How I Use This Clever Email Strategy to Grow My Indie Publishing Business
There’s nothing more satisfying than owning your list of loyal readers
I love email. I’m not ashamed. No, I don’t want to marry it or anything, but email is a huge part of my publishing business. When you own your list you control your destiny as an indie.
The big social platforms own your followers there.
When work our faces-off to grow our social accounts, we become free employees of those giant companies. When you work your face-off to grow your email list, you become the master of your destiny.
There are dos and don’ts of email.
There are strategies that work and bad advice, abound.
But there’s one thing about email you can’t get anywhere else. It’s free to send (once you have a service provider)and you get the same amount of in-box space as the biggest companies on earth.
Email is the great equalizer.
Everyone’s got an email address, whether they use it or not.
Email is captivating. There are no cat videos to contend with, or endless scrolling for the next best thing. If someone opens your email, you’ve got their momentary attention.
I built my list first
I’ve built multiple email lists over the past 20 years, but the most-successful ones were the lists I chose to build before I had a product. I know this sounds counter-intuitive. Let me explain.
- First you choose the tribe to serve.
- Then, you give them valuable, niche content in the area you want to focus on.
- Finally, you survey your readers (correctly) and get them to help you develop your next book, product, or course. NOT the other way around. When we start with a product, it’s little more than speculation.
Sure, we might think we have a great idea, but so did Segway. Yes, you can build a product first and create a successful business from it, but when you build the list first you spend much less time guessing what you tribe wants. They’ll tell you (when you ask correctly).
When you build your list first, you dig the well before you’re thirsty. Not after your dried-up and dying. When we build our lists too late every message we send sounds desperate. Because we are.
Build the list before you need it. You’ll need it.
I trained my readers to open my email
Not in a creepy way, but through a deliberate process. I created a free, 7-day, list-building course. For the first 7–8 days of the course, the reader gets an email every day.
I spend two months building this free course (and I’ve got a ton of testimonials to its worth), so the thing is no slouch. But the idea is that my readers get used to receiving email from me on a regular basis.
Once the course is over I continue the conversation over measured intervals.
Because of the up-front effort, my emails continue to get opened, long after the initial course, with higher open rates than I’d get if I offered a one-time freebie. I didn’t offer a one-time, click-and-dump PDF. I offer an entire email masterclass for indie writers.
I serve my tribe.
I focus on more than just my products
Right now I don’t have a ton to sell to my readers. I’m working on a flagship course, but it’s a huge undertaking. When I build a product to sell I don’t screw around.
But this doesn’t mean I can’t earn from my tribe.
I created a micro-course the pays for all my business expenses.
I also use carefully-placed affiliate offers, only for services I use myself, not just random services to make a quick buck. The affiliate offers build a nice wave of residual income over time.
As I continue to serve my readers with high-quality, entertaining advice, these affiliate offers continue to accumulate. The reader gets access to a great service (for no additional fee), and I get a commission.
The affiliate offers are baked-in to my automated welcome sequence.
As I have more of my own products to offer my readership I’ll re-order the affiliate offers. This is another advantage of email — the flexibility. You can re-order your emails and change your content any time you wish.
I write to one person at a time
Email is very personal. I don’t use bulk-speak. I imagine my client is sitting across from me at the kitchen table. We share a casual conversation. They’re an old friend.
No, I’ll never meet most of my clients, but I speak to them as if I saw them yesterday.
There’s a live person on the other end of your email. We must treat them as such if we want our letters opened. Your email ‘voice’ matters.
I use a lot of white space.
I don’t condescend.
I try to remain positive, instead of pessimistic.
I don’t swear much, because every reader is different. I believe you can be controversial and engaging without a trucker’s mouth. Many people disagree with this, but they serve a different tribe than I.
Almost every email I send serves a single purpose. Whether it’s to click a link, buy something, give feedback, or reply with a simple answer — every email gets one job to do.
When we give readers too many options, they’ll choose none.
I do things that don’t scale
I answer most of my email (please don’t email me for fun, just to test this). But seriously, when we don things that don’t scale, we get noticed. I can’t tell you how often (at least once a week) I have someone thank me for replying.
Your readers are so used to being ignored by most businesses owners that it’s now a shock when someone writes them back. Your readers will remember this. And maybe they’ll buy your work once you’ve got something to sell.
Most-important, I care.
I treat people the way I want to be treated through email.
I’m in this for the long-haul. I want to keep readers for life. Because of this strategy my unsubscribe rates remain very low. Less than a percent. Keeping your current readers happy is even more important than getting new ones. Otherwise you’re filling a bucket with a huge hole in the bottom.
If you’d like to learn more of my email ninja methods, tap the link below.
I show indie writers and creators how to get their first thousand (and beyond) subscribers without spending a dime on ads.
We’re waiting for you.
August Birch (AKA the Book Mechanic) is both a fiction and non-fiction author from Michigan, USA. A self-proclaimed guardian of writers and creators, August teaches indie authors how to write books that sell and how to sell more of those books once they’re written. When he’s not writing or thinking about writing August carries a pocket knife and shaves his head with a safety razor.