When I first started building my email list I was and assistant to a teacher in a pre-K classroom for autistic children. I liked my job but wanted more freedom. I especially wanted to escape from having to work for someone else. I wanted to do work that was important to me, not just trade my time for a paycheck.
That’s when I decided to create an email list around the topic of helping other writers to write books and get published. I chose this topic because I’ve been a writer my whole life, and I also love to teach. My first novel was published by an imprint of Penguin in 2014.
Fast-forward 7 months and my list had grown from 0 to 9,265 subscribers.
I also launched a year long novel writing course called A Novel Idea. That went amazingly well and I sold 130 copies at $375 each ($48,750 in revenue).
How did you do it?
I got my first 100 subscribers by doing 1 thing, reaching out to subscribers from my other blog to join my list.
I had a list of about 2500 subscribers for my lifestyle blog. I sent out an email letting them know about my new blog, What is a Plot. I didn’t expect much, because the two blogs aren’t very similar, but about 200 people subscribed to What is a Plot.
This is the email I sent out:
My goal for the first 30 days of growing my list was to get to 50 subscribers, but I 20x’d that and by the end of the first month was close to 1,000. That was when I decided to create my course, A Novel Idea.
Since them my list has grown to 9,265 subscribers by focusing on 4 things: 1) Facebook ads, 2) Posting on Medium, 3) Course giveaway and 4) Launching A Novel Idea (my year long course)
I use Facebook ads to reach fiction writers. I target groups they are most likely to be in and I post ads for my The Ninja Writers Academy. I gain 30-50 subscribers every day, and 3/4s of them come from Facebook ads.
Here’s one of my Facebook ads:
On my thank you page after joining The Ninja Writers Academy, I have a writing planner I sell for $7 (discounted from $20). These sales pay for my Facebook ads. Whatever I earn in one day, I use that money the very next day on Facebook ads.
Here’s my thank you page with the writing planner:
Facebook ads are my most successful tool I use to gain subscribers.
I contacted several Medium magazines and was able to get my work published. The audience there is much larger than my own, and I’ve been able to capture a ton of subscribers through this.
On the bottom, I link to the Ninja Writers Academy, which teaches you how to write. It’s free! With it comes a feature called The Academy. Every Saturday I post a writing lesson. Students are encouraged to do the work and share it for feedback on Facebook. On Sundays, I hold office hours (also on Facebook) where Ninjas can come and ask writing questions and know that I’m online to answer them.
So, on the bottom of each blog, I link to the Ninja Writers Academy and mention a description of what The Academy is and what it does.
The great part about this is I can continue to gain subscribers from a post I wrote weeks or even months ago!
Here’s a screenshot of that:
In March, I gave away my course, The Plotting Workshop. It’s an 8-week course in building a road map through your novel. It helps build a plot board, write a synopsis, and start to build the scenes that will make up a story.
It’s normally $49, but I gave it away for free.
This gained me 900 subscribers in one month!
In April, I also used King Sumo to run a giveaway to my paid course, A Novel Idea, and gained about 600 new subscribers that month alone.
Launching A Novel Idea
I’d been planning and thinking about A Novel Idea for a long time.
I posted a six-month series about novel writing on my other blog, and even though that wasn’t a blog for writers, some of the posts had more than 100,000 page views. I knew that I had something to teach that people wanted to learn. I guess you could say that I did a kind of unconventional vetting of my course over the course of the year or so before I launched it.
I made a Gumroad sales page and emailed it to my list before heading out to watch a movie with my husband. By the time I came out of the theater, I had two sales. That was the most exciting feeling! By the time the enrollment ended two months later, I’d sold $130 spots at $375 a piece.
I launched again in the summer, this time at $500 with a limited enrollment of 30 and sold out in a week.
This also gained me a ton of subscribers from people taking the course, and those who were interested in signing up for when I launch again.
What has building an email list changed in your life and allowed you to do?
The success of the class has made it possible for me to quit my day job and focus full time on writing and on my business. I’m so grateful! It’s also taught me that it’s possible to combine teaching and writing and it isn’t necessary for me to pick one or the other.
I’ve been able to quit my day job, which has meant that I have far more time to devote to my family. My email list has allowed me to build the most engaged, incredible writing community I’ve ever been a part of.
What’s next for you?
Husband + 3 Kids + Maybelline the dog
Pre-K Teachers Aid
I found Videofruit almost as soon as I started my blog, in February. Videofruit's team are natural teachers and the things I've learned from them have, very literally, changed my life. My list is my business, and I wouldn't have been able to build it as quickly as I did (or as full of people who truly want to be a part of what I'm doing) without the things that I learned from Videofruit. Anytime anyone remarks on my success and says that they'd like to start their own business, I refer them to Videofruit.