How to create a listserv with

It is easy to create a listserv with In this how-to we walk you though the steps required to start your own listserv, on its own site, and get all the new members up and running.

There are five steps to create a listserv:

  1. Plan
  2. Create your first group
  3. Tell all the group members
  4. Add everyone in the group
  5. Start using the listerv


A diagram showing how the eight-person membership of a site can be devided between three groups.

A site with three groups: Development, Tech team, and Marketing

Planning your new listserv is the hardest step, but the more time you can spend on planning the more likely the group will be a success. You will need to answer at least the following questions

  • Who will be the members of the group?
  • What will the members of group gain from participating?
  • How will people find out about the group?
  • What is the organisation that has a stake in the success of the group?

If you have multiple groups that is great! With you can create a site with multiple groups. If you need to start multiple groups we recommend that you start with the smallest group first, and then work towards the larger ones.

Create your first group

The next step is easy: create a listserv. Visit the Start a site page at and fill out the form. The page needs to know about three things:

  • A bit about you. You will be the administrator of your new site, and the groups on the site. We need to know a little about you in order to create a new profile for you.
  • Something about your organisation. A site will be started that can hold all the groups in your organisation, each one working like a listerv. The name of your organisation will be used for the name of your site, and the web-address that people use to find all the groups.
  • A little about your first group. Mostly this will be the name of your group. Your group may have a name already, or you may need to think of one. The name will be used to make the email address that the members will use to send messages to your first listserv.

Once you have entered all of that click Start. You will then be asked to verify your email address. We do this so we can confirm you are a real person, and that you control your address. Check you email inbox for this verification message, and follow the instructions it contains. Once your address is verified your site will be started.

Your new site will be named for your organisation, and it will contain a single group, with you as the only member. If you want you can try out your group right away: visit the page for your group, start a topic, using the web or email. Your post will be sent on to you, and listed in the archive. Once you are done you can hide the post afterwards.

Tell everyone

The next step is to launch your new group. It is a multi-step process that relies heavily on the planning that you did earlier.

  • Create a sense of anticipation by emailing out a notice to everyone explaining your vision for the group, and saying that it will start soon.
  • Write more about your new site and group. Your site has general Welcome text, and both your site and group have About text that allow you to explain what they are for.
  • Update your own profile. You will be the main champion for this group, and all the Welcome and Invitation messages will contain links to your profile. Add a profile photo, and fill out your biography — which will help people get to recognise you more easily, and get to know you better.
  • Finally, send out an email telling everyone that they are about to be added to the group.

Add everyone

Now everyone is excited you can get people into your new group. When you are starting a group there will be a couple of ways to get new members.

  • The best outcome in the long-run occurs if you invite people to join the group. You do this either by adding information about each person one-by-one, or uploading a CSV of profile information. Either way, the new group member will be sent an email containing a link to accept the invitation. Once they follow this link the new member will set a password, and then become a member. They can then add their own profile photo, biography, and any extra email addresses.
  • You can also add people to the group, without requiring them to confirm their membership. This has the downside that the new member relies on you far more if they strike any issues. They will also need to go through hoops to set a new password, and update their profile.

Use the group

Once everyone is in you can start introductions in the group, and engage people behind the scenes. Be aware that people may need to interact with the group in different ways:

  • Some people may prefer to use your group  like a listerv, just using email and email commands.
  • Others may prefer to read and post messages using the archive on the web only.
  • The daily digest of topics may be preferred by some members.
The Share and Hide buttons for a post

The share button next to every post allows you to share links to important messages.

You may also need to coach people with how to share links to posts and topics, and also adjust the reply-to settings. You may also need to manage the members of your new group, adding some, removing others, and making particular people group administrators in their own right.

Create your next group

Now it is time to create a listserv for your next group. Your first group is almost certainly a private discussion group. But maybe you need an announcement group, or a support group? There are different types of groups for your different needs, and with you have a site for all of the groups in your organisation.

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