How She Grew an Email List of 5,000 Subscribers and Had a $20,000 Course Launch (In a Tiny Niche!)

Melyssa Griffin

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If you’ve been in my sphere for awhile now, you know that one of the things I am most passionate about is community and helping others reach their potential by going after their dreams.

I find it so invigorating to see the success of others, understand the path they pursued to get there, and use their story to help you expand what is possible for you. So, it is my freakin’ pleasure to introduce you to one of my students, Aurelia!

Case Study: How She Grew an Email List of 5,000 Subscribers and Had a $20,000 Course Launch (In a Tiny Niche!)

I first discovered Aurelia because she is a student in some of my courses, and I have been amazed watching her grow her business in the most unique niche, home baking! This gal literally had me in tears with the transformation she experienced in her life, business, and mindset when we recently chatted.

Aurelia (founder of Philosophy of Yum) lives in the beautiful country of South Africa, and runs a thriving online business that gives home bakers the confidence to turn their carb-lovin’ skills into profitable and successful businesses. She has a thriving email list of over 5,000 home bakers (yup her list is THAT big for this incredibly unique niche), and she just wrapped up a $20,000 online course launch with her “Home Bakery Startup” course.

And because I am a business-vigilante and true-crime podcast fanatic, I wanted to create an in-depth analysis and case study about “how she did it” so that you can glean some insights from Aurelia’s story to apply to your own business. This girl knows a thing or two about growing an email list and turning it into a thriving business!

So let’s dive in!

Let’s back up for a minute: things weren’t always smooth sailing for Aurelia.

She had been running her blog for 3 years, and was struggling to grow her email list and make an impact on the world that she knew she was capable of. She told me recently about a time where she almost stopped blogging because she felt like it just wasn’t working.

Here’s Aurelia: “I remember crying, speaking to my husband in the kitchen one night, because I knew I wanted to write and run a successful blog, but no one seemed to be interested in what I had to say, and it was so disheartening. I just felt like I was missing something.”

She had been blogging for about 3 years, and her list stayed stagnant at around 160 people (well, 159 if you exclude her sweet Mom :)).

So what the hay happened for her to go from 160 subscribers to 1,000 in 1 year, and 5,000 in just 2 years? And how did she go from $0 to a $20,000 launch of her online course?

Here’s what I uncovered in my little investigation…

I’m sure you have heard the phrase “your net worth comes from your network,” but what does this really mean? Well, Aurelia was able to create a network of home bakers, analyze what problems they were experiencing, and build her business around providing solutions.

Step 1: Through Instagram, Aurelia connected and met tons of other home bakers, and was able to learn their pain points.

To initially find them, she did a search of #homebaker, and wah-lah over 200k posts popped up (and thousands of potential new friends and customers).

She had a hard time initially finding her audience on the internet, but then one day, she got the brilliant idea to tap into social media. After a quick search, she was able to find tons and tons of home bakers all across the globe.

#homebaker graphic

Next, she started supporting their work by liking and commenting on their photos, and genuinely just wanting to show them some love. She started to notice pain points and patterns in their responses to her.

Aurelia said, “I noticed that whenever I praised their baked goods they’d always say things like “you have no idea how much it means to hear someone say that” and “my baking is not as good as yours” and “my baking isn’t good enough to charge for.” An extreme lack of confidence. I constantly came across bakers who were overworking themselves, and totally undercharging for their work.

I noticed a lot of myths surrounding baking too: like that you need to study baking and get a formal degree before your baking is “good enough.”

Something I want to point out here: she used Instagram as a research tool, rather than as her main community-building platform. This is KEY, my friend. Instagram is a great platform to use, but it’s not where your main community or sales will come from. That’s where your email list will come into play.

Aurelia then took that information, and started creating blog posts and content around those topics.

When Aurelia first began her blogging journey, she would write about various things related to home baking from recipes to an occasional business tip here or there, but she quickly realized that the biggest problem she could solve was supporting home bakers to grow a thriving business.

So after gathering information on Instagram, she wrote her first “problem solving” post titled “4 Myths about Starting a Home Bakery Business.” This post not only addressed some common myths, but also started to show readers a potential for their future. It provided them the confidence in their abilities as home bakers, and to make a living selling their craft.

Aurelia was amazed at the response she received from putting out this content.

She said, “Bakers wrote LONG paragraphs in the comments. I’d NEVER received such responses to any blog post I’d ever written before.”

You can check out that original blog post here!

Aurelia learned through my courses that she needed to find a way to capture these reader’s email addresses, so she could take their relationship to the next level, so…

Step 2: She created a resource library full of helpful information for home bakers, and connected an opt-in form to capture email addresses in exchange for access.

Here’s Aurelia: “My first freebies were soooo ugly, but I posted them anyways, and they still worked! I created a post just about my library and what’s in it, and I invited people to join my library at the very end of that wildly successful blog post about the 4 Myths about Starting a Home Bakery Business. This blog post got constant traffic, so it was the perfect place to invite people to join the library.”

Here’s a sneak peek at what’s in her resource library:

Some of the freebies in Aurelia's library.

By this point, her email list was striving to thrive. She’d figured out the main problems her audience had around starting a home bakery business, created blog posts to tackle those problems, and then created freebies (which she put into her Resource Library) to get those blog visitors to subscribe. Makes sense, right?

One of the major things Aurelia told me when we chatted was that in those first three years of blogging (when she wasn’t seeing much growth), she assumed that blogging was just about putting out content and eventually people would “discover” her.

But what she learned through my courses is that in order for people to discover you, you have to be solving a problem for them. It’s not about how much content you’re creating…it’s about how many problems you solve for your audience. So, she shifted her content to informational blog posts that tackled major problems her audience was facing and everything began to change.

Sidenote: I recently created a free workshop where you can learn your list-building personality type (and which list-building strategies will work best for YOU). Aurelia’s List-Building Personality Type is the Friendly Expert, and she capitalized on her natural strengths to grow her email list!

Building an email list is infinitely easier when you use a strategy that aligns with your unique personality. And because I want you to harness YOUR strengths to get killer results like Aurelia, I’m hosting a FREE workshop called 5 ways to Grow Your Email List (And Which One You Should Use Based on Your Personality Type).

Email list masterclass webinar image link.

Step 3: To gain even more growth to her email list, she created a free email-based course, and at the end she had subscribers complete a survey to gather more information about their pain points.

This strategy is absolutely brilliant (and it’s a key point we cover inside my Email List Academy program). Not only did she provide amazing content and gather data on her ideal customer, she actually trained subscribers to open up her emails because they were so juicy with information. By creating an email-course, she was able to provide actionable content for them through a series of emails, which increased her know, like, and trust factor with her subscribers.

Home Baked Confidence Free Course banner image.

In the first month of creating this, she got 150 new home bakers to sign up for her email list, and within 4 months, 1,000 joined! She then received hundreds of responses to her survey that helped her to continue to create valuable content that served her audience.

Aurelia's email list growth.

The next step she did is simple, yet often totally overlooked in online businesses…

Step 4: She started focusing her energy on truly engaging with people on her email list by spending around 2 hours per week responding to emails and getting to know her community.

Here’s Aurelia: “I was so obsessed with social media at first and would track all of my metrics, but I realized that is NOT where you make sales or deepen relationships. When I stopped worrying about social media numbers and started growing and engaging with my email list, I actually got results and sales.”

Although Instagram was an amazing place to begin her research and journey, Aurelia really said it best when she said:

“Likes and comments don’t pay the bills. I had a complete illusion that I was getting somewhere in my business, but it was just an illusion. The actual profit was made from my email list.”

If email is a cozy reading nook in a bookstore, social media is a loud traffic-filled street in New York City. There is so much less distraction when reading an email. It’s a 1:1 conversation with someone, and there are no advertisements or “putting on a show” that can happen with social media.

To actually get people to engage with her on email, Aurelia did something so simple and so effective, she included a line at the end of her emails that said “P.S. I wasn’t kidding when I said I’d like to hear from you,” and the email responses started rolling in.

To paint a picture of just how much more intimate email responses are vs. social media comments, check this out:

Here are some responses to one of her recent posts on Instagram. The comments are lovely, but they aren’t deep and personal.

Instagram comments on philosophyofyum.

And here are some responses to emails she has sent out:

A response to one of Aurelia's emails.
Another response to one of Aurelia's emails.

See a difference?

It’s no wonder that there is a direct correlation to the size of your email list, and the amount of revenue you are able to generate.

Since honing in on her email list, Aurelia has been able to achieve phenomenal results. Her list of over 5,000 home bakers, and a $20,000 course launch are ah-mazing, but something that stood out to me is how this has changed her life and mindset.

She’s now able to help provide for her family, share her abundance with others, and create a career that doesn’t require her to be on her feet all day. I know that last one might sound silly, but it was actually very vital for her. She is a survivor of childhood cancer and has a lot of nerve damage from it, so being able to create income without being on her feet completely changed her life.

I hope you enjoyed diving deep on these strategies with Aurelia! Isn’t she awesome? Leave a comment below and let me know which strategy of hers you found the most intriguing.

P.S. I recently created a free workshop where you can learn your list-building personality type (and which list-building strategies will work best for YOU). Aurelia’s List-Building Personality Type is the Friendly Expert, and she capitalized on her natural strengths to grow her email list!

Building an email list is infinitely easier when you use a strategy that aligns with your unique personality. And because I want you to harness YOUR strengths to get killer results like Aurelia, I’m hosting a FREE workshop called 5 ways to Grow Your Email List (And Which One You Should Use Based on Your Personality Type).

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Melyssa Griffin

I believe that an unstoppable mindset can be your #1 business tactic. So, my job is to lead you back to yourself and to help you reprogram the limiting beliefs and patterns that are keeping you small. 

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