List Building Case Study: How I Got My First 500+ Subscribers In Less Than 30 Days (Without SEO Or Paid Traffic)
If you want to build a bigger list...
But you're not confident you can drive paid traffic without losing money...
Or you can only see yourself getting just trickles of traffic with most free methods...
Let me show you a technique the best Hollywood producers use to make sure their movie will almost certainly be a massive HIT...
And how I used that same technique to get my first 500 subscribers in the span of few days back in 2010... And more recently, a heap of influencer endorsements and some of the highest quality of traffic I've got... without spending a penny.
Here are some of the endorsements I got for my brand new site:
Not just on Twitter...
That particular email got me some nice traffic...
This may not get you 100s or 1000s of subscribers immediately (or maybe it can... I'll show you my case study later in this post)...
But it will definitely help you build relationships with the most influential people in your market... which can result in guest posting opportunities, affiliate relationships and more.
I'm not showing all this to brag.
I'm hoping to inspire you to take action on this technique.
I'm not the only one using this method. For example, one of the most popular blogs in the world has built its following almost solely using this method. We'll talk about that and other case studies a bit later.
But before we get to the how-to... what does this technique have to do with Hollywood?
The Blockbuster Guide To "Stealing" The Audience From The Most Influential Sites In Your Market
As I said at the beginning of this post, this method is based on one of the biggest factors that separates box-office-winning Hollywood movies from the rest.
That factor is...
Even if critics give glowing reviews to a movie…
And even if the producers advertise the movie like hell…
If it doesn’t have famous actors in it (or a famous director helming it), it probably won’t attract the masses.
On the flip-side of the coin, a bad film can generate more money than it deserves if it has a respectable cast.
That’s why producers are willing to pay outrageous sums to get big-name actors (and directors) on board.
More often than not, it’s an investment well-spent.
These big names have fame, fans and the audience’s respect - those qualities will carry over straight to the movie.
I like to call this...
The Spotlight Method
When you feature big names in your industry on your own media outlet, there’s a good chance you'll get attention from their followers.
You light the spotlight on them... And they will do the same for you.
This principle also applies in marketing:
For example -
Seminars attract the audiences of the speakers…
Interviews attract the fans of the interviewee…
Webinars attract the followers of the guest…
So what is the best way to utilize this method if you were starting from scratch?
By not treating it as a one-off trick.
If you want this method to work for you, you need to be tenacious and consistent.
You need a media outlet where you publish content regularly. You can't just "grab" yourself an audience - it needs to be grown.
What do I mean by that?
I’m talking about blogging.
Blogs are great.
They almost naturally attract traffic (especially if you keep at it!)
They are awesome for building relationships with your followers.
They are really good for list building too.
And if you combine blogging with the ”Spotlight Method”, you’ll have in your hands one powerful list building machine.
I have the perfect case study for you that shows this combination in action:
Here is Mixergy:
It’s a blog by Andrew Warner where he publishes interviews he’s made with influential marketers.
Nothing more complicated than that…
He features experts in his blog - and some of those experts feature Andrew (by tweeting their interview to their followers or mailing about it to their list or anything like that!)
If Andrew interviewed your favorite entrepreneur, you'd go to Mixergy to listen to that. That's how Andrew attracts other people's audiences to his own blog.
And what will those visitors see when they arrive at Mixergy? This:
Andrew's building his list.
And he also sells premium courses to his followers.
He’s been able to do this for several years and has attracted a big following of thousands of students and customers… without the need to use paid traffic, SEO or any traffic ”tricks” (I'm not saying he hasn't used these or other traffic methods).
It's a very powerful technique...
You can replicate Mixergy's success too... And it doesn't have to be with interviews. We'll get to that a bit later.
But first, you need to know about some of the pitfalls in this technique that are very easy to fall into...
Let me share with you a personal story so you can avoid the same mistakes I did:
How I Got My First 500 Subscribers
(And What I Would Do Differently Now)
In 2010 I was entering into a new niche where I had no contacts or anything like that.
After dabbling in the market for a while, I heard about this upcoming product launch... I contacted the vendor of that product and asked if I could help him out in any way.
He - let’s call him Bob - said ’yes’.
Bob was interviewing authorities in the market to compile those interviews in a product.
I got to help him by doing a few interviews myself with other marketers.
Eventually, Bob got the product launched, sold it to 100s of people and made a nice sum of money…
And here comes the part where I benefited. 😉
Bob gave me the rights to use the interviews I made in any way I wanted.
And I used them to build my list… How?
I created an opt-in page for each of the interviews - people could get access to the interviews if they subscribed to my list.
Then I asked the experts who I had interviewed, if they would like to tell about the offer to their list - all of them said yes!
And that’s how I built my first list of a few hundred subscribers…
But I DON’T recommend you do the same…
That whole process is flawed and I wasn’t able to attract RESPONSIVE subscribers using it - my open- and click-through rates sucked and they only got worse over time…
Think about it: When an expert in your niche emails her list that ”this guy interviewed me and he’s giving away the interview here, check it out!” - what are YOU to those people who come to your opt-in page and subscribe to your list?
You are just ”that guy who interviewed the expert”. They don’t know you, like you or trust you. They just subscribed to hear the person they DO trust. They have no reason to open your emails or listen to you. And it’s quite hard to build a relationship with people like these, trust me.
That is a problem, but you can avoid it, if you just follow this guide:
There is more to this method than just interviews.
The point of this technique is to feature influential people in your market, one way or another...
Let me show you all the ways you can use to attract traffic with this method:
Shane Melaugh (one of the most upstanding people in our market) and his blog is a great example on how to use reviews to get massive traffic.
Take a look at his front page - you should see a list of the most popular posts on his blog:
See those top 3 spots?
They’re all review compilations.
You too can do these types of comparison reviews or just single reviews.
How to create reviews
If you want to do reviews, I just recommend you check out this tutorial by Authority Hacker.
Their process is quite ingenious:
Your goal really is to take people from wherever they are to the point where they make a purchase decision (and I’m about to show you how in a minute).
You have the opportunity to be that neutral 3rd party people rely on to make decisions and take your cut of every sale you generate without having to handle customer service or one on one communication.
Obviously, if you want to build this for the long term (which we advise), you should always stay true to yourself and advise the best solution to your audience (not necessarily the one that pays the most).
Here's my summary of the steps in the process:
- Build liking and authority with a story
- Empathize with them and get them in the right (action-taking) mood by talking about their problems.
- Qualify the solution by discussing the ideal scenario (without talking about the product).
- Increase interest and desire by showing them case studies of you or other people solving the problem.
- Show them step-by-step how they too can solve the problem using the product.
- Encourage them with a call-to-action.
In short, you help your audience by showing how they can solve their problem using a specific solution.
Why do reviews work so well?
Product vendors will thank you for featuring their product. And if you give a good score to THEIR product, they will want to show that review to their followers - ”hey, look how my product fares against my competitors!”
As for the audience - people simply seek out and devour reviews. Too often it’s hard to find HONEST reviews for any kind of products - this is the perfect chance for you to stand out among your competition.
Creating honest reviews can be hard work but it can definitely be worth it.
This is the ”lazy” way to create traffic-attracting content.
Curating content is about taking a slice of someone else’s content, adding some of your own commentary beside it and publishing it on your blog.
One of the most popular blogs on the planet does this all the time…
That blog is Lifehacker (and other blogs in the Gawker network).
Just take a look at some of these posts:
With short posts like these, Lifehacker has been able to grow to a giant like it is…
How to create curated content
Here's what a typical curated post looks like:
1. A short intro. Create some interest towards the subject matter.
2. Bring up the source content. Summarize its message.
3. Explain the most important point in the article in your own words or quote the article. If you look at Lifehacker's posts, most times the reader doesn't have to check out the source to get the message.
4. Link to the source content. Otherwise, you would be stealing...
5. Add something original: a) share your thoughts about the content or b) share some additional tips. This is important if you want to build up your own expertise!
Why does curated content work so well?
Curated content builds goodwill between you and the other influential content creators in your market. It also establishes you and your blog as the go-to source of information in your market.
You saw the Mixergy case study.
You heard my story.
Let's just get to the how-to:
How to create interviews
The Proposal: First, find influential people in your niche and ask them via email (I'll give you the templates I've used in the bonus section at the end of this post.)
To increase your chances of getting a "yes", make your existense clear to them - comment on their blog posts and like their stuff on social media (before asking for the interview). This isn't necessary but it will help.
Also, give them a reason to accept your proposal. What's in it for them?
Most likely, they want to increase their influence in the market - they want publicity and quality traffic. That's why it may be better to start doing interviews only after you've established your blog as a notable presence in the marketplace.
If you have a relatively small blog, you can explain to them what other ways you're going to use to promote the interview (and get it in front of a larger audience).
Recording The Interview: Probably the easiest way to record an interview is to use Skype and a Skype Recorder (for example, this one for Windows or this one for Mac). You also need a decent microphone.
When you plan out the questions, make it about them.
For example, questions like "how did you..." or "how would you..." will usually get better answers than general questions like "how to..."
Browse popular AMAs ("Ask Me Anything") and see what kind of questions people ask... what are they curious about. You can also find ideas for the "hook" of your interview there.
After recording, you can add your own commentary to the track or create complimentary material beside it (like a checklist, a video tutorial or something else). Don't just be "that guy who talks with the experts" - be an expert yourself too.
Why do interviews work so well?
You’ll get in direct contact with influential people in your market. That alone is priceless.
There’s also a good chance your interviewees will share the interview with their audiences.
Your listeners will have a good reason to share the interview too - because of the star power.
What better way to grab someone’s attention than to talk about that someone?
You could talk to your audience about the most trustworthy authorities in your market… (example)
You could talk about specific things they do that your audience should take example from… (example)
You could talk about their website… (example)
How to create case studies/biographies/showcases
You can create list posts, like in two of the examples above.
Or you can focus on just one person/website/technique - if you feature just one person and give all your attention to that, the more likely that person is going to appreciate what you’ve done.
If you want to write about multiple people to increase your chances, why not make it a series? ”Top 10 best people in this market” where you dedicate a post for each person.
Why do case studies/biographies/showcases work so well?
If someone talked about you behind your back, would you be curious? They are basically forcing you to direct your attention to them… And what if you knew they talked good things about you? Would you be grateful? Humbled?
I rest my case…
Next up - you have to make sure your favor to the influencer gets noticed:
The most effective way to reach out to influencers is via email.
The biggest mistake you can do when emailing other people is to make the message all about "me, me, me!"
But that's not a problem when you follow the Spotlight Method.
You've done them a favor by featuring them on your own blog or other outlet... And you just let them know about that.
Let me just give you a swipe file of emails you can use to contact influencers:
I've packaged a collection of emails I've used to...
- Let influencers know you've linked to them (so they will return the favor by linking to you + you'll get to establish a relationship with them)
- Ask influencers for an interview
- EXTRA: Cold email to a prospect (to get you hired by a client)
To download these email swipes (+ other outreach tips), click the button below: