In today's social world, everyone wants to know how to build a more direct connection with their audience. 

While social platforms have established themselves as incredibly powerful resources for building that sort of relationship with fans, followers, readers, and loyalists, we've seen over the past few years that many of those platforms become pay-to-play. Facebook was once an entirely organic machine where you could build a huge audience for yourself solely off the content you shared. Same with Instagram. 

Today, those platforms only allow you to reach a portion of your audience for free.

To reach the rest, you have to pay.

This is a challenge just about every single social platform has struggled to overcome. And behemoths like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, etc., have crossed certain tipping points and user amounts that allow them to begin charging for reach. And in order to continue engaging the audiences that brands, influencers, and publishers have built, they've decided to eat the cost and play along.

As someone who has never spent a single dollar advertising my own content, I'll admit I've struggled to pay that price--and have instead chosen to bounce around looking for platforms that allow for more organic reach and exposure (like Quora and Medium, for example).

But lately, I've become fascinated with the value of building a very loyal audience solely through email.

And one of the people I've learned the ins and outs of building an incredibly engaged email list from is Case Kenny, Founder of PRSUIT.

For those that don't know, PRSUIT is a daily email dedicated to helping you become a better person--focusing primarily on personal development for Millennials. But what most people don't know about PRSUIT is that it used to be a publication with hundreds of thousands of page views per month. And the move from publication to dedicated email list is a recent move that Kenny spent a lot of time debating, wanting to find a way to create the most genuine connection he could to his readers.

"We scaled PRSUIT to a great size as a publication, and had hundreds of contributors submitting content to us directly. But the problem was that the bigger we grew, the harder it became for us to maintain that same level of genuine connection with our readers as when PRSUIT first began. I originally started PRSUIT because I felt like there was a desire for young people to learn how to make big improvements in their lives, feel motivated to pursue their goals and dreams, and most of all, learn from people who have done it for themselves. I really valued quality over quantity, and as soon as I put that in the context of an email list, the shift just made sense," said Kenny.

As a writer constantly looking to nurture that same relationship with my own readers, this is something I can absolutely relate to.

And the move is paying dividends for Kenny and his team.

"Honestly, I wish we had made the move sooner," he said. "Hundreds of thousands of page views are great, but knowing how many people open an email sent directly to their inbox is valuable is such a different sort of way--and one that really aligns with us as a brand."

As I've been following Kenny's journey with PRSUIT, I've not only created many of my own email opt-ins, but I've also encouraged just about everyone looking to build a personal brand for themselves to do the same. 

"The reason why I think we've seen engagement skyrocket is because there is something so much more personal about receiving an email that speaks to a part of your life you want to improve," said Kenny. "So many of the emails we receive are either overtly promotional or from other people asking for things. But this concept of signing up for emails that reminder you to practice certain habits, or make positive changes in your life is still fairly new."

I would take this a step further and add too, whether you're an individual or even a company looking to build and engage an email list, there is so much value in shifting your strategy from asking and promoting to delivering value. So many companies create email lists that are nothing more than avenues for promotion--rather than seeing email as an opportunity to engage and build true loyalty over time.

But, going back to the start of this piece, the most intriguing element of building an email list is the fact that so many of today's social platforms are quickly becoming pay-to-play. And for the time being, email is still incredibly valuable--and yours to own and operate. And while spam filters might snag certain emails here and there, chances are, you're still better off sending a highly targeted email rather than posting on Facebook without pairing it with an ad budget. 

If you are interested in building an email list of your own, I suggest checking out PRSUIT to see how a professionally published daily email is structured and delivered.