List building is a HOT topic in the marketing world.

Everyone and their mama is talking about growing your list. Getting to the first 1,000 or 10,000 subscribers as fast as you possibly can. Then squeezing every single dollar you can from the list.

Seriously – if I hear one more person talking about the “money in the list” – I’m gonna need to take another pranayama break!

*Inhale. Exhale.*

The truth is you DO need a list.

If you don’t have potential clients to talk to, you won’t be in business very long.

But as mindful marketers, there are some key differences between just building a list and building a community that can make or break your success.

Myth #1:: Size Matters.

Peeps who focus on building a HUGE list are focused on building a HUGE list. They are more worried about quantity than quality. I’m always hearing from entrepreneurs who are comparing themselves to others with these BIG LISTS – and they decide that the BIG LIST = SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS.

It’s just not true.

I would much rather speak to an engaged community of 100 or 500 or 1,000 people – people who are potentially perfect-for-me clients. People who I’ve had the honor of connecting with on a more personal level. A real community that I’ve created online {like the Fired Up & Focused Challengers group – get in here!}.

When I re-launched The Yogipreneur {after a year-long maternity leave with my twins}, my list was about 100ish people. Mostly workshop participants, yoga friends and referrals from those yoga friends. I KNEW I couldn’t just start pitching myself to those people. They were my friends!

I didn’t want to seem spammy or desperate. I spent a few weeks sharing super useful free content {I think it was about 3-4 emails/blogs}, I answered questions via email and social media. I even hopped on the phone with people for some free sessions. Then I made a sweet and simple invitation for my 1×1 mentorship program.

Suddenly – that community of only 100 people turned into 5 private clients.

I’ve heard from many of my colleagues who have experienced the same thing… a small but highly engaged community is a great launching pad to a successful business.

Size doesn’t matter. Relationships do.

Inspired Action Step – Are you actively engaging with your community? If you don’t get regular emails with questions, this week is a great time to send out a “Hey – how can I help you with {insert your area of expertise} this spring?” email. You may only get a few responses, but those peeps are raising their hand and letting you know they are ready for your support!

Myth #2:: We All Start From ZERO.

This is one of the BIGGEST myths that I hear – and OMGosh it makes me burning mad. It’s a myth that totally plays into the favor of all the “gurus” who are focused on building the BIG LIST {see above myth} as quickly as possible – because they built their list so fast!

If they did it, you can to! And here’s the program you can buy right now that focused more on the vanity measurement of list size instead of making sure those new peeps are actually interested in potentially working with you!

The honest truth?

They didn’t start their list from ZERO.

Ok TECHNICALLY they did start from zero. But – and this is a big but – they knew how to play the list building game.

Here’s what most experts aren’t sharing – while their current business may seem to be an overnight success, often they have YEARS of experience that came before they launched their current business.

Which means they had existing relationships and an existing list that they used to seed their NEW business.

For example, my friend Derek Halpern at SocialTriggers.com seemed to come out of nowhere a couple of years ago. His business seemed to be blowing up!

But the truth was, he leveraged his connections {in fact, he shared in an interview that his first 1,000 subscribers came from a co-hosted webinar with a well-established colleague and then doing a series of site reviews for another 2 dozen well known bloggers who also had established lists} to quickly build that list.

I’ve used this strategy over and over again.

When I built my first small business consultancy, the first thing I did was make a list of everyone I knew who knew small business owners. And I reached out to each and every one. I took people out to lunch. I asked for referrals. I co-hosted events and seminars.

While my peers were cold-calling lists, I was getting glowing introductions and people showing up to the first appointment with checkbooks in their hand.

Why does this work? When you get a warm introduction to someone new – from someone who they already know, like, and trust – that credibility rubs off on you. It’s an easier start to the relationship.

But if you’ve been reading all about pitching yourself to guest post or interview on sites that you don’t have a relationship with – you’re working to hard. Figure out who can make the introduction!

Inspired Action Step – Are you leveraging your network? Who else is talking to your ideal clients? Who could connect you to those people? And in return, are you regularly introducing your network to new peeps?

Myth #3:: All Strategies Are Created Equal.

Podcasting is IN! All my traffic is coming from my podcast – all the cool kids are doing it.

Facebook Ads is where it’s at – I’m turning $10 into $10,000!

Telesummits are the best way to launch your business – I made six-figures from the recordings alone!

There are so many ways that you can start building a community… but one thing I know for sure?

They are NOT all created equal.

Think about it – if ONE way was guaranteed to build your list – why would any of the other strategies exist?

I’ve seen so many invest incredible amounts of time and energy into ONE strategy just to see lackluster results. And even with my own clients – two peeps can do the exact same strategy. One does AWESOME. And one completely flops.

I’ve also worked with entrepreneurs who paid tens of thousands of dollars to learn a specific blueprint for list-building… and while it may have worked for them the first time, it just wasn’t sustainable or effective long term {in fact – it could be completely burning out their tribe!}.

Your business is NOT a piece of IKEA furniture! Even if you follow the blueprint, it doesn’t mean you’ll get the same results. There are simply too many variables that influence what strategy will or won’t work for you. {That’s one reason why I don’t teach blueprints – I don’t believe in giving you the fish… I want to teach you HOW to fish for yourself!}

You’ve got to consider::

  • Your strengths
  • Your audience
  • Your expertise
  • Your promotional strategy
  • Your connections
  • Your engagement
  • Your personality
  • Your offering
  • Your overall business objectives
  • Etc. etc.

For me – I don’t spend a lot of time writing guest posts. It takes me HOURS to write a blog post {great content takes time – this post alone took me a few hours to write and edit!} and I’m committed to working 20-25 hours a week so I can be with my family. If I tried to focus on guest blog posts, I’d use up ALL MY TIME. That’s not the right strategy for me.

But getting interviewed – I love it! It takes usually less than an hour to prep and another hour to record the interview. I keep a running list of about 4-5 different topics I’ll focus on and already have those talking points down pat.

I’m quick on my feet. It’s a strategy that works well for me and continues to attract new peeps into my community. So I don’t waste much time trying a million new strategies – I know that getting interviewed is 100% aligned with my strengths and priorities! At this point, I’m usually getting interviewed 3-4 times a month!

And the best part? When you leverage your connections + network {like I talked about above} and peeps know you give great interview, suddenly you don’t have to pitch yourself as much. In fact – I haven’t had to pitch myself in about 2 years.

I get ASKED. Pretty sweet, right?

Inspired Action Step – What strategy makes the MOST sense for you? What skills do you need to improve to make it better? How can you add that to your marketing calendar?

Myth #4:: The LIST is everything.

Maybe I’m beating a dead horse here.

But even calling it a LIST starts to feel so gross to me.

The difference between the name LIST and COMMUNITY is more than just semantics.

Here’s what I’ve noticed as someone on the “inside” of this whole marketing world.

When I’ve been on a LIST –

I often feel like I’m being talked at. There is rarely, if ever, an invitation to actually engage in conversation with that person. Even if their content is great, there is no conversation! It makes me feel like just another number.

When I’ve been part of a COMMUNITY –

I feel like there is a real conversation flowing. Not only do they invite me to comment or hit reply to an email – but they actually respond to me! Their content is great – but even better? Knowing that there is a real person on the other side who is willing to listen and let you know they actually care.

Does it take more effort to create a community? Hell yes! It takes a LOT more effort. But not only does it feel so amazing to really have deep connections with your peeps – you’ll see amazing results when it’s time to invite them into your programs and services.

And the BEST time to really engage with people is right at the beginning. Why? It’s a lot easier to connect personally to a small list! And when you can connect with them and spark those conversations early, you’ll suddenly have small but incredibly passionate base of FANS who can’t wait to spread the word about you!

Inspired Action Step – This is the EASIEST thing to do, especially when you’re just getting started. When people join your email list, ask them to hit reply and ask you their biggest question/frustration about {insert your topic area here}. Not only will you get an unending list of new ideas for create content – but you’ll have an opportunity to respond personally and begin connecting with your peeps. My assistant saves all those responses for me so a few times a month I can sit down and email personal answers – and I’m ALWAYS told that people are blown away that I would make time for a personal response.

Myth #5:: Wait Until Your List is 1,000 Until You Make an Offer

Or wait 6 months or a year or until the angels sing and you finally know “it’s TIME” to offer something to your list!

Seriously?

Are you a business? Or is this just a hobby that you do for funsies?

Because I know if I would have waited until I hit 1,000 people on my email list… The Yogipreneur would not be here.

The first 2 years of The Yogipreneur, I barely cracked 100 people. My focus wasn’t on building a list – I was teaching in person workshops. My clients all came from referrals. Seriously – my first client, my own yoga teacher, referred me to about a dozen of her friends. And boom! I was in business!

And as I shifted things online, I made offers to work with me! I invited people to free strategy sessions. I hosted teleseminars. I launched my first program, then my second!

The best part? Each time I launched a program – my list grew even MORE!

And even if they didn’t sign up for my program right away… once they were part of my community and got to know me a bit, many of them did get on the phone for a free session, or joined one of my programs a few months later.

Then I learned this amazing information from Dan Zarella – when someone finds you online for the first time, there is a window of 10-14 days where they are the MOST INTERESTED they will likely ever be in your offer. After that, statistically, they are much less likely to sign up.

And another factoid – new people signing up for your email list have NO IDEA how many subscribers you have!!!

Hmmmmmm…

Changes the perspective a bit right? For sure enough to consider adding a few followup auto-responders offering a free session or hosting a free monthly webinar.

For the love of all things… please do not put yourself out of business waiting to make an offer because you haven’t hit some arbitrary mythical list size!

Inspired Action Step – What invitation to work with you can you make in the next 30 days to your community? Are you hosting a workshop? A lightening round of free sessions? Include it in your upcoming newsletter!

Building your community is an art and a science. You can read all the expert advice out there… but ultimately, you’ve gotta figure out what really resonates with you and your peeps!

Easy enough, right?

Maybe not if you had to figure it all out on your own. But with a little love and guidance, you can attract a tribe of perfect-for-you peeps you absolutely adore {and who can’t WAIT to work with you}.

If you’re doubting that what you’ve been trying in your biz is right for you, let me know what’s going on in the comments below. I’m here for you!

Love + Gratitude,

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Did you catch last weeks post? 5 Ways to Make Your Email Stand Out (in a crowded inbox)

 

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