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How To Build Your List: Why The “Experts” Are Wrong

How familiar does this sound?

“I’ve dedicated countless hours to creating content, but nothing is happening. It’s like I’m working for free!”

“I post on my blog several times a week, comment on other relevant blogs in my niche, and even started guest blogging. I’ve seen small increases in my list, but not enough to create a full time business around.”

“I’ve got the content, but the traffic isn’t coming.”

Well, I’ve got good news and bad news for you. I’ll start with the bad news first. Chances are, you’ve been following the advice of the so called “experts”, which is either severely flawed or flat out wrong. How many times have you heard another marketer tell you that you need to focus your efforts on creating more content?

Though this is integral to your overall success, it’s only a small piece of the puzzle. The good news is, that there’s still time to turn things around, begin marketing the RIGHT way, and start building your subscriber’s list to epic proportions.

Why the “Experts” are Wrong

So why is there so much phony information online? For the most part, this false information is perpetuated by marketers that fall into one of two categories….

Category #1 The “old school” marketers – These are the online entrepreneurs that have been around for a while don’t quite have a grasp of what it’s like to be a newbie in today’s online world. Their advice comes from a time when building up a readership was EASY.

The times have changed a bit and there are more people turning to internet marketing every single day, causing the market place to become more crowded than ever before.

Category #2 The Deceivers – Those that fake it until they make it.These are the marketers that sell courses on how to make money online, despite never having made money online. They share rehashed ideas that they’ve read online that they believe will work.

Following the advice of marketers in either category will lead you to waste an astronomical amount of time, money, effort, and sanity.

There’s a reason why the vast amount of new marketers fail. It isn’t because internet marketing is inherently difficult to succeed in, most people fail because they’ve listened to faulty advice and eventually give up once they’ve realized that all the work they’ve put in was for nothing. Now that we got that out of the way, I can show you how to actually succeed…

Why Do People Subscribe?

As an internet marketer, the majority of your income will come from email marketing. So it’s important to understand what factors contribute to building your list of subscribers. The amount of subscribers you have depends on…

  • Your ability to drive high quality traffic to your site
  • Your ability to convert incoming traffic into a loyal following
  • Your ability to get your followers to promote and refer your brand to others

Nowhere in that list did I mention that you need to be the next Pulitzer Prize winning author. Content is important, but again, it should only make up a fraction of your business plan.

Shape How People View Your Brand

Have you ever heard of Frank Kern? He was a highly popular marketer a few years back. He’s still relevant to this day, except he focuses his efforts on coaching more than selling information products.

I want you to take a second and think of your prototypical businessman. An image of a finely groomed man wearing a button up shirt, tie, and dress pants likely comes to mind. Well, Frank isn’t your typical marketer.

He would show up these speaking engagements with his long, shaggy hair, wearing board shorts and flip flops, and joked around a lot. If you saw him walking down the street you’d assume that he was just another surfer from Southern California.

When people would speak about Frank, everyone would say “Oh yeah, that laid back surfer guy.” Do you think it was a coincidence? No, Frank expertly shaped his image so that it would resonate with the people that saw him.

He wasn’t just another internet marketer, he had created an entire persona that stuck with people that allowed him to stand out among the pack.

What does this have to do with building an email list? Before you can build your email list to epic proportions, you’ve got to create a brand; a position in the marketplace that people can remember. You need to shape how people view you and your business and it has to be as specific as humanly possible.

You have to be known for SOMETHING, and it has to be memorable and unique to you. Don’t just be the lady that blogs about dog training, but instead be “Kathy, the expert in dog psychology”, so when people have a specific problem, you will be their go-to solution.

That means that everything you do online should perpetuate this message until it is successfully burned into the minds of your potential consumers.

Why Does This Matter?

Remember when I said that the amount of subscribers you have is dependent on your ability to get your followers to promote and refer your brand to others?

If people remember EXACTLY what you’re about, then whenever they encounter someone comes to them with a problem, your name will become the default recommendation for that problem.

Referral traffic not only helps build your brand, increase the amount of subscribers you have, but also converts like crazy! Think about the bloggers that you currently follow.

Chances are, you found them because someone said “Hey, check this person out because they’re awesome at…” This will ONLY work if you’ve already finely crafted your brand image and drilled it into the head of everyone that is interested in your niche.

Start Getting More Traffic

No, I’m not going to tell you to start building links and spamming the comment section in blog posts. Instead, I’m going to give you REAL actionable advice that has worked for countless businesses.

Attracting people to your business is not something that you’re born with. It’s an acquired skill that takes a lot of practice. Though you may have seen marketers propelled into the spotlight virtually overnight, there was likely a lot of work behind the scenes that you aren’t aware of.

The absolute EASIEST way to build traffic without having to break the bank on paid ads is to get featured by the press or other media outlets. Right now, you may be thinking to yourself

“How can I get the media to feature my website if I don’t have an established brand?” Well I’ll show you how to follow an easy 3 step process…

Step #1 – Create something worth promoting This can be anything from a piece of content to free software. For the most people out there that don’t have the means to create software, it will have to be a piece of content. Now, this can’t be any generic piece of content, it has to be extremely specific and truly worth being promoted.

Step #2 – Finding the press You’ll want to build a relationship with people that have a history of covering what you’d like promoted. This means approaching bloggers, reporters, people that have a podcast within your niche, etc. They’re far more likely to promote your work.

Find out where your competitors have promoted. If they’ve scored a write-up on a huge online publication, then open up a dialogue with the writer of that write-up.


An even better approach would be to contact the competitor of that online publication and convince them to cover you. This works well because they will see that the original write-up worked well for their competitor, which may convince them to follow suit.

Another method that I’ve seen used successfully is to find press based on specific topics. Let’s say that you’ve created a piece of content called “Red Fishing Lures Are Better than Black Fishing Lures”. You could do a quick Google search for “Why bright colored fishing lures work”.

You can then approach the blog owners of the sites that appeared in the search results because the opinion in their content likely corresponds with the opinion in your content. Site owners are always looking for other content that confirms the opinions they state on their blog.

Most site owners will jump at the chance to promote content that compliments theirs because it helps establish themselves as an authority in the eyes of their audience.

Step #3 – Persuade them to cover you Remember, bloggers are just like you. Most of them are simply trying to manage their time in a way that allows them to make the most amount of money.

Anything that YOU can do to make THEIR life a little bit easier would be greatly appreciated. This provides INCENTIVE for them to help you out in turn.

If you want someone to do ANYTHING for you, you must provide them an incentive for doing so, and the more important / influential the person you’re contacting, the bigger the incentive will need to be. It’s up to you to find what it will take to get that blogger to do what you want and give it to them.


Ignore the shady advice that most so called “experts” give you. Internet marketing isn’t rocket science, but is a highly psychological game.

If you can influence how people view your brand, you can build referrals, awareness, and brand loyalty. If you can convince publications to cover your brand, you can build massive amount of traffic.

If you combine the two, you will be able to create a massive following that WILL build your list, and eventually convert to sales.

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About Sean Donahoe

Sean is one of the most recognized industry leaders in business and marketing. As a popular speaker, author, consultant he has helped over 50,000 students world wide find success in their businesses and has consulted with Fortune 500 companies and businesses of every size grow and thrive...


  1. Excellent, excellent advice without the regurgitated bullshit. How refreshing to read something new that also makes tremendous sense.

  2. Great post Sean!

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