Ezine Tips

"Did You Know I Lead a Cult?"

Someone told me recently that, measured by the degree of their loyalty, my ezine readers are almost a "cult!" After thinking it over, I had to agree - to a point. I hardly think any of them will drink poisoned Kool-Aid cocktails for me, but they ARE loyal. And, since they are, they buy.

How many times have we read it? "The money is in the list." And, it's true.

Online marketers who publish ezines can testify: the days they get the most sales are the day they publish, and the following day. So, of course, the money is in the list.

Based on that, it seems logical for would-be marketers to build a list. We read article after article on building huge lists. Numerous ebooks have been written on the subject. Unfortunately, that isn't the whole answer.

You may also have heard that it's better to have a small, responsive list than a list of, say, 50 to 100 thousand unresponsive people. That is the greater truth! Going through hours, days, weeks, months, even years of gathering subscribers who will never read your ezine is an exercise in futility.

Now, How Did I Build This "Cult?"

At first, I didn't know how it happened. I did know I hadn't done anything deliberately to bring it about. So, I started re-reading months of feed-back to see what my subscribers were really saying. In reading between the lines, I was able to see a pattern and figure it out.

Realize that this is not a new list. I started my first ezine in February of 1999, and it never hit 10,000 subscribers. Doesn't sound very successful, does it?

Part of that is because, every couple of years, I "clean" the list. I ask everyone to reconfirm their subscription. That causes everyone who hasn't been reading to get lost.

Yet, I still have some people on that list who have been there since the beginning - and they read the ezine too! Not only that, all I have to do is give a personal recommendation for something, and BANG! If they need it, or want it, and can afford it, they buy it.

How did it happen? Trial and error. Since I'm not big on listening to the "gurus," I do everything by trial and error. Lots of error. And, since I am not a guru, maybe I can just give you some ideas.

If I had it all to do over, I would do these things from the beginning. This all happened over time. My topics below may say what you "should" do. But, I'm going to tell you my own experience. Then, you can decide what might work for you.

Be Careful Where You Get Your Subs

When I started, I did submit my ezine to every ezine directory I could find. That was a good thing and, although I don't do it anymore, I still recommend it. I'm still getting subscribers from those directories for an ezine I changed the name of years ago.

Why don't I do it now? Because it's time consuming, and I don't have that kind of time anymore.

I tried buying subscribers from one of the sites that takes subscriptions for you, and sends you a list. Forget that! Once was enough!

Half the time, those people didn't even remember subscribing. I'm also convinced that some of them didn't subscribe, since I got bogus email addresses, even though these were supposed to be confirmed requests.

The rest weren't all that interested. They probably subscribed to a bazillion ezines from that site and found themselves on overload. Watching the number of unsubscribes from that group told me they simply weren't that interested in what I had to offer. Certainly not worth what I paid to get them.

At some point, I began writing articles and sending them to other publishers. I asked them to use a resource box with a subscribe link to my ezine. That worked big time.

However, my articles weren't the "norm." No bread and butter there! I took a stand! I had opinions! Even if it was a "How To …" article, I took the time to add commentary. I let people know how I felt about things.

My articles had a quality that allowed the reader to get a feel for my over-all point of view. The articles clearly showed my writing personality. Those who subscribed to my ezine because they liked an article already knew there was something about me they liked.

Those who hated my opinionated style didn't subscribe. So, I didn't have to deal with them canceling later. Which brings us to ...

Don't Be Intimidated

In the beginning, I was terrified of my subscribers. Losing one was a fate worse than death. Not to mention it hurt my feelings. Yes - it truly did! And, having one chew me out would nearly put me in the corner, in the fetal position.

Upon reflection, I believe this was because I worked so hard to get them in the first place. Losing one almost seemed like failure. And, why I was so invested in having every one of them love me is beyond my comprehension now.

I decided I needed to toughen up. I did. Now, I can let them depart without feeling sick. Some people just annoy me; I'm sure I must annoy just as many of them. I've even been known to suggest that anyone who doesn't like the way I do things, should unsubscribe. Gets rid of the dead wood.

You Gotta Have a Gimmick

Understand this was before I started sending articles to publishers. I realized I needed to establish a style. I didn't want to "make one up." But, years in the entertainment business had taught me: "You gotta have a gimmick" if you want to get attention.

Gimmicks shouldn't be phony. I'd never have been able to keep up a phony style, or personality, all these years. Nor, do I want to.

A gimmick is simply something a little different - different from what everyone else is doing. In my past life in the entertainment business, I saw incredibly talented people who never made it because they didn't have that elusive quality that made them stand out from the crowd.

I also saw many people with limited talent go all the way to the top. They knew how to be commercial. They had something besides talent that sold.

It comes down to this. It isn't subscribers you want. It's fans.

Different people like different things. What works for one may not work for another. We really can't please all of the people all of the time. If we think we should, we need to get over it; and as I said earlier, toughen up.

Developing a Style

Since I didn't want to develop a phony style, I had to figure out what I already had that I could use. We are all multi-faceted people. We have many different sides to our personalities. My style needed to be some very real part of my own personality. I knew if it wasn't, it would break down over time.

I started watching my thoughts and feelings as I worked online. I found that I was fairly critical, and frustrated a lot. After many years in the world of business (another former life) I wasn't used to this free-for-all world of scams, no rules, and little competence.

I decided to go with that. It meant that I would have to write commentary. I had the knowledge and experience to do that, or I wouldn't have even tried it. I would have to give my opinions, and they wouldn't always be appreciated.

Of course, we never get 100% agreement with our opinions. But, I was to carry it a step further. I allowed myself to border on the outrageous - to say things that were surprising in that few people would ever come right out and say it, let alone publish it - even if they believed it.

In other words, I almost made a caricature of this part of my personality. I made it extreme. I exaggerated it to being "bigger" than I normally use. I've been controversial. I've offended any number of people with my direct, no nonsense views.

If they're subscribers - they leave. And now, I realize, that's okay. If they don't like you, they're not going to buy from you - ever! Unfortunately, I've never really learned the trick of keeping some of them around long enough to get the hang of me. But, if they stay that long - they're mine.

It's risky, but controversy ain't all bad. In the words of Oscar Wilde, "There is only one thing worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about."

Nevertheless, I don't necessarily recommend that approach unless you have the stomach for it. It was unavoidable with the style I chose. But, it isn't absolutely necessary.

I've seen other publishers build extremely loyal lists who have used completely different styles. We have: the moms - the comedians - the gurus - the good ol' boys (can be of either gender) - the philanthropists - the geeks - even the blithering idiots who admit they don't have a clue!

They all work. But, trust me when I tell you - none of these people are only that part of their personality all the time. These publishers are simply using one aspect of their personalities, and raising it to an art form. And, they may not even know it.

Just Talk to the People

I'm sure you've heard the advice, "Write like you talk." That's good advice. I do it. I even use a bit of slang, now and then. Not so much as to seem ignorant, but enough to allow personality through. When I write, "ain't," my readers know I'm using it for effect - to entertain.

And, since I know it's no secret, I've been known to swear, now and then. I try to keep it down, but I don't strangle myself using "darn," when I damn well mean "DAMN!" I don't necessarily recommend this unless it fits your style and personality. And, I would never do it for sensationalism.

Here's the trick I use. I write as if I'm talking directly to people I know personally. I actually imagine they are the only people who will see what I write. Even if I'm ranting and raving about something, it's always in the back of my mind to entertain them. (I rant and rave a lot.)

When we write for friends, we don't get stilted or tongue-tied. We let it all hang out and say what we mean, the way we mean it. We don't hold back. Writing for an ezine this way gives it a "tone" picked up by everyone who reads it. It "sounds" as if you are "speaking" directly to a group of good friends.

I'm sure you've also heard it's good to personalize your ezine, using the subscriber's name. That's advice I do not follow. That may seem strange, based on what I've just written.

Instead, I write to my subscribers as if they're a group I'm standing in front of, speaking at a seminar. I believe it makes them feel more they're a part of a very special group - which they are.

That's something all publishers have to decide for themselves. I took a vote, and my readers tell me they like the feeling of the group. The readers of publishers who do personalize have told them they like it that way. It seems to depend on the personality of the publisher.

But, then, my loyal readers don't like anything they know is phony. And, since everyone knows "personalization" happens via software, well ...

Ask Their Opinions

Now, here's where I may have fallen down on the job for a long time.

I received a nominal amount of feed-back from my readers. Nothing that would blow anyone's socks off, but enough that I could tell someone was actually reading that erag. I always made a point of answering each one with a personal email.

Then, one day, as I was starting to write one opinion or another, I found myself wondering what my readers thought. I decided to ask them.

I explained the situation in the ezine, asked their opinions, and gave them a way to answer easily with a mailto: link. I did not tell them my opinion. I didn't want to skew the results by having people think they needed to either agree, or disagree, with me.

Wow! I couldn't believe the response! Here were people, some of whom had known me for years, and I was just getting to "meet" them! The interesting part is, they wrote to me as if they really did know me! The next week, I compiled everything, and wrote an article based on their responses.

A couple of weeks later, I tried it again. This time, I asked them to vote on something. I gave them three, different mailto: links - one for each possible answer.

Again - a deluge of email. It was almost as if they had just been waiting for the chance to "talk" to me one-on-one. What an eye-opener!

The truth is, I had probably been intimidating them to some degree. But, as soon as they saw I respected their opinions, the world changed!

Respect Your Audience

I do respect the intelligence of my subscribers, and I let them know it often. I let them know by saying so! Since I receive so much email now, I base that on what I read from them. I'm not just flattering my readers. They'd see through that in a Hot New York Minute!

Although, I sometimes think it might "look" better if more of them used the blog comments, they obviously prefer our more personal email. And, I have to admit, I enjoy their email - even though there's so much of it! It provides nice little breaks in my day.

I also show respect for them by what I put in front of them. I keep the ezine easy to read - lots of white space and no silly and distracting ASCII designs. I give them original material. They can read the same articles in multiple ezines, but it won't be in my newsletter.

For many years, I also used a copy editor, better known as "The Nitpicker." We all make mistakes and I make plenty of them. I'll see someone else's mistakes every time, but I'm completely blind to my own. I know what I meant! So, I had The Nitpicker go over every issue of the ezine before publication.

Lately, I'm ashamed to admit, I've been in such a hurry, I haven't taken the time for the proof-reading, like I should. I just holler for the Nitpicker if I have a question on something.

But, my advice? Use a proof-reader!

Let Them In

After doing it for so long, it did get to be a strain keeping up the "style" all the time. Sometimes, stuff happens, and we just don't feel like doing it. I learned that this was okay too - after it was well-established.

At some point, after my readers and I had become closer via the surveys, I had one of "those" weeks. Even though I believe that our professional lives should stay professional, and our personal lives kept to ourselves, I shared with them a rather traumatic week.

I didn't whine about it, or make them read through a lot of detail. I just told them what happened. BOOM! An outpouring of concern! Some of the things they wrote brought tears to my eyes. Now, I realized that these people were friends! And, I wouldn't trade them for ANY list of 100,000 subscribers in the world!

The Bottom Line

It took me a couple of years to build a list like this. But, if I had it all to do over, I'll bet I could build this kind of loyalty in six months. Most of the things I've written about here I discovered accidentally, and over time. If I had it to do over, I'd do it all right from the beginning.

Even with all my talk of "gimmicks," and writing in a certain way to seem like I'm writing to a friend, even though I may not know the subscriber at all, the biggest factor in building my list of ultra-loyal readers has been honesty.

I've always been straight with them. If I make a mistake, or find out something I wrote was incorrect - I tell them right away. I know they've come to depend on getting the truth from of me. I'll even tell the truths that others are reluctant to publish!

They know I won't shine them on about a product or service - not even to get a sale. Yet, when I give a personal recommendation for a product or service, if they can use it, they'll buy it as soon as they can.

Now, if you are one of my subs, and you're reading this, you may wonder if I just see you as a meal ticket. At one time, that would have been true. We gotta be honest about this; that's why we build lists.

However, over the years, I've come to know so many of my subs! I now see them as trusted friends and, even, an extended family. And, having that perspective, most new subs quickly become part of my "cult!"

So, building a list of loyal subscribers is building a list with money in it. But, it all comes down to developing good, solid relationships based on honesty, trust and respect. Nothing cult-like about that!

Rant of the Week

"The Riots over Google Adwords"

Let me say, first, I'm mad as hell at Google. But, it's for joining with Verizon to try to control Net Neutrality. Not because of something I made up when a couple of idiots freaked out over something they didn't understand.

Here's the Story ...

Someone told a major internet marketer that Google was banning Adwords accounts for using “bridge pages.” A bridge page is clearly a page between the Google Ad, itself, and the actual sales copy. They even said so.

Advertisers are using bridge pages for all kinds of things. Some are “squeeze pages” to collect email addresses. Some go to the affiliates' sites before hitting the actual product sales page. And, there are, no doubt, other things they're used for.

You know. Bridge pages. What's so bloody hard about that?

Mind you, two people - one of whom wishes to remain anonymous (no doubt) told this marketer about the situation. And, before you know it, there's a HUGE uproar that Google is banning advertisers for sending folks to a separate domain for payment processing.

All of a sudden, they're calling PayPal, Clickbank, even your own shopping cart on a different domain, “bridge pages” and saying you'll be banned for using them.

My God. Never mind that you go to the checkout page after the sales page for the product advertised. It's:

Google Ad
Sales Page

If they were even close, the bridge page there would be the sales page - not the checkout page!

Google may be a lot of things, but stupid isn't one of them! What they want to get rid of is the page between the Google Ad and the sales page, i.e.:

Google Ad
Extra Page (squeeze page - affiliate's site, etc.)
Sales Page

The extra page is the bridge page. It has not one thing to do with payment processing!

Even using the screenshot of the email received by one Google Adwords advertiser from Google does NOT show the payment page as the bridge page! The email even states which page they consider the bridge page! Yet this is the email used for "proof" that the payment page is a bridge page!

All kinds of conspiracy theories popped up like internet weeds! Not the least of which was: Google was trying to force everyone to use Google Checkout! Does no one have any reading comprehension?

[HUGE SIGH] Good grief! This stupid crap just makes me tired. Now, pay attention ...

At some point this multi-millionare internet marketer said he'll teach “work-arounds” at his upcoming seminar. Oh - REALLY? Nothing like starting a war, then selling the solution!

Later, he dropped that statement. But, not until several people started calling him on the legitimacy of the entire “problem.”

You know, if I made 10 million dollars a year, I wouldn't give a rat's ass what Google Adwords did. I'd be advertising on television!

[No, I'm not going to name him. I doubt I have to. The screaming nearly deafened me, so I'm sure you've heard about it. And, have probably gone to his site to read about it. Nice way to get traffic!]

What bowls me over is the number of folks - some of whom I've always thought to be quite intelligent - who simply accepted this horse-puky without even questioning it - much less using their heads!

Now, mind you, this question of payment pages counting as bridge pages could have been asked in the Google forums. You know - the forums where the Google reps answer.

The claim is, the question HAS been asked, and Google has refused to answer. In this case, I don't blame Google. I wouldn't answer them either. Let 'em ask their stupid questions in the correct location in the first place - not use it to generate traffic and riots against Google!

In fact, put the multi-millionaire's name in Google and the riot site comes up second. Google must be laughing their butts off at these people making fools of themselves!

I suppose I shouldn't be surprised. This is the story of our lives in this day and age. People opening their big mouths and making all kinds of accusations, starting unnecessary - and nasty - controversy and setting up ugly conspiracy theories before they even have the facts!

It's all over the media! This is exactly what our insane media does every single day, now. Why? Well, to generate publicity, of course!

Monkey, see - monkey, do.

Tips & Resources

"Business Credit Cards"

Have you received an offer, yet, for a small-business or corporate credit card? You very well may.

Again - be aware ...

These "professional cards" are NOT covered under the Credit Card Accountability and Responsibility and Disclosure Act of 2009! Everything gained by the consumer in the Card Act is taken away with these business cards.

Although generally reserved for small business owners or corporate executives, they are now being offered to ordinary consumers. This will get the card issuers around some of the provisions of the Card Act. By accepting them, you'll be right back where you started with their unfair practices.

Be especially careful of Chase, Citibank and Capital One. Full story in The Wall Street Journal here:

Wall Street Journal

Do You Use Gmail?

I got the following information from Adrian Jock's “Worst Newsletter in the World,” at:

Worst Newsletter in the World

Adrian pays more attention to Google than I do, and he picked it up directly from them.

It seems Google has decided their “spam” folder isn't enough. Now, they're adding a “Priority Inbox.”

You'll have to help them, or Google will decide what you need to see - even in email that is NOT canned meat!

You'd better get all the details, or you're going to lose some email. And, it might be important!



Have you been introduced to Ken McArthur's new social and business network - Tobri?

I've had two accounts in the beta release:


I haven't been very active because, like everything, it takes time. But it's very neat! So much stuff I haven't even perused it all, yet.

It doesn't look like my profile pages have been updated properly, but the system IS still in Beta.

I did set up a group over the weekend. It's called, "Online Business Council" - for which I have the domain name. Just haven't done anything with it.

Check it out! If you decide to try it out, be sure to join the Online Business Council group - along with whatever else interests you.


Rant of the Week

"Facts to Know & What to DO!"

This both is - and is not - a political statement. It is NOT aimed at any one party or political philosophy. I'm just sick to death of what's going on in Washington, DC.

I apologize to my readers outside the USA, but I just feel this is necessary. And, I'm going to ask readers IN the USA to send this part of the newsletter to everyone you know.

These aren't conspiracy theories. These are ...


FACT:  The U.S. House & Senate have voted themselves raises at $4,700 in the House and $5,300 in the Senate. They vote their own raises a couple years in advance so they don't have to face it every year.

FACT:  Your Medicare premiums will go up $285.60 for the two years, and you will not get the 3% Cost of Living Allowance (COLA): $660/yr. Your total two year loss and cost is - $1,600 each or $3,200 for husband and wife.

FACT:  Over two years The House & Senate each get $10,000 raises.

FACT:  Will your cost of drugs - doctor fees - local taxes - food, etc., increase? You better believe they will!

FACT:  Will theirs? No way! They have a raise and better benefits.

FACT:  Have they created the promised jobs? NO!

FACT:  Have they brought our "used-to-be" jobs back from overseas? NO!

FACT:  Have they taken a single step to start the promised repairs of the infrastructure of this country? NO!

FACT:  Have they handed billions of dollars to the very companies that created this economic mess? YES!

FACT: The Deficit Commission wants to CUT Social Security to balance the budget - while they enjoy their private retirement programs. This after people have paid into it all their lives!

FACT:  Now, they are about to continue the tax cuts for the upper income brackets. Those taxes would PAY our deficit!

FACT:  When they leave office, they'll receive their perks for LIFE. That includes their salary, insurance and retirement! The only thing they won't get are their pay-offs from big business! That's a hell of a Golden Parachute!

Do You Feel Screwed?

Why care about you? You never did anything about it in the past. You're obviously too stupid or don't care. No offense; that's their attitude!

Do you really think there's a single person in Congress who cares about you?

FIRE the Bastards!

In 2010, you have a chance to get rid of the sitting Congress. That is: 1/3 of the Senate and 100% of the House.

Although he needs to go, too, don't blame it on the President! There is only one of him - and 535 members of Congress! We can throw out 468 of them, NOW!

Then, since he can't seem to keep his word about anything - not even about getting his girls a rescue dog - the President can go in 2012!

Put your attention where it needs to go NOW. Send the message to Congress ... "You're FIRED!"

Then, be sure you're still mad enough in November to tell their replacements not to screw up!

Article Copyrights

Creative Commons License
These works are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-No Derivative Works 3.0 License
To re-publish articles by jl scott from this site, please include the following byline - with live links - after each article you use.

-----> Begin

* dr. jl scott is the Founder of Chamber of Commerce - on the Web™ http://www.ChamberofCommerce-ontheWeb.com - and also the publisher of the Online Business Trade Journal™ - the blog that keeps you up to date with online business coming of age. Visit: http://www.OnlineBusinessTradeJournal.com

-----> End

Syndicate content

C of C Solutions Web Hosting
"Web Hosting for Online Business Sites"