The Biggest Mistake An Internet Marketer Can Ever Make

There are thousands of dollars to be made in internet marketing, and the number of success stories of people earning thousands of dollars a month with internet marketing is growing every year. But there is a big mistake that I see internet marketers making all the time that is costing them thousands.

I am acutely aware of this mistake as I made it myself when I first started building my blog many years ago. As many people do I got swept up in the idea that I could make a full time income online blogging. After all is Darren of and Yaro of can make over $20,000/month why couldn’t I earn just $2,000/month.

So I started building my blog and I was blogging away 2-3 times per day (just like the pros do it) and within a few months I started seeing some progress…but not much. I was earning less than $100/month and I was working my ass to the bone. It wasn’t long before I was tired from all the work and poor from not making any money.

Little did I know that I was making the biggest mistake an internet marketer can make. It was this mistake that was keeping me poor and it wasn’t until I realized that much luck began to change.

I now work less than ever and earn more than ever. I don’t blog 2-3 times per day like I was doing. In fact I closed down my profitable blog because I was making more money in other ventures and I didn’t want the work that went with maintaining a blog. Now I just keep a personal blog for fun.

So what is this massive mistake that internet marketers fail to realize?

Not Building An Email List

That is right! Failing to build an email subscriber list is the biggest mistake you can make as an internet marketer.

The value of an email marketing list has long been debated, with professional internet marketers sitting on both sides of the fence. But the evidence for the value of an internet marketing list cannot be denied.

In his article Blog Marketing vs. Email Marketing vs. Twitter Marketing John proves that email marketing is one of the best ways to generate income online.

When I started my blog and was working myself into the ground to get it up and running I wasn’t failing because I was a bad writer or had a bad blog, I was failing because I wasn’t utilizing the power of email marketing.

Why Is An Email List So Vital To Your Success?

I have made a big claim here, but let me show you why an email list is so vital to your success.

You Don’t Have To Drive Traffic To Drive Sales

Traditional email marketing requires you to continually drive traffic to your site (and to affiliate sites) in order to make money. With email marketing you only have to drive traffic once, and then once you capture that persons email address you can market to them over and over and over again without having to drive them to your site.

An Email List Builds Over Time

Unlike PPC marketing (where the traffic stops if you stop paying) email marketing builds over time. Once someone subscribes to your email newsletter it is unlikely that they will unsubscribe. Some people will, but the majority of people will stay subscribed. This means that you can build your list over time, and the more you build your list the more money you make with each new offer you send out.

A Good Email List Is Like A Bank Account

A good email list is like a bank account. But when you need money, instead of going to the ATM, you send out an email. If you have a sizeable list that you have been building over time then you are almost guaranteed instant results…within the hour. Most other methods of marketing don’t work that quickly over and over and over.

It Can Be Completely Automated

If you use Aweber for your email marketing then you can completely automate your entire sales system. No more late nights writing articles or managing your PPC campaigns. You write your emails once and plug them into Aweber’s email autoresponder system. When someone signs up for your newsletter they automatically go through your sales funnel one email at a time. Aweber markets for you while you focus on the important things (like having fun).

You Can Focus

Everyone knows that focusing produces results. You are more likely to succeed if you focus on building one blog than if you try to build 50 blogs at once. The same comes for internet marketing. If you can focus on one thing you can generate better results. Because Aweber does everything on autopilot all you have to focus on is generating traffic. Your squeeze page is up, your emails are done and all you have to do is drive traffic and get subscribers. By just focusing on driving traffic you can receive better results than you ever would have if you were trying to do 10 things at once (update your blog, manage your PPC campaigns, set up affiliate sites etc etc).

Some people may disagree with me, that failing to build an email list isn’t the biggest mistake you could ever make as an email marketer. But the proof this there and it cannot be denied, email marketing is vital to your success.

Ryan McLean is a successful email marketer who has a passion for teaching others how to generate a passive income online. Visit his site to receive a free eBook that can help you generate a passive income online in your spare time.

84 thoughts on “The Biggest Mistake An Internet Marketer Can Ever Make”

  1. Dave S says:

    John, great post… I couldn’t agree more! I’ve been blogging now for over 2 years without a list until today – so your posting couldn’t have come at a better time. I even used your AWeber suggestion from your eBook.

    Looking forward to seeing your presentation tomorrow evening.

    If you would like to check out my new venture in building an email list , just click my name above (you can even win a cool Canon Lens coffee mug).

    Thanks John for all of the inspiring information, keep it coming man!

    Dave Seeram
    PhotographyBB Magazine

    1. Guest post…. not JC

      1. Thanks Insurance Izzy,

        You did the reminder so I don’t have to keep on doing it myself.

      2. General mistake …

        John should start adding photo of Guest poster.

        1. Not a bad idea but where do you think the photo should be placed?

          Unless it’s placed close to the top of the page, people will still not pay enough attention to it.

          1. Yes than place photo above and name at the bottom with link … so that people should not leave without reading post.

    2. Nathan Lee says:

      I have read articles talking about the importance of email list, but it never gets boring. My e-mail list is growing every single day, and the money I made now from my e-mail list sure beats Google Adsense or any CPC ads.

      Some people decide to monetize their website/blog with Google Adsense, but very few succeed because it requires too many traffic.

      I think my website/blog, and, have really good ads placement and my ctr is nearly 2%, but the income is still nothing compare to my mailing list.

  2. Hi,

    I agree. I think the most important thing in a web business is building your list. It cannot be emphasized enough. Many people fail to realise this.


    1. d3so says:

      Many fail to realize and many fail to take initiative.

      1. You should give important priority to list because this one will help your blog to grow. Believe me.

        1. It’s amazing that so many people online have not realized this point.

          Or they resist doing anything about it.

  3. Baker says:

    hello. I need to jump on getting started with my email list building, been putting it off for awhile now… Thanks for the reminder.

    1. d3so says:

      Take my aweber challenge: aweber is $1 the first month. Try to make a profit of at least $1 with your list within that month.

      1. Nathan Lee says:

        Nothing against you, but I feel that it’s disrespectful to promote your own affiliated links on someone else’s personal website/blog to make a quick buck. Kind of like spamming. I won’t take your Aweber challenge. I’d rather take John Chow’s.

        1. Thats not his affiliate links. Thats of John.

          John is using one plugin which transfer all keywords into his own affiliate links.

          1. That said we’ve seen our friend commentator here place his link right inside his comment too haven’t we?

          2. Only D3So can do that … because John gave him special authority to do so … lollzz

  4. Jeff Pinkham says:

    Thanks for reminder of mail list importance

  5. d3so says:

    Oh boy, another REHASHED post about list building, there’s nothing new here, move along…

    1. Agree, it would be nice to read sometimes something new about email marketing, but not in this guest blog post unfortunately, SY

      1. PPC Ian says:

        I agree with you. It’s a well written post, but it seems like there has been way too many posts about this topic lately. I am a fan of email but must also say there is work involved such as writing ebooks to get people to sign up.

        1. Nathan Lee says:

          It occurs to me that John Chow have been using nothing but Guest Posts recently. What is going on. Is this still John Chow dot Com?

          1. You are not the only one wondering about that! SY

          2. You are right PPC Ian,

            There is work involved too, it’s not quite a virtual ATM.

            The post is pretty good but unfortunately it suffers with some oversimplifications and includes mostly generalities.

            More specific points would be much more helpful.

          3. Nathan Lee,

            You cannot be serious. John posts regularly here and I don’t understand why you don’t check before making statements like that.

            Aren’t you glad that he gives you the opportunity to guest post?

            He also uses paid writers. But I’d challenge you to prove that John has not written at least 2 posts of his own in the last 7 days.

        2. d3so says:

          I haven’t finished writing my ebook yet 😛
          but I’m thinking about offering something else.

          1. PPC Ian says:

            Writing eBooks is serious work! Can’t wait to read yours. I recently wrote a 12 page whitepaper and it helped my email list building efforts substantially. But, it also took me an entire day to write, edit, and publish the whitepaper!

          2. Well if you finished this within one day than I must say that you have done good job.

  6. Thanks for sharing this. I totally agree with you. Building an email list should be the number 1 priority online. I build my list every single day. Sometimes I wasn’t able to do other IM stuff, but never will I forget building my email list. I make sure to add at least 1 new subscriber, never will I let my day to have zero added subscribers.

    I always emphasize this to my subscribers, that they should also build their list in order to build a long-term business. There are a lot of ways to make money online, but those can die down when the time comes, but having a very responsive, well-cared list will never put your business in jeopardy.

    You can always rely on your email list. So, whatever we do online, whether you sell your own product, or as an affiliate, or whatever services we promote online, we must have a subscribers list.

    1. d3so says:

      You know what would make a good guest post? Tips on building an email list.

  7. Patrick says:

    I still dont get it; simply taking this advice you say having an email-list is your no1 goal?? So what about the content you write, which is the reason your followers subscribe in the first place. I’m missing the user-perspective in your article.

    Btw; i see another big mistake on this blog: all of your ads are US based, eventhough i’m from NL; no relevance at all for me. (thinking there’s no world beyond US 😉

    1. Nathan Lee says:

      You’re right Patrick! Thank you for commenting.

      I have read so many articles about this topic lately too. It’s the echo chamber I tell you. LOL.

      I think contents is way more important because that’s how you get users to subscribe.

      Some marketers think that people are stupid and will subscribe to them out of nowhere and for nothing.

      The best way to get someone to subscribe to you is to offer something of value for free.

      If John Chow didn’t offer a free eBook that’s valuable, I don’t think many people would subscribe.

      The guy who guest posted this article, Ryan McLean, offer a link to his website that got nothing but an e-mail subscription box.

      How did he expect anyone to subscribe?

    2. d3so says:

      Not all ads are US based. They’re in english but they could be targeted to most countries.

  8. Ding Neng says:

    Big Mistake Revealed! Many people want to save money by using free autoresponder, but many don’t know the side effects that come along… Email List building way to go!

    1. d3so says:

      Yeah, though I wasn’t using an autoresponder. I was using feedburner and thought it was as good but I was wrong.

      1. Repeat after me:

        Feedburner is for RSS subscription, even if the delivery is by email 😉 SY

  9. Prilep says:

    I have already started building email list after reading one of your guides, and the results are pretty good for a start!

  10. Bidet says:

    Having a list is very important, and the sooner you start it the better. It will build over time and will increase your sales.

  11. Really Great Post.

    I’m totally agree with you about list building.
    List Building is something that no blogger should miss.
    Anyways, Thanks for sharing this great post. Awesome work.


  12. Dean Saliba says:

    Setting up a newsletter is something I have just done, I am trying to read every bit of information about how to run it successfully as I can find online. 🙂

  13. Without a doubt building a Mailing List is right up there with my top methods of Online Income and it’s all about getting people who are interested in the Niche and what you have to say.


  14. I personally thing that “The Biggest Mistake An Internet Marketer Can Ever Make” is not to be trustworthy. If your readers and subscribers don’t trust your recommendations, they will not buy when you recommend something to them. One bad product that you recommend can ruin your whole list, SY

    1. PPC Ian says:

      This is a good point. While I’m a huge fan of email lists, I have also learned the hard way. Lists can quickly cease to be ATMs when you break the list. It’s through trial and error (and a lot of hard work) that a list can be an ATM. But, it’s very hard work just like any other marketing channel.

      1. d3so says:

        I agree 100% it’s about trust in the beginning. Without it everything will fail including your list.

  15. Tej Kohli says:

    Yeah Sure you are right but , few who are unknown and get amazed with Internet marketing just diffusing money and felling very hassle

    1. d3so says:

      I don’t understand. It’s true that people get excited but it does take work to make money.

    2. Can you try again? I don’t get what you want to say! SY

      1. Try as I can I don’ see any meaning in what Tej is trying to say either.

  16. Michael says:

    Good post. As a lot of people mentioned this is not exactly new content but still valid. I’ve been pushing back getting into email marketing because of the cost. I am scared to invest all the money to find out that I won’t get any profits back. I am still contemplating where that is the next best move for my blog.

    I guess I will think about it and see what kind of traffic I can generate with email marketing.

    1. d3so says:

      I’m also scared as well. I don’t want to be list building for months to end up with losses.

    2. All the money? You have to invest time (by writing a good ebook for example) and some money to host your email list, but that’s it. SY

      1. You are right SY but for some people $20 per month is a lot of money.

  17. Paul B says:

    I don’t have a list. I hate getting shitty e-mails promoting crap. That’s what list marketers do – over and over and over. Double opt in on a promise that is NEVER delivered and away you go.

    The biggest mistake people make with making money online is concentrating on promoting ways of making money online and not real businesses with real viable products.

    1. Very true for a lot of lists I was previously subscribed to. That were the main reasons I unscribed from nearly all of them! SY

  18. blogercise says:

    Is it just me or does this blog seem to revolve around pushing Aweber? 😉

    I think we all know JC makes a lot from mailing lists but is this solution really applicable to everyone? I used to work for a commercial corporate website where we employed 2 full time people to run our list, and yes, it did bring in a million or so a year, but actually that made up about 20% of the mix.

    Both SEO and PPC proved more successful, with offline (people phoned up from TV ads etc) being the final part of our core traffic drivers.

    I worry that JC pushes email lists because that’s what worked for him without realising that many people make a living from the net through other exciting and creative ways and that this model doesn’t suit every website.

    One size doesn’t fit all. Remember we can’t all blog about blogging!

    1. d3so says:

      True but having a list is as essential as having tech support, everyone needs it. It doesn’t take much to manage a list. It’s easy to setup and it’s quick passive income.

      1. Paul B says:

        I don’t have a list, or tech support, I do alright online. It’s nonsense, what you need is to connect people to things they are interested in buying. Even better, make it a real world product, not some info shite with 4 billion dollars worth of bonuses and you’ll not even have to feel like scum doing it. THAT IS ALL there is to it.

        Email marketing works, of course it does but anybody doing it who believes they are anything more than spammers are kidding themselves. Is it more effective than other methods? Depends on the market. In the MMO market it’s a goldmine but that’s only cos of the untrusting nature of the potential customers – how many [email protected] MMO products have we all bought? It really does take 3-4 points of contact before people get serious about buying the next big thing. Not needed so much for people looking to buy a new dishwasher? In other markets its not needed at all. Try list marketing when promoting B2B services and see how far you get!

        Having a list is about as essential as having a 3rd bollock.

        1. Email lists work in virtually every market. You can make money online without a list.

          Nobody is forcing you to have a list. If you don’t like this blog why do you bother reading it and spreading your anger?

          No need to be full of vitriol and attack everybody as spammers.

    2. Or he pushes aweber because he is an affiliate for them and makes money every time somebody new signs up? SY

      1. This is a guest post. John did write on this subject before but what if he sometimes writes things to help others?

        I’d be surprised if the commissions he makes from AWeber are even 0.001% of his income.

  19. I just love the push behind the title. Using adjectives like “biggest” and making this seem like such an extreme post is a good way to draw readers in. You just need to make sure you’re not disappointing them with your actual content, which judging from the comments above, you definitely did. I think email building is one step you shouldn’t neglect to include, but it is also not the end all and be all of internet marketing. Just something else to keep in mind.

    1. d3so says:

      You took the words right out of my mouth. I couldn’t have said it any better.

  20. I enjoyed your article it was great. There are a lot of people that quit after a couple of months and you let them know they have to stay with their website.

    1. This looks like a lip service comment to me. How and why were the points good?

  21. Christina says:

    Building a list is very important because as you may know most businesses make the bulk of their profit from returning visitors.

  22. Gambir says:

    again.. money is in the leads 🙂

  23. Jordy says:

    John, I made a free ebook after reading your “How to Make Money Blogging” eBook. This was about two weeks ago and I now have 50 people on my list.

    I entered a few of my best articles into the “follow up” auto send with Aweber and it’s bringing people to my site.

    You’re awesome!

    1. It’s nice to see the fruit of reading this blog and following a good advice that John gives.

      That, however was in another post, this one as already mentioned by another commenter was not written by John.

  24. List is the first step if you are serious as professional blogger.

    1. Absolutely ZK,

      All professional successful bloggers have and are building email lists.

      I challenge anyone to prove otherwise.

  25. John says:

    Great message. I have started using aweber because of John Chow. Not seeing a ton of results but constantly get around 2 subscribers a week!

  26. Caleb says:

    But all this is now east thanks to MaxBlog’s Subsciber Magnet which creates multiple stealthy points of subscription gathering 😉

  27. Will make sure I don’t make the same mistake myself.

    1. What mistake are you referring to?

  28. Kamal says:

    Hi John, I understand email marketing is going to work for markets like weight loss and money making online. But do they still work for desperate short life span markets like Acne. Would takers be patient enough to read a mail at their inbox daily?

    1. I have found that they do – “desperate” being the operative word

  29. SnowBall says:

    So many people blog about what you SHOULD do, and never what you SHOULDN’T do. I love this post, and I hope you can keep posting more Don’ts just for the amateurs that read your blog. We can always learn from other people’s mistakes.

  30. Lakhyajyoti says:

    I am doing this mistake till now.I’ll try to build a email list.It is a must for every blogger.Thanks for your article.

  31. Mitch says:

    Looks like I might be the only voice saying this, but phooey, for two reasons. One, saying you can market to an email list over and over is a fallacy; at least half the people you get on an email list are going to unsubscribe the first time you send them something they weren’t expecting, and half of the rest are just going to ignore it without looking at it.

    Which brings point number two, if your content and things you offer on your blog or website isn’t the most important thing, then those folks who unsubscribed will never have another reason to stop by.

    1. John Chow says:

      Spoken like someone who has no idea how email, or marketing, works. 🙂

  32. Ron says:

    Nice post John! How would one go about making an ebook viral to gain a huge list? Would love to hear your insight.

  33. Indeed, list building is the single most powerful way to make money online. Without building list, there is a limitation of making money by blogging.

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