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Let’s just start with the age old question: how do you grow your email list?

Okay, so maybe it’s not age old because, you know, email lists have only been around for a couple of decades.

But I digress.

How do you start out a brand new email list and actually generate subscribers who are interested in your business?

Well I’ll tell you one thing: simply putting a sign up form on your website’s home page or blog sidebar is not enough.


Well, let’s just get it all out on the table: humans are innately selfish. They want something from you, or else they’re not just going to hand over their email address.

This is where your opt-in freebie comes in.

graphic about The 11 Steps to Email Courses That Will Grow Your Email List Like Crazy

Check out the episode below:

What is an opt-in freebie?

Essentially, it’s something of value that you give away for free in exchange for the email address of a potential customer.

Graphic about the perfect lead magnet checklist

So creating an opt-in freebie (or lead magnet) is critical to your email list growth strategy.

There are many different types of opt-in freebies, like workbooks, checklists, ebooks, or even discount codes or physical free items.

So why create an email course as an opt-in freebie?

One: they convert like crazy.
Two: they’re a great way to offer tons of value and information to your audience without overwhelming them (and all fo’ free).
Three: they’re quick to create.
And four: they’re a really great segue way to your paid content, products, or services.

I mean, if they loved your free email course, then they’ll absolutely die for your full-length paid course, right?


So let’s dive into actually creating your email course so that you can start growing your business’s email list sooner rather than later.

Step 1: Choose your topic.

Determining your free email course topic is a lot like determining your paid online course topic. You need to think about what your readers want to learn from you.

Think about it this way: you could create a free email course that applies to the masses. One that every single person could benefit from. You could even generate thousands upon thousands of new email subscribers.


You could create an email course that applies only to the people who would actually buy your product or service. You’ll get a few hundred or thousand new email subscribers. But these are going to be qualified leads who could potentially turn into paying customers.

There’s no point in appealing to someone who simply isn’t going to buy what you’re selling.

Instead, you need to think about what your people want to learn from you. Something that relates to your business and what you do.

Here are a few ways to choose your email course topic:

1. Utilize a lesson from a paid course you’ve already created
2. Condense a paid course you’ve already created
3. Relate to blog content you’ve already created
4. Introduce something new you want to create

Basically, you don’t want your email course to give away too much for free. Yes, you want to offer valuable information they can’t get from anywhere else. But you can’t give away the whole enchilada, right?!

No, they have to pay for the whole enchilada. But, like, the rice and beans could definitely be handed out in exchange for an email address.

Step 2: Outline your email course.

Now that you’ve got your email course topic pinned down, it’s time to think about how long you want this email course to be. Are you thinking 5 days? A week? 25 days?

The best way to go about this is making a list of all of the different pieces you want to cover in your email course. Determine if any of those pieces can be combined into the same email. Then, count the topics you have left.

That number will be the length of your email course.

Use our course planning worksheet freebie below to help you outline your email course. In each box, write the overarching topic of each email and a few bullet points you want to cover.

Step 3: Plan your content creation timeline.

When would you like to have your email course completed by? If you want to start generating new email subscribers using your email course by the middle of next month, then you’ve got about a month and a half to create your email course.

If that’s not enough time, consider giving yourself a longer timeline or hiring out part of the process.

Once you’ve determined your overall due date, break up the project into smaller bits and pieces and give yourself a deadline for each batch of content. Project management FTW!

Step 4: Name your email course.

Wait, we haven’t even created content yet. Why are we giving the email course a name?

Okay, true. Let’s go ahead and add a disclaimer here that this name is subject to change. However, the sooner you have a name, the sooner you can start teasing it on your website, in your blog and email content, and on your social media platforms.

Plus it makes it seem more real if you start calling it by a name. It’s no longer an idea you keep hoping to implement. It’s a real project with a real name that you really need to get to work on. 😉

So what should your name be? Well, ideally, something catchy, but also something optimized.

Essentially, alliteration, power words, hashtags, and things like that are great to utilize in your email course. However, you still want to include a focus keyword to help your website and your email course’s landing page rank in search results.

Graphic of landor guide to what makes a good name

Step 5: Choose your email marketing platform.

There are so many different email marketing platforms to choose from. Some of the basics include Mailchimp and Constant Contact, while some of the more advanced (read: super confusing and not at all user-friendly) include Infusionsoft.

I feel like I’ve found the perfect medium, though, in ConvertKit. It makes it incredibly easy to create automations, which is essential with an email course, and has a user-friendly platform that I would recommend to anyone looking for an email marketing service to use.

Step 6: Outline each email.

Now take the initial overall outline you created in step two and flesh it out a bit more to create an outline for each individual email. Use your blog or course content to help you out.

Outlining each of your emails isn’t too different from outlining each new piece of blog content that you publish on your website. Isn’t it fun how you can use the same strategy for more than one thing?!

Start with your subheadings in each email and work your way down. Be sure to make a note of each blog post you can link to and provide even more valuable information.

And use the last email in your email course to convert your subscribers to the next level: buying your full-length paid online course.

Use the email course creation worksheet to help you with your outlines.

Step 7: Create your email subjects.

When you create blog post headlines, you want people to read them and absolutely need to click through and read your blog.

When you create email subject lines, you want people to see your email in their inbox and absolutely need to open and read it.

Use some of the same tactics for creating irresistible blog headlines, like using power words, numbers, and actionable words that incite readers to do something right now.

Step 8: Create your email content.

Alright, this is it. We’re up to the biggest step so far: actually creating your email content.

You have your subject lines and your outlines. Now you get to write the content for your email course.

GIF of dog punching away at a keyword working hard to create free email courses

When you’re creating your email content, try to find ways to go beyond just text in your emails. Can you link to videos you’ve made or create worksheets to accompany any of your email content? This can help make your email course even more valuable to subscribers.

Be sure to add any applicable affiliate links throughout your course content (including a disclaimer, of course!)

Step 9: Create your email course’s landing page.

When you create an email course opt-in freebie, you want people to actually be able to find it and sign up for it, right?!


So you need to create a landing page for it.

Now this doesn’t have to be anything crazy. You don’t need to create an entirely new website for your email course or anything.

In fact, this can just be a simple page setup on your website or you can use a software like LeadPages (affiliate link). While these are very basic and generally easy to create, it’s also something you can outsource to your web designer or virtual assistant while you continue to create the actual email content.

Watch exactly how to easily setup a landing page (in a few short minutes) in the video below:

Step 10: Input your course content into the email marketing platform.

You’re almost done! Take a second to breathe because it’ll all be over soon, and you’ll get to watch your email list grow daily.

GIF of a happy guy clapping because he grew his business with the right content upgrade

The first thing you need to consider is your template design. Do you already have an email newsletter that you send out regularly? You can easily reuse that same template for your email course content.

But if you’ve never created an email template design before, let’s go over a few basics.

1. White space is your friend. Don’t overcrowd your audience with too many colors or too much black or grey area. Keep your design light and minimal.
2. Use a basic font. Make sure your content is easy to read. I recommend a font like Arial or Open Sans.
3. Place your logo front and center. As if the sender wasn’t obvious enough, make sure your readers know this is your business as soon as they open your email.
4. Format like a blog post. Include an introduction, body (with subheadings for readability), and conclusion, just like you did in the email course planning worksheet.

Use ConvertKit (affiliate link) to create the email automation for your course.

The first email should go out as soon as you get a new subscriber to keep it top of mind. When they submit their email address, they’re ready to roll, so take advantage of that. And if the content in your first email is awesome, they’re going to make sure to keep an eye out for the rest of your course.

Set each additional email to go out at the same time everyday so your subscribers know when they’re coming and can look for them in their inbox at a certain time.

Step 11: Upsell, upsell, upsell!

Imagine your email course as just one piece of the pie, and now it's time to sell them on the whole thing. If they're interested in the sliver of the pie, you know they're interested in the whole thing.

What do I mean by that? Well, you don’t want to create a full course that no one wants to buy. An email course is a great way to test the waters.

If you didn’t create your email course off of an existing course and used it to introduce something you’re interested in creating in the future, gauging interest in your mini course is the perfect way to determine if this topic is profitable.

Although your email course should be filled with value, it won’t have nearly as much as a full paid course will. And your subscribers know that. Hint throughout the course that they can learn more in your paid content, and use your final email to really sell them on your full course.

Ready to create your own email course? Download our free email course planning worksheet to help you along every step of the way.

Graphic to click for the ultimate freebie on how to create free email courses



These are the EXACT same steps I used to 10x businesses just like yours and generate new customers on autopilot!

it's free!
100% privacy guaranteed, no messin' around!