The best time to plant a tree was yesterday, the second best time is today. Building an email list from YouTube is like planting a tree--it doesn’t start growing until you plant it, and once it grows it can give you value for life. You must have heard it before--”start an email list” or “build an email list,” and so on. Why should I care? There are a couple main reasons why this is the most important thing you can do if you have a YouTube audience. Your email list gives you “platform security.” That means that if YouTube decides to shut you down or changes their algorithms, you’ll still have a way to interact directly with your audience. You can continue to send them videos via email if you like, or you can point them to a new channel or even new platform like Vimeo or Facebook if you must. Your email list gives you a private relationship with each viewer that signs up. Basically, the inbox becomes a private room you can use to discuss things with each person. You can find out what your audience really wants, both in terms of content from you and the progress they want to make in their lives (i.e., potential products or services). You can then create or find things that help them and sell or deliver that via the inbox. This is not the same as comments or even PMs in YouTube. When was the last time you bought something because someone PMed you on YouTube? Probably never. Have you ever bought something from a company that emailed you? Probably yes. The coolest thing is that you can automate most of the conversation and scale it! If you want to do it yourself, here’s what you do: First, create a landing page There are a lot of ways to do this, and loads of companies like LeadPages and Instapage are dedicated to making these. You can also hire a wordpress or web developer to make landing pages for you. These can range in professionalism from basic freebie URLs like wordpress.yourcoolyoutubechannel.com to professional URLs like coolchannel.com/email. A landing page needs three basic components: A form for signing up A call to action or reason to sign up Connection to an email service or spreadsheet Sign up form Your sign up form can be as easy or as hard as you want to make it, but generally simple is better as long as the reason for signing up is good. Here are a couple of examples, one simple, just a newsletter signup, and one more professional and enticing: http://contented.io/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Screenshot-landing-page-01-1024x450.png Or… http://contented.io/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/Screenshot-landing-page-02-1024x487.png As you can see, both of these examples have a form for signing up, a call to action, and we can assume that they record the email addresses somewhere. Now think about this--which one would you sign up for? Probably the one that will give you the guide or other useful tool or information. Today, not many people get excited about newsletters, but they do get excited about information that will help them change their lives. In our experience, landing pages that offer a download in return for signing up bring in 3-10x more subscribers than a basic email newsletter signup. Reason to sign up Don't have anything to give people in exchange for their email? Sure you do! You just have to make a bit of useful content. The best way to make a downloadable giveaway to boost signups on your landing page is to consider what your audience already wants. Do they come to you to watch you cook recipes? Give them a recipe book. Do they come to you to learn something? Give them a free guide to doing something related. Do they watch you for inspiration or motivation? Give them a checklist they can print out and hang on their bathroom mirror. The possibilities are endless, and you don’t have to overthink it. Just make something useful in a PDF or video format and only allow access to it through your email signup form. One important consideration here: think about what the majority of your audience wants. If you have a soccer technique channel and people come to you for that, you probably don’t want to offer a diet guide as a giveaway. Sure, some people may associate you with health and endurance, but you’ll probably find that more people will want a drill practice sheet or something else more relevant to your most popular video content. ADVANCED TIP: You can use remarketing tags to target your video viewers with display ads online. The whole setup is beyond the scope of this guide, but basically it tags your audience with a cookie and shows them ads for your landing page. This can double or even triple the number of leads you get, on top of boosting conversions from having the giveaway! Email service or spreadsheet for collection So you’ve built the landing page and it’s enticing for people to give you their email, now you need to tie this to something that records the emails that come in. This is usually an email marketing service like MailChimp or Infusionsoft, but it can be as simple as a Google Sheet from a Google Form signup form. There are many different services you can use of varying expenses and levels of difficulty and usefulness, but unless you’re a digital marketer, many of them may be intimidating. The main benefit of using an email service is that in the future you can set up autoresponders to communicate with your audience and even sell things while you sleep--completely automated. Second, send viewers to the landing page Ok, so you have what’s referred to as a “lead capture system” in the digital marketing world, now you have to send your YouTube viewers there! There are three ways you should do this, in order of most effective to least: Links in your video, playlist, and channel description Cards End screens Description links If your giveaway is attractive, and you put the link at the top of your video descriptions, those links will count for 70-80% of the traffic to your landing page--seriously! Links in your descriptions are the most important to put up, and they should go on the first line of your descriptions. This can seem like a daunting task if you have 100+ videos, but you can use a service like TubeBuddy to change all the descriptions at once, as well as set your upload default to have the description you want. The picture below shows a good example link that brings in 1,000+ email subscribers per month. The minimum dose on this is to just take the top 20% of your videos by view count and add the link to those descriptions. Remember, today is the best opportunity you have to start growing your email list, no matter how small your channel, so take a few minutes and get after it. If the links are there, the numbers will come in and start growing over time. Think about every email subscriber as being worth more than $1 this year. That’s about the same as getting 500 views if you're monetized with AdSense… why not get both at the same time? Cards The next most effective links to your landing page are cards. We recommend adding at least two cards to each video that link to your landing page. The first card should show within the first 15 seconds of the video and the second card when the video begins “winding down.” You may know what I mean on the last one, most videos have a sort-of endpoint when the main, juicy information has been covered and many viewers leave before your closing comments. You can also check the average exit time on your video analytics and target your card to show at or just before that time. If you do it right, when your viewer’s brain begins looking for somewhere else to go, they’ll have an attractive card popup that will lead them into your email list. Again, you can add all these yourself, which is time consuming, or use a service like TubeBuddy to bulk add/change cards on all your videos. To endscreen, or not to endscreen? Finally, endscreens can drive some clicks to your landing page. They aren’t as effective as the other links, and usually only drive 1-5% of traffic to landing pages in general. However, if you post short videos, or if your videos have high engagement until the end, you can see better numbers than this. Are endscreens worth it? If you’re serious about your channel then the answer is yes. If they only add 10 email subscribers per month, that’s 120 in a year and 600 in 5 years. When your email subscribers can be worth $1-10 per year later on, that’s a significant return on a little time. Again, adding these does take time, which you can save by using TubeBuddy or by hiring us do it all for you. Finally, put that list to work! Now that you have a sweet setup for building your email list, don’t just sit back and watch it grow! Put it to work: Start building out your content empire by creating blog articles, emails, and social posts from your videos. Setup an email autoresponder that asks thoughtful, engaging questions that will tell you what your audience wants, what they will pay for, and how much. Start pre-selling a product. Start recommending affiliate products And, of course, keep making awesome videos! I’ll cover digging into your audience’s desires, creating your content empire, and pre-selling then developing products in later guides. Please leave a comment below if you have any questions or thoughts you'd like to share!