How To Build An Opt-In Form And Email List For Free With MailChimp

Have you ever heard the saying, “The money’s in the list.”

Well, if not… you have now.

And from my own personal experience, I can say that it’s absolutely true. If you want to make more money online, there’s one thing you absolutely must do.

Build an email list.

Why? Because it allows you to do three very important things with your audience.

  1. You can send your content out to your audience.
    When you publish something on your website, you don’t want to wait for people to come find it. You want to be able to push a link out to them so they know it’s there and will come read it.

  2. You can build a personal relationship with your readers.
    In this day and age, the internet is full of faceless and selfish people. You don’t really trust any one because you don’t really know them. But an email list allows you to establish a bond of trust over time, as you help them.

  3. You can promote any products or services that your business sells.
    If you’re a business owner, this is probably your ultimate goal in building an email list. After all, if you can’t survive, then you can’t continue to help your customers. And an email list will help you sell to them.

As you can see, you won’t want to wait any longer to get started. Each day that you do, you’re losing contact with people that are potential customers.

Why Use Mailchimp

Mailchimp isn’t the only email marketing service on the block. In fact there are quite a few to choose from.

So, why go with Mailchimp over the others?

It’s… FREE!

Mailchimp’s free plan will allow you to build a list of up to 2,000 subscribers and send 12,000 emails per month.

But that’s not the only reason to use them.

I’ve found that their interface is very intuitive and a pleasure to use. And that’s important when you start setting up and sending more email campaigns.

They also make email marketing fun with their witty instructions and fun images.

The Technical Details

Okay, this might be the part where you want to stop reading because you’re intimidated by technical stuff.

But I can reassure you that if you follow along with the screenshots and steps below, you’ll have no trouble setting up a Mailchimp form on your site, and be ready to collect emails by the end of the day.

The first step is the sign up process which is very straightforward and will only take a few minutes.

So let’s go ahead and get started…

  1. Click the “Sign Up Free” button in the upper, right-hand corner.
  2. 1-mailchimp-signup

  3. Enter your email address.
  4. Select a username.
  5. Select a password.
  6. Click the, “Create my account” button
  7. 2-mailchimp-signup

  8. You’ll see a “Thank You” page that tells you to check your email and click on the confirmation link they’ve sent you.
  9. 3-mailchimp-signup

  10. Go retrieve the email and click on the “Activate Account” button.
  11. 4-mailchimp-signup

  12. Look at the numbers provided in the Captcha.
  13. Enter them into the form field provided.
  14. Click the, “Confirm Signup” button.
  15. 5-mailchimp-signup

  16. Enter your first and last name.
  17. Enter your email address.
  18. Answer the questions about your organization.
  19. Enter the name of your company.
  20. Enter the URL of your website.
  21. Enter your physical address.
  22. Select the industry your company is classified in.
  23. Select the timezone to be used for sending mail.
  24. Upload a profile photo if you so desire.
  25. Check or uncheck the box to subscribe to Mailchimp’s newsletter.
  26. Click the, “Save And Get Started” button.


Create An Email List

Now that you’ve finished with signing up and setting up your free MailChimp account, you’ll want to create a list where you’ll actually store the emails you collect.

Each time someone signs up on your website, they’ll be added to the list.

  1. Click “Next” for all of the guided prompts.
  2. Click on the “Create A List” button.
  3. 7-mailchimp-signup

  4. Click the “Create List” button.
  5. 8-mailchimp-signup

  6. Enter the name of your list. This will be used in your email titles by default, but can be changed.
  7. Enter an email address which matches your website’s domain.
  8. Enter your name or the name of your organization which will be used as the default value in the “From” field.
  9. Write a short explanation which tells people how they got on your list. This will be displayed at the bottom of every email.
  10. Make sure your Contact information is correct.
  11. Select the frequency at which you’d like to receive notifications form Mailchimp every time someone subscribes or unsubscribes.
  12. Click the save button after you finish.


Edit The Signup Form

Now that we’ve finished creating a list that will store the email addresses you gather, we need to edit the form that we’ll put on our website where visitors will enter their email addresses.

MailChimp creates a default form, but you may want to edit the fields that they give you and use your own.

So let’s go over how to do that.

  1. Dismiss any guided prompts that show up.
  2. Click on the “Signup Forms” tab at the top.
  3. 10-mailchimp-signup

  4. Click on the “Select” button under the “General Forms” section.
  5. 11-mailchimp-signup

  6. Click the tab to the right to expand the field options for the form.
  7. 12-mailchimp-signup

  8. Click the field that you want to edit.
  9. 13-mailchimp-signup

  10. Enter the label you want to have on the field. (Note: Your visitors will see this.)
  11. Click the “Save” button.


Adding A Custom Form Field

If you want to add another field to your form, it can easily be done by clicking on the, “add a field” link in the field options tab that we’ve been working with.

It’s important that you select the proper type of field so that Mailchimp can verify the information that’s entered is correct.

For example: if you add a “Phone” field, Mailchimp will require the information to be entered in the format (###) ###-####. If a mistake is made by the user, an error will show and request that they re-enter their information correctly.

Most of the fields are self explanatory, but if you’re not sure which to use, a “Text” field will always work.

Add A MailChimp Form To Your Website

Now that you’ve got your form configured in MailChimp, it’s time to implement it on your site.

In this guide, I’m going to show you how to put it in your sidebar. But in reality, you could put it anywhere you want on your site. Other common places include at the bottom of each post, or on your home page.

Here are the steps you’ll need to take next…

  1. Click the “Lists” tab on the left-hand side and then select your list on the right.
  2. Click the “Signup forms” link at the top.
  3. Click the “Select” button under the “Embedded Forms” section.
  4. MailChimp Embed Form 1

  5. Under the “Form Options” section, change the title for your form if you want to.
  6. Check the “Preview” section to make sure the form looks good.
  7. Scroll down to the “Copy/paste” box and click inside the box somewhere. That should highlight the text.
    Next, right click anywhere in the box or use Ctrl-C (Cmd-C on Mac) to copy the text to your clipboard.
  8. Mailchimp Embed Form 2

  9. Go to “Appearance” > “Widgets” in the left-hand menu.
  10. Drag and drop the “Text” widget from the left side to the “Sidebar” widget area.
  11. Paste your form’s code that was copied in the last step into the text area of the widget.
  12. Click the save button.
  13. Mailchimp Embed Form 3


You can, and probably should, add a sentence or two before your form that tells your readers what they’re signing up for.

You can add it right after the “<h2>Subscribe to our mailing list</h2>” section in your widget. Just put your cursor right after that section and hit return a couple of times, and then add in your sentence or two.


And there you have it.

Hopefully that wasn’t as painful as you thought it was going to be.

You should now have a nice looking form in the sidebar of your website that’s ready to start collecting email addresses.

I highly recommend that you take it for a test drive by entering your own email address. That way you’ll know it’s working properly, and also have a good idea of what your customers go through when they sign up.

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7 Responses

    1. Hi Jared,

      Sorry for the late reply. I was busy moving my family.

      I’ve never heard of either of those two plugins, but they look great. Had I known about Chimpy Lite, I probably would have used it for this tutorial, and the ebooks I just finished as well.

      I’ve never tested them, so can’t give them a thumbs up, but I’d say you should at least give Chimpy Lite a try and see how it works out.

      If you do, it’d be great if you could let us know the results here.

      Good luck!


  1. Hi Todd, I may need your support with my Wix website. I tried following along, but need someone to guide me through it. What is your hourly rate? Thank-you so much!

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Todd has been building his own websites for ten years, and now wants to help others do the same. He believes that anyone can make a website with a little help, and is on a mission to simplify the process for you. More...


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