89: 15,000 Subscribers in 6 Months: How to Build Your Email List From Amazon

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Giving away something of value in exchange for an email address is a tried-and-true tactic for business owners all over the world.

In fact, on this page alone there are 5-6 different opportunities for you join my email list, presenting a couple different offers.

The challenge I ran into, and that many beginning bloggers run into, is that even with the best opt-in offer in the world, they have no traffic and so their email list grows very slowly.

And so we turn to tactics like guest blogging to get our content and our message in front of a bigger audience.

But how about thinking even bigger than guest blogging. What if you could guest blog on one of the BIGGEST sites on the planet.

You’d take that opportunity in a heartbeat, right?

That’s exactly what my guest, Nick Stephenson did to explode his email list past 15,000 subscribers in just 6 months.

The tactic?

Putting a book on Amazon and making it “permafree.” (We get into how to get this done.)

How popular is Amazon.com? According to Alexa, it’s the 3rd most trafficked site in the US and the 6th most popular site in the world. (Probably a little higher than normal due to the holiday shopping season.)

You want traffic? You want readers? You want customers? You’ll want to listen to this episode.

Your free book is essentially your epic “guest post” — only a MUCH bigger site than you could ever hope to publish on regularly. Like a good guest post, it leads readers back to more of your content, where they opt-in with their email to continue their relationship with you.

This works for authors and non-authors alike. In fact, Nick pretty much convinced me I need to be doing this as well!


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  • Why Nick says Amazon is “a search engine for books — NOT a book store.”
  • How to make your book permafree on Amazon.
  • The kind of content you can include in your free book, and how long it might need to be.
  • The types of opt-in bonus offers that work well.
  • How to use Amazon’s keyword tags to your advantage and the tools Nick uses to speed up the research process.
  • Nick’s “value-first” autoresponder strategy that’s turned into a passive affiliate income earning machine.
  • Nick’s #1 tip for Side Hustle Nation.


What do you think? Could you use this strategy to drive leads to your blog or business?

I’m anxious to give it a shot!

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Nick Loper

About the Author

Nick Loper is a side hustle expert who loves helping people earn more money and start businesses they care about. He hosts the award-winning Side Hustle Show, where he's interviewed over 500 successful entrepreneurs, and is the bestselling author of Buy Buttons, The Side Hustle, and $1,000 100 Ways.

His work has been featured in The New York Times, Entrepreneur, Forbes, TIME, Newsweek, Business Insider, MSN, Yahoo Finance, The Los Angeles Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Financial Times, Bankrate, Hubspot, Ahrefs, Shopify, Investopedia, VICE, Vox, Mashable, ChooseFI, Bigger Pockets, The Penny Hoarder, GoBankingRates, and more.

34 thoughts on “89: 15,000 Subscribers in 6 Months: How to Build Your Email List From Amazon”

  1. Yes, I am Nick. I am about halfway through writing my first book, a motivational business book that I’m hoping will be my platform book. I have been a serial entrepreneur in the “offline” world and recently started business coaching and have a handful of clients. I am definitely a big fan of yours. I may end up getting help from you in the near future.

  2. Wow, this is stunning. This is the kind of revolutionary marketing that new authors need; it’s all very well writing blogs and optimising the life out of them, but to get that initial traction without a viral post or some authority blogger giving you a break is a daunting task. This methodology offers the prospect of another, better, faster way.

    Now I just need to hurry up and get my books finished!

  3. Hi Nick,
    Great podcast! Speaking about the frequency of emails, I think you already hit the sweet post: I receive about 20 emails I opt in every day and yours is one of the few ones that I read every time.
    As regards Nick Stephenson, how can he use Mail Chimp which sets the limit to 2000 subscribers when he has 15,000 subscribers from Amazon?

      • I see.

        This morning another idea came in from this podcast.I haven’t tried out this method, but if I’d have a very specialized product to sell, I would first start looking for a niche forum. Usually, these places already have dedicated communities and a bazaar for sales and exchanges. Most forums allow you to pm fellow users, so building a list this way is possible.

    • If you REALLY don’t want to pay for a list, you can always split up you subscribers on MailChimp into batches of 2000. It’s a bit more effort, but you’ll be able to work around the 2000 limit for the free options!

  4. This is definitely the motivation I need…If I could just finish my book. It seems like the 2nd half is an upstream battle. If any of you are currently writing a book, how far are you into it?

  5. Wow. This is really a great episode, I’ve been working with tons of authors launch their eBooks, and we’ve helped rank them to #1 on launch for their sections, but getting these conversions from it will be icing on the cake. Nick you have really evolved into a real gem of information for the entrepreneur. Thanks for all your great work!

  6. Hey Nick, thanks so much for sharing this one. Apart from the tactics, I loved [other] Nick’s philosophy of providing lots of actionable, free content that provides value upfront and helps build a relationship FIRST before even thinking about selling. It’s a long term strategy that considers your subscribers not just as numbers that represent potential dollars, but real humans who need your valuable information to change their lives. It was a great reminder for me. Thanks again!

  7. Took my first novel and slid it over to Kobo for free and then got Amazon to make it free too. Took less than a day for them to do it, which was impressive turnaround for a few big ships like that. In less than a day saw 150+ downloads so that’s a good start.
    No sign ups, which has me checking my front matter opt in offer again, but I’m going to give it another day to see if it changes.
    Question: Does Kindle Samurai only work on a PC? I have a Mac but it doesn’t appear to be compatible.
    Thanks, Nicks.

    • Sweet, that seems like good initial traction. What opt-in offer are you using now?

      Not sure about the Kindle Samurai software on Mac … one thread talked about a workaround but I’m on a PC so not super familiar w/ the terminology.

      • With Samurai, you have to use a workaround like parallels or bootcamp. I don’t like doing those kinds of things with my mac. Heard too many horror stories, so I’ll just do that work the old fashioned way.
        In regards to my lead magnet, I am giving away two introductory novellas, one of which I created at the beginning of 2013 as an exclusive free gift to subscribers. I’m also giving away a Guide to the Top 16 Hidden Mysteries on the Planet because when I asked my current subscribers what they’d like more of, they said they wanted to learn more about less famous mysteries. Everyone knows about the pyramids. They wanted to go deeper with historical mysteries. So I made the guide. I’m also giving away the first novel in the other books along with the guide and the novellas. Although, now the first novel is permafree.
        Here are the results after day 1 of going permafree : 1131 Free Downloads of the first novel
        1 new subscriber (which seems extremely low but going to give that time). I think my copy is good since I basically stole it from two guys who have had massive success with this.
        Sold 35 total units of my other books, which is actually right on par with normal, so on day one, no sales revenue lost. Of course it was just one day. We’ll see how it goes but that’s a solid start. Curious to see if sign ups start increasing.

  8. Question:
    I took a lot of action in the last few days. Put one book on permafree, have had a few thousand downloads with my Reader Magnet information listed at the front.
    Problem is, I’ve only had two signups.
    I tested out all the links and everything.
    I believe my copy looks good.
    But it seems like on the podcast, Nick S. said he was getting around a 5% signup to download ratio. I’m nowhere near that. My offer is similar to his, two novellas and a mystery guide. So I’m wondering what I’m doing wrong. It could be that I don’t have a graphic of the free book, but Mark Dawson does this same strategy and has had almost the same results as Nick S.
    Any thoughts as to what it could be?

    • Weird. Have you tested with a graphic? (I actually saw worse results — with admittedly pretty limited data — when I included an image. But it could have been because my image was gross looking.)

      The only other thing I can think is to give it some time. Because I’ll download Kindle books and it might be days or weeks before I get around to opening them, and even when I do sometimes I’m on an airplane or something w/ no wifi.

  9. Hey Nick, I only found your interview with Nick Stephenson recently, great discussion, thank you. I grabbed your list building pdf tips too!

    I caught your comment regarding your recording issue and just wanted to offer a solution. You’ve probably found one already, however here goes… I use a Roland R-05 recorder to record my shows, then drop the file into my podcast master folder on my mac later. If you’re using Skype for the call, you could take an audio out from your computer to a mixer, then to the R-05 and have headphones on the go too.

    Anyway, like I said, it’s likely you got things sorted out by now…

    Regards & Thanks, -Larry


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