“Use it or lose it!”
It’s a statement that can be applied to many aspects of life – not the least of which is building an online business.
I discovered this the hard way recently with one of my email lists – in fact the newsletter associated with this very blog here at ProBlogger.
Over two years ago I was sending out weekly newsletters to readers of this blog. They contained updates from the site, a few extra tips exclusive for subscribers, the odd competition, the occasional promotion and a bit of behind the scenes information on what I was doing.
The emails were converting well in terms of driving traffic and building community with readers and they even drove some affiliate sales from time to time. It was something well worth doing…..
But then I stopped.
I can’t really put my finger on why I stopped (it was a gradual thing and something I intended to get back to ) – perhaps it was because I started doing some of what I’d been doing in newsletters on Twitter, perhaps it was because I was simply getting too busy, or perhaps I was just getting lazy…. for whatever reason – I stopped sending weekly newsletters. In fact they slowed down to a point where I was lucky if I were sending them out every six months.
The problem is – six months is too long to go between newsletters. If you don’t use it – you lose it.
Six months without contact with subscribers is not a great way to build brand, trust, relationship, familiarity – it means that when you do send something it’s less likely to be read.
People forget they subscribed, people are more likely to view you with suspicion, people could feel slighted.
Some might call it letting your list go ‘cold‘ – I call it a big mistake.
It meant that when I recently restarted my newsletter that a large percentage of those who had subscribed were inactive, unresponsive and a few were quite angry about me emailing them because they had little idea why I was sending them emails out of the blue!
The same principle applies in other places too.
- Blogging/RSS Feeds – I recently spoke with a blogger who decided to take 12 months off blogging – he returned expecting traffic and reader engagement to pick up where he left off – he was surprised to find that while Feedburner still reported him as having subscribers that it was like starting again in building traffic.
- Social Media – people often describe using social media as developing a ‘presence’. Problem is – when you’re not actually ‘present’ for any length of time that ‘presence’ is hard to build. Whether it be on Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn – when you let your account become inactive – in time the relationships that you have with those that you’ve previously connected with can go ‘cold’.
I guess it’s pretty much the same as real life – when you disappear unexpectedly from a circle of friends it can be a little awkward coming back to them – it sometimes takes time for the friendships to ‘warm up’ again.
5 Lessons to Help You Keep ‘Using It’ – Not ‘Losing It’
A few quick tips on keeping thing going – whether it be your blog, newsletter, Twitter account etc.
1. Don’t bite off more than you can chew
The temptation in this game is to commit to being active in too many places at once. Newsletters, Twitter, Blog, Facebook, Forums, LinkedIn…. and when you have more than one blog – multiply the accounts that you might potentially have!
In most cases it is better to do a few things well than to do many things poorly.
2. Regularity is more important than High Frequency
When asked ‘how much should I post on my blog’ I generally answer with ‘regularly’ and with ‘regularity’.
In my experience the actual frequency of posting doesn’t tend to matter as much as the ‘regularity’ of your posts. Bloggers tend to get into trouble when they move from posting at one level and then changing their frequency. Going from 3 posts a week to 5 posts a day is going to aggravate some of your readers. Going from 5 posts a day to once a month is also going to have a detrimental impact.
Post as regularly as you are able to sustain and try to develop a pattern to it so that readers know what to expect.
3. Under Promise and Over Deliver
If you’re not sure how much of something you’re able to sustain – pull back not he promises you make.
If you’re starting an email newsletter and you ‘hope’ to make it weekly but wonder if you can keep that up – advertise it as being ‘at least every month’ or every second week.
I guess it’s about identifying what the minimum is that you need to do to keep your list/blog/social media presence ‘warm’ and at least sticking to that as a minimum rather than attempting to do more than you can realistically do.
4. Build a Schedule
I used to be very impulsive in my online business. These days I’m much more reliant upon schedules. I set myself deadlines for blog posts, newsletters, forum interaction, social media interactions…. and more.
I still don’t achieve them all but without a schedule areas of what I do would fall dormant very quickly.
5. Have Someone (or Something) Manage You
Extending the schedule strategy is that I like to be ‘managed’ by someone or something.
This means that I have people around me who ‘remind’ (or tell) me when I need to do certain things.
‘Darren you need to get a newsletter out today’ is something I heard last Thursday from one of the people involved in my photography site.
‘Darren here are 3 threads you need to respond to in the forum’ is something that Lara told me earlier today (we use Basecamp to send these type of reminders/to do tasks).
I also set up systems for these type of alerts.
I use iCal on my mac and iPhone to set up alerts at certain intervals to remind/tell me to do certain tasks. These range from monthly alerts to pay affiliates, to weekly alerts to send newsletters, to daily alerts to have certain articles written by.
I do have some internal alerts too – by this I mean that I know before I go to bed each night that I need to have 3 posts set to go off on my blogs while I sleep. I don’t need to set myself an alert for these because its just what I do each day – they’ve become automatic internalized rhythms.
What do You Do?
How do you keep your blogging and other activities regular so that you don’t let things go cold? Looking forward to reading some of how you approach this.