Here are some of the questions I got from readers today…
- If I don’t have a product for sale, do I still need a list?
- Do I need to have a free thing (freebie) to build a list?
- I want to build a list, but what should I send in the emails?
- I’ve done a lot of reading about doing an email list, but not sure what to put in one. Is it like a newsletter? Is it just a bunch of links to my work?
- Am I entertaining enough to get people to join?
I love when my Medium friends email to ask questions — it’s the most awesome inspiration. So thank you.
First of all, do you need a freebie?
That’s up to you. Like anything, there’s pros and cons to offering a free gift when people subscribe.
— The pro is you’ll get more signups. Because yay, free something.
— The downside is you’ll get more people who just wanted the free thing and maybe aren’t so interested in the emails that follow.
If your emails are engaging, you might convert some of the people who only signed up for the free thing, but you’ll still have a fair amount that don’t open.
I’ve run lists with and without a freebie, and I have much better open rates when I don’t offer one. But the list grows slower. So, you need to decide.
What if you don’t have a product for sale?
Oh, but you do! If you write on Medium, your words are the product for sale. People pay you in attention, and Medium is the nice lady at the casino that cashes your chips in for money. Except you cash in attention for money instead of poker chips.
And maybe one day you’ll have a direct product, like a book or something. Maybe you never will. That might not interest you.
But here’s the thing. If you don’t have a list, most people who follow you on Medium still won’t see your writing. Because the homepage is just too full. I follow over 300 people. I don’t see most of what they write, because they just don’t appear on the radar. You know?
A list is a lovely way to let the people who like your writing know where to find you. In their inbox once a week or twice a month, or whatever works for you. But don’t think you don’t have a product. You do. Words are the product.
What should you put in your emails? Easy — you!
People think of an email list as a thing. And then they do this weird thing where they talk like they’re “talking to a crowd” — you know?
But an email list isn’t a thing. It’s just people. And you know that old saying — use things, love people. Your list is just people so just send them emails the way you’d keep a friend updated. Except, a friend that likes your writing.
I signed up for several writer’s lists so I could keep in touch. And the neat thing is that each writer sends what feels right to them.
— One makes a little video with something she learned every week.
— Another one sends her best story from the past week.
— Another sends an excerpt and a link to keep reading on Medium
— Another sends a weekly poem every weekend.
— Another sends a digest of all her posts for the week.
You see? No formula.
I start mine with something that’s just for my list and doesn’t get posted on Medium. So there’s always something that’s just for my subscribers. Then I share links to up to 5 of my favorites from the week.
Feel your way…
There’s a song in Grease where John Travolta sings about feeling your way.
Haha. That’s what ends up happening.
After a while, you’ll start to see which emails get the best response, what types of things really grab interest and you’ll feel your way to a great rapport with your readers.
But where to start? Anywhere. Just be you.
Hope that helps!