If I had any business instincts at all, I wouldn’t be writing this post.
I’d be writing some canned content about books or reading in order to convince you to enter my 25-book Christmas giveaway at the bottom of this page. (But did you see how casually I slipped that in there? :)
I’m not doing that because I am an artist first, and a businessman second. I write what’s on my heart, even if it doesn’t fit the agenda.
I don’t schedule content weeks in advance. I don’t have a template for writing. I don’t have formulaic copy which leads to a product.
I have what is on my heart and I attempt, in the ever-faster seconds racing out of my life, to articulate that for you.
Here’s what is on my heart today:
The best advice I got in 2016 was powerful but boring:
“Just ask them”
This gem came from a friend who I met in mid-2016. At the time I asked him for advice, he was targeting half a million dollars worth of sales in a new product release for one of the Internet’s bigger names. He has an extensive network of bloggers and marketers and authors.
I’ve been writing consistently for 2 years, but my email list was a ghost town (Again, businessman second). I was expecting a master hack from my new friend. I was expecting a bit of sneaky code or a plugin or a case study from one of the world’s best businessmen.
Instead, what I got was:
“Just ask them”
So I did. My email list got double what I started with. Then it tripled. Then it quadrupled*
For those of you still looking for tricks or hacks — have you asked yet?
*If you are looking for the numbers, less than 250 grew to 500 to 750 and now over 1,000.*
And now, for the WORST advice I was given in 2016:
“Why don’t you just put a big pop up on your home page to increase conversions?”
****takes deep breath****
HOW HAVE WE COME BACK TO USING POP-UPS ON THE INTERNET IN 2016? I’D LIKE TO THINK HUMANS HAVE GROWN AS A SPECIES BUT THEN I GET A RED WIGGLING BOX YELLING AT ME ABOUT AN EBOOK WHICH WILL “CHANGE MY LIFE.”
“Oh but Todd, you said “Just ask them”
Yes. Just ask someone you already KNOW if they would like to know more.
People always tell me the pop ups fall in line with Seth Godin’s Permission Marketing. As far as I’m concerned, if you get permission reluctantly, that’s not permission at all.
“Oh but Todd, these pop-ups are smart ones. They only show up when you’re about to leave your site.”
And just like the over-eager car salesman who rushes after me with a “better deal” when he is about to lose the sale, you will drive me right out the door.
“Ah, yes. But the numbers Todd. The numbers don’t lie.”
Yep. You’re right. The numbers don’t lie.
The abysmally low open rates and click-through rates of the people you tricked to be on your list in the first place don’t lie. The numbers that show 93% of people signed up out of guilt and then ignored you for 6 years tell us both all we need to know.
“Ah, but Forbes uses them! Surely they aren’t that bad.”
Forbes (I assume) has legions of bills to pay and are still reeling after the Digital Apocalypse sent an earthquake through every print-driven business. They also have the money to spend on custom work as opposed to a free SumoMe plugin.
Oh, and by the way: They’re just as irritating.
“But I need to get as many subscribers as I can quickly!”
“Okay then what should I use to grow my audience?”
Try patience. Also, experiment with your natural skills, talents, experiences, and interests to make work people care about.
Repeat those two things until you die. Will they grant you great wealth and recognition? I don’t know.
What I do know is this:
When you’re in a coffin, it is better to have 14 sad people than 14,000 indifferent ones.
A final note now that I’ve calmed down a little:
I know (and love very much) people who use these pop-ups. I understand the business desire. I understand the capture rates. I understand the intent.
The reason none of that matters to me is because I’m planning to peak at age 80. My 24 hours are filled with blistering urgency, but if this writing thing is my life for the next 60 years,
I’m going to do it my way.
Now for the Christmas giveaway as promised. Normally, I wouldn’t take so much time with this but today is the LAST DAY to enter.
1 person will win these books (Links provided so you can explore them if you like):
- You Are a Writer — Jeff Goins
- The Storygrid — Shawn Coyne
- The War of Art — Steven Pressfield
- Choose Yourself — James Altucher*
- The Choose Yourself Guide to Wealth — James Altucher*
- The Rich Employee — James Altucher*
- The Crazy, Sexy Diet — Kris Karr
- The Happiness Project — Gretchen Rubin
- David and Goliath — Malcolm Gladwell
- Blink — Malcolm Gladwell
- Think and Grow Rich — Napoleon Hill*
- Your Ideal Future — Benjamin Hardy*
- The Icarus Deception — Seth Godin
- Poke the Box — Seth Godin
- The Millennial Way — Declan Wilson
- Massive Life Success — Darius Foroux*
- Building Smarter Habits — Thomas Oppong*
- Quitter — Jon Acuff
- Do Over — Jon Acuff
- 48 Days to the Work You Love — Dan Miller
- Unmistakable — Srinivas Rao
- Steal Like an Artist — Austin Kleon*
- Show Your Work — Austin Kleon*
- A Million Miles in a Thousand Years — Donald Miller*
- Love Does — Bob Goff
But here’s the other thing.
I’m feeling very Christmassy these days.
So I’m doing a LIVE STREAM Thursday to give away not only the grand prize winner, but also… well, some other things.
I’ll see you there :)
Whew. Was that a lot? That was a lot. If you made it this far, please recommend this story to spread the holiday cheer :)
Much love as always. (And Merry Christmas)