Stop Saying The Money is in The Email List. Here’s Why.

If there is 1 mantra I hear preached over and over again about online business, it’s that the money is in the email list. Is that really true?

the money is in the list

Well if you know how it really works then yes, but my experience in this whole topic (and there’s a lot of it) is that most people just parrot that quote over and over and pretend that they know something about it.

They teach it the wrong way, give it the wrong priority and worse. 

The fact of the matter is that, at least in my experience, most people have no clue about how to make an email list work or marketing to it at all, yet they still parrot that phrase as though it’s a law to success.

Let me explain why it’s just not as simple as it’s being preached and how to properly make it work…

First of all, what is list building and how do you do it?

Who knows, perhaps you got misinformation on this or maybe it’s your first time hearing this phrase, but in any case, let me give you the basic idea of what this is:

List building is a marketing method by which you can either have a blog and/or a squeeze page that collects emails from people who visit those places (here’s an example of how to build an email list fast).

The purpose is to get the contact, gain their trust through communicating with them, and then down the line, sell them stuff and that could be anything, ranging from products you’re promoting to services and/or high ticket things.

The people who preach about that formula, say that by having a list, you can continually sell people stuff and make money that way, so if perhaps your website falls apart, or something goes wrong, you still have those contact to rely on to keep your business flowing, and you know what, they are right, but…

List building is far from simple and…

Here are 3 major mistakes people make:

1) They think it’s easy, believe me, it is not.

This is an untold myth that circulates around this subject and it’s because so many people and programs preach about it as though it is easy. I review many programs which talk about this subject, but they sugar coat it and in the end, the message someone who reads it will think that the money comes once the emails starts coming in.

For example, a lot of poor quality programs and fake gurus preach about buying clicks from solo ads, and then sending them to a squeeze page to collect the email and then selling to that list, making it sound as though it’s a guaranteed method of making money. It’s not…

Another common myth is that you can easily buy emails from “done for you” email swaps where you can buy an email list of a person. This is also bad practice and often violates rules of emailing people who do NOT consent to having their email given out. This often ends up not working for marketers either…

The fact of the matter is that there are FAR more factors to making this whole thing work and another fact is that either the people preaching it either don’t say these things, or they do mention the other factors, but teach them incorrectly.

What factors am I talking about? Well one of them is traffic generation ladies and gentlemen.

Your traffic’s quality is one of the 3 main determining factors of if your email building efforts will be successful. The other 2, I’ll mention further below. But the truth is, in most cases, what I see is, that even decent programs only correctly talk about 1 of these factors, and by missing the other 2, the person who follows the advice is doomed to fail.

2) They try to sell very quickly to their list.

One of the things I notice is that people who incorrectly learn about list building, often make the mistake of hastily trying to sell their contacts stuff. This is one of the worst things you can possibly do and turn that potentially profitable business into a guaranteed failure. An eBook I learned this very well from is Attraction Marketing Formula, as well as my own failures when I was first experimenting with this whole strategy.

Nothing will make your contacts lose their trust in you than you pimping one offer to them after another. You will simply become a spammer and anyone who has ever been on any “marketers” email list will undoubtedly have experienced what I just said you shouldn’t do.

One of the correct ways to go about this issue is obviously not to hastily jump into the sales pitches with your contacts, but to instead grow their trust through high value messages to be sent to them.

What am I talking about?

Well let’s assume I’m running an email list on fat loss tips.

It would 100% be the wrong way to immediately sell my audience something involving fat loss solutions, without first gaining their trust and letting them know, that I am a credible source.

So a good approach would be to provide the audience with unusual, yet USEFUL, actionable content such as free tips on fat loss to get them to open up to me. Because if they see that I’m giving them stuff that works, without some sort of “Oh by the way, if you want more, you need to buy”, then they will open up to me and be interested in more of the stuff I have to offer. Then and only then, and this can perhaps be 2 or more weeks in, could I send them stuff that I’m promoting.

3) They try to sell things too slowly.

Oh boy, this is another, less talked about, but common problem. The mistake here is that you give away everything to your contacts and provide them with too much value. The problem then is that there’s no incentive for them to buy stuff.

You should ideally find a golden middle here and try to give away the kind of value people can use whilst giving them a shortcut in the form of a product promotion to get them to latch onto it.

For example…

If I am giving away tips to my contacts about burning fat, I can indeed provide them with valuable content that they can freely use to get results from. Then down the line, and by that I mean 10 messages in, I can simply hit them up with an offer to a product that saves them time with that problem and gets it done fast.

Suddenly, while the value in the free content is still there, there is going to be a though process like this “Oh hey, it’s a shortcut and the person’s advice already helped me, so…”. 

And this type of mindset is the one which will cause the person to buy, or at the very least improve the odds of happening.

They’re going to first see that your advice works, and that will itself lend credibility and a reason to continue opening your messages.

Then they’ll assume the shortcut you’re giving, in this case a product promotion of some sort will save them time and energy, because that mindset will have already be marinated through the previous, free and good messages you sent them. 

Thus they will be interested in what you have to say. Your words will actually make them listen and buy.

The 3 factors of list building success:

Just like there were 3 major mistakes, so too are their 3 major factors to success at this:

1) The first factor is what I said earlier, which was targeted traffic.

If you are not getting specific laser targeted audiences to a specific squeeze page and then sending them specific emails that make them trust you and then buy from you, you are essentially running a doomed email marketing campaign. 

And this is one of the main missing factors most programs neglect to talk about. They don’t understand that success in list building starts way before you even send out that first message to a contact. You first need to get that right contact to opt in.

2) The squeeze page or offer.

It has to directly message the targeted traffic, be simple, short and give them a good reason to sign up. I’ve experimented with this enough times in my career in online marketing to know all of that. The more directly a squeeze page/opt in sends a short message directly talking to your specific audience, the more opt-ins you will get, trust me on that.

3) The followup emails need to meet expectations and exceed them.

Whatever you promised on your squeeze page that caused the person to opt-in, you better deliver on the back end.

Here is how this can all look:

the right way to do email marketing

I cannot simplify the art of successful email building (and by the way, if you do affiliate marketing, SEO or paid ads, this also applies) easier than that example above.

I assure you, the most success email marketers understand these 3 principals, although I find they often don’t teach it this way.

How can you make this 3 factor formula work for you?

Invest the time to learn these things very deeply from a program that teaches these 3 factors. The hard thing is, 9 out of 10 programs may at best get 1 of those factors right, but like I said, if 1 or even the 2 other factors aren’t aligned, you’re screwing up your business.

So let me offer you 2 programs to save you research time, and let you decide:


1) Market Hero:

Alex Becker, who created this program has a whole training library on list building and he does explain it the right way, more deeply than I did in this article by the way.

Once he does that he goes into training on how to sell membership sites through collecting specific contacts and the training there is awesome to get all 3 factors down.

The only thing is, a large chunk of what it takes to do all of this through Alex’s Market Hero program takes money and involves paid advertising to be done, so if you can’t afford his $47 a month membership (2 week trial available beforehand) + the other tools you’d need to start your list and run paid ads, don’t invest in Market Hero.

As an update, let me say that Market Hero offers good material to study on this method, but lacks updated training to back it up, so I had to remove my recommendation of this program and instead recommend this:

2) Wealthy Affiliate:

It just so happens that the 3 factors to success I mentioned I learned from this place and I build numerous sites that have followed these principals and made money, this one included. 

Wealthy Affiliate is actually a bit different in it’s training than Market Hero, because it doesn’t go as deep into list building, but what it does do is it helps you understand the principals of targeted traffic and it’s importance, how to actually get it to your page and then profit off it.

The beauty is that while the training isn’t going into list building very deeply, it is teaching you the principals to actually understand it as you go through the training. You actually learn more about SEO and paid ads, but then that knowledge and the success you’d get from taking action with that training, you will be able to apply to your list building efforts.

Now this program is more recommended to people who can’t really invest in Market Hero and the other costs it would take to run a business based off that program’s training.

You can do it for free and then upgrade to $49 a month, but overall, the practices of WA involve mainly FREE targeted traffic generation, which means there are little to no additional costs to trying out the strategies.

I personally think that if you are more of a beginner, that you should start here and perhaps later on check out Market Hero.

Either way, both these programs will teach you the RIGHT way to this stuff and to truly be able to practice and preach about the money being in the list.

20 thoughts on “Stop Saying The Money is in The Email List. Here’s Why.”

  1. Greetings, Vitaliy! 

    Landed here after looking for info on email list building, and good thing, eh? I get the concept – but didn’t realize just how important it was for the various components of the sales funnel to be nuanced just right. Guess there’s a bit of a knack to it. And it seems that patience is of pretty big importance as far as slowing one’s roll enough to not seem pushy or even too eager. Well, I will let you know how it goes!



  2. Hi Vitaliy – thanks for sharing this informative article. I am not yet at the stage of affiliate marketing where I think I need to be list building, but it’s nice to know what I should think about in the future. I like the way you describe having to find the middle ground, makes it much clearer. I would be worried about being seen as a spammer and losing the trust of my regular followers. 

    All the best, 


    • Hi Diane, with experience in affiliate marketing, you will eventually want to try email marketing, but when you feel more ready for it. You will find that it’s a bit different to convert people through emails than it is through affiliate marketing on a website, but either way, you should flow into doing that, not jumping into without experience first, I think you are doing the right thing.

  3. I’ve never heard that the money is in the list. However, I’m new to this so maybe I’ll hear it some where down the line. 

    With that being said, I think this was great information provided and I can see how building up trust first can then turn into getting people to purchase from you.

    I have a question though. Would you suggest building an email list to provide notifications of blog post updates to keep people interested in your site?

    • That is actually a great idea Tekyia, I’ve actually spoken about this in earlier posts. If you do collect an email list, one great way to go about delivering content to the list is by literally sharing your site’s content with it. This will allow new traffic to enter your posts and get more exposure.

  4. Thank you so much for this informative post, I have received several emails with that same quote “the money is in the list”. Well I think this is not meant for newbies, the phrase is just exaggerated and being used to lure people into the biz. For me I would rather focus on building my blog, post nice content and generate traffic before venturing into building email list. 

    • Yes there are MANY fake internet marketers who preach the email list myth, but what you are currently focusing on is the better way to go Clement.

  5. Great Post. I have been thinking about an email list but after chatting to a mentor, I decided that it should take a back seat. It is more important to have quality content before trying to build up a list. I may be dead wrong but I think when you have decent traffic, you can better afford the email marketing tools because I have read that the free tools can give you some headaches. I am definitely going to build a list once I am sure I am targeting the right traffic.

  6. Great tips. The money is in the list if you know how to do it right, and I think the majority don’t, which is why they end up with massive lists and high autoresponder costs with no one opening their emails.

    I think the hardest thing about building a list is keeping your list interested enough to open your emails. If they don’t see what they want, they will quickly either unsubscribe or simply stop opening your emails, then you are stuck with a dead list.

    I like your idea of targeting your list better, instead of weight loss, rather use love handles. This is going to take a bit more thought on the part of the marketer, but maybe he is going to be a lot more successful this way.

    • Well the topic would be more narrow, but the crowd would be far more interested Michel and this is why the person who attempts who target this type of niche will have an easier time growing it and as well as having the subscribers open the emails.

  7. They most definitely try selling very very quickly Vitaliy, totally agree with you on that one. I’ve come across many blogs that have a very cool squeeze page to hook emails and the moment I got into those lists, I got bombarded with offers, kind of like how we get bombarded when joining scams with hidden upsells. It feels annoying which is why providing value first can help sell better.

    Just curious, have you heard of Ben Settle’s email training? I’ve heard good reviews about it but never actually got into trying because of the steep price to join.

    • Hi Riaz, never heard of Ben’s stuff, but there’s 2 things I have to say regarding quick research I did on him:

      1) One of my close buddies, Alex who also runs an internet marketing blog, interviewed him on one of his podcasts. I say this because you can YouTube the video (Extra Paycheck with Ben Settle), there’s a 40 minute video and maybe you can get some good tips there. I know Alex and he interviews legit people as well as provides great content through his site and podcast, so check that out.

      2) Regarding email marketing in general, Market Hero provides good training on that for a good price point of $47 a month, so that’s worth checking out if you’re seriously considering email marketing.

  8. Completely agree with you on that phrase – unfortunately there are A LOT of phrases so-called marketing gurus use these days that are just passed on from one to another…and not one of them has seen any success through them! 

    You’re right – building a list is not easy, in any way, shape or form…and building a list that is worthwhile is even harder! 

    Do you feel, like me, that most people’s lists are made up of people that have simply forgotten to unsubscribe, and do you believe that email marketing is slowly dying out?

    • Hey Chris, to be honest, I wouldn’t know what to tell you regarding the types of subscribers email list people have, but I can tell you that it’s NOT dead, it’s just a matter of getting the right type of list, and having a competent list builder who provides the right content. I see videos of people like Alex Becker (who is a legit email marketing) that shows this stuff correctly, he also constantly showcases his case studies in sending out emails on YouTube.

  9. Hi Lev, I think the problems you’re facing with a lack of conversions is coming from a few areas. You have to look at the alignment of your landing page, the traffic that is coming there and what the people who are signing up are expecting and these questions should lead you to investigate the overall funnel, where it starts, which traffic it aims to attract and then figure out if it’s worth investing more money into the email list or not.

    As I said in the example above when I compared a good funnel to a bad one, you need to keep things super targeted, all the way from the traffic that comes to the page, to giving them a relevant squeeze page and then the emails you send out should also be aligned in that order.

    Overall, my advice is to take a look at this. Sometimes it doesn’t warrant putting in so much effort into email marketing, especially when that traffic is cold, and it’s better to reformat your sales funnel and make it more targeted, and if that works, then to put effort into the list building.

  10. Great write-up. When first learning about affiliate marketing I also kept hearing and reading that ‘the money is in the list’. I found it easy to capture emails by offering a free PDF using Sumo. I also tried email marketing to my steadily growing list using Aweber. However, I experienced horrible open rates. 

    I believe most of my emails were landing in people’s spam folder. I have since abandoned this strategy and now put the money towards using my email list for re-marketing by creating a custom audience through advertising on Facebook. Any thoughts?

  11. Those are great tips about email lists. I need to start one, and I was researching how to do just that. Nice to know that these lists are not just trying to amass a bunch of names and email addresses to sell out, but actually breathing devices to engage with your customers. I’m impressed. Definitely going to look into this further.

    • You are absolutely right Brandon, email lists are awesome ways to add a branch to your business, but its success is mainly reliant on the trust your contacts have with you. Sell out, and your email list will erode faster than you can imagine. Give them value and they will become a friend to them.


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