For 10 years I wrote a newsletter on leadership topics. For 8 of those years I also wrote a newsletter on health care finance, though it was a lot more sporadic. I stopped writing both because after so many years I not only could never get the list to grow all that much, but I never got any business out of either of them and almost never got any feedback on them. Truthfully, I wasn’t sure anyone was even reading them.
In my online life, that’s the only time I ever tried capturing email addresses, and it always felt, well, a bit smarmy to me. I told myself that everyone who was on the list voluntarily gave me their email addresses, which meant they really wanted to see what I had for them, and it’s possible that might be true, but when you don’t get feedback or hear from anyone… well, it just makes you wonder whether you’re bothering people or if they’re just ignoring you.
For years so many internet marketers have said that “the money is in the list”. I’ve even had specific people like Lynn Terry and Carrie Wilkerson tell me directly that I should be capturing email addresses and creating a mailing list, and yet when I’ve asked the question “but what if I don’t have anything to sell” I’ve never gotten a good answer for that. I mean, someone saying “maybe one day you will” hasn’t ever quite cut it with me.
Actually, there is a small list right now, though I’m not the one whose captured them. Because I still use Feedburner (Google hasn’t shut it down yet) and it allows people to subscribe to my feed via RSS or email, there are some subscribers who receive an email for every blog post. I appreciate anyone who’s subscribed to the feed in either way, but I’ve never wanted to bombard any of them with products or advertisements.
That and I don’t have a true product that quite fits this blog. True, the first two products at the top left of this blog could fit some of what I talk about here, but neither was created with this blog in mind. The leadership book… well, I’ve never generated any sales for it from here; then again, any sales of the other items have never been generated from here either. Goodness, people don’t even want to download the free ebook to the left about the synergy between business and blogging. If I can’t even give away a free ebook, what makes me think I can generate sales in any other way, and then again, what use would capturing email addresses be? How would I even do it?
The part about how to do it isn’t the issue; I could figure that out. My problem is “why”. When I came home for my two week vacation from traveling my friend Kelvin, who picks me up & takes me back to the airport each time, was saying that I should think about capturing email addresses after I told him that one of my goals for the year was to increase my online income, since I now have to pay for health insurance. Once again I said I didn’t have anything to sell to anyone, and… well, I don’t fully remember his response but it wasn’t much different than what the two ladies above told me, though he did say if Lynn recommended it then I should give it more thought.
I’ve given it more thought and I still haven’t come to any real conclusion. I’ve decided to ask those of you who are capturing email addresses two questions. One, what made you decide to start doing it and two, are you really making any “real” money off it. Yeah, I know there are some big time marketers making money off their list but I want to hear from y’all, folks like me who either understand the concept but find making money difficult or those of you who don’t fully get the concept because, like me, you don’t have a product.
Please don’t say “capturing email addresses is good because you can make money from your list” if you’re not making any money; to me, that’s a spam answer that you read off someone else’s blog but have no experience at, and I see enough of that sort of thing.
By the way, I only subscribe to 2 newsletters, one from Paul Myers of Talkbiz News (yes, that’s an affiliate link), which I’ve subscribed to since 2003, and my friend Kelvin, which I linked to above (not an affiliate link). All other newsletters I receive are because someone added me to their list without my permission, which is kind of irksome but if I know the people I’ll at least check it out. That’s smarmy as well but truthfully I’m not sure if someone else added them without permission; people can be sneaky like that.
So, what say you? Help me out with this one, and maybe you’ll be getting some help as well.