How to Build Your Email List with In-Person Meetups

Got an email this morning:

I’m Meligy. I’ve been a loyal listener to the Entreprogrammers podcast since June 2014, and read a lot of your daily e-mails.

For over a year, I have been building a mailing list for JavaScript developers interested in AngularJS, especially those who use ASP.NET developers.

I used my blog (~300-600 daily views), a book giveaway (buying a popular book with the email of the winner), and posting content to feeds of popular meetups, etc, posting others content on my Twitter account (~3K followers) and for a short while Twitter ads. This along with organic growth put me to a little over 1K subscribers.

I also run the ng-sydney usergroup. An offline usergroup also around AngularJS. With pretty no marketing work (except what I get from the website), the meetup group reached 1.2K members, and I often get 40-70 people attending the monthly offline meetings (often half of them are new comers, the number is limited per venue capacity).

It sounds like those are much higher quality people. Many of them saw my face and we met in person. I also get to email them via the meetup website. Meetup wouldn’t tell me people’s emails.

So, my question is:

Should I focus more on connecting with those people in meetup even though it’s very hard to track them, or focus more aggressively on bringing them to the main mailing list?

I haven’t started monetizing the list yet. I’m thinking about creating an ebook for Angular 2, but not sure if its scarcity, procrastination, or real time / effort limitations that I haven’t got to any of that.

An answer, and a challenge:

First of all, I’d look at a platform like as a social media channel like Facebook and Twitter. It gives you a way connect with people and join in the conversation that’s going on in your audience, but it’s not going to be an effective place to make sales.

It’s a good idea to work to move some of those people to your email list. You’ll probably only ever get the most engaged 20% to make the jump, but that’s OK. They’re the most interested and motivated ones.

Since the people on Meetup connected with you to learn more about Angular.js and connecting with other Angular developers, what can you offer that’s in the same vein that would allow you to collect their email?

One idea: You’re running out of room for your “meat space” meetings. What if you started hosting a monthly webinar to supplement the in-person meetups? Send email invites out through Meetup and get them to a registration page that collects an email address.

Another: Make some kind of offer to the people who show up for your meetups. Like a special insiders-only giveaway. Or code samples for the presentation. Or a list of resources. Send them to a signup page so you can email them the download links.

Now, you’re absolutely right that the people who come to your group are high quality—in fact, these relationships are much, MUCH more valuable than email signups.

People who will attend an in-person event are just about the highest quality customers you’ll find.

Which brings me to my second point:

You have enough of an audience here to start working on some products.

Recognize that you’ve done something that’s quite impressive and hard to pull off:

You have built an audience of hundreds of people who are willing to give up hours every month to attend a get-together IN PERSON.

And you’ve done it in a technical niche that is white-hot and growing like crazy.

That is extremely powerful. Most experienced marketers would kill to be in your position.

So, if you write a $29 ebook at this point, I just might be forced to fly down there and slap you. (In love, of course.)

I want to challenge you to think bigger.

What if you put together an in-person course or paid event? Or a membership program with monthly dues?

Talk to your audience. What do they want more of that they’re not getting from anyone right now?

There’s a fun, profitable business in what you’ve already built.

Your mission is to go find it.