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The Email List: Struggles and Reasons

I’ve been struggling with this idea of an email list for several reasons. It’s a lot of extra work. It’s an extra expense. I don’t really like the email lists I’ve joined, and I was hoping that people would migrate over to my Patreon where we can make beautiful words and penguins together. (You can still migrate to Patreon and get cool things for as little as a dollar a month.)

Extra Work

I already write at least one post a day for my blog; I surpassed 200 days of posting in a row on July 12, 2019. I plan on keeping that streak alive, but it isn’t easy to come up with something new every day. I try to write 3 posts a day for my SEO job when they have work available. I need to write posts for my Patreon – one or two a month. I edit books as a side job.

Adding one more thing to my list of things to do, which includes marketing, continued learning, reading, refilling the creative well, dishes, laundry and other housework, taxes, teaching English, searching for freelance jobs to supplement my income, keeping my social media accounts active and relevant, and spending time with my wife and family, is a little overwhelming, especially when I really have no idea what I’m doing. How can I keep an email list current and active while still finding time to write my next book?

Extra Expense

MailChimp offers free limited use email lists. If I get more than 2,000 subscribers or I want to do something cool like set up a series of future emails, I’m going to have to pay up for that. This extra expense may end up being worth it, but right now, it’s hard to justify. Automation would be great for an introduction to Penguinate.com and its creativity, books and penguins. For now, I have to live with what there is – the opportunity to follow up with an immediate discount email, a day later intro email, and an email on the first of the month that rounds up everything I posted on my blog. Then, I’ll hope people don’t forget who I was when the next email I send is more than a month away.

Other Email Lists

Russell Nohelty and some other people do these great list building contests. For a small fee, authors join the list builder. The money is pooled to come up with a prize package that people will really want based on a fandom, like Doctor Who, Firefly, or Marvel. I’ve signed up for a couple of these and ended up on email lists that were not what I was expecting. (Who knew Buffy the Vampire Slayer was related to the reverse harem genre of books?) Aside from that, I received 20 to 40 different emails or more during a two-day period after the sign up and those emails keep coming until I unsubscribe. They aren’t just from the authors, they’re from Amazon, Kickstarter, GoodReads, and other websites the authors had people sign up at to get more entries. (I did not win the Buffy swag, by the way.)

All the emails end up being the same. Hi, I’m author, here’s what I’ve been working on, here’s a free (short story, book), here’s a contest you haven’t entered, here are some other free books… I don’t want to inundate your email inbox with emails you aren’t going to read, and I haven’t figured out how to make an email that is any different. Why would I want to make an email list where people will get the same thing (minus the freebies) that other authors are already sending out? Do you really want pictures of my cat? (If so, I’ll send them, but she doesn’t like being photographed.)

On Patreon

I was really hoping to build my Patreon into a juggernaut. If I could get 600 people signed up at a dollar each, my financial situation would be much more stable. It wouldn’t give me the opportunity to quite everything, but it would reduce the amount of freelance and SEO work I had to do. Unfortunately, I still haven’t got a handle on how best to get fans to sign up for the Patreon. I’ve offered discounts at any level. I’ve created offers, like join at $30 for three months and get a penguin. I’ve posted about it on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I haven’t figured out how to grow any of my social networks beyond a certain number and Patreon is the same right now.

Why Am I Doing It?

I am starting an email list because it’s the best way to keep you in the loop about what Jenya and I are doing creatively. YouTube changed its criteria for creators to monetize videos. Facebook changed its algorithm, so that creators had to pay to get their fans to see what’s being posted on the fan page; it has also randomly marked my penguin8.com as spam without giving me a reason or checking the posts that I sent notices about. Weebly eliminated access to its website for anyone geographically listed in Russia and other countries. These changes have made it more difficult for creators to make a living off of random and organic growth. They have also shown that these companies control my eCommerce to a degree that is not only uncomfortable and unprofitable but also dangerously close to being able to remove my presence from my largest outlets with a small change in their algorithms. I can’t count on social media and search engines to drive organic views to my websites.

In addition to this, my SEO job ebbs and flows. There have been days when there just aren’t any articles to write. I need to find a better way to make money, and every other book and website I’ve read about being a creator in the Internet age says an email is the only way to go. When a website like examiner.com or MySpace shuts down or becomes less visited, the email list is still there to sustain the creator. In theory, I’m in control of the email list, and thus in control of my destiny. And isn’t that all anyone really wants? To control his or her direction?

So, please sign up for our email list. Like share, comment on our social media posts and sign up for our Patreon. I look forward to you becoming honorary Penguinators.

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