Expand Your Platform by Growing Your Email Subscriber List

Michael Hyatt Guest Blogger: Michael Hyatt

For an author, one thing is becoming increasingly important in today’s publishing world.

It’s a PLATFORM. Don’t get me wrong, great content is still primary but great content + a great platform is the recipe for success that you really need.

Publishers are demanding it and even if you’re considering self-publishing, you still need a platform if you expect to get seen or heard.

So let me say this… stop worrying about growing more traffic for your blog or website. You only need to focus on growing one thing—your subscriber list. Why? Because your subscribers are your hardcore fans; they are your brand evangelists. They are the difference between growth by addition and growth by multiplication. Here are a few tips.


7 Strategies for Growing Your Email Subscriber List


1. Generate content worth reading.

I’ve said it before, but I can’t emphasize it enough. No one will subscribe to anything they don’t want to read. You have to write quality content—and leave readers wanting more

2. Use a dedicated list subscription system.

You can use Google’s free FeedBurner service. In fact, I do use that for RSS. But it doesn’t provide the same level of control you get with paid services like MailChimp or AWeber. I use MailChimp. It’s a little pricey, but I love the control.

3. Make your sign-up form highly visible.

At the very least, it should be “above the fold” (on the upper half of the page) preferably in the righthand sidebar. Take a look at how the sign-up form is positioned on the CopyBlogger or ProBlogger sites.

4. Offer an incentive for subscribing.

This is where creativity comes in. A good example is Hugh MacLeod, who draws cartoons. When his doodles became popular, he started expanding his reach through his blog, gapingvoid. If you subscribe, you get to start five mornings a week with “Hugh’s Daily Cartoon” absolutely free. Hugh describes it as “a wee chuckle in your inbox, to start your day off on the right foot (so to speak).” This “free” concept was huge for me. I wrote an e-book called Creating Your Personal Life Plan and offered it free to anyone who would sign up. If you want to consider doing something similar, you could start with a series of posts you have written. Just format it as an e-book.

5. Design a branded e-mail template.

For my purposes, I hired a developer to design an e-mail template in MailChimp. If you do the same thing, remember it is important that the branding elements match your blog. Built-in social media buttons are a must, so people can share your posts with their friends and followers. You want your subscribers to feel they are getting a high-quality product.

6. Follow up with your subscribers.

I use MailChimp’s auto-responder feature to send out a welcome message after they confirm their subscription. This is where you thank them for subscribing and tell them what to expect. After three weeks, send out another message, again thanking them and inviting them to share your posts with their friends. By this time, hopefully, they have found value in what you write.

7. Remind your readers to sign up.

My pop-up disappears after the first three times a reader visits. (I think it gets annoying after this.) I recommend you insert a sign-up form at the bottom of each post. This serves as a reminder once they have finished reading the post. It may take some people several posts before they get comfortable subscribing.

Do you have an email list? Are you maximizing your opportunity with it?

# # #

platform-get noticed in a noisy worldMichael Hyatt is not only one of the top bloggers in the world, he is also the Chairman and former CEO of Thomas Nelson Publishers. He knows publishing inside and out, and what it takes for an author to create a platform that matters (he’s done it himself).

Check out his new book Platform: Get Noticed in a Noisy World. Michael is currently offering a special in which he is offering valuable bonuses if you order the book by May 25th.


Rachelle Gardner

Literary agent at Gardner Literary. Coffee & wine enthusiast (not at the same time) and dark chocolate connoisseur. I've worked in publishing since 1995 and I love talking about books!


  1. Sharon Dow on May 29, 2012 at 5:28 PM

    Thank you so much, Michael! This is new territory for me so I will read your blog again to absorb the information. I have a website (and facebook) and do write a blog, but a platform is a new concept!

  2. Dave Smith on May 27, 2012 at 2:40 PM

    I bought the book on May 25, but now can’t find the email address in which to send my receipt. Could someone help me?

  3. Brianna on May 26, 2012 at 9:47 PM

    I don’t currently have an e-mail list or a newsletter, but it’s definitely been on my mind, so these tips are helpful. Thanks for sharing.

  4. P. J. Casselman on May 25, 2012 at 8:07 PM

    Hi Laura, you’re actually doing the necessary work to promote yourself. You have integrated your blog/Twitter/Facebook and interact with your followers.

    Since I’d just be tossing you information I learned from Rachelle and Janet Reid, I’ll refer you to a great post Rachelle did on the subject back in 2009.


  5. Kathleen Friesen on May 25, 2012 at 2:09 PM

    Thanks, Michael, for this info and the book offer. I have ordered your book, hoping it will explain even further the steps needed for building this all-important platform.

    As a 58-year-old first-time novelist, the concept of building a fan base from scratch makes me want to climb back on my dinasour and return to the jungle of prehistory where I belong. But I want to get my book out there, and that means I’ve got to try. So here goes…

  6. Darlene L Turner on May 24, 2012 at 5:44 PM

    Awesome blog, thanks for sharing Michael. Lots to learn. Wow. I also just ordered your book. Can’t wait to get it. Thanks!

  7. Martha Ramirez on May 24, 2012 at 4:26 PM

    I just ordered your Platform book, Michael! Can’t wait to get it and the goodies with it. Here’s wishing you much more success and that you make it on the best seller’s list! YOU SO DESERVE it!!

  8. Jillian Kent on May 24, 2012 at 3:21 PM

    Since I write novels set during the Regency era and there are many good blogs out there with Regency content it’s not always necessary to blog about the time period is it? I hope not.

    I’m also a full time counselor and try to think of ways to utilize my expertise in that area as well. What can I and others in similar situations do to broaden our abilities to reach readers?

    Thanks for your expertise and being willing to share it.

  9. Jillian Kent on May 24, 2012 at 2:59 PM

    Hi Michael,
    I ordered your your book earlier this week and listened to the first video in the awesome freebie stuff. I think you’ve got a winner on your hands. Love today’s post. How’d you get so smart?

  10. Lindsay Harrel on May 24, 2012 at 1:11 PM

    Great info, Michael! Thank you. 🙂

  11. Cristy Fossum on May 24, 2012 at 12:37 PM

    So practical and helpful. My fiction writing lends itself to platform through blog, FB, etc. and I’m gradually developing one–about 300 email subscribers now. Hearing the importance as well as the how-to of expanding the list is great. Thanks, Michael and Rachelle!

  12. Gary on May 24, 2012 at 12:02 PM

    Thanks Michael for the straightforward list. The heavyweight of the seven is the most elusive. Content For me is the challenge of trying to blend photography and writing. it’s a bit like chasing two rabbits and catching none. So seven rabbits it is, The good news is,the other six on the list seem more catchable.

  13. Jennifer Major on May 24, 2012 at 11:39 AM

    I feel like a flaming Luddite, only with good hair and my own power tools. I’d better put away the crayons and start playing ball(or hockey!) with the movers and Shakers.

    Although, I doubt the Shakers played ball…


    • P. J. Casselman on May 26, 2012 at 12:53 AM

      I think if you ran with the shakers, you could start building a great platform. They were really good at woodworking…just sayin’. 😀

      • Jennifer Major on May 26, 2012 at 9:08 AM

        HAhahahaa!!Well played Casselman, very good! Maybe they share tools too?

  14. Susie Klein on May 24, 2012 at 11:31 AM

    Thank you for the great tips. I’ve wondered if the email subscribers were as important as the blog “Followers”.

  15. Joan Cimyotte on May 24, 2012 at 11:29 AM

    I think I need your book. I’m on the right path, but I just need more help. Thanks Michael.

  16. Katie Ganshert on May 24, 2012 at 10:53 AM

    Holy cow bells, I need to bookmark this post. I’ve never really focused on my email subscribers before!

    • Sandie Bricker on May 24, 2012 at 10:54 AM


  17. Sandie Bricker on May 24, 2012 at 10:53 AM


    Michael, is this done through MailChimp, too? If not, how do you create a pop-up like this?

    • Sandie Bricker on May 24, 2012 at 10:53 AM

      Sorry. My copy/paste didn’t show up. 🙂

      My pop-up disappears after the first three times a reader visits. (I think it gets annoying after this.) I recommend you insert a sign-up form at the bottom of each post.

    • Michael Hyatt on May 24, 2012 at 11:45 AM

      I had my web developer custom code it.

      BUT … there are several WordPress plugins that do it now. Search for “catfish WordPress plugin.” Yep, that’s what these are called—”catfish” pop-ups, because they rise from below. 😉

  18. Laura in Texas on May 24, 2012 at 10:44 AM

    Helpful post as always. I just received my copy of Platform today and am looking forward to reading it.

  19. Krista Phillips on May 24, 2012 at 10:42 AM

    Great tips! I hadn’t really thought about the value of having a “subscriber” list. I’m still wrapping my head around the purpose for me specifically. I do offer people to subscribe to my blog via feedburner, so it e-mails them my blog post each time. I haven’t really “advertised” it though, and have never used the e-mail list for anything.

    Thanks for the food for thought!

  20. Jan Udlock on May 24, 2012 at 10:40 AM

    I’m should be getting my copy tomorrow in the mail. Can’t wait.

    And I have to say that I’m very impressed that the book was so reasonably priced. I thought it would be around $20 – $25 but it was around $14.

    And it’s really nice to see a Christian being so professional in the business world. Very impressive.

  21. Cynthia Herron on May 24, 2012 at 10:21 AM

    Great tips and an awesome book!

    What a wonderful encourager you are!

  22. Jeanne T on May 24, 2012 at 9:44 AM

    Thank you, Michael, for this invaluable information. It will be very helpful for me in the coming days. I appreciate your wisdom shared here and on your blog.

  23. Sue Harrison on May 24, 2012 at 8:56 AM

    Like many I’m technically challenged. Although readers can subscribe to my blog posts, they have to look hard for the location to do so. And I don’t have a clue how to change that. I’m determined to figure it out though! I love the idea of incentives and I think I have an idea about that…

    • Sue Harrison on May 24, 2012 at 8:57 AM

      And most importantly, thank you so much, Michael, for this post full of information and ideas!

  24. Lawrence Parlier on May 24, 2012 at 8:08 AM

    I have 0 budget for mailchimps, blog baboons or RSS howler monkeys(Sorry, no disrespect-still waiting for coffee to brew.) So if the book is all about dropping large coin for modest returns I’d like to know before I buy it.
    I have a small loyal following for my blog (i.e. friends and family)but I can’t get them to subscribe. They read it when I post notices to facebook and usually comment there instead of on the blog itself. My trouble is reaching out and attracting readers from the public at large

    • Michael Hyatt on May 24, 2012 at 10:40 AM

      MailChimp is free for the first few thousand subscribers.

      In my own case, I never let my investment get ahead of the return. The biggest investment initially is the effort required.


      • Lawrence Parlier on May 24, 2012 at 10:59 AM

        Didn’t mean to sound snarky this morning, but I get upset when I see yet another thing seeking to pull at my pocket.
        I have no problem investing time……

  25. Rose Gardener on May 24, 2012 at 7:59 AM

    Excellent post. I am learning how to attract and keep followers on a private blog before launching into the public blog arena and at present am mainly ‘getting my name recognised’ by social networking and commenting on other peoples’ blogs and writing. The most irksome things are to have difficulty subscribing to a well-written blog I’d like to follow and no Twitter and Facebook buttons to ease my sharing (networking). When I finally launch my writer blog publicly, I hope to have picked up enough hints like these not to loose potential followers through lack of knowledge or care.

  26. Martha Ramirez on May 24, 2012 at 4:22 AM

    Btw you sold me on your platform book! I’m one of your subscribers and recently received a notice. Sounds awesome!

  27. Martha Ramirez on May 24, 2012 at 4:11 AM

    What an awesome post! Thank you so much!

  28. Gabrielle Meyer on May 24, 2012 at 3:26 AM

    Great tips! Thanks for the advice. I’m looking forward to hearing a response to Dineen & Melissa’s questions.

  29. K.L. Parry on May 24, 2012 at 2:36 AM


  30. Melissa K. Norris on May 24, 2012 at 2:33 AM

    Do you have your new subscribers email sent out on automaton? Like, Dineen, I’m curious how you do this. Is it through Mailchimp?

    Platform is a great resource. I need to go back through it with pen in hand. First time I just devoured it!

    • Michael Hyatt on May 24, 2012 at 10:38 AM

      Yes, I use MailChimp. Thanks.

  31. Dineen Miller on May 24, 2012 at 2:28 AM

    I’m a little confused (and technically challenged) as to how your bringing your subscriber list (I assumed you mean from your blog) to your newsletter service. Would love it if someone could clarify that one for me. LOL! Don’t want to miss out on a great tip. Now off to think of a new freebie resource…

    • Michael Hyatt on May 24, 2012 at 10:37 AM

      You can hook your blog’s RSS feed up to your newsletter service. (This procedure is different depending on the service.) So, for example, whenever I post a new blog, MailChimp automatically sends out a “newsletter” (that particular post) to everyone who has subscribed.

      Hope that helps.

      • David Todd on May 24, 2012 at 12:31 PM

        For me it would need to be even more basic. What is an RSS feed? I’ve studied this, and can find no consensus as to what it is. If I offer an RSS feed on my blog, does that mean people who subscribe will see my blog posts in an e-mail, rather than actually going to my blog? How does that help with Internet visibility?

        • Michael Hyatt on May 24, 2012 at 1:31 PM

          FIrst of all, the value of subscriptions is that people don’t have to remember to check your blog. They can have it delivered to their doorstep, so to speak. It’s just like a newspaper. If you were a newspaper publisher and had to depend on people remembering to buy the paper each day at a grocery story, you would never succeed. It’s too tough to remember. Instead, you allow people to subscribe and deliver it to them.

          The same thing is true of your blog. You make a big investment of time and creative effort to get people to visit your blog the first time. But unless you have a way to turn them into subscribers—on that first visit—you risk losing them forever.

          RSS and e-mail are two different methods of subscribing (though they are related). In my opinion, you need to offer both. RSS is for people who use a RSS reader like Google Reader. This technology essentially “pre-packages” your content and makes it available to people who want to consume a lot of blog or news content without bouncing from one interface to another.

          Watch this simple video to understand Google Reader. It’s just one minute long:


          E-mail is another option. This allows people to provide their e-mail address and receive your blog posts in their e-mail inbox. Every time you post something new, they get a new e-mail. And, of course, they can unsubscribe at any time.

          Hope that helps.

  32. P. J. Casselman on May 24, 2012 at 2:15 AM

    You’re Michael Hyatt, so please allow me to preface this by saying, “Wow, dude, you’re like so awesome!” Sorry, but I feel like Spicoli in your presence. 🙂

    Thanks for the advice! I’m a fiction writer, but platform can’t hurt when publishing a newbie like me is such a huge risk.

    Anyway, I’m a big fan and love following your blog and Twitter. Thanks for being such an inspiration!

    • Michael Hyatt on May 24, 2012 at 10:36 AM

      Thanks, P.J.

    • Laura Hurlburt on May 25, 2012 at 6:32 PM


      Out of curiosity, how *do* you handle platform as a fiction writer?

      I’ve written a YA fantasy I’m currently passing around to those friends of mine I know will tell me the truth before I even think of querying anyone. Other than these sweet people, no one knows me. No one knows my work.

      But, I’m out there in cyberspace in the appropriate venues (Twitter, FB, and a writer’s blog) because I know you’re supposed to be out there.

      I’d LOVE any wisdom you could pass along!

      • P. J. Casselman on May 25, 2012 at 8:09 PM

        (Woops, this was at the bottom in a post by accident 🙂 )

        Hi Laura, you’re actually doing the necessary work to promote yourself. You have integrated your blog/Twitter/Facebook and interact with your followers.

        Since I’d just be tossing you information I learned from Rachelle and Janet Reid, I’ll refer you to a great post Rachelle did on the subject back in 2009.


        • Laura Hurlburt on May 26, 2012 at 12:28 AM

          Thanks, P.J. I appreciate it!!

  33. Natalie Sharpston on May 24, 2012 at 1:20 AM

    Michael, I bought PLATFORM today from Barnes and Noble (online) for $13.89 + tax – and can’t wait to receive it in the mail. In the meantime, I took advantage of your crazy generous Platform bonuses (available digitally). I burned the audio book to CD so I can listen during my commute tomorrow. Can’t wait!

    Thanks for the practical, business-focused, real-world information.

    Ya’all gotta buy Platform by May 25 to receive the bonuses! 🙂

    • Aimee L. Salter on May 24, 2012 at 2:10 AM

      Seriously? Is this a marketing person?

      • Natalie Sharpston on May 24, 2012 at 3:06 AM

        Sorry Amy. Didn’t mean that to sound so sales-y. I’m in no way connected to Michael Hyatt.

        I was just jazzed about how much I got for $13.89. I went to a writing conference this past weekend and learned a lot – I’m kinda on a high from that and want to keep learning everything I can. 🙂 This book seems like a good source.

    • Michael Hyatt on May 24, 2012 at 10:35 AM

      Thanks, Natalie. Only today and tomorrow left on the bonuses!

  34. Cheryl Barker on May 24, 2012 at 1:15 AM

    Yes, I have an email list (for my inspirational newsletter Life Notes), but I need to figure out an ongoing incentive for subscribing. I do an annual Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway, but that catches only the people who visit the blog during the giveaway time period. I need to give this some thought and see if I can start growing my subscriber list at a faster rate. Thanks for the tips, Michael.

  35. Andrew Budek-Schmeisser on May 24, 2012 at 1:11 AM

    Wow – I learned a lot, and at exactly the right time – Thanks!

  36. Joanne Bischof on May 24, 2012 at 12:47 AM

    Very helpful information! Thanks so much for sharing, Michael.