4 List-Building Myths The Gurus Talk About That Are Completely Not True

List-Building myths are all over the place in the online world, and I'm busting 4 of the worst offenders. Click through to find out which myths you hear all the time that are completely not true.

There are few things I find more ridiculous in the online business world than this phenomenon I see over and over and over again that there's only one way to accomplish something.

Whether it be building a list, finding your first client, launching your first course, gurus left and right share their model and specific way of doing something without doing anything to dispel the notion that it's only one of a million ways to achieve the goal at hand.

In one way I get it: there's a strong feeling among lots of people that you can only teach what you know and what's worked for you. And since lots of people have only done things one way, they only know how to teach one way (or think they're only allowed to teach that one way). 

I've been working online in one way or another for over 10 years, and in that time I've used a zillion different methods to reach different the same goal. And I've found my way there by experimenting, watching what's working for others, and piecing together a bunch of different strategies into something that works. 

The only thing I've never seen work is going into a project closed-minded with only one potential path laid out to reach said goal.

So when I run into a client or student whose stuck because she was only given one strategy to achieve something, it makes my blood boil in a very specific way.

And one of the worst offenders in this arena? List building strategies and outdated beliefs, hands down.

For whatever reason the online gurus are very committed to their specific strategies and beliefs around list building, and they're not afraid to scream them from the rooftops.


The are a million horrible myths out there that scare new entrepreneurs off from ever trying to build a list, and it makes me crazy.

But I reserve my biggest frustration and craziness for the 4 myths below, which are that terrible combination of most common AND most wrong. It's high time these myths get busted for good, and I'm doing it today.

List Building Has To Be Methodical And Slow.

This one slays me. I see list-building gurus advising over and over again that you better get comfortable when you start to build your list because it's going to be a long, hard slog to reach your goal. 

Not true. I mean maybe one day it was, I don't know, but in 10 years online I've never built a list slowly and methodically.

Lists can be built and built quickly, even without using paid advertising. There are bunch of strategies I've seen that can add 100, 500, even 1,000 or more people to your list in a matter of days.

The most typical ones I see exploding lists and doing so almost overnight?

  • Webinars
  • Guest Posting
  • Joint Ventures
  • Viral pins on Pinterest

Stop listening to anyone who tells you your list building effort has to be hard and long. It's just not true.

List Size Is Everything.

Another one I hear all the time is that the only thing that matters about your list-building effort is getting people on the list. 

Again, so not true. 

You know what's way more important than getting a bunch of people on your list? Getting the right people on your list. 

The implications of having a list filled with anyone is far and wide: you pay to keep people on your list that will never buy from you, and when they don't open your emails your deliverability rates to people who actually WANT to hear from you go down too. 

There are no positives (other than meaningless bragging points) to having people on your list for the sake of having big list numbers. Build your list with people who want to be on it, even if that means it's smaller than it could be. Your profitability will be higher, and that's way more important than your number of opt-ins.

You Can Only Build A List With Simple Opt-Ins

This myth is related to the list size myth above. Most gurus will tell you to use the lowest-common denominator opt-in you can come up with as your lead magnet. They advise simple checklists, worksheets or 1-pagers because they require the least amount of commitment, and therefore attract the largest number of people.

I have no argument with their reasoning - quick and simple no-brainer lead magnets do convert really well, and I use them regularly. However, there's a flip side of this argument: since those opt-ins are so quick and simple the people who come to your list via those opt-ins are generally less qualified than those who enter your list via more complex opt-ins.

Case in point: I have simple 1-page download opt-ins on my site and I also have a VERY in-depth, 10 day free email course. You better believe the people who opt into the email course are WAY more qualified and likely to continue following me and to become my customers than are those who enter via the simple opt-ins.

As I said I personally use a mix of these strategies because I don't expect everyone to want to go through a free 10 day email course. That's a serious commitment and I want to offer other points of entry to my list. But I have to do a lot more follow up and nurturing of anyone who comes in via the quick opt-ins, and I lose a lot more of those people than I do those who go through the course, so I would never put all my eggs in the quick download basket. Doing so does not lead to a best quality list you can curate.

No Matter What You Do Your List Will Only Convert at 1-3%

The last myth I want to bust is this old school idea that no matter what you do your list will only convert to an offer at 1-3%. There's so much wrong with this I don't even know where to start so I'll simply say this: there are lists, good-sized lists, that I've worked with that convert at WAY more than 1-3%.

We're talking double digits in some cases. If you build a list full of high quality leads, are intentional in how you interact with your list and you present your list with high quality, highly targeted offers, your list can (and WILL) convert at way more than 1-3%. Bank on it.

Your turn. Have you heard these myths or others about list-building? Tell me about them in the comments so we can bust every list-building myth out there!