Want to build a startup from nothing?
Start an email list.

Everyone knows "the money is in the list," but these entrepreneurs have proven it.

The world is their oyster, so I asked them these questions…

1. How did you get the idea for building your first email list?
2. What free methods did you use to drive traffic to your email capture?
3. How did you come up with your first product/service?
4. What was the biggest mistake you made?
5. What is your advice for people starting from nothing?

Andrew Warner

Andrew Warner

Mixergy.com

1. How did you get the idea for your first email opt-in offer?

Because I do interviews on Mixergy.com, I got to interview Justin Premick who did email education for Aweber, the email broadcast company. He looked at the way I collected email and basically said it was stupid. Nobody would give their email just “to get updates.” Even as I write that, I can see how stupid that was.

Any way, he encouraged me to keep trying bonuses, to keep looking for incentives to give people who join my mailing list. That’s what did it.

2. What free methods did you use to drive traffic?

Interviews. That’s the best source of free traffic since the birth of media. Even natural showman who are audience magnets, like Johnny Carson, interviewed high profile people because they draw a bigger audience.

3. How did you get the idea for your first product/service?

I had a company that failed. So I said I’d interview people who’ll teach me how to never create such a horrible failure again. The interviews were highly researched and full of clear, solid advice from founders of companies like Airbnb, Pixar and Sun Microsystems.

I mean, those interviews were so good that people would email me and say, “You should charge for them.” So I tried it. And it was slow at first, but sales eventually took off.

4. What was the biggest mistake you made?

I didn’t believe in email for a long time. Now I know how well it works. It’s the best way to connect with an audience.

5. What is your advice for people starting from nothing?

“Start.” But everyone says that and still people don’t start, right? Why not? Because their inner critic will keep them from doing it. So my second piece of advice is to “punch your inner critic.”

Andrew Warner

Bryan Harris

VideoFruit.com

1. How did you get the idea for your first email opt-in offer?

My first email opt-in was a free version of my paid course. I got the idea from Jeff Walker and David Siteman Garland.

2. What free methods did you use to drive traffic?

After every blog post I will:

  • Email anyone I mentioned in the post
  • Email 100 people that have backlinked to similar articles
  • Email 100 people that have recently tweeted similar articles
  • Optimize the post for one keyword phrase that has low competition and 200-500 searches

3. How did you get the idea for your first product/service?

Scratched my own itch. I needed an easy cheap was to make a video. I stumbled upon a particular workflow and then realized other people have the same issue. So i turned it into a paid course.

4. What was the biggest mistake you made?

not sure. I look at it all as an experiment. Some experiments have failed. But I don’t have any regrets…yet.

5. What is your advice for people starting from nothing?

Become an incredible teacher.

Andrew Warner

Walter Chen

iDoneThis.com

1. How did you get the idea for your first email opt-in offer?

my co-founder rodrigo had the idea that we could use email to help people accomplish their goals. he had used a similar system in grad school. give us your email address, and we’ll email you every day and ask, “what’d you get done today?”

when you reply to the email, we’ll save your response and put it on the web so that you have a record of your achievements.

things started to take off from there.

2. What free methods did you use to drive traffic?

we wrote blog posts about our motivation to create iDoneThis and we documented the how and why as we went. those blog posts drove a considerable amount of traffic.

3. How did you get the idea for your first product/service?

after we had tens of thousands of people on our email list, we kept hearing that people wanted to keep track of progress at work, not just personally. that inspired to build a business version of idonethis for ourselves to use that would replace a daily standup.

we found it useful ourselves, especially as a remote team, and we made it public. when a bunch of great companies signed up, we knew that we were on to something.

4. What was the biggest mistake you made?

the biggest mistakes i’ve made have been around hiring and firing. those are two of the toughest things you can do as an entrepreneur, and i’ve made a ton of mistakes as a result.

5. What is your advice for people starting from nothing?

use the nothing that you start with as an advantage.

Email Whales © 2017 - Made in Orlando, FL by Rob McNelis