I will be totally honest and admit that I started building up an opt-in email list with my first few articles almost by accident.
After wonderful results I was getting receiving a regular flow of clients from doing what I enjoyed most - writing - I did not see any need for an opt-in email list. Especially in this day and age when most ISP filters will regularly block out most unfamiliar incoming email including email that you want, let alone advertising material from an opt-in list somebody has signed up for in a moment of excitement.
Then for some strange reason, one day, my regular stream of new clients suddenly slowed down to a trickle and then completely dried up. (it happens all time on net, especially if you do not have a high enough number of articles posted, but then almost as suddenly picks up again).
Since I had nothing else to do, I went to my auto responder and sent a short email to my small list of opt-in email addresses. I didn't expect much, expecting only bounces and undeliverable mail notifications. Which I inevitably got a few hours later.
But I was amazed because it was not only thing I got for my efforts. Okay apart from bounces (they were so many) there were one or two people who asked to be removed from my list as a result of this sudden activity. But there were a number of positive emails, some of which resulted in new business. BINGO, I had discovered something new and valuable.
Actually you should make sure that you use your opt-in list for regular emails and marketing activity, but that is topic of another article, maybe next one.
Online businesses have a lot in common with old bricks and mortar enterprises that we have known for a longer time. In fact a good strategy for understanding how to succeed online is to figure out online equivalent of an offline tip that guarantees success.