How To Create An Email List From Scratch

By 7min read

Here, I link Active Campaign to Option Monster to create an email list by enabling people to sign up and receive marketing emails (in a system that works).

create an email list

I need to create an email list. Although I have been in marketing for many years and my customers have acquired huge lists (from my actions), the way in which those lists have been built is totally on supplying a service. In the medical world that I am used to, you have a need and find a possible surgeon to help you so you contact them for that help. It is more connecting that marketing.

In my new venture of earning a passive income, it will not be the same. None-the-less, I do need to attract people who will be interested in my journey so I spent a few hours yesterday setting this up.

By now, you may have had a pop-up asking if you wish to share my journey. I hope you do and if so, thank you for interest. I will endeavour to be as transparent as possible.

So, whether it is a pop-up or a side bar, top bar or slide up, there are several ways to catch the attention of a reader. By asking them to share their details, they (you) are added onto my list so that I can contact you in the future and share my news.

Why create an email list?

An email list is a list of people who have decided that they want to hear more of what you have to say. This means that they are more likely to read what you have to say and act on what you suggest. Many people rely on social media for their business which is absolutely fine but, and this is a big but, your are not in control of your content to the same extent. Facebook owns Facebook (obviously), WhatsApp and Instagram. This means that it can decide how to portray your data (anyone heard of an algorithm change) and decide if your account is not longer worthy.

Two stories, of many, I heard recently. Firstly, a business with over 1 million likes suddenly found itself a victim of an algorithm change. Overnight. It’s business literally died and after a few days it announced that it was closing. This is tragic to hear and begs the question of why did they only have their business on Facebook? Did they not have an email list? If they had, they could have continued on another platform. I have been advocating for years that it is necessary to keep copies of all your content. Facebook is renowned for deleting posts and removing content that it no longer wants. If this was yours, how would you feel?

Second quick story, an online friend who has built a business this year, announced that he was shutting down one of this facebook groups. He did a live broadcast announcing why which was good of him and gave information of how he would be continuing from therein. Note, he had a flourishing personal profile and other groups. Facebook responded by locking him out of his personal account so he no longer had access to anything!

So, if for no other reason than this, own your content and let others know about your content via your own emails as well as social media. This way you will always remain in control.

Why start now?

For many years, intermittently, I have toyed with email marketing and tried a few times to create an email list. For a while, I had thought that Mail Chimp was the way to go but try as I did, I could not get on with it. In fact I loathed it. It was too full of tech speak and I for one felt that life was too short to waste any more time on it! After a few weeks of deliberation and noticing that others who I respected were also using this software, I started yesterday with Active Campaign.

What is Active Campaign?

Active Campaign is powerful software that is a marketing and sales automation platform. My aim is to be able to create an email list and send informative emails to those people who have indicated that they are interested in my passive income journey.

There are several price points. I opted for the lowest (don’t we all) because in my experience of marketing software, their forms are clunky and generally awful. I was right (read on). I can always upgrade as this project evolves and requires more from the sales software but for the time being, the lowest entry point is exactly what I really need.

I signed up for the free mini course on teachable about how to set up my first campaign. This was so much easier than anything I had done before. In all, this took around half an hour. I was delighted.

Having spent around 3 and a half hours yesterday afternoon, I stopped trying to make my sign-up form pretty. I tried uploading wordpress plugins and messing about with all types of various. I also tried adding CSS to the active campaign form but it still wouldn’t look how I wanted it to.

As you can see, the First name and email wouldn’t paginate and the “submit” button was meant to be orange! I could not get the whole sentence after “Marketing by” to show up properly either. Meh.

However, I am hoping (and I will keep you informed) that the sales and marketing platform that I have heard wonderful things about, will serve me well!

So. today, I decided that I needed to find a form builder. Having spent years marketing online, I knew exactly what I was looking for. I went straight to OptinMonster. A market leader, designed to get the best chance of someone singing up, I needed this very much.

[optin-monster-shortcode id=”fvmqaa1caxy0cdtuarnr”]

What is OptinMonster?

This is a very smart software package, again at different price points, but one that enables different types of forms in different positions. I chose it purely for the improved forms, professional finish and easy links to Active Campaign (in fact they use OptinMonster themselves!!)

I actually went for the second level of package (with a 20% discount) so that I could have different forms and also enable split testing (testing two versions at the same time to see which one performs better). By choosing this option, the cost of my email system was still going to be considerably less than the cost of the next tear of Active Campaign that would still have the very clunky forms.

I set my timer and did the following:

  1. Integrated with Active Campaign: I went to settings, and grabbed my name (it was faint and looked like I couldn’t copy it, but it worked) and pasted into my new OptinMonster account. Then in Settings (ActiveCampaign), I clicked on Developer, copied the API URL over to Optin Monster and then did the same for the the API Key. Clicked to complete and done! Simples.
  2. Integrated with my website: I needed to add some code to the footer of each page. This was easily done with the assistance of a plugin: Popups by OptinMonster. I literally downloaded this, activated it and then clicked “Connect”. Done.
  3. I went to “Account” and added my details plus the name of my website (
  4. Clicked on Dashboard and then clicked on Create New Campaign (to create an email list). I added the name of my new list and saved after selecting “pop-up” and then scrolling through the different templates (unlike Active Campaign) and choosing one that best suits what I need.
  5. I then give the pop up a name and was taken to a new screen. One click on the name of my new list and I could alter the pop-up to just what I wanted.
  6. Oh the joy. I am now half an hour in and I have a pop-up that looks professional, fit for purpose and just what I had hoped for. A very intuitive editing process with options to change font sizes.
  7. I have now completed the design. Working left to right in the menu bar, I next go to “Display Rules”. I opt to leave it as the example given as to how many second it needs to wait before it pops-up. I don’t know any different at this stage so I need to have data before I can make any purposeful changes here. Basically, the pop-up will appear for everyone after so many seconds. Perfect.
  8. Integrations is next. Here I click on email provider and Active Campaign appears. Next, I select the email account of that Active Campaign account. So far very easy. Then I select the email list. Now at this stage, I realised that I didn’t like the name so I went back to Acive Campaing, and changed it. I then regretted the OptinMonster page and I selected the list I needed.
  9. Analytics: again, very straightforward. I clicked the button to link up and was asked to copy some code. This was pasted into the relevant box and after adding my own reference for this, I clicked save. Less than 30 seconds.
  10. I clicked ‘Publish” then checked preview. Gave myself a pat on the back and then selected Live.

So all this took me 45 minutes to complete and write this down. My aim to create an email list has been accomplished – well the first hurdle of getting it all set up has been.

Now, I am adding this form to my website here, to my facebook page and my Instagram page too. I want to try and spread the word!

In under an hour, I have achieved what I have put off for months: a live email list builder. I can now proceed with the rest of my plan.


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