karen_gunton_picOne of the best things you can do for your biz is to build a ‘list’ – whether you call it a newsletter, a subscription, regular updates, or something else, the idea is the same: people who love what you do give you their email address and their permission for you to contact them about your biz.

My list is probably my most valuable marketing tool, and most people are trying desperately to get people to sign up to theirs. Yet, at the start of this year, I asked people to unsubscribe from mine.

Crazy? Maybe.

But here’s the thing: I would rather have 200 subscribers who actually open my newsletter and rave about what I offer than 2000 subscribers just because those numbers look good. I could actually care less about the numbers; I would rather have quality over quantity. And I truly believe that people should focus on what they love, and what is valuable to them.


So I asked people who were just not into my newsletter to go ahead and unsubscribe, to clean up their inboxes and make their lives a little less cluttered.

My fellow little biz champions & coaches thought I was insane: “Girl, you are supposed to get more subscribers not ask people to unsubscribe!”

But my readers thanked me. They thanked me for reminding them to focus on what was useful. They thanked me for giving them permission to declutter their inboxes. And they thanked me for being a down to earth source of useful information.

For every person who unsubscribed I had at least two tell me that they loved my newsletter. And every time someone unsubscribed I felt a little weight lift off my shoulders, I knew I could more easily concentrate on providing something useful to those who remained.

Look, there are certainly times when you want & need the numbers. For instance, if you are sharing your subscriber numbers as a method of social proof to encourage others to join; if you require high numbers to support your fees for advertising or sponsorship; or if you need to share your numbers as part of a bid to get funding.

In those cases, sure do whatever you can to get subscribers and hope that none unsubscribe!

But if you want to focus on using your list to build relationships with your fans, to have an ongoing way to connect with customers and stay fresh and relevant to them, to provide something truly excellent that your fans will love to receive, then inflated numbers do you no good at all.



  • Make it your goal to provide an email that will make your subscriber do a happy dance when they see in their inbox. (This way people will actually open and    read your emails. Imagine that! I am pretty sure that will help you build your biz more than some inflated numbers will.)
  • Provide content or ask questions that will increase the chances of a reader replying to your email or continuing the conversation on your blog or facebook page. (In other words, work on providing something that builds relationships, not just fires more sales messages at people)
  • Do a little celebration when someone unsubscribes from your list because that means that those who remain are indeed the ones who WANT what you have to offer. (And isn’t it easier to sell something to someone who wants it?)

Focus on the people you love, and the people who love what you do. 

Karen Gunton is a blogger, photographer, designer & champion of women in biz with her sites buildalittlebiz.com & shinelittlebiz.com. she delivers genuine, concrete help to little biz builders every week with her newsletter the toolbox - her favorite thing to hear from subscribers is that the toolbox is better than the weekend paper, and goes perfectly with a cup of cof