Raise your hand if you’ve ever had this thought:
“I know I should email my list, but OMG, it’s going to take sooooo loooong.”
(Now that everybody’s hand is up, perhaps we should all do the hokey pokey. Or ride a bull!)
Emailing your list doesn’t have to take forever. It can be quick. Today, I’ve got some ideas for you.
1. A really good or unusual quote.
Go to a quotes website (I like brainyquotes.com) and plug in something tangentially related to what you do and scroll around for a while. Find something you haven’t seen 4000 times already.
A good way to find quotes that haven’t already entered cliche status is to head on over to the trusty thesaurus.com and put in the first word you would think to use. “Courage”, let’s say, or “happiness”. Find synonyms of your word, and search for quotes using them. You’ll get stuff that’s a little off the beaten path.
Use a subject line like “A little quote I love” and you don’t even need an introduction. Just dump the quote in the email, attribute it, maybe throw in a date if you’re feeling ambitious. Click send.
(Incidentally, this one from Po Bronson actually came in our top 10 favorite posts of 2008.)
Now, what about longer quotes? Once a quote gets long, it becomes…
2. An excerpt!
Some of the best feedback we get is from carefully curated excerpts of other writers’ longer works. (We’ve done a few that were particularly popular – see an example of a Life Changing Magic of Tidying-Up excerpt here and a The Obstacle is the Way excerpt here.)
Short excerpts with attribution fall under Fair Use copyright, so as long as you’re not uploading whole tomes or calling them your own, you’re generally okay. Nobody’s going to call you a thief.
3. An excerpt of your own.
Also qualifying as the easiest email blasts to ever send are excerpts of things you’ve already written. This is particularly popular with writers who have both an active blog and an email list. What do you send where?
Find a good chunk – let’s say a couple paragraphs – of something that’s up on your blog and send it to your list. Provide a link to the full piece. Bam. Email written. That’s what I did with this post. I cut the first four paragraphs of this piece (the tiny ones at the top) and plonked them into an email with a link sending them here. Hey, look! We’re done.
(You can also do this with excerpts of your books, if you have them. This has been known to sell a lot of books. Keep it to a page or less, and cut or move or modify stuff if it seems prudent. It’s your book, you can cut whole paragraphs if you want to.)
4. Blast from the past.
Kind of like an excerpt, but longer, we have a blast from the past.
Just yank something from the archives.
Seriously. Take an old post. Put it in an email. Send the email. Aaaaaaand, we’re done!
(If you can go way back, this gives you implied social proof. See what I did with the Po Bronson thing? A top 10 from 2008? Cool, right?)
While you’re stumbling around in your archives, you could make a whole LIST of pieces. Then you could put them in an email. Then you could send than email to your mailing list.
What to make a list of? Pretty much anything. Your favorites. Other people’s favorites. Most popular posts throughout the months. Most popular posts throughout the years. Your favorite posts that nobody ever reads. The post that gets your highest search traffic. The posts that have the stupidest pictures. Honestly, anything will work here.
Stick them in a list of links. If you have some time, cut a few lines from each as a little teaser. If you have no time, a plain old list is fine.
This is AMAZING for traffic. Seriously.
6. Found on the web.
Basically? Things you found on the internet.
These can be on topic, but they don’t have to be. If you don’t know what to send, or you don’t have anything cool you’ve found, sign up for Pocket. They’ll send cool stuff to you, and then you can send it to your list.
If your list is social media positive, then they’ll tend to love posts like this. It gives them fodder for sharing so they can look interesting and in-the-know. Your readers will get cred in their social circle, and privately remember that you are the source of the goodness.
(Bonus? If you’re concerned you talk about the same thing all the time, this will be a breath of fresh air for your list.)
7. Ask a question.
Last (and certainly) not least, you always have the option of asking a question via your email. You can ask a direct question (“Hey, can I get your opinion?”) or a more rhetorical question that your readers will ask themselves (“What one thing could you do today to increase your Facebook engagement?”)
A few things to take note of:
One! – If you ask a question, people will answer it. If you have a large or responsive list, a lot of people will answer it. You’re going to have to respond to their answers, so no sending before you go on a weekend, or a bender, or a weekend bender. People expect a reply. (I did this a few years ago and got over 700 replies in less than 24 hours. I answered more than 400 until I basically died. If I didn’t get back to you, mea culpa.)
Two! – The “question” email is often a staple of a launch sequence, so be prepared for people thinking you are about to hit them up for money. You can allay this concern by giving a little bit of context. Tell them this topic came up last night at dinner, or you’ll make a post later with the most interesting answers, or anything else that communicates THIS IS NOT A PRE-SALE BLITZ.
That’s it. Easy peasy.
You can do any of these emails in less than 10 minutes.
If you’re the printerly type, print this post out and keep it handy for those moments when you’re strapped for time, grappling with writers’ block, or recovering from that weekend bender.
And share this post while you’re at it. Consider it your first “Found on the web”. :)