The Hustler’s Guide To Getting Your First 1,000 Email Subscribers With Content Marketing

Written by Danavir Sarria

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Step #1: Know Exactly Who Your Target Market Is

Content marketing is not about views, shares, subscribers or anything like that. It’s about driving real business results. And the only way to do that is by focusing your efforts on building the right audience.

To do this, you need to research the demographics and psychographics of the audience you want to attract.

Here are some demographic categories you can fill in:

  • Gender
  • Age Range
  • Ethnicity
  • Education
  • Occupation
  • Geographic Location
  • Household Income
  • Children
  • Disabilities

Here are some psychographic categories to fill in:

  • Personality
  • Values
  • Opinions
  • Lifestyle
  • Interests
  • Attitude
  • Aspirations

And finally, to really make content marketing work, you need to focus your future content on solving your target market’s problems. Here are some places to really dig in to find out as many of their pain points as possible.

  • Quora
  • Facebook Groups
  • Direct Competitor Marketing Materials
  • Cold Emailing
  • Content That Is Popular In Your Space
  • Amazon Reviews

Here’s a great resource by the Content Marketing Institute if want to learn more about finding your target market.

Step #2: Find Out Where Your Target Market Hangs Out

Remember when I said your ultimate goal should be to attract the right audience of people?

Well this is where you literally go out and find out exactly where they are. It takes time to find out exactly where they are, but once you find them your set. Put 100% of your focus there and nowhere else.

For the most part, the easiest to reach your audience is through communities and other email lists.

A community is anywhere were there is a bunch of people in one single place. As you can tell, these are great places to distribute your content because most of the work is done for you. All you have to do is become an active participant in there and you’ll reap all the benefits without costing you a cent.

Examples of communities are:

  • Quora
  • Facebook Groups
  • Subreddits
  • (If you’re in the marketing space)

Remember, look for the ones designed to attract your target audience. They will rarely ever be exact to your specifications, but that doesn’t matter. Distribute it there and since your site is niched already, those who want your stuff will sign up on their own.

An example of this is me posting copywriting articles on, which was originally designed to attract an audience of inbound marketers. However, since my target audience is made up of marketers and business owners, it makes perfect sense for me to post there, especially with it taking so little time to do so.

The downside to communities is that you probably won’t grow fast anytime soon.

For that, you’ll want to focus on getting your content shared by influencers who are already serving your target audience. Because of their reach and influence, one single piece of content by the right influencer can lead to huge growth, really fast.

So go out and write down the top 50 influencers in your space. Once you do that, your goal is to build a solid enough relationship where they will feel good about sharing your content.

Here is an article from GrooveHQ that talks exactly how to do that.

Step #3: Create 10X Content

The only problem with content marketing is that there is too much content.

In 2014, Youtube said that 300 hours of new videos where uploaded to the site every minute. And if that’s not enough to boggle your mind, there are 2 million blog posts published a day.

There is a lot of content floating around online because it’s so easy to publish. Imagine…there are 8 year old Youtube stars beating Fortune 500 companies with their channels. It’s ridiculous and amazing at the same time.

So how are you going to stand out in such a competitive landscape? Well, fortunately, even though there is a lot of content out there, most of it is average at best.

So if you want your content to be noticed and shared by influencers, can’t just make any old content. Instead, you have to make what is called “10X content”. This just means content that is 10X more valuable than anything else out there.

Another way to think about is the “best of breed”. Once published, it should be so much better than anyone elses, that there is no competition. Everyone is playing in the minor leagues while you are playing in the majors.

Here’s an amazing video from Rand Fishkin about this:

Step #4: Feature Influencers

As we talked about already, you need your content to be seen by as much people within your target audience as possible. And the best way to do this is by getting your content shared by influencers.

Normally, what you can just do is write content that your influencers would like to share to their audience.

However, while it can work, you can step it up a notch by actually talking about them and linking to their sites within your content. By doing this, you are now giving value, building their brand, giving them a backlink, and sending traffic their way.

Because of that, there is a lot more upside to sharing your content.

With that said, there is one rule you should follow.

That rule is to make sure that put 10-25 relevant, useful links for every 1,000 words. That means 10-25 influencers or sites for every 1,000 words. Volume is important because many will not share it, despite being great content. However, the ones who do will make it worth your while.

Later when your article is done and links are all set up, you’ll want to email each and every influencer or site that was featured. This is a time consuming, repetitive task, but it still reigns as the top way to promote your content.

Here’s a massively amazing post from Neil Patel about blogger outreach so you can get it right the first time. Also, make sure to check out Hiten Shah’s blog, especially if you’re in the SaaS space.

Step #5: Offer A Content Upgrade

In the title of this article/comic, I promise that if you follow these guidelines, you’ll get your first 1,000 email subscribers.

This means you’re going to need to offer a lead magnet of some sorts to “ethically bribe” people to join your email list. And while there are so many ways you can go about this, the absolute best way to do so is by offering a content upgrade.

A content upgrade is a post-specific freebie you offer to your audience.

For example, in this article, I offer you to download the 0 To 1k Subscribers checklist. Once you read this article and download that checklist, you won’t have to come back to read the entire article. Instead, all you have to do is go back to the 1 page checklist and see every step featured in this article in seconds.

As you can see, I’m not offering a random thing here. I’m looking to add even more value by giving you something that compliments what you already said you were interested in. So if you want to get 1k email subscribers, all I have to do is make a lead magnet that summarizes or compliments the article you just read about getting 1k email subscribers.

Doing content upgrades will require extra work since you’ll have to do it for every post, but the return on investment you go is second to none.

In this post, Brian Dean talks about how he used a Content Upgrade and saw a 785% increase in his conversions.

Step #6: Use Multiple Opt-In Forms

We’re here to get you 1k email subscribers, so we have to optimize everything that will get you to that goal.

This is why you’re going to have to treat your blog as an opt-in page. You want any and all visitors to go to your site and sign up to your email list as soon as possible. Fortunately, here is a great article by Derek Halpern just about that.

Basically, they are:

  • Feature Box
  • Top of Sidebar
  • Within a blog post
  • The Footer Of Your Site
  • On Your About Page
  • The Little Box Across The Top Of Your Page
  • A Popup Box

You will see each of these having their own unique conversion rates. However, since you’re not at a stage to worry about A/B testing anything, just focus on total subscribers. Essentially, as long as you are getting more subscribers, you’re doing solid. And remember, do not A/B test.

If you add opt-in forms to all 7 of these locations, you will instantly see an increase in visitors actually converting to subscribers.

Step #7: Write Compelling Opt-In Copy

To get people to convert, you need to know how to write copy.

Fortunately, because all you are offering is a free lead magnet, it’s not too difficult.

Most copy to generate opt-ins relies on clearly describing what is offering, for how much, and doing all of that in a very short amount of space since opt-in forms themselves are not very big to begin with.

That is why the most important thing to write on an opt-in form is the headline. With the right headline, you should be able to capture your visitor’s attention and have them want to give you their email address to get this.

Some good words that work in writing op-in copy are words like “free” and “download now”.

Here’s an example of an opt-in headline for a free, printable workout sheet.

“Free Workout Reveals How To Burn 500 Calories With In Just 45 Minutes”

Simple, clear, desirable.

I’m a big fan of how Neville Medhora teaches copywriting with his stick figures. You can check him out here.

Step #8: Ask For Emails Only

In an ideal world, we would know everything about our customers. That would make everything from research to selling them the actual product or service a lot easier for everyone.

But the truth is though, people don’t want to share all their information online. And they are right to be that way. Neither you nor I would just input all of our information to some “strange” website they just stumbled upon, even if we do happen to like it.

And that’s why, if you want to get as many emails as possible, you only ask for emails. Because the more things you ask for, the less people will actually go through with filling out everything. That means lower conversion rates.

Heck, even just the work required to put in more than my email address isn’t worth the hassle.

If you want, ask for their name. However, I don’t really like to ask for that since it doesn’t help all that much. Many people put fake names, so if you try to personalize your emails, it literally won’t make sense.

Add that to the fact that it will lower conversion rates and it’s just not worth it.

Asking for just the email will make sure you get a lot more of them than if you asked for a whole page of stuff.

In this post, Peep Laja goes into this and 13 more things to help increase your opt-in conversions.

Step #9: Do Things That Don’t Scale

The internet has made us lazy. And yes, I’m including myself in that too.

Listen to the older generation of successful entrepreneurs and you’ll hear of all the stuff they had to do. It actually required a lot of manual labor to do even the simplest of things.

Today, it’s the exact opposite. Any person can go online and figure out how to “automate” everything. This is good when you have some success and need to make time so you can grow more. However, it does cost money.

Instead, you’re going to want to focus on things that don’t scale. In other words, manual labor.

Posting your article on Twitter and Facebook is good, but it’s too passive. So is just turning on your ads to your content. When you do this, you just sit there and wait for things to happen. Doing this will make getting results too long, too expensive, and possibly lead to no positive results whatsoever.

So yes, post your stuff on Twitter and Facebook. Do ads if you want. But if you really want to get to 1,000 email subscribers, you need to really put in the work.

Make a list made up of your family and friends who would be the most interested in your lead magnet. Then meetup, call, or email them to sign up. Then get them to refer people to you and sign up. And repeat this process.

You don’t want to wait. If you are serious about this, you’re going to have to grab life by the horns by making it happen out of pure hustle.

Noah Kagan teaches this 24/7. Check out his blog here.

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Danavir Sarria

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