If I don’t have my own e-mail list, how can I reach a decent size e-mail audience right away?

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Solution: Which comes first, the e-mail newsletter or the list? It’s a common chicken-and-egg scenario; after all, you typically don’t start building your list until you have something to send, yet you don’t want to put too much work into a newsletter until you have people who’ll actually read it.

So if the newsletter arrives before the list, how do you start building that subscriber base, like, pronto? Here are three options:

  1. Sponsorships: The easiest way to get access to an e-mail list is to find someone already sending to it and become a sponsor. Just make sure the landing page people hit when they click on your banner ad or link prompts them to join your e-mail list.
  2. Co-registration: Find an organization you like—and whose audience might also be interested in what you’re up to—and see if they’ll let you piggyback on their e-mail signup form either as a favor (if they really like you) or for a fee (if they really like you but also like making a living). There are also co-reg firms that help simplify the entire process.
  3. Customers: Remember that often the best way to grow your e-mail list quickly is to start with your existing customer base. Make sure your cash register, signup forms, front desk, event booth and Web site all encourage people to join your list. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how many actually do.
Clint Smith is co-founder of Emma Email Marketing (, a Web-based e-mail marketing service.
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