Email List Building For Educators: Get Started!

Why do educators need to build an email list?

Because you have an audience and you need to stay connected.

Even if you don’t want to admit it, you’re a brand. (Blek, I know “brand” is very overused right now, but I wrote about how branding relates to educators here.)

More importantly, email list building is good for your career.


I’ve been teaching for over ten years and I wish I’d started collecting email addresses earlier.

I’ve met hundreds of students over the years. Your former students are your audience: they’re familiar with your work and are interested in you and what you do.

Establishing a connection with current and former students, and your community is good for your career.

By collecting subscribers to an email list, you’re building your audience should you ever want to (or need to!) do work outside of your school. Or when you work on outside projects, you want to be able to promote your new endeavor and not rely exclusively on social media.

I’ve created a Email List Building cheat sheet with the most important steps on getting started now! Download it here.

Email List Building Cheat Sheet download


As a design educator, it’s important that you have an online presence. I’d recommend both a website and a variety of social media channels.

If you don’t have a website (or it isn’t current), get started now! 

It’s never been easier to launch a website: of course, there’s WordPress but there are Squarespace and Webflow too.

You’re a role model for your students. So you need to practice what you preach, right?

Encourage your students to develop an online presence (like you!) Students need to get involved in the design community and to reach out to other designers. If you’re doing it, it will be easier to convince your student to do it too!

When developing your web and social media presence, you need to think about your identity and brand. (I wrote about this last week, check it out here.)

For design educators, here are the most important social media channels for our community:

  • LinkedIn
  • Medium
  • Behance
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • YouTube (especially if you create videos for your courses)
  • Instagram
  • Pinterest

Top social media sites


Teaching tip: I recommend students participate in LinkedIn and Behance as soon as possible. Medium has become increasingly important resource and is a great publishing platform for designers and design educators. If you (or your students) like to blog or write, it’s an excellent tool. Instagram is a great tool to use also if you have a lot of visual content to share.

Here are a few social media tips:

  • Don’t try to tackle all social media at the same time!
  • Let people into your experiences; take them “behind the scenes”
  • Post and link to your blog post or other resources

What does this all of this have to do with building a list of email addresses?

Actually, nothing because…

Your social media audience doesn’t count towards building an audience since you don’t really “own” your social media contacts.

If the social media channel disappears, so does your ability to connect with your social media audience! So collecting email addresses and building your list is a better strategy.

Here’s what’s important to keep in mind:


  • You can have access to your audience, unlike your social media audience which you don’t own
  • You can contact your audience about courses or projects you’re working on
  • It’s smart to build a relationship with your audience. What about that book you want to write? Publishers will ask how many followers you have on social media, and how many subscribers you have on your email list. Seriously!


How to get started now! — What can you give away in exchange for an email address?

Do you have a useful worksheet or cheat sheet that your students or people in your community are interested in? Create this as a “lead magnet” to give away to anyone who signs up for your list.

I do not recommend that you provide a signup for your “newsletter.” There needs to be a compelling reason for people to opt-in to your mailing list and a useful worksheet, resource list, or cheat sheet are valuable to your audience.

Email List Building for Educators //

Email List Building for Educators. Download free cheat sheet! //
Email List Building for Educators. Download free cheat sheet! //

Post new content weekly

If you want to increase your exposure, start publishing content weekly on either your blog, or on Medium (or both!). This will get your name in front of people and will maximize your online presence.

Reach out to your own personal contacts! Send an email and ask if they want to be added to your list. (Remember that the people in your contact book already know you; they want to support you!!)

What to do next:

If there are any skeptics out there, you may be saying, “It sounds like I’m a marketer, not a teacher!”

Yes! It does sound a bit like that.

In a book written by Norman Eg, “Teaching College: The Ultimate Guide to Lecturing, Presenting, and Engaging Students,” he talks about synthesizing education and marketing approaches and techniques to be more effective.

It’s a good read and a reminder of the importance of knowing your audience— even while teaching in the classroom!

So, get started on building an email list. Because it’s the smart thing to do for you!!

Reminders on what you can do next:

  • Sign up for MailChimp
  • Create or update your website
  • Add signup form on your website
  • Start building a presence on social media
  • Relax — and be happy you started now!

I’ve created a Email List Building cheat sheet for you with the most important steps on getting started now! Download it here.

Email List Building Cheat Sheet download

Okay friends, I hope this post helped you understand why building an email list is so critical to your brand and career as an educator!

Have you started building your email list?

Leave a comment — let’s chat!

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