She was just there to take notes.

A few years later, however, Amy Porterfield had built an online following of more than 250,000 entrepreneurs and created a 7 figure business for herself.

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Porterfield, best known for her top-ranked "Online Marketing Made Easy" Podcast and an array of online courses, recently shared on an episode of the Nemo Radio podcast how her whirlwind journey from working alongside Tony Robbins to striking out on her own as a first-time entrepreneur began.

A Fly On The Wall

Back in 2009, Porterfield was working as part of the content team for Bestselling Author, Speaker and Peak Performance Coach Tony Robbins.

"Tony had this meeting for the content team where he brought in some of the best online marketers around," Porterfield recalls. "And I was literally like a fly on the wall, sitting at a side table taking notes."

Bitten By The Entrepreneurial Bug

Inspired by what she was hearing - in particular about the lifestyle and freedom of choice enjoyed by these top online course creators and marketers - Porterfield's ears perked up.

"I knew nothing about the online marketing world at the time in terms of the level these guys were operating at," she recalls. "But I knew I had to be a part of it. So it was after that meeting when I caught the entrepreneurial bug."

Her newfound entrepreneurial fever was so strong that Porterfield decided to leave Robbins' company after more than six years to strike out on her own.

After spending her first few years solo in the trenches executing online marketing and social media campaigns for clients, Porterfield eventually pivoted into creating online courses around topics like webinars, email list building and more.

(Note: You can listen to our full conversation here.)

Today, Porterfield presides over a business that does more than 7 figures annually in online course sales. She also revealed some of her biggest tips when it comes to building an engaged, ready-to-buy audience - whether you're a household name like Tony Robbins or a brand-new entrepreneur.

List Building 101: Know Thy Audience

"First, you have to start with knowing who your target audience is and creating a customer avatar," Porterfield says. "Because it's really hard to grow an email list if you don't know the exact type of person you want to attract."

Once you've figured out who it is you want to market to, according to Porterfield, one of the keys is to choose your core "lead magnet" wisely.

For those unfamiliar with the term, a "lead magnet" is a free piece of content (an eBook, a free training video, etc.) that someone gets access to in exchange for sharing his or her email address.

"You want to create a lead magnet that can cast a wide net," Porterfield says. "So it's not too specific in just one area for a certain portion of your target audience, but it's a topic that you think the majority of your avatar group would find valuable."

As an example, Porterfield utilizes a lead magnet for her Webinars That Convert online course that helps you determine the perfect (and most profitable) webinar topic.

"Anybody who is interested in doing a webinar, one of the things that will stop him or her from getting started is being unsure of what topic to choose," Porterfield explains. "Or not having an idea for a great title.

"So I love the idea of having a core lead magnet that will meet you right where you're at, right now, helping you conquer a fear, challenge or obstacle that you face from the get go with this topic of webinars."

From there, Porterfield says, you can take a new email subscriber further into your content and sales funnel, sharing more tips and eventually selling your product or service to the person.

"But before you do that, you want your core lead magnet to address a question they have right now, before they're ever willing to buy from you," she adds.

The Golden Question

When she sets out to create a new lead magnet, Porterfield says she asks herself, "What does my core audience member need to know, understand or believe (related to this specific topic) before they're ever ready and willing to buy from me?"

When you think of it that way, Porterfield says, you can start with where your audience is at, instead of trying to force them into a place they're not ready to go with your initial lead magnet.

First and Most Important

Once you have a person on your email list, you must pay close attention to the very first email you deliver to the person, according to Porterfield.

Porterfield and her team call that first email you receive after signing up for one of her lead magnets the "what this says about you" message.

"In that email, we deliver what we promise, meaning the lead magnet, but we also talk about where you're at, and let you know that we 'get' you, we understand you, we know the fears and struggles," she says. "We paint a picture of that helps you realize that we know where you're at right now, we've got you covered and we're going to take care of you."

Getting into the key beliefs, feelings and emotions that your core audience member is struggling with is critical to setting the right tone with your email exchanges, Porterfield says.

"People have to feel as if you are a friend," she adds. "You want your audience to feel as if they have a friend in you."

Seeing is Believing

Porterfield has made plenty of friends since that day when she felt like a fly on the wall inside a meeting room with Tony Robbins and the world's top online marketers.

"It was so humbling, to just be in the room," she recalls. "I wasn't even at the main table. I was off to the side at a separate table, taking notes."

With a quarter of a million online entrepreneurs now hanging on her every word thanks to her list building strategies, it's safe to say Porterfield no longer has to worry about sitting on the sidelines when it comes to the online marketing space.