Blogging is the new Blockbuster Video. Do this instead.

Remember 2002?

One Friday in 2002, you went into Little Caesars for a $5 Hot and Ready pepperoni pizza, then headed next door to Blockbuster and spent a twenty renting$20 a few movies for the weekend.

Cost: $25 for a pizza and three movies.

And then the next Friday, you skipped Blockbuster because there was a little red box in front of Little Caesar’s and it spit out a movie for $1 a night. And you never looked back.

Cost: $8 for a pizza and three movies.

Not only that, but you were a laggard. Because your friends were already getting little red envelopes in the mail with their movies — as many as they could watch for something like $7 a month. Plus streaming.

Cost: $5.25-ish for a pizza and a night of Netflix (and chill, if you’re feeling it.)

Literally, one day movie rentals were a huge part of your life. The next they weren’t even on your radar anymore. And then next the storefronts were empty. And now, I bet you don’t even use Red Box anymore.

I haven’t even used my DVD player in at least three years.

Blogging is doing that kind of jump-the-shark dance.

I mean — you COULD spend a bunch of money designing a website and getting your blog all pretty before you launch it into the world. Plenty of people are still cramming your email inbox full of sales messages for expensive classes teaching you how to do what worked for them in 2012.

But the reality is that you don’t have to anymore.

Blockbuster died because someone came along and offered a better user experience. And then someone came along and offered an EVEN BETTER user experience.

I really think that the Netflix of the blogging world is the vast improvement in email servers and publication platforms over the last couple of years.

Seriously: even two years ago, your only real choice was to spend your blog start-up funds on hosting and designing a self-hosted blog.

Now? You can spend $29 a month on ConvertKit and get a service that is multitudes sleeker and more robust than the clunky, confusing free MailChimp account most bloggers start with.

ConvertKit will let you build a landing page, if you need one in the beginning. A single page to point people to when you have something you need to tell them. Or sell them. Or sign them up for.

And you can host your content right here on Medium. For free. Right here, where there are already readers. Where there are publications searching for good content to promote. Where you aren’t throwing out blog posts like messages in the bottle, hoping for lightening to strike.

Okay, that was a mixed metaphor, but if you’ve tried to do this for any length of time, you know what I’m talking about.

Here’s what happened when I blogged every day for 30 days on Medium.

Check it out. Some pretty awesome stuff happened. You wouldn’t want to read what happens when I blog every day for 30 days on my blog. Because it’s nothing. Nothing happens. If I don’t drive my own traffic to my blog, via my email list or Facebook ads, nothing happens.

Pretty much, nothing happens anyway. My blog is a silent receptacle for my work. Like a warehouse hardly anyone ventures to, unless I send them there.

I wrote that post two weeks ago. There’s a screenshot of my Medium stats, showing about 36,000 page views and my blog stats showing about 18,000 page views.

Here’s a screenshot from right this minute.

My views on Medium quadrupled with two weeks of daily writing here.

That’s not something you’ll see after six weeks of blogging on WordPress.

Okay. Let’s talk about how to use Medium and ConvertKit together.

Use Upscribe, integrated with ConvertKit, to make a pretty little form to add to your Medium posts, and you’ll start building the only thing that really matters today when it comes to blogging: an email list.

Host that lovely list on ConvertKit and you’ll never be sorry. You can set up a drip course, automate your list to tag your followers in a thousand different ways, and easily send out broadcasts to just the people you want to reach.

Once you have a nice little following, and maybe you have some income coming in, then head over to Bluehost and get that self-hosted WordPress blog. Repost your Medium work over there. Write fresh stuff and cross-post it to Medium. Send your email list there when you have something new to show them.

But you don’t have to.

If you only have a little money to spend your new online enterprise, spend it on the best email server you can. Today, that’s ConvertKit.

And if you have plenty of money? Start a blog. But still use ConvertKit and Medium — go back and look at my screenshots if you need a reminder of why.

They’re offering a free class starting April 24 that I’m really looking forward to. It’s all about how to build that thing that will get your enterprise making a little money. You can sign up here. Participants get a free month to give ConvertKit a try.

I’ll be offering a thing in May all about Not Blogging. Want me to let you know when it’s live? Leave your email in the form below.

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2 Free Things You Should Sign Up For Right Now

I’ve thought lately that the whole ‘launch’ model of getting your work out into the world has jumped the shark. It’s still happening, it’s probably still working for some people, but it just seems on it’s way out. Over. Done. Kaput.

There seems to be a pretty incredible trend right now of creators of all stripes offering super high-quality content for free. Like, crazy high quality, high value content.

The kind of thing that not very long ago would have cost a good chunk of money. After you got roughly three dozen emails from three dozen different affiliate folks about the thing.

As someone who creates things, I’m really excited about this trend toward generosity. It flies in the face of the idea that people won’t value something they don’t pay for or that you’re devaluing yourself if you don’t charge for every single thing you do.

I thought I’d share two things that I signed up for recently, that I think are completely mind blowing. And free.

ConvertKit’s Product Creation Masterclass

In early 2016 I decided to start a new blog. I’m a fiction writer who had a less than perfect experience with traditional publishing. I was ready to write again and I knew that this time I needed to work toward building an audience for my next book.

I also had this idea for a class to teach other people who to write novels.

And I had a day job I hated, bone deep.

I started with ConvertKit. They made it easy to manage my list as it grew (very quickly. I had 800 people by the end of month one.) And they gave me a way to release my class, even though I had no idea what I was doing.

I earned $80,000 last year. And I quit that day job.

ConvertKit’s class is four weeks long and starts April 24. Here’s how they describe it:

What is the Product Creation Masterclass?

  • A four week long project walking you through every step it takes to create a successful product from scratch.
  • Daily lessons sent straight to the registrants inbox, Monday through Friday running April 24th through May 19th
  • Weekly live trainings led by the ConvertKit team walking through the lessons and answering questions
  • Expert interviews from Melyssa Griffin, Jeff Goins, Chris Guillebeau, and Maya Elious where they share their experience in building online products
  • Free trials to Samcart, Thinkific, Meet Edgar, and Teachable for all registrants, including a 30 day free trial of ConvertKit for new customers.

I’m in. If you want to be, too, you can sign up here.

Sean McCabe’s List Building Class

Last fall I went to Jeff Goins’ Tribe Writer’s Conference in Nashville. While I was there, I met Sean McCabe.

He is seriously one of the most talented, generous people I’ve ever come in contact with. He spent more than an hour talking to me at the Frothy Monkey in downtown Franklin, TN about membership sites and how they work and whether or not one would work for me.

I was pretty excited when I saw that he’d put together a class all about audience building. Because Sean doesn’t do ANYTHING halfway, it’s full of great information. If you’re just getting started with email list building, you should definitely sign up right here.

This one is ongoing, as far as I can tell. No deadlines.

Okay, three things.

I figure, if I’m going to talk about free stuff, I might as well give my own free thing away.

If you’re a fiction writer, you can sign up for my class: How to Develop + Test a Story Idea. It’ll take you through the steps for building a road map through your story, then testing the idea to make sure it will hold up a whole novel.

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Building an Email List Changed My Life

building-an-email-list-changed-my-life

Last week, I went to Nashville for Tim Grahl’s Bestseller Summit. I was super excited to be able to attend, because a year ago I read Tim’s book (Your First 1000 Copies) and it changed my life.

I had a couple of novels published by Penguin a couple of years ago, and trusting a big publisher to handle promotion and marketing was a bad idea. (I wrote about how that experience f*cked me up here. Asterisk and all.)

So, I read Tim’s book. He said build an email list. I was all in. Mostly because I was in a horrifying day job and I was desperate to do something that would get me out of there.

I’ve built my list from 0 to over 10,000 since February 1.

Six weeks in, I launched a Novel Writing class to my list (which had about 1500 people on it then) and earned twice what I earned in a year at that awful day job–enough to let me quit.

Most importantly, though, for me as an author: that list represents a platform that will support me when my next book is published in the spring.

I thought I’d share some of the things that worked.

I looked for experts + I took their advice

The first expert I found was Bryan Harris of VideoFruit. I started with his free class and reading his blog. I followed every suggestion. Every. Suggestion. Then I bought his Rapid List Builder class, which was the best money I’ve ever spent.

I also reinvested some of the money I earned from my first class launch in joining a small coaching group run by Jeff Goins. Tribe Writers taught me the basics about running a blog. The coaching group went much deeper.

Most important, though? I sought out advice from experts and then I implemented it. When Bryan Harris said ‘text your best friend and invite them to join your email list,’ I did it. When Jeff Goins taught me his three bucket system for creating content for my blog, I used it. When Tim Grahl mentioned a three-email system, I wrote it.

I figured out how to make Facebook ads pay for themselves

I have this little loop that’s the coolest thing.

Above I told you that I earned two years of my annual income with my first course launch. Everything is relative, right? I was a $9.75 an hour teacher’s assistant (loved the kids, but the teacher was an absolute nightmare. That’s a story for another time.) I worked 27 hours and forty-five minutes a week, because the school district didn’t want to give me benefits.

So, I didn’t have money to pay for traffic to my shiny new blog. What I did have was a writing planner I’d designed for myself that I thought other writers might like. So I put it in my thank you page and sold it for $7.

Whatever I earn one day selling my planner on my thank you page, I spend on Facebook ads the next day.

So the cool little loop looks like this:

FB ad sends a visitor to my blog > Visitor subscribes to my list > Visitor gets sent to my thank you page > Maybe two or three visitors a day buy the planner for seven bucks > I use that money to pay for more FB ads.

This little loop is so cool that I got to talk about it on the stage with Tim Grahl at his conference! Here’s photo proof:

Talking to Tim Grahl about how ConvertKit, VideoFruit, and Tribe Writers changed my life.

c/o the super talented Sionnie.

I wrote about something that a lot of people are passionate about

Unless you’re J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, literally no one cares about your personal writing process.

I know that’s harsh, but it’s the truth. If it helps, that goes for me, too. I’m a published author and literally no one wants to read a blog about me writing my books.

Instead of starting an author blog where I talked about my process, tried to drum up interest in a cover reveal, and shared pictures of myself speaking on a panel at my local comic con, I wrote about something that lots and lots of other people are passionate about.

I wrote about their writing processes.

I wrote about helping them write their own stories. I offered to help them learn to tell them well.

Jeff Goin’s Tribe Writers course involved coming up with a worldview. This was mine: I believe that a good story told well can change the world. In fact, I believe that very little else ever has.

As soon as I stopped trying to get people interested in my stories and started paying attention to theirs — they magically started caring about mine, too.

I think this is maybe the one thing I did that made the most difference. Instead of trying to sell myself, I set out to be of service to other people.

I Taught What I Knew: ConvertKit

This one came from Nathan Barry at ConvertKit. Teach Everything You Know is the motto over there. And that’s exactly what I did.

(And ConvertKit helped me do it, because it is the most fantastic email service. Ever. If you’re a writer, you need to build an email list. I highly recommend you do it on ConvertKit. #fangirlmoment #sorrynotsorry)

I know how to build a road map through a novel, so I started there.

I’ve developed a method for writing a novel that works really well. So, I taught that, too. I launched A Novel Idea (a year-long class that teaches that method for writing a book) for the first time in March. And, you know, the whole two years’ income thing happened.

I sent out an email to that list I’d been working on about six weeks after I started my blog, then went to a movie. While I was at the movie, I was pretty sure that I’d made a mistake and decided I’d just quietly shut it down.

Only, by the time the movie was over, a couple of people had bought the class.

But here’s the thing. Teaching what I know helped me earn a living wage (finally), but it is also the one thing that’s built my list more than anything. More than Facebook Ads. More than give aways or guest posts or SEO.

If you teach something that you’re good at and that other people want to be good at, too, you’ll find students.

Leave a comment and let me know if you’re a writer building an email list. What’s one thing that’s working for you?

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