magan ward

Running a profitable digital business doesn’t require subscribing to the hustle-culture in order to make a comfortable living and find true freedom for the things you love most.

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Episode 2: How to Grow an Email List Organically

For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know that my bread and butter is email marketing (and I love talking about growing your email list organically!).  I know it’s not the sexiest thing to talk about — and for some of you, you might think it sounds really hard (or […]


I'm Magan!

An entrepreneur since the ripe old age of 5 when I would sell a single cracker with spreadable cheese from my lunch box for $0.25.

I grew my own email list by 78% in less than one month using my signature Pop-Up Podcast™ System, and grew my clients' email lists over 400% in 12 months, organically.

My mission is to help other entrepreneurs find the power in their email list growth!

How My Email List Allowed me to Leave Corporate



How to Grow Your Email List Organically


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Magan Ward

Episode 2: How to Grow an Email List Organically


May 23, 2023 12:00 am

Lady holding a laptop and smiling | How to Grow an Email List Organically | The School of Marketing Podcast for Digital Entrepreneurs

For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know that my bread and butter is email marketing (and I love talking about growing your email list organically!).  I know it’s not the sexiest thing to talk about — and for some of you, you might think it sounds really hard (or […]

For those of you who have followed me for a while, you know that my bread and butter is email marketing (and I love talking about growing your email list organically!). 

I know it’s not the sexiest thing to talk about — and for some of you, you might think it sounds really hard (or expensive). You need ads, right? You have to put a lot of effort into promoting your email list, right?

Not necessarily.

It’s not as difficult or as expensive to grow a list without paid ads as you might think, so today we’re going to dive into all the ways you can organically grow your email list.

You can listen to the episode here:

You can do this.

I know you’ve heard podcast episodes or read about the “big names” out there who have massive email lists – and some have admitted to spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on paid ads in order to grow their email lists.

And that is not something that most of us can afford to do. Obviously.

We’re just out here trying to build a business that makes a comfortable living—and if many of us are not making our first 6 figures, then we definitely can’t pour 6-figures into paid ads.

I have a client who built their email list organically in less than a year to over 8,500 subscribers.

I grew my list in one week by over 1,300 in 5 days recently during an event.

Let’s go over a few ways you can go and do the same.

I’m first going to tell you to simply give people a reason to subscribe.

A lead magnet that makes it easy for your potential subscribers to say yes to is key. But let’s shift your mindset away from the normal PDF download.

If you already have a PDF lead magnet—or two—please know that I know those still work and I don’t recommend just pulling the PDF off the shelf completely.

I still have a couple myself that I use for various platforms, because PDFs are easy to create and they still convert.

But let’s really consider NEW mediums for sharing your gated content. 

For example, I have a client with over 8,500 subscribers. They had one lead magnet that grew it by 1,600 in less than 7 months—and it was a 4-minute audio clip.

All they provided was a quick clip about their dad. Now, you’d have to know their brand and their show to understand why their audience was quick to hit “subscribe” and hear the story of their dad, but what you need to know is that it was a low-barrier entry point, an easy “yes” for people because it answered a specific question that their audience asked daily.

While you might not be a podcaster or “like the sound of your voice,” you might have something that can become an audio-only workshop or limited-series of episodes that you can put on a private feed link that can only be accessed by signing up for your email list.

This is a similar idea to my signature pop-up podcasts™.

This is my personal favorite lead magnet that has continued to grow my list quickly—by 78% in less than one month the first time I hosted one.

I had the idea of running a free, pop-up podcast™. This is essentially a private-feed podcast that was free, but required a sign-up and was only available to listen to for a limited amount of time. In this case, it was available for 6 days to listen into. 

At the time, I knew nothing about podcasting, so I literally had no idea how to put something like this together. But, I got busy and did the work piecing together what I could, and it converted like nothing ever before.

I created a 4-episode pop-up podcast™ that was FREE for people to sign up and tune into.

The episodes were bite-sized, and I used the tagline “Kickstart Your Email List” 

And it worked. It was just the thing that people were craving.

This group that signed up for this pop up podcast was the most engaging and connected group of subscribers.

Over 97% of people who signed up actually showed up and listened to the pop-up podcast™ episodes.

And that’s when it hit me…that pop-up podcast™, which was a lead magnet in disguise, was the direct result of me thinking outside the box and setting myself apart.

If you choose to host an audio workshop or pop-up podcast™, you can also treat it like live classes and package it like a challenge or bootcamp.

When it comes to giving people a reason to sign up for your email list, I encourage you today to think outside the box like I did, and like we’ve been doing for my clients to set yourself apart from others in your industry to begin building and growing your email list … 

… By doing something different. Something that your audience hasn’t seen or heard before.

Because by thinking outside the box, we’ve been able to build a larger, more connected audience with my own email list and my clients email list.

When you’re brainstorming what to create to grow your email list, I want you to keep these questions in mind:

  1. What is your business? 
  2. What do you want to sell to your audience?
  3. Who is your audience and what is it that they come to you to learn about or get help with?

When you begin answering these questions, you will instantly have lead magnet ideas. Just think how to bring it to life with the examples we discussed earlier such as workshop series or audio-only challenges. 

And heck, maybe it is a PDF download. I never said they don’t work. Because they still do. But maybe, just maybe, by thinking outside the box as I have encouraged you to do today, you can step away from what industry gurus have been telling us for the last couple of decades and find growth like never before.

The other side of this coin? Make sure you’re talking about your lead magnet. You can’t create a freebie and expect people to just find it, right? You need to let people know about it.

If you want people on your newsletter list because you’re dropping some real knowledge bombs, you need to tease that. Share a bit about your latest newsletter or a reply you got. Drive interest—you can’t build a list without it.

Now, how do you really get your email list in front of more people — people who maybe don’t follow you on social? 

You might be surprised to hear it, but I still recommend Pinterest.

This one is more of a long-game, but it’s a great tool to utilize.

By creating pins for Pinterest that invite people to your landing page or blog that offers your lead magnet, you can see email signups for years to come.

I have pins out there from 2018 that are consistently bringing in 50 email subscribers each month, sometimes more if that pin suddenly gains more traction.

So if you haven’t begun to dabble into Pinterest, that might be something to add to your list for 2023 for email list building—especially if you already have content from blogs, podcasts, or YouTube videos. Create a few pins per piece of content and schedule them to go out on Pinterest. 

You can schedule pins on Pinterest inside of the platform now instead of going through a 3rd party scheduler. 

OK, now how can you grow your email list a of using social?

Buckle up, because I’m going to tell you to start speaking more.

Now this doesn’t mean getting on stages so if that gives you hives, don’t worry—that is not what I mean.

I mean participating in summits with pre-recorded trainings, being a guest educator in someone else’s membership, and being a guest on podcasts.

Most of these, especially the podcasts, live on forever for anyone to find.

And you should always ALWAYS be sharing your free lead magnet at each one of these.

This is putting your name and your offer in front of an audience you may otherwise not have been able to get in front of.

And that is the beauty of leveraging the audience of others.

And while bringing that up, I also recommend participating in bundles.

Whether free or paid, bundles are a wonderful way to grow your email list, organically.

A bundle event is a marketing strategy where multiple digital products and resources are bundled together and offered as a package to attract and engage potential subscribers to an email list.

It is a collaborative effort among various content creators and educators who contribute their products to create a comprehensive bundle.

It can include a collection of items such as courses, templates, and beyond that all fit along a similar theme and are created to attract a specific ideal subscriber.

These are limited time events and promoted by not only the organizer, but also by all of the contributors involved in the bundle.

And that brings us full circle to leveraging the audience of others.

I have participated in many bundles. Some wonderful experiences, some complete duds if I’m being quite honest, but the good greatly outweighs the bad.

Some of those bundles have been put together too swiftly and lacked strategy in their organization. So it is vital to remember to have a true strategy in place to pull together a bundle that has resources included that all compliment one another … and contributors that all have audiences with similar interests.

For example, if you’re putting one together, don’t get just any warm body to put a product in your bundle. I’ve seen this happen and it didn’t go well.

Just think about it—if you want to host a bundle specific for service providers, have someone you know who offers a website template specifically for service providers or Canva templates for putting together their services guide.

You don’t want to have someone who teaches home organization in a bundle that is specific for service providers, because it clearly doesn’t fit.

My friend, Dolly Delong, also an educator in this digital space, has hosted 2 wonderfully successful bundles.

And in August 2023, we are opening the doors to our very first group program together, The Bundle Intensive. It will be for anyone that has interest in running their own bundle, free or paid.

Inside, we are teaching and sharing all the nitty gritty details about what is involved with organizing a bundle, how to put the systems and workflows together in a cohesive way, and how to launch a bundle that your audience is raving about.

Also inside this strategic bundle intensive, you will not only get access to Dolly and myself to help you put together your entire bundle, but you get templates, graphics, a marketing calendar tool, and learn all the best practices for a bundle that both purchasers and contributors love.

We will have limited availability during the first round of this program, so I invite you to get on the waitlist so you don’t miss out if this is something you have interest in learning more about.

Interested? Click here to get on the waitlist. 

As you begin growing your email list, remember to establish genuine relationships with collaborators and always provide value to their audiences. I don’t want you to find yourself poorly throwing together resources for the sake of email growth. Because that is not going to build a list of well-connected people who trust you. And ultimately, that won’t build a list that works for you.

Building trust and credibility are crucial when leveraging the audience of others to grow your email list.

I’ll see you on the next episode of The School of Marketing Podcast for Digital Entrepreneurs! 

And while you’ve got your phone open, assuming you’re reading this right now on your mobile device, I want you to do 3 quick things: 

  1. Give this podcast a follow (click here for iTunes or here for Spotify, or look up “The School of Marketing Podcast for Digital Entrepreneurs” wherever you listen to your podcasts)
  2. If you liked this episode, please leave a review!
  3. Go ahead and open up your instagram app and come follow me: @themaganward. I’d love to hear from you and I’m known to reply back via DM, sometimes even with a voice message, so make sure you hit me up there especially if you’ve got a topic you’d like me to cover in an upcoming episode.

Want more of where this came from? Check out other show notes here.

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