Secrets of Successful Ezines
Minicourse # 7
The Highs and Lows of Ezine Publishing
Today’s lesson from Secrets of Successful Ezines is a chronicle from Suzanne Falter-Barnes, www.howmuchjoy.com and www.selfhelpsalon.com. She shares with us the history of her internet business and the ups and downs of her ezine.
It is a little long, but worth reading it.
This is a sample of the many interviews from people who successfully publish ezines that are included in the ebook, Secrets of Successful Ezines. You can buy the full ebook by clicking here.
But first, don’t miss out on this delightful tale of Suzanne’s ezine!
The Joy Letter [email@example.com]
The Joy Letter # 108 — Highs & Lows of Building a Net Business
Highs & Lows of Building a Net Business
In our recent survey to Joy readers, we were asked to provide a timeline of our ups and downs in building this joyful business at www.howmuchjoy.com. There have been definite highs and lows in my small business’s 5 year history. Here are some of them, plus lessons I learned along the way.
August, 1999. Launched site with trepidation, despite ‘gut feeling’ that it would succeed. Had no idea what I was doing. Hired fancy author’s web site creator/promoter at vast expense. But people came.
October-December, 1999. Went on 15-city book tour that I booked and paid for; met lots of people and signed ’em up for ezine, one at a time. Joy Letter list at about 1000.
June, 2000. Major publisher edition of ‘How Much Joy’ book comes out, and book is a dual main selection of One Spirit Book Club. Lots of publicity, more speaking gigs. Joy Letter list up to about 2000-2500.
November, 2000. List disappears! Guy who broadcasts it goes on vacation in Bangkok where he gets sick and is stuck for three months. Never bothers to tell me. I get police involved. High drama. Guy and Joy Letter list eventually turn up again. List up to about 3750.
February, 2001. I sign on with major ezine broadcast service and shopping cart. Launch my first e-products, which do OK, not great. I learn that people don’t really want e-courses as much as they want live contact of teleclasses… at least for my work.
May, 2001. I discover joint ventures with other websites, and begin swapping blurbs, offering teleclasses and more with partners. Jennifer Louden and I team up on what is now an annual event, The Writer’s Spa. It’s clear that two are more powerful together than apart. I continue to develop products and free items for the site.
January, 2002. I sign on with an Opt In list building service, which provides Opt-in names by promoting your ezine. Joy Letter quickly becomes most popular ezine and I regularly add 3500 double opt in names per month. This is great!
May, 2002. I notice that lots of those new names are suddenly strange numerical addresses and IP’s. I start getting flame emails from unhappy people saying things like ‘What is this #@%$*# Joy Letter and where did it come from??!!" Even though I’ve gotten close to 15,000 new subscribers, I pull the plug on the formerly great, now highly suspicious Opt In service.
June, 2002. Joy Letter list hits 25,000 and I have to pay a much higher fee to broadcast/shopping cart company. I get requests for a shippable binder version of the How Much Joy Facilitator’s work, which I launch. It’s an immediate hit.
February, 2003. One year after I begin selling e-commerce products, I find I can almost make a modest living from my profits. I’ve racked up some debt running this company, but it all still feels ‘right in my gut’. Joy Letter list has naturally grown, but broadcast company institutes their new ‘List Hygiene’ program and gets rid of all the addresses that are no good. Suddenly Joy Letter list gets whittled to around 15,000.
February, 2004. CAN-SPAM laws, new SPAM filters, and other obstacles conspire to keep Joy Letter readers from opening their emails from me. I study how to follow the law and still deliver the ezine to those who opt in to receive it. I get less email than I used to, in response to articles, and it’s a new world in email-land. Meanwhile, my e-commerce business continues to grow steadily and I now make a viable living from the website … oh yeah, and I’m still in debt, which I’m working hard to get out of.
June, 2004. I launch a new website, www.selfhelpsalon.com, which I spend the entire winter developing. At the last minute, my advisors make me get rid of the ‘zany New Age guru’ who was gracing the site’s pages, and stick to the topic at hand. We do an entire re-design in 10 grueling days, and I still launch on schedule. As usual, the advisors were right. (But believe me, the zany guru was really fun.)
October, 2004. Still in debt … sigh. Probably will be for a while, but boy am I learning A LOT about how to run a business. I’ve incorporated and become an LLC. Some months I get lots of sales, excited emails from customers, speaking invitations, and great windfalls of all kinds. Other months, I get a whole lot less. But isn’t that just like life?
Downsides are that I have ‘Internet Butt’ from being parked in a chair 8-10 hours per day. And that I find myself getting up at 5AM to tackle the big pile up in the office… but still, even after the creeping waves of overwhelm, and the frequent sense that I don’t know what I’m doing, I STILL feel like I’m on the right path. Above all, I’m grateful for you, my readers, that I get to do what I’m called to in this life. It’s all just evidence of my work’s primary principle: if you’re called to do something, just trust it. The work really will guide you every step of the way.
Some helpful lessons I’ve learned:
Learning how to do things you’re afraid of, like html coding, can only be avoided for so long. But by then, there’s usually a more user-friendly way to deal with it. So, a little avoidance isn’t altogether bad.
Get up and stretch every few hours. You’ll be a nicer person for it.
Don’t refuse to delegate tasks. On the other hand, don’t become wildly dependent on your support staff either. You, too, need to do some of the basic work on your site.
If you want to deliver a quality product, use quality services … not, say, a sketchy broadcaster with plans to leave the country for an indefinite period of time (even if the price is right.)
You’ll always make typos. So proofread. Again.
Nothing is glorious all the time – not even your dream. Expect a little down time now and then, and use it to clean out your desk.
Don’t let the kids use your computer while eating popsicles.
Thanks, Suzanne, for sharing your interesting experiences with us!
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