How to Grow Your Email List - A Case Study of a Niche Blog

How many articles are out there telling you how to increase blog traffic? Too many to count. Which one is really effective? I've tried numerous strategies on the 4 blogs that I own. I finally got an answer! Well, one answer. It's not one factor but a combination which bloggers can try. 


In one week, one of my blogs went from 0 to 500++ subscribers, and the list continues to grow steadily. I've been blogging for a year and only now did I see a sign that I'm reaching my audience.

What did I do right this time and what was I doing wrong on my other blogs? This is what happened.... I believe these factors affected the blog's popularity. 


This was a Niche Blog. I created it for Executive Assistants, like me... a very small group but an industry in itself. My aim was to share my expertise in the field of C Level Administration. The articles are very insightful due to my vast experience in the field. But it never got more than a dozen visitors in the beginning.

Why? Doesn't it have any value? I had a "Subscribe Now" section on the blog, but there were no takers. The response of my colleagues were lukewarm at best.

My other blog which is a "Hybrid", (the blog about everything type) had 0 subscribers too. It had a high page view but no one wants to receive my rants on their inbox.


One day, I shared one of my articles on a LinkedIn community for executive assistants, but I changed the title. Instead of giving it a corporate sounding title, like "Executive Assistants Competing in the Corporate Jungle", I changed it to, "Do You Have the Queen Bee Complex?" Instant response from executive assistants all over the world! Up to now, that LinkedIn post is getting comments and it's been a month. It's obvious now that many of my colleagues were more interested to see if they have this Queen Bee complex, rather than finding out how they should compete in the corporate jungle. It touched a chord and made it interesting.

Even though the content was THE SAME, the new title was more intriguing and that made all the difference. The funny thing is that I hesitated with the title at first, worried that it might be offensive.
But I thought, what the heck? It's what the article was about! Good decision. This one title prompted my target audience to visit the blog, and discover the other articles that were left unread, because of boring and lackluster titles... and they subscribed.... and my followers grew. Awesome.


On the first day that I started getting feedback on the LinkedIn post, I checked the blog's subscriber list through Feedburner, which is the default feed for Blogger. There was no movement. Why is it that many people were reading and raving about the article, but no one was subscribing? Don't they see the option to subscribe? So, I looked for a better mail service and chose MailChimp. It was a little difficult to navigate at first, but I was able to setup a Subscriber Popup for the blog. 

Because I realized that people had a very small and focused attention span. If you don't catch their attention and fuel their interest, they will just move on to something else.

When you visit a website, do you really explore the site if you're not looking for something? No, right? We get what we need and we scan the site for other interesting items and move on. My target audience are not bloggers. They are not very familiar with the subscribe option. In fact, they think that subscribe means they have to pay for it, like when you subscribe to a cable channel or a magazine. I know this because some of the subscribers emailed me just to confirm that it's FREE.

The Subscribe Popup that I designed had the assurance that it was free and a promise that they won't be spammed. As soon as I activated the popup through MailChimp the next day, all first time visitors of the site were prompted to subscribe before they can proceed to the article. Since my colleagues were very intrigued with the article by then, they subscribed. I saw the spike immediately and it was a beautiful sight! Finally, people were reading the articles that I wrote for them. It was a vindication of sorts.

Some sites have very irritating subscribe popups, which keeps on blocking your view while you're reading something - even though you closed it already! I made sure that the popup was only offered once, within the first 5 seconds. Irritating my readers was the last thing I wanted to do.


Every topic that you can think of has already been discussed on the Internet (ok, maybe not every but most!). It's a challenge to be "Original". My blog was not the only website offering tips for executive assistants. Why should people be interested in mine?

Very few of my EA colleagues are writers, but there are some who have written books. Most articles on the Internet are posted by recruiters, trainers or just news clips. Yes, they were factual and detailed... but shallow. Like a directory or a menu. There was no EMOTION. It didn't make you FEEL anything.

Mine had an element that made it special. It is a website for Executive Assistants, written BY an Executive Assistant.... and I had very powerful views about the job. I knew their pains and their challenges. I discussed the positive and the negative. I named the elephant in the room. This is what my colleagues wanted to read about. The old timers wanted validation and appreciation. The newbies wanted to know what they should expect and if they're on the right path. I gave that to them. I very rarely tell them how to do their everyday tasks. I discussed concepts, approach and mindsets instead. I was an expert in my field - and they knew it, and they appreciated the sharing.

That's why they subscribed. They want to hear what a fellow EA has to say, and they see themselves in the words that I share. The writing voice is what separates a mediocre blog from an interesting one with more subscribers.

It's no different from this blog. I may be new to Self Publishing, but what makes me an authority on the subjects that I write about is that I write from experience. I have my opinions to offer, not just facts. This makes my writing original.

After this small success, I've proven that the following will help grow your subscriber list.
  • Niche Blogs - Target your audience and write about the things they want to read about.
  • A Catchy Title - Think of a catchy and intriguing title for your posts. It makes a huge difference.
  • Subscribe Pop-Up - Make it easy to subscribe to your blog. Don't expect visitors to look for the subscribe form on the website.
  • Great Content - Content is King. It truly is. Don't write robotic and safe articles. It's a blog! It's supposed to be a reflection of your thoughts, so write it with your own opinion and voice. A helpful blog that has both authority and personality can be very powerful - and fun to read!
I'm now ending this article with an invitation to subscribe to my posts... It's Free! :)

So I can write about how this one went from ? to 1000 in one week next time!

See you around!

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