The Internet Personalities Are Lying To Us (About How To Build Your List)

In today’s episode, we tackle the topic of email list building for service providers and debunk some of the common advice given by popular internet personalities. Britney dives into why most of the advice on list building is garbage and how it’s important to question the “girl next door” approach. Get ready for a deep dive into the world of online business and learn the truth about building an engaged audience. 

We cover:

  • the deceiving nature of internet personalities when it comes to list building
  • the list-building audience-building FAQ
  • debunking the “girl next door” persona and other internet personality TLAs

Make content that actually causes people to think, because when they start thinking about you, you toss around in their minds They might not like it, but they’re thinking about what you had to say. And the longer they think about you, the more likely they are to subscribe to your email list.

Britney Gardner

listen to this content

Listen to this episode on:

Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher | Google Play | Amazon Music | How To Subscribe

Highlights in this episode:

  • 00:00:48 Building lists, hopes, disappointments, audience building, FAQ
  • 00:04:30 You can’t do it like others can.
  • 00:09:09 Outdated advice on list building is garbage.
  • 00:11:44 Internet friends pay for course, share lists.
  • 00:16:50 Consider the source when making decisions.
  • 00:19:38 One audience grouping, do you need more?
  • 00:21:27 Misleading goals, building audience takes time.

Revolutionizing List Building: Breaking Myths and Embracing Reality

Welcome, content rebels! If you’re tired of meaningless marketing rituals and eager to connect more effectively with your online audience, then you’ve come to the right place. In this blog post, we’ll be cracking the code of effective list building. But hold on, we’re not going to follow the “conventional” wisdom (shared by big internet personalities) that so often leads to disappointment. Instead, we’ll delve into the modern age of list building and reveal the deceptive world that surrounds it. Along the way, we’ll bust some myths, unlock the buzzwords, and embrace transparency and reality in your online business. 

The HNW internet personality
The HNW: The head-nodding watchers. They agree with you, support you, but are unlikely to take action. Appreciate their support, but don’t rely solely on their validation.

Understanding List Building In The Modern Age

You and I, we’ve got no time for pointless marketing rituals, don’t we? Instead, let’s focus on resonating more with our message online. So, let’s dive into the exploration of building a connection with our online clients and gain the benefit of list-building as we do so. 

So, how are we feeling about beefing up our subscriber list, folks? There are some big dreams, aren’t there? And equally large disappointments when those dreams falter. Those dreams are faltering, in large part, because we have unnatural expectations. The big internet personalities are feeding us false information.

The Deceptive World of List Building Online

Have you ever thought that most of the advice on list building is pointless, or, worse, a sham? Well, you are not alone. You’ve likely come across internet personas preaching about the ease of list building and assuring us—it’s just as easy as it was a decade ago. Here’s a reality check: it isn’t.

It’s not 2013. You’re not going to organically add 500 emails to your list in a week. When I took Amy Porterfield’s course-building mega-course years ago, I was shocked, even then, that she advised a four-week “runway” for audience building before launching your course. Even in 2018 and 2019, that information was already outdated.

The Girl Next Door internet personality
The GND: The girl next door, friendly and approachable. But beware of her “I did it, so you can too” mentality. That’s false logic!

So let’s call out the big elephant in the room: these big internet names give advice on list-building, but that’s not how they built their lists to this big sizes. They’ve built their lists off JVs and affiliates. Joint ventures had their own conferences to make JV partnership introductions in the mid-teens–because that was how everyone built their list online. 

While these big names may pick up a decent number of subscribers from their lead magnets today, after achieving big-name status, that’s not how they got there in the first place.

Today, sink in as we explore the big questions around list building in the digital age. Yes, we’re flipping the script on conventional wisdom, bringing you the real story from your very own FAQ.

‘TLAs’ – Unlocking the Buzzwords of List Building

Before we delve into your burning questions, let’s demystify the “I did it, so you can too” mindset. To accomplish this, we’ll discuss some frequently used terms. These three-letter acronyms (TLAs) will help dispel myths about list building. Bear with me for a few, and hopefully, it’ll clear off a few cobwebs in the understanding of list building.

The concept of Personality TLAs is an adorable one, gleaned from my friend Tara’s narrative. She’s a wedding photographer who loves her Hallmark Christmas movies. Her witty and spicy Instagram handle, bad.xmas.movies, offers a unique take on these movies along with many character representations, including the GND – Girl Next Door. It’s a term I also leverage to help debunk the myths shared by some internet personalities around successful list-building. 

The reality is, every segment, every place, every community is going to have some archetypes that are easy to pick out. And while I’m definitely sharing some easy ones, some tongue-in-cheek references, naming these people will help you see through their bad marketing tactics and take their advice with the grain rock of salt you should. Here they are: 

  • GND – The Girl Next Door is the friendly Internet personality (could be the Marie Forleo or Amy Porterfield wannabe type).
  • HTP – Hot Take Personality that shows up regularly with their spicy take, but you’re still not sure what they’re actually doing or what work they provide.
  • NNB – The 99 Bro are the ones that say 99% of people on Twitter (excuse me, X!) are doing this wrong–and then give their secret-sauce answer that will skyrocket your dreams.
  • HNW – Head-Nodding Watchers who totally like what you have to say, but they’re never actually going to take action. If they get anywhere, it’s because they finally decide to hire it out 
  • NCL – Not Clients but actual internet friends who stay in your audience to support you, even if they aren’t your best client now–or maybe ever.
  • CBA – Course-Buyers Anonymous keep buying and rarely finish courses, if they even start, but they get a thrill out of feeling like they did a good thing for their biz. Checking that task off the list gives them the same dopamine hit they should only get for learning a new skill.
  • WAM – Whack-A-Mole personalities are constantly jumping from thing to thing, niche to niche.
  • … and my favorite: RSA – Revenue Screamers Anonymous who love talking about their income claims but are definitely paying a VA $6/hr and the rest of the team $20/hr… and usually defending it.

Are these a fun little detour? Perhaps. But by calling them out when they give bad advice, it’s my hope you’ll see through it next time.

The NNB Twitter Bro
The NNB: The 99% bro. These folks claim 99% of marketers are doing it wrong. They present their way as the only solution. Be cautious and evaluate different approaches. What works for some may not work for everyone!

The True Story of List Building For Service Providers

These are the questions my audience brought me, a content strategist for service providers, about list-building.

So how DO you build an audience filled with engaged people? 

Building an audience filled with engaged people requires a combination of targeted content, understanding your audience’s needs and preferences, consistent interaction and engagement, and providing value through your offerings or services. It’s important to focus on building genuine connections and nurturing relationships with your audience.

How do you build an audience quickly?

There’s no magic formula to build a list overnight. It’s about consistent, strategic efforts. Offer valuable content, create lead magnets, and promote them wisely. Utilize social media platforms, and engage with your audience consistently. Quickly is not usually possible for most service providers unless they’re spending to make it happen.

How do you know who’s even IN your audience?

Knowing who’s in your audience requires tools like analytics, surveys, and social media insights to gather demographic data, analyzing engagement metrics, and actively communicating with your audience to understand their needs. Gathering all your data into once place like the Content ROI Dashboard makes this easier.

Knowing who is in your audience will help you make better content–which in turn will fill your audience with engaged people who want to join your list. It’s the first step in any content strategy!

Key Takeaway:

Creating the kind of audience your really want as an established, solo-ish business owner isn’t likely to be quick–but you can build a wonderful list with methodical action and engagement in the right ways.

The HTP: The hot-take personality
The HTP: The hot-take personality. They love sharing spicy opinions, but their relevance to their business may be questionable. Don’t get caught up in the drama.

And finally: 

What is the importance of debunking the notion that “I did it, so you can too” when it comes to building an audience? 

Debunking the notion that “I did it, so you can too” is important because it ignores individual circumstances and privileges. Everyone has unique circumstances, backgrounds, and resources that may impact their ability to build an audience in the same way as someone else.

If you don’t yet have an ad budget, growing quickly may be a fruitless endeavor. Likewise, if joining a costly mastermind where you can make JV connections might be something you can’t or won’t do, and growing quickly like the GND and HTP say, might not possible.

Embracing Transparency and Reality in Online Business

In conclusion, the world of providing online services and running businesses online is not always the straightforward tale it seems. It’s easy to be overwhelmed by the buzzwords and misconceptions surrounding list building. We’re here to strip back those layers and help you embrace transparency and reality in your journey. So, tighten your seat belts and hone your strategy; we are in this for the long haul.

Do you need help creating a content marketing plan that allows you to shine?

We offer complimentary one-on-one consults to help determine if a done-with-you or done-for-you approach is best for you and your business right now.

Music by Michael De La Torre. Thanks, Mikey!

Related Articles

  • Short Form to Long Form: Maximizing Your Content Library for SEO Benefits

    Short Form to Long Form: Maximizing Your Content Library for SEO Benefits

    Repurposing Short-Form Content Into Long-Form Content Hey there, fellow service providers! A few weeks ago, I promised to discuss a slightly unconventional topic – transforming a library of short-form content into long-form pieces. While I usually focus on repurposing long-form content into shorter formats, this question emerged during the Social Search Summit, where I participated…


  • Maximize Your Content: AI Tools for Smart Repurposing Strategies

    Maximize Your Content: AI Tools for Smart Repurposing Strategies

    How To Create More Time For Your Life Without Compromising Your Business Your business should support your life, not the other way around. I’ve been spending quite a bit of time on non-content-related activities lately, like painting and gardening. I’m exploring acrylics, oil pastels, and mixed media on canvas, and I’m absolutely loving it. I…


  • Authority Opinions: Building Authority & Impactful Content Creation

    Authority Opinions: Building Authority & Impactful Content Creation

    Before I delve into this topic, let me say that I’ve discussed authority content before – three years ago, to be precise. And while I still stand by that episode on crafting an authority opinion, I believe it’s time to add to it. So let’s dive into building authority opinions, why we create them, and…