Bryan Harris of Videofruit has grown his list to 34,000. Here are his 4 strategies for email list growth that you can implement within a week.

Bryan Harris is the first to admit that he failed the first time he tried to start a company. He built an app, launched it and then...nothing.

Bryan spent the next three years figuring out what he was doing wrong. You may have stumbled upon his adventures at Videofruit, Bryan's blog where he reverse engineers what online entrepreneurs and marketers are doing online to build their businesses and writes a roundup reviewing the technique. It's also the name of his Teachable course in which he shares his strategies for email list growth.

From this, Bryan realized that in his first businesses he’d been missing one thing: an email list.

“An email list is important because it’s the most direct way to communicate and engage with your fans and subscribers. If you are planning to sell something, the list is often the primary money maker,” says Pat Flynn of Smart Passive Income.

The bigger your list, the more people you can convert into paying customers. That’s why, in this post, I’m going to give you 4 actionable strategies that you can implement within the week to start growing your list. Now.



If you have a large list, you can notify your audience of various events and rally their support around it. That means you can:

 An email list gives you control over your company. There is a predictable number of people you can convert that is in direct relation to list size, a variable you can manipulate.

This isn’t always the case. In 2012, Bryan launched an app without a list. He obviously thought it would be successful, but lost 13K. In 2015, after Bryan had built a list, he launched his course and made 225K in 10 days.

Maybe you’re thinking, it’s probably just Bryan. While the dude is nothing less than legit, one of his students in VideoFruit built a list of just 250 subscribers on the topic “How to Use Michael Hyatt’s Wordpress Theme.” While this course has a very specific, very niche topic, he made 10K in seven days.

To summarize, this proves that anyone, even with a small list and very targeted subject can make money with the right kind of email list.

Before we get into Bryan’s strategies, you can also watch a FULL REPLAY of the webinar by clicking the button below:


Use an email list to develop you business

Contrary to popular opinion, you do NOT want to create a business from a brilliant idea. The reality is, your brilliant idea probably isn’t so brilliant. Here’s what happens:

People are struck with their “million dollar idea”, they ask their friends over some beers if it’s a good idea, go into a cave and build the thing, come out of the cave waving around the product only to find that no one wants to buy it.

Bryan calls this the “Cycle of Guaranteed Failure.” Sounds like a bad carnival ride. 

"The problem with that is that it’s extremely hard to sell products to people you don’t know. It’s a whole lot easier to give products to your existing customer than to build products and try to find customers.”
-Bryan Harris

Instead, Bryan has seen considerable success with this strategy: 1. Build an audience (1K subscribers), 2. Validate & Create Your Product, 3. Launch the product. 

What this means, is that first, you build up your audience/email list, you then pitch your product idea to this list before ever creating it, from audience feedback you create and make changes so your product is exactly what your audience wants and needs, and then launch it to them at price you know they’re willing to pay.

This is something I’ve seen Jon Haws, another Teachable instructor who made 16K launching his nursing test prep course do. He says:

"In that very first email, I asked them the very direct question: What are you struggling with right now. I got that from Pat Flynn ( Honestly, I didn’t really think it would work, but I threw it in there at the end of the email and it works really really well. I’ve gotten a lot of responses and what that has done is allows us to decide what we’re going to do next."

Building an email list is an often overlooked or confusing aspect of growing an online business, but it is crucial to being successful. As such, we sat down with Bryan Harris to ask him his tips for email list growth.


Strategy 1: Pick your list goal

Bryan likes to tell the story of the first time Bill Gates and Warren Buffet met. Summarizing a Forbes article, Bryan says that when asked what their number one key to their success was, they cited focusing on one thing at a time.

With this in mind, get laser focused on your list. Spend time here. Don’t get lost on Twitter, Facebook ads, Instagram. The key to growing your list is focusing on your list. Simple.

You should be able to pass the milestones 100, 1,000, and 10,000. Find your goal and think about it, manifest it...just kidding. We’re going to work hard and work smart to get there.

I couldn’t agree more when Bryan says, you’ve got to get disciplined and meet your goals. If you want my own advice on setting and meeting deadlines, check out a post here. Other readers have said it’s the most actionable and least-fluffy anti-procrastination piece they’ve read. My mom agrees.

Strategy 2: Invite everyone you know

The people who are going to buy from you, are the people who know you. Start here.

When you’re first building a project, the idea is fragile. As Bryan says, “It’s about 2 negative comments away from never happening.”

To manage this psychology, Bryan has you build your initial list from people you already know who are generally encouraging.

Make a list of 200 people that will support you from the start and who might refer you to people they know. Yes, that means people you already know. Pull from your Gmail contacts, phonebook, Facebook friends, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

While it may start to feel a little uncomfortable to reach out to all of these people, have a bias toward action. If not, it’s likely you’re not going to meet your list building goals. 

In fact, you can invite someone to your list right now. Seriously. Stop reading for a second, scroll through your phonebook. Find one person. Text them and ask if you can add them to your list.

“Hey JOHN, I’m creating a newsletter thingy with advice on BLANK, would you mind if I added you to my email list?”

Easy as pie.

Go through your lists, record email addresses for appropriate contacts and reach out. If you need help finding email addresses, I give advice here.

You might be wondering, what if the people I’m adding now aren’t my ideal customer. That’s ok! Here’s why:

The people who love you are going to talk to other people and refer others and those people might be interesting. Those initial referrers that are committed to you are what Seth Godin calls “sneezers” because they spread an "idea virus." They are interested in you first and topic second..

This also helps from a psychological perspective. Having a committed fan base will keep you excited. Keep ‘em on your list!

One thing to keep in mind as you start inviting people to your list is to NEVER invite them to “an email list.”  Boring. Instead, ask them if they want a thing and post their email address as how you get the thing. 

My favorite example of this is Laura Belgrey's pop up at Talking Shrimp:

Strategy 3: Write 250 words per day

Write? Why? Think of it like this. If you have a list of 100K, you can sell to 1% at a low cost and make...the same as a guy who has a list of 1,000, has a 10% conversion.

Bryan attributes a higher conversion to a “deep-rooted relationship” with customers. Trust and engagement means you can sell more and you can build these emotions with writing. It doesn’t have to be stellar and powerful writing, just targeted. Here’s what I mean:

After you get just 100 people on your list, start building your relationship with your list.

Email your list and ask them:

What’s your number 1 questions/problem on <insert your topic>.

This is a tried and true method from Pat Flynn that’s been used by our Co-Founder, Conrad Wadowski, at GrowthHack, our instructors and other well-known content marketers.

Brainstorm from your own experience. 

People don’t often believe us when we say you don’t have to be an expert to create a course. Here’s a prime example. If you’re an expert, you’re far way from having problems understanding your course topic.

Conversely, if you’ve just learned the topic, you’re much more in touch with the problems new learners might have.

It works, check out Bitfountain who made over 2 million dollars teaching programming, a skill they had learned just a few months before.

Look at Quora and find the questions people are asking

Quora is “the best answer to any questionand a great place to research the questions people are asking about your topic.

Write for 15 minutes each day answering audience questions 

This is pretty straightforward. From the list of questions you just created, start answering them. You don’t need to write 3K word blogs posts like I do, just answer the question.

As Bryan said, ““Don’t write 300 words when 3 will do.” Even I keep this philosophy in mind despite the length of my posts. I also fully agree with Bryan that a 400-1,000 word post can be just as effective if you’re answering a question someone wants an answer to. 

We write 1,000+ word posts, because we want to go above and beyond for our community and have the budget to hire someone who can write posts like this (aka me).

Just sit down, just 15 mins, and answer the question.

Every Friday, publish one of these answers 

Use the native blogging feature within Teachable if you have a course, launch a Wordpress site and use MailChimp to send your article to your list.

It’s scary, I know, but sometimes you’ve just got to ship it, or nothing will happen.

Keep the end goal in mind. From publishing your writing, you’ll get some key insights into what your audience likes and doesn’t like. Use Google Analytics to determine your most popular posts and make sure you’ve enabled a program like Disqus so you can get direct comments on your posts. It will give you deep insights into what’s working for your audience and what isn’t.

“[Writing is] is the most tactical skill set I’ve developed. Being able to write tangible practical answers to questions for people on my topic, well, it’s attracted more people, subscribers and more attention to me than any other habit I’ve built.”

You might be wondering, why Friday? Here at Teachable we publish our newsletter every Thursday around 11 am, a time we picked because we noticed it has the most open rates.  

Bryan picks Friday based on his own psychology. I think his method is the best if you’re just starting out. Having a Friday deadline pushes you to hit publish and meet an end of week deadline. These are big things.

You can also train your list. People always want consistency, so as long as you set your deadline as one day a week and stick to it, that’s fine. 

Strategy 4: Universal call to action 

You can grow your list by increasing traffic or increasing conversions.

The average first-year blog gets about 10K visitors a year (30 visitors per day) and conversion is around 2%. With this ratio, you’re going to get 100 people on your list. But growing the list or increasing conversion rates are going to increase your sales.

Since you’ve already done the work to get to 100+ subscribers, we’re going to focus on conversion.

There are 2 main calls to actions that efficiently increase conversion:

1. An Exit-Intent Popup: Most people don’t like pop-ups. It’s like walking into a flower store and a sales person immediately asking, which one of my beautiful, stunning and fragrant flowers did you want to by.

None, bro. I haven’t even looked at the flowers!

Rather, if someone has stuck around your site and opened an article, they’ve “shopped for flowers.” A gentle nudge asking, “I noticed you liked the roses, would you like to buy them” is key.

An exit-intent popup is the only pop up that Bryan uses.

 2. Add a scroll box: As you scroll down popular website pages, you might have noticed a small box in the bottom right-hand side with a call-to-action: maybe signing up for a newsletter, purchasing a discounted product or asking you to take a survey. 

Check out how Joanna Weibe of CopyHackers uses a social scroll box here: 

Bryan has used many other methods and used these alone and together and found that using these two calls to action has increased conversion from 2% to 6%.

Not to mention, they’re an incredibly simple conversion enhancer and low maintenance.

Remember, don’t use the text on an exit intent pop up or scroll box to ask people if they want to join your list. Give them an enticing reason.

Don’t do this. No one wants updates

Instead, a good starting point is to snag the headline from one of your most successful blog posts and tweak it to work as the pop-up text. This guarantees that you’re using language your audience likes and reacts to.

Bryan did this below:

Bryan told us, “I hate the angle this was written from, but it’s popular with my readers.” Keep that in mind. Sometimes the text you pick has to be optimized for your readers, not your own personal approval.

You can use SumoMe to help set up both of these tools.

If you'd like to view a replay of the webinar between Bryan and Teachable's CEO, Ankur Nagpal discussing email list growth in detail, click on the button below. It goes into more specific examples and there's a full Q&A at the end with questions from other course creators. 


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Ashley Hockney

Written by Ashley Hockney

Ashley Hockney is the Content Marketer & Writer at Teachable (Create & Sell Online Courses). Her knowledge spans both the marketing and literary fields. Her background is in food & beverage PR i.e. she wants to talk to you about single malts.