I would like to welcome you to our third installment of our email hot seat series. Over the past couple of weeks, Ashley from Team SOS has been collecting questions and asking them to me on the spot on the show. And it has resulted in some amazing conversation. On today’s episode, we wrap up the series. We’ll answer your questions about whether or not you need a blog before starting your email list, hear a little bit about how I learned about email, and also hear our number one suggestion for where to begin if you are just starting out in the email world.
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Where did you learn about email?
Erin: Initially, I scrambled all over the internet to learn about email. I probably sat down at least two times ready to go, all-in, and get everything set up. And two times I had to shut my computer and walk away because it was so hard to find information. In the beginning, I very much pieced things together with YouTube a lot. It’s a great resource for tutorials, especially with email stuff.
A lot of it’s having to watch somebody do it on their screen in order to understand how to do it on your end. So for that reason alone, YouTube was a great resource for me. Once I chose my email service provider, ConvertKit, I found Facebook groups that were specific to ConvertKit users. So that’s something else. And I know, Ashley, you already mentioned the Flodesk Facebook community.
That’s a really good trick and tip for beginners is to join those Facebook groups because it lets you cut in line almost when it comes to getting customer service. Because when you ask questions, someone from the company might be there to answer, but chances are the other members of the group can assist you as well.
I literally just pieced it all together little by little and made so many mistakes along the way. And then when I finally felt like I kind of knew what I was doing, I couldn’t quite break through to the other side. There were just certain things like sequences and automations and everything like that. That’s when I started to seek out more paid professional development.
I hired an email VA at one point. And I took small courses along the way. I finally ended up taking Amy Porterfield’s course for email marketing. That’s really what kind of solidified my understanding. By that point I had been trying to do it for so long on my own that just that course was the push I needed to really feel like I truly understood all of it. But it’s a slow journey. It’s definitely not something that’s going to happen overnight in terms of knowing what to do but also knowing why you’re doing everything.
Ashley: Agreed. I think this is one thing that I really say take a course with because there’s so many different elements that go into email. It can be where you just set it up and you’re getting emails or getting people to subscribe and you’re collecting their emails. But I think you need to know the basis for it. To turn into a revenue system, you need to know the back end of it. So that’s where I do recommend taking a course. And take one that goes with the email service that you pick so that you know exactly what to do. And join those Facebook groups like Erin said, but kind of know the back end as well rather than just letting it go for years like I did. That’s one of my regrets. I wish I knew about it earlier.
Erin: I feel like a lot of the School of Sellers stuff has come to be because of my past mistakes and regrets and lessons. We’re kind of collectively reflecting and realizing like, I wish I would’ve had this so now we’d like to offer this to the teacher seller community. And I think that’s definitely the main catalyst for the Email Lab course that we just released is knowing how frustrating that was and how helpless of a feeling that is when you’re just starting out and wanting to alleviate that for other sellers who are in that exact same situation.
So I 100% agree with Ashley. I mean obviously we’re biased and we would love for you to take the Email Lab course. But really any course or any assistance that you can get from someone who’s been through it already especially in the teacher seller world is your best bet if you are looking to either start brand new or kind of continue to grow your email journey. So that’s a really great idea.
I don’t think this will come as any surprise but the Email Lab is very much geared toward Flodesk and ConvertKit, which I think are probably the two front-runners in terms of services right now, at least from what we’ve seen. So if you’re interested in taking it, that’s something to consider too, that those are the two providers that we really give support for and tutorials for in the course.
Do you have a system in place for how you email?
Erin: Well, I love my systems and I will say that my email system has been through many different versions over the years. I think you really need to find something that works for you. My system is pretty simple, and I encourage you to not get overwhelmed if you are just starting out. I think at the beginning, your journey is going to be very much just sending those emails out on a regular basis.
That was very much my system at the beginning. Just getting used to sending an email out every single week. This quickly morphed into me learning how to batch create emails which is where I will sit down and write tons of emails in one sitting and then schedule them out so that I don’t have to sit and write an email every Sunday night or every Monday night or whatever it is. So I would say that’s been the evolution of my system.
Then once I got really into the rhythm of the writing and the emailing and learning about all of the other little things that my email account had to offer, that’s when I started learning more about email funnels and sequences and automations and things like that. So the good thing is that once you have those types of things set up, there’s not really much you have to do on a recurring basis to maintain those. The funnels start to work for you once you have them all set up and running. So I would say the biggest system I use now is just making sure that I’m emailing on a regular basis and just keeping track of everything.
Ashley: So for my systems, I was really strong with my systems pre-COVID. I kind of fell off the wagon, I think like a lot of us did. But I’m getting back into it. So I try to sit down and I have an idea for a month. It helps me batch my emails when I’m like, okay, this month I’m going to talk about respecting the teacher. I know each week it’s going to be a simple template that they can use. And at the end, I might link to a product that might help them. It’s not a hard sell. It’s very soft. But that has helped me with my systems, simplifying those emails. When I first started, I was making them pretty much like blog posts. I was spending way too much time. And I have simplified it and that has helped me tremendously.
Erin: And that’s a good point too. Well, that’s probably like the perfectionist side of us teachers and teachers sellers is wanting to like write the next like best-selling novel for every single email. And yeah, when you set the bar that high, it’s like that is not sustainable. So that’s a really, really good thing to keep in mind that Ashley mentioned. Not every email has to be like this novel. I mean you can just write a casual note like you would to a friend and a lot of times that’s going to result in more interested readers than something you spend hours on.
Ashley: Absolutely. I’ve noticed a bigger increase after I’ve started my short emails, to the point, not a lot of pictures, probably no pictures. It has simplified it. Made it easy for me. But it’s easier for a teacher who’s busy who’s opening up her laptop first thing in the morning, glances, that’s a good tip. I’m going to use that today and that’s that rather than sitting down and closing her email because I’m overwhelming her first thing in the morning when she opens her laptop.
Erin: So many things in this business come down to put yourself in the buyers shoes or the reader’s shoes and that will automatically give you some direction about how to approach different situations. And you’re right. Nobody has time to read like paragraphs upon paragraphs.
Ashley: Right. And I do want to add that I know this has probably been said so many times and I’m even tired of hearing it. But make sure who your ideal customer is, your ICA, your ideal customer avatar. Know who you’re talking to, only talk to them, and be done with it. It helps a lot. I know it seems silly coming up with an invisible make-believe person but it helps your email writing a lot.
Erin: That’s so true. Like just to have that person in mind when you’re writing it, even if it’s someone you know in real life. Why is that though? I feel like that was the thing I resisted so long and I heard it so many times. And now that I’ve done it, I’m just like, Erin, that was so dumb.
Ashley: See, I’m the same way. I thought it sounded so silly. When I was figuring out my ICA years ago, I had to sit down and I had to fill out a form and I felt so silly doing it. Like why am I thinking of this make-believe person? But I’ll remind myself if I’m sitting there stuck with any email, so my ICA’s name is Brooke. What would Brooke like to hear? And I just write whatever I think of right then and that helps tremendously. Don’t sit and stare at your email too long and make it more complicated than it has to be.
Do you have to have a blog before starting your email list?
Erin: Ooh, do you have to have a blog first? Short answer. No. Don’t ever let not having a piece to the business hold you back. You’ll be waiting forever if that’s the case. I’m going to use a term from one of my favorite business mentors, Marie Forleo. She says, that everything is figureoutable and it’s true. It doesn’t matter if you just have a TPT store. It doesn’t matter if you just have a blog or you just have an email list. Everything is figure out-able and everyone starts somewhere.
The very first person to be successful in the business world didn’t have all of the things right away. It’s something you have to slowly work your way up to. And if you don’t have a blog, who cares? You can still start an email list. And instead of sharing about those email things on your blog, you share it on social media. You can post it on Instagram. Share it in stories. There’s so many ways to get subscribers beyond just a blog. I will say that a blog should be on your radar and should be on your long term to-do list. I don’t think you should say no to a blog forever. But if you don’t have one, it shouldn’t stop you from doing anything, especially building an email list. What would you say, Ashley?
Ashley: I know that we’ll get the question: how do you do it without a blog? I think in teacher sellers’ minds, as you go to a blog post, you read it and at the end, you give them your email to get the freebie that they were talking about. The way you would do that is your email service provider has what we call landing pages and forms. If I didn’t have my blog and I wanted to give my behavior chart freebie, I would make this landing page and tell my customers what they’re getting when they sign up to receive an email from me to get this freebie. And that’s where that is housed. So your email service provider is in charge of collecting those emails for you. And in those social media posts, you would be linking to your landing page.
Where do I even begin with starting an email list?
Erin: That’s so poetic. Well, first you should check out The Email Lab. The course is made just for sellers like you who are either looking to start your list and you don’t know where to start or you’ve tried to start it and you’re not sure where to go from here or maybe you have an email list and you’re just not sure what to do with it. If any of those things ring true, we can help you.
So check out the Email Lab. And join School of Sellers because we’re always talking about business related content in that group and a lot of times it does touch on email. But for taking action today, go ahead and start researching different email service providers and trying to get a feel for which one is best for you. That’s where I would start. Do you have any suggestions, Ashley?
Ashley: I think you pretty much hit the nail on the head. But I do want to say, the Email Lab does come with a Facebook group. I think that’s important to mention. Like I think we’re really good about giving support as everybody goes through this because we don’t want to just throw something at you and say figure it out because we’ve been there.
And unlike our other course, the Finishing Framework, this course is open all year round. I think that’s a really unique opportunity to have that group on top of the course. Right. And it’s nice to have an area not only to ask questions about how to do something email related but a good place to go back to to see what other teacher sellers are doing and how they might be using their emails and really work together. I love that about our community. We’re really good about that.
Erin: I agree! That was easier than I thought it was going to be. Thank you so much for asking those tough questions, Ashley. And thank you for everyone who submitted questions. That was awesome. And again, check out the Email Lab for teacher sellers and download the free ABCs of Email Marketing. Thanks again so much for tuning in to School of Sellers and we’ll see you again next week!
Links mentioned in this episode:
- Finishing Framework
- Email Lab
- ABCs of Email Marketing
- Start with Flodesk
- Start with ConvertKit
Looking for another way to get this episode? Download the transcript for Where to Begin if You’re Just Starting Your Email List here!
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