How to build a list for free 101

Posted March 9, 2016 by Brett Rutecky in Training Articles

Today I’m going to teach people how to build a email list for free.

So your probably guessing that I’m going to teach you some kind of obscure or crazy free traffic source. Redditย  perhaps? Nope we are going to use paid Facebook ads. Now I know what your thinking: Hey there Brett I thought you said this was going to be FREE, what kind of game are you playing? Well I want everyone to understand that free traffic does not mean that you don’t pay for it. Let me say this again. Free traffic does not mean you don’t pay for it initially. (the key word there is initially).

Let me give you an offline example of how this happens. The other day I saw a flash drive for sale at Staples. They where selling it for $19 on sale and you get a mail in rebate of an additional $19. So this was in essence a free flash drive. But I had to initially pay for it. However if I did things right and followed the instructions I would get my $19 back so it would be free.

That’s how we are going to build our list. We are going to use paid traffic, but we are going to do it right so that we get our money back very quickly. This is a major thing in the IM business. Because once you understand how to do this, you will see you there is no such thing as a ‘traffic problem’. The real problem people have is an offer problem.

Ok first let me explain a couple of terms:

Lead Magnet: This is a freebie (training or software) that you give away in exchange for the optin. This must be a good gift though because it will be your first impression to the prospect.

Trip Wire: This is a very low cost, but good value product you are selling, the point of this is not so much to make a profit but to quickly break even on your ad investment and to convert freebie seekers into paying customers

Offer: A higher priced product that you have for sale, this is intended to generate profit

CPC: Cost per click, the price you pay per click on your ad.

CPL: Cost per lead, the price you pay per person that opts in via your squeeze page to get your lead magnet.

Ok so for the training I decided to start a brand new list from scratch, these are my results over the last 30 days:


780 subscribers on my list

$976 spent on ads (Ill explain why you dont need this much to get started)

$1504 earned from selling my trip wire and my funnel offers

Net result: I got paid $528 over the last 30 days to add 780 people to my list, not bad since I just wanted to build it for free actually

So how do I do it?

Well it starts off with a lead magnet. For my lead magnet I like to use my Jack Jacker FREE version. My squeeze page is a post here on this blog which you can see by clicking here. Now you might be wondering why I used a blog post for my squeeze page. Well the answer is simple. Because even if the traffic I send choose not to optin, this way they are not wasted traffic, because at least I got them on my blog.

For my Facebook ad, I have a video ad, I just use the video on the squeeze page, and my ‘dog head’ logo as the cover image for the video.


Though I initially set a $10 per day minimum pricing I increase that budget as people went through my funnel. Ill explain what a funnel is and how that works right now.

So we have all seen graphics like this:


That’s a funnel, well its a short funnel but its still a funnel. let me explain how it works.

At the top of the funnel you have your optin, this is your freebie that your giving away, which in my case is the free version of my Jack Jacker plugin. There are some things you need to know about that section. You need to know how much your paying per click to your squeeze page. What percent of those people are actually opting in and then from that you can determine what your cost per lead is (CPL)

So for me: Im paying $0.57 cents on average per click. From Aweber form stats I know that 48% of the people are opting in. So I can deduce that my cost per lead isย  about $1.19.

Next comes the tripwire, this is the point where I try to convert those free optins into paying customers. I do that by giving them a no brainer offer. I have an automatic email set up in Aweber. This email tells them that I hope they are enjoying the free version of Jack Jacker and that I wanted to let them know that there is an even better ‘Gold’ version that is much more powerful. It then links them to a very simple page I built with my Profit Canvas software that demos the gold version and offers it to sell it to them for $9. This is an easy upsell because I already know they where interested in what JJ does and the gold version is not only better, its sold low cost enough that its not something they really need to think hard about.

Keep in mind, my primary goal here is to build my list for free, so what I really want to do with the tripwire is make my own money back. Now I know that it costs me $1.19 per lead and I know that Im selling my tripwire for $9 so that means my tripwire needs to convert at at least 12.5% in order for me to break even on the ad spend. (aprox 1 in 8 people need to buy it).

For me its converting at 15.5% so Im golden, but if it wasnt all still would not be lost, so long as it was not really low I could still make my money back because next I have the ‘offer’.

The offer I use is for my Link Master WP plugin, this is sold via a blog post (so if they don’t buy Im bringing them back to my blog at least)ย and is sent via automated email set up in Aweber to everyone who opts in, not just the people who bought the tripwire. I like to send to everyone because perhaps people where happy with the free version of Jack Jacker, just because they didnt want the Gold version does not mean that they wont want LinkMaster.

For me at this point I already made my ad money back from the Jack Jacker Gold tripwire and I’m recycling that money into new ads to keep the lead machine going. This is why I can spend a lot on ads, without actually having a lot of money, because Im recycling the new money that I earn back into the system. Its a feedback loop of sorts.

My Link Master plugin is higher priced at $19 and because of this it converts lower than the tripwire. This is why when you see those funnel graphics as you go down the ‘funnel’ it gets narrower, this is because as people filter through it, the prices go up and the conversions go down. However so long as people on average filter to a specific level (which will vary depending on your CPL and conversion rates) you will not only make your ad spend back, you will make a profit. I get an average of around 7% from the email leads on Link Master.

That is not the end of my funnel, and I wont go through the entire thing, but I hope I have made a few things clear at this point.

  1. You need to have some products, both free and paid ones, people don’t have ‘traffic’ problems, Google, Facebook, Bing, Instagram, Warrior Forum, and tons of other places will give you all the traffic you can eat. What you have is a ‘no funnel or no product’ problem.
  2. You need to understand that most free traffic is not actually free initially, free traffic can also be paid traffic that you make your ad spend back from quickly, which you can then feed back into more ads
  3. Understand the basics of a funnel, freebie->tripwire->offer
  4. Understand the power of your autoresponder, they are not just for sending out mass mails, they can send automatic emails that filter new subscribers through your funnel
  5. Realize that all of this takes time to set up but once you do its largely automated, you feed profits into the ads and let your ad and your autoresponder do the rest.

That’s really all there is to it guys, its not some big secret or trick,and once you understand and accept the enumerated things above its not really hard to implement. If you like this training article hit me with a social like or share on the left of this screen, feel free to comment below and if people seem interested Ill do some other free training on different ways of building your list.


 A quick note about the reviews I do on this site. The product vendors give me access to their products for free in order for me to do my review. However I make no promises to them regarding the results of my tests or what I will write in my review. Should you click a link that takes you to a sales page for a paid product for sale this link will be an affiliate link and I will be paid a percentage of the sales price should you decide to invest in it.

About the Author

Brett Rutecky

Brett Rutecky is a full time online marketer, web developer, and entrepreneur. He has developed scores of Facebook apps, dozens of custom web sites and hundreds of scripts.


    gil baller


    As always with your training…clear,and honest.
    Thank you!!!!!!


    Yes very good common sense ๐Ÿ™‚
    Thank you for clearly outlining the fundamentals!

    Great stuff as always Brett!

    Jim Burney

    Hi Brett,
    Many thanks for sharing your funnel.
    Methinks this will help many.


    Excellent article, Brett. Good session yesterday with VT. Looking forward to the webinars and learning more from you!

    kami ilmane

    Thank you Brett, for the valuable info and for sharing your experiment.
    Simple but effective. The trick here is to get your trip wire to convert so that it pays for your ads. Not always that easy….
    One thing Brett if I may, can you share with us your FB target interests? they don’t need to be your actual interests, but ideas for interests that you would use for your FB Ads? In my tests, I’ve used, for example, IM gurus as interests, ie: targeting the guru’s followers: that, kind of converted but not as much as I hoped. What do you think?

    Jeff Moreau

    Hi Brett, Article is pretty in depth as to the process. Like you said that there is plenty of traffic out there, but I have heard and can’t say for a fact if it’s the guru lie or not, but that free traffic isn’t as good as paid traffic. You got it right about having a product and preferably your own. You have a really cool logo that stands out.

    Phillip Lopez

    Awesome stuff, thanks Brett. LISTEN TO THIS MAN!


    Thanks for the article Brett

    Kat Clore

    Nice, brief, easy to follow training Brett… thank you! Any YES, I would take advantage of other training like this that you offer ๐Ÿ™‚


    Thanks for the great info on list building, Brett. I’ve paid for traffic courses that provided less information than you did in this article.

    Home Business Valley

    Great value Brett! Thanks for sharing these list building tips!

    Tom Markham

    I truly appreciate your complete openness – and willingness to share your hard-earned expertise – and the quality of the apps I’ve bought from you.
    Thank you most sincerely, Brett. You’re a mensch.
    Tom Markham


    Thanks for this super-helpful blog post, Brett.
    I especially like how you demonstrate exactly how to calculate the rate at which your funnel is actually paying for itself so you’ll know when you’re making a profit.
    Anybody who wants to make money selling affiliate products, for example, should put this strategy into practice yesterday! :^)

    valerie barrett

    Hey Brett,

    thank you for the free list building training. I like that you are always to the point and offer really great advice. Bret, the thing that I want to know is where do you host your free giveaway? To put it another way is how do you link your download to your optin. That is what is stopping me from taking action. I love your products and thank you for reaching out to the non action takers. You are a real motivator for me.


    Great info!

    Brandon McIntosh

    Great information, Brett. Thanks for demystifying the whole process in a single blog post! My Facebook Ads Account is locked right now, but as soon as I’m able I plan to put your advice into practice. If you happen to have any ideas about applying this strategy to Instagram I’d be thrilled to hear it.


    Thanks a lot, Brett!
    I absolutely loved this read. Although I know most of this stuff, it covered pretty much exactly what I’m planning to do, also with JJ and JJ Gold. I like your simple explanations and clarity.

    I’d be very happy to see more posts like this, yes!

    As always, keep going!



    You are awesome Thanks for this so clear training on list building
    For me my challenge is to fully understand The Aweber mail sequence
    If you could make a future video like over your shoulders on how to create those emails it will much appreciated
    Again thanks for all the time you dedicate to us your subscribers
    Talk soon


    Thanks for sharing Brett, much appreciated!
    One question. The facebook ads, where they retargeted ads or did you advertise to a segmented group in Facebook?


    I really applaud your willingness to share the real goods. No smoke and mirrors, no hype, just the benefit of your actually experiences. I think this is a perfect example of how serving others leads to success. Thanks again for all your do!

    michael willliams

    Awesome stuff!

    Marie Doherty

    Thank you so much – great info! Very much appreciated. ๐Ÿ™‚


    Thanks for this awesome blog post.

    Ron Mais

    Good info Brett. If you could do a training on how to target audiences when setting up FB ads, it would help even more.


    Thank you Brett.

    To the point and no fluff.

    One question, is there a site that you recommend where we can buy software to give away in the optin page? I know that you have given away Jack Jacker, but in order to create several funnels more “bait” products are needed.



    Thanks for the outstanding article and training. As always I learn a lot from you and appreciate what you do to provide value in all you do.

    Ricky du Plessis

    Hi Brett

    Thank you for good, clear, easy to understand info to make use of.


    Thank you for this Brett,
    very straight forward as always, keep bringing value to your audience.


    Hey Brett

    Nice article, btw you have affiliate program for link master wp plugin? what if there is no affiliate program?

    How can we make money back or extra profit without the actual “offer (link master wp plugin)”?

    I saw profit canvas has only jack jacker free and paid which only contains freebie>tripwire


    Hey Brett,

    Thanks for the training and case study. Also, thanks for the definitions.
    I had heard of a tripwire once, but your article makes me understand this completely.

    Thanks ,

    Brian Jones

    Hi Brett

    I seen a number of “funnel” explanations but yours is the most easy to follow.




    Got me thinking Brett


    Roberta Hill


    This is a fantastic article and one I will refer others to read. It explains this whole process as succinctly as I have ever seen and make it so easy to duplicate. Thanks!


    Hey Brett again…

    As I have profit canvas which have access for JJ free (options) and gold (tripwire), but don’t have access for link master wp plugin (actual “offer” in above funnel)…

    how can I make profit so I can build my list for free without having access to link master wp plugin as you don’t offer affiliate program for it?


      You dont have to use the same products I use, in fact I have several funnels with different products in them. What I want you to learn is the process / concept here. Dont think you need to copy me exactly.


    Thanks Brett!!
    What kind of products/leadmagnets/trip wire would you suggest for a different niche such as MMO/work from home for someone who is looking to start an online business or someone whjo has tried and failed up to now?


    Very informative. Clarifies the funnel process. I’ve purchased a number of your products and will follow the steps you present in this post to build a sales funnel. This will help me to understand the process and work out how to apply it to other non digital products. Thanks for your generosity and willingness to share your knowledge.


    Thanks for the excellent article.

    One question though, I really don’t know anything about Facebook Ads and Facebook in general, I’m not fond of it. So, I was wondering if instead of using Facebook Ads I could use solo sellers to get some clicks?
    Did you already try, any advice about that?

    Thank you.


      I dont use solo ads. But I see this kind of stuff all the time. I tell people what to do that works, then the first thing that they want to do is change something in the formula. Im not sure I understand that, just do what works. There is plenty of Facebook ad tutorials online. Some right here in the training section of this blog.

    Art Skill

    Thanks for this. I am new to all this and do not have a list, not one person. I just started following you and hope that will change. I am in your circle and hope to make some money, I can really use it. Thanks Art skill

    Art Skill

    Hi Brett, I just tried to download your Jack Jacker and could not. I put in my email to download nd it took me to a page where you asked to join the facebook group which I did but I could not find the download link. What did I do wrong.

    Thanks Art Skill


    Thank you for the actionable content. It’s a fill-in-the-blanks strategy. Very useful.

    John Lach

    Brett ! As usual, You give clear, precise information, and instructions. Thank you for this “Blue Print” to success! I am nearly 70, am disabled with back and head injury, and you make it crystal clear that I can even follow it! I own many of your products that I was able to get. I attended several of your training programs too. You have the patience of JOB !
    You work hard and deserve all the acclaim you can get, along with millions coming your way, you have achieved what is called SUCCESS in Life !
    I hope everyone reading this understand what treasures you give us !
    Again Thank You !
    John Lach,


    simple – no hype – will be following this blog a lot


    Thank you Brett. I liked the way you worded this information so even a newbie can understand the process. Great information looking forward to more of the same.


    Thanks, Brett, Clear and to the point as usual ๐Ÿ™‚


    Great actionable content Brett, thank you. Got my head thinking “Yes, I have one of those, one of those and one of those – I can do it!” ๐Ÿ™‚

Leave a Response


Prove your human: *