Change Catalyst with Shanna Mann: Strategy & Support for Sane Self-Employment

≡ Menu

Q&A: The Fundamentals of Growing Your List

  1. Your Emotions Have Something to Tell You
  2. My Art Is My Business– And Now Both Are Stuck!
  3. Advice for First-Time Entrepreneurs
  4. Q&A: How Much is Too Much for Professional Development?
  5. Advice for People ‘Living the Dream’
  6. How Do I Make Good Decisions about Investing In My Business?
  7. The Non-Skeevy Way For Introverts To Make “Friends” Online
  8. “How do I get to know people without feeling competitive?”
  9. “I need to charge more. Is this a valid reason to raise my prices?”
  10. Q&A: The Fundamentals of Growing Your List
  11. Where Do I Spend Money on My Microbiz Until It’s Successful?
  12. Q&A: How Do I Know When I’m Making Enough Money To Hire Help?
  13. Q&A: When Will It All Hang Together?
  14. 3 Times When You Don’t Have To Answer The Four Questions (and 1 Where You Do)
  15. Help! A Client Called My Bluff! What Do I Do Now?

The #insidemymicrobiz experiment has generated a lot of good questions from readers, so I’ll be sharing these Q&As on Fridays. Got a question? Hit me up on Twitter or email me: [shanna] at [this domain].

Shanna, you know what I’ve always wondered?  (since you asked)

Okay, on every street corner is some sort of online business consultant telling us how to market to our email list.  Do this, do that, don’t EVER do that….   Or even better, how to “double your list overnight with these easy steps!”  Or how to make six figures in your first six months by properly talking to your subscriber list or Facebook followers. You know the type.

But what if your list/Facebook followers’ list is a puny 27 subscribers and half of those are related to you?  And what if you’re NOT in the business of telling people how they can make money on the web? (and don’t want to be?)  Say you’re….a jewelry creator?

I’d be interested in the starting steps of building a list of people who I can help, and who want to learn what I have to teach.  I’ll be watching your experiment with interest!


Hi Margaret,

Good question. Here’s the thing about a lot of entrepreneurial/ marketing services and resources– they are purpose-agnostic. They don’t really care what business you have BUT they assume that you’re in the business to make as much money as possible– that money is your primary motivation. And if money is your primary motivation, then you’re going to go into the businesses where money flows freely— usually a business that promises to make customers healthier, sexier, or more money.

But for most microbiz owners, money is NOT their primary motivator. Sometimes they think it is, but it’s not. The only think money is the primary motivator because they’re not doing it for free 🙂 But usually it’s something else. Joy of the craft. Independence. Having an impact on the world. Doing the Thing that only they can Do. Getting paid to do these things is a means to an end, and a secondary motivation at best.

For most microbiz owners, money is not their primary motivator.

That’s why all that advice you’re talking about sucks. Because it’s not speaking to your primary motivation.

As a jewelry artist, I’m not sure where ‘helping’ and ‘teaching’ come in. [Edit: Turns out jewelry was just an example.] Worthy goals, certainly. But I’m not sure where the common thread is. If you plan to teach jewelry making, you have in effect two hugely divergent audiences: Makers, who want to learn what you know, and Jewelry Buyers.

Makers are a lot more fun to market to, because they’re just like you, and they interact a lot more, and you can talk shop with each other. But Buyers, while harder to market to, have an easier time parting with money. Makers are going to look at most of what you do and figure they can do it themselves more cheaply. So of the two, you’d make more money with the Buyers, but only you know what your primary motivation is.

The rudiments of growing your list is this: lure people onto a mailing list by hook or crook– bribe them however you can. When they are on your mailing list, make them happy they joined. Your mailing list is a bit like a house party… you can’t leave them on their own too long, or people start to forget why they came. So interact with them; send behind-the-scenes photos. Tell them what you’re working on and the story behind it. AND OFFER THEM THE OPPORTUNITY TO BUY.

Most people either skip that last part, or go entirely too overboard. But a piece of jewelry is a relatively small splurge. You feel good every time you look at it, and it doesn’t involve any extra work on the part of the buyer, unlike buying coaching or copywriting or something.

There are LOTS of nuances, but those are the rudiments.

For instance, there are a ton of different thoughts and strategies for what to talk to your list about. But that’s super-specific to the business and the person running the business, and I don’t know you well enough to speculate. The business of sign-up incentives is something else that has a lot of words devoted to it, but it really doesn’t matter too-too much. Offer people something you think they would like for its own sake, in the hopes that they attribute the same value to being on your list. (In the beginning, you don’t even have to offer them anything. Just tell them they’ll get a first look at your designs when they go on sale, and that will be enough for your fans.)

Thanks for sending in this question. I enjoyed answering it!


Margaret Terrian is a  a web designer and a food writer.  Dog whisperer.  Organic farmer.  And multipotentialite, in case it wasn’t obvious.