“Every company’s greatest assets are its customers, because without customers there is no company.” – Michael LeBoeuf

There’s no denying that one of the best ways to build a profitable online business is by having your own e-mail list.

But how do you get started if you don’t even have a website?

Today, I’m going to show you how I built a list of over 100,000 subscribers without one. If you follow these steps, you’ll be able to do it too… without ever hiring a designer.

I discovered this strategy just over two years ago when I wanted to start building an e-mail list for a new e-mail newsletter called Internet Marketing Rant. The newsletter was just an idea and our resources were very limited when I started this project. Plus, I didn’t know if people would respond to it.

I figured there had to be a way to avoid the expense, time, and energy of creating a full website for a concept that might or might not work. After all, we believe you should test your business ideas and prove them before you devote too much of your resources to them.

Just think about what goes into a typical website. You need to create a design and graphics. You need a header, homepage, “contact us” page, site map. Plus, you have to create pages and pages of content just to fill it out. You can easily do these things yourself or hire someone to take care of them for you. But I was impatient. I wanted to get started right away, not spend a week or two putting together a full website.

Then lightning struck. I thought, “Why don’t I skip all that website hassle and just create one small Web page?” If I could get that one small Web page to work, I knew I could always go back later and create a full website.

Now, the Web page I created wasn’t just any page. It was something called a “squeeze page.” If you’ve been to any of ETR’s Internet marketing conferences or are a member of our new Internet Money Club, you’re already familiar with this concept. If not, I’m going to give you the 20-second crash course.

Put simply, a squeeze page is a single Web page with the sole purpose of capturing an e-mail address. It’s often formatted like a small sales page, with several paragraphs of sales copy listing the benefits of whatever you want people to sign up for.

Instead of an order button, your squeeze page should have a small sign-up box. Your goal here is to entice people to simply give you their e-mail address. You may want to create a small bonus report about your subject matter to get your website visitors to sign up. But you can also present the e-mails they will receive from you as the “bonus” they’ll get for doing it.

When I started to write my squeeze page, I hit a wall. I thought to myself, “If I’m going to go out and market this e-mail list, I definitely need something to sell.” But I didn’t have a product. At first, this looked like a really big problem.

At the time, ETR didn’t have any products related to Internet marketing (the subject matter of the e-mail newsletter I was creating). The only thing we offered was our yearly conference. But a conference was not going to help me acquire brand-new customers.

That’s when I had another revelation. “Why not sell somebody else’s product?” I thought. I knew plenty of people who were selling Internet marketing programs. I just needed to make a deal with one. This is called affiliate marketing. You direct customers to buy someone else’s product, and you get a portion of their profits.

I took that idea a step further. When interested customers visited my squeeze page and gave me their e-mail address, I’d then send them directly to my affiliate’s product page. The product page had already been created by my affiliate, so I had to do very little work. And if some of the people who signed up for our e-mail newsletter bought my affiliate’s product, I’d instantly be making my first sales.

It looked like a win/win situation: I’d build my list, and the share of the money I’d receive from sales would offset some of my costs.

When I put this concept into practice, it worked out even better than I expected. I tested it by investing $1,500 in an advertisement in someone else’s e-mail list. The results blew me away.

Don’t quote me on the numbers, but here’s what happened…

1,200 subscribers signed up for my new e-mail newsletter. And some of them bought the affiliate product I was advertising, bringing in over $4,000 in sales. My share of the sales not only paid for the cost of the ad, but actually turned a profit.

Sounds pretty amazing, doesn’t it? I had no existing product and no website, but there I was, getting paid to build my e-mail list.

I repeated this formula hundreds of times, testing a variety of different e-mail lists and online ads. Some worked really well, and some didn’t. I stuck with the ones that worked, and my list continued to grow.

By the end of the year, I had a list of over 100,000 people. It was an incredible feeling. But the best part was that this list has allowed me to market the new Internet marketing programs we’ve been creating at ETR. Programs that are helping the people who buy them build an e-mail list… partner with JVs and make a fortune… develop their own million-dollar products… and much more. And with the sales of our Internet marketing products, I’ve helped add plenty of money to ETR’s bottom line.

Think about how you can apply this strategy. Here are the steps:

  1. Find a product in your area of interest that you can sell as an affiliate. (That was my last step, but I know better now.)
  2. Write your squeeze page. Focus on the benefits the customer will get from your e-mails. And be sure to allude to the product they’ll be offered after they sign up.
  3. Post this single Web page by registering a domain name and opening a hosting account. (This will cost you less than $10 using a site like GoDaddy.). Start testing. Google AdWords could be a good place to start.

If you’ve wanted to start an online business but think you must have a product or website first, just remember that it’s not necessary. If you start today, you can begin building your e-list tomorrow morning.

[Ed. Note: Avoid the post-Thanksgiving shopping madness with ETR’s special “Giving Thanks” sale going on right now. You get savings of up to 64% on many of ETR’s top programs… some of which are discounted by as much as $298!]

Patrick Coffey is a former Director of Internet Marketing for ETR and helped create a number of successful products during his tenure with the company. He has also headed up the wealth-building sites League of Power and The Wealth Authority.

Patrick Coffey is a former Director of Internet Marketing for ETR and helped create a number of successful products during his tenure with the company. He has also headed up the wealth-building sites League of Power and The Wealth Authority.