Email is still the single best relational currency online. You can pinterefacetweetplus all you want, but email outperforms them all where it counts.
But building and running the email side of your business is problematic.
We’ve inherited shitty ways of thinking about email, mindsets that put us at risk of losing our audience.
We stress about “engagement” and “click through” and “open rate” without really understanding the human element.
We put up subscribe boxes and offer giveaways and completely miss the point.
Email is hands down the most powerful connection you have with your audience… and you’re probably thinking about it completely wrong.
(Sidenote: we have a ton of interviews with founders in Fizzle and so many successful online folks have the same regret: they wish they started their email list earlier. Do yourself a favor and start with Chris Johnson’s interview.)
Listen to this episode of the podcast if you want to approach email and build your list with authenticity and savvy. Savvy?
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Ask Your Question
A special thanks to the listeners who asked us a question in this episode (one even did it in an iTunes review!).
Quotables From This Episode
Don’t sulk about how ‘nobody’s signing up for my email list.’ No. Go solve someone’s problem, go serve someone.
What matters about email is the relationship. Real people with real struggles. Be someone who builds relationship there.
Topic + audience + problem come together to make the nest. The more specific you get the easier it is for my mind to come up with ideas that could solve that problem. The easier it is to decide what’s next, to learn more about the problems they actually have, the products they’re already using, the competition in that space, to learn how to talk their language and communicate with them.”
Find an audience you care about. Serve them, meaning, pay attention to what their problems are and how they talk about those things. Learn over time how you can build a thing that solves that problem or connect them to other stuff that solves that problem. Look at the business over the course of 2-5 years. You can really stab your audience in the heart when you try to over monetize too fast. When you go from zero to ‘this has to make money’ and in the mean time you don’t know what you’re talking about, you don’t know who I am, you don’t know what problems I’m actually struggling with, AND because you’re not making money on this thing yet and you’re so frustrated about needing to make money, you end up giving up. INSTEAD take more of an apprentice approach: listen, pay attention, see what works what doesn’t, come up with a strategy to see what feels good to YOU as well as what works best for THEM.”
“Once we started being ruthless about who we are, writing in our voice, that’s when interest+traffic picked up.”
One of the mistakes people typically make at first is they talk about what they THINK they should be talking about instead of what they ACTUALLY CAN talk about. So, what can you actually say?”
A lot of people are playing business. They have an idea, they put out content, but they don’t have a specific problem they’re solving. They don’t have a way for their audience to pay them for the value they provide, whether it be through an ebook or services or whatever. They’re just playing business.”
To worry about what’s scalable in the beginning is a fools errand. Go out and meet your first client in person, even though they’re buying an ebook! Do things that are completely un-scaleable but you get this rich experience by having that interaction and you win over true fans that you’ll have forever.”
Here’s how to make your email list more engaged: fire the people who aren’t engaged. Write for the people who listen.
You can get really worked up about pageviews and shares and subscribers and engagement and all this crap that in the end work against you. What I wish I was better versed at are those bigger questions about who am I and what am I here for? If I don’t have an answer for those, what can I do to have more clarity about them in one year?”
‘I’m someone who really cares about this thing.’ That. Is. It. That and 5 years can put you at the helm of something that can support you independently, or at least something on the side that you’re really fired up about.”
Steve Jobs on The Most Important Thing: “Everything around you that you call life was made up by people that were no smarter than you.”
Ultimate Dog Tease: when Corbett first showed me this I knew, right then and there, that this partnership could work.
Evernote Essentials, The Definitive Getting-Started Guide for Evernote: “it’s everything you need to both get started with and master the powerfully useful tool that is Evernote.”
CMD+Space #37: Business Doesn’t Have to be Evil, with Brett Kelly: a great talk between two friends about the details of running a business. (All of the CMD+Space interviews are great. Check them out.)
A solo home run: The Slurve is trying to build an authentic, profitable business around email: an article in the Nieman Journalism Lab.
Niche: (pronounced nich, ˈnēsh or ˈnish… though my canadian friend says it always has to be nēsh because they’re word Nazis up there… so oppresive). Originally from the Latin word meaning “nest” it now means “a specialized but profitable corner of the market.” Though I prefer this definition: “a comfortable or suitable position in life or employment.”