Making Money With a Small, Responsive List

If you’ve been online for any amount of time, you’ve probably come across the phrase “The money is in the list.” This, of course, refers to the database of names, e-mail addresses, and other information you may collect from customers and prospective customers. Building a list is the core principle behind the Early to Rise / Agora Model of Internet Marketing.

All other things being equal, the bigger your list, the more money you will make. That’s great news for marketers and list owners who have thousands, tens of thousands, and even hundreds of thousands of subscribers.

But what if you are just getting started and don’t have a big list? Can you still make money with a small list?

The answer to that question is a resounding yes.

In fact, I personally experienced this when I first started marketing online. In one month, I was able to generate over $15,000 in sales with a list of only about 1,200 subscribers. And I built another small list (about 5,000 subscribers) that was able to generate six figures yearly.

You see, there is another key factor that determines how much money you can make with a list, other than its size. And that is the responsiveness of the list. Usually, in Internet marketing, responsiveness refers to how many people are opening your e-mails, clicking on your links, and taking action on what you want them to do (subscribing to your newsletter, for example, or making a purchase). The more people who do these things, the more “responsive” your list is.

Many things factor into building a responsive list – but one of best ways to increase its responsiveness is by developing a personal relationship with your subscribers.

The easier you make it for them to know, like, and trust you, the more likely they will be to open your e-mails, click on your links, and purchase the products you are selling or recommending.

So, in today’s digital world, how, exactly, do you develop a relationship with the people on your list?

Here are three specific things you can start doing right away to help create a bond with the users on the other end of your websites and e-mails and, thus, increase the responsiveness (and profitability) of your list.

• First, get personal.

Whenever you are writing copy for your website or an e-mail that you’ll be sending to your list, write it as if you were having a conversation with your reader, face to face. And look for ways to incorporate your personal story and your own personality into the copy.

I make my websites and e-letters personal by keeping my readers updated on where I am and what I’m doing. I also share information about my background (such as the fact that I’m a Penn State grad – Go Lions!), as well as my opinions on current news and events.

A good format is to start your e-mails with a quick personal update, then go into your content or sales message. And the “About” page on your website is a great place to share personal background information.

(Keep in mind that Early to Rise started out as a personal e-letter from Michael Masterson to a few of his colleagues.)

• Second, put a face to the name.

Be sure to have at least one photo of yourself on your website. Your readers want to know that there is a real person at the other end. See how Early to Rise does this with their Meet the Experts page.

Another good example is the way Alex Green uses a photo of himself with his two kids on his Spiritual Wealth website and at the bottom of each issue of his newsletter. A really effective “personal touch.”

• Third, use video.

Having video on your website is one of the best ways to connect with visitors (other than meeting them in person and shaking their hands). Soon enough, online video will be the rule, not the exception – because it’s not as expensive or as difficult as it used to be.

One tool to try is the Flip – an inexpensive camera you can use to record video and upload it to your website with the click of a button. You can see an example of how I use video, as well as the two other tactics discussed above, on my personal blog.

All three of these simple strategies can help you and your website stand out in a cold and crowded digital world. By taking advantage of them, you’ll quickly discover that while it’s true that “the money is in the list,” there is more money in your relationship with the people on that list.

[Ed. Note: As Internet marketing expert Brian Edmondson says, it IS possible to make serious money online, even if your e-mail list is still small. Brian – who is also Director of ETR’s Internet Money Club will be speaking at ETR’s 2008 Information Marketing Bootcamp this November. And he’s not the only one. 11 other money-making experts have agreed to our “Internet Ultimatum.” Learn how you could be making $1.2 million by the end of 2009 right here.]

  • rex


    Why ‘Janus,’ what did he/she do, or is this an acronym?

  • edwin

    Was that an actual person?

  • Suzanne Richardson

    Janus word, I believe, is named for an ancient Roman god.

    According to my copy of Benet’s Reader’s Encyclopedia, Janus was “the god of light who opened the sky at daybreak and closed it at sunset, in time he came to preside over all beginnings and endings, all entrances and exits. He is often represented as having two faces, one in front and one behind, one to see into the future and one to see into the past.”

    Since Janus represented two contradictory things at the same time, his name lends itself well to words that have opposite meanings.

    I’ve also heard Janus words referred to as “contranyms,” “autoantonyms,” and “antilogies.”

  • Robyn

    “garnishes” as to wages shoulde be ‘garnishees” it’s a French word, which is why the e on garnishe is silent, but the action has a double e …

    Some of my pet hates are the use of “on” …(on) up the road/mountain etc … where else would you be but ON the road/nountain if your going up it? This situation occurs far too often with US authors in particular …

    Another is the use of “slack” … since when is rain or fog under tension? They have density, so ease or lift. Only items under tension can “slacken” or otherwise loosen …

    And since when does a hill et al have a “back” side? They may have backs, but sides?

    Shall I keep going?

  • Jennifer

    Contronyms – how about blunt (dull – to the point), bolt (to fasten – to run away), clip (fasten together – cut out.

    As for pet peeves, one of mine (I have many) is the use of ‘of’ when it it not needed, as in: he jumped off of the chair (of is redundent here); outside of the US – of is only needed when outside is used as an adjective as in ‘he painted the outside of the house’ in the US case, outside is a preposition and does not take of.

  • james

    How about “custom”? The custom of a culture is universal while a custom hot rod is unique.