My First 1000 Subscribers: By the Numbers

My First 1000 Subscribers

Get your party pants on, friend. Today’s post is a celebration! And a walk down recent MailChimp memory lane.

After about four months in existence, my VIP list hit a big milestone on July 30th:We hit (+ crossed over) the 1,000 mark! AHHHH!

For a couple of reasons, I’d like to document this madness before I forget how it happened (although, to be honest, I’m still not totally sure how it happened):

REASON 1: I’ve been asked about it a LOT over the past couple of months, so it’ll be handy to have a timeline (link) for future reference.

REASON 2: I’m a sentimental cheeseball. It may seem like a weird thing to be mushy about, but I know this is the first 1,000 of many. It is (YOU ARE) extra special :)

Screen Shot 2013-07-30 at 9.56.25 AMAll that to say: If you want to see the nitty gritty details (I’m talking exact numbers and screenshots) of how I got my first 1000 subscribers, you’re gonna love this post. (2014 UPDATE: If you want the nitty gritty on my first YEAR, you’re gonna love this one.)

March 19: Creation (List Count: 1)

I created my list (and my opt-in box) when I learned that in the world of online marketing, the most important factor to online success is quality list-building. If you do NOTHING else on your website, you should create an opt-in box so folks who love your content can join your list and get free updates. So literally. I did nothing else.

I had one lovely subscriber in the month of March: my friend Ashley, who tested it out for me ;))

April 18: First Newsletter (List Count: 41)

By mid-April, I had 12 subscribers. A few friends and a sprinkling of clients from my free “Bright Start” sessions I’d offered in late March. Then, after posting in the Facebook group about an epiphany I had on April 10th, my list TRIPLED in size overnight, from 12 to 41. WOOHOO! (And in case you’re wondering, the epiphany was about the feature of my business vs. the benefit. Hear more about it here in this video at :50.)

After seeing the numbers fly, I thought, “Whoa. That’s a lot of people. I won’t have a site up for a while, but I don’t want them to forget why they signed up. Better send ’em something!”

On April 18th while sitting at my parents’ kitchen table with my sister April by my side, I said a little prayer and clicked send on my first newsletter, sent to 41 people.

Screen Shot 2013-07-28 at 11.42.04 PM

Next Stop: Crazytown (List Count: Lost Count)

It’s hard to give a quick summary of what happened next, because it’s ridiculous. It deserves its own blog post. (There’s a little more detail here in this video.)

In the most BASIC nutshell: I knew my value, knew exactly who needed it most, and I met them where they were (Facebook) to let them know I could help.

The response was insane. And the response to the response was insane. Hundreds of comments and likes. Hundreds of subscribers. In that span of about 10 days (from first mention 4/21 to final day of the offer 5/1), my list grew by over 500 subscribers. My (paying!) client list grew by over 60. (Remind me to write another post about that side of the coin!)

I sent my offer details via email a few times a day as more and more folks signed up. Since it went out in smaller segments (those who’d subscribed since the last campaign went out), I don’t have a good screenshot of this period. You can just imagine: It was nutty.

The funniest part is that from March through April 29,  over 500 people signed up for my VIP list when my site looked like THIS:

April 29 Splash Page

April 29: Splash Page Upgrade (List Count: 500+)

After realizing I could use some help in the digital brand department, my amazingly talented friend, dream client, and digital branding guru Suzi Istvan offered to help me upgrade my splash page. Until I launched the first draft of my site on June 7, new subscribers were treated to this lovely edition:

Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 10.29.14 PM

May 21: The Art of Woo (List Count: 743)

Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 11.35.23 PM
Yeah. You read that right. Still no website, but after the crazy (unexpected) launch in late April, early May, my list got to a comfy point in the 750 range. I settled into writing actual (helpful) content as opposed to just sharing the offer. I got to work actually HOLDING all the appointments that I’d booked during the whirlwind, and put up some copy on my site.

Launched the humble “first draft” June 7, just in time for my birthday weekend:

Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 12.55.50 PM

June to mid-July: Slow ‘n’ Steady (List Count 750-850)

For most of the summer, my list held steady in the 750-850 range. There were even a few dips from week to week! (Say it with me: It’s OKAY when people unsubscribe. It’s okay when people unsubscribe…)

Screen Shot 2013-08-01 at 11.40.34 PM

July 26: Pre-Freebie (List Count: 857)

Let’s rewind a little bit. I started creating my first opt-in offer, The Conversational Copy Cheat Sheet, back in May. I didn’t have any intention of sharing it until ….now…when I launched my swanky new site design. In June, I visited with the lovely Jenny Shih, superstar business coach. She told me about her Get Your First 1000 Subscribers program, which sounded fabulous. I already had 75% of my first 1000, but who knew how long it would take to cross the 1k milestone?! (Plus, I had a hunch the tips would be helpful not just for the first 1000, but for every 1000 after that.)

Jenny’s Get 1000 program includes step-by-step action plans and guidance on anything and everything you can think of when it comes to list-building – from guest posting to marketing, free calls to freebies. I can’t wait to put them all to use! For now though, I’ve just focused on the freebie. At the start of July, I used her tips to beef up my little PDF. Then last week, I updated my subscriber forms in preparation for this week’s big reveal.

Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 12.04.32 AM
What I forgot is that some people would be signing up between now and then. I didn’t even think about people seeing mention of the freebie before I actually posted it. I got a few notes Friday morning saying, “Hey Nikki – the download link isn’t live!” OOPS! I stuck the PDF up there, and that was it. My e-baby was out in the world.

July 29: Premiere of The Conversational Copy Cheat Sheet (List Count: 1011)

Despite sharing the “big premiere” at what is probably the worst strategic time of the week (Friday night), I got about 50 new subscribers each day over the weekend. By Tuesday I eeeeeeked over the 1000 mark.

Today, August 2: Premiere of the Swanky Site! (List Count: 1021+)

That brings us to the present, friend. Kinda unbelievable, right?

Today is the day I finally get to share this BEAUTIFUL new site with you. (What do you think?!)

Screen Shot 2013-08-02 at 1.19.03 AM

I’m so ridiculously excited that I can now proudly share my power-packed lil freebie with anybody and everybody who comes to visit my digital home sweet home.

Today is like a digital ribbon-cutting. So glad you’re a part of it!

Behind the Numbers

Whether you’re aiming for your first 10 subscribers, your first 1,000 subscribers, or your first 10,000 subscribers, it’s ALL TOO easy to get caught up in the numbers. But here’s what I’ve learned and what I try to remember:

  1. Behind every “number” is a real-life person.
  2. In a world of spam and way too many emails, that person voluntarily invited me to her inbox.
  3. She trusts me to deliver content than informs, inspires, or entertains her in some way.
  4. THAT is a privilege.

I’m sharing all of this with you because we’re in this TOGETHER. We’re putting ourselves out there, trying to add value to the world by doing whatever it is we were created to do, and that’s pretty stinkin’ amazing. It’s really brave, actually. (Even if it doesn’t feel like it!)

Keep plugging away. Check out the resources out there for intentional list-building (I’ve got my eyes on guest posting next!). The numbers will come.

In the meantime, we’ve got a beautiful day ahead of us. Let’s make it count.

Speaking of YOU…

This really is about YOU as a reader (and probably subscriber). As a thank you for inviting me to your inbox, I’d love for you to tell me in the comments below: What would you LOVE to read in a future blog post? (See #3 above.) I take requests! I’d also love to hear any of your FAVORITE list-building tips, so spill those too!

Thank you, thank you, thank you – mahalo – gracias – and THANK YOU for being part of this journey with me. The fun is juuuust getting started.

Like this post? Share it with your friends, fam, and fans using one of the fancy new icons on the left and click here to check out the 2014 version with some SERIOUSLY crazy updates.



  1. Victoria

    Hi Nikki, Congrats! Watching you start this first 1000 has been nothing short of spectacular. I will enjoy being a fan an follower for years – and we’ll reminisce Disney movies together. :)

    My question: What are your tips in the realm of creative title making?

    I love your title and many biz owners have taken on creative titles of their own. What are the things to make sure are addressed when creating my own biz title and what is smart to stay away from?
    (Thank you!)

    My own list building strategy? One tip is to ask a lot of questions. Showing interest in what other biz owners experience and understanding what struggles they face is the only way to truly serve their needs.

    I don’t assume that I know what their experience is like for them, so it is a real discovery. Usually, we both end up excited to learn more about each other after our chats and ‘the list’ is a great way to do that. It is a ‘natural’ convo. :)

    Thanks, again!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thanks for that, Vic!

      My biggest advice when it comes to creating a title is not to TRY too hard. So many people seem to think you’ve gotta have something wild ‘n’ crazy. In reality, as you know, it’s all about what will resonate with the avatar!

      Ex. Will your clients know what a “Carbohydrate Alchemist” really is, or is “Health Coach” easier for them to relate to? ;)

      I’ll write a whole blog post on this one because it’s a Q I get a lot. Don’t let me forget!!

  2. HeatherLeigh

    I could not be happier for you and all of your success! You are truly helping people and people can feel your genuine intention!

    I am so happy to be a part of your list and watch you grow!

    Rock on girl!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thanks, lovebug! And you’re not just part of the list – you’re a dream client, baby!

  3. Isabelle

    Wow, Nikki, congratulations!! I’m a B-Schooler and have been following you for the last few months and I am totally amazed at what you’ve accomplished. So awesome! I love your authenticity. Also, your new website is a beauty! My list has been stagnating in the 40 some subscribers for a while, so thank you for sharing your process and inspiring others to follow in your footsteps.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thank you, Isabelle! Totally hear you with the stagnation station. I was in a funk this summer, but I wasn’t trying anything NEW.

      Have you been mixing it up – trying guest posting, free calls, beefin’ up the freebie, and such?

      I love having Jenny’s program on deck because everything I need to know about any of those is right there to reference when I’m ready to try ’em out. It’s a marathon for sure!

  4. Robin


    First, CONGRATULATIONS!!! What an amazing thing to accomplish in such a short time. Thanks for sharing your story with us. It just goes to show that if you put yourself out there authentically, add value to your subscribers lives and take action everyday you can be very successful! The swanky new site design is so much fun — love it! I’ve really enjoyed your blog posts and they always seem to come at the perfect time for where I’m at with my own business development. Oh, and the class I taught a couple weeks ago went fantastic and my participants put up some rave reviews on Facebook! Thanks for continuing to inspire me to just be me! ;-)

    ~ Robin

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Absolutely, Robin! My goal is to help people realize the power in being themselves :)

      Congrats on the successful class! Gotta love rave reviews. As I like to say, “the social proof is in the pudding.”

  5. Cathy

    Congratulations, Nikki!

    I’m SLOWLY working on my 1st 100, so I know how much dedication it takes to get there… let alone 10x that! Am about to send my first guest post today!

    I’ve said it before to you in emails: you’re really an inspiration to the rest of us, in the way that you just opened your heart and let it set fire to your work.

    Here’s to this being a continuing trend for you, Nikki! Cheers!


    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thank you for being such a constant support, Cathy. It means more to me than you know!

      And congrats on the first guest post – I’ve gotta join that party train soon! You’ll be blasting through that first 100 mark before you know it.

  6. Ellen

    Woohooo! What I love about this is the content you’re offering is GOOD. The optins and freebies are super high quality and needed, which I think makes a world of difference in terms of people staying on your list and rolling off. Keep rockin’ it! xx

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Woohoo for YOU, Ellen! Thank you for saying that.

      Look forward to creating more quality freebies for y’all :)

  7. Jenny Shih

    Congrats on passing the mega milestone of 1000 and congrats on the gorgeous new site!! Love seeing entrepreneurial women ROCK IT like you are. Woohoo!!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thanks for giving me the OOMPH and the tools to finish it off, Jenny! I’m excited to start using your tips and tricks to get the 2nd 1000, and lots more after that. Intentional list-building is fun :)

  8. Suzanne

    Nikki this is awesome! Congratulations on the gorgeous new site…. Perfect timing to be reading this…. I love your momentum and this is my reminder to get on the same train! Thanks for sharing x

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Absolutely get onboard, Suzanne! There’s plenty of room for you :)

      Thanks for the note!

  9. Kate Lindsay

    Wow. Holy Wow. And Congratulations are all I can really think to say. I have been following your growth and as one who has been struggling with some of the biz parts of what I love to do watching this go down has been pretty exciting from this side too. Your site looks great. Its fun. Its easy to navigate. Its consistent and the photography adds a nice flow. Someday, we will have a power hour. It’s on my list of “biz wants”.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      So happy you like it, Kate! I look forward to our date :)

  10. Ryan – Comeback Academy


    You knocked it out of the park with the new website. So clean, crisp, fun and inviting. And of course actionable content.

    This is real genius sharing your journey to 1000 subscribers step by step. Can’t wait to see where you go from here..


    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thanks so much, Ryan! Thrilled by the response. So glad y’all like it.

      And love the baseball reference – perfect for a dad like you ;)

  11. Trisha

    Hey Nikki! Totally inspiring. If I can ask what was your offer that you made in April? I was already trying to ruminate on some ideas when I read that I was just curious what it actually looked like? Thanks, for being so present in our group.

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Of course you can ask, Trisha! I’m an open book. And I will write a “sister post” to this one to explain how I got my first 100 clients in more detail.

      The offer was a 60-minute session for $199, plus a bonus 30-minute session for free. I learned a few very important lessons from that (remind me to write that blog post too!).

      I went ahead and linked to my original 4/23 offer email up above (to answer that Q for future readers!) – so check it out if you want exact details. And here’s the link to the email I sent as the “last call” on 5/1:

      That day was probably the craziest of them all. Can’t remember exactly, but I think at least 20-30 new clients signed up just before the buzzer! Will research that in PayPal before I write that 100 clients post.

      All that to say: There’s a LOT more to this story. Will make time to share it all eventually!

  12. Anne

    yay! high fives!!
    I love what you’re doing, and thanks for sharing your journey. It was cool to watch it happen. It is such an amazing life changer, right?!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      High five, Anne!

      2013 has been life-changing for my fam for a variety of reasons. This experience is definitely toward the top of the list :)

  13. Joanna Painter

    Hi Nikki,
    Congratulations you are such an inspiration. Thank you for sharing this story as it is giving me the push to start working with what I have. I keep procrastinating in putting myself out there as I feel I need to get my website sorted first, I keep creating my own barriers. Thank you for making me realise it doesn’t have to be perfect from the start but we do need to keep it growing:-)

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Ohmylanta YES, Joanna. You’ve got it!

      I tell that to clients all. the. time. when I hear “Well I don’t have my site/business cards/whatever else yet, so I can’t put myself out there.” I have literally busted out the screenshot of my ghetto splash page and said “LOOK, DUDE. No excuses.”

      As I said in another post, “It doesn’t have to be perfect. It just needs to be shared.”

      Your dream clients are out there, ready for you to help them (in the way that only you can). Don’t let ’em down :)

  14. YogaNurse

    Congrats Nikki, your site is beautiful and offers valuable content. I remember the B School FB post that took off> I subscribed too! You have found your dharma = purpose. You have the chops. Many gifts. Style. Beauty. Brains. Your words flow like a yoga vinyasa.

    My tip for list building is surprising, even to me. FB promotions. For $5, 10, or $15 big bucks, you can get massive exposure via your fan page. You gotta put something fascinating of course, with a link in your post to your website. The right post will attract the right peeps and voila, more subscribers.

    and finally, your WS design is favuloso…except for one thang that makes uh me crazy. The fancy icons on the left. When we readers scroll down, the icons jump, and jump and jump. I know this format is all the rage these days, Leonie Dawson has them too, and it makes me uh crazy on her site too. Just sayin’ and well the saying goes, if one person is thinking it, then the many more are too.

    Sigh, it tugged on my heart chakra a little to write that. But the truth shall get you even more subscribers and success. All big bountiful heart felt goodness to you.

    the YogaNurse xo

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thank you SO much for this, Annette! (Yep – I googled to find your name. I also had to google “yoga vinyasa.” You’re teaching me so much already!)

      Well boo. The fancy icons don’t jump around on MY page. Will definitely look into that. Don’t wanna mess up the flow ;)

      Wonder if it’s the browser? I’ve tried it (while logged out) both in Safari and Chrome and they’re smooth sailing. Which browser are you using?

      Thanks also for sharing the Facebook tip. The trick sure is to find that “something fascinating,” right?

      1. YogaNurse

        I use Safari and Chrome. Hmm. No rhyme or reason for the jumping? Maybe you can ask a few other reliable peeps if it happens on their page. It’s still jumping as I scroll down to read your ‘caring’ comment. and reply. And WILL I come back and learn from you anyway? Oh yes dear Nikki. Your light is shining brightly. Love, Annette.

        1. Nikki Elledge Brown

          Aw thanks, Annette! Still haven’t figured it out. I asked on FB and only one person saw it jumping – tried different browsers, Macs, PCs, phones, etc. It’s still a mystery!

  15. Olya

    Oh wow, Nikki!
    Incredible story!
    I love your website!
    I even didn’t realise that it is so new! :)
    Well done!
    All the best!

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thanks so much, Olya! YES, this is all very new. It’s been a whirlwind spring and summer. Excited for what’s coming in the fall :)

  16. Caroline Limata


    You are a superstar! Just wanted you to know I was thinking of you! I hope you are having fun traveling! Can’t wait to hear all about it! I am re-creating my website and opt-in offer right now and I will take Jenny’s class too! Thanks! Changed the name to just my name.
    P.s Did you know that my pictures from my photo shoot last summer that were on my webpage (currently down for remodeling), that I have my hand out (like on your blog page) too!?! It was also my aviator for b-school but it was so small only shows my face. How funny is that! ? What are the chances? Crazy! Again, great minds think alike.

  17. erin lindstrom

    You are freakin’ fabulous! Great post- totally inspiring to keep going! Just what I needed :) x

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      YOU are freakin’ fabulous, Erin! This comment inspires ME to keep going :)

  18. Natasha Vanzetti

    Love this! Just goes to show that my opt-in doesn’t have to be huge, just really useful. I’m on it!

  19. Christian

    Congratulations. Before you had your website and were in maintenance mode, how did you send traffic to the non-existing website. Speaking engagements, webinars, pay per click…?

    1. Nikki Elledge Brown

      Thanks, Christian!

      I built those early connections in FB groups with like interests, so in this case – groups of online entrepreneurs who definitely needed help with their writing. I was in the groups interacting, helping, and just getting to know folks, and from there the buzz and interest grew QUICKLY.

      There’s more detail in this interview: and in plenty more over on my press page if you’re interested:

      Hope this helps :)

  20. Sally

    Very inspiring! I hope to join you soon as my list grows from 300+ to 1000+!

  21. Angelique Duffield

    This is such an inspiring post Nikki. I read it ages ago and just revisited it. It inspired me to take action and get serious about list building, and just getting active in my online “community” again.

Comments are closed.