How to Grow Your Network and Your Income by Creating an Email Newsletter (in under 20 Minutes)

One of the best things I’ve done for my business is starting an email newsletter.

Now, I know what you’re thinking.

“But John…how can I start an email newsletter if I don’t have any time as it is?”

Or maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t need another thing on my to-do list.”

Or maybe right now you’re saying, “But John … I’m pinned under a very heavy appliance; how can I start an email newsletter if I can’t even move my arms?”

Great questions, everybody.

First of all, kudos to all my readers who are reading this while trapped under heavy appliances. You know who you are. Love you guys.

Secondly, I don’t care what your objection is to starting an email newsletter.

Because in this post I’m going to show you why you need to start an email newsletter today, how it can grow your network, influence and your income, and I’m even going to show you the exact steps you can take to set up your own email newsletter in under 20 minutes.

So let’s start at the beginning. Why start an email newsletter? Isn’t that so, like, 1999?

Why You Should Start an Email Newsletter

An email newsletter is a cheap, effective, and scaleable way to grow your network, your influence, and your income — if you do it right.

Here’s the really good news. An email newsletter actually doesn’t take any more time, beyond the initial set-up. In fact, it’s saved me loads of time.

You can even do it right now, following my step-by-step instructions below, in under 20 minutes.

If you do it the right way, starting an email newsletter is an amazing way to turbo-charge your business and generate leads online. It’s like rocket fuel for business.

For example, a buddy of mine has a fashion-related website with a fairly large (over 40,000 subscribers) email list. He was on a family vacation when his family’s car broke down and they were stuck in one podunk town for a few days waiting for a repair that cost over $3,000.

Rather than sulking, he sent an email to his list releasing a new product he’d already developed, and made $8,000 from that one email.

If this sounds like some “get rich quick” scheme or too good to be true, it’s not. You do have to put in work at the outset, but the email newsletter and the email list allows your efforts to snowball over time.

So how do you do it? I will explain below exactly how you can set up your own email newsletter. I also have 3 videos below showing you the inside of my Aweber account (the email marketing service I use) demonstrating some of the techniques and strategies I use, and you can use too.

But first, I want to explain why you need to start your own email newsletter, no matter what line of work you’re in or what kind of business you have (or even if you don’t have a business yet).

6 Reasons You Should Start an Email Newsletter Today

Here are six reasons why you should start an email newsletter today:

  1. It’s Easy. Starting an email newsletter is easy as pie, and yet once it’s set up, you benefit for years to come. You can “set it and forget it.”
  2. You Meet New People & Grow Your Network. Every morning I wake up and have emails from new people who are on my email list. I meet new people and build wonderful relationships with my subscribers.
  3. Your Newsletter Frees Up Your Time. If you set up your email newsletter properly using “autoresponder” or followup messages, then your emails go out automagically while you’re freed up to do other things. It means less time in the office, not more.
  4. It’s a Scaleable Way to Grow Your Business. An email newsletter and an email list really allows you to scale your business, without having to work 24/7. This is what got me most excited about setting up a newsletter.
  5. You can Promote Products and Services. As long as you lead with providing value, then you can also promote your own products and services. For example, I use and love Contactually CRM program for managing relationships and strengthening weak ties, and I’ve sent detailed reviews of Contactually to my email list. As a result, some of my subscribers have signed up for Contactually’s free trial. I’ve earned commissions for those who sign up, which does not increase their costs. (Check out my video review of how I use Contactually here.) I also use my email newsletter to share and promote my own products.
  6. Your Newsletter Will Grow Your Income. As long as you are not spamming people and you provide value, then your income can grow as your email list grows in size.

Now let’s talk about the three basic types of messages you can send with your email newsletter.

The Three Types of Email Newsletter Messages

The first thing you should understand is that there three primary types of email newsletter messages which you can use. You can use one or two or all three.

The three primary types of messages are:

1. Autoresponder or “Followup” Messages. Autoresponder or “followup” messages are pre-written emails which are set to go out at designated times and intervals, depending on when a subscriber signed up.

For example, if a subscriber signs up on Monday, you may have designated emails set to go out on Day 1 (Monday), then on Day 3 (Wednesday) and Day 5 (Friday) and so on. It allows you to educate your subscriber without overwhelming them, and to remain in contact over time.

The first autoresponder message is always a welcome email that is sent out immediately after the person clicks the confirmation link in the first email that they receive.

An unlimited amount of additional followup messages can be pre-written and setup to be sent out in certain time intervals that you can customize.

So for example, I have about 25 pre-written emails with my best advice, strategies, videos that are timed to be sent out every few days, and stretching out over numerous months. You really want to knock your subscribers’ socks off so they really want to open your emails. I continue adding new followup messages to expand my “autoresponder series”.

2. Broadcast Messages. These are one-time email messages sent out to your list. When you have new things to share, you have a built-in audience you can share it with.

3. Blog Broadcasts. You can set up your account to send an email out to all of your subscribers whenever you update your blog. This is convenient for both your subscribers and for you. I have used blog broadcasts in the past but now that my list is larger, I prefer to send out customized messages rather than a large broadcast that is simply forwarding my blog post.

Now that we’ve covered the three types of email messages you can send to your list, let’s move to talking about the 6 things you absolutely must do in order to make an email newsletter a success.

Then I’ll walk you through how to set up your newsletter.

6 Things You Must Do When You Set Up Your Newsletter

baby boy typingSetting up an email newsletter can be confusing. So I’m going to make it easy.

After you set up your newsletter using the instructions below, here are 6 things you must do later.

Don’t freak out if this looks intimidating.

If you’re busy, you can do some of these things weeks or months later (like I did).

1.  Set up Autoresponders or “Followups.” You absolutely should set up numerous autoresponder messages to go out over a few weeks or months. These messages are different for every business, but they should educate your prospects about what you do. As I mentioned above, I have about 25 set to go out every couple of days.

2.  Create a Freebie Download to Get People to Sign Up. Almost no one signs up for a “free newsletter” these days because most people are afraid they’ll get spammed.

But if you create a focused free report, ebook, or guide, people will sign up for your newsletter to get it. Don’t make my mistake of putting too much thought into this. Just make a 3-4 page free report or guide that is focused like a laser on your target market and offer it for people who sign up. (Here’s my freebie.)

3.  Promote Your Products or Services to Your List. Of course, this is a great way to increase your sales. However, be careful when promoting your own products or services. Do not spam your list or else you won’t get much return.  I follow the advice of an email marketing specialist named Ben Settle who coaches his followers to educate and inform via email first, but then to promote their product or service later.

4.  Share Your Old Content. If you have excellent old blog posts, videos or audios that are buried on your blog somewhere, you can share these using your autoresponder and your subscribers can continue to benefit from them.

5.  Survey Your Subscribers. One great source of market research is by setting up follow up messages to survey your audience. You can either do this very informally, by simply asking your subscribers in one of your follow up messages “what they are struggling with,” or you can even have a full-fledged survey you distribute via follow up message, providing you with a steady stream of ideas.

6.  Interview VIPs and Send the Interviews to Your List. Interviewing VIPs expands your network, gives you credibility-by-association, and provides value to your subscribers. I interview successful entrepreneurs, business owners and authors for my podcast and I email my list to share these interviews with them.

How to Start Your Own Email Newsletter (in Under 20 Minutes)

OK, now we’re going to set up your newsletter.

Setting up your own email newsletter is not difficult at all, even if you don’t consider yourself very “techy.” You can probably do everything below in about 20 minutes.

Setting up your own email newsletter is a tiny investment of time up-front to grow your network, influence and income. Click to tweet.

Step 1: Signup For an Aweber Account

There are a number of options when it comes to signing up with an email marketing service, but Aweber is one of the most popular and the one I use. I’ve used numerous other services and I think Aweber is the best.

I have been really impressed with how easy it is to use, and their outstanding customer service.

Here’s a short video showing you what the inside of my Aweber account looks like:


(I am an affiliate for Aweber because I use and like their service so much. So if you sign up using my link, I’ll get a small commission – without increasing your cost.)

So I highly recommend you sign up for Aweber. They even have a free trial so you can try it out, risk-free. There’s no reason not to try it out.

You can also use the same Aweber account to manage several lists from different websites, if you like.

Step 2: Set up Your First Email List

After you register for your account and sign in, you’ll be taken to your control panel. Now, we need to set up your list.

First, click on “Manage Lists”:

Screen Shot 2015-06-04 at 5.17.59 PM

Next, fill in the settings for your list. The “From” Name, and “Email Address” are all things that your newsletter subscribers will see when they get your emails. The “List Name” and the “List Description” are mainly for you for internal purposes.

Lastly, the “Contact Address” is the address that is in your account settings. It will be shown at the bottom of all of your outgoing emails, as required by the CAN-SPAM Act.

If you don’t have a business address, you can simply insert your home address, but just be aware that whenever you send an email to your subscribers, your address will show up – so you may want to use an address other than your home address if possible (such as a P.O. Box).

Here’s what mine looks like:

basic info

Step 3: Personalize your List

Next, you can personalize your list with a few details about yourself or your business. You can insert your website and your logo. Here’s what mine looks like:

company branding

Step 4: Bypass Your Confirmed Opt-In Email

Aweber allows you to require people to click on a confirmation email before they are added to your email list. This is also called “double opt-in,” because people have to basically confirm they want to “opt-in” to your email list two times before they will be added.

The confirmed opt-in email contains a link that is used to confirm that the person who signed up is indeed a human and is someone who is interested in joining your list.

I disabled this for all of my lists because a number of people will never click on the link in the confirmation email. So it slows down your email list growth (which is a bad thing, right?).

Before I made this decision, I asked two email marketing experts – AWeber  and Noah Kagan – and they both confirmed that the world would not implode if I disable double-opt-in.

Aweber says you only really need to use “Confirmed opt-in” emails if you have a high rate of people marking your emails as “spam,” but this should not be a problem for you.

I have been told that requiring double opt-in does NOT increase email deliverability rates.

Step 5: Write Your Welcome Message (Follow Up #1)

Next, you need to draft your first follow up message. This first followup message is always sent out immediately after someone subscribes, so it’s good to put some kind of welcome message within this email.

In it, you might want to include:

  • A formal welcome and thank you for signing up for your newsletter.
  • Any links to any freebies that you might be giving away.
  • What to expect in the newsletter (i.e, what your subscribers have to look forward to).
  • Again ask your subscribers to “white list” your email address.
  • A way to contact you.

To create your first followup, click on the “Messages” tab, then “Follow Up Series.”

Then hover your mouse over “Create a Follow Up” and select “Drag and Drop Email Builder.”

Now, you can choose from a variety of different templates. I generally only use “Plain” template because I like to keep my emails feeling more personal and less like a big business.

I find this encourages more subscribers to engage in conversation with me via email. However, it’s up to you what format you want to use for your emails. AWeber has numerous very dynamic and beautiful email templates.

I suggest using the Drag and Drop Email Builder (and not the “Plain text” emails) because doing so will enable you to get statistics on open rates, which will eventually help you to figure out what your subscribers most want to learn from you.

Here’s a short video from the inside of my Aweber account showing what this looks like:

Step 7: Do a Test Message to Yourself

After you finish writing any email, you should always send yourself a test message first so you can see exactly what your subscribers are receiving from you, and so you can re-read your emails and check for any errors too.

When you click on “Test”, you’ll have the ability to send a test email to any email address that you want. If after you receive your email you want to update or change a few things, you can always go back and click on your message to edit it. Make sure you save it for any changes to actually take place.

Step 7: Set Up Your Opt-In / Sign-up Form

Next, you’ll need to set up a web form on your website where you can collect email addresses.

If you’re not very “techy,” then you may want to have a web designer or developer do this for you.

Aweber has numerous different templates, and as you get more advanced you can actually easily split-test these forms to figure out what people really resonate with.


Click on the “Sign Up Form” tab, then click on the first option “Create Sign up Form”

create a signup form

You can choose from several options, fonts, colors, etc. to create your own form. You can play around with this until you finally come up with a design that you like. The most popular places to put these forms are in the right sidebar and on high-traffic pages such as your “About” page.

You can create multiple web forms for several different pages of your site.

Typically, people collect just the name and email address of the subscribers, although you can add different fields, including phone number or address. Just keep in mind that the more information you ask for, the fewer number of people who will sign up for your email list.

Optional: You can Split-Test Forms

Alternatively, you can select the second option down, “Split test your sign up forms,” which allows you to test different language and see what resonates. I love this option, although honestly, I didn’t use it until after I’d been using Aweber for months and got familiar with using it.

The Settings

After you’re happy with your web form design, you’ll need to customize your settings. Under the settings tab, you’ll see the following screen:

Signup form basic settings

The Form Name is a unique name for the specific form you just created.

The Thank You Page can either be Aweber’s basic default page or it can be a custom page you set up.

My custom page is here.

This is the page that people arrive at immediately after clicking on the “submit button” while the confirmation email is being sent to them at the same time.

There are other options here as well, but I wouldn’t worry about them at this point.

Inserting the Signup Form on Your Website

After you finished designing your sign up form and finished with the settings, then, you’ll need to insert the code for the form (or the split test) onto your website. If you’re technically inclined you can do it yourself. If not, then you can ask a web developer or designer to do it for you.

If you want to do it yourself, then click on the “Publish” Tab and select “I Will Install My Form.”

Then copy the code and go into your wordpress website and
Here is a screenshot of what this screen looks like:

I will install form

You can see the code above which starts with “<script type” and ends with </script>. Copy and paste this code into your website where ever you want the webform to show up.

If You Have a WordPress Blog, you can use these two easy options:

1. Copy and Paste the Code into the HTML Editor for a Post or Page: If you want your form to show up within a blog post, or within a page that you create, you’ll have to copy and paste the code into the html editor, which can be found next to the “Visual Tab” in the upper right hand of where you write your posts/pages:


2. Copy and Paste the Code Into a “Text Widget” for Your Sidebar: If you want your form to show up in the sidebar, probably the easiest thing to do is go into your WordPress account, and under Appearance > Widgets, create a new “Text Widget” for your sidebar and copy the snippet into there, as shown below:

Then insert the code into a “Text Widget,” which should look like this:

And that’s it! After you place the web form onto your website, you’ll then have the ability to begin growing your email list!

Next Step: Go Sign Up for Your Aweber Account and Get Started

I realize I just threw a ton of information at you. But what I want you to know is that setting up your own email newsletter is really a tremendous way for you to grow your network and increase your income and your influence while actually reducing the amount of time and energy you need to put into building and nurturing relationships to grow your business.

Now, there are two things I want you to do:

1.  Sign Up For Your Aweber Account now.

Sign up for Aweber’s free trial so you can try it out risk-free.

2.  Let me know what you think.

I’d love to know if this tutorial was helpful to you and if you have any questions with setting up your new email newsletter. Shoot me an email and let me know what you think or if you have any questions.

I wish I had started my email list a year or two before I did, because I know it was the best investment I’ve made in a long time. So before you wait another minute, go ahead and sign up and start growing your list.

Photo credits: (baby with laptop): Flickr; boy in tie with white laptop: Flickr;


  1. Hi there to every one, it’s truly a nice for me to visit this web page, it contains important Information.|

  2. Linda Schrier says

    Hi John,

    Great blog post and very helpful on how to grow your network by creating an e-mail newsletter. You have given us massive value in this post and it is easy to understand.

    I use GetResponce and I have a free e-book that I give away for signing up. I still have to set up a newsletter. I think it is important to have both of them. So that is at the top of my things to do list.

    Thank you for the incredible information, John.

    You have an awesome day!


  3. Great article! I love how the focus of your newsletter is on building relationships.

    I’ve been hesitant to push my newsletter harder because I was worried about being too spammy. But… If my intentions are in the right place, I have nothing to worry about.

    Thanks John.

  4. I love how manageable this all sounds. I’m using MailChimp and I’m not at the point yet where I’m ready for autoresponders but baby steps… I’m publishing my first novel in the fall so for me, it’s all about learning this stuff bit-by-bit. Writing craft first & marketing after. That said, If I were an entrepreneur with ready-to-go products your advice is top notch. Thanks for putting it out there. Now I know what to do with some of my best posts from 2009!

  5. Great information. I have done this newsletter for about a year now and I am really getting it rampted up a bit more.

    I actually started a second newsletter. My first one is to help husbands learn tips to make their marriage rock solid, through a better understanding of their wife. One month ago I started a newsletter for wives to understand their husband better. I have 143 on the men’s side and 45 on the women’s. I asked for the husbands to refer my new newsletter to their wife which 15 or so did.

    I appreciate the emphasis on making it a profitable enterprise. I will look into your CRM system. Do you have any other suggestions for monetizing the newsletter without seeming to “salsy”?

    I offer a free eBook to either group. The book is tailored to men or women.

  6. Justin Baeder says

    Solid! The “trapped under a heavy appliance” thing cracked me up :)

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