How to build an email list without a website

How to build an email list without a website

How to build an email list without a website

When you’re just starting your business, you’re often told to build an email list using a website sign-up form and a ‘freebie’. But what do you do if you don’t have a website? Here’s how to build an email list without a website, even if you aren’t great with tech.

This page includes affiliate links. If you click and purchase or sign-up, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I recommend only those tools I have tested and like.


With social platforms changing their algorithms 24/7 and Google updates cutting website traffic for many, it’s never been more important to have an email list that you control.

I subscribe to a number of email newsletters that talk about SEO and website traffic, as part of keeping up to date with the marketing landscape. And all, in the last six months, have spoken of large drops in their website traffic, with expectations that these will continue as Google continues its mission to keep as many searches as possible on its own platform.

TikTok and Instagram – two of the most active platforms currently – announced major changes in the first two months of 2024. TikTok now wants longer, horizontal, high quality videos. Presumably this is so it can run ads in the spaces above and below the main video, for monetisation. Instagram appears to be prioritising photos in the form of carousels, as it tests them in the Reels feed, following the success of carousels on TikTok.

As a business owner, you can’t afford to leave all your marketing and sales in the hands of social platforms or Google, where one tweak or failing to move with the times could decimate your leads and sales.

You need an email list of people who are interested in you and what you have to say, who you can continue to speak to, even if Google and the socials hate you.

Click here for a free 14-day trial of Stan Store.



An email list is a collection of email addresses and other personal details from people who have given you permission to email them. The list is kept inside an email marketing tool such as MailChimp, MailerLite or Stan Store.


You build an email list using a sign-up form, usually with an incentive in return, such as a discount voucher or a valuable download like a workbook, spreadsheet or template that your ideal clients would want. Potential clients or buyers add their email address and often their name to a sign-up form, so that they can receive the voucher or other download.

Traditional marketers will suggest adding this sign-up form to your website, but what happens if you don’t have a website or when you do have one, but most potential clients or buyers contact you on your social platforms?

This is when Stan Store comes into its own. Stan Store is a multi-functional platform that allows you to collect emails in your own link in bio. From there, you can send emails in the form of ‘blasts’/newsletters or follow-up emails if you’re on its Creator Pro level. On the Creator level, you can use Zapier or built-in integrations to send the email details to your email marketing tool, to use it for sending emails. If you would like to try out Stan Store for free for 14 days, here’s the Stan Store LINK.


This is the subject for MANY blog posts, but to start, make sure you deliver the freebie or voucher in your first email, so they have what you promised. After that you might introduce yourself and how you can help them, as well as what to expect from you. Are you going to email them every day with insane value (some people do!) or do you email every ‘so often’, when you have something to say?

Whatever your style, once you have your list of people, treat them like your most valued guests. They’ve committed to you by sharing personal details including their email address and it’s over to you to send the very best insights and help to them.

Click here for a free 14-day trial of Stan Store.

Stan Store email automations: how to unlock income on repeat

Stan Store email automations: how to unlock income on repeat

Stan Store email automations: how to unlock income on repeat

Email automations are a big deal. Established e-commerce businesses know they can make more money when they can stay in touch via email: why else would there be pop-ups offering ‘10% off’ in return for your email every time you visit an online store! This is why Stan Store has email automation in its top tier Creator Pro.

Let’s start with the Stan Store basics: at its core, Stan Store is an online sales platform you can use to monetise your social audience. It enables you to sell digital downloads, host online courses, book calendar meetings and deliver a free download (often known as a freebie or lead magnet). This comprehensive set of functionality is available on both Stan Store levels: Creator or Creator Pro.

Creator Pro also includes options for email automations, payment plans, upsells, order bumps and sales funnels – advanced options for making more income, once you have your digital online business established.

This page includes affiliate links. If you click and purchase or sign-up, I may receive a small commission at no extra cost to you. I recommend only those tools I have tested and like.


An email automation involves one or more emails being sent when triggered by an action from someone on your email list. Stan Store email automations are triggered with a purchase. Luckily, Stan Store has a built-in series of five draft emails to send to buyers over three days to prompt an upsell – buying an additional product or ‘next step’ using a discount code.

Upsells like this are based on studies that show that existing customers are more likely to buy from you again and that customer retention rates are key.

Although most of the studies quoted date from 20 to 30 years ago, more recent data from Hubspot shows that marketing costs to acquire customers are increasing.

Stan Store email automation diagram or email flow for increased income.
While many using Stan Store today for e-commerce may be gaining their customers through organic content from platforms like TikTok and Instagram, so sales are often dependent on content and time spent creating and improving it rather than advertising costs, the fact remains: email automations help you sell more for little increased effort.

Stan Store calls its email automations that follow purchases a ‘flow’. It also offers email broadcasts: emails that go out to your list at a time you choose. This might be something like a weekly email you send your list.

If you are already making online sales but not yet using email, I’d suggest moving up to the Stan Store Creator Pro to take the next step.

Click here for a free 14-day trial of Stan Store.



The fourth quarter of the year is the time when service businesses can hit their yearly goals, even if they’ve not been on target earlier in the year. With Black Friday / Cyber Monday, holiday spending and end-of-year budgets all in the mix, the rewards can be great, but you need to be prepared.

To help you make the most of the fourth quarter, here are some steps you can put in place to maximise your sales and avoid overwhelm, so that when the holidays start, you can relax and enjoy a break.


CLIENTS: The first step in getting ready for the fourth quarter is to look at your existing workload and commitments. Check the client work you already have booked in or that is likely to book. Contact potential clients who have said they want work done at some point and let them know this is their window to book in with their deposit before the year ends. Given you are about to launch promotional plans, your availability is likely to become extremely limited and your clients will appreciate giving them a heads-up now so they can plan too. You might even add in an early bird bonus to galvanise them.

CALENDAR: Also look at your calendar for personal commitments. Now would be a good time to check with family and others in your household about their expectations for the fourth quarter, especially plans for late December and into the new year.

PERSONAL: Are there any tasks you need to do – either personal or business – that you want to complete before the fourth quarter to have them out of the way? This could be anything from a dental check-up to bringing your paperwork up to date. Think of it as clearing the runway!

The goal of this is to assess your workload and to proactively manage your clients and maximise your revenue from existing clients.


Now you’re going to find out where the other ‘edges’ are in your fourth quarter and define some of your own.


  • Check with your main suppliers, delivery firms or any other businesses you work with on their holiday deadlines. Put them in your calendar.
  • Based on these, set your own client deadlines with time for you to do your work and including a cushion to cover epic courier failures, mistakes and illness. Add these to your calendar.
  • Tell existing clients about your deadlines, preferably everywhere: social media platforms, social media profiles, newsletters or a one-off email to current clients.


Black Friday 2023 is Friday November 24. Mark this and Cyber Monday on Monday November 27 on your calendar.  Even if you don’t run any Black Friday promotions, this period affects spending patterns, social media ‘noise’ and ad costs, in the 10 days or more leading up to this promotional long weekend.


Now that you know the landscape for the final three months or more of the year, you can plan. Big picture planning for most small service-based businesses is best on a few sheets of paper so you can see how everything fits together. I’ve designed a free printable planner of Q4 for 2023 which you can DOWNLOAD HERE. (No email needed).

Choose the promotions you’re going to run, if any. You may already be close to fully booked (go you!) and your main job here is to manage client expectations. If not, then look at your financial goals and plan one or more promotions that could meet those goals, given your availability.

For instance, if you are a yoga teacher who is going to run a Black Friday offer on yearly online class memberships, you might team up with a local artist to create a limited edition yoga mat: those signing up for the year receive one. To do this, you would need to find an artist, set up the commission and have at least one yoga mat printed so that you can check quality and use it to promote your offer. Then you promote it for a week or two leading up to Black Friday.

There are a HUGE number of advantages to being this organised.  For a start, you’re so much more likely to hit your revenue goals. You’re less likely to be overwhelmed and it means you can take advantage of early bird specials or bulk discounts on printing marketing pieces or telling the local newspaper about your yoga mat commission and arranging a photo shoot of you, the artist and the yoga mat.


What are all the supplies you could need for this quarter? Check printer ink, sticky tape, Sharpies, bubble wrap, brown paper, labels, scissors, batteries. Either check everything now and order or make a note on your calendar when you are going to do this.

If you usually give your suppliers a little extra something at Christmas, now would be a good time to schedule that, perhaps even using Black Friday discounts.

Ditto, if you send holiday or New Year cards, schedule in time for those which could include: planning, shooting, designing, ordering, writing and addressing.


An inbox is not a task list. So if you have hundreds or thousands of emails in there that want actioning, move them to a sub-folder so you don’t get drawn in every time you go to your inbox.

Going forward, you’re going to empty your inbox daily Monday to Friday or whatever your business week is. Check your inbox between one and three times a day and close it at other times. This will allow you to concentrate on the big chunks of work you need to get through without email being a distraction.

Answer anything that you can do inside a couple of minutes and for anything that will take longer, turn it into a task. Copy and paste the relevant piece of the email to the task. If you have a system that links emails like LightBlue or Daylite, that’s fabulous.

Once you’ve either replied or turned the email into a task, file the email in a sub-folder. Given that you can search for the email by content or sender, you could just have one sub-folder for ‘dealt with’ emails.

This system of handling email is based on David Allen’s Getting Things Done. It’s a fabulous book for managing your business and life generally – perhaps a holiday read?

You also need to go through your current inbox for the past month or so and triage it: either respond inside a few minutes or turn into a task. You do not want one of these coming back in a few weeks to trip you up when you’re at your busiest. Schedule your triage session in your calendar in the next few days if you can’t do this today.


When you’re planning your client projects, it can be useful to keep the notes and thoughts for each project in a separate folder. Breaking down projects helps prevent overwhelm and keeps them on track.

For instance, ‘do album’ may include:
– Request favourites from client / choose favourites
– Import image folder into album design software
– Check size of album + number of pages
– Design album
– Export design as double-page spreads
– Resize spreads and save for web
– Upload to online review software, write intro blurb, publish.
– Email client with link, next steps and album deadlines.

For sets of repeating tasks such as the steps in designing an album, it can be helpful to keep a list of them which you print and tick off. Electronic task managers can have their own versions of this; for instance, Daylite has activity sets.

Although you may know all the steps, remembering them in the right order can take up space in your head that you may want for other things.


If it looks as if you have too much on your plate, there are a few things you can do.

One is to truly look at how efficient you are. For instance, designing albums and making album changes all on one day is more efficient than doing an hour a day for the week. This is because when you switch context between different tasks, it takes us time to adjust from one to the next.

This means that a one-minute email in the midst of album design is more like a five to 10-minute email as you lose your train of thought on the album. There is also something intrinsically rewarding with getting something as complex as an album design done in just one or two concentrated sittings without distractions.

If you are being efficient, then what support could you get? Concentrate on removing or reducing tasks that suck your willpower. For one person, this could be using social media hashtags, for another, it could be the thought of what to cook for dinner. Social media management or food boxes with recipes such as Hello Fresh might help.

Also keep in mind services such as Fiverr and Upwork for online business tasks and Helping Hands and local teenagers/parents to deal with physical ones such as packing orders and post office runs. Try to get your support set up before you need it.

Schedule time in your calendar for you too. This includes time off, family/friends time and workouts.  You can download a free printable planner of your 2018 fourth quarter I’ve designed just for you – no email needed HERE


You should now have a calendar with important dates and deadlines and a set of projects, each of which contains tasks. These two pieces can help you stay on top of this quarter like a boss. Check your projects each week – it will probably take you less than 30 minutes – to make sure that everything is progressing as it should be: clients or suppliers have responded to emails and nothing you were meant to do has fallen through the cracks.

We’re all human and things WILL get lost along the way, but the weekly checks will bring you back on course quickly and help you plan your tasks for the week. Don’t forget, you can download a free printable planner of 2023 fourth quarter I’ve designed just for you here. 

I hope this helps you plan your fourth quarter success, staying sane and delivering a great service to your clients.

How to add a link to Instagram Stories

How to add a link to Instagram Stories

How to add a link to Instagram Stories

Stories is one of the few places where Instagram allows a clickable link, so knowing how to add a link to Instagram Stories is a business essential for building your email list and sales. Here’s how to add a link to an IG Story and style it to match your branding.

How to add a link to Instagram Stories in three easy steps

Once you have created your Instagram Story and are ready to add a link:

  1. Click on the Stickers button in the top navigation of four circles
How to add a link to ig story - three easy steps to adding links to Instagram Stories.

2. Choose the link sticker and type in or paste your link. You can share the link as it is or customise the sticker text. Click ‘Done’ when you’re finished.

How to post a link on ig story - step two of three steps to posting a link on Instagram Stories.

3. Customise the link’s styling by tapping the link – there are three options to suit various backgrounds.

Three Instagram Stories link styles you can add to your Stories in 2023.

Custom styling the Instagram Story sticker link

Instagram gives you three native link styles: bright blue, black with a pink and orange rainbow and white text on a transparent background. You can use any of these quickly and easily.

But with a few simple hacks, you can style the white text to work with your branding, so it’s visible against the background and appears in your brand colours. The first custom styling option is to use the Draw tool with one of your brand colours to swipe a fat line or two that is a bit longer that your link sticker. You can move the link sticker to sit on top of the coloured line.

Custom styling an Instagram Stories link with the drawing tool and your brand colours.

The second custom styling option uses the text tool with a background. Hit the period / full stop and then as many spaces as you need to create a coloured block to run behind the white link. change the colour to one of your brand colours and put behind the white link. You may need to juggle the text slightly to hide it behind the link text.

Custom styling an Instagram Stories link with the text tool and your brand colours.

The third custom styling option uses a block of colour from a sticker or a custom graphic of your own. You can search Instagram’s own stickers for colour blocks with text such as ‘orange rectangle’ – or whatever your brand colour might be. If you need to delete any unwanted stickers, drag them towards the bottom of the screen and a trash can in a circle will appear. Drag the sticker into the trash to delete. To add your own colour blocks, you’ll want shapes saved as PNGs with a transparent background.

Please note that for the PNG’s transparent background to stay hidden, you’ll need to cut and paste the sticker from your camera roll rather than adding it as a sticker or photo through Instagram’s sticker menu. You can do this by going into your camera roll, selecting the png file and clicking on ‘Copy photo’ in the menu at the bottom of the screen. Return to the Instagram app, click on the screen and hit ‘Paste’. 

Custom styling an Instagram Stories link with a branded transparent PNG and your brand colours.

Can everyone post links on Instagram Stories?

Yes, every account can post links in Instagram Stories. Instagram introduced this in 2021, after the link only previously been available to accounts with more than 10,000 followers. Although Instagram does warn that new accounts and accounts that repeatedly share content that violates its Community Guidelines will not have access to the link sticker.

Why your business should be adding links to Instagram Stories

As much as you might love Instagram, your account can disappear at any time. You could be hacked or Instagram / parent company Meta could choose to remove your account. Therefore, you want to move as many followers as you can onto your own mailing list and links are an essential part of doing that.

Instagram offers links in your profile – up to five of them – and on Stories. It doesn’t offer them on regular grid posts, Carousels or Reels and Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri has said (in 2023) that it’s extremely unlikely to add links to the feed.

In order to move followers from your Instagram account to your own mailing list, you want to be adding links to Instagram Stories regularly, that take viewers to a sign-up form to collect details such as a name and email address. You can entice them to do this with what’s known as a lead magnet or freebie, which they receive in return for their personal details. This might be something like an ebook, a template or checklist.

Whenever you are sharing a Story that relates to your lead magnet, share your lead magnet opt-in page so that anyone who is interested in that topic has the option of joining your mailing list and downloading your lead magnet.

Using Instagram Story link stickers also helps with engagement on your Stories: clicking those links is engagement and Instagram does love engagement!

Canva brand kit: how to set it up (free + pro options)

Canva brand kit: how to set it up (free + pro options)

Canva brand kit: how to set it up (free + pro options)

Let me introduce you to the Canva brand kit – an essential element of any business that helps it appear with a consistent look and feel across its social platforms, website and other marketing. And with free and paid options, the Canva brand kit can work for new or established businesses on any budget.

Canva is an online design tool with a drag and drop interface that’s easy to use, templates and a relatively short learning curve, so it’s perfect for business owners who are not graphic designers. You can create everything in it from social media graphics to websites and business cards. Most options are free to use, with paid plans for some photos, graphic elements, templates and team working.

What is a branding kit?

A brand kit is a collection of elements, colours and fonts that are associated with your business or brand. It can be as simple as a single font and one colour or include multiple logo variations, several fonts and multiple colour palettes.

Its purpose is to create a recognisable cohesive look or feel for a business or brand. This means that when it appears somewhere like Instagram, followers can instantly identify which account has shared a post, which helps develop a relationship with the brand.

Canva branding kit contents: a logo, a colour palette and fonts.

How to create a brand kit in Canva

Canva has its own Brand Hub in the sidebar in the tools section. When you click on this, you’re taken to the Brand Kit and Brand templates, each with their own tabs. A free Canva account allows you to add up to two colours, so you can have a brand kit in free Canva, albeit a minimal one. The Pro Canva account allows you to add multiple logos, colours, photos, graphics and icons, along with fonts for your title, subtitle, headings, body text, quotes and captions.

At first glance, the free Canva account is very restrictive, but when you sign up, you’re offered a free 30-day trial of its Pro membership, during which you can set up your Brand Kit. The Brand Kit remains, even if you cancel your Pro membership after the free trial. So, I suggest that you use the free trial to set up your Brand Kit – it saves you so much time when creating or adapting designs.

You add brand colours to Canva by clicking ‘Add colour’ and typing in the hex codes. Logos are added into their own folder with the upload button. For fonts, you can upload your own or use one of the hundreds of popular Canva fonts. There’s even a font ‘notes’ section to allow comments about font usage such as when to make headings all capital letters or changing letter spacing.

What does a brand kit do in Canva?

A Canva brand kit helps you create graphic designs more quickly than starting from scratch, because it contains all your branding elements such as colours and heading / body fonts as well as other graphics such as logos.

If you have Pro membership (it’s around $13/£11 a month if you pay monthly), you can also customise the colours of templates in a few clicks: pass your cursor over the colours in your brand hub and an option to ‘shuffle’ will appear. Click on the bar of brand colours and watch the template colours swap around. Keep clicking until you have the colour combination you most prefer.

How to set up brand templates in Canva

You can set up Brand Templates inside Canva’s Brand Hub with the Brand Kit. This is one of those tasks that you do once and you reap the rewards repeatedly afterwards. In this case, set up templates that you regularly use such as Instagram carousel posts, Reels covers and Facebook posts and add your brand fonts, colours and matching colours or graphics. This would also be a great time to add any custom photography you have, putting it in the photos folder.

This is especially useful when you’re working in teams and want others to work on graphics: these pre-approved templates are going to steer your colleagues or freelancers towards creating work that is on brand. Having brand templates set up is also going to save you time going forward, especially when you’re in a hurry.

In the Pro account, you can have multiple brand kits. It’s easy to swap between them in a couple of clicks.

Where you can use your Canva brand kit

You can use your Canva brand kit EVERYWHERE! This means you can use it to create:

  • Social post graphics
  • Video text overlays
  • Ebooks
  • Presentations
  • Business cards
  • QR codes in a brand colour
  • Brochures / flyers
  • Canva websites

How to share your brand kit

Imagine that you have your brand kit inside Canva and want a freelancer to create graphics for you that fit your branding. One way of working would be to add them to your Canva team. Another is to have them create inside their own Canva account and supply you with either the finished graphics or a template link, that allows you to open a copy of their work in your own account with one click, so you can update the template at will.

In this case, you would want to supply them with a branding guide, that explains your brand kit in one document, so that they understand your brand visuals. This is where you can create a Canva brand guide or guidelines.

I’ve created a free Canva brand guide template to make this easy for you: click the graphic below for access. Just swap in your own colours, fonts, logo if relevant and photos if you want to help flesh out the look of your brand, download as a PDF and send to your designer. This is also helpful if you are working with any freelancers or web designers.

Free Canva brand guide template - just add your name and email to download this brand guidelines template for Canva. Download into your Canva account in one click.