Everywhere I turn, I find people touting programs designed to multiply your email list. But is the key to a healthy email list found in numbers? In this interview with Paul Jarvis he talks about his email, the Sunday Dispatch, and why engagement trumps numbers alone.
If you don’t know Paul, he calls himself a freelancer evangelist. He is the type of person who split-tests his profile picture and who also talks about unicorn farts. With a 20-year career as a freelance web designer he is also a prolific writer on sites like Forbes, Fast Company, NewsWeek, and BuzzFeed. You can find Paul on his site or on Twitter, and but where you should really connect is through his email list, The Sunday Dispatch. Oh, and he is co-host of Invisible Office Hours with Jason Zook and he has his own podcast, the Freelancer. Here are some of my favorite Paul pieces:
Listen to Create If Writing – Episode 020
“People don’t realize they can cultivate an audience of people they want to have in their audience.”
- Paul sends a weekly email called the Sunday Dispatch. It includes articles that will later appear on his blog or in syndication elsewhere, but they come to subscribers FIRST.
- He aims to be interesting and valuable to his audience. Many people send what is interesting and valuable to themselves, not to the audience.
- To figure out what’s interesting and valuable to THEM, Paul listens. To make it interesting and valuable to himself, he puts his own spin on the content. This also has the effect of being interesting to the audience as well. There is no shortage of articles & content, but people read and identify with his because it’s unique and personal.
- Paul uses humor to help get to the ideal targeted audience. He cultivates the exact type of people he wants in his audience and doesn’t worry about the rest.
- The numbers on your list are often vanity metrics. It’s the ENGAGEMENT that matters. You want people who support you and your work. This is much harder to measure than simple numbers alone.
- Paul unsubscribes people who are rude or mean in responses to his emails. He will also look at how many people have not opened over a quarter and will delete those people.
- When you delete people, you are saving yourself money (once you get to that point of paying) but you are also increasing your engagement and open rate.
- To test content on his blog Paul uses Optimizely. (Yep, he even split tests his photos.) But he will split test his email subject line using Mailchimp’s A/B testing every time he sends. The winning headline is the one he uses when he posts that content on his blog and other syndications.
- Guests posts worked well as he was building and now he doesn’t do guest posting as much but will put his posts up on Huffington Post, Inc, and Medium. If you are posting on quality websites, don’t worry about duplicate content hurting your SEO. Google gets it.
- For Paul, the point is to get people on his list, not just get hits on the blog, so everything links back to the sign-up for his list.
- Depending on your revenue model, your focus might be different. If you are selling ads on your site, you need page views (or opens & clicks on your list if you’re selling ads on your site). If you are selling products or services, your mailing list might be your best place to sell.
- Things are so saturated right now, that it gets hard because of all the noise. Disruptive revenue models are the ways to find new and unique ways to create content.
- If you are genuinely excited about the thing that you’re doing, people see that come through and they get excited with you. Plan well, but continue to be excited and keep that moving.
And if you want to know more about the Creative Class (which I can tell you firsthand is an awesome investment!), you can read more about that HERE.