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3 Things that Will Kill Your #List Building Efforts

list building mistakes

Recently, I held a “Subscriber Appreciation Day” – I invited my email subscribers to schedule time with me on the phone for 15 minute chats.

My question to them was:

What’s your #1 Question / Roadblock When It Comes to Building Your List?”

The time slots in my scheduler were gone within a few hours!

One of the reasons I’m did this is to get crystal clear on exactly what my subscribers need and want for a my upcoming live webinars about list building that begin in a few weeks.

I spoke with people I’ve never met over email, social media or in person. I also spoke with a few students and I spoke with huge supporters on social media. It was really fun to connect with subscribers all day long.

(It’s something you should definitely try doing with your own list community – an episode on a few ways to do that coming soon.)

Some of my big A-Ha’s from my “Subscriber Appreciation Day:

1. It’s Time for You to Show Up Bigger – Here’s one of my biggest lightbulbs from lots of these calls – “Your People NEED You to Show Up In A Bigger Way.” (I’m saying this to myself and to you, no matter what area of expertise, products or services you sell.)

Your people are in pain (for whatever reason – you can help them with your expertise). They came to you for a reason and OPTED to STAY by opting into your list community.

How to show up bigger?

  • Become a better / more useful content creator. How? Practice. Often. Do something crazy like 30 days straight of original content.
  • Create more opportunities to connect with your tribe. (I restarted my local meetup group – with a little different focus than before)
  • Offer the products and services that will help them solve their pain / reach their goals. Don’t wait until it’s perfect because it never, ever, ever will be.
  • Get out of your own way. Deciding to show up bigger can be scary, it is uncomfortable. Do things in your life that make you uncomfortable on a regular basis. I’ve done this with my riding career, my singing career, my bath & beauty products business, my speaking career.  The only way you will ever expand your comfort zone is by getting uncomfortable. [TWEET THIS!]
    pooh bear bravery quote
  • Hold your own version of Subscriber Appreciation Day. (Future episode on a few ways to do this – coming soon)

 2. Be Grateful for Technology and the People Who Consume Your Content – I felt so incredibly grateful for living in this time. Living during this age of budding technology where we can create relationships with people all over the globe. You can find and create your own tribe. It’s truly incredible.

I connected with people all over the US, in the UK, New Zealand, South Africa and more. And they consume my content! It made me want to create better, more inspiring, more easy-to-use, more “gentle-yet-effective-nudge-to-get-over- your- fears” content.

Don’t get me wrong. I sometimes get grouchy with technology. While my boyfriend was watching the Super Bowl, I was wrestling with my new podcasting audio setup that made me sound like I was in a wind tunnel. I wanted to throw it out the window! It happens.

But, the majority of the time technology blesses us with super-human abilities:

  • Your voice that travels across the world in a moment into someone’s ear.
  • Your video that can touch another person and move them into positive action – while you’re doing something else.
  • Your content that can help someone in your neighborhood. Someone you may never meet or know exists.

Technology is an amazing gift. It’s up to you to create with it and use it to launch your creation(s) into the world.

3 Things That Will Kill Your List Building Efforts.

I thought it might be helpful to share them with you in hopes you won’t make these 3 mistakes.

1. “List Building Stagefright” Syndrome.

It turns out that many people (I’ve heard this in other places than the Subscriber Appreciation Calls – I’ve heard this in a LOT of places lately) are actually more than a little hesitant to actually get people on their list. Even when they know what it would do for their business.

It sounds something like this conversation. (I’ll call this person Mary, just for the example)

me: “So, why do you think you aren’t doing the things you know you could be doing to build your list?”

Mary: “Well, I’m not really sure.”

me: “If you could guess, what do you think is the underlying reason you aren’t doing a better job of building your list?”

Mary: “Well, it might be because I don’t really know what to say after they get on my list. I’m actually a little scared to get people onto my list because then I’ll have to email them. I’ll have to have something good to say.Wow, I can’t believe I just said that.”

Yes. This is SO incredibly counter-intuitive… but I’ve discovered that a LOT of people actually drag their feet in their list building efforts because of this type of fear. It’s a fear of creating, growing and owning your own platform.

It can be scary to build your list because you’re saying “Hey, my stuff rocks. It’s really, really good. My ideas and content are definitely worth your time. You should want to hear from me!”

Then, when people do optin to your list, you might feel a little wobbly because you realize that, although it’s from behind a computer, basically you’re:

Standing alone on stage, while people (your list) are sitting in the audience, they’re paying good time (worth even more than money) to be here… The floodlight turns full strength on you… Now you’ve got to grab the mic, open your mouth and dazzle them.

If you think you might be engaging in self-sabotage around your list building efforts, you’ll definitely want to attend my upcoming list building webinar workshop.

2. “Squirrel Syndrome”

If you’ve seen the movie UP, you know what I’m talking about – the focus a dog has on something, until he sees a squirrel, which he focuses on for a moment… until he sees yet another squirrel, loses focus on the first one… until he sees yet another squirrel… and on and on it goes.

One of the people I spoke with, who I’ll call “Chris” had 12 different web properties. This is a huge mistake. Focus on ONE first. Make that one successful. [TWEET THIS!]

It’s easy to get “squirrel syndrome” when you feel you aren’t getting results. Your business will take time to build. And staying laser focused is one of the big keys to your success.

3. Procrastination and Perfectionism.

Another person I spoke with (I’ll call her Linda) has a fantastic expertise. Her problem lies in procrastination and perfectionism, not in lack of expertise.

She is so close to success, yet stops herself by continuing to learn, rather than take imperfect action.

There is no amount of learning you can do that will EVER compare to taking imperfect, scary action on a consistent basis.

I’ll definitely be doing a “Subscriber Appreciation Day” and schedule short calls with my subscribers from time to time. It was great to get to speak to many new people, and some I already knew!

If you have a list community – and I hope you do – no matter how small or large, try this. I think you’ll be surprised at the insights you get from your email subscribers. You’ll truly get to the heart of what they want and need from you.

And, I promise: It will give you courage to show up bigger and serve more.


  1. Stephani on February 2, 2015 at 9:40 am

    Maritza, thank you! I’m on the verge of launching and building my list and I’m so glad I’m reading this now. A subscriber appreciation day is brilliant. Such a great way to get direct input and feedback. I’m relieved to hear that some are facing the exact fears I have about content and providing value to my subscribers. All of this is excellent guidance regarding the care and nurturing of an email list!

    • Maritza Parra on February 2, 2015 at 11:07 am

      Stephani, I’m so glad it’s helpful to you – you have a super IMPORTANT message to get out there… As experts, content curators, salespeople, we must remember to go back from time to time to just ask your tribe what they need from you. It was very enlightening for me. (and fun!)

  2. Brandon Huston on February 2, 2015 at 12:02 pm

    I love #2; Squirrel Syndrome!

    I call it the “oooooo shiny” syndrome, but same thing.

    Keeping distraction to a very minimum or eliminating it completely and focusing on that ONE most important task is key to being successful.

    Thank you for the well written article!

    • Maritza Parra on February 2, 2015 at 5:39 pm

      Brandon, I’m sure with your expertise, focus is ultra important. What a great training ground for entrepreneurship!

  3. Dean Patino on February 2, 2015 at 2:08 pm

    Appreciate your keen insight and sharing of such powerful inspiration Maritza. With technology it can be easy to steer away from direct, live communication as instead lean on email, social media, etc. However just like a sales person, without direct live interaction there is only so much success that an be achieved. Thank you for this valuable guidance!

    • Maritza Parra on February 2, 2015 at 5:40 pm

      Dean, great insight from a great salesperson. I agree and speaking directly with your people gives you insights you could never figure out on your own.

  4. Frank Bria on February 2, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Great stuff! The squirrel syndrome totally resonates with me. I know that’s the biggest reason I’m not building as big of a list.

    Since my list consists of CEOs of midsized companies, I’m also realizing that the internet isn’t the best way to connect with them (until they know me, of course.) So, I’m mailing copies of my book inside of a 4-part direct letter series. I’ll let you know how it goes.

    Thanks again for putting this article together.

    • Maritza Parra on February 2, 2015 at 5:41 pm

      Frank, I LOVE it! I once did a 4 page yellow legal pad hand-written (once and photocopied the bulk) sales letter. It was extremely effective and got people’s attention for sure. I’d LOVE to hear how it goes with this.

  5. Jack on February 2, 2015 at 6:09 pm

    It’s definitely stage fright for me. I feel like I need to be able to hit the cover off the ball once I’ve got a list ….so the tendency has been to say “Hey, let’s wait!” All well, thanks for another smart post!

    • Maritza Parra on February 5, 2015 at 10:14 am

      Jack, I’m actually seeing this more and more, I think many are realizing what a list community really is – your own platform and it is like standing on stage and speaking to many people… Think “progress, not perfection” and there will always be critics no matter what.

  6. Jodi Flynn on February 2, 2015 at 6:29 pm

    Yup, #2 Squirrel Syndrome. There are so many ways to grow my list out there I’m often jumping from one method to another to see what works. It sounds good in theory but I know I need to identify one or two strategies that will likely have the most impact and focus on those strategies for a few months before diverting my attention to a whole new strategy.

  7. Lori J. Isenstadt on February 2, 2015 at 6:51 pm

    I definitely am a little of # 1 and a lot of #3. List Building syndrome- Love it. so there is a syndrome for what I go going on…. #3 is my biggie though. I am not particularly a procrastinator and a perfectionist in my regular life, so why am I such when it comes to blogging and my website and other creative projects? I know why? I just feel like I want it to be perfect before putting it out for the world to see. My thinking has always been, I might only get one chance and if they don’t like what they see the first time, how will I convince them to come back? You have helped me look at this differently

  8. Nerdy Creator on February 2, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Hi Maritza, thanks for sharing your “subscriber appreciation day”. I ask my list what is their #1 problem via email. But scheduling time to chat with your subscriber on phone seems like a better way to do it. It’s more personal and you get to know your subscriber better. Definitely something I want to try in the future.

    I can relate to #2 – “Squirrel Syndrome”. I have two blogs and I want to open another one. I agree with what you say about FOCUS. If I can’t make one blog successful, what makes me think I can make 3 blogs successful at the same time? That’s why I’ve been focusing on just one blog and letting the other drift a little. I also set some criteria I need to achieve before I start my 3rd blog.

    Great tips and insights! 🙂

    Yong Kang Chan (aka Nerdy Creator)

  9. RJ on February 2, 2015 at 11:56 pm

    I LOVE the Subscriber Appreciation Day concept as well as the idea of taking imperfect action. It’s so true that I learn much more, and faster, when I take action. There’s nothing like experience to help me really know something! Thank you for a great episode.

  10. Jaime on February 4, 2015 at 8:06 pm

    List building is such a cornerstone of business — I’ll be sending people to this post time and time again — so many gems in here for my clients and ME!!

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