbed coconut oil all over my gums and lips and the pain was immediately relieved! The sore also went away completely in the next 2 days. I was shocked at how beneficial coconut oil is, haha.

IS SMILE BRILLIANT FOR YOU? + GIVEAWAY!

I definitely recommend trying Smile Brilliant if you’re looking for an affordable and easy way to whiten your teeth that produces RESULTS without leaving the comfort of your own home. Whitening your teeth at the dentist varies between $400-$500 and can take time out of your busy schedule, while Smile Brilliant’s kits start at just $129 and can be used whenever works for you. What a difference, right? Plus if you use my code INSEARCHOFSHEILA15 you can get $15 off!

OR you can enter to win your very own teeth whitening kit by clicking down below! Giveaway ends next Friday and the winner will be contacted by email. Good luck!!

Still not sure if Smile Brilliant is right for you? I feel you. I’m the kind of person that needs to be 100% committed to something too, so that’s why I alwaysalwaysalways read customer reviews, so I recommend checking out their teeth whitening testimonials. The before and after pictures are crazy!

And as always, if you have any questions, please leave a comment down below and I will try my best to answer you!

Have you tried any teeth whitening products or ever been to the dentist? How was your experience?

Be sure to pin the image below if this post helped you!

How to Get Your First 100 Email Subscribers in 30 Days

As a newbie blogger or budding business owner, I know how hard it can be to see growth on any platform–whether it’s blog traffic, Instagram, Pinterest, or that email list you’ve been meaning to work on. Spending time on your strongest platforms is essential for growing your blog or biz, and an email list is definitely one area you should be putting time an energy into.

Last week I outlined How to Start Your Email List, which is a great place to start if you don’t have your email list set up (yet). There’s no better time to start than NOW. If you’re new here, I’m doing a series all about creating your email list from scratch and getting your first 100 subscribers. Today’s post is all about growing your readership from 0 to 100 in just 30 days.

Growing your email list to 100 subscribers in 30 days is totally doable if you commit to it. I have to be honest and say that it took me longer than 30 days to be my first 100, but I learned that the strategies I used in the beginning just didn’t work. Then I ended up getting 101 subscribers in 48 hours, catapulting my subscribers to over 200 after having my list for three months. That’s when I learned the secret to getting more subscribers, which I will be getting into soon 🙂

Remember: everyone is different and different strategies work for different people. In this post I will explain what worked for me along with the best methods to get your list off the ground and running.

1. Ask People to Join

Don’t be shy to ask friends, family, or even mutual blogging/Instagram pals to join your list to get started. Do be conscious of who you approach and don’t expect everyone to say yes. This strategy grew my list to over 30 subscribers within the first week.
When I was figuring out who to message, I made sure to only include people that I know have told me in the past that they like my blog, or they already follow me on social media and engage with my content. I simply just reached out to them to offer another way of connecting with my blog, if they would like to. Never put someone in a position where they feel obligated to join, because this will only hurt your list in the long run since they won’t engage with your newsletters.

2. Offer Opt-In Freebies Your Readers Will Love

This is the secret to successful email list building. People LOVE free stuff, especially if it’s incredibly useful and valuable information. My Free Instagram Hashtag Library opt-in got me 101 subscribers in 48 hours and really got my list going.

Here are a few examples of opt-ins you can offer:
  • mini ebooks
  • email courses
  • challenges
  • worksheets/workbooks
  • checklists
  • printables
  • access to a private Facebook group
  • tutorials
These types of freebies can work for any blogging niche/focus and don’t take very long to make. Knowing your blog audience will allow you the craft the perfect freebie that they will devour and share, which means more subscribers for you!

3. Be Consistent

Now that you’ve hooked your subscribers in, it’s time to send them regular newsletters! Consistency is very important if you want to build a successful email list. You don’t want your subscribers to forget about you, do you? 

It’s important to always pop into their inbox 1 to 3 times a week, once every 2 weeks at a minimum. Failing to send emails out will mean that your subscribers might forget who you are or why they even signed up for in the first place. If you randomly email them a month later, they are more likely to unsubscribe. This actually happened to me and I had a subscriber reply to my new welcome email I sent out when she signed up for my list a month prior. She asked me how I got her email address (lol!) and I had to explain that she signed up for one of my freebies. Thankfully she didn’t unsubscribe! Take some time to carve out an email schedule that works for you and stick to it.

Not sure what to start sending your subscribers? No worries, I got you covered! Grab my free list of newsletter ideas below that you can send every week or use as opt-in freebies.

Stumped for newsletter ideas that your subscribers will love?

Sign up to get 30 things to send to your subscribers every week!
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If this post helped you, please share it by pinning the image below! What do you plan to send your email subscribers? Let me know in the comments, I would love to hear your ideas!

Other posts in this series:

How To Wear Yellow and Not Look Like a Bumblebee

Yellow is one of the hottest colors on trend this spring and also one color I’ve publicly said I would not be wearing. Am I the only one that’s said they would never do something, but end up doing it anyway? Well, things change and we all become hypocrites at one point in our lives. Change is good to guide us towards the life we want to live and luckily we all have fashion to help us. Whenever I think of wearing yellow I can’t help but get scared of looking like a bumblebee. That harsh contrast between such a bright shade and black is not a look I’m going for, plus having dark hair doesn’t help either. Luckily, I found an easy way to try this color without looking like I’m on my way to pollinate the next flower that comes in sight.

Yellow t-shirt, blue jeans, white sneakers, spring, outfit
This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase by clicking on any of the links in this post, I will receive a small commission that helps In Search of Sheila to keep delivering you the content that you want to see.

T-shirt: T.J. Maxx (similar) / Jeans: Urban Outfitters / Shoes: Adidas / Bag: thrifted

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This spring/summer season is all about being bold and getting out of your comfort zone, so here I am, being bold and in yellow! A mustard yellow t-shirt, to be exact. I think a safe way to try yellow is going with either a mustard shade or a pastel shade–and definitely stay away from neon. I kept my overall outfit super basic (I mean, what do you expect?) and let the t-shirt be the shining star. My white Adidas sneakers really keep the look fresh and light. I find that the best trick to avoid looking like a bumblebee is to wear a white or nude shoe, as opposed to black. 

Yellow t-shirt, blue jeans, white sneakers, spring, outfit
Yellow t-shirt, blue jeans, top knot hair style
Yellow t-shirt, blue jeans, white sneakers, spring, outfit
Yellow is not a color I particularly hate; it’s just not a color I ever thought I could incorporate into my style, which is pretty basic and neutral. But one day I really needed some color in my wardrobe–all the black was well, depressing me. Then I ended up with this mustard yellow t-shirt that a lot people on Instagram thought was an orange-sherbert color. Maybe my eyes are different than yours? Or my monitor’s color needs calibrated? (I just calibrated it after realizing this, so that was fun.) I think the beauty in color and sight in general is that everyone interprets colors differently. How cool is that if you think of it in the grand scheme of things? I could get lost in this thought.

Yellow t-shirt, blue jeans, white sneakers, spring, outfit
Yellow t-shirt, blue mom jeans, white sneakers, spring, outfit
Yellow t-shirt, blue jeans
How to wear yellow in a basic outfit
It’s safe to say that I don’t plan on going out and buying more garments that have the potential to make me look and feel like a bumblebee, but this basic tee makes me feel happy whenever I wear it. When it’s gloomy out or if I’m feeling a little down, it’s nice to know I can turn to a piece of clothing that adds a little joy in my life.
How do you feel about the color yellow and better yet–wearing it? Is there one piece of clothing that you can always turn to when you’re feeling a little low that brightens your mood?

3 Lessons I Learned From My Mom That Everyone Should Live By

You know, I’ve been told I’m wise on a numerous occasions and it got me to thinking, where did all this wisdom come from? I wasn’t born with it, it’s something I learned from the experiences I’ve lived through and the environments I grew up in. One factor–or shall I say, person that I’ve watched very closely growing up is my mom. So today I’m sharing 3 lessons I learned from my mother that anyone can apply to their own lives, and have shaped me into the person I am today. They may be simple at their core, but it’s the story behind them that give them merit. As the saying goes, I got it from my momma!
Life Lessons I Learned From My Mother

Moms don’t really get the recognition that they deserve. I mean, we should celebrate them every single day, not just one day out of the year.  And I do. I’m grateful for both of my parents and my family every day. Without them, I wouldn’t be who I am today sitting here typing on my laptop attempting to share my wisdom with a little corner of the internet.

My mom is strong, brave, determined, and would do anything for her kids (aka me and my younger bro.) She is the most kind and generous person, but is also very blunt and doesn’t hide her thoughts. And now that she’s a grandmother, I can’t help watching her interact with my niece and think to myself, “man that’s how she must have acted when I was a baby.” And it’s just a beautiful thing.
Excuse me while I go cry for a second.
Okay, I’m done. Hold it together Sheila!! 

Sorry, I always get emotional when I talk about my mom.
Now on to the life lessons…

1. Be Fearless & Fight For What You Want

My mom is fearless, let me tell you. Her story has always inspired me: she grew up in a small village in Hong Kong, moved to Europe with her family when she was 15, and worked to build herself the life she wanted. She actually met my dad in Germany while he was stationed there in the army and she was working at a restaurant. (I really love telling this story, just so you know, lol)
Recently I found out more details about how my parents got together. I guess my dad would go in to the restaurant on a few occasions and my mom was into him. Then one day he headed back to the States, and didn’t tell my mom he was leaving! My mom was like oh no you didn’t and somehow tracked down his address and started to write him letters. They became lover-pen-pals (so cute) and then she ended up in the U.S., got married, and had me! (and then my brother four years later.)

The biggest thing my mom has (unintentionally) taught me is to always fight for what you want. I carry this with me every day in everything I do. Never settle for no. Always keep trying. Manifest my dreams into a reality.

And I love her for that.

2. Work Hard. But Play Hard Too.

My mom works really freaking hard. She is the kind of woman that always gives, gives, and gives, but will never take. All her life she has worked her a** off, so my brother and I could have everything we wanted. And I carry that mentality with me. 
But my mom also taught me to play hard too. She is always in go-go-go mode and gets stressed out very easily. Now that she’s getting older, I’ve been trying to get her to focus on self-care. She is a mighty mouse, that’s for sure, but I don’t want to see her work herself up so much to the point that her health is endangered. Since I’ve gotten more into self-care, fitness, and yoga, I try to share that part of my life with her as much as I can. It makes me happy that she listens and always asks me questions about yoga poses, workout moves, or eating a more balanced and whole foods diet.

These photos mean a lot to me because I have them hanging on in my fridge!

3. Always Love Unconditionally

My brother and I have put my mom through some serious sh*t. We weren’t angels as children, and it got even worse when we became teenagers. It’s embarrassing for me to admit these things, but I really regret how I treated her when I was younger. Since moving going to college, living on my own, and growing into adulthood, I’ve learned to respect her for everything she has accomplished and done for me and my family. 
And through all the pain and suffering she’s been through in her life and with my brother, dad, my grandmother (who lived with us and has since passed), and myself, she never stopped loving us. She was always there when we needed something. She gave a damn when nobody else did. She has supported me in everything I’ve done and want to do, and even helps me take #ootd photos when I ask her to, because she wants what’s best for me.
If there’s one thing I want to teach my children that my mom taught me, it’s to love unconditionally, no matter what. Because at the end of the day, in a world that is as crazy as the one we live in, all you have is love.

I’m heading home for the weekend tonight to spend time with the fam and of course, my momma! I’m hoping to take her to a yoga class tomorrow morning, which I mentioned as one of my happiness goals in this post. Hopefully she’s down to go!

What’s one life lesson you’ve learned (from anyone significant in your life) that has shaped who you are today? 

How To Start an Email List In 4 Easy Steps

As a blogger, an email list is one of the most important things you need to have in order to grow your audience and if you ever plan to sell anything. In this post you will learn the exact steps to start your very own email list from scratch. If you’re intimidated or think it will be too much work, don’t worry! I’m breaking it all down and providing printable worksheets to help you avoid getting overwhelmed and frustrated. Hey, I work full time aside from my blog, I know how precious your time is.

    Ready to learn?!

    It seems like email lists are having a moment right now, as they should! A lot of bloggers are coming out of the woodwork, revealing that their biggest regret is not making an email list from the start. I’ll have to hop on that train and say the same.

    List building takes a lot of time, patience, and perseverance if you want to see it grow. I’ve been blogging for over 4 years and just started my email list three months ago. If you read this post, you learned about all my strategies to build my list to over 200 people, 101 of them signing up in 48 hours. To me, that’s a huge win, but now I’m focusing on growing it even more. Basically the sooner you start one, THE BETTER.

    So lets tackle all that you need to know when it comes to email list building and how to start one from scratch.

    Why Do I Need an Email List?

    Before we dive into how to start your list, lets cover why you need one. I never knew how vital it was to have an one in order for my blog to grow. To me, it was something I didn’t need and that would be too much work. Well, let me be a little honest: it will take some work, but trust me when I tell you that it will be worth it. We already saw in last week’s post that a little hustle will pay off in the end. My one piece of advice in these beginning stages is that you have to really want to build an email list: commitment is key.

    You Own It

    To put it simply, an email list is the only thing you have control over besides your website. Unlike all your social media accounts, you OWN your email list and no one can touch it. Ever thought about what would happen if you woke up one day and your Instagram has totally changed and all your content has vanished? Don’t roll your eyes at me, this is something that can really happen. You don’t own your Instagram, Instagram does. That means they can do whatever they want with it, even delete everything. All your photos, all your followers, all your hard work–gone.

    Build Your Squad

    Your list will cultivate strong connections with your readers who will become your loyal followers. Whoever signs up are people that genuinely love your content and want to hear what you have to say. They love what you’re putting out there and they want more. They’re your squad. These are the people that will always engage with and share your blog posts, show up to your webinars, and eventually purchase your first product or service. They’ll always have your back.

    Grow Ya Blog + Social Media

    Securing an email list from the get-go WILL grow your blog and social media. How? Because the people on your list are literally your target audience and will definitely check out your new blog post or follow you on Instagram if you send out an email asking them to. Unlike unreliable platforms (cough, social media, cough) where it is so hard to get exposure, your email list will not only generate more views to your content, but it will be viewed by the right people, aka your target audience. At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter if you have 1,000 subscribers or 100 subscribers. All that matters is how many people out of those numbers genuinely love your content.

    Get Those Dollar, Dollar Bills Y’all

    If you want to eventually start selling things on your blog such as ebooks, courses, consulting, etc., you absolutely MUST start an email list. Look at it this way: you finish your product and are ready to start promoting it. Who do you turn to first? Your email list! 
    Before you can start throwing your sales pitch out there, you have to grow a strong relationship with your readers first. That’s why it’s critical to start your list as soon as possible. All the time spent not having a list is wasted time that you could have been using to build your trust with your readers. You gotta give, give, give before you can take.

    Still with me? Good.

    Before we get started, download and print this worksheet that will help you plan and implement as you follow along with this blog post.

    How To Start Your Email List

    Time to get down to the nitty gritty! For clarity, when I refer to an email list, I’m not talking about an “RSS Email Subscription.” This is when someone subscribers to your blog and receives emails with the entire post in in it once it gets published. I’m talking about an email newsletter subscription that is created and sent to your readers entirely by you.

    Now that I got that out of the way, lets get crackin’!

    Step 1. Ask Yourself What You Want To Do With Your List

    Now that we outlined the reasons why you should have an email list, now is the time to ask yourself what YOU want to achieve with it
    • Do you just want to send out a newsletter 1 to 2 times a week?
    • Do you want to start selling products or services?
    Of course, you can send out BOTH weekly newsletters and sell products, it’s your list! But it’s important to have a clear purpose before diving in. This will save you from stress and keep you motivated.

    TAKE ACTION: Time to grab that worksheet! Take a few moments and figure out the purpose behind your email list. Outlining your intentions and goals will make going further much easier.


    Step 2. Select an Email Service Provider (ESP)

    There are many different providers out there, so I suggest doing a little research before choosing the right one that works for you. Here are the top three that I recommend:

    1. Mailchimp
    Mailchimp is very user-friendly and perfect for newbies. It has really nice drag and drop features and makes it a breeze to put together an email. Their “Campaigns” feature is simply where you write and send regular emails, automations, and ads.

    Pros

    • Free for up to 2,000 subscribers
    • VERY user-friendly
    • Easy to use template builder 
    • Support for multiple lists and segmenting
    • Can schedule emails to send at a specific time during each time zone
    • Automation capabilities (paid)
    • Great for newbies and if all you want to do is send newsletters
    • Great customer support

    Cons

    • Not ideal for email marketing: no landing pages, forms, etc.
    • You get charged per person, per list. If you have one person on two lists, they count as two subscribers
    • Risk of having your account suspended or canceled due to too much unsubscribers or spam complaints
    Most people end up switching from Mailchimp to ConvertKit because of Mailchimp’s lack of email marketing features. Since I don’t use this service, I recommend reading this blog post for a full tutorial (with video!) to get started.

    2. ConvertKit
    My ConvertKit links are affiliate links, so I will earn a small commission if you sign up with them 🙂

    I personally use ConvertKit and it seems to be a favorite of many bloggers and business owners. They are known for their automation system and email sequences, which are great for email marketing. ConvertKit may seem a little confusing at first, but there are step-by-step videos that break it down. The only downside is that there is a monthly fee, but they do offer a free month trial to try it out. Plus, their customer support is A+!

    Pros

    • AWESOME for email marketing
    • Great tagging and automation system (included with monthly fee)
    • Free landing pages
    • Only charges for one subscription
    • Easy segmenting features
    • Awesome customer support
    • Always offering free workshops and e-courses. Right now they have a free 4 week Product Creation Masterclass to help you create your very first online product
    • Offers a free trial for your first month!
    Cons

    • Priciest: $29 a month for up to 1,000 subscribers
    • No template builder
    • Limited form customization
    • Might seem not very user-friendly to some people, especially if technology isn’t your strong suit

    Automations or autoresponders are pre-written and pre-scheduled emails that are automatically sent when trigger by an action. In most cases, when a user subscribers to your list. Automations are ideal for a welcome series or sales funnel, which I will get into more detail later in this series. ConvertKit’s automation feature is included in the monthly fee, while Mailchimp’s is a paid upgrade.

    Overall I recommend ConvertKit if you’re planning to sell online products as it’s totally worth the investment. You can try your first month for FREE by signing up HERE

    MailerLite is a budget-friendly option with a really nice interface and great customization features. Their automation system is referred to as “Automation Workflow.” They also have step-by-step video tutorials to help get you started.
    Pros
    • Free up to 1,000 subscribers with all features
    • Affordable monthly plans 
    • Simple to use 
    • Customization options + emojis!
    • Provides automation + tagging feature 
    • Simple list management
    • Mobile-friendly
    Cons
    • No plain-text emails
    • No automation rules
    • Doesn’t automatically update your segmented lists
    Remember your purpose? This will help you decide which service is best for you.

    TAKE ACTION: Grab your worksheet and list the pros and cons of each service provider as they relate to your purpose. By finishing step 1, you should already know what you would like to do with your email list (newsletter or sell products), so this should be easy!

    Step 3. Start Collecting Email Addresses 

    Once you select your service provider, it’s time to start getting those subscribers! Each provider allows you to organize your subscribers into different categories. Mailchimp simply refers to these as “Lists,” ConvertKit uses “Subscribers” and MailerLite uses “Groups.”

    Add Sign-Up Forms to Your Site

    The first thing you want to do is make sure people have a place to sign up! The best places to add a subscribe button or form are:
    • Side bar
    • Top bar
    • Pop ups
    • Embedded in your blog post 
    • Footer
    • Navigation bar 
    Kate of Layered Indulgence has her free email course at the top of her blog that readers are guaranteed to see.
    Erin of Very Erin is using her side-bar to promote her email course.

    Just Ask

    When I started my list I send Facebook messages to people I knew in real life to join my list. Now, don’t send a mass message to everyone saying, “join my list.” Be strategic and tell them what they can get out of being on your list other than just benefiting you. You can use this same strategy by sending a professional email to people who might be interested as well. 
    Most of the people I asked to join my list did, and some didn’t. In retrospect, I wish I would have been even more strategic, because a lot of the people that did join don’t even open my emails. They simply subscribed to “help me out.” Try and avoid this!

    Create Opt-In Freebies and Content Upgrades

    What are these words you’re throwing at me, Sheila!!! 

    Opt-ins and content upgrades are bonus content that’s FREE that people can get access to in exchange for their email address. Think of it as an ethical bribe: your readers want info and you want their email address. Done and shut case. Offering freebies is the easiest and most authentic way is to grow your list, in my opinion. And they are super easy and quick to make. I will be diving in deeper on how to make irresistible freebies that your readers will eat up in my upcoming posts!

    TAKE ACTION: On your worksheet, list 10-15 people you know in real life that would be interested in joining your email list.


    Step 4. Start Brainstorming Newsletter Ideas

    Now it’s time for the fun stuff! Now that you set up your email list and started to collect email addresses, you’re ready to write your first email. I will get into more detail about the different kinds of newsletters, opt-ins, and content upgrades that you can create to grow your list, but for now just focus on your purpose.

    TAKE ACTION: Use your worksheet to jot down ideas for emails that you can send your subscribers. If you’re drawing a blank, don’t worry! I got you covered.

    Stumped for email newsletter ideas that your subscribers will love?

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    Sign up to get this list of 30 engaging ideas for emails for ANY niche to send to your subscribers that they WILL LOVE!
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    There was an error submitting your subscription. Please try again.
    We hate spam just as much as you do and promise to keep your email safe. Powered by ConvertKit

    Lets Review

    Phew, you made it! I know that was A LOT, but hopefully the worksheet helped you organize, plan, bring you a little more clarity. Lets break the action steps down to see where you should be at this point:
    1. You figured out what you want to do with your email list
    2. You picked an email service provider that works best for you
    3. You listed 10-15 people to ask to join your list
    4. You started to jot down some ideas for newsletters

    Let me know in the comments how you’re feeling right now. Excited? Overwhelmed? Confused? If you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask, I’m here to help!

    Ripped Jeans and Mules for Spring

    Sharing a casual spring outfit today that’s simple and still on trend. If there’s one (well, two) things I’m loving at the moment, it’s ripped jeans and mules. If you’re like me and have a pretty basic wardrobe, but still like playing around with trends, then these two are a great way to add a little somethin’ somethin’ to your every day looks. It seems like all I ever wear lately are jeans, so I can never say no to another pair. I mean, all jeans are different, right? Right. These mules I’m wearing are super comfy and are under $30! Keep reading to find out where they’re from and to shop the look.
    How to style, ripped jeans and mules for spring
    This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase by clicking on any of the links, I will receive a small commission to support In Search of Sheila.

    Top: (similar) / Jeans: c/o Gamiss / Mules: DSW / Bag: DSW / Belt: thrifted (similar)


    Shop the Look

    ripped blue jeans, black shirt, black mules, spring, style, outfit
    ripped blue jeans, black mules, spring, casual, minimal
    Lets talk about these jeans first. Like I said, you can never get enough pairs of jeans, especially since there are so many different washes, fits, lengths, and styles. I love the rips in this pair and the wash is also something I don’t have in my wardrobe. The only thing I don’t like aobut them is that they aren’t a true high-waist fit. They are super comfortable though, but I feel like they look awkward on me without a belt, haha! Does anyone else HATE “high-waist” jeans that aren’t really that high-waist? They’re more of in between mid and high? Haha, oh the struggles. I just want my jeans to go above my belly button, is that too much to ask for?
    casual street style, minimal, blogger, outfit, jeans, mules
    Circle sunglasses, trendy sunglasses, blogger, spring
    Black blouse, vintage belt, blue jeans, top knot, simple hairstyles
    vintage belt, ripped blue jeans, black sandals, mules, slip-ons
    Okay, now on to these mules. I’ve styled them a few weeks ago in this post and love that they go with everything. Since they’re black they can work for a more dressier, going out out, but can also work with jeans and shorts for a more laid-back feel. And like I mentioned earlier, they are SUPER comfy. I wanted a simple pair of mules that I could literally wear whenever and wherever and these babies are the ones. I picked them up at DSW and they were actually on sale, so I scored them for around $24! The girl checking me out even said that they are a steal since the Steve Madden ones run for $80+ You can snag them here (and they also come in blush pink and off-white!) 

    ripped blue jeans, black blouse, black mules
    Black button-up blouse, jeans, simple silver necklace, circle sunglasses, gray bag
    Ripped blue jeans, black mules, sandals, vintage belt, gray bag, black shirt
    Ripped blue jeans, black sandals, vintage belt, black shirt
    how to style black mules for spring
    What do you think of this look? How do you feel about ripped jeans and mules for the spring/summer season? How would you style them on their own?

    Things I Loved Last Month

    Happy Friday! I still can’t believe it’s May…summer is on its way, what?!? I don’t think I’m ready. Today I want to share some things that made me happy last month. Does anyone else like these random types of posts that show a peak into other people’s lives? I shared my favorite blog posts of the week not too long ago and everyone seemed to enjoy it. I really love writing these types of posts and it lets me share photos I otherwise wouldn’t share. Let me know your thoughts and I will dedicate Fridays to more posts like these 🙂
    This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase by clicking on my links, I will make a small commission that supports In Search of Sheila.

    Perfect Spring Weather

    This is the time of the year I’m trying to embrace: not too hot, but not too cold. We actually have a few hot days in April (hello global warming), but then it cooled down a little bit. Although I enjoy a nice summer day, I wish it could just be in the mid 60’s and partly cloudy. Anyone else feel the same?

    Never Let You Go by Chevy Stevens

    Oh man, I’ve been totally obsessed with psychological thrillers ever since reading The Girl on The Train. Never Let You Go is another page-turner about a woman named Lindsey Nash who escaped with her daughter, Sophie, from her abusive [now] ex-husband, Andrew, eleven years ago. Fast forward to the present, Andrew has just been released from jail and Lindsey now feels like her life is threatened again and that is Andrew is stalking her. 
    The book flips between time periods and Lindsey and Sophie’s point of view in the beginning which I really enjoyed, because it kept me wanting to find out what happens. I really loved this book and don’t want to spoil the rest, but the ending was TOTALLY unexpected. If you’re into psycho-thrillers or want something fast-paced that will keep you guessing, pick this up here!

    My Timex Watch

    I’ve been wanting to get a new watch for ages now, but never got around to it. I not only love them as an accessory, but I actually like to know the time without having the grab for my phone! Timex sent me their Peyton watch and I absolutely love it the gray band and rose gold details. It’s not something I would have picked out on my own (I would have probably went with silver), but I love that it got me out of my comfort zone.

    Celebrated Another Year on Earth

    I turned 27! At this point, I don’t really care about parties and receiving gifts, but rather, being grateful for everything that has happened (or not happened) in my life. My birthdays are usually pretty low key, so this year I was able to spend time with my parents, best friends from home, and my boyfriend. I even had a “birthday miracle” since my car was in the shop and I wasn’t sure if he was going to make it (he’s actually the same age as me believe it or not), but he pulled through!!

    Free Starbucks 

    If you have the Starbucks app, you receive a free drink or food item on your birthday! I actually didn’t know this, so I was pleasantly surprised to see it pop up on my phone when I went to pay for my drink. They give you a couple of days to redeem it so I wanted until my actual birthday and took advantage and got a Venti Iced Vanilla Latte with soy hehe. That’s a $6 drink people!!

    Seeing My Niece Grow

    I haven’t really mentioned this on my blog, but I have a niece! Her name is Monet and she just turned 6 months old. Isn’t she just the cutest thing EVER? I live a couple of hours from home, so the last time I saw her was back in December. It was crazy to see how much she’s grown in 4 months and I realized that I need to visit home more often to cherish these early moments as much as I can.

    Meeting The Minimalists

    Perhaps you’ve seen the Minimalism documentary on Netflix. I actually have been listening to The Minimalists’ podcast since early 2016, so when my friend Erin told me they were coming to Pittsburgh for their Less is Now Tour, I was totally on board to go see them!! They actually recorded the event and it’s one of their recent podcast episodes if you want to check it out. 
    Funny story: before the show Erin and I were trying to grab take-out somewhere since we were crunched for time. We passed a few restaurants and then decided on a Mexican place for tacos. When we walked in Erin nudges me and whispers, “It’s the Minimalists!” I was like NO WAY and was legitimately going to say hi to them,  but then they got their food and I was like nah, that’s rude. Hahaha. We ended up meeting them after the event and told them our story. They were like aw, you shoulda came up and said hi! We made sure to get our hugs 🙂

    Doubling My Email Subscriber Goal for the Month!

    I just started my email list back in February and was seeing some gradual growth. By the time April came around I felt that I was in a good place to shoot for my first 100, so I made it my monthly goal. Then something totally unexpected happen in the middle of the month and 101 people sign up for my list in a matter of 48 hours, DOUBLING my monthly goal. I decided to share the strategies I used and am also happy to announce that I am doing an Email List-Building Blog Series! Every Wednesday I will be publishing a blog post all about starting and growing your own email list. All the details can be found in the link below 🙂

    What did you love for the month of April?

    How I Gained 101 Email Subscribers in 48 Hours

    The story I’m about to share is proof that by using the right email marketing strategies you can build something from scratch. I’ve grown my email list from 0-200 in a span of three months and DOUBLED my monthly goal of reaching my first 100 subscribers. I will be spilling the exact strategies I used that compelled 101 people to hand over their email addresses to me in a span of 48 hours.

    This post contains affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase by clicking any of the links below, I will make a small commission that helps to support In Search of Sheila.

    In my opinion, every blogger should have an email list. This is something I only learned recently and have since executed, growing my list to over 200 subscribers in three months. The purpose of this email list series is not only so I can share what I’ve learned with you, but to also share actionable tips that you can easily implement into your own list-building strategy.


    Why Have an Email List?

    I’ve been blogging for about 4 years now and it never occurred to me how important having an email list was until a couple of months ago. It’s a great way to build strong connections with your readers, and is an absolute must if you plan on selling any products or services. Oh, and if Instagram or Facebook decides to disappear from the face of the internet one day and you lose all your content and followers, you’ll still have your email list.

    After I made the decision back in February to take my blog to the next level and focus on turning it into a business, I started doing a lot research on how to start and grow an email list. I read as many blog posts and articles as I could, enrolled in free e-courses & webinars, watched videos, and took lots and LOTS of notes. I wanted to soak everything up. Then I signed up with MailChimp and started my journey of email list-building

    My Aha Moment

    After a few days of using Mailchimp I enrolled in a free email marketing workshop hosted by Helene Sula of Helene in Between and Darrel Vesterfelt of ConvertKit. You could say that this was my “aha moment.”

    The workshop covered how to use an email list to sell products and how to get your first (or additional) 1,000 email subscribers and beyond. The workshop really opened my eyes to the world of email marketing and I learned that I actually have the knowledge and expertise that it takes to teach something to others and maybe even make a few dollars from. You could say that I highly doubted myself before this workshop.

    And that’s when I fell in love with ConvertKit. I signed up for a free trial (you can get your first month FREE by clicking HERE) and have been on board ever since.

    What The?

    So that was at the beginning of February when I started my email list with ConvertKit. My first week was pretty quiet, which you can almost expect after just launching a list. I had some steady growth…and a few dead periods, but by mid-April I was getting really close to my first 100 (89 to be exact), which was my goal for the month. Then something crazy happened in the time on the days of April 19th and 20th: I gained 101 subscribers in 48 hours, skyrocketing my list from 89 to 190. WHAT???????

    So what the heck did I do to get 101 people to give me their email address in 48 hours?


    1. Created an Opt-In Freebie That People Ate Up

    In the world of email marketing, you hear the terms “content-upgrade,” “opt-in” and “freebie” a lot and are all connected to one another.

    A content upgrade is simply bonus content that is bite-sized, blog post specific, and FREE that people can get access to in exchange for their email address. When users enter their email address they are OPTING-IN to your email list and huzzah! Open the flood gates.

    Think of a content upgrade as an ethical bribe. We both want something from each other (I want your email address, you want more information) so this is what a I call a perfect mutual relationship. That’s why the term “freebie” gets thrown around a lot. People love free stuff, especially free information and solutions that can help them.

    ConvertKit is great for opt-ins, which is why I decided to stay on board with the $29 a month fee for up to your first 1,000 subscribers. Another cool thing about ConvertKit is that they always offer free workshops and classes. Right now they have a free four week Product Creation Masterclass to help you create your very first online product, which is an incredible value since it’s FREE. I’m enrolled and we’re currently in week two, but you can totally catch up if you decide to enroll! Click here to register for the class.

    My first big opt-in freebie that I started seeing growth from was my Traffic Booster Cheat Sheet. I promoted this freebie in this blog post that I published two weeks after I created my email list. When coming up with a content upgrade you always want it to connect with a blog post in some way or another. I managed to gain 5 subscribers from its first day which I thought was actually pretty awesome since my list was so small and mostly included people I knew in real life that I asked to join (gotta do what you gotta do.)

    My next big freebie that exploded my list was my library of The Best Hashtags to Grow Your Instagram. I launched this freebie along with this blog post on April 5th. The hook in this post was that I shared MY favorite hashtags in the post, but also offered over 350 more hashtags anyone could use as an content upgrade.  That week I gained 18 subscribers and started to feel like I was doing something right.

    2. Promoted on Social Media

    It wasn’t until two weeks after I launched my hashtag list that I discovered my secret weapon: Facebook groups. I had been using Facebook blogger groups for two months at this point, but never received the amount of feed back I had after promoting My Favorite Hashtags + my freebie. After posting in the group Boost Your Blog, it essentially went “viral.”


    The moment I posted in the group my blog post and email list started to skyrocket. Just on April 19th alone I gained 73 subscribers and 28 the following day. As you can tell from my stats above, this was a HUGE jump since I was averaging a couple new subscribers a day, with bigger jumps on days I published new posts including my freebies. Naturally my blog post got a lot of traffic too and is my most popular one to date. I knew that I created a blog post and free product that was valuable, but didn’t expect such great feedback SO QUICKLY.

    Facebook groups are really awesome and are something worth investing some time on. They help you to connect with other bloggers and is a great way to get your content out there and boost your traffic, especially if you’re just starting out. So that’s what I did, I promoted my blog post that included the opt-in freebie and people ate it up.

    Struggling with page views to your blog or website?

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    Download my FREE Traffic Booster Cheat Sheet with 5 quick and easy ways to instantly boost your traffic!
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    Social media in general is one of the best ways to drive traffic to your site, promote your opt-in freebies, and grow your email list. As you can tell from my Google Analytics for the month of April, the majority of my page views came from Facebook (428 sessions). But if you look at the number two spot, Pinterest comes in at 62 sessions, followed by Blogger, Instagram, and StumbleUpon (thank you to that one person in a Facebook group that shared my post on StumbleUpon!) I have since created a StumbleUpon account by the way.
    Pinterest is still something I’m learning and navigating, but from my analytics below, you can see that one of my hashtag blog posts is my second top post, coming in at 1,621 impressions, 6 clicks, and 5 saves. At this point I’m trying to post in different group boards and also create new Pinnable images to attract different audiences. 

    3. Consistent and Patient

    If you think by just adding a widget to sign up for your email list on the side-bar of your blog will be enough, you’re using the wrong strategy (or no strategy at all) to grow your list. You also can’t just create one opt-in freebie and expect high and quick results. Maybe I got incredibly lucky by getting those 101 subscribers in 48 hours and just posted on Facebook at the right time. 

    Or maybe it was a matter of getting more exposure and putting myself out there. Or maybe it’s a combination of both. Unfortunately there’s no formula to use to grow your email list, blog, business, etc., but there are strategies that have worked for others and have produced results.


    As you can tell from this chart, April 19 and 20 were clearly out of the ordinary days for my email list. My biggest piece of advice for anyone that wants to start a list or is finding themselves where I was waiting on your first 100, is to be consistent  and patient. Always be thinking of new content ideas, creating and promoting opt-in freebies, reaching out to other bloggers, and just be willing to put yourself out there.

    Oh, and you have to be okay with failure. I’ve failed many times in the past three months. I’ve created a couple of opt-ins that I thought were really awesome, but only got a couple of sign-ups. You’ll also get a lot of unsubscribers, but don’t let this get to you. It just means they aren’t your target audience. Failure is how you grow and I’m always learning what people want and what they don’t want.

    At this point I’ve shifted my email list strategy from gaining subscribers to learning how to keep my current subscribers engaged. I’m currently in research mode and learning as much as I can find about not only growing your email list, but how to create content that your subscribers want to see. I mean, what’s the point of having a list without establishing connections and sharing information?

    So, are you ready to start your own email list? Thought so. If you’re ready head over to this post where I show you step-by-step how to start your email list in 4 easy steps!