If you’ve listened to any podcast, taken a course, or read any blog about building an online business, you probably know by now that having an email list of your own is important. Some would say that is the most important thing to focus on when you start a website. As you poke around my site,, you’ll notice how I try to get people onto my own list. This is something I’ve been doing for a while now, and have seen my list grow past 5,000 subscribers.

Why an email list is important

While social media sites and apps like Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, and Instagram have overtaken email as many people’s favorite form of communication, I would bet that most people still use their email accounts every day. Unlike a stream of posts, emails don’t automatically disappear whenever the rest of the world decides to take a selfie. When people receive an email, they have to take an action – read it or delete it. Yes, some people decide to just leave it and never do anything about it. But many people will at the very least read the subject line of your email.

With email, you have a direct connection with your audience. This gives you a direct line of communication to educate, inspire, and promote whatever you want.

The conversion rates for email campaigns are generally much higher than social media campaigns or YouTube videos. While social media has a place (and a big one), I’d argue that at this time, growing an email list that loves and trusts you is more important than the number of Twitter followers you have.


How do you get people on your email list?

To be a successful business, you need customers. To get customers, you need to attract people to your store. In the online world, your store is your website (or your Udemy profile, Skillshare profile, Etsy page, etc.).

You can drive traffic to your site in a number of ways – with keyword-friendly articles, YouTube videos, and with social media!

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At this point, people on your site are just visitors. They’re just window-shoppers browsing the aisles of your online store. On occasion, a window-shopper will run inside and purchase an item. More often, it takes a few window-shopping trips to actually make a purchase.

To turn a casual browser into a customer, they need an incentive to stay on your website, to become a fan of your brand. Online, this incentive could be a free giveaway. Downloadable PDFs, ebooks, guides, discounts, videos, courses – these are all incentives that are great lead magnets (the name we use for a freebie given in exchange for an email address).

Once this customer has taken you up for your offer, they are now a part of your email list.


How do you make money with an email list?

Wait a second! Before you start trying to sell your online courses, ebooks, products or services to this new member of your email-list-tribe, you have to convince them that it was a good idea to give away their precious email address. Because it’s very easy for that person to click the dreaded unsubscribe button, leaving you and the possibility of purchasing your product in the internet oblivion.

First, you need to wine and dine them with amazing emails with educational and inspirational messages. There’s no secret to how many emails you need to send each week. There’s no absolute to how many emails you need to send before promoting your products or service. My only rule is that you need to make them happy to be on your email list.

For me, I generally try to send 3 educational messages for every 1 promotional message.

Here is a great template for writing your emails:

  • Email 1 – Welcome to the list, here’s your freebie
  • Email 2 – Educational Message
  • Email 3 – Educational Message
  • Email 4 – Inspirational Message
  • Email 5 – Promotional Message
  • Email 6 – Educational Message
  • Email 7 – Inspirational Message
  • Email 8 – Promotional Message


What is an educational message?

Teach them something related to why they signed up for your list. If you are a dog trainer with a dog training website, give them tips on how to train their dogs. Repurposing past blog articles or videos of yours is a great idea.



One of the biggest roadblocks to creating your first course is knowing what equipment to use. My philosophy is that the equipment should not get in the way of creating high-quality courses. It should be something that helps, and doesn’t hinder.

That’s why I’ve put together a guide that includes all of the equipment I use for my three video setups: 1. DIY Webcam 2. Professional Talking Head 3. Screencast

Read it here: The Complete Guide to Equipment for Course Creators

Now you’ll know the exact equipment that I use, so that you don’t have to do any more research. Just get what you need to start, and start making videos. You can always invest future course profits into getting better equipment. For now, the most important thing is to just start making courses.

Remember, these are just tools. You are the brain. You are the creator. You are the reason why someone will purchase your online course – not what camera brand or model you used.



What is an inspirational message?

While you’re not promoting, an inspirational message differs from a promotional message because you’re really soft-selling your product or service without the person knowing about it. You want to inspire the reader with a case study or yours or one of your students. For example, if you teach calligraphy courses, this message would highlight how you started your own calligraphy business. Even better, you could share the story of one of your students who saved $100s by doing her own wedding invitation calligraphy. You’re not teaching. You’re inspiring.


How’s it going?

I know that it is difficult to create online courses. I know that it takes a lot of time and effort to make money from your online courses. That’s why it is important to stay motivated and inspired.

Today, I want to share an interview that I did with a young course creator making waves in the online teaching world.

With a bit of creativity and timing, Nick Walters became a Udemy sensation in 2014 by earning over $40,000 in the first month with his first online course. Nick went on to raise $66,000 to create his next course with a Kickstart campaign.

Watch the replay of our Blab interview with Nick.

He provides a lot of inspiring advice for first-time course creators, hopefully giving you the kick in the butt that you need to get started.




What is a promotional announcement?

This is where you sell your product or service. Hopefully by now, the person already knows that you’re a great teacher. They know that you were able to help other people with your courses (or other product/service, if you’re not an online teacher). All you have to do is give them the opportunity to get the same benefit – with your course. Notice how I used the word benefit? This is important. The way you sell your online courses is by showing the potential customer what the benefit to them is. It’s not just knowledge that they’re receiving. It’s knowledge that will enable them to do x, y, or z – to get a better job, to live a better life, to make more money, to fulfill their dreams.

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Use this benefit-driven language in your promotional announcements. If the person is happy being on your list, if they trust you,  if they see the benefit you are offering them, and if they want that benefit – you’ll have an easy time selling your course(s) to them.


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Now is your time.



Other Tips for Selling with Emails

Scarcity is a driving force with making sales. Whether it is a limited amount of time or a limited amount of enrollments, this scarcity can drive people to make a purchase right then and there. Because if they close the email before making the purchase, they’re much less likely to come back for it.

Examples would be limiting the time of enrollment – you can get this deal for the next 24 hours; limiting the amount of enrollments – the first 10 people get it at this price or I’m only accepting the first 50 students in the course. These strategies have worked time and again for me.

My Final Thoughts

Start growing your list early. Send messages consistently (once per week works well) so customers come to expect your emails. Educate more than you sell. Educate more than you sell. Inspire people. Make people trust you by being open and honest. Remember – educate more than you sell.

Thanks for reading!

Here are some of my courses that might interest you:



7 Steps to Online Course Success

Download my FREE pdf and watch an exclusive 1-hour webinar to learn the 7-steps I've taken to build my $100,000 business.

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