{e106} Geeking Out About Email Marketing with Nathan Barry 

If you do email marketing in your wellness business (and you probably do, if you’re listening to my podcast!) then you won’t want to miss this week’s interview with Nathan Barry, the founder of email marketing service ConvertKit. Get a notebook ready because Nathan shares a ton of valuable insights about email marketing including: how to improve your deliverability so your mails end up in the inbox! How to avoid the dreaded “Gmail Promotions” tab. What a “good” open and click rate is. How to get started finding your first subscribers. And much more!

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Geeking Out About Email Marketing Transcript

Amanda: Hello, and welcome back to this week’s episode of the Wellpreneur podcast. And this week, we’re talking about one of my very favorite subjects, because I’m totally a marketing geek, we’re talking about email marketing. And I am super psyched, because this week I’ve got Nathan Barry, who is the founder of ConvertKit, which is the email marketing tool that I switched to late last year.
He’s the founder of ConvertKit, and he’s joining us on the show today to talk about all things email marketing, including a question that’s come from so many of you which is, “How do you make sure your emails actually end up in the inbox and don’t get stuck in the dreaded Promotions tab, or worse yet, go into spam?” So, we’re going to be talking all about that. Nathan’s also going to be sharing with us what a good open and click rate is, and his approach to finding your first email subscribers for those of you out there who are just getting started. Now, I switched last year from AWeber, to MailChimp, and then finally to ConvertKit, and I am absolutely loving ConvertKit.
For me, it’s somewhere slightly more advanced than MailChimp. So, if you’re just getting started and you want a free solution, you definitely want to go with MailChimp. But if you’re going to be paying for your email marketing, I really think you should take a look at ConvertKit because it lets you keep – instead of just having a bunch of different lists, it lets you tag your subscribers. This is super powerful. So, you can tag people based on what products they’ve bought from you, what opt-in freebies they’ve gotten, what links they’ve clicked, and you can track this whole history about what your email subscribers have been doing. It’s really, really awesome. I totally love it.
So, I’ll put a link which will be an affiliate link because I’m loving ConvertKit and I’ve signed up to be an affiliate with them. I’ll put that in the show notes and you can definitely check it out and give ConvertKit a try if you’re looking for a way to up-level your email marketing.
Now, the other thing to let you know about is that next week, finally, at long last, Marketing Bootcamp is arriving which is so exciting. So as you know earlier this year, I recruited some founding members and they’ve been going through the course and trying all the modules, implementing it in their business and seeing 20% increases in their email subscribers, loads of clarity, focusing down on their target markets, creating amazing opt-in gifts, giving loads of subscribers; it’s been really awesome.
So, I’ve taken all of their feedback, I’ve improved the course, and next week it’s going to be available for you. So, definitely watch out for that. If you’re on my email list, you’ll be hearing about it, and also if you’re in the Wellpreneur Community Facebook group, I’ll be talking about that there as well. So, just a quick heads up that that’s coming for you next week.
And you know, I’ve gotten a bunch of messages from you guys asking, “How’s it going in Hong Kong?” and “When are you going to talk about this stuff?” And to tell you the truth, I’m trying to figure out where’s the best place to share about all this stuff I’m learning while I’m in Hong Kong. And to tell you the truth, I’m still settling into my routine and getting back into my work schedule, but I’m just learning so much. Like, different types of food, and different beauty things and travel experiences.
So, I’m sharing lots of that on my Instagram account, but I’m also playing with the idea of, “Do I want to blog about it more regularly over on Vintage Amanda, or is this something that should stay at Wellpreneur?” I’m not sure yet, so I’m just kind of feeling that out, like, what is it more like? Natural help and beauty, is it more business? Where are we going to go with this?
So don’t worry, stay tuned, follow me on Instagram, come into the Facebook group, feel free to message me if you want to know what’s going on, that’s totally fine. And rest assured, I’ll be sharing with you all these things I’m learning and my natural beauty and natural health discoveries being based in Asia very soon, but everything’s going well here.
I’m absolutely loving it and really excited to be able to be here for the next few months to learn and explore more. So, let’s stop talking and let’s jump over into this interview with Nathan Barry all about email marketing. I think you’re really going to love this one.
Hi Nathan, thanks for joining me on the show.
Nathan: Hey, thanks for having me.
Amanda: So, I really appreciate you taking the time. I know your company is growing like crazy and it was really cool to get on the phone with you because I know members of my audience have loads of questions about email marketing that I’ve been compiling, and I’d love to throw some at you.
Nathan: Yes. That’s pretty much my favorite topic.
Amanda: Awesome. We can totally geek out on it then. Well first, just for anybody that doesn’t know about ConvertKit, can you just kind of give us a super short version of why you started it and why you’re different?
Nathan: Yes. So, ConvertKit’s an email marketing platform for professional bloggers, and the reason I started it is because about four years ago, I got my start blogging, teaching people how to design iPhone and iPad applications, and then I wrote a book called The App Design Handbook, and then wrote probably a few other books on design and marketing. And through that, email was driving more sales than every other channel combined. So, some people were saying, “Oh, social media is the future. Check out what people are doing on Twitter.” It just wasn’t converting anywhere close to what email was doing.
And so, I loved that but then I was like, all these best practices, trying to make them work in MailChimp and it just wasn’t happening. Like, I felt like at every turning, MailChimp was making it difficult and blocking you from implementing things like content upgrades, and tagging customers and all these really important things. And it didn’t just make sense, so I was like, “Why isn’t there a tool that’s built for people like me?” Because there are so many people who are building great online audiences and then selling products to them. And so I thought, “Okay, this could be a lot better.”
Luckily, I happened to have a background in software and user experience design, and so I started building ConvertKit and that was three years ago. It’s been a long path over the last three years, but particularly in the last six months to a year we’ve hit some pretty ridiculous growth and we now have some of the biggest blogs on the web, ranging from people like Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income, Leo Babauta from Zen Habits, to Katie from Wellness Mama dot com, and it’s just some truly, truly massive sites using ConvertKit, and we’re having a lot of fun just supporting people who are building great online businesses and sharing a lot of great content.
Amanda: That’s awesome. I didn’t realize that Wellness Mama was on it too. I actually found out about ConvertKit through Pat Flynn, and when I saw it I was like, it was like the light went on, it was like, ta-da, finally. All of this, the functionality I’ve been looking for, without having to go to something like Infusionsoft which is ridiculously complicated.
Nathan: Yes, it took us a long time to come to this messaging and it’s actually something random that a customer said once. But basically, what we tried to build with ConvertKit is the power of Infusionsoft but with the ease of use of MailChimp. And so, we’re fitting right in-between those two and just design for people like you and I.
Amanda: It’s awesome. I totally love it. So, I’m curious, I think there’s a sense… So, I’m totally on board with you about email marketing being an awesome way, a really powerful way to keep in touch with your audience and convert them into sales. I know a lot of people feel like, “Oh my gosh, we get so much email.” Like, everyone is overwhelmed by email. And so, I’m just curious, from what you’re seeing in the industry, are you still seeing that that’s really effective, is it still as effective as it used to be?
Nathan: Yes. It’s so much more effective than social that even if it continue to fall significantly year after year, it would probably take a few decades before Twitter or Facebook surpassed it. We’re seeing that it’s between 10 and 20 times as effective as Twitter at driving sales.
Amanda: Wow. So, you been driving traffic to your landing page or actually…?
Nathan: Driving sales. So, you get a lot of email, there’s no comparison between the amount of emails you get and then the amount of posts on your Twitter or Facebook feed. And so, if you think about it, you deal with every email that comes into your inbox in some way. You either read it, delete it, reply to it, archive it, something. Whereas if you’re on Twitter or Facebook, they’re actually… Well on Twitter, you probably just jump in, check out a hundred tweets or so and then you’re out. And then if you happen to come back later, you might miss a bunch, but whatever. It’s not an inbox that you’re dealing with every single Tweet.
And so, in Facebook you don’t even get a chance to see everything. Facebook selects probably something like 10 to 15 percent of the people that you’re following and that you’re friends with, and shows you a subset of that content. And they’re actually really frustrating, because when I go to Facebook, I see the same content over and over again and I’m like, “I have 250 to 300 friends on Facebook. I think there’s some new content you could show me.”
Amanda: Totally, yes.
Nathan: So, with email, every single email gets dealt with and the priority is much higher. And so, the higher conversion rates happen in two places. One, the number of people that actually interact with your message. So, if you post a tweet and you have 10,000 followers, those are convenient numbers because I have 10,000 followers and so I have all these stats. And then it might come out to a nice round number, but roughly about… If I post something to 10,000 followers, I can get maybe about 1.5% to even click that link. And that’s basically an open on the tweet, you know?
And so, if they do that, 1.5%, whereas on email I can get like 35%. And so, those numbers are totally different and then once traffic gets to a landing page… I’ve been really good friends with people at Gumroad for the past few years, they’re an e-commerce company. And so, I have access to all of their stats. They were kind enough to share. And basically, once people come to a sales page across all of Gumroad, all sellers on Gumroad, if they came from email, they’re converting at an average of 9.5%, and if they came from Twitter I think it was 5.4%.
So, you’re getting far more people coming through to the sales page as a function of total subscribers and followers, and then once they get there they’re almost twice as likely to convert.
Amanda: Awesome, cool. And one of the reasons that I think email is really great is because you are where people already are. Like, everybody’s checking their email multiple times a day. And so, if you can appear there, you’ve totally got… Okay, maybe you only have their attention for like half a second to actually capture them with a subject line, but you’re actually showing up some place that they are a couple of times a day, so it’s a really good way to keep in touch with people.
Nathan: Yes. And usually when they’re there, they treating it like work as well rather than goofing off or wasting time or something like that. So, you’re in a higher quality context.
Amanda: So, one of the questions that comes up a lot amongst wellpreneurs is about deliverability. And so, I’d love to hear your thoughts about that. And for everybody that isn’t sure what that means, it’s just, “How do we know that when we send an email through an email marketing system, that it’s actually going to end up in the inbox instead of going into spam or the dreaded Gmail Promotions tab?” And so, can you talk a little bit about deliverability and some things we can do to make it better?
Nathan: Yes. So, there’s a few parts to deliverability. One would be the reputation of the company or really the IP addresses of that company that you’re sending through. And so, that would be like a ConvertKit or a MailChimp. The next part would be the actual content itself that you’re sending. You know, if you have too many links or some things like that, get individual messages liked, particularly with Gmail, and then the last part would be your personal email address’ reputation. So, if you’re sending through your particular site or you’re sending through email at WellpreneurOnline.com or something like that, that has its own reputation just as a from or a reply-to email address.
So, out of those three things combined, the reputation of the company is the biggest factor. And probably the reputation of the company and the content of the email are the two biggest factors. So on that, the biggest thing that we do at ConvertKit in order to have amazing deliverability is we send amazing content.
And so, if you think about average open rates across the entire email marketing industry, if you’ve ever used MailChimp they’ll tell you, “Hey, you’ve got a 20% open rate. The industry average is 4%. Congratulations, you’re doing amazing.” And we look at that, and our averages are so much higher because we don’t send typical email. If you think about it, we’re email marketing just for bloggers.
And so, bloggers are saying, “We have content that you want.” So, instead of buying a product once and now you’re getting all these emails from e-commerce store, of course those are going to get open rates than 2, 3, 4%. What we’re sending, you know you go sign up to Leo’s websites and have [INAUDIBLE] because you love his writing. And so, you are very intentional about that, and so you’re signing up as you want to read every email that they’re sending out.
So, he’s going to be getting open rates in the 40% and higher even with a massive email list. And so what happens is, Gmail particularly looks at those queues, they’re looking at, “Okay, this random server sent out a hundred thousand emails. How did people respond to them? Did they open them? Did they click them? Did they reply? Did they mark them as spam? What did they do?” And they start to score it based on that. And since we’re sending remarkably higher quality content than any other email marketing provider out there, we get much better deliverability.
Now, the flipside about that is that we manually approve every single new customer that signs up for ConvertKit because we have a reputation to protect and we’re not willing to sacrifice that reputation just to make a little bit more money from a few potentially… They don’t even have to be scammy accounts. We ban a fair number of those, but if someone is just saying, “Hey, I have this big list. I’ll pay you a thousand dollars a month”, which is still tempting for us, but they have open rates under 10% or something like that, we just say no to them and say, “You know what? There’s other tools out there that are okay with your low open rates and we’re not.” And so, that’s really the biggest factor in deliverability: is that we send higher quality emails than any other provider out there.
Amanda: Cool, and what about… You mentioned something about the tools looking at, “Are people opening these? Are they clicking? Are they replying?” So, I’ve seen some people and I have actually done this too just to really do some market research on the people that are joining my list. Like, when somebody will join I’ll ask them a question and say, “Hit reply and tell me, what’s your biggest challenge with your business?” Something like that, and that’s really good market research for me. But would that impact deliverability to the fact that they’re actually replying?
Nathan: Yes, it totally does. Not with every email provider, because you got to keep in mind that there’s Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, Comcast, AOL, MSN; there’s really a ton, but with the major ones it absolutely does. And so, I highly recommend that you ask for replies. The biggest reason would be for the market research that you’re talking about. Because then, if you’re coming out with a product, then you can use people’s own descriptions of their problem that the product solves in your marketing copy and it’s incredibly effective.
Amanda: Totally, yes. That’s the best marketing hack ever. It’s so obvious. It seems too easy, right? Just use people’s words back at them, but it really works.
Nathan: Yes. And so, you just put that question in your welcome email sequence. Either in some of the first few emails and say, “Hey, related to our topic, what’s your biggest struggle?” And then you tag all those responses in Gmail or whatever and when it comes the time to write a sales page, you refer back to that. But with Gmail, it absolutely affects deliverability.
Amanda: What about the Gmail Promotions tab? Is there anything we can do to stay out of that?
Nathan: Yes. So, the biggest thing is to ask your subscribers to move you from Promotions into the Inbox. Gmail’s going to continue to put more and more emails into Promotions over time because they basically… They don’t put many ads inside of Gmail, but if you noticed in the Promotions tab, they put a lot more ads because they’re saying, “Oh, these are promotions anyway, so it’s not a big deal if we put our own ads in with it.” And so, they want more emails there because they want to be able to promote more of their own ads. So, it’s going to continue to happen.
One thing that always works is getting a ton of your subscribers to move you from Promotions to Inbox, and then quite frankly sending with a smaller email marketing provider like ConvertKit will have much lower chance that you end up in Promotions, just by default. So, if you send the same content through MailChimp and through ConvertKit, there’s a much better chance that a ConvertKit email will make it in the Inbox rather than Promotions.
Getting replies is definitely a big thing. Nobody replies to a promotions email in general, of what Google would define as a promotions email. So, if you get a bunch of people to reply, they’re going to take that as a signal that, “Oh, maybe this actually was a more personal email and didn’t belong in Promotions.”
Amanda: And how do you see people normally ask their readers to move them to [INAUDIBLE] the Promotions tab? Is it like on a Thank You page or is it in the first email itself? How do people do that?
Nathan: I’ve seen it in both places: on the Thank You and in the first email. You know, the other thing that will always get you out of the Promotions tab is just some adds you to their address book and that seems to have a very, very high success rate. From then on, it’s just – you’re pretty much going to hit the Inbox every time.
So, people have made all these customized Thank You pages and saying, “Oh, you’re using Gmail. And so, do this.” And really, the core advice is always saying, just add the sender to your address book and the emails will hit the Inbox pretty much every time. Unless you do something like stuff an email full of links. Like, we had this blogger who’s truly fantastic and I loved his work, and then he sent out an email, and for some reason it was getting flagged as a phishing or spam email in Gmail. And so, it had this red bar across it. We’re trying to figure out why, and what it was is he just had too many links.
And so, in testing this, when I would send the email to a test account, it would get flagged as phishing. But if I split it in half and sent it out, then the two individual parts would make it through just fine. And so, basically, what it was is he was doing this massive link roundup, and so the email came across with lots of buzzwords and links because of that Gmail flag bit. So, I guess what I’m saying is write like a human and don’t stuff it full of list content, stuff like that. He was in the territory of 20+ links in one email and I wouldn’t do that.
Amanda: If you want to do that many links in a round up, then put that in a blog and then send out a link to the blog, right?
Nathan: Absolutely.
Amanda: Okay. What about single versus double opt-in? I used to be on AWeber for years, and they only let us do double opt-in so that somebody has to click a link in their email before they’re added to your list. But then I moved to MailChimp, and then I moved to you guys and it’s an option now. So, what are you seeing about single and double opt-in? Does it really matter?
Nathan: The first thing to be aware of is, you need to follow the laws of the country that you live in. So, the Netherlands, Canada, and there’s a handful of other countries that have fairly strict double opt-in laws. So, if that’s the case, you need to do double opt-in always, and ConvertKit makes that easy. In the US and in most countries, the laws aren’t quite that strict. You just need to have them opt-in at some point: put their email address in. And if they do that, that’s good enough. The trade-off here is, do you want a larger less-engaged list or a smaller, more-engaged list? So, if we think of the number of obstacles that we’ve put in someone’s way to join my email list, the fewer people are going to make it through those obstacles but the higher quality those people will be.
So for example, if I charged everyone five dollars to subscribe to my email list, the people who- I’m going to get a pretty low conversion rate as far as traffic to email subscribers, but the people who sign up are probably going to be pretty engaged and I bet I would have some pretty stellar open rates on that list. And I actually really want someone to try this because then I’d have an example to show.
So, that would be really high, and then on the flip-side of that is, if we’re able to… Say, we’re doing an affiliate promotion, you and I are doing an affiliate promotion, you’re linking to my stuff, we can make it a specially-crafted link, so all someone has to do is click that link. And since you already know their email address, you can pass it through to me. All they have to do is click the link.
You know, Leadpages does this with their LeadLinks product. And so, we can do something like that where the friction is so low they’re not even having to add their email address in anywhere, and that’s going to get the most people coming through. But as a function of that, they’re going to be less engaged and you’re going to get lower open rates, all of that.
So to me, it’s a trade-off. Do you want more people who are less engaged or fewer people who are very highly engaged? Personally, almost all the time I’ve enjoyed double opt-in, but it’s just that trade-off. And then I guess the other thing I would say is, you can always go through and clean out your list. We try to make that easy in ConvertKit, so if someone hasn’t opened or interacted with something for 90 days, we make it pretty easy to drop them off onto a campaign where you can break up with them if they are not continuing to invest in the relationship.
Amanda: I think people have a really hard time with that, thinking of like, “It was so hard to get these email subscribers, now I’m going to delete them?” But really, if they’re not opening your emails, you’re just paying for dead weight in your email list, really, right? So, we shouldn’t be worried about it.
Nathan: Yes. There are some cases where having a large list is helpful and open rate doesn’t matter. I just was having a conversation last week with a good friend of mine who got a traditional publishing deal, and he has a very large list and he happens to have very good engagement on it, but it’s one of those things where he and I were talking about, should he prune out his list?
And I was like, well, if he’s going to make his money from these large publishing advances, no he shouldn’t because the publishing houses are just going to look at, “Okay, how email subscribers do you have? Do you have 10,000? Do you have 50,000? Do you have 100,000?” And they’re not going to know enough to ask, “Yes, but what’s the open rate? And out of that, how many are engaged?” And so, in that case, it’s actually beneficial to have a larger total number because they’re going to factor that into their advance and you can get a bigger advance because of it.
So, that’s pretty much the only case. Like, that and advancing partnerships where the total subscribers matters. In general, I prefer to focus on engaged subscribers, which would just be your open rate times your total subscribers.
Amanda: Could you share with us what you think is a good open rate? What should we be looking at for opens and clicks?
Nathan: Yes. So, clicks vary entirely based on the content. I have lots of emails. I have a zero percent click rate because I don’t have any links. You know, and others will have 1% or 5%, or if it’s just totally focused on getting a click, it would be as high as like a 20% click rate. Seeing anything higher than 20% click rate is really, really rare. The larger your list is in general, the lower your open and click rates are going to be. And so, don’t freak out when your open rates gradually decline over time. It’s just natural. You can fix that by pruning your subscribers. My personal list is 37,000 subscribers, and I see open rates between 28% and 38%, and that’s acceptable.
We have customers who have in the 200,000 subscriber range and their open rates might decline to as low as like 15%, and then they’ll run a pruning campaign, delete like 25,000 subscribers and get those up higher. We like to see anything in the 20th to 30th percent as good. If you’re under a thousand subscribers, I’d like to see those open rates in like the 50% range.
Amanda: Because when your list is smaller, I guess people tend to know you a bit better. They’re probably closer connected to you, right?
Nathan: Yes, and they’ve probably all been subscribed for a shorter amount of time. You know, we’ve all had subscribers, people’s email lists, where early on we’re like, “Oh, this is so good.” And they keep sending really great content but we’ve learned a lot of what that person has to say and we’re a little bit less interested now, and you know, we’re just not opening every single email like we did in those first few months. So, it starts to decline over time, but yes.
Amanda: So, I’d like to talk a little bit about tagging and the automation piece, because that is what I think is super cool about ConvertKit and was really like the big driver for me to come over. And so, here is a situation that I had, and loads of listeners will have, is that we have multiple opt-in freebies, right? So, there’s like several free guides, or a free course or something like that on their site.
So, I used to have five of them for example. And it became a complete nightmare because people would sign up for different ones, and then they’d be subscribed to multiple lists or you’d have to figure out how to assign them to some group in MailChimp, which was not easy, and then make sure that they only got the right kinds of communications, and it was a huge headache. So, I think that’s a lot easier in ConvertKit in terms of tagging people into what they’ve signed up for and putting them in the right sequence. Can you talk to us about what else? Well about, maybe about that, but what else people tend to use the tagging for?
Nathan: So, the first thing… And this is something that people sometimes have trouble with, moving from MailChimp to ConvertKit, but once they figure it out it’s amazing. And basically what that is is, MailChimp is a list-centric provider and ConvertKit is a subscriber-centric provider. So on MailChimp, if you have the same person on two different lists, they’re two different people. On ConvertKit, if you have the same person effectively on multiple lists, they’re just one person with more attributes tracked under them.
And so, you’re talking about five content upgrades or marketing incentives. Those would just be forms in ConvertKit, and there’s one subscriber, they subscribed to one of them, they show up for the first time and, “This is done”, then they subscribe to the next one. Then they just get that form added to their subscriber profile as another attribute so that you can segment on later.
So, I do this on my blog because I talk about both design and marketing. So instead of asking people, “Hey, do you want to get my marketing mails or just my design emails?” All I do is group or segment them based on what they’ve opted into.
So, if you’ve opted into something related to how to get better at Photoshop, I know you’re interested in design. And then if you happen to also have opted into something marketing related, you’re going to be in that segment as well. And so, it’s really smart lists rather than like it being really rigid. The other thing that people track all the time, or that I track all the time, is what you’re interested in as far as products, and then what products you’ve purchased. And so, I created a series of tags in ConvertKit. And like, MailChimp doesn’t even have tags, you normally would have to go to Infusionsoft for this.
But basically, I have tags and I’ll say, just list it out as a product you’re interested in or a product you’d purchased. And so, basically, any time you click through for one of my emails to a product, like my book The App Design Handbook, I’m going to tag you as being interested, automatically tag you as being interested in that product. And then you know, if I’m running a sale on that product or having a special campaign or something like that, I’m going to push sales a little bit harder, maybe an additional email or something like that to people who are interested in it but have not purchased.
And then you know, I have an integration with Gumroad who I do all of my commerce through, and ConvertKit has integrations with tons of providers. But as soon as you purchase a product, you’re being tagged as having purchased that, and then I know… Every time I’m running a pitch, I just filter out people who have already purchased it. So, I make sure I’m not pitching you something that you’ve already bought. And the email sequences in ConvertKit can do that automatically.
So, those are the biggest things: track where people opted-in, track what products they’re interested in and then track what they’ve actually purchased.
Amanda: Cool. So kind of last question on email, but if somebody’s just getting started; they’ve set up their business online, they’ve got their blog and they’re starting to build their email list, and people feel really stuck with, “What do I do to start? How do I know even what to send my subscribers?” So, do you have any advice around that?
Nathan: Yes. So, when you’re right at the beginning and have no subscribers or practically no subscribers, you need to follow something called a 10-person rule. And so, what you do, step one, is to figure out your topic. Hopefully, you know that. Narrow it down, get it to be pretty specific. Mine, so I’ll just use that as an example, was teaching people how to design iPhone applications. And so then what you do is list out ten people that you know personally who want to learn that. So, I was listing out my programmer friends who wanted to learn design, and then maybe my beginner techie friends who were just trying to get into it and learn design as well.
And so, I’d listed out ten of them. And if you can’t get to ten for your topic, maybe you shouldn’t be talking about it because maybe you don’t have enough connections or a network already. But ten people should be pretty easy. So, with those ten people, send them an email and say, “Hey, I’m starting a new site, an email list, where I’m talking about”, you know, fill in the blank. “Is it something you’d be interested in?” And hopefully, your list is pretty targeted and you know these people, so say, eight out of ten should get back to you on that.
And then what you do is, you know, they say, “Yes. I’m interested.” So, great. There’s your first eight email subscribers. They’ve all given you permission to add you to their email list. And so, at least you’re sending to someone now. And then what you do is send out another email… And this is all personal one-on-one emails, so like from Gmail or something like that, not from ConvertKit. It’s going to [INAUDIBLE] another email and ask two questions, and say, “One, what are you struggling with related to this topic? What’s your biggest frustration related to learning how to design iPhone apps?” “And then two, where do you go online right now to learn about this topic?”
So, what these questions do, and you’re basically going to want to take these responses that give to you and put them in a spreadsheet, track them… But question number one, the frustration question is telling you what to write what. Often, in those early days, it can be really hard to know what to write about and what to focus on. And so, if you just write and answer people’s frustrations, something like, “Ugh, I don’t get how to do this” or “I’m struggling with finding these types of recipes” or whatever it is. Just help that one person. And if it’s useful to one, it’ll be useful to many.
And so, that’ll give you your initial content. And the second question of, “Where do you go online right now to learn about this?” People are going to tell you about the Twitter accounts they follow, the websites, the communities. For me in tech, it’s like [INAUDIBLE] and different sub-Reddits and hacker news, and some of those other ones, but in every industry it’s going to be different. And so basically, you’re just getting your friends to do your research for you and tell you about communities you probably didn’t know existed, and that will give you places to get both places to share your content and communities and forums to participate in.
That’s kind of that process. That gets you started. And then if you did that with ten people and it worked, just keep doing it. I know a lot of people who have reached their first hundred subscribers or more almost purely through cold outreach. Just saying, “Hey, thanks for sharing my article. Would you want to join my email list?” and stuff like that. Or if you have a friend or a Facebook friend or something like that who you think might be interested, just ask them if they really would be interested, and if so to join. And that’s how you get started.
Amanda: That’s awesome advice. Thanks so much for sharing all of that. So, we’re kind of at the end of our time together, but since everyone listening is interested in wellness, and I saw on your personal website that you had a big fitness push for 2015, I’m really curious because you’re growing, ConvertKit is growing super-fast. So, I’m sure your level of busyness has just gone through the roof. And so, how have you even managed to keep health and fitness in balance as part of your life, or has that kind of gone out the window? What’s that been like for you?
Nathan: Yes. It’s definitely gotten more challenging, particularly in the last couple of weeks. But my biggest things are, on the fitness side, is I tend to do… There’s a local cross fit gym that I really like. It has really great coaches. And so, I tend to go there twice a week, and then when I miss that I just try to do some really simple push-ups, sit-ups, and that kind of thing. It helps that I’m married to someone who is obsessed with great food, and so she is always cooking and trying out recipes, and we have a garden here and everything. So, you know, that makes the eating side of things pretty easy. But yes, the stress level of growing a company is definitely difficult.
On an emotional health side, at which I think is very, very important, just focusing on gratitude is a big thing. And so, I find myself getting stressed about, “We’re growing at this level, and so these things are hard to keep up with.” Instead of stressing about that, I try to remember to focus on the gratitude side, of saying like, “Wow, we’re growing a company at this level and we’re able to serve now almost 3,000 bloggers, and that’s growing at a rate of 800 to 1,000 a month.” And just be really grateful for that, and that helps me keep my mind in a much better place and avoid being stressed.
Amanda: That’s great. So Nathan, where can people get in touch or learn more about you if they’d like to do that?
Nathan: Yes. So, I occasionally blog at Nathan Barry dot com, and Barry is B-A-R-R-Y. Now, I blog there like once a month. It used to be, you know, my full-time business but now it’s ConvertKit. I do everything at ConvertKit dot com, and most of the content there is written by our team now. And we have Val on our team who is absolutely fantastic, and she runs everything there but occasionally I contribute on the blog. And then you can just find me on Twitter, just add @NathanBarry and you know, I try to get back to everybody.
Amanda: Cool. Thanks so much for being here, Nathan. It’s been great.
Nathan: Yes. Thank you.
Amanda: Thanks so much for listening to this episode of the Wellpreneur podcast. As always, you can get all the links of everything we talked about in the show notes, including my affiliate link if you like to try out ConvertKit. You don’t have to use my affiliate link. You can just go directly to ConvertKit dot com, but if you like this podcast and want to support Wellpreneur, it would be awesome if you’d click through my affiliate link when you do that. And check it out, and then we can chat in the Wellpreneur marketing mastermind Facebook group about what you’re finding. How it working for you? What’s the right email solution for you? Let’s talk about all of that over in the Facebook group.
And if you’re not yet a member, there’s over 600 wellpreneurs in that group, and I’ll link it up also in the show notes. You can jump over and follow us there.
So, I hope you have a fabulous week. And yes, and lots of goodness still to come and I’ll see you back here next week both with the launch of Marketing Bootcamp, and also with the next episode.

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