We’ve discovered how important it is to have an email list as an author…but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to have one! In this episode of the Writing Momentum podcast, Chris and Gena share their BIGGEST email fails on their road to success. Learn from us so your path doesn’t have to be so rocky!
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- Write with us! Join Chris, Gena, and Rene each Wednesday at noon Central and let’s get our writing DONE! https://www.writingmoments.com
Episode 59 Transcription:
[00:00:17].660] - Chris Hello and welcome to the Writing Momentum podcast. My name is Christopher Maselli and I'm here with my wife, Gena Maselli. How are you doing today, Gena? [00:00:24].780] - Gena I'm doing great. I am back in town after being out of town. Took our daughter on a college visit. [00:00:33].340] - Chris Wow, we have a daughter in college? [00:00:34].730] - Gena We almost. It's crazy. But because of that, I am desperately trying to get back in the swing of things. [00:00:42].610] - Chris Do you work on the road? Because we're freelance writers, right? So we're supposed to take our writing everywhere. [00:00:48].240] - Gena Okay. I did take my writing everywhere, and I did work a little bit on the road, but not as much as I really needed to. And I'm sitting there in the airport trying to get something written before I get on the plane and they tell me to put everything away. And so this is just real writing life for real. I'm sitting there and there's so much noise. I thought, oh, I'll go early to the airport, which I did. And I'll sit there and no big deal. I'll write. It is a mad house. And I have learned, yes, I put in my buds, air pods and tuned everybody out and all of that. And yes, but it took me a little while to really get into it. And as I've said, we have said there's nothing like a deadline. And so when that deadline is looming, you just got to write and get it done. So that's what I was working on anyway. Awesome. Glad you're back. That's a long story. More than you guys wanted to know, but that's just where I'm been. So I'm really glad to be back. [00:01:50].940] - Chris Glad you're back. Today, we are talking about emails. [00:01:55].450] - Gena We're still talking about that. We're talking about emails. We've been doing this for a while now, for a few weeks now. And we just wanted to dive into email. This is really such an important medium for authors when you're using your email to connect with your readers, with your potential readers, with the people who are reading your blogs, your book, whatever, your novels, just whatever, that this is just a really important avenue. And today, we are talking about our biggest email fail. [00:02:28].190] - Chris That's right. Some of the biggest things that we have failed in when it comes to emails, because if you're like us, you start to get it. Here's about something like emails, and you go, Okay, I probably need to be doing that as an author. And then you dive into it. You learn about it, and then you dive into it a little bit. And the first thing you do is fail. Make some mistakes as you do it. And it's all part of learning. It's all part of growing. It's all part of becoming better at the discipline. Just like when we write, we write things that are bad and then they become better the more we write, the more we revise. Is, well, with emails, it's the same thing. We needed to make some mistakes, I think, in order to. [00:03:05].440] - Gena Learn from these mistakes. Yes. And let's just dive in, Chris, because when I brought this subject up to Chris, I think sometimes when I am hearing about other people's fails, there's a certain amount of, Oh, okay. There's a certain amount of, Okay, it's going to be okay. That these people that I think that they're doing it all right and I'm doing it all wrong. Sometimes it's nice to hear that they have been on a journey and a process to learning and getting better themselves. So I wanted to be transparent about that, that Chris and I, we've been in this business a really long time, and I have to be honest and say, we have written emails for other people for decades. [00:03:50].380] - Chris Yeah, and very successfully, right? Successfully. We have learned how to write emails for large corporations, for large nonprofits, for ministries, many different people and places. And somehow it's always easier to write for other people than yourself, I think. But one thing that was different about writing for those places is that they all had very large email lists. So you immediately see the gravitas to what you're writing. Okay, this is important. I've got to be sure to lead people on a journey, that thing. And then you sit down to do your own and you think, what am I supposed to write on this week? And that's probably our first fail. Our first fail is that we didn't really see the potential of emails and writing emails to our own list, especially over other avenues, because we would look at things like social media and say, Oh, we got to be on TikTok and we got to on Instagram, and we've got to be doing all these different services and social services because people are writing things there. And email is not as flashy as those things. You don't get the instant gratification that you do from social, but it has so much larger potential even if you don't have 100,000 people on your list. [00:05:03].830] - Chris Even if you just got 100 people on your list, it has a higher potential, doesn't it? [00:05:07].520] - Gena Even if you've only got 50 people on your list. And that's the thing that we really learned. And we'll tell you at the end of this how we learned that, but learning the potential of email and realizing that when people have signed up for our list, when they've signed up for your list, those people are taking... They're willing to take a ride with you. They're willing to hear from you. They want to hear from you. And when we made that jump and that distinction and we turned that point on in our brain to go, Okay, wait a minute. This isn't social media that's going out to yes friends, also a whole bunch of people that have never heard of us before that we're hoping to convince that we're somehow worthy of their attention. These are actually people that have given us their email and have said, said, Yeah, contact me. I want to hear what you have to say. [00:06:02].240] - Chris They raised their hand. They've opted in. They said, I want to hear what you have to say. And it's so important to think about when you're creating an email is that the people you're writing to, they want to hear from you. [00:06:12].770] - Gena And because of that, this is our other fail that we've had is when we first started doing email, we weren't using our own voice. We were using a lot... we were being very professional. We were being very more formal than we are. And if you were on our email list, we have thrown all that out, and now we write it very much tongue in cheek. We try to make it fun. We make it a fast read. [00:06:41].600] - Chris Yeah, we've completely changed the format because we realized that it's important to do things different than what we were doing. We weren't being ourselves. We weren't sharing our voice. We were writing in the way that we thought people wanted to hear from us instead of just saying just be yourself. [00:06:56].580] - Gena It's that authenticity. When you get that authenticity, whatever that is, it makes all the difference. If you're a writer for organizations, like Chris said, we've written for a lot of organizations. One of the first things that you want to do is listen to those organizations and listen for the words that they use, listen for the tone that they use. Are they formal? Are they casual? Are they funny? Are they witty? Are they goofy? Are they a little bit hillbilly hick? What is it that makes them unique? And you want to write to that, but we weren't doing that ourselves. [00:07:34].850] - Chris You listen for their voice. When you're a ghostwriter, you listen for the voice of the person that you're writing for. And like we said, it's always easier to do that for others than it was for ourselves. Maybe we didn't really know what our voice was because we heard it too often or something. But that's what we realized, we have to use our voice. Now, at the same time, that doesn't mean just go all out with that and just disregard anything else. What I mean is, we also learned we couldn't make it too long, couldn't make it too complicated. We couldn't just write whatever we wanted in emails. We had to respect our readers and say, Okay, we're going to make sure that this is simplified, that we get to the point, but still keep the heart there of who we are. [00:08:16].810] - Gena Exactly. And we also we're going to be doing another podcast on this, another episode on this, and we're going to actually talk about some of the tried and true ways that you write for email because there is a style that you use with email that really works. And it can be one of those things that now you may have an audience that defies the norm. You may listen to what we have to say and go, yeah, that's not my audience. But you are the exception if you are not. So definitely tune into that. We're going to have it in a couple of weeks where we're going to really talk about how do you write emails. But yeah, we wanted to keep it a reasonable length for our people, not too complicated. And we made that mistake. When we first started, we had a very complicated newsletter. [00:09:04].150] - Chris It took us forever to write that thing. [00:09:05].560] - Gena Yes. I had all these different elements in it and everything, and it took a lot of time. But it also, I think it was too much for our audience. [00:09:13].380] - Chris And too much for our readers. Now we write an email in such a shorter amount of time, and we're going to share some of our tips as Gena said, on how we do that. But it's simpler now, it's easier. And it's because I think it's just us. [00:09:23].980] - Gena And I think it's also more of a conversation. [00:09:26].710] - Chris It is more of a conversation because we discovered that one of our other fails is that we weren't asking for interaction. We were just talking at people instead of realizing that when you send an email out, you're looking for a response. When you send an email to a friend, what are you hoping that they respond. And yet when we send out an email to an email list, somehow we get this idea that we're just broadcasting to them. That's not what email is. Email is not just a broadcast. It is a means to cultivate relationships, which, as we've said before, is what marketing is today. And so what you want to do is ask for interaction. Now, all the time, if you're on our email list, you know, we say, Hey, what do you think about this? Hit reply and let us know. And when someone does, we hit reply and we write back. We try to keep that interaction going because it's how we build relationships and it's how we really get closer to each other. Yeah. [00:10:23].480] - Gena And I will say, Chris, we try to be very specific in our email about what kinds of response that we want from people. We can add that to our thing to talk about even more. But when Chris says, hit reply and tell us this, that's what we write. And trust me, we could make that a whole lot more interesting in the way we say it, we could spend a whole lot more time making it more elaborate or flowery or just interesting and poetic. But we have learned... [00:10:57].700] - Chris Just plain out ask people, what do you hope to hear from them. Hit reply and let us know. What's the way you stop writer's block, for instance. Hit reply and let us know, what does your writing space look like? That was actually one of the emails that we got the most responses on. We said, hit reply and let us know what your email space looks like, or your writing space looks like, where you write. And a bunch of people sent back pictures of what their desks looked like. It was so much fun. We just absolutely loved that. And so yeah, definitely ask for interaction. Don't make our mistake and not ask for interaction because we did that for a long time. We were just broadcast. Another thing is don't forget that your email, though, is also a way to get the word out about what you do. Now, we are pretty private people when it comes to generally putting stuff out there. We'll write a book and we hardly tell anyone about it because we feel like we don't want to impose on them. I think that's what a lot of us as introverts do. [00:11:53].420] - Chris We're writers, we're introverts, we're like, okay, I did this great thing, but people will find it if they want to find it. No, remember these people, they put their hand up and they said, I want to hear from you. I want to know when you have a new book out. I want to know when you have a new training out. I want to know what you're doing. And so don't be hesitant to get the word out about what you're doing. Promote yourself a little bit. And that doesn't mean you have to be haughty about it or anything, but just let them know what's going on. They want to know. And I wish we'd done that sooner. I wish we'd just let people know what we were doing sooner. [00:12:27].250] - Gena And I also think when you're talking about getting the word out. It's also about being consistent in that. And they are definitely... We all have times that life happens, work happens, different things happen. And it'll be a few weeks before in between your email going out, your newsletter going out. And that is understandable. I pardon you now if that is where you are at. If you are feeling like, I've been writing to my people and now I haven't written to them in a month, two months, whatever, you know what, all you can do is start from where you're at. So just pick it up and start moving forward. But saying that, we have found, and we have certainly been through time, we have not been as consistent where life has just happened. And we have learned that consistency really does... There's something that happens, I think, when we're consistent and that we have found that it really does become more of a conversation. People are expecting to hear from us, and they're looking forward to responding to us. And I feel like that response and that interaction builds a little bit more as that consistency is there. [00:13:37].030] - Gena Would you agree? [00:13:38].350] - Chris Yeah. Writing to your email audience is a lot like writing your blog. And it seems to have the same life life cycle as far as almost everyone wants to do it. And all too often, we start doing it, we're excited about it, we send out a few blogs or a few emails in a row, and then life gets busy, right? And we stop doing it. We stop being consistent. And that really is probably the biggest fail that we can have. And so learning how to be consistent with our email, like we are with this podcast, right? Putting one out every Wednesday, we got to be consistent. No matter rain or shine, it's got to come out. Same thing with email. You've got to be consistent with your email. And so that was a big fail of ours, is not being consistent for a while. And we still struggle with it sometimes, making sure that we get that thing out. But we really try to try to make sure that we are always writing our audience. Again, it's a relationship, right? If you have a relationship with someone and you don't hear from them for months, it doesn't feel like much of a relationship anymore. [00:14:40].860] - Chris You got to be sure that you keep that relationship going. And we found there was one real big thing that helped us with that, and that is our last fail was that we always tried to do this thing alone. Here at the end of each podcast, we say what? Together we have writing momentum. And then we tried to do everything alone when it came to our emails. And we learned you can't do any of these things alone. Writing is not a solo venture. Remember that. It is something that we need to have help with. We have found that when we have accountability in our Writing Moments, go to writingmoments.com if you want to write with us. That helps us get our writing done. We also have accountability and have help in getting our emails done. And you know what? I think we should save a little bit more of that till next week because that is such a good point. [00:15:29].530] - Gena It is. I think it really is. And if you have not signed up for our email yet, please go to writingmomentum.com and sign up. We've got some free downloads, we've got a Move the Needle eBook on helping you plan for your writing projects or plan for promoting your business this year. So definitely go there and check that out. We would love to start a conversation with you as well. So please definitely check us out. Sign up, see if we've got something to say that you would enjoy. [00:16:02].380] - Chris Because we share resources, like what we're sharing here. We've talked about in the last couple of podcasts, we talked about how much we like MailerLite as the mailer service for writing. And you can find that in the show notes. You go to writing.fyi/mailerlite. And it's a great service to help you start your conversations with your readers. That's writing.fyi/mailerlite. But look in the show notes, look at our website, sign up for the email. And next week, I want you to tune in because we're going to talk to you and we're going to share with you our best kept secret when it comes to getting our emails written every week, getting responses, how we've learned the most we could possibly learn for our personal email creation as well as authors, that's coming up next week. It's going to be good. [00:16:47].720] - Gena It really is. So let me just tell you, if you are somebody who says, yeah, I've got people, I've got a newsletter email list, but I haven't talked to them in a while because I struggle to figure out what to say. I struggle to be consistent because it just feels like this overwhelming task. If that is you, definitely tune in next week because I think we've got a solution because we have been where you are. We've got a solution for you that we think you're going to love. [00:17:15].220] - Chris Yes. All right. Don't forget what I said earlier. Together, we have Writing Momentum. See you next week.