If your own your list it’s critical to keep your readers coming back
It’s no secret indie writers need to own their email lists. If we want to compete in the sea of reading material we’ve got to contact our readers directly and frequently.
Once the introductory, welcome sequence wears-off, some writers worry they’ll run out of things to say.
We can’t pitch our books in every email. There’s little benefit to the reader. We know we’re supposed to contact our readers with frequent, valuable content so they don’t forget about us, but what kind of content will they appreciate?
Our readers want new content that benefits THEM.
Whether you write fiction or non, you’ll keep your reader longer if you think of her needs first. We don’t pitch her endless sales offers.
Content that keeps readers coming back:
Your content is the free candy in the jar. We provide so much value in our reader’s in-boxes they can’t help but keep coming back for more.
Here are a few classic options that will have email readers engaged and returning for more. If you put the reader’s interest’s first you’ll never run out of ideas.
Case studies — these are non-fiction gold-standards. Show how other people have used your content to perform some kind of transformation (before/after). Present the case study to your subscribers.
Short stories — shorts are staples for fiction readers. Everyone loves a good short story to break-up the day. Don’t worry. You can re-use the best ones later. Repackage the shorts and publish them on one volume.
Q and A — answer common reader questions. Ask for new ones. The Q and A model is a great way to encourage reader input.
Ask for feedback — again, this turns your correspondence into a two-way street. Your readers’ feedback will help shape your future work.
Surveys — surveys will give you great insight into your reader’s world. They will help you develop your next product, vote on book covers, even give you the best version of your book’s title.
News — bring your readers into your world. Show them a picture of your writing area, or your views. Don’t feelings-vomit your life story, but keep your readers abreast of current projects that will benefit them (‘I’m currently working on a new book that will help you XXX’).
Fun trivia — with the fiction side of my business, I send peculiar crime trivia. I’m a crime thriller author, so my readers find benefit in these strange little crime facts, forensics etc.
Book recommendations — maybe your book isn’t finished. Give your readers periodic book recommendations. What are you reading now that may benefit others?
You’re a writer. You understand the punch of a story.
You understand how powerful cliffhangers can be.
Your emails shouldn’t stand alone. Allow one email to lead into the next. The news does it with their feature story. Every novel ever written uses small and large cliffhangers to propel the story forward.
Cliffhanger the hell out of your email.
Give a hint at the beginning of your email towards some piece of content later in the email (prevents skipping and skimming). At the end of one email allude to a valuable tidbit in your next email (prevents un-subscribing a little)
Your email is one, long story.
Stop treating your email list like a one-shot t-shirt cannon at a rock concert. We want our readers to come back tomorrow, next month, and next year. It’s much easier to keep a reader coming back than to earn a new reader from scratch.
Sprinkle tiny cliffhangers throughout your email content to get your readers to open the next email.
Sell, but sparingly
You need to earn an income. This is the end-game of your email list. However, you’ll do much better through giving first, until it hurts. Then give a little more.
Sell only offers your readers will value.
Don’t push them every affiliate product you can find. Don’t send them a stream of Amazon links disguised as product reviews. Sure, the occasional affiliate link will help grow your business.
But spend the bulk of your trust capital offering your books and courses to your loyal audience.
These folks can get the affiliate stuff anywhere. They can only get YOU through your email content and valuable giving. If you don’t have anything to sell, cool. Grow your list instead. Develop the relationship until readers are practically begging to support you.
Your first book launch will be much stronger this way, instead of pushing weak offers their way constantly.
You need a list
Email isn’t optional anymore. Gone are the days when you could write a book and people would stumble-upon it. You can’t just keep writing and hope to be discovered someday.
You’ve got to build your own platform and stop spending so much time growing social profiles you don’t own.
Your list will set you free.
Your list is portable.
Your list will move the needle.
If you want a more-predictable income as an indie author or freelance writer you need an email list. This is not an easy fix. List-building us hard. Everyone starts at zero. And zero feels small.
But you can grow your list as well as the others.
You can move the needle too. If you’re serious about being a full-time author, without the hamster wheel of endless content generation — your email list is the solution.
It’s time to put your ‘business owner’ pants on. You need a list.
We’re waiting for you.