7 Weird Ways To Grow A List Really Really Fast

Written by Matt Wolfe
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A new term has been circling the world of marketing and startups recently… “Growth Hacking” is all the rage.

People use “Growth Hacking” as a way to describe really creative, “out of the box” ways of growing a business. You typically hear it among startups that don’t really have much marketing experience but, somehow, find really creative ways to grow their business and their brand.

Hotmail, AirBNB, Reddit, Pinterest, Groupon and many other well-known businesses are famous for using “Growth Hacking” techniques to grow to what they are now.

This is the type of stuff that I find fun and exciting! I love experimenting with new ideas, coming up with creative ways to build a business, and trying to think outside of the box to stimulate growth.

When it comes to building my mailing list, I tend to take a “Growth Hack” philosophy on the process… What creative ways can I come up with to get people to want to join my list and listen to what I have to say?

What sort of techniques can I build once and leverage forever to make my list grow and grow and grow?

It’s such a fun way to look at list-building (and business in general).

Instead of looking at things like typical marketers where the goal is to acquire new leads and customers, I look at things as one big growth hacking experiment. How can I create new ways to build this?

Most “internet marketers” do they same old stuff… They promote their products to other people’s lists, they target people on Facebook who are interested in similar things, they do solo-ads, adswaps, JV promos, etc…

There’s nothing wrong with those kinds of tactics. I’ve done many of them myself… However, what ends up happening is that you end up in this incestual cycle where all of the same people are on everybody’s lists… There’s no new growth… There’s no getting in front of new people who maybe didn’t even know that what you do exists…

Thinking outside the box, growth hacking, helps you discover new places to get people interested in your niche and what you do… And you do it in a way where you’re acquiring new leads instead of the same leads that are on everyone else’s list in your niche…

I’m getting on a bit of a rant here. So instead of beating the heck out of this dead horse, I’m going to show you seven “outside of the box” ways that I’ve personally used to grow my own mailing list…

Before I do, I want to tell you that I use GetResponse for my mailing list. Here’s my GetResponse Review. Much of what I teach is taught with GetResponse, however, many of these ideas apply to any autoresponder service that you are using.

So Let’s Start With:

1. Write A Book

Many of you already know that I wrote a book called WordPress Revealed

WordPress Revealed

What you probably don’t know is that the book actually helps me generate a huge list.

In the book, I teach people how to use WordPress based on the feedback and questions I’ve received over the years on my blogs…

To make the most out of the book (both for myself and for the readers), I created some supplementary videos that explain various elements from the book in more depth.

Throughout the entire book I link to a page where people can enter their email address in exchange for viewing my bonus videos.


Now, you’re probably thinking that writing a book is a huge undertaking in order to build a list…

It’s really not.

In fact, I actually recommend writing a shorter book… Maybe 30 pages or so and just selling it on Amazon for $0.99… The goal of this book being to get a ton of downloads and a ton of people opting-in to your email list to get even more information.

It’s super effective, builds your credibility in your niche, gives you a bit of side income from book sales, and builds your list pretty quickly.

2. Develop A WordPress Plugin

This is something really cool that I’ve been experimenting with…

I actually began developing some of my own WordPress plugins about a year ago. I had a night where I couldn’t sleep and, in a manic state, I watched an entire series on Lynda.com about WordPress plugin development. In that same night, I developed a little plugin for Amazon affiliates.

I actually don’t recommend spending 48 hours straight teaching yourself how to develop plugins… In fact, that plugin that I had made could have probably been made for $30 – $50 on oDesk.comΒ in about 4 hours by someone who knew what they were doing… That’s probably the smarter route.

Anyway, I developed this plugin and actually sold it for a while.

However, I recently decided that I’d give it away for free inside of the WordPress plugin repository…

When you’re in your WordPress dashboard and you click plugins and then search for plugins… Those are being pulled from the WordPress plugin repository.

I figured that this would give the plugin more exposure and, if I embedded an opt-in directly inside of the plugin itself, I could build my list with it.

Here’s a picture of the plugin inside the plugin repository on WordPress:

Amazon Scrapper Plugin

You can see that as of this screenshot, it’s had about 131 downloads in about two weeks or so.

The cool thing is that as soon as someone installs this plugin, the admin area where they enter their details looks like this:

Amazon Scrapper Plugin Admin

Notice at the bottom, I have a box where people can “Register For Updates”? That’s simply linked to my GetResponse account. When they opt-in they are added to my list.

So now, every single person who installs my plugin on their WordPress blog, sees an opt-in form…

I bet you haven’t seen anyone else teach you to build a list that way. πŸ™‚

If you’re interested in checking out my plugin for yourself it’s called Amazon Scraper.

3. Leverage Other Site’s Credibility

A couple of years ago I actually hired a developer to make me a WordPress plugin (before I had taught myself anything about development). The idea of the plugin was that I could link people to other people’s sites and “borrow” the credibility of those sites.

We developed a tool called “Viral Bully“.

Viral Bully

The plugin works like this…

1) Create an opt-in form that gives away something for free in exchange for collecting an email.

2) Create a “pretty” link within the plugin to a site with good credibility (Mashable, Amazon, etc…).

3) When you share that new link that you created and people click over to it, the plugin will display the opt-in form in a pop-up on the site that you sent them to.

This plugin gives the impression that the free giveaway is available from the site that you sent them to.

It’s a bit sneaky, yes… However, you can simply set the record straight with your followup sequence.

Once you’ve got them on your list, immediately send them an email telling them that they have joined your mailing list and immediately give them a link to their cool freebie.

It works well and I’ve never had anyone complain about the method in which they were added to the list.

Here’s a quick demo that will explain this tool a bit better:

4. Create A Fiverr Gig

I recently did an experiment on Fiverr.com. I wanted to test selling an info-product through their platform.

I created a series of training videos on how to quickly create a book and then I created a gig page on Fiverr to sell the training.

I was quickly surprised when it sold something like 15 copies in the first day without any promotion.

At this point I decided I’d give my gig a little boost… I figured that if I managed to create some sales by promoting on Facebook and letting my existing list know that the gig existed it would create a snowball effect, boosting my rank on Fiverr and generating even more “organic” sales from their system.

It worked… Over the next several days, I received hundreds of sales on the gig. To this day, the gig still makes about one or two sales per day…

In only dawned on me about a week ago that I wasn’t building a list from this…

I quickly added a link below my training videos where I linked to an opt-in page… I told buyers that I’d give them a free case study on how to generate sales through Fiverr in exchange for their email…

Here’s what the gig looks like:

Fiverr Gig

Here’s what happens when you click “Click Here For More Good Stuff”:

Fiverr Build List

Here’s the result from just about a week…

Fiverr List

I’m kind of kicking myself now for not making that available earlier on when I first launched the Fiverr gig… That list would have probably been 100 or more subscribers fatter by now….

I actually created a little ebook that explains the step-by-step process of how I created and marketed my Fiverr gig. Check out this ebook to read the entire process.

5. Create A Course On Udemy With A Free Coupon

Many people may not be familiar with Udemy yet. I actually did a few blog posts about Udemy a few months back.

I wanted to experiment and see if decent money could be made with a Udemy course.

What we actually ended up discovering is that a massive list could actually be built with Udemy INSANELY fast!

We made some decent money with the course (nothing that I’d really brag about) but the list that it has built has been a very welcomed surprise and huge asset to our business.


What we did was we created the course inside Udemy with some training videos Joe (my partner) and I made on website flipping.

We made the course live and used Udemy’s system to create some free coupons.

We then went on Reddit.com and made a couple of posts about our course and that, for Redditors only, here’s a free coupon code to get full access…

This little campaign absolutely blew us away! 500 free signups within 24 hours!

Just like that… Literally overnight… We had a 500 person email list.

Now… The thing about Udemy is that you don’t actually get those email addresses. They weren’t added to my GetResponse list.

However, Udemy has a system that allows you to email your students whenever you want!

Udemy Message

The cool thing about this is that the emails land in people’s inboxes from Udemy… So it actually looks like Udemy is sending you the email. This is huge for credibility and getting the emails opened.

What you do next is up to you!

We personally email this Udemy list and send them offers for other freebies, at which point they DO opt-in to our GetResponse list.

We’ve also used these announcements to promote other products that we’ve made and to snag some quick sales from our (now close to 2,000 members) list.

Sneaky? Possibly. Effective? Heck Yes!

6. Do A Survey

Did you know that if you have a GetResponse account, you can actually create a survey within GetResponse, collect data, and actually build your list at the same time?

You can create a quick survey that asks several quick questions, then ask for contact details so you can send them some sort of “thank you” for filling it out.

Now, simply ask people on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, etc to do you a favor and quickly fill out the survey… You’ll grab valuable data AND build your list.

If you want to take it even a step further, post your survey on Craigslist in the gigs section in various populated cities. Ask them to fill out the survey for more information about your business. You can even make the survey look similar to a job application type questions to get people from Craigslist filling it out.

The Craigslist method is a bit sneakier but, if you’re in a business that could help others build their own business or learn to make some money, job seekers on Craigslist could be your target market…

Finally, if you want to spend a little money to build your list, promote your survey on Facebook…

Frank Kern did this exact thing… He created a survey, promoted it on Facebook, and then immediately pitched people a product after they completed the survey… He grew his list by thousands and, as far as I know, made like six-figures in the process.

Here’s how to create a survey in GetResponse…
(I recommend going full screen by clicking the button in the bottom right of the video)

7. Add People To A List When They Email You

GetResponse has another little feature that actually allows you to add people to your mailing list by simply having them email you…

They give you an email address like yourcampaign@getresponse.com and, whenever someone emails that address, they are added to your list and your followup sequence…

There are several powerful ways you can use this.

1) Offer a bonus when someone buys an affiliate product… Just email your receipt to mycampaign@getresponse.com – Deliver the bonus in the email followup.

2) Tell people about your services on Facebook, LinkedIn, Craigslist, etc… Tell people to email you for more details. Have more details and your pitch set up inside your email followup sequence.

3) Post an ad on Craigslist. Post that you’re looking for people interested in photography or gardening or airplanes (your niche) and have them email you for more info.

4) Use the email on your business card that you hand out at networking events and seminars. Grab people that you meet in person on a mailing list.

There are so many creative ways to use this!

Here’s a quick video that shows you how to do it in GetResponse:
(I recommend going full screen by clicking the button in the bottom right of the video)

So that’s it… Those are my “weird” ways to grow a mailing list.

I’m constantly experimenting and testing new things and I hope to make a follow-up to this one day with more things I’ve experimented with and seen.

If you’re not already, make sure you’re on my listΒ so that you receive updates and future list-building ideas.

Please share your thoughts and additional ideas in the comments and, if you enjoyed this post, please share it on Facebook or Twitter or wherever you tend to hangout!

Want to learn even more strategies to grow your list and build an online business? Check out Marketing Insiders for just a buck!

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About the author

Matt Wolfe

Matt Wolfe is a father, a husband, an author, a speaker, a teacher and a bit of a hacker. He was one of the original founders of LearnToBlog.com and co-founded Beyond The Hype. Matt is an expert on paid traffic generation, email marketing and affiliate marketing. He's constantly developing new training courses and is currently in development of a new software platform, set to be released at the end of 2015.

  • Great idea with the Fivrr gig.

    Very very interesting.

    • Thanks! I don’t think I’ve seen many of these ways being taught.

  • Almost surprised you don’t have a thank you page for after someone’s first comment on your site you know! πŸ˜‰

    • Smart idea! Maybe I’ll experiment with that. πŸ™‚

      There’s also plugins out there that automatically opt-in anyone who leaves a comment if they check a box saying they’re interested… Both worth testing.

    • Hey charlie or Matt, do you know what plugin may I use to implement a thank you page like that??

      Thanks in advance for any replay πŸ™‚

  • I like the idea of using a Udemy coupon. Very good idea. Thanks for sharing this!

    • Thanks Chris. We were shocked at how well this works!

  • Matt,
    I read the whole thing and will try some, thanks a lot.

    • Glad you enjoyed it! I’m looking forward to hearing about your progress!

  • These are some great ideas! Will have to look into these ideas more, they could be a great way to increase traffic to my website.

    • Building a list could work wonders for your website’s traffic. These are all effective ways to grow a list to generate more traffic.

      Thanks for commenting!

  • Nice set of suggestions. I’m going to try out a couple. The viral bully will be fun to test.

    We have been using Subscriber Magnet – it allows commenters to subscribe via the comment form. It has been very successful on our blogs – doubling the subscribe rate.

    • Awesome Bryan! Great info. I’ll play with subscriber magnet!

  • This was very eye opening and informative. I am starting a Coaching business and getting my book published. This information will definitely be a plus with building a client list. Thanks and God Bless you for sharing.

    • Thanks Cherie!

      Good luck with the new business. Come back and keep us posted on how it goes! πŸ™‚

  • Matt, thanks so much for some great content. There’s 4 methods in here that I would have never thought of doing to build my list, especially the Udemy course. As we all know, having a large responsive email list is the best way to make a consistent income online. This was my first visit to your blog and I’, glad I came across it. There is some really great information here!

    • Thanks Chris! Glad you enjoyed it. We were shocked out how quickly the Udemy list grew. It works extremely well.

  • I am just getting my feet wet with blogging, but I am very excited to implement some of what you offered here. Thank you for the links and videos!

    • Thanks Christina! Let us know how it goes as you start testing some of this!

  • Venkatesh Iyer

    Loved theUdemy and Viral Bully ideas. Really loved them. Am gonna ape you.

    • Glad you liked those… I’m not sure what it means to ape me… Should I be scared? πŸ™‚

  • Brilliant. Creative, effective, and different angles for the approach. Gotta love good content, and you don’t disappoint. Thanks Matt!

  • Catherine Bernier

    Wow! These tips are great. I’m really interested in those growth hacking methods for building a list since they help you to stand out of the crowd. This article also made me subscribed to your list… Hope to receive other great ideas. Thank you Matt!

    • Thanks Catherine! Glad you enjoyed it. List Building is one of my favorite things to do (and blog about) πŸ™‚

  • Gerome

    Nice post Matt πŸ™‚ I thank you for the awesomeness of this post and your generosity for giving this out for free πŸ™‚ by the creativity and the high probability of this working out for other people i can some people would be selling this. Thanks for this Matt πŸ™‚ have it on my to do list now πŸ™‚

    • Thanks Gerome! I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • You’re always on top of it, Matt! Thanks!

    • Thanks Jen! Glad you enjoyed this. πŸ™‚

  • wow thanks for this info matt!. i’m into weirdness haha! i like to think outside the box and find new ways of doing the same old thing. i’ll have to bookmark this and come back to it later. — leigh

    • I love to test things and share the results. πŸ™‚ There’s more where this came from! Thanks for the comment.

  • fabulous fab

    Matt I learn so much just by reading your posts. I dont know how to do this by myself, but still I enjoy it. All of this I think I could start by #6. Let me see if I make it with the help of my tecky daughter. Thanks Matt.

  • Derek Howie

    Love It Love It.. Pleased To partner With You Matt As Ambassador To Huawei } Google and Air New Zealand Making A Better Connected World Derek C Howie Take care out.

  • Flore

    Matt, thanks so much for sharing! Impactful, actionable and said in all honesty, LOVE IT

  • Paul Hupton

    Great post Matt, generous and informative….keep up the good work