In under a year of launching one of my websites, my email list was well over 5,000 email subscribers thanks to the strategies listed below and two essential tools: Elementor Pro and MailerLite.

I am in shock to be able to say 5k+ as I remember the early days when there was absolutely no one signing up. 

As a web designer and helping clients with their sites, I can see firsthand what works and what doesn’t for growing your email list. 

First, by you reading this I can assume that you know the importance of growing your email list. It is by the far the most important and effective marketing and engagement strategy. It’s also one of my 10 recommended strategies to focus on when trying to grow your business online

But how do you get subscribers? Here is exactly what I did to get over 5,000 subscribers in under a year. 

Offer Something Amazing

Offering a freebie or lead magnet is by far the most effective way to grow your list. 

This incentive must be something incredibly valuable. Something that you could potentially even charge for. 

Email marketing tip

The mistake I see so many websites doing is having a subscribe form with the heading saying: Sign Up for Updates. 

I can’t wait for more emails said no one ever. 

Communicate What Else Subscribers are Getting

In addition to your freebie, what can subscribers expect to receive from you? I promised my website visitors that I would be sharing free resources (within this particular website’s niche) and tips delivered to their inbox. Even on the subscribe forms that didn’t highlight the freebie I was offering, the promise of these free and useful resources was enough for people to sign up. 

Well-Timed Popups

By now I was offering a really valuable freebie and communicated what my emails would entail and my subscribers list was now into double digits.

Where the real magic happened is when I started promoting the freebie with a well timed popup. Over 60% of my subscribers came in through this popup. 

I timed the popup to gently appear (tweak your animation so it’s not abrupt and frightening!) 20 seconds after the visitor landed on the page. 

Please don’t ever have a popup immediately when the page loads as that can make for the absolute worst user experience. 

Give the visitor a chance to digest the information on the page. Remember that websites only have 0.05 seconds to make a good first impression and having a popup appear immediately is the exact recipe for an awful impression. Want more tips for a great user experience? Check out my website checklist.

With this delayed popup, is there a chance visitors could leave before the popup appears? Maybe, but they are most likely not interested in your site and you want engaged subscribers on your list.

Designing Your Popup

The popup should be professional and visually appealing. It should show and explain what the user gets. This is the exact popup that skyrocketed my subscribe list:

popup example

Change your button text so instead of subscribe, it says “Get the Free…” Also your content should use appealing copy such as “get instant access.” Bonus tip: state that you won’t spam and that they can opt-out at anytime. 

I recommend only asking for two pieces of information on your subscribe form: first name and email. First name allows you to personalize your emails instead of the generic Hello Friend greeting and can lead to better long term engagement. 

Multiple Places to Subscribe 

On every page on this particular site I’ve been referring to, I had a subscribe form right under the main image before the content and a subscribe form under the content as well as the pop up. These subscribe forms all offered something different so I can appeal to different audiences. 

Here is an example of a sign up form on my site:

cheat sheet sign up

Using these techniques, approximately 20-30 people (about 10% of my website traffic) visitors sign up for my emails every day. 

Custom Automations

After a visitor subscribes, I have it set up that depending on which form they signed up to, they receive an email specific to that form with links to download their specific freebie. 

I do all this with the help of Elementor Pro and MailerLite

My automations are set up so that subscribers receive an instant welcome email with a link to their freebie. Then 24 hours later they will receive another email filled with valuable information that would be helpful to them (no sales pitch – just value and establishing trust). The next automation is an email that goes out 48 hours later properly introducing myself and sharing personal information so that the reader gets to know me. Then 72 hours later, the subscriber goes into my main queue where they will receive my regular updates and I’m sure there is a nicer why to say this but sales pitches. By the time a sales pitch is received, there is already the know, like and trust factor established.

Promote Your List

In addition to trying to convert visitors into subscribers, you can look for other ways to promote your email list. 

Here are 5 ways to get more traffic 

I also had success with blog hops and and special promo days. It’s so important to connect with others in your niche. Remember: “community over competition. You never know what partnership opportunities might be available. 

The Tools I Use 

WordPress – If your site is not on WordPress you may be facing limits on how many forms you can have on your site. 

Hello Theme – using a custom theme such as Hello, you can make as many subscribe forms as you would like. Hello is free, completely customizable, the fastest theme out there, completely responsive and the only theme I ever use.

Elementor Pro – for forms and popups, Elementor Pro is incredibly easy to create subscribe forms and integrate them with your email marketing platform. 


If you’re looking for the most user-friendly, feature-rich email marketing system out there, I highly recommend MailerLite. It’s free for up to 1,000 subscribers and so easy to use.

They have amazing support via chat and an automation tool where you can set up an incredible email experience for your audience.

Honestly, I’ve used other email marketing systems and they are slow, clunky, complicated and expensive.

MailerLite is fast, intuitive, inexpensive and designed with the both the user who is creating the campaign and the customer in mind.

Some amazing features of MailerLite include:

  • 30 day free trial for premium features
  • Free plan includes 1,000 subscribers and 12,000 emails a month
  • Incredible workflow automations where you can customize the customer’s journey
  • Ability to segment out your audience
  • Fantastic stats and tracking abilities

Keep Your Subscribers Happy

As a final word, it’s one thing to get subscribers but once you have them you want to keep and nuture them. 

I’m thrilled that I have an unsubscribe rate of 0.01 and have met the most wonderful people from my email list. 


Growing your email list can be a slow process but have patience, work on what you can control and remember: a constant drip of water wears away the stone.