5 Tricks for Growing Your Subscribers By 10,000 Emails With One Single eBook

This article on growing your email subscribers is a guest post from Walter Chen. Walter Chen is the CEO and co-founder of iDoneThis, the easiest way to share and celebrate what you get done at work, every day. You can follow him on Twitter, and read his musings on the iDoneThis blog.

Blog posts are content, but books are products. This is a really important distinction for marketers.

People presume blog posts are quick, off-the-cuff ideas, and that books are well-crafted, thoroughly thought-out masterpieces. Anything in book form will stick with people more than just a blog post. It is a tangible, packaged product that is way more powerful than anything online.

That is why putting together an eBook from your previously produced content is one of the easiest and quickest ways to engage with your audience and capture tens of thousands of emails to grow your subscriber list.

This is is a strategy we have used at iDoneThis to grow our email list by 10,000+ emails. We use previously published content, package it into an eBook and use it to drive our subscriber list up by tens of thousands. With great content, a bit of time, and a chunk of marketing savvy, you can put your email list into the tens of thousands just as we did.

How to Make an eBook

OK, let’s do this! Making an eBook is so ridiculously easy that absolutely anyone can do it. And it takes next to no time at all.

All you need are three things:  content, a way to publish, and a little extra sugar.


Books are long, blog posts are not. So producing the former from the latter might seem difficult, but it isn’t. If you have been posting for a while then you definitely have enough for a book.

A good length for a eBook is 10k+ words. If your posts are about 1,000 words long, then that is only ten posts you need for your book. I guarantee you that you’ll have more than enough material for a book when you search through your archives and starting finding relevant content.

To produce your eBook you need to go through all of your posts on your chosen topic and curate them into separate chapters. When I produced The Definitive Guide to Content Marketing I already had all the content. I had been producing articles on content marketing on the blog for ages, and simply combined them all into one single page, with different chapter headings and subsections. It didn’t take more than an hour.

Once that was done all I had to do was…


This is the bit people think will be difficult, but is actually a piece of cake. There are two ways to publish your ideas in the form of an eBook: the easy way, and the really easy way.

The easy way first. Print Friendly & PDF is an awesome chrome extension or bookmarklet that lets you easily publish your webpages as PDFs. Have you ever tried to print a webpage? It sucks. All of the hidden elements get printed, all of the inline design is off, and obviously none of the links work. You end up with a useless 10 page document from a single, short webpage.

Print Friendly & PDF email subscribers ebook

But with Print Friendly & PDF, you can remove any unneeded elements before printing or converting to PDF, as well as removing images and changing the text size if you need. Plus, any links are printed out fully, so no matter whether someone is reading it online or in hard copy, they can find out where all the information came from.

Now for the really easy way: get someone else to do it.

When I produced The Definitive Guide to Content Marketing, I used SketchDeck. SketchDeck are an online design team that will produce amazing designs for pretty much anything. We are talking eBooks, but they can put together infographics, slides, flyers, pages, and emails if that is what you need.

They will quickly take your content, design a great book around it, and then give you the PDF. And at a fair price —  my eBook only cost me $300 to produce with SketchDeck.


This tip comes straight from Noah Kagan. Noah is the founder of AppSumo, founder of SumoMe, and one of the first employees and both Facebook and Mint. He grew AppSumo into a 1,000,000 subscriber email list, so he is a grandmaster at this type of marketing.

Noah always tries to give away bonus content whenever he writes. Not only does he want to help inform his audience, he also wants to give them something actionable — a spreadsheet, a cheatsheet, a checklist — so that they can act upon the ideas in his post.

You can add this with your PDF in a zip file and, voila, it’s ready for your audience.

5 tricks to get to 10K subscribers

1. Add the eBook as a content upgrade

Your eBook can actually be that bonus content Noah suggests you provide, presented as a content upgrade. The List Builder function of his app, SumoMe, is a great way to add a content upgrade link into your posts.

Using this cut-and-paste code, you can easily add a list builder box into your site, capturing the emails of anyone that wants to download your eBook.

sumome email lister builder 

Say someone is reading a post on your site that is related to your eBook. They finish reading, but still want more. If at the end of the post you have a sign up box allowing people to subscribe and learn more about what they have just been reading, they will jump at the chance.

When Brian Dean of Backlinko did this, he saw a 785% increase in subscribers in one day. He decided to do this as people were actively asking him for more information in the comments of his post. People want good content, and they want in-depth ideas and analysis. You can give them this through your eBook and get more subscribers at the same time.

Folks who used List Builder saw a 10x increase in conversion rates by putting the popup on pages where it might be especially relevant. For example, you could put a content upgrade on a blog post that’s a chapter in your eBook. You know that people are interested in the eBook because they’re on the blog post to begin with.

sumome email lister builder

You can see this is practice at iDoneThis. We have a great post about using Buffer and their daily email to get more social shares and more pageviews. We know people interested in this post will be interested in other aspects of content marketing, so at the end of the post we have a call to action box offering our free guide to content marketing. Hey presto, our audience gets something they want, and we get another subscriber.

2. Use Twitter to get people to sign up

Twitter is not just for arguing with people. The company has recently rolled out a number of services that are really helpful for marketing.

To generate leads via our eBook on Twitter, we used Twitter’s lead generation cards. Using lead generation cards, people can show an interest in your company, sharing their contact information for your subscriber list direct from twitter with a single click.

twitter build email list

We devised a surefire strategy to get those cards in front of eyes that would be interested. When promoting one of our eBooks, we asked Adii Pienaar, founder of Receiptful and WooThemes, to take a look at our book and write a testimonial, which he duly did. Awesome.

twitter lead generation build email list

We then crafted a tweet using this testimonial and linked it to a lead generation card. We then targeted just Adii’s followers on twitter, so this quote would show up in their timeline. From the card, they could download the eBook with a single click. We would capture their email, and redirect them to the resource.

Our engagement rates were massive with this trick and the cost per lead was much lower than normal.

You can set your budget for how much you want to pay, so this can be an cheap and easy way to captures a few more subscribers, and get a bit more kudos.

twitter lead generation build email list

3. Use your eBook to get press

Particularly in niche areas, the media want to be pitched ideas for news stories, and your eBook launch is definitely a news story. Additionally, journalists are always looking for exclusives and you can offer one to the news site that you think we cover the eBook well, and get you the most interest.

When launching The Comprehensive Guide to Remote Working, we offered an exclusive to Remotive.io, a newsletter targeted towards remote workers and companies. We knew that their readers would be interested both in the eBook itself and iDoneThis. They shared our eBook launch with their 8,000+ email list and drove completely new traffic to our site.

Similarly, we pitched our eBook, The Busy Person’s Guide to the Done List, to traditional industry outlets, and we got nice articles placed in the likes of Inc and Entrepreneur, which sent thousands of downloads our way.

4. Use your eBook to guest post on other sites

You shouldn’t restrict your good ideas to just your site. Guest posting on other sites is one of the easiest ways to market your book, get more subscribers, and get interesting content out into the world. 

Contact the top websites in your bailiwick. Pitch them topics based on the chapters of your eBook and see who is interested. Most will be, because a guest post is a win-win. Both you and they will be driving traffic to the post and both will see results. 

As for the post itself —  well, it’s already written. Take the chapter straight from your eBook, make a few changes to target it exactly at that site, and profit. Include a link back to your site and the sign up for the eBook, and then have an easy way to spread the word about the book. You can get through a high volume of these posts as you are repurposing content rather than writing from scratch each time.

remotiveio guest post email subscribers

99u guest post email subscribers

For our Done List eBook, we did high value guest posts this way, getting articles in 99U, the Zapier Blog, and Lifehacker, sites with massive distribution. 

Don’t forget that for each post, you should include links inside the body back to your eBook, as well as having an explicit plug at the end that makes it easy for readers to find the whole eBook.

5. Use a great SEO keyword for your eBook

Search is still king. For completely new subscribers, the best way for them to find you is to put a relevant search term into Google and have you pop up at the top.

The best way to rule Google is to choose an SEO-optimized keyword for your book so that it will come up whenever anyone searches your topic. To help Google link your eBook to that word, make sure you have an HTML copy of your eBook on your site, as well as a PDF and everywhere on your site you mention the keyword, link to the HTML copy of your eBook.

You can try a tool like keywordtool.io to find some good SEO-optimized keywords.

keywordtoolio guest post email subscribers

Like I said above, 10k+ words is good for SEO long-form content. At that length, Google will know that you have something worthwhile to say, and you will get a boost up the rankings. Once people arrive at your site via search, capture them via a sign up box for the PDF, and you will soon be hitting that 10,000 email mark.

Top image from Jonas Tana

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