List Building – how much can you REALLY earn?

When I lost my virginity – my promo virginity I should say…

It was one wet and rainy Saturday afternoon, about 4pm.

We had just launched our first totally online ebook and to be honest with you I can’t even remember what it was called.

It was the first EVER promo we sent and we sent it via an AOL personal account. Didn’t even know what an autoresponder service was at that time. We had simply been adding email addresses to the AOL account. There were no permissions asked, no unsubscribe links. It was all very amateur and dodgy.

We had 4,000 people on the list. Or crammed into the address book of the AOL account is probably a better description.

We sent out details of the new ebook, giving the URL to the salespage.

After 500 had gone out AOL limited the account because they thought we were sending spam.

We got round this by sending 100 emails at a time. It took quite a while.

Once the last batch was sent we went back into the inbox to look for Paypal notifications to see if anyone had bought the ebook.

It was priced at $27.

I’l never forget the feeling as I saw ‘Notification of Payment’ emails FILLING UP the entire screen of my inbox. The inbox screen displayed just 20 emails at a time but it still impressed me.

As I refreshed the screen I could see NEW SALES dropping in every few minutes.

I couldn’t quite pinpoint the emotions I was feeling.

Obviously ‘Bloody Hell!’ and ‘Oh My God’ came into it…

But mainly I knew I had opened a door I could never, ever close.

I knew there was no going back to any other way of making a living. I forgot the work I’d put into writing the book, creating the salespage, making a (seriously crap) website to show it all off…

…and just concentrated on the warm fuzzy feeling of watching money drop into my Paypal account from nowhere.

In 24 hours we’d made a little over $4,000

That’s around $1 per person on the list.

Fast forward to this week.

I saw a product I really liked and was pretty sure it would help my subscribers. I signed up as an affiliate, wrote a brief email designed to grab interest and get the reader to the salepage for more details.

It took me 10 minutes.

I pressed send and 24 hours later I had around $600 in my account.

Now do the sums for that.

If a marketer getting an average result like that sends two promos a week (that’s 8 a month) for a whole year he’ll make $57,600 a year JUST from sending promo emails to a list.

Over the years I’ve built lists of over a million people. Now hang on that’s nowhere NEAR my list size now because most unsubscribe after a certain time. That’s the nature of IM

My list is less than 40,000 people now because I regularly ‘prune’ the dead wood from it (people who haven’t bought for a certain amount of time etc)

How I do things isn’t to everyone’s taste either. I’m not a ‘vanilla’ marketer that everyone thinks is ‘OK’

Rather I’m a liquorice and blackberry flavour that you either love or hate.

But you can see that my list isn’t huge. It’s responsive but not huge. Most of my IM mates have lists WAYYYY bigger than this. Maybe not as responsive tho.

Speaking from experience, if you build a list of 10,000 people – which if you work at it can take just a couple of months, you can generate an income of $40,000 a year if you’re willing to mail three times a week. That’s from just blasting the buggers with promos.

We have a list (different business) where all we do is mail a list of about 5,000 people three times a week with related promos. That’s it. That brought in just under $20,000 last year. The work took about an hour a day, for just three days a week. Finding related promos, writing an email and sending it.

More if you’re willing to do blog posts and build a relationship with them.

I enjoy having a relationship with my list. This is why there’s great interaction on my blog posts and my ticket desk.

Some marketers think building a relationship is like trying to befriend your lobster just before you have him for supper.

It’s like a circumscised man. Pointless.

And to be honest it’s EASIER not to build a relationship.

A mate of mine – an American marketer – is a GENIUS at this. I won’t name names but you’d know him. He constantly list builds and constantly mails it. That’s his business.

He loves it. I don’t know for sure what he earns but high six, low seven figures a year sounds right.

You getting this?


IF you build a list.

It’s GENUINE money on tap.

It WILL change your life.

Come a little closer to the screen and listen up:

“What the f*ck are you doing messing about with article marketing, or fannying about building a tropical fish Adsense site?”

You don’t need to create products, ‘establish a brand’ or anything like that. You may want to do that later with money in your pocket.

Many prospects actively DISLIKE it when you try to make friends with them. They simply want recommendations that they wouldn’t otherwise know about.

You want to make money in Internet Marketing?

HERE’S what you need to do to make money.

1. Build a list as big and as fast as you can in the IM niche. This will help with the ‘how’

2. Find products to recommend to it

3. Press ‘send’

Once you’re earning $4,000 a month from doing this, THEN you can start a blog about ‘Flower Pressing For Conspiracy Theorists’

Yesterday I recommended an easy to follow, very effective course that will show you how to build a list and become an email marketer.


Honestly guys, there IS a magic button out there where you just press a button and it pushes money into your account. It’s called email marketing.

It’ll involve some work but it’s worth it more than ANYTHING I’ve ever come across in IM

Comments most DEFINITELY welcome.

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15 responses to “List Building – how much can you REALLY earn?

  1. Sooooo….. 🙂

    What you are effectively saying Tony – is that people prefer just to get recommendations from you rather than all the emotional bonding and getting them to empathise with you when you tell them that you once had to sell the cat coz you couldn’t afford to feed it any more ….and if they are in the same boat .. you have the perfect solution for them??? 🙂


    I guess this goes against the grain from what most marketers teach somewhat…

    Maybe I should start re-writing my autoresponder sequence that I’m about to put out..

    Lets see what people think 🙂



  2. Debbie Kennedy Crook


    The problem is Tony, that there are so many people doing list marketing that just push one crap product after another onto their lists.

    They spend their time targeting newbies with their over priced crap that they’ve never actually used and try to tell people how to do something they’ve never actually done.

    The problem with this is that newbies aren’t newbies for ever. Eventually they catch on, unsubscribe from the “fake it til you make it” gurus and just stick with the people who have used honesty and integrity to earn their trust.

    It’s impossible to know everything about everything.So if you’re going to choose List Building as your main IM income, which I agree you should, then at least choose one subject you know about and you can be convincing and passionate about to start with. You can build you’re knowledge about related subjects and branch out from there.

    People will hang around alot longer if they know you’re honest.

    PS. I’ve been subscribed to you for at least 3 years so need I say more?

  3. I agree: email marketing is definitely a reliable source of income, but it does take a fair bit of effort to build a list of responsive subscribers. Open rates can be very demoralising until one learns how to communicate with the individuals on your list.

  4. Tony Shepherd

    Hi carl,

    I’m just saying it depends on what you’re comfy with.

    Like I said, I like working WITH my readers rather than blasting them with emails, just be aware that building a list and sending three or four promos a week WORKS in terms of making money.

    The ethics are yours to chew over 🙂

    Trust me, this is inner circle stuff you won’t hear as a newbie


  5. Tony Shepherd

    Hi Debbie

    Thanks for posting and a BIG thanks for hangin round so long on my list 🙂

    Yes a lot of people are email marketing, and YES a lot of people are pushing products without checking out their validity or content.

    But here’s the disturbing part.

    IT WORKS in terms of making money.

    it works well too.

    Why’d you think so many people ARE doing it? I know a well known marketer – lovely chap – really bad rep.

    He’s a family man who cares deeply about his friends and family.

    And he pushed the worst amount of crap via email you’ve ever seen.

    He made almost a million dollars last year.

    Email marketing WORKS.

    Build a list, send promos out to your list.

    You don’t need to build a relationship if you don’t want but if you do that’s fine.

    Do whatever lets you sleep at night.

    But whichever way you go, DO build a list.

    I’m not judging – I’m simply pointing out options

    Good comment mate


  6. The truth is Tony that in my case I trust your judgement as I know what to expect from a product you recommend – and also I’ve read stuff from you that means you know your s**t 🙂

    But how would a Marketer with less prominent profile make him / her self liked by their group if thei list was not as established and ‘warm’ as yours??

    I’ve been eyeballing your recommened product from all the promo mails you have sent and it looks juicy 🙂 .. just got to make sure I don’t over do it with the WSO’s this month after paying back a heafty sum I’ve borrowed and the purcahse of a new engine for my Peugeot 306 (all of £70.00 with a towbar thrown in lol) …

    I guess I’ll find the cash though .. You see, I want it coz you’ve said it’s good and you’re using it… But how would I gain the same respect from my trusted followers without the initial rapport style emails???



  7. Tony Shepherd

    That’s the point Carl.

    You wouldn’t NEED to necessarily find any respect or reputation.

    Just build a squeeze page, use paid mailings, free WSO’s or whatever floats your boats to get people to it and to sign up for your list

    (work your arse off to get peeps on your list)

    Then simply send recommendations to them.

    Some will buy. You need to research the type od product that fits exactly with your list…

    But the beauty is you don’t really need to do anything except mail. Some will buy.

    If only 0.05% of a 10,000 list buy a $27 product you mail out you’d make $135 from that mailing.

    So three a week would give you $1620 a month and $19,440 a year.

    The bigger your list, the more people will buy.


  8. … Mmmm???

    …Ok Tony .. so do you use your own name .. or a pen name??

    This looks like it’s well worth a try 🙂

    Many thanks !


  9. Amanda

    I agree with Gary.

    Building a list is one thing. Getting the buggers to
    open your e-mails is another 🙂

  10. Tony Shepherd

    A 5% open rate is considered healthy in IM these days.

    That’s 50 opens from a mailing of 1000

    What are you guys getting?


  11. I have been on your list a while now because I like your style and the fact you tell it as it is. As a marketer on someones list you expect to be hit with promotions, that is what email marketing is all about.
    If someone constantly sends you crap you unsubscribe asap. In any case for any product that you want to buy you have to carry out a bit of research to find out if it is any good, whether you are a newbie or not.


  12. Hi Tony

    Very interesting post and I agree with most of what you’ve said.

    Email marketing IS the number one thing you should concentrate on in IM and it most certainly does provide money on tap.

    It’s a numbers game. The more subscribers you have, the more sales you’ll make from sending out a promo.

    In the early days it won’t be many sales (or possibly sometimes none at all when your list is very small) but keep at it and they will increase.

    I haven’t sent out a single promo in the last 18 months which hasn’t made sales. They always do, even if it’s only a handful.

    My open rate is normally anywhere between 4 – 10%, depending on the promo, which I don’t think is too bad at all.

    Treat your subscribers with a little respect, don’t send them crap and people WILL buy from you.

    By all means send out a promo to your list every single day – but segment it up and send out different promos to different parts of your list so that people don’t get overloaded with promo emails.

    I have to disagree slightly with your post in that I think building a relationship IS important.

    Surely this blog is about building a relationship with your subscribers? We’re all here discussing stuff in the comments section and interacting with each other. Surely that makes us more likely to buy?



  13. Tony Shepherd

    Absolutely Dan – building a relationship is for me the ONLY way to be an ethical internet marketer in this niche.

    But I’m also saying that i you built a list and simply didn’t bother with any sort of relationship building, that you’d STILL make sales.

    But just like there are people like my readers who are smart and appreciate a two way relationship with their marketers (and obviously I appreciate you guys too) there are ALSO customers/prospects who DON’T want a relationship – they just want recommendations, promos and emails that alert them to the products that are available out there

    I know which I prefer, same as you I reckon, but it’s interesting to know that ‘distance’ emailing works too

    Thanks for commenting mate


  14. Hey Tone!

    This is some powerful stuff mate – really powerful.

    I used to think it was absolutely essential that you give your list something personable to create that all important relationship. And that this would be the only way to make money!! Well Sir – you’ve certainly turned that stereotyped theory on it’s head with this very informative post!! 😉

    Well done Tone, these hidden insights are so valuable to marketers (like me) still yet to take that flaming plunge into Selling wonderland! lol!

    Best wishes

  15. I have to admit I’m on far too many lists and don’t pay a lot of attention to the emails that come in(even yours) but there are three marketers that I subscribe to their blogs and they come up in google reader on my homepage. That makes sure I don’t miss gems like this post.

    Over the years I have read quite a lot of discussion about mailing frequency and not so long ago someone commented that he had always mailed twice a week but on the urging of a friend he upped it to daily to see what happened. He was expecting unsubscribes in droves, but what he got was a much higher open rate and the same conversion rate.

    Personally I look for good info as often as promos. I don’t mind a promo mixed with info but three straight promos in a row and I’m unsubscribed.

    My own small list has been gathered mainly from giveaway events and I am lucky if I get a 1% open rate. Mind you what surprised me even more was that less than half the people who sign up in a giveaway even access the download page!

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