Start an Email List for your Side Hustle: Quick Guide

Start an Email List for Side Hustle
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Should you create an email list for your side-hustle? An email list can be the most valuable part of your business.

Starting an email list for your side-hustle provides an extra income stream that you are in control of. Using social media alone can be risky as your accounts can be closed. It will boost audience engagement and allow promotion of your products. Conversion rates will be higher vs cold leads from your website.

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Let’s run through how to start an email list and use it to support your side-hustle.

Why You Should Start an Email List for a Creative Side-Hustle

Creating an email list of engaged members of your audience can be a major source of income. You can market your products directly and share new content as soon as it launches. Sending your audience regular valuable content keeps them engaged with your brand and more receptive when you send them the occasional promotion for one of your products.

Importantly, you are in control of your email list which, can protect your income…

It does not have to be spammy with constant sales pitches. Having the right ratio of valuable content to promotions is key to success.

Importantly, you are in control of your email list which, can protect your income that would otherwise be at the mercy of social media platforms, marketplaces or search engines.

Do I Need a Postal Address to Start an Email List?

It is the law, in many countries, to have a registered postal address displayed at the bottom of all email marketing communications. It must be a physical address where you can receive mail but it does not have to be your home address.

How to Get a Postal Address for Email Marketing

If you are running a side-hustle it is likely that you will be starting out as a sole proprietor and therefore not have a registered office address. You may feel uneasy about using your home address on email communications for privacy reasons or to project a more professional image.

Thankfully there are mailbox services out there that provide a genuine postal address with mail being scanned or forwarded to you.

Examples are US Global Mail and UK PostBox.

Choosing the Right Email Marketing Platform

There are a large number of email marketing platforms out there and it can be confusing which one is right for you. Services can be very expensive so it’s best to choose one that has features you actually need but also gives you room to expand. Moving platforms later is possible but it can be less than simple.

Features you should look at include:

  • Tagging – segment your audience according to their interactions or interests
  • Email list size limits – choose the right package for your list size
  • Email automation – send automatic emails when users interact with your site or emails
  • Cost – only pay for the features you need
  • Scaling – if your list needs to grow can you scale your plan?
  • Terms and conditions – are there any limits on how you can use the platform such as for affiliate marketing?

It is also important to consider the delivery rate of each platform. Using one that frequently ends up in the spam folder may not be wise.

Popular email platforms suitable for side-hustles include:

How to Ensure Your Emails Avoid the Junk Folder

There’s no point sending emails to your audience if they end up in the junk folder. The more that happens, the more likely your emails will get automatically sent there or marked as spam which can harm your website as well.

Ensure your email is whitelisted by your readers in their email app. It can also be a good idea to encourage them to reply to their welcome email. This will show their email program that they want to receive emails from that address.

Make sure you send your audience emails that they want to receive. These should be packed with great content and meet the expectations you set when you collected your reader’s email address. Don’t spam every email with sales pitches and ads. A good guide is to send a sales email in every five to avoid them being perceived as spam.

On a technical level, ensuring authentication of your domain with your audience’s email provider will stop them automatically filtering into the spam folder. One way to do this is by setting up DKIM records. AWeber has a great article on how to do this on their platform here.

Should I Use a Sub-Domain for Email Marketing?

A subdomain is a separate section of your website that can be used to host a store, blog or used for email.

It will have an extra part in the address of your choosing. For example, if your website is you could choose for a store to be hosted on a sub-domain

Apart from making it clear which area of the site visitors are on, using a subdomain for email marketing also protects your main website.

If something goes wrong with your marketing and you end up bring flagged as spam then, it will prevent this negatively impacting your main website. It could otherwise be bumped down the search results and lose you traffic.

If this does happen then you can always create a new email sub-domain and make a fresh start but still retain your traffic to your main website.

For more information about how to use sub-domains for emails check out this great post on MailSlurp.

How to Grow an Email List

There are two main aspects to growing an email list: Gaining subscribers and retaining them. Do both of these things well and you can then monetize your list for significant returns.

How to Add New Subscribers to Your Email List

Since nobody wakes up in the morning thinking ”I wish someone would send me more emails”, you’re going to have to make it attractive for someone to sign up to your email list.

The most popular method is with a ”lead magnet”. A lead magnet is a free incentive typically offered in exchange for subscribing to your email list.

Examples can be:

  • Templates
  • Ebooks
  • First module of a course
  • Small products – eg: image editing filters or brushes

Different lead magnets will have varying levels of success so it’s worth experimenting until you find the one that performs the best. Once you have a lead magnet, design several eye-catching graphics to advertise your email list and lead magnet throughout your website.

Make the graphics into clickable buttons that link to a form (you can also use pop-ups which can be annoying but effective). This will then capture the visitor’s name and email address then link into your email marketing platform to deliver the lead magnet.

The simplest way to comply with GDPR or similar privacy legislation is to include an opt-in checkbox on the form for them to also be added to your email list. It is illegal in Europe to require visitors to sign up to get your lead magnet so this must be optional.

How to Segment Your Audience

Segmenting your email list is an incredibly powerful technique to increase user engagement and income. By only sending emails to those users that will find it relevant they are more likely to purchase your product or click a link.

This can be done very simply by choosing an email marketing platform that allows tagging. For example, if a user clicks a link in an email about image-editing then the platform can tag them with “image-editing”. You can then send them content or products that are relevant to them to increase engagement.

For more information about tagging take a look at the video below from AWeber:

How to Keep Your Audience Engaged

Collecting email addresses is only the first step. You also need to keep your audience engaged with your brand. This way they will be more likely to purchase a product from you when offered. The key here is regular, relevant and high-quality content. Let’s talk through some of the key aspects:

Welcome Sequence

First impressions count. The ”welcome sequence” is a series of emails automatically sent to a new subscriber to explain your who you are and offer them some value immediately. The sequence is normally 3-5 emails with one per day.

Automation Sequence

Using tagging of your email list, put them into an automation sequence of emails that is relevant to their interests.

Roughly every five emails, drop in a relevant product offer to start tapping into the income potential of an email list.

You should set up an automation for each main segment in your mailing list to send your audience super-relevant content that they will be waiting for. Just make sure it’s also high-quality!

Broadcast Emails

Broadcast emails are those sent manually, outside of any automation sequence. The could be to a segment or your whole list and could be anything from a weekly newsletter, product sale or announcement.

Maintaining Your List

Having a large email list costs you more money per month. Therefore, you only want people on it that are engaged with your brand. These ”true fans” will provide the bulk of your income.

If you’ve tried your best to engage with dormant visitors and they still don’t open your emails then delete them from your list. It’s a good idea to do an audit of inactive email list members every 3 months.

Don’t feel guilty about trimming your email list. It will save you money and ensure that your audience are on average more aligned with your brand.

Monetize Your Email List

Building your list is one thing but monetizing it is another. Make sure to keep members aware of your products and direct them over to where they can be purchased. Keep in mind not to saturate them with sales emails though. You must send them helpful content with the occasional sales email to avoid them unsubscribing in droves. A rough guide is one sales email in every five.

A good option is to send exclusive and limited-timed offers or discounts to your list. Promoting scarcity of your products has been proven to increase sales.

A rough guide is one sales email in every five.

In addition, if a member of your list is purchasing a product then be sure to offer them an up-sell. This could be to purchase another similar product, bundle or item to help them with the next part of their journey.


It is common to overlook the potential of an email list for those running a side-hustle or website. It can conjure up images of spammy marketers and a fear of harassing your audience or ‘selling out’. However, when done well, having an effectively monetized mail list can provide income that greatly surpasses that delivered from a website or marketplace. This is due to the laser-focused relevance to your audience and high sales conversion rates.

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Featured image: TarikVision /