What I Learned By Blogging for 30 Days
I love to write, but I’m not very disciplined about it. An almost cliched problem, at this point.
Then I saw Isaac Morehouse, founder of Praxis and CEO of Crash, talk about how blogging everyday helped me overcome his inner critic.
I found this at time that I was trying to figure out my career and had settled on learning digital marketing.
I decided to accomplish both by blogging for 30 days everyday about email marketing.
I signed up for 12 email newsletters and everyday I would talk about what did and didn’t work about the emails I received.
I learned a lot.
I took away 3 main ideas about email marketing: the first 30 days your subscribers sign up are the most critical, you can’t reap the huge ROI of email without a strategy and as a marketer you need to be generous.
There are 3 more personal takeaways I gained from this challenge: “writer’s block” stems from misunderstanding creativity and worshipping perfection and how productivity and self-compassion go together.
You Have 30 Days To Make An Impression
I signed up for about 12 different email newsletters.
I only remember about 60% of them.
A few of them emailed me one welcome email and I haven’t heard from them since.
It’s bad to annoy your subscribers. They will unsubscribe.
But being forgotten is bad too. Subscribers won’t buy from a business who won’t talk to them.
In 30 days, I felt only a handful of companies were moving me through a conversion funnel.
Which is a real shame because your subscribers are the most excited when they first sign up. This is the perfect moment to create a great marketing campaign.
Your subscriber chose to follow you because they were interested in what you had to say.
This is your chance to leave an impact in the mind of your subscriber.
If you don’t, not only will they not buy from you they’ll forget they signed up and when you do email them, they’ll have forgotten the benefit you promised them and unsubscribe.
See? Just as bad as over sending them content that’s not valuable.
The point is that you have your subscriber’s attention, but it’s extremely fragile and it’s on you to convince them to keep listening.
I wish I had data that studied how long it typically takes a customer to convert, but I think it’s best to treat the first 30 days as critical.
It’s not impossible to sell a subscriber for the first time past 30 days, but it’s probably considerably harder.
(I’m speaking strictly of B2C products and services. This wouldn’t apply to B2B products because those purchase decisions require more people to approve. This could also be true of expensive B2C products and services, but I’m simply generalizing.)
Email Only Pays Off If You Have A Plan
I came away with the impression that most of these organizations didn’t have an email strategy.
Having an email campaign at all feels obligatory. They just think they should have it, but haven’t thought about how it’s helpful to them.
This is a huge mistake.
Now, I don’t mean you have to use email to promote your products. Email has the capability to achieve many ends.
Nonprofits could use it to keep people up to date about their projects and how they can get involved (volunteering or donating).
Businesses could you use it to promote their blogs or their events.
Again, you have people’s attention: use it in whatever way that would most help your organization.
Marketers Must Give, Give, Give and Then Ask
Some organizations weren’t forgettable and seemed to have a plan. But I still didn’t like them and it was because they weren’t generous.
They were constantly trying to sell me.
Here’s the thing: people like to buy, but they don’t like to be sold.
I need to feel like you want what’s best for me. Not that you just want my money.
I’m perfectly willing to buying if you can convince me I can trust you and that this product or service will improve my life.
This involves showing generosity.
Entertain, speak to their problems, provide social proof, provide enough information for them to make an informed decision, etc.
Then, ask them if they’re willing to buy.
And, if they don’t, then either you weren’t generous enough to overcome their mental barriers (so try again) or they weren’t a qualified lead (don’t have the same pain points, can’t afford it).
We like to be friends with people who are generous.
It’s no different with who we do business with.
One a more personal level, there are 3 ideas about myself I left this challenge with.
“Writer’s Block” Is About Misunderstanding Creativity
I am not a fountain of creativity.
“Inspiration” strikes me at random moments, but it might be weeks before I experience it again.
In this challenge, I couldn’t wait for inspiration.
Every day, I had to say something.
There is a misconception that creativity is something mysterious and we’re not sure where it comes from.
But I’ve heard a counterpoint that is much more useful.
Creativity is all about reacting to something.
You can react to anything: another piece of art (painting, movie, blog post, etc), your life experience or someone else’s, something you saw or heard earlier that day or even your own thoughts and feelings.
All living things respond to stimuli. Creativity is a part of life. Creativity is simply responding intentionally.
If you are alive, you have the capability of being creative.
Respond to the world intentionally and you’re being creative.
“Writer’s Block” Is Caused By Perfectionism
Seriously. No one is impressed by perfectionism.
I used to think perfectionism was admirable. Oh, what a fool I was.
There is a world of difference between perfectionism and healthy striving.
Health striving: I want to improve on how I’ve done before. I want to try my best. I’m driven by my curiosity.
Perfectionism: If I don’t get this right, what will people think? I want to avoid failure. I’m driven by shame.
The fear of “shame, judgment and criticism” is what fuels writer’s block.
If I don’t write, I can avoid judgment and criticism.
Damn. I relate to that.
Trying to create something especially something like writing constantly forces me to ask “Who do you think you are to write? Why does anything you have to say matter?”
You’re putting yourself out there and that’s scary.
As Brown would say, you’re going into the arena with the absolute certainty you will get knocked down.
It is not a matter of if, but when.
I held onto to perfectionism hoping I would never have to fall on my ass.
It’s not possible.
To get through this challenge, I had to let go of perfectionism in order to get it done.
When I simply went with my curiosity and just strived to get better each time, I was able to publish.
Want To Be More Productive? Show Self-Compassion
I only missed 2 deadlines for the 30 days.
I made up for them by publishing twice in 1 day, but still.
28 out of 30 is great.
The 2 days I missed was for something more important. Visiting a friend and dealing with an emergency.
These were legitimate reasons that I don’t feel regret for.
The more self-compassion I held onto, the easier it was to complete this challenge.
I have never been able to shame myself into finish something.
It makes sense when you think about it.
If you were teaching someone, would you tell them their work is shit and their work is pointless? Is that a constructive way to motivate someone?
Maybe for some people, but I know I don’t.
If I stay flexible, but still stay determined in my goal, I’m better off.
If you’re anything like me, if you want to accomplish anything…you need to be gentle with yourself.
This was an interesting experience. I pushed myself to create something every day which I had never done before. Whether or not I felt like it didn’t matter. Some of the posts I cringe to look at. Sometimes I’m surprised by my insights. As with anything creative, it’s a mixed bag. But I’m ultimately glad I did it. Not only did I get a great chance to track what a first time subscriber experiences the first 30 days being subscribed (which gave me so much insight into what makes a great email marketing strategy), I also learned what I’m capable of.
Honestly, this is something I would encourage everyone to do. No word limit, no limit on topic (unless you want to). Come on…what do you have to lose?