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Advanced List Buiding: The Cake Construction And How To Use It

A while ago I wrote an introductory post to List Building, list building 101 if you will. This week I’m doing a follow-up on that post, in the form of Advanced List Building, essentially list building 202 – an advanced post about how to use Email List Building for marketing. I’ll be explaining my own signature method of using blogging to build your list. It’s called The Cake Construction, and was mentioned briefly in How to Grow Your Tribe and Market Like A Ninja. I’m going to go into it in more detail for you know, as this is a core concept I use in my content marketing strategy, and in planning blog schedules, both for myself and my clients.

Imagine for a moment a giant cake. Like a wedding cake, with four big fat tiers of cakey goodness. The bottom tier is very large, the next one up is smaller, but still quite large, the third tier is a medium size, and the top most tier is small. Each tier of The Cake represents a form of content in your business. When combined to form The Cake Construction, this content is a marketing machine that will grow your list at a phenomenal rate.

If for some reason you don’t like cake, you can think of it as a pyramid, but I like cake, so…

Advanced List Buiding: The Cake Construction And How To Use It

Tier Four: Free Content

The lowest tier in your cake is tier four, and it consists entirely of FREE CONTENT. Free content can be just about anything but the main forms you should definitely be using are:

  • Blog posts
  • Guest Posts (blog posts on other people’s sites)
  • Interviews
  • Newsletters
  • Social Media Posts – tweets, status updates, memes, videos etc.
  • SWAG – bookmarks, pens, postcards and other very cheap marketing materials featuring your business name, logo, website, and/or quotes and images by you.
  • Tasters & Testers – a mini version of one of your products or services
  • Tutorials (short and sweet)
  • Vlogs
  • Webinars

The reason this tier is so big is because you need to produce free content in swathes. It must be high quality, despite the fact its free. It must showcase your Zone of Genius and just how awesome you are. It must tease all your knowledge, but not give away the farm – keep the best bits back. It needs to be SERIOUSLY TASTY free content – entertaining, helping, informing, or a combination of the three. It has to make your ideal clients fill their bellies and purr like a kitten. Then it has to make them rub up against your legs begging for more. You need a LOT of free content so you can keep that kitty happy and get it used to eating your delicious cake.

Tier Three: Freebies & Upgrades

The content in this tier is still 100% free, but they do come with a very small, non monetary ‘price tag’, in the form of an email address. This is where your list building starts, but don’t be fooled – you can’t have this tier without the tier below it. Tier four is your base, it’s the foundation of the construction, without it everything else falls down. Your free content is what shores up everything else and makes the whole magical machine possible…

But how does it work?


Freebies should only be available for download in exchange for an email address and the agreement that it will be added to your list. It should be abundantly clear that people can unsubscribe from this list at will, and yes, you WILL get people signing up, nabbing your free stuff, and immediately unsubscribing, just like you will have an unsubscribe rate of about 1% every time you send out a newsletter.

Them’s the breaks, kid, suck it up.

Some great ideas for freebies:

  • Cheat sheets
  • Worksheets
  • Guides
  • Short eBooks
  • Desktop backgrounds
  • Planners

Content Upgrades

Any piece of 100% free content from tier four has the potential to be UPGRADED. For example, you have a totally free post (just like this one) that provides oddles of quality content, and then you add something to it. Something extra. You UPGRADE the blog post, or the vlog, or the guest post, or the interview, or the webinar, so that there is an extra awesome thing, directly related to the piece of content, that will either help readers action what they have been reading, further their understanding of the subject, or simply provide them with something pleasant but useful. You will very soon be able to download a nice poster version of The Cake Construction, as a content upgrade for this post (it was supposed to be available today, but the site is glitching so you’ll have to bear with me!).

You will notice I refer to this tier as the ‘low price’ tier. This is not because people are paying you MONEY. They’re not. But they are still GIVING YOU SOMETHING. They’re giving you an email address, which is worth a lot more than you think. Because once you have their email, once they’re on your newsletter list, once they’re on this level, getting them to graduate to the next level up, and the one after, gets a LOT easier!

Content upgrades are the very essence of The Cake Construction. You start by getting people hooked on something totally free of charge, you then offer them something BETTER, that requires a tiny bit more of a commitment – an email address. This steps them up a notch on your client ladder. They’re on your list. The next step after this is to get them to pay you cashy money for something…

Tier Two: Medium Priced Products & Services

Your next tier up is tier two, and it’s a reasonably large wedge of cake, but nowhere near as big as tiers three and four. Tier two products and services don’t have to be related to what was on offer in your third and fourth tier, but it really helps if they are. It’s a lot easier to convince the cat it’s worth paying for a larger slice of a cake they already love, than it is to convince them to buy a cake they haven’t tasted yet. Linking your content across tiers relies on the established relationship and experience the cat has had with you, the other requires them to take a leap of faith and trust everything you do is as good as the cake they’ve already eaten. Once your cat has been chowing down on your free content for a while, they will be addicted to the yummy cakey goodness of you and gladly hand over their email for more cake, taking them up to your third tier. Once they’re there, you can offer that happy little cat something EVEN BETTER in exchange for a SMALL amount of money. The cake on this tier is far superior to the free content, freebies, and upgrades. Your kitty cat will happily hand over a bit of cash to try it.

Here are some good second tier cakes:

  • Full Length Book (eBook and/or print), rather than a free guide or short eBook (< £15)
  • Full Versions of Your Tasters & Testers (<£15)
  • Masterclasses – in-depth tutorials that last c. 1 hour (Membership Club Content @ c. £10/Month)
  • Low Price Products/Services (<£30)
  • Short Courses (£20-£30)

You’ll notice I’ve assigned a numerical value to each suggestion. These are rough guides, and the exact price you charge will depend on your overall prices, but you should think of these items as The Cheap Seats. They’re introductory level products and services and you should have a range of them – different items, for different prices, from about £5 up to around £30. Books are great at this level, especially if you can link them to a high-priced product or service (see below). Short courses are also brilliant, especially if they follow on from free and full tasters and testers.

The idea is really very simple: create content that can incrementally increase in value and skill level. You can do the same thing with blog posts. Just as I did a basic ‘list building 101’ blog before I wrote this one, and will go on to blog about list building in more detail in the future. You build a catalogue of posts on a single subject that get progressively more and more advanced. If they become advanced enough you can make them exclusive newsletter content, only available to people on your list. The next step after that is setting up a paid membership club with a monthly fee, which gives members access to your best blog posts and some really high quality exclusive content, like master classes and webinars.

Tier One: High Priced Products & Services

Here we are at the top of your cake, and despite the fact this is the elite tier, the crème de la crème of your cake, it functions in much the same way the previous tiers did. This level of products and services is better than the last – more valuable, more advanced, more highly priced (and prized!). You can actually have five versions of one eCourse if you’re smart about it: an elite bells and whistles edition that’s top-tier, a full but not elite edition that’s tier two, an advanced edition and a full but basic edition for tier three, and an introductory and totally free edition for tier four. For example, you will soon be seeing this develop on The Write Copy Girl, as I will soon be launching The Divine Blogging Challenge, a free course to help you plan your blog schedule using my signature method. Some time after that I’ll be launching a low price (c.£15) Tool Kit to walk you through building a 12 month blog schedule, and a an advanced version of the Tool Kit including additional guidance on how to monetise your blog. The next step after that will be a full-blown eCourse, followed (at some point) by a live version. The trick is to ensure that each version has a lot more value than the last, while simultaneously covering what was included in the less advanced versions for anyone who’s not done them.

Designing Your Cake

You will notice I’ve described each tier in terms of price but that I’ve also marked tiers one to three with ‘Master’, ‘Journeyman’, and ‘Apprentice’. This is because there are two ways to ensure your offerings are more valuable the higher up the cake they go: one is to do it by price, from free to high, the other is to do it by skill level. When you’re first learning a new trade you are an apprentice. Once you’ve been at it for a while you become a journeyman, and when you really know your stuff you take the title of master.

Your paid-for content should be divided according to price or skillset. Many products don’t require different levels of skill to use, so you must divide them by price. Supermarkets are brilliant at this – they have a cheap Value range, the everyday brand range, and a Premium range. Tesco, for example, have Tesco Value, Tesco, and Tesco Finest. Sainsbury’s has Sainsbury’s Basics, Sainsbury’s, and Taste the Difference.

Think of your first tier as the free tasters you get at the supermarket. As you’re walking around doing your weekly shop you can sample cheeses, breads, crisps, all sorts of yummy treats. If you like them, you’ll find the product right next to the sample stand, ready to be picked up and put in your trolley. It doesn’t matter which range the sample is from – value, normal, or finest – if you like it you’re likely to buy it. If you’re using the low, medium, and high price model, determining what goes in each tier is simple, you just need to decide a price bracket for each and ensure you have SOMETHING in every tier.

For other products and services, you need to consider things from the point of view of the client and their skill set or current level of need.


Are they totally new to the concept, craft, or subject you’re selling? If so, they’re an apprentice, and need easing in. They will have to start on tier three because they don’t yet know enough to handle the higher tiers. Once they have some experience and are more of a journeyman, they can try the next level up. Once they’ve got a lot more experience and are getting really good, they’re a master, ready for the top-level you offer. Your free content is there to get them hooked to begin with, to convince them that, yes, they really are interested in learning about this.


Dividing based on level of need is similar to skill, in that a person doesn’t need the tools of a master while still an apprentice. It goes beyond this, however, as you can have clients who are at master level in terms of knowledge, but don’t currently require the top-level materials or services. A good example of this is when you’re just setting up a new StartUp. You can have extensive knowledge when it comes to business etc. but because your business is brand spanking new, you don’t yet have an email list. You still need the software though, so you choose a provider and signup for a plan. You will select the lowest tier plan on offer, because you don’t currently have a lot of subscribers on your list. As your list grows, your need grows, and you will have to upgrade to higher priced packages to accommodate your growing list and business. Here, the level you are at is determined by need, not skill. In all other respects, however, the manner in which you allocate products and services to tiers is the same as that used for skill sets, so I include them in the same model to save confusion.

If you’re dividing your products and services using the apprentice, journeyman, and master model, price isn’t the point, skill level is. You might charge more for your apprentice course, products, or services, because they need to be broad in range, time consuming, and/or high in volume to get people started. You might charge more for your master course than anything else because once people reach that level, courses that can teach them new information are scarce. Price, in this instance, is irrelevant to determining what goes in each tier. Base it on skill level and/or need, not pricing. As with the price-based model you MUST have SOMETHING in each tier, but beyond that which tier things fall into is determined entirely by the skill level, or requirement of the client.

One final thing: free content (level one) should vary so that all your clients get good value free content, regardless of their level of experience, needs, or whether they’re already paying clients or not.

Why You Should Make Content Marketing Your Top Priority In The New Year

When I first started out as an entrepreneur I put my knowledge of fiction, books, and general love of writing to the best possible use I could think of: and edited and proofread other people’s words.

And I did a million other things, from book covers and graphic design to illustrations, 3D mock-ups and even fancy email signatures.

If it was related to books and writing I offered it, with one exception: writing.

For some reason it took me a long while to wrap my head around the concept of a business that let me write full-time.

Just write.

Nothing else.

Writing, to me, was not work.

Why would people pay me to do the thing I loved? The thing that lit me up, made me feel whole and sane and healthy.

The thing I did for fun, to relax at the end of the day after a lot of tough, boring work.

That’s what work was.

Work was boring, monotonous, hard.

Otherwise it wasn’t really work.

This was a particularly bizarre notion given that people were already paying me to write, long before I started my business.

Looking back now I really don’t understand why my immediate choice wasn’t to set up as a copywriter, but sometimes the most obvious thing for us feels like an impossibility.

Writing is my passion.

You don’t get paid for your passion, right?


Why You Should Make Your Passion Your Paycheck

Entrepreneurship is a tough gig. Everything rests on you (at least initially), there’s a massive amount of pressure to find clients, retain clients, find more clients, market, market, market, build your brand, grow your business.

And that’s before you even get to the work you need to do for your clients and customers, and the creation of new products and services.

Innovation, trail-blazing, thought-leadership, building a business you are passionate about, that allows you a liberated, free and abundant lifestyle…they’re all beautiful dreams of entrepreneurship that are swiftly quashed under the reality of running a business.

I love editing, and proofreading, and helping other people hone their words. I can be tremendously passionate about that.

By my passion, my true passion, is crafting words of my own, and teaching people how to do the same.

It took my clients to make me see the truth of this. 98% of them asked me at some point about the best way of promoting their products (usually books) and services (frequently done-for-you versions of what their book was about). The answer was simple: blogging.

Or more specifically, content marketing.

“Create fabulous content that showcases your expertise,” I’d tell them. “Fabulous free content that interests people, that lets them get to know you, fall in love with you, and trust that it’s well worth paying for more from you. Start blogging.”

The response I got 99% of the time was, either “Urgh! I seriously hate blogging!” or “Blogging doesn’t sell shit!

From that point they naturally split into two groups. The ones who immediately asked, “Can’t you do it for me?” and those who said, “Can you teach me how to do it?”

The answer to both questions was, “Yes, of course!” and before I knew it my most popular service by a few million miles was not editing, or proofreading, or any of the myriad other things I had been doing, but blogging.

Why I Made Content Marketing My Top Priority This Year

2016 was a game-changing year for me because I finally got sick and tired of spending all my time doing one thing, while desperately wishing I was doing something else.

No more working to live. That doesn’t work. Especially not when you’re a new entrepreneur and you have to work an obscene number of hours just to get things off the ground.

There’s no time or energy left at the end of the day to do the things you love.

In August 2016 after a lot of work behind the scenes I shutdown my old business and launched The Write Copy Girl. I dropped all my existing offerings bar one: blogging.

The more I blogged for other people the more I invested in the mechanics of blogging itself. Not just the writing process, but the whole shebang:

“What makes a good post?”

“How do you attract readers?”

And the big one: “How do you convert readers into paying clients?”

Part of this was for my own benefit.

I knew my new business model had the potential to be amazingly successful, but I had nothing to invest in marketing it other than my own time and skills. Content marketing had to work as an effective marketing strategy because it was the only marketing strategy I had.

There was no money for any kind of paid advertising, and I had no list to speak of so email marketing was out. Social media marketing was an option but required a massive amount of content, not to mention time time when it came to scheduling content and building engagement. With more clients that ever, I didn’t have much time the invest in my own social media (though ironically I was doing it for my clients to promote the blog posts I wrote for them).

All I had was my blog.

Beyond that I wanted to ensure the blogs I wrote were more than just well-written articles. In order to deliver the maximum ROI for my clients (good for them but also for me in terms of word of mouth and repeat business), I really had to dive deep into the specifics of blogging as a marketing tactic.

The simple answer to all my research and questions was this: just blogging isn’t enough.

Not anymore.

Content Marketing is the only sane way to go, and the only way to directly make money from blogging (as opposed to earning passive income from ads or affiliate programmes that capitalise on your blog traffic, or using blogging to simply boost your SEO).

I wanted to spin my words into gold.

But the problem with Content Marketing is that there are so many moving parts:

  • Creating posts
  • Promoting posts
  • Optimising posts
  • Converting readers to subscribers on your list
  • Nurturing that list to convert subscribers into clients
  • Creating offerings that are good enough and/or numerous enough to give you a great return on the massive investment required for content marketing. Not just your products and services, but passive income products like books, eCourses, and affiliate programmes.
  • So many parts. It all runs on content (hence the name!), yet the various elements of that content require a seriously broad skill-set.
  • Skills that go far beyond simply writing:
  • Strategising
  • Ideal generation
  • Writing, editing, proofreading
  • Research
  • Search Engine Optimisation
  • Graphic Design
  • Marketing and Sales tactics
  • Web Design and Development
  • Email Integration and Marketing
  • Branding
  • Customer Care and Understanding

It wasn’t enough to write great content for my clients.

Too many of them had no idea how to leverage that content and use it to make money.

More still knew how to do that, but didn’t have all the skills required.

And still more had the knowledge and the skills, but no time.

The more I talked to existing and potential clients, and other biz owners, the more I realised that my initial observations about blogging held true. When it comes to content marketing people fall into two camps:

  1. Those who are willing or able (or able to learn) to do their own content marketing, but don’t know how.
  2. Those who are unwilling or unable to DIY their content marketing but would happily pay someone to take it off their hands.

So I set about creating a system that offered the complete solution that all entrepreneurs (including myself!) craved. A system I could do for my clients and teach to those who preferred to DIY it, or couldn’t afford to outsource it.

Why You Should Make Content Marketing Your Top Priority In The New Year

For 18 months I’ve been offering Divine Blogging as a paid service for the clients who simply want their Content Marketing handled.

The results have been rather amazing, and very clearly demonstrate why you should make Content Marketing your top priority in the New Year…

Triple Your Income

Even if I don’t get any extra work in between now and the end of the year, my 2017 income is already over three times that of 2016. With the exception of a trial month of Google AdWords with a limited £250 budget, I’ve done zero marketing or promotions in the last year beyond my content marketing. And, due to limitations with my website, and severe time constraints, I’ve not even been running at full speed.

The Divine Blogging Design uses extensive content upgrades and lead magnets, as well as social media marketing to drive traffic and support list-building, drive traffic, and promote great engagement.

I’ve been unable to utilise the former due to the limitations of the existing website and my own technical ineptness, and the latter due to having no time for my own social media marketing. I’ve just hired a social media manager to solve a large part of the time issue, and a shiny new website will be up and running very soon.

But that is literally only just happening.

Which means that, even without the full content upgrades and social media elements that are essential to truly spectacular content marketing, my income has more than tripled in 12 months.

See for yourself…

Why You Should Make Content Marketing Your Top Priority In The New Year

Double Your Email List, Then Triple It

So, how do I know content marketing is amazing for list-building if I’ve not been using that aspect in my own biz?

Simple, my clients get amazing results.

Take the fabulous Robyn Kyberd as an example. In the first month of the Divine Blogging Design being up and running on Robyn’s site, Optimise and Grow Online, she doubled her list.

We’ve just reached the end of her first three months, and she’s almost tripled it.

To put that in context, four blog posts doubled Robyn’s list.

(I’ve taken on a few ‘guinea pig’ clients this year, offering them a discounted rate in exchange for sharing their results as case studies of how effective the Divine Blogging Design is – Robyn is one of them. The service is usually 100% confidential.)

Zero To Hero On Twitter In 3 WeeksZero To Hero On Twitter In 3 Weeks

I mentioned I’d not been taking advantage of the social media elements of The Divine Blogging Design due to lack of time. I’ve recently hired a social media manager to deal with this. Well, three weeks in and I’m already seeing great results. I have a personal Twitter account that has always functioned as the face of everything I do – my fiction, my business, and my work with bipolar disorder.

I have to confess, I’m really not a fan of social media. I am on Facebook a lot because it keeps me in touch with my friends, most of whom live too far away for me to ever see them. But I’ve really never ‘got’ Twitter.

I know it has great advantages for business, and I know how to use it in that respect, but personally I’ve never personally used it for my business beyond a few cursory Tweets promoting blog posts.

So I decided a little experiment was in order.

I set up a brand shiny new Twitter account dedicated entirely to TWCG. At the start of November, when my social media manager came onboard, there were a handful of Tweets on it, and I had a grand total of 12 followers.

I had done nothing to promote this new profile, literally nothing, and that was quite purposeful.

Once my social media manager was up to speed on exactly how Divine Blogging, I handed over my new Twitter baby and left her to it.

At the time of writing this I’m three weeks in, and in that time my new Twitter account has exploded from 12 followers to over 600.

Zero To Hero On Twitter In 3 Weeks 600+ New Followers Zero Advertising, Zero Effort

That may not seem like an impressive number of followers in total, but for a totally new account, achieving that with ZERO advertising and no need for time consuming and tedious tactics is pretty damn impressive.

That’s repurposing blog content and a killer automation, plus a couple of minutes a day sharing interesting and relevant posts, and responding to any interaction.

But here’s the thing.

Six years and 5,621 Tweets on my personal account has achieved a grant total of 678 followers.

Nurture Your Clients

Content Marketing is awesome for building your list, but the content you create also ensures you can effectively nurture all those leads. Your nurture sequences run on content. And beyond that your existing clients will get a great deal out of your content marketing efforts. Sending them fresh, new, regular content has several great benefits:

  1. It reaffirms your expertise
  2. It reassures them you’re the right person for the job, and they shouldn’t be looking elsewhere
  3. It keeps you front of mind, so that when the time rolls around to renew their contract, or upgrade their product or service, it’s an easy decision.
  4. It promotes word of mouth, and makes it more likely existing clients will tell people about you by sharing your content, or recommending you when friends, family and colleagues need someone with your expertise.
  5. It increases the lifetime value of your clients by encouaraging them to buy new offerings and invest in additional products and services with you.
  6. It ensures customer satisfaction by providing the answers to question they may not have thought of yet, or already had but hadn’t got round to asking.
  7. It ensures a high-value client journey. Simply providing them with regular content will make your clients feel you are delivering exceptional value, above and beyond what they’ve paid for.
  8. It will help stabalise your income so you generate consistent revenue rather than a feast or famine effect. Take another look at my income this year compared to last year. Happy clients sign up for long term contracts, join monthly subscription programmes, and come back to you again and again for the same tried, tested and adored products and services.

Start Where You Are

It should be a top priority, but it’s super important to go about it in an organised manner. It’s vital that you choose a strategy that’s right for you and your business. And it’s essential that you set up the infrastructure needed to support your content marketing efforts, and monetise your content as much as possible.

If you’re feeling a little overwhelmed by the notion, just remember – you don’t have to do everything all at once. I certainly didn’t have the resources or time available to fully implement the Divine Blogging Design in my own business all in one go. I started by writing blogs, I doubled up and began recorded the content in video form, and then I added in social media marketing and a website with all the bells and whistles when I could afford it.

The original Write Copy Girl website is one I built myself, from scratch, over a few weekends before I launched. It didn’t cost me a penny. And while it’s true it also isn’t exactly how I wanted the site to look, and didn’t do a lot of the things I wanted the site to do, it still did the job.

18 months in I could afford to pay a professional developer and designer to overhaul it for me. I could afford a professional brand photo shoot. I could afford to outsource social media management.

There is no way I could have done that right out of the gate, even though I was already doing it for my clients.

Start where you are, with what you have. And if you don’t have the time or inclination to do it all yourself, but really want to harness the epic power of content marketing in your business, book a discovery call and we can chat about what Divine Blogging can do for your business…

To achieve greatness, start where you are, use what you have, do what you can.”

– Arthur Ashe

Top 10 Plugins For Epic List Building

When it comes to content marketing, the key objective of almost all the entrepreneurs I work with is to grow their email list. Whenever I ask clients what they want their blog and content marketing to achieve the number one answer is simple: build my list.

Your email list is the key to getting everything else in your business working. Building a list of absolutely perfectly ideal clients is really important for any business. It’s a massive help to have a tribe of perfect people to work with, to whom you can directly market your stuff, as it means you’re not relying on ‘spray and pray’ marketing. It helps you generate leads. It helps you convert people from readers and prospects into paying clients. But growing your list, the physical act of getting people to hand over their email address and put themselves on your list, is something that a lot of my clients find quite problematic.

The Importance Of Infrastructure When List Building

One of the main things that I say to all my clients (particularly those on The Divine Blogging Design, which is really geared towards list building and using your content to grow your list as much as possible) is that I can create as much content as you like, and we can get your content marketing working perfectly, but if you don’t have the infrastructure in place to actually capture leads on your website your list building efforts will fail.

You need a website that was built with list building in mind. If it’s difficult for people to sign up in your list, you can have the best content in the world and you’re still going to struggle to get traction where list building is concerned.

When I point this out, I’m invariably asked, “What do I need on my website to grow my list?”

List Building Infrastructure

I am currently in the process of outsourcing, upgrading my website. I took it as far as I could on my own and still needed it to perform better. I needed some professional help with that. But if you’re not yet at a point where you can afford to pay for somebody else to design a professional website for you, or if you’re quite handy with WordPress and simply need to know what plugins to install, then these are the plugins for you.

NOTE: You don’t need all of them. I’m not giving you this list and saying go out and install all 10 of these on your website immediately.

I suggest you take a look at these suggestions and decide which ones sound like will work best for you, and your business. As a general rule the more plugins you install on your website, the slower it will be, and the more chance there is of conflicts. So when I say don’t install them all, I really do mean it. There is a good reason for that. If you suddenly start installing a massive load of plugins on your site you might completely screw it up.

I’ve used all of these plugins at some point. I have many clients who have used them/are still using them and have achieved great results with them. So, without further ado…

My Plugins: Thrive Leads

Thrive Leads is a really comprehensive lead generation plugin. It comes with a lot of templates making it really easy to use. You just install it, upload any of the templates and use them as you see fit. It is a paid plugin. Last time I checked it was about $70, which is good for a high-quality lead generation plugin. Thrive Leads is extremely good and one I use, so you should definitely check it out. It’s incredibly functional with a lot of great popups that you can customise to make them as user-friendly as possible. This means they’re not in your face and annoying people, but they’re still capturing visitors’ email addresses while they’re on the site, and making sure people are aware of the fact you have an email list and giving them the nudge to just sign up for it.


OptinMonster is quite similar to Thrive Leads. Before I upgraded my website, this is the one that I was using, and I got great results from it. It’s extremely easy to use. It’s about $20 for a monthly subscription, or you can get an annual subscription that cuts it down to $9. OptinMonster has lots of popup options and some really cool functions like locking content. It’s really useful because it gives you more levels to work with. By now you’re probably familiar with using optin freebies to get people to sign up – having a free e-book or a mini video course or whatever that’s available on your site in exchange for an email address email address. But not everybody can be bothered reading a free e-book or watching a free course.

They’re not that interested, but they may come across one of your blog posts and really want to read it.

Locking content allows you to make certain posts inaccessible without the visitor signing up to your email list. The odds are they’ve come across your blog post because they’ve been looking for something specific, or because they know you and they’ve seen you share it, and they’ve clicked on it because they want to read it right now.

They already want to read what you’re offering. It’s not a case of convincing them that your optin is going to be really useful to them. You don’t need to convince them of anything. They’re already there. They already want to be read it. They want to read it right now. You just put a really simple step in place that says, “You can read this, it’s just a click away, pop your email address in!”

This is a great way of getting signups. The only caution I would make is that you shouldn’t use it excessively. Save it for premium posts, the majority of your posts should still be freely available (if you want to know why, check out The Cake Construction).

My Plugins: Landing Pages for WordPress

Thrive Landing Pages is made by the same people as Thrive Leads. They work together very well. Even if you don’t have Thrive Leads, you can still use Thrive Landing Pages, which enables you to create really beautiful landing pages extremely easily. It comes with a lot of templates which makes it very simple to use, and it’s also got a drag and drop interface that makes building your own customised landing pages ridiculously easy.

I still use this on my site. I’ve used it for all my main sales pages (here’s an example!) as well my option landing pages. It’s possibly the most useful thing on my whole website as it lets me DIY the major pages rather than paying a small fortune for my tech guy to do it. In fact, it’s so good that the website overhaul isn’t including the big sales page for The Divine Blogging Design, because I’m happy with the one I created myself for now!


Another great plugin for optins is Bloom. I haven’t used this for a while, but I have a lot of clients that still use it, and they get really good results. It’s easy to use. It’s customizable. It’s got a lot of options when it comes to colours, and settings, and things like that, but the feature that I really like about this one is the fact that you can track things very easily. You can track your results and see how your conversion rates are going. You can split test. You can also target specific content, which makes it a really versatile plugin that does a lot of things in a very easy to use way.

PopupAlly Pro The Best List Building Plugin For Polite PopupsMy Plugins: PopupAlly Pro

I use PopupAlly Pro on my own site. It’s just the most useful thing in the world. I absolutely love it. It creates really good little popups. They are not even remotely intrusive, which is the thing that I really like about them. Natalie Lussier, who created PopupAlly Pro, actually refers to it as the ‘polite popup’ specifically because it was designed with this in mind: a lot of site visitors find popups really irritating and intrusive. It’s been designed in such a way that the popups are as unobtrusive as possible, so they don’t really bother you while you’re reading. They don’t interrupt visitors, yet they still grab their attention at the optimal moments and help them sign up really easily.

I have to admit I do find this a little fiddly to setup. It’s not the easiest one in the world, but once you figure out how you do it (and there are videos and tutorials that will help you do that) it is easy to do. It just take me a little while to get the hang of it. That being said, it is hands down the best lead generation plugin I’ve ever. Even though the Write Copy Girl is currently being redeveloped, we are not getting rid of PopupAlly. We’re keeping that because it’s so useful. Where popup plugins are concerned, I would definitely recommend this as my favourite.

Ninja Popups

A really good budget option if you’re not really looking to invest a lot, but you want something that will help you grow your list, is Ninja Popups. You can get that about $21. That’s just a one off payment, that’s all you have to pay, making it cheap and very cheerful. It’s extremely functional. It’s very easy to use. It comes with 40 different themes, loads of different designs, and it’s extremely responsive.

If you’re looking for a cheap and cheerful budget option, Ninja Popups is definitely the one to go for.

Lead Pages

Lead Pages is quite similar to Thrive Landing Pages in that it helps you build really great landing pages that are very effective. I used Lead Pages for a while before I got Thrive. To be perfectly honest, I found it a bit expensive, which is why I switched to Thrive and I haven’t looked back since. I’ve been quite happy with Thrive, but if you don’t mind paying extra, Lead Pages is probably the industry leader for this particular thing. I think it’s the most widely used landing page plugin and one of the most popular. It’s certainly one that a lot of my clients use, and they all get great results out of it.

I personally have managed to achieve exactly the same results with Thrive Landing Pages, and Thrive is an awful lot cheaper, but it’s just going to be a matter of preference for you.


If you’re looking for a complete bells and whistles option that gives you absolutely everything you need, OptimizePress is perhaps the best one to go far. It is quite expensive, but it is the most comprehensive option currently available. You can use OptimizePress to create marketing sites, landing pages, sales pages, and option forms. You can use it to do anything that you need to do when it comes to growing your list, and you can do it all in one place. That is incredibly useful.

It is a little expensive, and it’s not necessarily the best at doing all of the things that it does.

It’s useful because it’s so comprehensive, but it is quite expensive, and it’s not necessarily the best way of doing it.


Another incredibly useful tool to use is SumoMe, which is a great list building plugin. It also has a lot of ways of building and boosting your traffic as well as growing your list. It’s very easy to integrate with Google analytic. You can create heat maps and use the highlighter, which are really useful for growing both your traffic and list.

Big bonus for this one: it’s free!

There are paid elements that you can add on, but you don’t have to and the free version works perfectly well.

Optin Forms

Finally, if you’re looking for an option to build your list that doesn’t involve popups (because I know a lot of people hate popups), Optin Forms is a fabulous alternative. It doesn’t involve any popups whatsoever. Instead, it uses really discrete and very well-placed option forms across your website to entice people to sign up to your list at the best opportunity. You can put them in side bars, menus, blog posts, etc. There’s so many ways you can integrate these forms into your site that make it really easy for people to sign up to your list, but doesn’t bother them with constant popups.

Looking To Supercharge Your List Building Efforts?

Check out The Divine Blogging Design, my signature Content Marketing service designed with list building in mind. This monthly service provides you with regular content for your blog and social media, as well as optin freebies and content upgrades.

10 Facebook Hacks To Build Your List

If you’ve been following the blog for a while you’ll know that I do a lot of list-building through blogging. I have a lot of tips on how to use a blog to build your email list, so do check those posts out. Today I’m sharing my ten Facebook hacks to build your list, because Facebook is, aside from using my blog to build my email list, my favourite list-building strategy. It’s a really powerful tool and a very easy way to get direct access to a very specific crowd if you know how to use it.

If you don’t already have an email list I really recommend that you start one. It’s a brilliant way of building trust, an easy way to share information, and get your blog, products and services out to your ideal client. Through your list you’re going win sales and long-term customers, which is always good.

Facebook is really useful for loads of different things, but for list building there are a few specific things you need to do that are really going to optimize your Facebook page, and ensure it’s building your list as much as possible.

One thing before we get started: I’m talking about your Facebook business pagenot your profile. Your business page is the one that people ‘like’, your profile is the one people make friends with you on – two different things. We’re dealing with the business page today.

If you’re looking to drive signups, these simple Facebook hacks to build your list are perfect…

Facebook Hack #1: Set Up A Signup Tab

This is a really easy thing to do, but it’s something that quite a few people who have a Facebook page don’t know you can do, or think there’s little point in doing it because ‘nobody is going to click on it anyway’. Two things…

1) It s absolutely worth doing. Even if you only get a few people clicking on it, that’s still a few people you wouldn’t have got elsewhere. There is certainly no harm in doing it.

2) It’s a lot easier than you think, it’s not at all complicated.

A lot of people are put off by the concept that it’s a really tricky thing to do. It’s super easy to set up, all you need to do is log into your business page and go to the main page and look at your cover image. At the top there will be a big blue button that says “Add A Button”.

Click that, follow the instructions and you’re sorted.

It will take 10/15 minutes tops, and it’s a really easy way of getting people to sign up. The second they land on the page, they see that button and just click it.

Facebook Hack #2: Have A Dedicated Opt-in Page On Your Website With A Freebie To Download

You’ll see these all over the place, constantly popping up in your news feed: download our free eBook, download our free guide, download our free toolkit, etc.

Everybody has these; they’re brilliant. They’re a really good way of getting people to hand over their email address and sign up to your list because in return you are giving them something for free.

It’s really important you set up at least one of these opt-in pages with a freebie. Because really, if you’re not going to give people things in exchange for signing up to your list (other than an email telling them about your blog post, which they can read on your website), if you’re not going to give them an incentive then they’re not going to sign up. You’ll get a few people, but the key is to make sure you have something they really want, something only you have.

You need a really good opt-in freebie (or two, or three). Don’t worry about doing them all at once, start with one that’s nice and simple, build from there and get a little collection going.

If you get your freebie wrong, the people signing up to your list aren’t going to be the right audience for you. They’re not going to be your ideal clients. They’re not going to be the people you want on your list. Spend quite a bit of time thinking about your freebie and getting it right.

Once you’ve got it, you need to set up a page dedicated to it.

It’s useful having signup boxes and things on your website, but for the purpose of Facebook, you need a dedicated link that sends people straight to a single page that has nothing else on it; it’s literally a form they stick their email address in, click ‘sign up’, and that’s the end of it.

You need to make it as easy as possible for them.

Facebook Hack #3: Optimize Your Cover Image

By optimize I mean ensure there is something on that image telling people who you are and where they can find you. You might want your logo on there, or the name of your business, the URL of your website, you might want all three, but you want something on there. It doesn’t have to be large or in your face; it can be small, subtle, just in the corner. Just to make sure that if someone is on your page and they think, “Oooh, I’d like to look at their website”, they have to faff around going to your ‘About’ section and finding your website address somewhere else; it’s right there on the photo.

You can’t make it clickable, unfortunately, but once you’ve uploaded your photo with the URL on it, go into the description of that photo and add an active link to the description. So make sure the image itself has your website address on it somewhere, and make sure that the description has your website address on it as well with an actual active link that people could click.

Now, if you really want to drive signups to your newsletter, make the URL on your image a direct link to that opt-in page that we talked about in the last tip. You can use Bitly  to make a pretty little shortlink that says something cool (i.e.

Facebook Hack #4: Use Your Updates To Drive Signups

When you post a photo, meme, question, or any kind of update, link it to your newsletter with a very quick, “By the way, sign up to my newsletter”, followed by a link to your opt-in page. Every time you have an update that even loosely ties to your opt-in, add that link! It doesn’t need to be fancy, just make sure you are using your updates to your best advantage for your list.

It’s really easy to completely forget about your list when you post on your page. You’re so focused on making sure you post things regularly, and that you’ve got good content and good engagement, you totally forget that you actually need those updates to do something tangible for you

Facebook Hack #5: Use Facebook To Run Events 

Events can be competitions, questionnaires, or quizzes, they can be any kind of event that you can post on Facebook. You can make it as simple as an image and, “Comment below to win your free bag/coat/strategy session/whatever.”

Give them an incentive, give them a reason to get involved, then give them really clear instructions on how to take part

Loads of people get caught up with ‘Like’ and ‘Share’ competitions on Facebook, where the only things you have to do is qualify are ‘Like’ a photo and share it, or ‘Like’ a photo and comment on it. While that’s really good for your engagement, you’re not actually getting any long-term benefits from it, other than a little bit of temporary publicity.

Make one of the qualifiers for your event or competition signing up to your list. Pop your dedicated URL in the description, and say, “Anybody interested, sign up here, 3 of you will win a free spa day!” (Whatever you’re giving away)

Facebook Hack #6: Use Call to Action Buttons

The signup button on your cover photo (see tip #1) is a Call to Action button. But there lots of other Call to Action buttons you can use on Facebook. Particularly if you’re doing advertising or any kind of promoted post, there is the option to add a Call to Action button to it. You can have it say anything from “Sign up” to “Read more”, “Click Me”, “Buy Me”; it doesn’t matter. But if you’re trying to drive list signups, make it “Sign Up” or “Read More”. That way you’re far more likely to get people to click on it.

You’ll probably find more people click if you just use “Read More”, rather than “Sign Up”. That’s because this was, by the time they realize they actually have to give you their email address to get the information that they want, they’ve already gone to the bother of clicking the link. It’s not much more effort to put their email address in. If you tell them upfront they have to click through AND signup, it’s double the work, and we are all time poor, lazy people!

Facebook Hack #7: Crowd Source Products And Service Ideas

This is a really good way of getting extra engagement and publicity. On its own, it’s amazing, but if you couple it with list building it becomes really powerful. Create a few posts around a particular product or service that you’re brainstorming. If you’ve got a pad of paper with all your ideas written on it, take a quick photo, post it and say something along the lines of, “Putting together some ideas for a new product. What do you think?”, or “Looking into a new service idea and I’ve got 3 different options, which would you prefer?” 

I often do this with book covers to start to raise interest in my book, and also to get valuable feedback on the type of cover my clients will respond to best.

The idea is to get your audience actively engaged in what you will be offering them. Not only do they get a sneak peek of what’s to come, and get quite excited about it, but they actually feel they’ve got some say in it, that they’re in charge. This is a great way to get people talking about your products and services, but it’s also a great way to get people to sign up to your list. All you need to do is stick a little bit on the end that says, “If you want to be kept informed, sign up” or “If you want to be the first to know when this is live, sign up”, or “If you want to be in with a chance to win my amazing new product/service for free sign up”.

It doesn’t matter how you do it, just make sure you get that in there.

Facebook Hack #8: Provide Incentives For People To Share Your Newsletter 

One of the easiest ways of doing this is saying, “When I hit 1,000 subscribers I will do X.” It might be a prize giveaway, a special post, a webinar, a look behind the scenes, whatever you think people will REALLY want. The idea is to get them hustling for you. Your goal could be 2,000 subscribers, 5,000, 10,000, even 100,000. It could simply be 100, or 500. It doesn’t matter what you’re aiming for.

If you have a goal in mind and you’re trying to get to a specific number of signups, or you’re just trying to get a little bit of momentum going, tell people you’re going to celebrate a particular milestone with this fab freebie, or a flash sale, or doing free calls – anything you like, just give them an incentive. Give them something they want and tell them how to get it. “All you need to do to get this is get other people to sign up to my list!”

Now, this isn’t necessarily the best way to build your list because you can end up with a load of people that don’t really want what you’re after, they’re just doing it because people have asked them to.  But you will often find that people who are genuinely interested in you have a lot of friends who are also genuinely interested in you, so it’s worth doing occasionally.

Another way to do it is to always encourage people to share posts that have a signup link in them. If you’ve got any updates you’ve been using in any of your competitions, events, anything in which you include a link to your signup form, make sure you also add in there somewhere, “Don’t forget to share!”

That’s it, “Don’t forget to share” or “Please share”. It’s a really simple thing but that little prompt can help so much.

Facebook Hack #9: Use Video To Promote Your Newsletter

It’s really easy to record a short introductory video. You can use a decent camera on a tripod (like I do for my Vlog), but you can just as easily use your iPad, web cam, phone, anything. It just needs to be a quick video explaining who you are, what you do, and what people get if they sign up to your list.

It could be something along the lines of, “Our latest news and blogging/social media/coaching advice includes X, Y and Z – don’t miss out. Get it delivered straight to your inbox!” Videos get the best organic reach on Facebook, it gets the highest engagement, and it’s the best form of media to use on Facebook (and on a lot of social media platforms). But on Facebook in particular, video is KING, so make sure you’ve got it working for you, and that there is at least one video on your Facebook page encouraging people to sign up to your list.

Don’t forget to include a link in the video description, and superimpose the link in text over the video itself.

Facebook Hack #10: Whittle Down Your Audience

Facebook is brilliant because it can reach so many different people, but you don’t want all of those people on your list.

You want your ideal clients and nobody else.

Otherwise you’re expending energy, effort and resources marketing to people who are never going to want what you have, and people you really don’t want to work with.

There are quite a few ways to whittle down your Facebook audience:

If you’re advertising it’s really easy to target very specific people.

If you are creating opt-ins and freebies you can make sure you really hone them so they’re specifically directed at exactly who you want on your list.

You can do the same thing with your posts and updates. Ensure all content you put on Facebook is designed to appeal to your ideal client and dissuade everyone else. Include things in it that only your ideal client would be interested in, that other people would really not be interested in. This is really important because it’s going to be the difference between a list of ideal clients and a load of random people who aren’t really interested,  and a list of JUST your ideal clients. 

You don’t have to be too ‘in your face’ about it. You don’t have to say things like, “Only signup if you’re interested in this”, “Don’t sign up if you’re not interested in this”. Don’t be negative about it. Just find very specific things people will naturally gravitate towards or away from, like Marmite (it is the go-to example for things like this; people either love it or they hate it).

You need to find something that your ideal clients will love and everybody else will hate automatically and perfectly naturally, so that you whittle down your audience and hone it to only include people who fit exactly with who you want signing up to your list.

And that’s it – nothing more to it. Use these quick and simple Facebook hacks to build your list, you’ll soon have email contacts pouring out of your ears.

Do you like my list? Did I miss anything? I’d love to know what you think – comment below and let me know!

10 Facebook Hacks to Build Your List (6)

List Building 101: How to Grow Your Tribe & Market Like A Ninja

As business owners in the online world we’re well aware of the need for list building. It’s the key to tribe growth. It ensures your tribe is composed of ideal clients – people you love to work with, who value you. We understand the power of an Email List. We know that having direct access to our ideal clients’ inboxes will sell our products and services. But knowing what steps to take for effective list building is tricky. List building allows you to market like a Ninja.

It’s also a constant effort.

And what exactly is an email list? How exactly do you go about building one?

Here are some FAQs and three key things to remember about list building.


What is an Email List?

An email list is exactly what it sounds like – a list of email addresses. They aren’t any old email addresses though. They’re special. These are email addresses for your ideal clients, your tribe. This is crucial to list building: your list MUST be made up of people who LOVE YOU and VALUE YOUR WORK. People who need what you have to offer. Who value your skills. People willing to give you something in exchange for what you’re offering. Initially, this will be their email address in exchange for a regular delivery of quality content direct to their inbox. You give them this for free. An email address for awesome content. That’s the deal.

Once they know, like, and trust you, they will happily give you more. A small sum of money in exchange for a low-level product or service. Follow this up with a higher sum of money for a mid level product or service. Finally they hand over a big bucket full of cash for a tip-top products or services. Generally the last goal is selling one very high ticket item. It can also mean taking a client on retainer. A small to medium fee, paid frequently, is often worth more than a one-off high price sale. For product-based services, these are your repeat clients. They buy multiple products and come back time and again. They’re first in line when you release something new. They rave about you to anyone who will listen.

Do I really have to make List Building part of my business?

No. You don’t HAVE to do anything. Your business, your rules. If you don’t want an email list, you don’t have to have one. I’ll be honest, building one is hard work. It takes a consistent effort. It’s often extremely frustrating, at least initially. But…

It makes everything so much easier.

What software do I need for List Building?

You can build an email list using basic software, or you can go all out. It’s really up to you. You cannot use your normal email account for a list. It MUST be a proper structure in place to manage your list. You MUST allow people to easily subscribe and unsubscribe at will. Which means at a MINIMUM you will need to use Email Marketing Software.

Email Marketing Software.

There are a lot of options for good Email Marketing Software, such as Mailchimp, Mad Mimi, or Active Campaign. I started with Mailchimp and now use Active Campaign. This is not JUST to make your life a lot easier (it will!) it’s a legal and moral issue. You can’t arbitrarily put people on mailing list, they must OPT IN. They must be able to OPT OUT at any time.

It boils down to data protection, common decency, and common sense. You want the people on your list to LOVE YOU AND WHAT YOU DO. If they don’t want to be on your list, you don’t want them there anyway! Uninterested and inactive members of your list will skew your data. You don’t want that. You’re trying to use this list to build your business. You’re ultimately looking to sell people things. Which means you really don’t want to piss them off.

Set up an account with an Email Marketing Software provider. Use it to to manage your list (or lists) and send email campaigns. You can hire email marketing experts and campaign managers if you don’t know what you’re doing, or haven’t the time or inclination to do it all yourself.

Optin Forms and Popups

Aside from this, people need a way to get on your email list, so make sure there are plenty of opportunities on your website and social media. You can install a range of plugins on your website that create Opt In Forms and pop ups in various places and formats. I use PopupAlly Pro, which is a premium plugin, but there are plenty of excellent free options, such as Magic Action Box (which is what I used before I upgraded). You want to make your optin forms as unobtrusive and polite as possible, so that they don’t get in the way of people reading your website, but are also obvious enough that people sign up.

Landing Pages and Sales Pages

In addition, you might also want to get something to help you create beautiful and highly converting landing pages. Some popular choices are Leadpages, Profit Builder, and Unbounce (I use Profit Builder).

Do I need freebies to make people sign up to my email list?

The short answer is yes. It’s worth having a form or two on your website that encourages people to sign up so they don’t miss a post. But, realistically, most people on your list are going to end up there because of a freebie. Think of it as a transaction, You aren’t giving something away for free. Potential clients are buying something for the price of their email address. Yes, some people will signup, get the freebie, and immediately unsubscribe. Most people won’t. Most people will stay on your list for at least a little while. This gives you chance to build a relationship with them. Which makes it more likely they will buy something in the future, for cash. You need to get people on your list before you can sell to them.

If your blog posts are truly spectacular you will find people sign up to ensure they don’t accidentally miss your posts. In most cases, however, you need more than the promise of never missing a blog post to get people to sign up.

Can I buy email lists?

Again, the short answer is yes. It’s possible to buy lists of hundreds and even thousands of email addresses. You should never, EVER, do it however. For one thing, it’s unethical – the people on the list have no idea who you are, and didn’t agree to be on your list. For another, these are RANDOM PEOPLE and very few of them will have any interest in what you’re offering. Finally, any emails you send to a bought list are spam.

Your email might be wonderful and packed with great content, but if the person you’re sending it to didn’t agree to being on your list, it’s spam.

Nobody responds well to spam

So yes, you can buy email lists, but you shouldn’t – it’s unethical, ineffective, and a total waste of money.

Three Key Pieces Of Advice On List Building

Key #1: Content is Queen

Before you can really start building an email list you need to make sure your content is seriously high quality. There are two reasons for this:

  1. Your content is the incentive that gets people to sign up to your email list.
  2. Your content is what KEEPS people on your email list, engaging with you, and buying your products and services.

You need quality content, and lots of it. Ask yourself: who is going to decide what content you need and when? Who is going to write/design/create it? what about uploading, formatting, and scheduling it all? Who’s going to write and schedule your newsletter? Who will design and run advertising campaigns? How is going to network and promote your content in groups and forums? Who is going to promote your content on social media?

These are all essential tasks. Many of us never really get anywhere because we’re overwhelmed by the sheer number of things to do. We procrastinate. We want everything to be perfect, so we never begin.

Don’t do that.

You can absolutely do every single content-related task yourself, but you don’t have to. Outsource tasks you’re unfamiliar with, uncomfortable doing, dislike, or just don’t have time for. Whether you manage all content alone, outsource it, or settle on a mixture of outsourcing and doing things yourself, just remember that CONTENT IS QUEEN. Your content is the most important element of list building. Without quality content, you will never build a good list. If by some fluke you do, you will never keep your subscribers. And even if by some miracle you do, they will never convert into paying clients.

Key #2: Plan For Growth

If you’re using email marketing in your business, you need to PLAN. More than that, you need to PLAN FOR GROWTH. As mentioned, Key #1 is CONTENT IS QUEEN. But using any old content as and when you feel like it isn’t going to cut it.

Your blog schedule needs to be carefully planned to make sure it drives signups and sales. This means:

  1. Posting regularly and consistently.
  2. Always writing for your ideal client.
  3. Only covering topics your ideal client will love, relating directly to your products and/or services.
  4. Providing variety and value in every post.

If your posts are up to snuff, people will sign up to make sure they never miss posts. But if you’re really smart, you’ll plan more than blog content list building in mind. Plan your optin freebies to make sure they relate to your main topics. Ensure at least one thing in every blog post is an incentive to join your list. It might be a freebie that relates to the post. It might be the chance to enter a competition and win a free product or service. When you get really good at this, you will start upgrading your blog content. Content upgrades make sure your most popular posts come with free content. This means creating worksheets, cheat sheets, guides, and other downloadable content. These items accessible while reading and allow people to ACTION what you’re talking about.

You short, your blog schedule should be carefully planned to ensure and sustain the growth of your email list, sales, and business.


Key #3: Let Them Eat Cake

Yep, you need to go all Marie-Antoinette for this one…

In order for an email list work, you need a business that’s structured to take advantage of email marketing. This means you need at least four tiers in your business in terms of products, services, and available content. I like to call this THE CAKE CONSTRUCTION.

The Cake Construction

In a nutshell, The Cake Construction is a business model that relies on attracting clients to you with tasty treats, i.e. CONTENT. You’re going to divide your content into four tiers, which in my world form a CAKE. A four tiered CONTENT CAKE

Tier Four

The lowest tier of your cake is how most of your tribe will get on your list. Tier four is FREE CONTENT. It needs to be SERIOUSLY TASTY free content – providing entertaining, helping, informing, or a combination of the three. It has to make your ideal clients fill their bellies and purr like a kitten. Then it has to make them rub up against your legs begging for more. You need a LOT of free content so you can keep that kitty happy and get it used to eating your delicious cake.

Tier Three

Your cat is now addicted to your yummy cakey content. Which means you can offer that happy little cat something from the next tier up. This is in exchange for a SMALL amount of money. The cake on this tier is even better than the free cake. Your kitty cat will happily had over a bit of cash to try it.

They LOVE your free cake. It’s unbelievable you have BETTER cake. They simply MUST try it! And it’s such a low price it’s DEFINITELY GOING TO BE WORTH IT.

Cake on this tier can be similar to your free content but must be even more valuable. Full versions of your tasters and testers work well. For example, I offer a free blog post to all potential clients to give them a taste of my services. The next step up is to buy a full length post with all the bells and whistles.

Tiers One and Two

Now your cat happily pays for your cake, you can start tempting her with more decadent offerings. The exact products and services you offer on each tier will depend on your business, your clients, how you price things, and whether you divide your offerings by price, skill, or need.


By Price

If you’re dividing by price the price range for each tier will be relative to your business. You may not have anything on offer above £50. You might not have anything on offer less than £500. Businesses vary widely when it comes to pricing, which is why I don’t include price guidance on the three paid-for tiers. Look at your offerings and divide them into low-, medium-, and high-priced products and services.

By Skill

When it comes to skill, look at it in terms of the knowledge level of the client. Are they an apprentice (a newbie)? A journeyman (someone with some experience who is still learning)? Or are they a master (someone who knows the subject well and is looking for specialist knowledge)?

By Need

If you’re dividing by need, consider your clients’ various levels of need. Think about how each of your products caters to them. For example, I offer single blog posts for people who only need a one-off post. I offer twelve post bundles for clients who only need one professionally written post per month. These also cater to clients who don’t need posts regularly enough to have me on retainer. My top-tier service, The Divine Blogging Design, is for clients who need their blog written week in, week out.

Whichever method you use, make sure you have at least one thing on every tier. Make sure your free content caters to all levels of skill and need. That way, your list building efforts will work for all potential clients, regardless of skill or need.

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