When I started blogging two years ago, I was terrified of asking people to subscribe to my blog. I thought no one would want to read it, especially when many well-written blogs were available to choose from.
A year and a half later, when I started the newsletter A Whimsical Writer, with Substack, the same phobia gripped me. So many experienced writers have newsletters in Substack; why would anyone want to subscribe to mine?
I couldn’t have been wrong.
People subscribe to your newsletter because they like you, your story, your unique style of writing and want to stay in touch with you. They like the solution you are proposing to their problems.
To build an online business, the most intimidating thing to do, is to build an email list. How to find those people who should be on your email list? There are so many limited beliefs attached to this inhibition.
Let’s have a look at a few of them.
I need thousands of subscribers on my mailing list.
When we look at the size of established writers and online business owners, we feel threatened and inadequate.
I will never be able to get thousands of followers, we think, and we curl up and don’t even try.
Then came Kevin Kelly’s 1000 true fans concept, and people started feeling encouraged.
But the truth is you don’t need even 1000 people to get started. You just need one.
Yes, you heard me right. You need only one person to subscribe to your newsletter to get you started.
That one person soon becomes ten, and then twenty, then fifty.
I started my mailing list with just ten people. Five of them were my family members and four my writing group buddies, and one my gym acquaintance. Now and then, he (my gym acquaintance) would leave encouraging comments on my articles, and that was enough to keep me going.
In fact, in the early days, when you are learning your craft, it is better to have only a handful of subscribers. That way, you are not paralyzed with fear whether your work is good enough to publish, which incidentally is the second limiting belief.
My work is not good enough to share.
Each writer, each content creator, and each creative person is gripped with this fear at some stage in their creative lives. Some, like me, are permanently plagued with it.
At some stage, you have to learn that your work will never be good enough. It will be the best at that point-in-time. You will continue to get better, and that is the whole purpose of being creative. You are constantly learning and improving. That shouldn’t stop you from sharing what you are producing at that point in time.
Think of your work as a gift to your subscribers when you create something with the intention to gift it to someone you do your best and without the fear of being judged on the quality of it.
All this process to start a mailing list is too hard.
For every new starter establishing an online business is too hard. There is a lot of advice available, but rather than making it easier to follow, it makes it overwhelmingly hard.
Most people start an online business as a side hustle. They have too much to do. When they can’t fit everything, they have to let go of some things. Most of the time, it is building a mailing list.
Why? Because it has got many ducks to align.
I stood found building a mailing list too complicated.
Until I sat down and simplified it.
Here is my three-step process to build a mailing list.
Step 1: Research
The first thing to determine is who your audience is.
Not everybody is your audience.
You will be wasting your time if you think you are writing for everybody. You are writing only for a small set of people.
In my case, they are the new writers who are learning the art and craft of writing and trying to make a living from their writing.
Once you figure out who your people are, find out what problems they are facing that you can help them solve.
I was a new starter too, so I knew some of the problems new writers face. But what really helped me was actually talking to a few of my followers and finding out first-hand what problems they were facing that I could help solve.
Step 2: Create a solution
Then pick just one of the problems, and think about what you can create to help solve that problem.
It could be a cheat sheet, a checklist, an ebook, a workbook, a newsletter. Anything that you can give your audience to have a quick and valuable win
Whatever you might decide to create, keep it simple.
It shouldn’t take you days or weeks to create. You can use some of your previous articles and create something useful out of that.
Step 3: Share your solution with your people wherever they hang out.
This is the most important step, which many people don’t reach because they get overwhelmed either at step 2 or have no idea where their people hang out.
It took me a while to figure out that many new writers hang out at Medium. They also hang out on social media such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Yours might hang out at Instagram (many artists do) or Twitter, or Quora or Reddit.
Keep in mind that they will not be able to come to you to subscribe to your mailing list because they don’t even know you exist. You will have to go to them and offer them your solution for free in exchange for their mailing address.
And they will happily do so if your solution truly promises to address their problem.
Tom Kugler’s tagline promises to solve the problem of infrequent writers on Medium.
Tom Kugler’s Get my free 5-day Medium writing course right here. It’ll teach you how to write five posts per week and become a top writer on Medium.
My own tagline I hope attracts the new but hesitant writers.
Want to build a career in writing but don’t know how? Subscribe to my newsletter, A Whimsical Writer, and take tiny steps each week to get started.
Three myths associated with building a mailing list are:
- I need thousands of subscribers on my mailing list to succeed.
- My work is not good enough to publish.
- All this process to start a mailing list is too hard.
The three simple steps to start a mailing list are:
- Find out who your people are and what problem they are facing.
- Solve one of those problems and create a freebie.
- Share your solution with your people wherever they hang out.
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Want to build a career in writing but don’t know how? Subscribe to my newsletter, A Whimsical Writer, and take tiny steps each week to get started. And have some fun along and the way too.