How to get more email subscribers by using a P.S.

The Buffer folks wrote a post explaining how they doubled their email signups in 30 days. One simple thing they did was to link to their email signup form in a P.S., replacing a link to related content on their blog. The idea here is that everyone loves and reads a P.S. right? (I usually do!) I like this idea, especially since your list is a better asset in the long run and links to related content can be easily inserted directly in the post body anyway. Scroll down to the end of this post to see their P.S. in action.

When Blogging is a Burden

In 2000, when my daughter was less than a week old, we landed in the Pediatric Intensive Care Unit because she was lethargic and wouldn’t wake up.

blogging burden

(To appreciate the terror I felt, it might be helpful to know that my earliest memory is the day my 8 month old brother died of SIDS. I was 3 at the time. I vividly remember that he just wouldn’t wake up, so seeing my own baby in the same situation was heart-stopping.)

The doctors didn’t know what was wrong with our daughter. They ran all sorts of tests, X-rays and even a spinal tap to test for meningitis. In the end, thankfully, they determined she was severely dehydrated. Once we figured out the problem, she bounced back in a few days.

Me? Well, it was a brutal initiation into motherhood, and it still makes me want to throw up when I think about it. It scarred me a whole lot more than it did her.

But I learned some valuable lessons.

Background

(I promise this is related to blogging.)

My daughter was born on a Saturday morning. We were sent home from the hospital on Sunday. By Monday night, my God-given mother’s instinct (it really does exist) kicked in and I knew something was wrong.

I called the doctor. He listened to my description of her symptoms, assured me all was well and basically said “give her some formula and call me in the morning.”

So I hung up, telling myself that he’s the doctor, he sees newborns all the time, he’s the one who has training, he knows what he’s talking about. It must all be in my head.

Suddenly and unexpectedly (remember, I was a first-time mom), something very mother-bear-ish was ignited. I didn’t care what the “professional” said was true. I didn’t care one bit about his training, his medical degree or his experience.

Regarding my daughter, I knew he was absolutely, completely and totally wrong.

I also knew waiting overnight was a bad idea. So, very uncharacteristically, I called him back. I don’t think I yelled but I certainly raised my voice and clenched my teeth. “I DON’T think you heard what I said. SHE IS NOT WAKING UP.”

His response? “Oh! Take her to the ER right away.”

So what does this have to do with blogging?

Sometimes the “professionals” don’t know what’s right for you and your blog. Conventional blogging wisdom isn’t always the best advice. Sure, we should learn from the experience and training of others, but we’ve also got to listen to our gut.

Sometimes YOU really do have the best idea. Not the gurus. <-- Click to tweet

Burdened or free?

If there’s one thing I always make time for online, it’s reading. I read and read and read. I try to glean all that I can from the gurus, the “big” bloggers, the people who have been blogging for years and are now making incomes that completely blow my mind.

But sometimes it paralyzes me. Because they must know, right? Surely my ideas are always totally lame.

Sometimes I feel burdened, constrained, overwhelmed and like I just can’t keep up with it all.

So I’m asking some questions today…

If money was no object, what would my blog look like? How would it be structured? How often would I post? Would I do things differently than I do now?

What do I love about blogging? What do I hate? If I could cut out any part of it, what would it be?

Do I feel like I “have to,” “should,” or “ought” to do certain things? Do I feel like I have to “keep up” lest I fall behind or miss out on something? Am I breathlessly trying to stay ahead or get ahead? Are other areas of my life suffering?

But most importantly…

Do I feel free? Because if I don’t, what’s the point?

This post was originally published in February 2012.

Heads-Up: The Genesis Pro Plus All-Theme Package is $100 Off (Limited Time)

I have gone through several blog designs over the years, but the last several have all been Genesis themes. By the way, my current design is the Sixteen Nine Pro* theme that I customized a bit. (I seem to be asked that question frequently.)

A few years back I bought the All-Theme Package, giving me access to all of the Genesis themes, both past and future, for one fixed price (almost $1000 value).

I’ll tell you this: for me, it has paid for itself many times over. Read on to see if it might do the same for you.

This is a heads-up that the All-Theme Package is on sale for 5 days only. (It ends this Friday, August 22, 2014 at 5pm PST).

Genesis pro package

Even though this would be a great deal for some of you, it wouldn’t be a great deal for all of you. Here’s my advice:

I wouldn’t jump on this deal if…

  • You hate dealing with your theme and you have a designer who can help.
  • Your current design is working well for you, you love it and you have no plans of changing any time soon.
  • You don’t have plans to start a new blog or website anytime in the near future (for an ebook, an author site, another project, etc).
  • You are on a budget and/or could use that $300 for something else!

You might consider this deal if…

  • You’re a website/blog designer or would like to become one.
  • You like to change your design regularly. (Um, hello! That would be me, LOL.)
  • You would like to “test drive” different themes before you land on something long-term.
  • You anticipate starting another blog or website in the future (for your book, project, product, business or special topic).

If that’s you, check it out here!

*There are affiliate links in this post.

How to Write an Ebook: Marketing

This series comes from my experience selling my own ebook, Tell Your Time. (See all the posts in the How to Write an Ebook series.)

There is no shortage of information about marketing. I certainly won’t attempt to cover everything (nor could I) but here are some things I did to get the word out about Tell Your Time, some things I considered that might work for you and some things I might do in the future.

First though, some explanations so we’re all on the same page…

Marketing and Advertising. What’s the difference?

I like this explanation:

The best way to distinguish between advertising and marketing is to think of marketing as a pie, inside that pie you have slices of advertising, market research, media planning, public relations, product pricing, distribution, customer support, sales strategy, and community involvement. Advertising only equals one piece of the pie in the strategy. (Source: About.com)

There’s a lot of stuff in there, but for our purposes, let’s just say marketing is how you’re going to spread the word about your ebook.

Give your ebook away in a pre-release.

I’ve given away Tell Your Time to a number of people. The key here is to be selective and strategic. Don’t be stingy and definitely don’t be spammy.

The people I would recommend you give it to are people who have some influence in your niche, have a good, solid following (although not necessarily a large following) or would make a good affiliate. The best people are the ones with whom you already have an established relationship. A brief, to-the-point email asking them if they’d like to take a peek at your soon-to-be-released ebook is sufficient. Let them contact you if they are interested. If you don’t hear back from them, just move on. Please no hounding. :)

Gather testimonials.

To those who take advantage of the pre-release, give them a week or two to read it and then shoot them a personalized email providing affiliate information if they are interested and ask them if they’d like to submit a testimonial to be included on your sales page.

We all know and understand the importance of word-of-mouth and the power of personal recommendations, so having testimonials about your ebook can be very helpful.

Great testimonials are those that pack a quantitative punch. For example, instead of a testimonial that says, “This is a great ebook!” choose one that says, “Wow! After reading this ebook, I saved $50 on shopping over the course of a month!”

Create a sales page.

Your sales page could be located on your blog or on a website all its own. Remember that domain you registered earlier? That’d make a great place for your sales page.

This is a page on your blog that describes your ebook, includes testimonials, tells people how your ebook will help them and provides a link to purchase (or download) it. Look at the sales pages of other ebooks for ideas on how to write your sales page.

Brainstorm continuously.

Keep a running list of ways you might be able to get the word out about your ebook.Guest posting is a good way to get your name out there and tell ‘em about your ebook in your bio. Also, take part in forums and comment on blogs, leaving the link to your ebook sales page in your signature or as your web address (for comments).

Offer an affiliate program.

Pay other people to promote your book for you. Your reach is likely to be much higher this way and it’s a win-win for everyone.

Plan a sale (or sales).

I talked about this previously, but look at the calendar and figure out when you could have a few sales on your ebook. Sales generally create some buzz.

Giveaways

Once your ebook is launched, host a giveaway on your blog. Submit your giveaway to a giveaway roundup where you can list your giveaway like at Money Saving Mom’s Giveaway Galore posts.

The rest of the iceberg…

So this is just scratching the surface. Really you just need to be creative. How can you spread the word without being salesy?

Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL): What I’m Doing

It’s July 1 and the Canadian Anti-Spam Legislation (CASL) goes into effect today.

canadian anti-spam legislation what I'm doing

As you can imagine, there’s a lot of legal stuff involved, most of which goes way over my head because I don’t have any authority, expertise or law degrees. I am not a lawyer and this is not legal advice.

However, as a blogger and business owner, I’ve done some reading. (Any blogger or business owner should. From many sources.)

Because I’ve been asked…

I’ll share how I understand CASL and what I’m doing for my own business. You (and your lawyer) will have to decide what to do for yours.

If you’ve come across different or additional information in your own research, please, please feel free to share in the comments. We’ve gotta be in this together.

What I’m doing may be considered overkill by some, but I’d rather err on that side than the other. Especially when there are million dollar fines hanging in the balance.

Things to know

  • CASL will not single-handedly change the internet as we know it. No need to freak out, but don’t ignore it either.
  • Regarding email, if you have a double opt-in email list (like from Mad Mimi*, FeedBurner or another well-known email service provider) you’re probably doing a lot right already.
  • A lot of people are focusing on CASL as it applies to emails, newsletters and email marketing in general. However, at this point, the rules also apply to other forms of electronic communication like texts, instant messages (IMs), direct messages (DMs), @ replies on Twitter, etc.
  • The rules only apply to people you send “commercial electronic messages” to in Canada. It doesn’t apply to people you send commercial electronic messages in other parts of the world (although those countries might have their own laws you need to abide by).
  • People who live in Canada do have email addresses without the .ca at the end (ex. jane@domain.ca) so don’t assume email addresses without the .ca are fine.
  • CASL doesn’t just affect businesses. It affects organizations too.
  • Make sure anyone who works for you (like a VA) knows about CASL.
  • The details of CASL are not entirely clear. There are a lot of gray areas. All the more reason you should know how it specifically applies to you and your situation. Do your research!

What is CASL & should you care?

CASL is a Canadian law aimed at reducing spam in any “commercial electronic message” (CEM) accessible by computers in Canada. In other words, if you send electronic messages to people in Canada, you should pay attention. Not sure?

Do you use electronic channels (email, social media, texts, etc.) to promote/market your organization, product(s) or service(s)? If so, you should pay attention to CASL because it’s likely some of those will go to Canada. (source)

What does CASL require?

casl requirements

The above infographic is from the main site of CASL. Here are the main points:

  1. Consent. You have to get explicit consent by a Canadian recipient before you send them a commercial electronic message.
  2. Identification. You need to identify yourself with a name and current mailing address address. Also, you need to provide a working email address, phone number or website address.
  3. Unsubscribe option. You need to have an easy unsubscribe option in each message.

What I’m doing

Keep doing what I’m doing.
The Useletter is definitely my most valuable commercial electronic message (I don’t do much elsewhere). Because it’s double opt-in, people have given me explicit consent to email them, so I can keep doing business as usual there.

Edit the footer in emailed blog posts.
I don’t really offer blog posts via email anymore, but if you do, you might wanna put your identification info in the footer of every email.

How do you know if you have contact info in there already? Pull up one of your archived emails (you do subscribe to your own blog, right?) and check. If your contact info is not there and you’re not sure how to get it there, you can contact your email service provider. Alternatively, a simple workaround is to put the contact info in the footer of your RSS feed. You can use Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin to do this. Once you’ve installed the plugin, go to your WordPress Dashboard. Then go to SEO (in the left column) –> RSS –> Content to put after each post –> Enter your contact info –> Save. Then check to make sure it’s in there next time a post goes out.

Edit The Useletter footer.
Mad Mimi makes it easy to include a mailing address in the footer of your emails. That’s been there since the beginning. Today I added my website address to fulfill the second part of the identification requirement (see infographic above).

If you’re using Mad Mimi, go to Account. I simply added my website address to the end of “Physical Address.”

Take out the “Forward to a Friend” option in The Useletter
I’m doing this per Jeanne Jennings’s suggestion on ClickZ because I can’t guarantee my emails won’t be forwarded to someone who hasn’t given me consent.

To remove this feature in Mad Mimi, go to Tweaks and “hide” the option to forward to a friend. Save your changes.

Edit my confirmation email.
As soon as someone enters their email address into The Useletter signup form, they are sent a confirmation email. (The confirmation email is the second step in the double opt-in process.) They have to click the confirmation link in that email in order to complete the 2-step signup process and be added to my mailing list. Until today, my confirmation email said this:

Hi there,

Thanks for signing up for my useletter! I’m excited you’ll be joining me, but I want to make sure no one signed you up without your consent. So please follow the simple instructions below and you’ll get the next useletter as soon as it goes out!

But now I’ve added the 3 elements suggested by CASL (purpose, identification and unsubscribe info). It reads:

Hi there,

Thanks for signing up for The Useletter! I’m excited you’ll be joining me, but I want to make sure no one entered your email address without your consent.

Do you see that confirmation link down there at the bottom of this email? By clicking on it, you are agreeing to let me send you my super duper emails. Once you click that link, you’ll get The Useletter as soon as it goes out again. You can unsubscribe at any time by clicking the unsubscribe link at the bottom of any email you receive.

By the way, if you have questions, reply to this email or reach me at AmyLynnAndrews.com.

(You can also contact me via snail mail here: [mailing address].)

To edit your confirmation email in Mad Mimi:

edit mad mimi webform

Click the Webform tab on the right. Click the Edit button of the webform you want to edit. Click the Advanced tab on the right. Click the “Edit activation message” button to edit. Don’t forget to save your changes when you’re done!

Edit my Contact page.
I’m editing the email address I have on my Contact page to include “no unsolicited sales or promotional emails please.” This is because there’s a caveat in the law that says you can send something if an email address is publicly displayed without a note to not send promotional messages. I realize I’m not a Canadian so it doesn’t really apply, but why not put this in anyway? You know, keep the spammers guessing.

I will not send emails to customers more than 2 years from the date of purchase.
When someone buys something from me (like Tell Your Time), it means I have an active business relationship with them and emailing them is acceptable within 2 years. Also, if someone has contacted me with a question about my products/services within the last 6 months, I can email them too. Longer than that, though, and it’s not allowed without express consent.

Things that don’t apply to me but might to you

Read the linked articles and linked sources for more…

  1. There’s some question about whether or not it’s okay to add an email address from a contact’s business card.
  2. No pre-checked opt-in boxes allowed. This does not so much apply to me as a business owner, but as a consumer, I like this part (well, I would if I was Canadian). I can’t stand it when I buy something and as I’m working my way through the checkout process, there are pre-checked boxes that automatically sign me up for a mailing list too. This is part of CASL explained as “express consent.” In other words, someone has to take action in order to get on your list. Another example is, you can’t say things like “check the box if you don’t want to be added to the list” or “check the box if you don’t want to receive emails” or “click the link if you want to stop receiving emails.”
  3. Do not buy email lists.
  4. Switch from single opt-in to double opt-in.

Recap of my main sources