How I Grew My Email List Fast With a Freebie

When I first started blogging, everyone said to work on an email list. I really didn’t understand the value in this. I was a new blogger; why would someone want to sign up? I didn’t have any products to sell or any services to offer. What was the point?

It turns out, at some point you will have something to share with your audience. It could be one month after you start blogging or it could be a year after you start blogging.

As a new blogger, I was really at a loss on the importance of creating an email list and why I needed one. I wasn't selling any products, so why did I need one? It turns out you do! I grew my list in 4 months by doing 1 thing in a totally non-icky way. Here's how I grew my email list!
This post may contain affiliate links. Read our disclosure for more info.

Regardless of how long it takes you to do this, you should start working on your email list from the very beginning. This way when you are ready to share something with your readers, you will already have an email list.

When I decided to work on my email list, I knew sharing something with my readers would be a great way to get subscribers. One of the best freebies I offer is the Blog Brainstorm Worksheets, which is available in a couple of blog posts but also as my pop-up form on this site.

Blog Worksheets Signup

Having a pop-up form has helped me grow my email list tremendously. 

  • While I waited way too long to start an email list, I managed to amass over 2,000 subscribers in a 4 month period by offering this and other freebies to my readers!
  • My readers can not only get my freebie I am offering, but are now in the loop every time I have something important to share in my newsletter. 
  • My subscribers get even more value in my newsletters than on my website. When I released my book, I offered my readers a discount that was not available on my site!

It’s also easier than you think to create one!

I am going to share exactly how to create a pop-up box with a tutorial, so you can make one for your blog!

1. Click here to sign up for your FREE account

Enter your URL, email and a password. To install the app, just click on the “WordPress” logo if you use WordPress. Otherwise, click the logo that pertains to your site and click “Install SumoMe”

SumoMe and BIAB

After you’ve installed the plugin, you will have your own little blue vertical bar in your website like this! Click on it, select Sumo Store and add List Builder.

Now, SumoMe has a lot of other awesome features like share buttons and contact forms, but today we are just going to cover the pop-up form!

SumoMe 11


2. Open SumoMe on your website

Click on the blue bar so it expands and then click on the crown. This will make this box pop up. Select List builder.

SumoMe List Builder


3. On the left side of the screen click on Design

We are now going to design what your custom pop-up box should look like! 

SumoMe 8

The default template is already selected for you. If you would like to select a different template, you can but need to upgrade to a paid account. 

Using the box underneath Heading, list your freebie product. Keep it to a phrase or sentence. You have the option of writing in the Text box, but I leave this blank as the Heading option is bigger and stands out better.

Select your font and font color.


4. Customize the Button, Email Placeholder and the Success Heading

Keep scrolling down in the grey box.

SumoMe 7

Customize the Button background color, font and text. 

The Success Heading just refers to what readers will see after they subscribe. I kept it simple and wrote “Success” but if you are clever, write something witty.

Click Save at the bottom right of the screen.


5. Click on Behavior on the left of the screen

In this section, you are basically telling your popup what to do on your website. 

Under Mode, select Manual so you can decide how much time you would like to pass before the popup actually “pops up” on your site.

SumoMe 2

I get annoyed when I visit someone’s site and the pop-up is immediate (I’m not always ready to commit that fast!), so I set mine to 45 seconds. 

Set the frequency for how often you want your readers to the see the pop-up. If you have the same reader visiting your site daily, decide if you want your readers to see this daily or weekly.

6. Decide where your readers are going 

Under the After option, use the Success Redirect URL to decide what should happen after your reader signs up for your freebie. I simply redirect them to the freebie link of my website where they can access the file immediately. 

SumoMe 6

You have the option to leave this blank. Some bloggers prefer their readers to check their email after they have subscribed, and provide instructions or the next step.

This method is entirely up to you! I change this depending on the product I am promoting, but I like being able to give my readers something immediately.

Click Save

7. Link your newsletter provider to your SumoMe account

On the left side of the screen, scroll down and click on Services. Nearly every newsletter carrier is on this list. Don’t forget to scroll down until you find yours!

SumoMe 5

I use ConvertKit, which shows I already have it installed and connected.

SumoMe 4

Connecting your accounts is really easy! Make sure you are logged into your provider’s account first, and then click on your selection. Many times this is automatic and should only take a minute.

(2019 Update: I now use Constant Contact and love it! However, use whatever email provider you like!)

Related reading:

You did it! 

You’ve successfully created a pop-up box on your website thanks to SumoMe. You can now share a freebie with your readers when they sign up for your newsletter.

Freebies are a great tool for bloggers to share. What kind of freebies do you like to create? As a reader, what kinds of freebies do you like?

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  1. Hey Kristin,

    Thanks for your nice article on “How I Grew My Email List Fast With a Freebie”. I hope from your guideline users will be benefited to grow email list for their business.

    1. Kristin Larsen says:

      Thanks so much!

  2. This feature is no longer available on Sumo Me except with a premium subscription. πŸ™

  3. Hello Kristin,

    Thank you for your helpful article on using Sumome, the best explanation on the internet. Please could you advise me about where and how to put up the document for download. Do I ftp it directly up to a folder on my server for my site or load it someone through the WordPress admin, and if so how and where?

    I would very much appreciate and advice or leads you could offer.

    1. I just use the plug-in so I can avoid uploading anything myself πŸ™‚ Once you install the plug-in, it walks you through all the different features so you can start using everything!

      1. Hi Kristin,

        Thank you for replying. I have installed SumoMe and I’m working through the form but at the Subscribe Redirect URL box it isn’t prompting me with any kind of walkthrough. Any advice?

  4. The beauty of having an organic email list is the ability to quickly increase affiliate income once you have a steady flow of e-mail addresses coming in daily either from content publishing or getting email addresses from YouTube videos. Using Pinterest for business is always good especially when you post your blog or website updates to certain pinboards.

    1. Thanks! I’ve started a funnel system and it’s definitely paying off πŸ™‚

  5. It blows my mind that SumoMe is free. I love that they offer so many different ways to get subscribers: pop-ups/delayed forms, etc. I used to create value-added content to posts, but never offered them in exchange for an address. Time to go back and change that!

    1. I know! The more I learn about them, the more I find that they have to offer. I think offering a freebie in exchange for someone to get on an email list is a totally fair trade! I know as a consumer, I have done that many times when exploring other blog’s websites!

  6. This is a great idea. I currently do offer a freebie but its not fun and exciting and would only appeal to a small niche of people. I need to find a freebie that appeals to the masses.

    1. I change up my freebie all the time! Right now I *think* it’s how to start a blog from scratch, but it changes depending on what I’m focusing on!

  7. This is such a great post, Kristin! I have a few freebies that I’ve been giving away for a couple years now and I haven’t used them to build my list. My list could be 2x, 3x, even 4x bigger if I had been doing this all along :0 l

    1. Doh! I didn’t start doing this until I was going to release my book – probably should have started doing it sooner and from the beginning. Oh well!

  8. I know I should create a newsletter. But I barely manage to get my blog posts out regularly. I can’t figure out a) what else I’d have to add in a weekly newsletter and b) where I’d find time to write it so that I *could* add it.

    1. I put down the value of a newsletter forever – I didn’t send my first one out until December – that’s like a year after blogging! I was super nervous that readers would reject me in their inbox haha. But I like being able to share things that are more exclusive and share something that might not be worth an entire blog post. You can do this!!

  9. I’ve been debating SumoMe for a long time…and you’ve convinced me. I need to go ahead and get it installed on my blog! Way to grow your list!

    1. It’s been one of the easier plugins for me to understand and upload LOL. Plus I like that it has so many features – the popup form, the social shares, the smart bar at the top of my site. I’m really trying to level down and have the fewest plugins possible, so I’m excited about it all!

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