Today, I’m going to show you how one 26-year old marketer added 3,000 email subscribers in 7 days without spending a dime on advertising.

Let’s meet Justin Mares.

Justin is the co author of Traction– a book about how start-ups get traction.

email subscribers

Back in 2015, in preparation for his relaunch of Traction, Justin was trying to figure out a quick way to reach thousands of potential new customers for his book.

He decided he needed to add a large number of email subscribers to his list in a very short period of time for in order for the results of the relaunch reach the numbers he was looking for.

This ruled out most of the “conventional” list building options like blogging and paid advertising.

It normally takes between a few months to years to build a following with blogging as your main draw.

That was way too long for Justin’s book relaunch.

I grew this blog from nothing to a blog with 10,000 monthly visitors, working part time and without using SEO.

Want to know how I made it happen? I’ll show you what I did. Click here to get instant access.

Though paid ads work to drive traffic instantly, Justin quickly realised he had to rule this option out, too: he is selling a low price, low margin product- a physical book.

The most expensive version of Traction, the hardcover, sells for less than $20 a pop.

He was already paying for production costs; he didn’t need advertising expenses to further narrow his profit margin.

So what was he going to do?

He came up with a genius plan –

Give away a free course in exchange for email addresses.

He created a free email course.

He gave the course away without any paid marketing or blogging.

What was the result?

email subscriber

In just 7 days, Justin added 3,000+ email subscribers to his list to whom he could promote his relaunch.

All he did was create a free 14-day email course.

In the course, he had 7 in-depth lessons to help someone gain traction in Internet Marketing.

The course was about Facebook ad tips, getting more Twitter followers, and email marketing tactics.

Understand, the course was not creating using the book’s content; the course content was an added value to the book content.

Not bad huh?

In this post, I’m going to show you how you can take advantage of this strategy to grow your email list within a few days, just like Justin did.

So let’s dive in.

Step 1: Position Yourself to Attract a Targeted Audience

Here’s how:

1. Give your email course a “result-oriented” name.

In other words, the title of the course is a sales tool, just like a poster ad.

It should result in some sales all by itself, plus nudge those on the fence to look for more information.

Say your niche is weight loss and your course is about showing people how to lose 5 lbs in 6 weeks using isometrics and good nutrition.

Your course title could be something like “Lose 5 Pounds in 6 Weeks While Sitting at Your Desk.”

It is a very enticing title for someone who has always dreamed of losing weight and re-shaping, but has to spend long hours at the office.

The title also sets your personal goal for the course content because you have to fulfil the promise made by the title.

2. Spend quality time researching, mulling over, planning the learning experience, and taking note of what your course can concretely offer to an audience hungry for that kind of information.

Besides the title, this is what will set you apart from the crowd – the care and attention you give to the construction and content of your course.

By doing so, you are optimizing your position in the marketplace.

Positioning: a marketing strategy used to make a product or brand hold a unique position in the minds and share reaction of customers.

Justin was honest enough to point out that he hadn’t done enough to position his course when he launched it.

Had he taken the care to provide a better title, he could have built an even larger email list compared to the results he did achieve.

Were he to start over, rather than promising 7 lessons to help someone gain marketing traction, he would improve the position of his course in the marketplace by giving it a more positive, result-oriented title…

Something like, “2X Your Lead Generation in 2 Weeks”.

Step 2: Create Your Email Lessons

Now, once you have decided on the name of the course, it’s content creation time.

There are 2 approaches to creating your email course content.

You can either:

Write all the content yourself; or

Get others to write killer content for you.

If you know your topic well, the straightforward way is to do your own research and write all the content yourself.

If you’re not a master in your topic, and you don’t want to spend time on research and content creation, you may try contacting successful bloggers on the topic and get them to create content for you.

Do your research to find the top bloggers within your niche and invite each one of them to contribute a killer lesson for your email course, with full credits.

Tell them how your plan will benefit them if they partner with you in this project.

It’s a win-win situation: You will do the heavy lifting to get the course out to the targeted audience in your niche, and the thousands of people subscribing to your course will see their content and may check out their blog by clicking on the credits link, leading to more exposure for them.

It’s not hard to convince someone when they see the benefits to them outweigh their input of energy in creating a short lesson about something they’re already good at.

They could merely re-word one of their popular blog posts. From their point of view, that could mean very little energy spent to obtain extra exposure.

Step 3: Create Landing Page for Your Email Course

Next step, create your landing page.

There are two ways to handle this:

1. Create a solo landing page with its own domain;

Ex: (be sure to use the phrase in the opening paragraph of your landing page)

2. Create a landing page on your existing niche site, giving the page topic extension.

Justin recommends hosting your landing page on its own domain name.


When you have your own domain name, your course stands out on its own. It’s easier for your subscribers to remember it and spread the word that they enjoy your course.

There are various tools around that you can use to create a professional looking landing page.

Justin used Instapage.

Instapage comes with many pre-built templates that make it so easy to put together a sleek looking landing page up in a very short time.

It took Justin just a little over an hour to get this up and running:

email subscribers

The sign-up form above is at the top of the page with copy under that, then another sign-up form at the bottom of the short content.

There are several key ingredients you want to have on your landing page:
1. A benefit driven headline.
2. An email capture form.
3. A short description of what your course is about and why people should sign up.
4. The table of contents for your course.
5. A headshot of you with an encouraging smile.
6. A short introduction of who you are and why people should learn [elements of your course] tactics from you.
7. A second email capture form at the end of your page content.

That sums up how to build a landing page for your course.

When you’re done, just remember to connect the email capture fields to your email service provider.

Believe it or not, that is a common oversight –

Get everything set up, hit publish, traffic starts coming in and oops!

Forgot to connect the sign-up forms to the autoresponder. So sad.

Step 4: Setup Your Email Course

Once you have your landing page set up, it’s time to organize the delivery of your email course.

Justin used Mailchimp to drip feed his lessons.

Aweber and GetResponse are other popular autoresponders.

An autoresponder, email marketing’s best friend, allows you to schedule delivery of your emails so that an email is automatically delivered to subscribers at a certain date and time.

Just like an IV drips lifesaving drops into a patient’s arm, emails are “dripped” into the receiver’s email account.

Drip feed.

Or maybe the term comes from the old Automatic Drip Coffee Maker. 😉

When someone signed up to the Traction course, they automatically received one email in the lesson series every 2 days.

Apart from the lesson series, everyone who signed up also received an automatic and immediate welcome email sent to their inbox. That’s really important.

The welcome email looked something like this:

In the email, Justin encouraged his new subscribers to spread the word about the free course.

Here is his genius set-up…

email subscribers

In the last paragraph of the email, Justin inserted a link that, when clicked, provided his subscribers with a pre-written message they can forward directly to a friend or colleague.

In email marketing terms, this is called a pre-populated message.

Pre-populating is a terrific marketing strategy that can be used in different ways, but here we are only talking about the message that was forwarded to members of subscriber’s circle:

email subscribers

It contains a friendly, pre-populated message and links to the course sign-up landing page.

Because the information and recommendation is forwarded by someone the recipient knows, those who click on the link are already at least 50% sold on your course.

This is a great tactic to increase the number of people who sign up for your email course.

Mailchimp stats showed Justin that 20% of the people who read his email took him up on his email forwarding invitation and shared the course with their friends.

This friend-tell-friend hack encouraged his subscribers to spread the course for him without doing anything on his end apart from writing the message and setting up the automation.

Pretty neat, huh?

After they read the welcome email and received the first-lesson, Mailchimp automatically sent out a new lesson every 2 days, as you can see below.

email subscribers

It’s a set-and-forget system. Once the email sequence is set up, it runs forever without requiring Justin’s attention.

That done, he needed to turn his attention to promoting the course.

Step 5: Promote Your Email Course

Now that you have everything set up, the fun part begins…

Making your target market aware of your course: positioning your brand and product.

Justin listed his course on Product Hunt.

He also, promoted it to the /r/startup sub Reddit and Growth Hackers.

Each of these sites led to several hundred signups for Justin.

Product Hunt led the pack by driving the largest number of landing page visits and registration follow-throughs.

Besides posting in each of those sites, Justin tweeted about his course.

Unfortunately, at the time he didn’t have a large following on Twitter so he didn’t garner a significant number of sign-ups using that method.


In just over 7 days, Justin collected over 3,000 sign ups to his Traction course, demonstrating that the free course giveaway is definitely a powerful short term tactic to build a sizeable email list.

Compared to building a list and a following using a blog or social media by itself, offering a free course is an incredibly pragmatic and effective tool.

You can apply it to leverage your position in huge online communities like Reddit, Growth Hackers, and Product Hunt, acquiring interested, targeted consumer email addresses from people most likely to buy your end product.

I’ve shown you everything it took Justin to pull in 3,000+ email subscribers with a free email course.

Give this a shot.

You’ll be glad you did.

If you have any questions, just leave them in the comment area below for me to answer.

6 thoughts on “How to Add 3,000 Email Subscribers in 7 Days (With Zero Ad Spend)

  1. Using this exact method to gain subscribers, but my optin rate is just 1%. I know I need to make some changes in order for it to work at a better rate, but I’m just lazy. Laziness and not taking action is the biggest enemy here.
    Thanks for sharing your knowledge. I’ll work on a few things for sure.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *