How to Build a Profitable Email List (Without Social Media)

By Matt Giaro

build list without social media

These 3 strategies helped me grow to 4,500 subscribers

“Matt, it’s a slow grind.”

That’s what Parker Worth (a creator with 55,000 social media followers) recently confessed on my podcast about building your list on social media.

Every day, you have to open your laptop, scroll through your newsfeed, and engage with strangers.

Parker and I have 4,500 email subscribers.

He grew his list with social media.

I did not.

Do you know why?

It’s because I’m a crab-like introvert. I hate talking to strangers. When people approach me in real life, my cheeks turn tomato red. And the constant pressure to engage, post, and comment makes my brain boil and overheat.

As I’m writing this, my email list counts 4,565 subscribers. My social media follower count is blocked at 722. (And that’s not one platform but on both Twitter and LinkedIn combined.)

Let me show you how to grow your newsletter without the need to be social.

🥷 (Ethically) steal your competitor’s email list

A great way to grow your email list without social media is through sponsorships.

Sponsorships mean paying another creator to promote your newsletter in his in exchange for a fee.

It’s one of the best ways to build your list right now. You’ll show up in front of people who already open, read, and click on emails.

It’s also a great way to build credibility because it subtly implies the other creator endorsing you.

Here’s an example of one of my sponsorships in a newsletter that got me in front of 12,532 subscribers:

Here’s how to start taking advantage of this list-building method:

First, you need to find newsletters that target the audience you’d like to reach.

There are different ways to find newsletters.

One of the ways is to leverage platforms like Medium, X, YouTube, or LinkedIn).

I like to follow a few people in my niche and let the algorithm suggest new creators.

Then, I jump on their email list.

If the creator already runs sponsorships, you’ll find a link at the bottom of the newsletter that says something like: “Sponsor this newsletter”.

All you have to do is click the link and take it from there.

A good example here is my friend Jamie Northrup – Minimalist Hustler:

The “sponsor” link is at the bottom of each email.

You’ll see it right away — even if you’re a brand-new subscriber.

This link takes you to a booking page.

Choose the number of slots, pay, pick your dates, provide the text and the link to your opt-in page. Done.

But what if the creator isn’t open to sponsorships? Then, the approach requires more legwork.

The first step is to engage with the creator. I try to be useful, like finding a bug or a broken link as I did here:

I’ve run several sponsorships over the past 6 months. They’ve added more than 600 subscribers to my email list.

Now you might be asking: “Okay, how much does it cost?”

Prices depend on the niche, the size of the list, the responsiveness, etc.

To give you an idea, you’ll pay around $0.03 per subscriber in the content creation space.

So if the email list you want to sponsor has 5,000 subscribers, that’s $150.

I’m using sponsorships to grow my list, and they work out great.

If you want more details about this method, click here to get my free course

🤝 Get recommended by your favorite creators (for free)

Another way to grow your email list without social media is to partner up with other creators who share the same target audience.

This is called a swap.

In December, I discovered Derek Hughes on Medium.

I dug his content. I reached out and asked if he’d be interested in a swap. He agreed.

I recommended Derek’s newsletter to my 4,000 subscribers, and he recommended mine. Huge win-win.

Swaps are great but can also easily backfire if you promote anyone. The reason is because it’s a mutual endorsement. 

Only run swaps with creators whom you’d recommend to your mother.

A subscriber from a recommendation is 10 times more qualified than a subscriber coming from social media. 

Quality trumps quantity.

🔍 Get in front of hot leads with this traffic method

There are two types of organic content online: search and social.

Search traffic means creating content like videos or articles (like this one) that answer a specific query people are searching for.

It’s one of the methods I like the most and had the most success with over my past decade of creating content.

The advantage of this method is that it allows you to hold onto your topic, provide value, and have people come to you instead of you having to chase them.

You can harness search traffic in several ways with:

  • SEO articles
  • Youtube videos
  • Or by answering questions on Quora & Reddit

The first step is identifying specific questions your audience has.

The easiest way to get started is to head over to Google and type in a question like this:

As you see, the second suggestion is exactly what I’m writing about.

I have dozens of those articles on my website and YouTube channel. The goal here is to be specific.

Then, create a piece that answers that specific question. Within your piece, mention your lead magnet. A portion of readers will subscribe.

If you look at my website, I have plenty of specific articles about the note-taking app Obsidian like:

  • How to Organize Notes in Obsidian
  • What’s the Best Calendar Plugin for Obsidian?
  • How to Use Obsidian as a Zettelkasten: The Ultimate Tutorial

    Each article has an opt-in form where readers can go deeper down the rabbit hole. This is how I grow my list with SEO on my blog.

I do the same on YouTube.

Take for example my video on how to write a newsletter with ChatGPT. It answers a question: “How to write a newsletter with ChatGPT”:

In the description, I offer a free cheat sheet with the prompts used:

As a result, 417 subscribers subscribed to my email list with this video alone.

Not bad for an 8-minute video.

Brainwash your brain to grow your list without social media

Our brains are great at brainwashing themselves.

We create our own echo chambers based on the content we consume. So if you only look at what social media gurus preach you’ll believe that social media is the only option for growing your list.

But it’s not.

Want to grow a profitable email list without social media? 

Click here to get my free course

FREE 5-Day Email Marketing Course

How to Create Your Own Passive Income Machine with AUTOMATED EMAILS

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