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EXECUTION [Progress] Paid email newsletters

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Andy Black

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Hey Andy,

The sign-up process was easy. But I keep getting this



Also, my card was not charged. I got n email from campaign zee to confirm, but no welcome email from you.
Argh. Fell over at the first hurdle. (Takes a deep breath remembers that hurdles are stepping stones in disguise.)

Let's take this to PM so we don't spam the forum...
 

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Hmmm... I’ve been digging and there’s only 40 people who like the CampaignZee Facebook page and it doesn’t have a Facebook support group (official or unofficial).

From the timeline on the Facebook page I can see that CampaignZee was initially released in 2013. It’s a pretty barebones solution, which I’d forgive if they were moving fast to launch and were tidying up afterwards.

To be fair, I had an email reply back from their support a few days ago about something, but the alarm bells are ringing.


The alarm bells were ringing because of their payment plan anyway. If it’s free and then 10% of revenue only if you make revenue, then they’re only going to make money when their customers make money.

That’s not so bad itself I suppose, but when their only plan is 10% of revenue then their platform is going to get less attractive the more successful their users gets.

If they don’t make money from unsuccessful users or from successful users, then who will they make money from?

I’d have more confidence if they had a freemium version and then tiers of $X/mth plus 10%, then $XX/mth plus 8%, etc.

I much prefer paying a small fee per month to get started anyway. That way I have more faith the platform will stick around, and be supported and developed.

I’d certainly have more confidence if the platform showed signs of being developed, but it’s sooo barebones that I think it was cobbled together and hasn’t been touched since.



Sooo... even if @Argue gets a response from CampaignZee support I’m super tempted to jump ship from CampaignZee already.

Like, why is his payment not going through and why is he not getting added to the Mailchimp list? The warning should be more informative so @Argue can fix it himself.

And I’m not receiving any notification that there’s been a failed signup so I’d be blissfully unware of a major blockage in my signup process unless a potential subscriber contacted me.


So I’ve been searching on Facebook for “paid email newsletters”. Interesting that there doesn’t seem to be any Facebook groups.

I did find this article from this month though, and it looks like Substack had $2m in funding, which you’d hope means they’ll be developing the platform and growing their user base:

Doing a deep dive into Substack and Revue again...


On the massive plus side, I’ve got the copy for my sales-page, thank-you page, and initial automated welcome email written now. This was a big deal!
 

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Andy, consider Gumroad. You can sell subscriptions with them and send emails directly from their system.

It's a cheaper solution as it's $10 per month (or $108 a year) plus just 3.5% and 30 cents per charge. Definitely cheaper than Substack's 10% after transaction fees or Revue's $5 per month (or $54 a year) and 6% transaction fee. Maybe Gumroad isn't a dedicated solution, but I think it's worth a look.
 

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Andy, consider Gumroad. You can sell subscriptions with them and send emails directly from their system.

It's a cheaper solution as it's $10 per month (or $108 a year) plus just 3.5% and 30 cents per charge. Definitely cheaper than Substack's 10% after transaction fees or Revue's $5 per month (or $54 a year) and 6% transaction fee. Maybe Gumroad isn't a dedicated solution, but I think it's worth a look.
Also look at sendowl, uk based similar to gumroad.
 
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Andy, consider Gumroad. You can sell subscriptions with them and send emails directly from their system.

It's a cheaper solution as it's $10 per month (or $108 a year) plus just 3.5% and 30 cents per charge. Definitely cheaper than Substack's 10% after transaction fees or Revue's $5 per month (or $54 a year) and 6% transaction fee. Maybe Gumroad isn't a dedicated solution, but I think it's worth a look.
Thanks @MTF !!! I’ll take a look at that now. Rep.



I had a look at both Substack and Revue earlier this month and thought they were interesting because they’re creating possible marketplaces and discovery features.

However, they smacked of over engineered tech startups that force users to create free email newsletters where the content is posted automatically to their site. Seemed like Medium with a twist to me. Clever, but my gut tells me it should be used as a channel and to not relinquish so much control.

I also don’t want to create a free newsletter (yet?), and I found their platforms frustrating. Their signup and onboarding emails are great though.



...

Interesting article I just found:
I do think paid email newsletters (lists!) have a lot of potential. I’m really surprised the big email service providers such as Mailchimp don’t already have a simple way we can create paid email lists...


EDIT: I’m deeply suspicious of “free”. I think free means:

1) The service is not going to stick around or be properly supported and developed.

OR

2) *I* am the product.
 
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There was a great course on this stuff (that may serve you well) called "Membernaire" by Jimmy D Brown: membernaire

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zUnwpbxcX0

It's not sold anymore, but I bought it at the time and it was a great eye-opener. He advocates the creation of "fixed term membership sites" (which is similar to what you're looking at) - simply an autoresponder email series that you sell as a "drip feed" membership site.

The model isn't as open-ended as what you're trying to look at (IE "sign up to our newsletter and we'll send you interesting stuff") - but it might give you some options as to how to monetize the more potent aspects of your friend's cycling knowledge/experience.

For example:
  • 1 year to your first X in cycling
  • 12 months' PROFESSIONAL cycle coaching via email from ex-Olympian ______
  • 24 months of cycling Italy (each episode will simply be a travel guide to Italy via bicycle... essentially like Michael Portillo's "great railways journeys")
  • 8 week cycle training program for optimum progress
  • Tour de France training guide - 12 week's INTENSE training via email
--

In terms of the cycling world, I would suggest one of the CORE things to appreciate when people get into the sport is the way they can "rediscover nature". I'm not a cyclist, but I continually see the following from others who are involved with it:
  • Getting out into the wilderness allows you to clear your mind
  • Going on huge bike rides keeps you fit/healthy (brings you back to nature)
  • Using cycling as a way to discover new places (rich in beauty / nature)
  • The big one for me (and really the only reason I would get involved with it) would be the draw of going to Tuscany / France / Spain etc on "elite" rides. The pursuit of discovery would be the big thing (going from small Tuscan village to small Tuscan village)
If you wanted to attract a wider audience, I'd look at leading with stories about different ways your friend was able to go on his "voyages of discovery" --- "The Day Mont Blanc Almost Took Me" or similar.

--

Finally, you *may* have fallen into a MAJOR mistake with this.

You've suggested that because 3 people wanted to pay you money up front, you presumed the underlying idea would be sustainable/successful.

Membership sites (and most SAAS services) are notorious for churn - people will sign up for 3 months then simply stop paying because the initial buzz ran dry.

To avert this, you need to keep people wanting to pay each month. I've not given it enough thought to even begin creating a solution but the key is to make whatever you're doing like crack to your audience.

In the software world, the "crack" is huge interactive "game" type experiences. 99% of software guys dream of developing their own games, and thus if you're going to give them something they cannot resist - wrap it in "game" level immersion (this is where copywriting gets super interesting -- and relatively difficult).

Difficult to explain, but this series I watched recently was absolutely demonstrative of it:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBbbTB1B02w&list=PLP268ZfwD7Hm-TjOt1qtTS-bvFe7t7aPI

Listen to the "roleplay" aspect of the first ~2 mins of that video. The story associated with the game is what draws people in. I watched one to get an idea of the way it worked - and then continually had to watch the next episodes (to see if he could defeat the "ancient Dreadnought" and conquer the "Crusader Empire").

This level of immersion is what most software guys can't resist. The idea you can control your own galactic fleet, build alliances and destroy enemies is irresistible.

Thus, if you were to create a "software" eZine, wouldn't you think it better to wrap it in some sort of lore? What lore you use/build, how you present it, and how the whole thing fits together is what takes YEARS of creative honing.

If you had the balls/budget to do it, you'd then LEAD with the lore. Everything else becomes part of it.

--

PS - call it an "eZine" - 'I've set up my own cycling eZine with premium membership for those who really want to fall in love with cycling again'

PPS - for the sub box, maybe some wine people would be able to provide deals for your readers (I might be wrong, but I just get the sense that people who like these cycling things are generally the types who enjoy to kick back with a glass) - this could tie in with the "travel" aspect.

PPPS - one of the big inspirations I used for an old product was "Living with Birds" - these guys send my mother a "catalogue" every single month to which she sends them upwards of £45 for some bird food.

When questioned why she spends so much on seed that you could just as easily get from a supermarket, she replied that 1) it was superior quality and 2) she wanted the brightest, most exotic birds in the garden. This last point is what pushed me down the whole "people buy results, not products" idea.
 

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Thanks @MTF !!! I’ll take a look at that now. Rep.
Thanks for rep!

It's not sold anymore, but I bought it at the time and it was a great eye-opener. He advocates the creation of "fixed term membership sites" (which is similar to what you're looking at) - simply an autoresponder email series that you sell as a "drip feed" membership site.
I second that. I have an email course which is basically an autoresponder email series. The benefit of this approach (vs a paid newsletter) is that you set it up once and it does the rest for you. With a paid newsletter, you constantly have to create new content.

I like the idea of recurring income, but like @rpeck90 mentioned, churn is an issue. You can sell your 30-day email course for, say, $97, or send a weekly newsletter for $5 or $10 a month and have most people churn in 3 months or less. Revenue-wise, a course is most likely better. Value-wise, an email course is more structured so it can be more actionable, too.

But I still like the idea of a paid newsletter, particularly in an industry that evolves rapidly.
 
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Andy Black

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There was a great course on this stuff (that may serve you well) called "Membernaire" by Jimmy D Brown: membernaire

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5zUnwpbxcX0

It's not sold anymore, but I bought it at the time and it was a great eye-opener. He advocates the creation of "fixed term membership sites" (which is similar to what you're looking at) - simply an autoresponder email series that you sell as a "drip feed" membership site.

The model isn't as open-ended as what you're trying to look at (IE "sign up to our newsletter and we'll send you interesting stuff") - but it might give you some options as to how to monetize the more potent aspects of your friend's cycling knowledge/experience.

For example:
  • 1 year to your first X in cycling
  • 12 months' PROFESSIONAL cycle coaching via email from ex-Olympian ______
  • 24 months of cycling Italy (each episode will simply be a travel guide to Italy via bicycle... essentially like Michael Portillo's "great railways journeys")
  • 8 week cycle training program for optimum progress
  • Tour de France training guide - 12 week's INTENSE training via email
--

In terms of the cycling world, I would suggest one of the CORE things to appreciate when people get into the sport is the way they can "rediscover nature". I'm not a cyclist, but I continually see the following from others who are involved with it:
  • Getting out into the wilderness allows you to clear your mind
  • Going on huge bike rides keeps you fit/healthy (brings you back to nature)
  • Using cycling as a way to discover new places (rich in beauty / nature)
  • The big one for me (and really the only reason I would get involved with it) would be the draw of going to Tuscany / France / Spain etc on "elite" rides. The pursuit of discovery would be the big thing (going from small Tuscan village to small Tuscan village)
If you wanted to attract a wider audience, I'd look at leading with stories about different ways your friend was able to go on his "voyages of discovery" --- "The Day Mont Blanc Almost Took Me" or similar.

--

Finally, you *may* have fallen into a MAJOR mistake with this.

You've suggested that because 3 people wanted to pay you money up front, you presumed the underlying idea would be sustainable/successful.

Membership sites (and most SAAS services) are notorious for churn - people will sign up for 3 months then simply stop paying because the initial buzz ran dry.

To avert this, you need to keep people wanting to pay each month. I've not given it enough thought to even begin creating a solution but the key is to make whatever you're doing like crack to your audience.

In the software world, the "crack" is huge interactive "game" type experiences. 99% of software guys dream of developing their own games, and thus if you're going to give them something they cannot resist - wrap it in "game" level immersion (this is where copywriting gets super interesting -- and relatively difficult).

Difficult to explain, but this series I watched recently was absolutely demonstrative of it:

View: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lBbbTB1B02w&list=PLP268ZfwD7Hm-TjOt1qtTS-bvFe7t7aPI

Listen to the "roleplay" aspect of the first ~2 mins of that video. The story associated with the game is what draws people in. I watched one to get an idea of the way it worked - and then continually had to watch the next episodes (to see if he could defeat the "ancient Dreadnought" and conquer the "Crusader Empire").

This level of immersion is what most software guys can't resist. The idea you can control your own galactic fleet, build alliances and destroy enemies is irresistible.

Thus, if you were to create a "software" eZine, wouldn't you think it better to wrap it in some sort of lore? What lore you use/build, how you present it, and how the whole thing fits together is what takes YEARS of creative honing.

If you had the balls/budget to do it, you'd then LEAD with the lore. Everything else becomes part of it.

--

PS - call it an "eZine" - 'I've set up my own cycling eZine with premium membership for those who really want to fall in love with cycling again'

PPS - for the sub box, maybe some wine people would be able to provide deals for your readers (I might be wrong, but I just get the sense that people who like these cycling things are generally the types who enjoy to kick back with a glass) - this could tie in with the "travel" aspect.

PPPS - one of the big inspirations I used for an old product was "Living with Birds" - these guys send my mother a "catalogue" every single month to which she sends them upwards of £45 for some bird food.

When questioned why she spends so much on seed that you could just as easily get from a supermarket, she replied that 1) it was superior quality and 2) she wanted the brightest, most exotic birds in the garden. This last point is what pushed me down the whole "people buy results, not products" idea.
Wow @rpeck90. Rep for this amazing and helpful response. I'll study this a few times for sure.


You've suggested that because 3 people wanted to pay you money up front, you presumed the underlying idea would be sustainable/successful.
Agreed. This is precisely why I'm creating a paid email "list" (I don't quite know what to call it).

I intend it to be more of a "pay to follow me" as a quick way of proving whether people will signup and hand over money (regularly), and then to find out what they want more of by emailing them individually by hand and getting into conversation with them.


I second that. I have an email course which is basically an autoresponder email series. The benefit of this approach (vs a paid newsletter) is that you set it up once and it does the rest for you. With a paid newsletter, you constantly have to create new content.

I like the idea of recurring income, but like @rpeck90 mentioned, churn is an issue. You can sell your 30-day email course for, say, $97, or send a weekly newsletter for $5 or $10 a month and have most people churn in 3 months or less. Revenue-wise, a course is most likely better. Value-wise, an email course is more structured so it can be more actionable, too.

But I still like the idea of a paid newsletter, particularly in an industry that evolves rapidly.
The initial idea is for people to just follow what I'm up to, and get insights and updates I don't want indexed by Google. (I'm actually following @Lex DeVille 's business updates to his paid email list and love the format!)

I love the whole idea of free and paid courses delivered by email (and now see that Gumroad will keep those lessons online in a library - how cool!).


I currently see the content I create as a by-product of the work I do and want to add the extra twist to the end and leverage it better.

I post content dozens of time a day in TFLF, Facebook groups, and in my own mastermind. Some of that content I repurpose and post as free content to my blog, Soundcloud, YouTube channels, Facebook page, Twitter account, and Instagram test account (but not LinkedIn currently).

Some of that stuff, and some of what's rattling around in my head, I don't want to post where Google can find it, and where tyre-kickers can find it.

Over time a lot of that content will be packaged up and I *could* create courses out of them. I may not for a while though, because I'm not currently in the business of creating courses or writing books. (If anyone asks then I tell them I'm growing a marketing technology company.)

Creating content regularly isn't a problem for me. Tidying it up and doing something with it is something I've not done much of to date.


I also think firing up a paid email "list" with simple sales page and 1 welcome email is a *great* (potential) way to find out if anyone out there is willing to put their hand in their pocket, and regularly. Then it's a case of letting people know about it and seeing if someone signs up. If someone does then it's game on and I immediately engage my market in hand-to-hand combat. (This is the subject of the welcome email to my own paid email list btw).


This recent desire to create a paid email list comes from having had a paid Facebook group and currently having a paid Xenforo forum. The (limiting?) belief I have about my paid forum is that the more successful and busy it gets then the more of my time it will take up.

The vision that appeals about a paid email list is that it's a one-way-conversation. People don't expect me to reply to every email they send. I don't have to moderate people spamming each other or giving people incorrect advice (not that that happens in my small paid forum, but that's what we see in many free forums and Facebook groups).

I can imagine 1,000 people on a paid email list isn't much more overhead than having 100 people on the list.


I definitely see automated free and paid email courses in the future.

The most amazing emails I get are the Paypal/Stripe notifications when someone buys my course, because I've no more work to do after they've bought!



By the way... THANK YOU for everyone's input into this thread. It's been super helpful, and even me clarifying why I'm doing what I'm doing has been a big help to me.
 
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Andy Black

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[UPDATE]

I didn't go with Sendowl as their lowest plan to allow subscriptions seems to be $24/mth. It looks like an amazing tool though.

Gumroad looks amazing too, and I know from years ago that Nathan Barry used it a lot (he's the founder of ConvertKit, recently rebranded to Seva.com). I've heard lots of good things about it in the past, but just never thought about it for sending paid emails.

I've signed up to Gumroad and gone straight to their $10/mth tier.

Pretty damn painless and LOTS of helpful articles on getting things setup.


Blimey... I even have a profile page already!
 
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[UPDATE]

I spent a bit of time wrestling with Gumroad over the weekend.

When sending emails I couldn't figure out how to change the From email address in the emails.
They were showing up as "Gumroad" and I had a crappy workaround of adding "FreelanceAndBeyond" in the subject line:

upload_2018-7-31_11-13-19.png


I mailed Gumroad support and got an email reply from the CEO within 10 hours! I wasn't expecting that.
upload_2018-7-31_11-15-33.png

His instructions weren't quite right and I mailed back for clarification. He quickly apologised and explained the correct location to make the change.
It was seriously non-intuitive even with his instructions (I'll do screenshots later).

But it's now fixed:
upload_2018-7-31_11-15-42.png
 

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Andy Black

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Help!

My graphic designer is on holiday so I've a small job if anyone's interested.
  • I'd like to get the cover art for the Gumroad product page (see below).
  • I have no brand assets at all.
  • It just has to be "good enough" for me to soft-launch. If needs be I can redo it later when my graphic designer is back.
PM me if you're interested and I'll hop on a quick call to let you know what I'm up to and how I'm hoping it all fits together.

Happy to pay, do a consulting call with you, give you a coupon for the paid email list, or give you a coupon for my AdWords course.

Cheers!
Andy

EDIT: It's ok... someone from @Fox 's "Make Money with Web Design" group is helping me create something quick and "good enough".

upload_2018-8-1_13-1-56.png
 
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1) Had a very very simple cover done for the listing in my Gumroad store.


2) Had this in Facebook. Uh-oh...

upload_2018-8-1_23-38-33.png



3) Had this query via PM:

Will be very interesting to see how a paid email newsletter compares to a free one. Do you have some sort of guarantee set up for how often they‘ll receive an email?
My reply:

No guarantee at all. I don't know yet! Haha.

I'm expecting a handful of people will signup because they know me already and they're curious. I'll then email them and ask what their challenges are and what they're hoping to read and hoping to gain from it.

^^^ This is the main reason I'm interested in paid email lists. It's a quick way to find out if anyone will buy, and/or work on the offer if they don't, AND then it's a way of ensuring you only speak to people who have actually bought, rather than say they will.


4) Two of my team/mastermind have signed up.

Sure, I gave a big discount (from the $9/mth... lol). But they didn't have to signup.



EDIT: Just changed it to being a "Paid Ezine". Not sure that's any clearer tbh.
 
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EDIT: Just changed it to being a "Paid Ezine". Not sure that's any clearer tbh.
I think that does help. Calling it an "Insider Subscription" or "Paid Ezine" or anything will work better than "Paid Email List" in my opinion.
 
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I think that does help. Calling it an "Insider Subscription" or "Paid Ezine" or anything will work better than "Paid Email List" in my opinion.
Thanks. 100% agreed. "Paid Email List" is totally the wrong thing to call it for the person subscribing. It's what *we* might call it as the producer, but even then it's not great.

I like the "Insider Subscription" angle. Giving it a unique name to make people feel they're joining a club. James Schramko has his "Silver Circle" coaching. MJ has his Insiders and his Sidewalkers/Slowlaners/Fastlaners. Lex has his War-Room. Smarter producers name their tiers so people can identify themselves.



Doing some keyword research, I can see that no-one is really searching for "paid email newsletters", and the search volume for "how to setup paid email newsletters" probably doubled this last month due to me searching for information.

We can also see which has more search volume (brand awareness) between Getrevue and Substack, and which is growing monthly.




We know that Substack is a startup that's been through Y-Combinator, and that they had $2m funding:

We can see from their home page what they call these:



(Negligible search volume for "paid newsletters" too btw.)

I'd assume that Substack and their investors want to grow this market and be the leaders in it.

I'd assume this will gradually increase the search volume for "paid newsletters".


See the featured writers with thousands of subscribers?

This is what I meant in an earlier comment that GetRevue and Substack are not just technical solutions, but are channels - like Udemy and Amazon are.

Substack has a discovery feature, where you can find popular writers/creators (see the image above).

It's a CHANNEL. They will be bringing subscribers if you can get featured or found.

They will be spending some of that $2m funding to get YOU new subscribers, get YOU more revenue, so they can grow their own revenue.

I think if I'm serious about paid email newsletters then I need to at least get onto Substack and figure it out, and maybe get ahead of the curve. It's like getting onto Instagram or Medium early before the crowd get in there.

Maybe Substack isn't the one that will make it. Maybe GetRevue will become the dominant one, or maybe something else will.

I DO think there's a market/need for regular paid content that is delivered, and I think these startups are smart because (at least in GetRevue's case) they force you to create a free newsletter that also posts the content to their platform as articles that Google can index (so they're creating a platform like Medium, but with the ability for creators to create a paywall for some of their content).


It's funny... I've been thinking of two paid email newsletters from me actually:
  • One paid email newsletter for people to follow along as I figure stuff like this out (like a paid progress thread with some more details and how-to docs I create along the way). Like a personal "Andy's Paid Newsletter".
  • And one, more formal, paid email newsletter for people who want to go freelancing and separate their time from their income. The "FreelanceAndBeyond Paid Newsletter".

Maybe the paid newsletter I'm creating on Gumroad is "Andy's Paid Newsletter".

Maybe the one on Substack is the "FreelanceAndBeyond Paid Newsletter".


If I do use Substack then I need to remember it's a CHANNEL - I'm using someone else's platform. I need to remember CENTS and CONTROL.
 
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Good article from the CEO of Substack.

Only 4 comments?

I added one (EDIT: two).

A new game


I've noticed I do better helping in other people's forums, than running my own quiet one.

I enjoy it more for starters, but I think it's more than that.

I've been thinking about this quite a lot recently. I'm a responder. I like helping people by commenting, giving thanks, giving encouragement, and increasing engagement.

It's simple to spot the spammers when they join TFLF. They don't engage, they talk AT us. We're just a marketing channel for them, instead of people who are engaged in conversation, or who have poured their heart and soul into a thread or post.

It's kinda easy to stand out don't you think?


EDIT: Blimey... that was ridiculously easy:

EDIT2: Nice article:
 
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[UPDATE]

The Substack platform is super slick and super easy to get started with. I'm very impressed.

I even managed to create and upload a favicon!

upload_2018-8-3_9-10-52.png

Some links:

My Simple Substack Signup Landing Page:
  • Not the most compelling landing page.
  • I'd like people to add their name as well when they subscribe.
  • Freelance And Beyond

My Substack "Home Page":

The CEO's own free newsletter:

Good article:

The Substack Discover Page:

This was how my first post appeared last night on the Discover page:

upload_2018-8-3_9-13-26.png




Two people have subscribed to the free emails!

One of my cousins is studying computer science and emailed me last night. I linked to my Substack page and then saw him subscribing. Knowing someone in the family is following is a big deal. I want him to get Unscripted, so will be working on him through the emails.

I've also mentioned what I'm up to in Lex's group, and also posted a couple of times which would show me on the Substack.com/discover page.

Someone else subscribed to the free plan this morning so I've sent a short email thanking him and asking a couple of questions. He replied:

upload_2018-8-3_9-7-27.png
^^^ THIS is why I'm doing paid emails. I WANT to go hand-to-hand with people and engage in conversation. In this case, it's with someone who subscribed to the free emails, which isn't as big a commitment as $9/mth, but it's still an indication of someone in motion.

"Help the people in motion."

"Follow demonstrated cashflows."



Support and Show-Stoppers

I'm emailing back and forth with one of the Substack guys (the CEO I think?). Support is great, and there's an active Slack group of publishers helping each other.

There's a few show-stoppers though:
  1. When someone becomes a paid subscriber they get to see all the paid issues archived on a webpage. I don't want people subscribing each Christmas to get all the paid content, and I want people to know they're missing out on paid issues when they're not subscribed.

  2. I'd like to turn off the Annual Subscription Plan and just run with a Monthly Subscription Plan. I know I can chatter for years (ahem... you're witness to that in TFLF), but I think paid newsletters are a great MVP to test a subscription business. That MVP shouldn't be forced to run for a year though!


Scratch Your Own Itch?

I may keep going with Substack. The signup for subscribers is super easy. The signup for publishers is super easy. It's something I can recommend to people who want to have a go at a paid email newsletter, and (almost) to people who want to test a subscription business.

However, the deeper I go with each of the solutions out there, the more they diverge from what I want and the vision I have.

Maybe this is why people develop their own products eh?




EDIT: Interesting debate going on here:
 
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[UPDATE]

I read all the Substack PR a couple of nights ago:



Here's all the links:

They're positioning themselves as a possible solution for newspapers and publishers to monetise content (instead of the advertising model that doesn't seem to be working for them - according to the articles at any rate).

I think it could work, and it will be interesting to follow.

In one of the articles we can see that Substack was only 3 people. I wonder how many people they have in the business now (or how many freelancers they use).

I also wonder what the $2m funding is being used for, or going to be used for.


Anyway, from my email support responses from the CEO of Substack they've told me:
  1. They won't remove the option for an annual plan and just have the monthly plan. (They want to signup publishers who are more committed.)
  2. They won't change it so that paid subscribers can only see the archived issues since they started their subscription.

That makes sense for their vision of making a paywall for news and articles. They're making a solution for "Newsletters" in the sense we understand newsletters.


It doesn't make sense for my vision for paid email "newsletters" (still the wrong word) where I want to:
  1. Use them as an MVP for a subscription business. (We don't want people subscribing for a year for an MVP that may be killed off after a month.)
  2. Use the raw content of the newsletter to allow people to follow-along (like a paid progress thread) and learn *with* us rather than *from* us.
  3. Use the raw content of back issues to create mini-courses. (We don't want people accessing all the raw content from months prior to them joining.)
In addition, I don't think it's fair that people pay monthly to get content and someone can pay for one month and do a "smash and grab".


I'll keep playing with Substack and may find a way to use it as a channel, but for the moment I'm going with the Gumroad solution I cobbled together (pretty quickly I might add!).
 
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"Release" time. (Remember how I said I don't like "Launches".)

After thinking about the name, I've gone with "Insider Newsletter" for now.

Here's the Gumroad URL, and you're welcome to signup. You'll get a first email automagically, and then I'll start making it up as I go along (which is how I like to move anyway):
Added to my signature too.


Here's what the Gumroad sales page looks like. I don't have an annual payment option.




EDIT: This progress thread isn't some sneaky way to get people to subscribe. I don't try to convince people to do something they're not interested in. I prefer to "help the people in motion". If you found this and want to subscribe of your own accord, then you're who I want to chat to - because I want to find out YOUR why.


EDIT2: You don't need to wonder what the subject will be for the next while. Paid email newsletters is the rabbit-hole I'm currently descending.
 
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how do you create the following for your paid newsletter?
^^^ This is a great question! Thanks @WJK. Rep+


Haha. You literally couldn’t have timed that question any better!!

This is what I’ll be figuring out now I’ve *finally* settled on Gumroad as the technical solution (like less than an hour ago!).


Note that I’ve chosen Gumroad because:
  1. It allows any of us to get setup as a publisher (producer) very quickly. We don’t want to get tangled up in the technical stuff when our focus should be on the marketing, product development, and value (content) creation.

  2. It's quite simple to subscribe as a free or paid subscriber (consumer). It's not as quick and painless as Substack, or CampaignZee with Mailchimp ... but I think it's good enough.

I’ll braindump when I get back to my PC.
 
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How do you create the following for your paid newsletter? Part 1

My favourite business quote takes pride of place in my signature:

“Never worry about numbers. Help one person at a time, and always start with the person nearest you.”
(Mother Theresa)


My first piece of advice is to always start with the people nearest to you, no matter how few they are.


1) Start with the following you already have?
  • An email list of people following you?
  • Social media followers?
  • People who've already bought from you? (<< This is a good one because it's a demonstrated cashflow. Just be careful of GDPR stuff when promoting something to your "list" that isn't related to what they purchased - I'll investigate this.)

2) Then look to the people who already know, like, and trust you (but aren't necessarily following you).


My thinking is... if you can't sell to the people who already know, like and trust you, then who the heck can you sell to?

Also... if you CAN sell to people who know, like, and trust you, then your next step is to get people to know, like, and trust you.



My first step growing my paid email newsletter is to let people know who are already following this "Paid Email Newsletter" progress thread.

There's reasons I don't use click-baity titles:
  • I only want people interested in following the progress of a Paid Email Newsletter to even read this thread.
  • I only want people interested in Paid Email Newsletters subscribing initially (because that's flavour of the month for me and what I'll be talking about initially).

Something super important to note is that I'm NOT doing this to make money. I'm doing this to build a following of people interested in paid email newsletters, so I can find out WHY they're interested, what their challenges are, and how I can help them further.


SMALL BUT IMPORTANT UPDATE:
Because I've been talking about this so much this week, I've had people reach out to me asking whether I can help them set this up AND help with growing their following.

I'll talk about that in Part 2.


Preserved for posterity, my forum signature:

 
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I'm at this point with my new website and blog. I've built the site and started the free blog. Now I need to grow my email list. Since my home is now in rural Alaska (post retirement), I can't just go out and have lunch with other bloggers and people in the Lower 48 to make contacts. I have to use the resources I have available.

My resume in real estate is stellar, but I have found that most people are most interested in general business subjects. Real estate problems are usually very specialized, but business is business.

This forum has been valuable for me to help ID areas of interest. It has also helped me find my voice. In the beginning, I wasn't sure I had much to say. So many of the business problem in e-businesses you guys are facing are no different from my 45 years of experience -- just another venue or slightly different application.
 
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Great stuff, Andy.

Can't wait for the part 2
Ha. Thanks. I'll do Part 2 in a few days.



In the meantime... I've tried to send an Update (email) from within Gumroad to my handful of paid subscribers, and I can't insert/embed images. Arghhhh...

Those subscribers are currently the closest people to me in that they're my team/mastermind of freelancers. Even though they're only paying $1/mth and there's only 3 (out of 4) of them, it makes a big difference knowing there's someone who'll read the next email. I noticed this when I had my first Snapchat follower - all you need to make it real instead of academic is one follower waiting for your next update.


I've had a few more new subscribers to my free email newsletter on Substack. I'll mail them to find out how they've find out about the newsletter, and what they hope to learn and why.

Someone I got into email conversation is interested in the Google Ads for local lead gen stuff only, which has me wondering about creating separate newsletters for separate topics. And I know from selling my AdWords course that there's a demonstrated cashflow for people who want to learn about Google Ads, from me.
 
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A few people are following along and are equally frustrated about setting up a paid email newsletter.

I'm looking at CampaignZee again because it was the simplest for subscribers to signup, simple enough for publishers to setup, only concerned with setting up a paid email newsletter, and creates a Mailchimp email list (meaning the email list isn't part of CampaignZee, and we can avail of all the Mailchimp email features).

I don’t mind the free then 10% pricing because I can fire up lots of paid email newsletters and test stuff.


Spotted need anyone?
 
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Does it make sense to send paid traffic to a survey?

I was asked the above (paraphrased).

My answer:

Yes. Running traffic to a survey helps. When I started in AdWords way back in 2009 I took a $2k course on this by Glenn Livingston. Each search term is different. Apparently the ASK book from about chapter 12 has expanded on this technique.

Personally I’d start with manual emails asking questions, and trying to engage with people.

Glenn’s training explained how to spot those most frustrated and most likely to pay. When asked questions about WHAT they are looking for, and WHY, they answer with very detailed and lengthy responses - indicating they’ve been searching a while, have looked at everything available on the market, and can’t find what they’re looking for. Their frustration comes through, much like mine when I was emailing the CEO of Substack ... I’m a perfect example of someone willing to pay for a solution if only I could find one (that allows me to simply deliver a paid email newsletter!).

I added my own spin to Glenn’s survey method and don’t bother with an automated survey but try and get personal quick.

I check out their website if their email address tells me it, and ask about that. Anything to let them know it’s a real email.

It’s a good idea to only survey people who are or have spent money, however, I prefer to get some initial momentum because that gets us excited and you will inevitably learn something from those initial interactions.

People who aren’t willing to pay may well tell you what they *would* pay for, or refer you to people who would pay.


You're asking me excellent questions, and by answering them I’m generating great raw content that I can edit and post to my own free or paid newsletter (and/or maybe to the progress thread).

Imagine I was engaging with many more people like this? The amount of content created and learnings gained would be phenomenal - just from answering your questions and trying to help you.

I’ve found great things happen when I move fast and help people without worrying about money at the start. This isn’t foo-foo. This has been working for me. I get to burrow deep into a vertical and really understand what people are struggling with, and why.

Wow... I had no idea this response was going to be so long. It just goes to show the power of responding to questions!
 

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