The Money is in the Content. The List is Useless!

by Alex on March 23, 2011

the money is not in the list its in the content

Email Marketing 101

‘If the money was in the list’ then Santa would be the Top Affiliate every year. But he’s not is he?!’

We’ve all heard the expression ‘The Money is in the List’ but let me tell you that unless you are either a:) extremely experienced or b:) extremely naive this is not the case at all.

Let’s examine the phrase, because it’s been done to death and is almost cliche now.

The Money: OK that part makes sense. Money, the colourful plastic stuff that we get down under, or the boring green – all looks the same – paper money that you guys get in the US. We all want more of it and Warren Buffett and Donald Trump have it all.

The List: Ah see now this is where we forget to take stock.

I let a mormon in the house once because he said he wanted to ‘talk about Jeeeeeeesus”. Once inside I asked him what he wanted to talk about, to which he replied “Ummm, well you see I’ve never really actually thought this far ahead

OK so that didn’t really happen, but the point is that you can get so caught up in the easy and exciting part of the equation (money for us, talking about Jesus for the Mormon) that you forget to look at the bigger picture and evaluate exactly where you are going to go next.

What about the List?

Email Marketing is about building relationships with your readers through your emails so that you gain their trust and in turn they are more inclined to buy from you.
That’s it in a nutshell – don’t let anyone tell you different, but how to build a list from your blog and why are not necessarily the samereasons you build them on your ‘other’ sites.

You Need More than One List!

Ask any successful affiliate marketer to show you their Autoresponder (Aweber) account and they will reveal at least 3 or 4 active lists in various niches. They may or may not have a list that bears their blog, their brand, and their name but they will definitely have a host of others, none of which bears their real name. It is through these lists that they probably generate the bulk of their income too. (shhh I won’t tell if you don’t)

Get Out of the Blogger Mindset

As Bloggers we are taught to build relationships, foster community and gain our readers trust. This effects how we manage any email marketing we might do through our blog because it’s not just our real name that we are sharing here,  it’s our entire personality and everything that makes up our story.

Then of course there is the products we are promoting.
I would never promote something that I did not use or had no experience with, not just because it would reflect badly on my brand, but also because I don’t want to ruin any credibility that I have with you.

But what if it’s not your blog?

If it’s just another niche site of yours then there is no brand or credibility to protect, and there is also no chance you are going to try all the products you are promoting within that niche either! You could if you wanted, but I can imagine that if you were in the ‘Stop Smoking Niche’ for example and you were a non smoker, … well you get the picture.

So that Brings us back to the List again.

There is no List!

I’m not talking about subscribers here, I’m talking about the content that makes up the list in the first place!

I created Build.Rank.Profit – a free course that I offer through my autoresponder series, and this took me over 2 months to write, consistently everyday and required every bit of my online experience and knowledge  to put together.

That’s just one example, but you should be getting a clear picture here, a picture that no one seems to point out when they are shouting out meaningless phrases like ‘The Money is in the List’

What Content goes into my list?

The question I asked many a Search Engine and Forum regarding email marketing was what on earth I should put in my autoresponder series (followup emails) because quite frankly I was stumped.

Creating content is hard enough as it is – anyone who has heavily used article marketing will know what I am talking about!

The results I got back gave me no choice but to assume that noone else had a clue either. Debate still rages about how many emails you should write before you try to sell something, what format you should be using, how to choose the right products that will sell, what copy works best in what niches – the list goes on (and on and on and on)

So How Long Would it Take You?

  • How long would it take you to research your niche, find out what problems they have and then write valuable followup emails advising them that you can help?
  • Then how much longer would it take you to then research the various affiliate networks to see what products and services you could promote that would fit with this audience?
  • Then how long would it take you to research those products and either write or outsource the creation of quality sales copy written around the product you are going to promote?

…It would take forever, that’s how long it would take – which is EXACTLY why I have never attempted to build a list off of any of my Amazon or CPA based niche sites.

Until Now…

Putting the Auto in Autoresponders

Recently I discovered a product that totally blew my mind, and I don’t think I have clicked the Buy Now Button with less hesitation in my life!

For the last year, the question of what content should make up my auto responder, and more importantly – when I was going to find the time to actually sit down and write it plagued me to no end. So you can imagine that when I discovered a product, that for less than $100 would give me fully monetized, professionally written email followups in over 11 different niches I was speechless (and if you know me you know that getting me to shut up is no easy feat).

Well that’s exactly what Forced Subscription Profits is!

the ultimate email marketing product

What is it?

To put it simply, FSProfits is the most incredible plug and play autoresponder (email followup) system I have ever come across.

What you get is all your followup emails professionally copywritten and monetized for you, provided in a text file so that you simply ‘find and replace’ the links with your own affiliate link and then paste them into your autoresponder.

But you don’t just get this for one niche!?!

How about 16 Niches covering everything including Fitness, Golf, Gardening, Dogs, Cats, Weightloss, Babies, Stop Smoking and even a few in the IM niche, promoting products like, well this one!
For less than $100  you get instant access to 934 emails, where every 3rd one on average is monetized, meaning you are promoting around 300 products that earn you instant commission!

That’s 18 Years worth of content!!

What I like about this is the ease with which you can instantly create another income stream for yourself.
I currently have over 20 profitable sites in 10 different niches, and I am already thinking about how much more money those sites are going to be making once I integrate these followup messages into them.

Go now and get this incredible deal!
No, it’s not coming down (they never are really) but the longer you wait to integrate these powerful follow up messages into your niche sites, the more money you are ultimately leaving on the table.

Integrating the List into your site.

Aweber recently introduced a plugin that meant adding the opt in form to your WordPress Blog is now as easy as following the steps.  You can choose to use a Pop Up Box like Popup Domination (which I use here and highly recommend) but if you are talking specific niche sites then I think you are better off with a subtle call to action in the sidebar. Of course I don’t know this until I test it, and you can bet I’ll be testing it :)

Other Resources.

The whole point of this post was to share with you how to build a list the easy way, a route I have taken because quite frankly the whole thing confuses me and just makes my brain hurt. Of course if you actually want some real tangible information on how to build a list, say for your brand and blog (you know the real list where relationships matter) then you need to go and see what Steve Scott has to say on the subject.

Never in all my travels have I stumbled (just for the record, I am subscribed Steve, I didn’t stumble., and damn you S.U for taking away my ability to speak freely) upon a post on list building that was so detailed and as brilliantly put together as this one was.

How to Build an Auto Responder Sequence without Burning your List.

I also found that Steve has been very busy, because he just posted this one – definitely relevant ;)

A/B Split Tests to Get More Subscribers

Marketing Takeaway

Building a list is a great way of generating an extra income stream, but the reason most people choose not to integrate one is due to the workload involved in setting one up.

Here Aaron has provided more than enough email followups to fill a majority of your niche sites and even your blog so that you can focus on getting the traffic to visit, just like you have always been doing. Now of course if anyone chooses not to buy or click, then you may get them to signup and then you’ll get them to buy, Sooner or later ;)


Patricia@lavender oil March 23, 2011 at 3:23 AM

Hi Alex

Information packed post, that’s for sure. I will be looking into this more when I eventually go through your course and implement all that you are teaching us there.

Appreciate that you have worked hard to put it all together. And now another tool to make things easier for us. Thanks for letting us know about this one Alex. Definitely sounds like it will be making things easier for your already very busy workload.

Patricia Perth Australia

WordPress Hosting August 19, 2011 at 7:51 AM

I always believe that the content is the main course and the list is like a side dish

Sheila Atwood March 23, 2011 at 6:54 AM


The toughest part of building a list is the auto-responder. It is very time consuming to write all that content and keep it organized. I recently got an email from one of my subscribers telling me that my link did not work. As it turned out the affiliate site had shut down.

I like how Forced Subscription pulls from Clickbank offers as part of the auto-responder series. What I could not see was how it handled affiliate sites that were no longer in Clickbank.

Steve@Internet Lifestyle March 23, 2011 at 8:28 AM

Wait a minute…Are you saying that santa is NOT the top affiliate earner every year. I know his material is not evergreen, but he has one hell of a sales day each year.

You need more than 1 list: Great point BTW. I don’t know if enough people mention that. Or if I have ever mentioned that. I am not sure. I actually have 10 (I had to check).
Your different lists can also be refinements. Like I have people sign up on SSS under product A… If I later offer a Product B, signing up will take them off of A and put them on B list. This is a way to define narrow niches within you niches. If that makes sense.

I haven’t used the forced subscription program yet. I liked on point you made, but only in an oblique manner.

every 3rd one on average is monetized.”

To me this means that 2/3 are NOT monetized. I feel that is an essential part of an autoresponder series. Like you did with yours. Giving away a ton of targeted content to build up that level of trust. Give people a reason to open those emails.

Also if 2/3 “free” info isn’t enough, you can (I assume) pad it with more offers that YOU write.

Heck, you can pad it with free stuff without even writing anything. Go to a PLR site that writes “quality” stuff. Like Murray Lunn’s or Peggy Barons site and get articles that fit from there. (if they have the packages)

All this reminds me that there is still so much more to write about autoresponders. Though you quibble on the term, “the money is in the list, ” and I agree the term is trite…I also think that there is a simple truth to it.

If you can get that guy who buys a:

on to your list somehow (the HOW is the hard part) you have someone you can cater to for life. in a more baby stuff. in a year sell toddler stuff (and lots of free toddler information. Heck…you have 18 years of sales….

Hmmmm Maybe that is your plan with your niche site… You devious man!

LOL…anyhow I am going on..(and on, and on)

Thanks for the link, bro… have a great day

steven papas March 23, 2011 at 9:18 AM

wow! I am devastated right now. I ‘m just realizing that it does take time to build a list and then it may not be what you were looking for and still have nothing in your hands. I think big numbers can save it a little. I mean, if you have built more than one hell of a long lists which translates into several thousands of names in there, then that’s something. The Forced Subscription is a must tool of course.

Dennis Edell @ Direct Sales Marketing March 23, 2011 at 1:07 PM

What’s to stop multiple list owners from sending the same emails….it’s not far fetched to think I could get he same email from multiple list owners, it happens.

Robert Dempsey March 23, 2011 at 1:10 PM

+1 for lists on ALL sites. Each of my niche sites has a list associated, even the Amazon ones. I’m finding that in all niches people will sign up when offered value. However creating that value across 12 niches is difficult, and I’m now a big believer in PLR. The course Alex mentions here is awesome and a huge time saver and value.

Lonnie March 25, 2011 at 12:39 AM

Hey Robert – What do you offer if you are building a list from an Amazon site?

Alex March 25, 2011 at 1:37 AM

Robert offers his body, but he’s strange like that.

Robert may correct me, but unless you can find a PLR product to give away you are actually better off with nothing.

A simple line like “Subscribe to get the latest Offers sent directly to your inbox”
And then make sure the spam line is prominent (you know ‘We love you and won’t give your shit away to anyone – EVER’)

Robert Dempsey March 25, 2011 at 1:47 AM

I don’t know what Alex is talking about because frankly I don’t offer my *whole* body. Weird. Anyhow, barring that…

On some of the sites (I have like 4 Amazon ones) I offer product deal alerts. So I get manufacturer and Amazon alerts when specials arise and send them out. Also another one I got is a guide about the product(s) I’m promoting. So for instance if you are doing exercise equipment (which I don’t) you could offer a PDF comparing different brands.

JamestheJust March 25, 2011 at 2:07 PM

Smart, Robert – not to offer your entire body, I mean.

My goodness the trip to the gutter is never far…shame on me! Anyhow, smart move. I’ve been slow on list creation, but I think what you’ve just outlined is pretty smart there.

I’ll do you one better:

If you know of a deal from your affiliate company (I use Commission Junction primarily), and hear about / ask for a heads-up on new products…you could build that anticipation in your list.

Say if you were promoting the iPad…when’s the next-next-next generation coming? OK, maybe a bad example since they don’t release the info, but in my niches I can think of a few offers just off hand that would have done well for…

And the list would be the best place for it. Build up suspense, even have a countdown…

I’m drooling over the thought. Smart move, Robert. You made me drool.

Alex March 26, 2011 at 6:47 PM

I hope it was the idea and response that made you Drool James, and not the thought of ‘some of’ his body. ;)

mark March 23, 2011 at 1:27 PM

Dear Mr. Whalley,

We regret to inform you that you have used the term “stumble” in a way that is consistent with our trademark, and therefore your post is now our property. As such, you owe us 40000 of your Australian dollars.

We would usually ask for you to do this in cash as that would give us substantial tax savings. However, we have no desire to travel to Australia from wherever it is that we are from, due to all of the kangaroos.

None of us have ever actually seen a kangaroo, but we hear that Australia has many of them and we find that to be quite frightening as they have built in pockets on their stomachs. Gross.

One other thing. We understand that you have small bears who are high most of the time. That is funny, but not enough for us to visit you.

Kind regards,

Stumble Upon management

Have a good day! ;)

Robert Dempsey March 23, 2011 at 2:02 PM

Kangaroos can box too. And kick and bite. Basically they are bad asses you don’t want to screw with. Ever been punched by a kangaroo? Yeah, don’t want that to happen.

Alex March 26, 2011 at 7:07 PM

Oh Crap.

oh and LMAO too

Lye Kuek Hin March 23, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Hey Alex,

Did a similar post two days ago but you did it better than me. “Money is in the content” So dumb of me to never think of that title. I really like the way you put it. Instill our whole personality and everything that makes our story.

Getting out of bloggers’ mindset is difficult, we are always subjected to influence by bigger bloggers. It’s time to trust our own judgement and walk different way.

Thanks for the post mate.


Richard March 23, 2011 at 3:55 PM

Santa! Tell me it ain’t so! Santa’s got to be at the top of the affiliate list! It’s hiking up to the north pole to sign up as an affiliate that’s the hard part.

Of course, if Santa made a Christmas blog, he’d blow us all away with his content. So, your point is still valid, sir. The money is in the content!

Alex March 26, 2011 at 7:05 PM

“It’s hiking up to the north pole to sign up as an affiliate that’s the hard part.”
LOL! I never even thought about that. Of course he could not afford to have a website. Too easy to track his movements then

John Mak March 23, 2011 at 9:22 PM

Alex, what I believe is that money is always close but nobody wants to work hard to get them! Even in the list or outside, nobody wants to go through the “hard – painful – long” way. That’s why most people search for plain jobs to make a fast income for TODAY. Few amount of people think for example to invest and work hard for a decade or two.

For me money is in OUTSOURCING! When you understand how to work, then other people will work for you and bring you the money. To make this possible you have to work hard everyday to manage all things that need to be done and produce results.

The problem people don’t understand is not what you do, but why you do it!

Good post! Thanks for sharing…

Alex March 26, 2011 at 7:04 PM

I agree whole heartedly with the outsourcing part of it. I am still learning the ropes with that side of it, but it has come out of necessity because I simply cannot do all that I need to get done myself!

Brandon@Make Money Blogging March 24, 2011 at 12:36 AM

Dude. That is the best disguised review I have ever seen you do. It makes me not want to cuss you out for yet another review… ;)

Alex March 26, 2011 at 7:03 PM

LOL Thanks mate, I do think of you when I write these bad boys, you know that ;)

Alex March 24, 2011 at 5:28 AM

Hmm, wait so Santa isn’t the top affiliate every year? I could swear I spend heap loads of money everytime his sessions comes and I am pretty sure I don’t spend all that money for gifts in any other period.

But you review is super, I don’t have any kind of website where I want to build a list yet, so I am not the perfect customer (sorry :( ) but I am still puzzled by something. If a lot of people have access to the same emails and I presume that it may happen for two people that are in the same niche to buy this service and there is a possibility to get the same subscriber which will get the same email, hmm, and I wonder, how will that buyer react (I bet he wouldn’t even notice, but hey I had to ask).

But I bet this service deserves all it’s money, I mean think about how much it will take you to write such emails and with some little modifications you can make them their own and this surely beats hiring a dedicated writer.

Alex March 26, 2011 at 7:02 PM

You pretty much summed it up nicely at the end, and although there is the fact that your content is not unique, the one thing I look at is the fact that most people who are in the obscure niches that this package caters to would never be in the IM niche in the first place to find the package.
As you said though, who pays attention to the content content

Jeffrey Morgan March 25, 2011 at 2:57 AM

Hi Alex,
Day by day I read a little more about “The List”. It seems that the bigger the marketer the bigger the noise about the list they make. I think that as a marketer grows and socially connects to those that are committed, the more valuable the list becomes, as more and more people gravitate to those who are more than likely connected to the vast majority of the “real thing”.

In other words I can bet that anything that “Frank Kern” promotes will probably be a quality product. I’m much more inclined to purchase from him than I am from some static landing page. That makes Frank’s List pretty darn valuable.

Oh by the way …… I agree with Brandon; nice review!

Alex March 26, 2011 at 6:51 PM

Frank Kern?
Never heard of him ;)

And it’s not a review! (OK Maybe a little)

Anne Sales @ Coupon Codes March 26, 2011 at 2:38 AM

Wow, that was quite a read. Anyway, I get your point. Before I joined the band of IM I used to sign up to the so called “gurus” only to get inundated with their internet marketing emails. Well, in the beginning I thought their product was good. I was gullible then but not so much to buy any of what they were trying to sell me. Eventually, I realized what they were all about.
My point is, their content wasn’t convincing enough.

Alex March 26, 2011 at 6:40 PM

Thanks for commenting and confirming the point Anne :)

RDGubaten March 27, 2011 at 5:34 PM

Yes, its all in the content. Great content that attracts readers will pull in traffic that may be converted into leads and sales. Its just like a good salesman with a good sales talk. Thanks for posting this very informative article. It will help a lot of people vying to make money online. God bless.

Tennis Fitness March 28, 2011 at 1:09 AM

Excellent information, Alex. I have not been building my lists almost at all, I guess I have some kind of resistance… and now I know why. It takes a lot of effort learning the new territory to enter, and I didn’t have enough knowledge about it. Your post makes everything a little bit more clear, and I will slowly start implementing your ideas. Thanks for sharing!

Alex March 28, 2011 at 6:55 PM

Thanks Suzanna!
Hope you can use this to jump start your list, at least you have a defined niche :)

Should be easy to monetize, then it’s Game, Set & Match! ;)

Jasmine April 12, 2011 at 6:30 PM

Oh, Forced Subscription sounds good. But won’t those email content be roughly the same?

Alex April 12, 2011 at 8:35 PM

They will indeed and well pointed out BUT….

The thing that I like is that although the MMO niche is included, so too are a lot of niches where email optins would NOT be the norm so therefore you are still in a great positiion to provide unique content to that particular audience.

Alan @ Top 3D TV April 13, 2011 at 5:27 PM

Wow, I thought you are going to deny the “wheel” in IM, which is the list. However, as I read to the end, you brilliantly promote a product!

It’s true that content and setting up an autoresponder for the whole year is extremely difficult task for marketers. However, it seems that only applies to big marketers who maintain a lot of list in different niches only. For small marketers, I believe what they do was just copy the swipe and send to people. What do you think?

Alex April 18, 2011 at 2:49 PM

haha you like that?!
Sneaky I know – but I bought it, I tried it and I LOVE IT.

What can I say – Im shallow LOL!

Now your last comment – OMG so hate that, and it amazes me how many do it.
I get the EXACT same email from like 5 marketers at once, None of them think to alter the copy themselves.
Surely they do not all have the exact same audience and the exact same personality?!?!

I think that answers the quesion.

Thanks for your comment Alan.
(you still have heaps of kudos built up from your comment on my GA post at TnS – bloody nice)

Sire April 14, 2011 at 9:54 PM

Alex you said in your post

Email Marketing is about building relationships with your readers through your emails so that you gain their trust and in turn they are more inclined to buy from you.

Considering that most lists are started by someone offering a freebee that usually has nothing to do with half the stuff that ends up filling your inbox I fail to see what relationship they are building. It was because of my frustration with all the lists I had joined that I vowed never to start my own.

Well I have started a list but not to sell my subscribers crap, I started it so I can inform them of when I’ve published a new post and to share interesting tidbits with them.

Tennis Fitness April 16, 2011 at 3:43 PM

I have a similar feeling. Often I subscribe to a list because I find the content of the website interesting, or because I want that little “freebie”. But then I really dislike if I am getting emails several times a day, about something completely different. It’s really irritating. I am not saying that everybody is like that, but it is happening more and more often as everybody believes that building a list is the way to go.


Sire April 16, 2011 at 5:06 PM

I agree with you Suzanna. I think things may be changing a little though as more people seem to be thinking the same as we do. Perhaps they would change a lot quicker if people started unsubscribing more often rather than just ignoring the emails.

Alex April 18, 2011 at 2:20 PM

I have to admit that I have a bad habit of just deleting and never bothering to get around and unsubscribe.

I think if they can’t manage their autoresponder system better then suffer because they have to pay extra to keep a non responsive list (insert evil laugh)

Alex April 18, 2011 at 2:19 PM

OMG! How spot on is that comment LOL

Alex April 18, 2011 at 2:32 PM

haha touche Sire Touche! :)

It is definitely important to build a relationship with your readers through your emails, but when you are talking niche sites and building lists off them – screw that LOL!
Give them value and occasionally pitch them something. Its not like you have a brand to protect here.

I agree though that any list you build that is associated with your name or brand needs to provide value and build trust.
Thanks for commenting, and staying to engage Sire – Respect

AstroGremlin@superheros September 20, 2011 at 12:11 PM

I just got my first MailChimp subscriber. NOW what do I do? I feel the weight of responsibility to send some kind of message to this individual. I don’t really know much about this person, including what the heck they found interesting about my site. And, like Steve, I’m still reeling from the news that Santa is not the top affiliate.

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