In your travels, trying to learn more about freelancing online, you’ve probably come across a number of sites talking about lists. They give you tips on list-building, list number retention, list messages, and more…but few actually explain what the hell a list is in the first place and why you might want to have one.

What is a List?

By “list,” people mean email list. You might already have rudimentary lists set up through your email account - lists of friends, list of family members, lists of college contacts, lists of freelance clients, etc.

The list so many websites are talking about, though, is not a list of people you know personally; it’s a list of people who are interested in you and what you are doing. Basically, you’re giving people a way to receive information about you as a freelancer or your blog (if you run one).

Lists get people to pull out their credit cards.

Do you Need a List?

If you run a website, the answer is yes. YES you need a list, if you want to make measurable amounts of money with said website. YES you need a list to sell products. YES you need a list to connect to readers. LIST = SELL.

If you’re just a freelancer? Well, the answer might be no. You should definitely keep track of your clients’ emails, but you don’t have to create some kind of official list to update people about your freelancing work. You work with clients one-on-one, not convincing them as a group to buy something from you or read your website.

A Deeper Look at what a List can Do

You can’t really grasp the concept of a list until you see what one can do. Let’s say that you start a website on holistic health. How can a list help you?

As people sign up, you can send them emails about new content on your site. This reminds them that your site exists and tells them about articles they might have missed. Getting readers on your site is important if you want to collect money via banner ads, text links, and affiliate programs.

Speaking of affiliate programs, let’s say that a new product relating to holistic health is released on the market. You can send your list an email about this product, along with your affiliate link to make a purchase. Money in your pocket.

Now let’s say that you release your own product, perhaps an ebook on holistic health. You can send your list and email about the product, which makes it easier to sell products.

You can also use your list to announce coupons to health products, special events in your community, contests going on at your website or other health-related websites, etc. Even if these emails don’t bring sales directly to your site, they increase your value to a reader, making him or her more likely to buy products from you in the future.

Hell, you can even use a list to support a charity. Participating in Relay for Life? Email your list and ask for donations.

Hopefully, you’ll beginning to more clearly see why you could use a list to your advantage…and also why it may not work for you. Again, if you want to focus your business on working directly with clients, not on making money through your own website or selling products, having a list might be a waste of time.

Building your List

Say you’ve decided that you do need to build a list. How do you go about doing that?

There are bloggers who specifically address this question, so rather than writing my own version, I’m going to link you to some fabulous resources that can help you figure out how to list a list. This isn’t because I’m lazy, but because I feel like these bloggers can give you much better advice than I can.

Ok, and I’m a little lazy. But as of writing this, it’s a hot day around 3 PM, so give me a little break.

Without further ado, the resources on list-building:

  • Creating a Welcome Email
  • Why Articles are a Savvy List Building Tool
  • List Building Tips - Don’t Sweat the Freebie Seekers
  • List Building Blogger (the whole site is about list building)
  • List Building in the Age of Twitter

Comment below with your own list-building blog posts or resources that you’ve come across and I’ll add them to this post.

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