Episode 3: Tools for Building a Mailing List

In this episode, we explore what should be a fundamental tool of any business: the mailing list. We’ll look at some of the best services out there and how to integrate them, as well as some simple techniques for building your list. Listen to the episode.

Show Notes

Hey everybody and welcome to Creator Toolkit, the podcast about building stuff on the web. I’m Joe Casabona and today we’re going to talk about mailing list services.

Why Build a Mailing List?

I think we should first talk about why we should even collect email addresses. When I first started my blog, I wasn’t very diligent about collecting emails because I didn’t see the point.

But those emails are the people who become your biggest fans – and those are the people that you can sell your product or services to. They’re also people who will give you feedback; in short, they’ll become the community you can build your business on.

In this episode we’re doing to explore a few tools for email list building: a regular email form, MailChimp, ConvertKit, and Drip.

There are tons more, but I think these do a nice job of covering the various feature sets out there. Let’s get started.

Regular Email Form

If you’re looking to start off simple (and always free), you could start with a simple home-made form. Using WordPress offers lots of solutions where users fill our a form and you can get an email, and the submission will be logged in WordPress. The two I recommend are Ninja Forms (which is free) and Gravity Forms (which starts at $39/year and offers lots of great features). You can do the same thing using a Google Form, if you’re not using WordPress (or another website building solution that allows for that).

The benefit here is that you don’t have to pay anything to get started, no matter how many people sign up. The drawback – and it’s a big one – is you have to manage the entire list yourself. That means that if someone unsubscribes, you need to delete them off the list yourself. You’ll also need to import any new email addresses into your email program when you do send out mailings.

This can get unmanageable after just a few dozen sign ups, so you might want to start this way, but move to a mailing list tool quickly. And I recommend Mailchimp as your next step.


Mailchimp is a perfect tool for manage your email list and it’s free for up to 2,000 users or 12,000 emails sent per month. It gives you everything you need, including simple forms, landing pages, and the ability to maintain multiple lists. It’s an excellent tool that served me really well while I used it. And there are lots of great companies using it.

There are also beautiful templates, and it’s easy to use. You can also integrate with eCommerce stores. When you get to paid accounts, you can do advanced tagging, segmentation, and all sorts of A/B Testing.

I’ll be the first to admit that I probably didn’t use it to its full potential before moving to ConvertKit.


In my opinion, ConvertKit is for those looking to take their email list to the next level. I was able to import my Mailchimp list, tag users accordingly, and build out all sorts of segments. I have lots of different forms and automated email sequences to give my subscribers the most value, without bombarding their inbox.

For example, instead of emailing my entire list about my HTML and CSS course, I instead email only those who’ve expressed interest in learning HTML and CSS. And I can also filter out those who have already purchased the course.

ConvertKit starts at $29/mo for up to 1,000 subscribers. If you’re serious about making money with your email list, I think ConvertKit is a hugely helpful tool.

If you want every automation and event tracking tool under the sun, there is something more powerful: Drip.


Where Mailchimp lets you send emails and ConvertKit lets you know about your users, Drip allows you to know what your users are doing. It acts as a mailing list and CRM tool.

One of the super cool things about Drip is its “Purchase Intent” score. By tracking your users’ actions through email and on your website, they’ll give them a score on how likely they are to purchase from you.

If you’re ready to take your selling to the absolute next level, try Drip. It’s free for up to 100 users, then pricing starts at $49/mo. That makes it the most expensive option we’ve talked about, but it has the potential to be the most valuable.

Wrapping Up

So that’s it for this episode. We talked about 4 email list building tools: your own form, Mailchimp, ConvertKit, and Drip. If you’re just starting out, your own form or Mailchimp offer some great features for free. When you’re ready to start selling to your list, consider ConvertKit or Drip. If you want to try your own form first, you can head over to my YouTube channel and see a video on building an email capture form with Google Forms.

For that and all the show notes, go to creatortoolkit.com/003/. If you liked this episode be sure to leave a rating and review in apple podcasts. And if you have any questions or want me to put together a specific toolkit, email me, joe@casabona.org or follow me on Twitter, jcasabona. Thanks so much for listening, and until next time, get out there and build something.

Originally posted on Creator Toolkit

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