How I grew my list 4000% in the last year

That’s an eye catching headline, isn’t it?

Last year I grew my list by 4000%. Okay, I lied… its actually 3,941%.

How do I know? I started a spreadsheet tracking the growth of my email list, social media, Google Analytics and a few other things. Every Monday, I update my spreadsheets and make a note of what I did to make that happen.

One could say I’ve been waiting a year to write this post, not knowing where it would go.

Farideh 4000%What’s that old saying “What you measure grows”? I knew that an online business is only viable with a platform: a platform of followers. So, I set about building mine.

In real numbers, here’s what “4000%” looks like (My husband is an Economist. I didn’t make that percentage up.):

  • Email list growth: 44 subscribers to 1707 subscribers
  • Facebook Fan growth: 564 fans to 1178 fans
  • Twitter follower growth: 310 followers to 1361 followers
  • Instagram follower growth: 124 followers to 489 followers
  • Monthly website visitor growth; 282 visitors to 3325 visitors

By no means is mine a story of “break out success” or “holy cow, how did she do it?”. This is really the more common story of sloooow growth that takes persistence and experimentation.

Word of Warning:  What has or hasn’t worked for me may or may not work for you. I think we’ve all got our “thing”. I’ve tried some list building efforts that others SWEAR by. Those people aren’t lying – they totally work. Just not everything works for every business.

Guest posting

Estimated list growth: Unknown? Perhaps 100

In July, I started guest posting. My goal was not to grow my list but to gain expert status. I knew my new website needed an “as seen in” section that could provide some social proof for me.

By those measures, it was successful. I have been published in FEA, Design Sponge, Coaching Blueprint, YFS. I’ve also been interviewed on MANY podcasts.

By list growth and social growth though. I didn’t see much return on investment for my time. There was a link to my freebie at the end of every article, but that was likely not enough.

I know many people who use guest posting as their #1 list builder. It hasn’t been for me, but I’m so grateful I tested it.

Video songs

Estimated list growth: Unknown? Perhaps 100

You might have noticed that I write songs about business on my ukulele. Hopefully,  you find them catching and fun.

I had thought that these little songs would make me famous.

Sadly, they haven’t and they likely won’t in the future.

People like them (and by people I’m including myself) so much that I’ve devoted a whole tab on my website to host all the songs. I just keep doing them because 1. They are dang fun  2. The create connection with my audience and 3. It helps me stand out from my competition.

It may be a list building dud, but there is something to be said for staying with something just because you love it.


Estimated list growth: 200 subscribers

I had a podcast called the “Tribe Finder Podcast” for about 6 months. I had many guests on the show including Michael Franti, Mayi Carles, Laura Belgray. I got to meet some of my favourite people who I still keep in touch with. I had about 1000 monthly listeners.

When I launched the podcast, I also engaged a local publicist to grow my audience on a local level. I was featured in quite a few papers and local television shows.

As a platform, podcasts weren’t all that effective for list growth. People aren’t ON the internet listening. They are on their phones. Being a podcaster has many benefits including expert status. If you love to talk and connect, this is a perfect platform. For my hermetic self that is constantly interested in new things, it began feeling like a drag.

I quit the podcast mainly because it took up the time that I wanted to spend on experimenting with other list growing activities.


Estimated list growth: 350

I did 5 webinars in the last year. I heard it could be a crazy list builder. I started with my “Concertinar”, where I talked about marketing and played the ukuelele.

30 ppl signed up. 12 ppl attended. With this webinar, I added NO new subscribers. They were people already on my list.

Here’s what I learned: Gimicks aren’t enough. I had to make sure I wasn’t just performing but also adding REAL value.

I regrouped, found my niche as a launch strategist and did 4 more webinars in the fall that had a persistent theme.

However, the webinars themselves were not what got me the list growth. It was the Facebook ads I ran to promote the webinar that brought in 300 of the 350 people who were added to my list.

Free Opt in “30 Day Launch Checklist & Calendar”

Estimated list growth: 1000

Dingy ding ding. This one is my favourite. I made it once and my list keeps growing. With all the work that guest posting, webinars and the podcast took, this is by far the winner for biggest return on investment.

This 30 day checklist was inspired by what people asked me for. In a FB group one day, I asked“what would help you with your launch” and someone said I’d love a checklist and example calendar. It took me roughly 4 hours.  I posted it back in that group and had about 240 sign up immediately.  WHOOT WHOOT!

So, how did I get to 1000? I’ll be honest. This opt in has actually been downloaded 1800 times. Only 1000 of those people are still on my list. I got that many downloads through promoting this opt in through Facebook ads. I was able to get people to sign up for this opt in for .23 and .54 cents last year in the spring and fall. Since about half of them have dropped off, the price of those ads to keep those leads was about .50 to $1.

Pssst. Want this? Sign up for my newsletter.

Facebook Ads

Estimated list growth: 1100

The webinars and opt ins and even the launches I did last year were all supported by Facebook ads. As far as time, money and effort goes, they were the best thing I could invest in. Of course, I had something that was worth promoting (i.e. a webinar or opt in). Once I did, these made all the difference for me. If I hadn’t used FB ads, I’d still be hovering around the 400 subscriber mark


4000% list growth in 1 year? @faridehceaser did it and reveals her secrets here. – Tweet this.


How did I celebrate a 4000% list growth?

By getting rid of some subscribers! I “scrubbed” them.

I was getting dangerousy close to 2000 subscribers which would mean I’d have to pay for Mail Chimp. Gasp, horror! My open rates were struggling at 20-30%.

I deleted all the duplicates. All the people who hadn’t opened in the last few months. I purged 200-400 people off my list. WHAT A RELIEF! I enjoyed 40-50% open rates again and I saved myself a few bucks.


Whats next for 2015?

I’ll be doing my video songs, Facebook ads and trying out some new opt ins. I’ll also be continuing my experiments. The internet is always changing and so am I. I can’t wait to see where it takes us.

If you’re interested in trying out Facebook ads but find them confusing or need an update. Here are a few more blogs about what has worked for me. Oh and I do have this little course all about FB Ads for Launching.

The 7 Launch Monsters That Will Kill Your Online Launch & How to Beat Them
{ 23 comments… add one }
  • Congratulations, I love this breakdown. I am going to go figure out my percentages right now. I’ve been tracking since September 2013. You are so brilliant and inspiring.

  • Merci Farideh! Always a pleasure to read you! I have a question: I tought I couldn’t delete subscribers on Mailchimp!?

    Can’t wait to hear you about FB ads on your next webinar! 🙂

    • Oh yes. You definitely can delete subscribers.
      The actual process was that we downloaded the list into excel. Then sorted the list by name so we could easily see duplicates, then re-uploaded as a csv file.

      Additionally you can go in and manually remove individuals in the “manage subscribers” area

  • You rock Farideh! Thanks for letting us in behind the scenes!

  • I love this breakdown, Farideh! Thanks. You’ve inspired me because I have had the same list growth in a year, but didn’t realize I could make myself feel great about it with the 4000% figure!

    • Yay! I’m so glad! There is something about numbers that we assume 4000% list growth is INSANE. When really it is actually slow and steady. Way to rock it Chara for growing your list so much over the last year

  • Thanks so much for sharing in a clear, succinct manner…sooooo helpful!

  • Loved this Farideh. I think sometimes we only measure our list in terms our our email list and not all the other followers and areas where we make an impact (big eye opener).

    This made me feel like I’m not alone in my trial and error ways and I just love the break down of it all. Super helpful. Thank you.

  • Well that was pretty darn illuminating. They say the right freebie can be kind of magical and it seems like they’re right.

    This was quite encouraging because I’ve tried out several opt-ins and none have really clicked yet. But if I keep experimenting and, perhaps more importantly…directly ask some people in my target market? Yep, that’s what I need to do. Thanks!

    • I can totally relate Nicole. I’ve had 4 opt ins other than this one – this is the magic one. Keep testing!

  • Wow. What an amazing result. Congratulations! I know that I signed up for your list because of that optin. But I have stuck around for all the other great info! Plus I love those songs 🙂

  • This is great, Farideh, thanks for breaking it down for us! I’ve had my podcast since September 2014 and like you, I’m finding that it isn’t all that great for list-building, but I’m sticking with it for now because I enjoy connecting with other nomadic types and sharing all the different ways to be location independent. Here’s hoping it all “pays off” in some way eventually. Congrats on a great year!

  • Avril Oliver

    Thanks so much Farideh, love this clear step by step breakdown very helpful.

  • Super valuable insights (as I work on my own site and brand)…thank you!!

  • Super helpful info and got me even more excited about your upcoming webinar! I was already signed up, but now I’ve opened my planner and circled it in red. I will be there ears open for sure!

  • “there is something to be said for staying with something just because you love it.” spot on! It’s how you stood out when I first stumbled upon you many months ago 🙂

  • Hi Farideh,

    Great post, love the clarity re: results that the tracking provided. I’m inspired to track things more carefully in my own business and I wondered if you’d be open to share the Excel spreadsheet you use to track your activity and results? Not the content, just the template. I have a mild allergy to Excel so I always love working with templates that other people have had success with! 🙂

  • Mary

    Great article, Farideh! So helpful to see all these figures broken down. My question is how do you rock the auto-responders with only a free Mailchimp account? I have been on the verge of upgrading because I want to have the autoresponder function but it seems unavailable unless you pay? What’s your workaround? thanks so much! 🙂

    • Thanks Mary!
      I happen to be an early adopter of Mailchimp – I think I joined 4 or 5 years ago so thats what gave me the access to the mailchimp autoresponder sequence.
      Even though I only posted this article a week ago – I saw so much list growth in the last week I am now a proud paying member of mailchimp.

  • I keep hearing that webinars are where it’s at. Where do you find people to join up with on webinars? For someone just starting out (aka small list myself) what do you offer to the partner to make them want to join forces on one?

  • Love this behind the scenes look. It never occurred to me to scrub my subscriber list… what a great idea to help costs low. I’m currently at just over 2000 subscribers, so I might give it a try to see if I can get into the lower price bracket!

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Nikki-Elledge-Brown-300x300I love how Farideh takes the overwhelm out of something we all tend to resist like crazy (even though we *know* it can lead to direct ROI!). The way she breaks each step into simple (often melodic) chunks is as delightfully refreshing as she is.
Nikki Elledge Brown,