Goins, Writer

On Writing, Ideas, and Making a Difference

Why I’m Killing My Email List and Changing Everything

I’m killing my email newsletter and resurrecting it as something I can be proud of. Why am I doing this? Because I can’t think of an unselfish reason not to do it.

Why I'm Killing My Email Newsletter and Changing Everything

Photo Credit: virtualwayfarer via Compfight cc

Emailing you whenever I want helps me. It gets me in your inbox more often, allows me to express myself more frequently, and lets me sell you things. None of those are necessarily bad reasons, but they aren’t very compelling, are they?

So I’m changing everything. And here are my promises to you:

  • I will respect your permission and try to share useful content. Once a week, I’ll send a newsletter of the latest from me. And whenever I have really big news (like a new course, free webinar, a book), I’ll send more than one weekly email.
  • I will spend an entire week writing my best content and deliver it to you every Monday along with other useful links and resources. My goal will be fewer, better messages.
  • I will give my best to the community and try to give more than I take as much as possible.

All of this is subject to change, of course, but I promise to tell you before I make any changes. I’m going to continue to blog when I have something to say (probably 2-3 times per week), but I’m also going to spend more time writing for other blogs and magazines, as that was how I got my start.

Getting back to my roots

This really goes back to my roots of blogging. I launched this blog, creating content for it every day for an entire year. Halfway through the first year, I started an email list. Since I was already writing seven blog posts a week, I wondered what value I could add to a newsletter.

So every Sunday morning, I’d wake up early and write an original thought on writing, influence, or creativity that I’d share with the tribe. People loved it. But as I became a dad and life got busier (and I got better about boundaries on the weekend), I decided to streamline everything. I stopped blogging as much and started sending an email newsletter with the blog post to everyone.

Suddenly, some weekly subscribers were getting three emails per week. I did this, quite frankly, because I had no margin to write a newsletter on a Sunday morning. Since so many wanted links to my newsletters, it just made sense to blog it.

But the Internet changed, and people are now busier than ever. And unless you’re a news site (or Seth Godin), it’s hard to get away with sending an email to your list every day. Of course, some people are doing this, and that’s fine. I’ve heard quite clearly from my readers than anything more than twice a week sounds like noise.

So I’m listening and taking action.

Content isn’t king (the audience is)

When I tested this idea with some readers on Twitter just to see what they thought, I didn’t hear any objections. There was nobody saying, “I want you to send me more email.” Some were saying twice a week and some said once, but nobody said, “You’re sending me three emails, but I’d love eight.”

Nobody. That spoke to me.

So I decided to change everything, because I couldn’t find a good reason to not at least try it. And the more I thought about it, the more excited I got. What if sending fewer emails gave me more time to create higher quality content? What if it allowed me to connect at a deeper level with my tribe? What if this bought me some margin to work on my next book?

Giving myself permission to break this unspoken rule started to excite me. And in that respect, I think it’s a win/win. But honestly, even if it was just a win for you, the reader, that’s reason enough to do it. Often, I think marketers get selfish about the way they interface with their audience, without acknowledging that they are in this very position because of their audience. That seems wrong.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not a doormat, and I do have boundaries. I can’t promise I’ll reply to every email or read every 50,000-word manuscript people send me. But I got into a bad habit of making decisions without first considering what effect they would have on my audience.

Now, I’m trying to get back to the center.

Three core values of this community

Along those lines, I’ve chosen three core values that will guide this blog and community moving forward. They are:

  1. Connection over interruption. Every time I send an email or post content, I’ll ask myself, “Do I have the right to share this? Does this help connect readers with something that helps them?” If not, I won’t share it.
  2. Quality over frequency. Instead of running my mouth every time I have something to say, I pledge to only publish my best work when it is both interesting and helpful.
  3. Impact over profit. In any business, there are always more opportunities to maximize profit. But that’s never been very motivating to me. So I’m recalibrating my business to focus more on the people that run it (i.e. my team) and make it possible to continue (the community, i.e. you).

Personally, I plan to model these myself. But I hope that you, as a member of this community, will consider joining me. I’m excited about the opportunities to invest more time into creating video content, writing elsewhere, and doing other fun things.

If this resonates, maybe you should consider changing something that you thought could never change. This isn’t just a nice idea. It’s a smarter way to market your work. I’m convinced of it. And maybe it’s a smart move for you, too, if you’re in the business of building an audience.

My hypothesis is this will increase open rates, increase trust with readers, and decrease the amount unsubscribes. But those reasons aside, it feels like I’m taking better care of my community, which is a reward in itself.

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What change could you make to focus on building connection and community? Share in the comments.

About Jeff Goins

I write books and help writers get their work out into the world. I am the best-selling author of four books, including The Art of Work. Each week, I send out a newsletter with free tips on writing and creativity.

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  • Hi Jeff,

    As a fairly-new Twitter follower and subscriber of yours, I missed the opportunity to be your lone dissenting voice…

    I *would* have preferred more emails from you. But (and it’s a big but), my situation is somewhat unique. I subscribe to very (VERY) few lists. I guard and protect my email address as though Gollum will try to snatch is as soon as I let my guard down.

    So, to those few people I follow, I welcome as much content as possible. But again, I know that’s uncommon. Most people’s inboxes are overflowing with newsletters.

    All that said, I love what you’re setting out to do. If we all asked ourselves “what’s in this for my readers?” before clicking send, our inboxes would be cleaner, more manageable, and filled with emails that actually contain VALUE.

    Value. What a novel idea. 🙂

    Hope your week is off to a great start, Jeff. I’ll be tweeting this shortly.

    -Kevin

    P.S. Whether they arrive once a week or once in a blue moon, keep those emails comin’!

  • Kelly

    I really like – and appreciate – your new direction. When I receive more than one a week or what I feel is too many sales messages, I unsubscribe, no matter how much I admire the sender’s work.

  • Eric Gale ~ TCJedi

    Jeff, sorry I missed your tweet.

    One thing I wish more people would do is to set up an email preference center that would allow people to select how often to receive emails.

    Personally, I would rather get an email every day from *you* that has your post in it since I don’t have time to get over to your site to read each post but I can read my email whenever/wherever.

    There are other bloggers that I don’t want to read every day or every post and just want a weekly recap email. Still others, a monthly recap would be ideal.

    Choice is huge. Letting the reader (aka customer) pick is grately appreciated.

    Thanks for all you do. Can’t wait until Tribe Conference 2016. See you then.

  • tparker

    Great idea. As a fairly prolific writer, I’m thinking of doing the same thing. I’ll be interested in how your experiment works.

  • Great idea. I frequently end up unsubscribing from even the mailing lists I enjoy because there’s just TOO MUCH of it. My inbox is already clogged; I definitely don’t like being bombarded on a daily basis with people trying to get me to buy stuff I don’t need or want, just because I shared my email address with them once upon a time. If I really like what they have to say, I will go back to their websites.

  • Madison Grace

    Awesome post. I really love your ideas 🙂

    PS: I have a blog – https://www.bymybedside.com
    Please check it out lovelies xxxx

  • I love this, Jeff. Not so much for what you’ve decided to do, but more for how and why you decided to make this change. By putting service first, which has been the hallmark of what you do, it makes the decision easier. As you said, you will probably change direction again, and that’s okay. You have your North Star and you are following it. I applaud you. And you have reminded me to always keep my readers/listeners interests in mind.

  • Brilliant. I’m more apt read YOURS because it will stand out…and it’s a more relaxed way of connecting. So much noise these days. Perfect…and thanks!

  • Terri Cruce

    I love this idea, and frankly, my emails drive me up the wall. Even when it’s from my favorite sites, I still can’t keep up. So no complaints from me on this change. Thanks for sharing your reasons as well.

  • Denise Garibaldi

    I love hearing about how you’re revamping your relationship with your audience. I’m in the process of beginning to build one, and with social media taking off these past years, we are all getting slammed with so much information that it’s impossible to keep up with it, as valuable as it might be. It’s nice to hear about a “less is more” and “keeping things simple” approach. (Apology for the cliches!)

  • Congratulations, Jeff. You sound very much at peace over this decision. It also helps me with an inner struggle I’ve had for almost 1.5 years since Mudpie Writing was born. I only blogged once a week to my audience and felt guilty about that. To do more took away time from my novel and other cool stuff I wanted to do. Less always felt like more, but now I don’t have to worry anymore. Less truly can be more. 🙂

  • Jeff we love that you think about us first! I agree with you that content is massive, but people are King! What a great shift you are making! I think this is going to be a win for us and a win for you! Excited to be a part of the community!

  • Jan

    Thank you! I love this approach and your attitude to it! Much appreciated! 🙂 I agree with the comments that have already been left. I too find myself unsubscribing from things I enjoy because I can’t keep up and that just grates on me. I confess I was JUST going through my emails and unsubscribing from some long time favorites because I’m overwhelmed with the amount I’m receiving. And then I saw yours. I was impressed to say the least! ! Thanks again! 🙂 Hope this approach works well for you. I want to use it myself even though I’m just starting my blog.

  • I’m just now starting my email list and revamping my blog for similar reasons. I was sounding spammy on Twitter, and I didn’t like it. I was sounding like the people I would unfollow. Not cool. So, now, I’m still writing consistently, but I’m really trying to grow organically because of my good, quality content, not because I pushed a link to my blog 50 times on social media. As for the newsletter, still trying to decide what fits.

  • Very good Jeff! I’m glad you’re doing this as it gives me food for thought for my list too… Smart idea!

  • Catherine Daugherty

    Great decision Jeff! I am an avid reader and follower of yours and even I haven’t been able to keep up. No matter how great the content is, if we don’t have time to read many messages a week … then you lose and I lose. This blog post has just re-engaged me into your world. Thank you and God Bless!

  • Caroline DePalatis

    Quality over quantity. That is a mature decision and will be healthier for you (especially with #2 on the way) and this community. It is a clarion call, really. Too many promotions in the inbox mean too few get opened. Opportunities wasted. Although I’m new to the community, working on 500 Words, Intentional Blog and Tribe Writers all at once, what interested me in following you in the first place was the sincerity and authenticity I sensed. This blog post confirms my instincts. Thanks for all you do. Each day I am taking steps forward and that is encouraging. Your work, and the community that’s developed around it, spur me on!

  • Great point about getting back to your roots and reconnecting with the idea of quality content over chatter. I think we are too consumed with the “platform” and getting ourselves in front of people at the expense of giving them quality stuff to read when we are there. Creating solid, meaningful material takes time. In a world where quantity and quality often seem so much at odds, it’s nice to see someone take a stand for the latter, rather than the former.

  • Valerie Ormond

    Thank you, Jeff! I’m a longtime follower, and your decision to only send the most important information is much appreciated. I hope you are a trend setter with this movement!

  • Kelli

    Thanks, Jeff! I appreciate learning from you and your process of discovery. As much as I enjoy your posts, I was missing the deeper message trying to keep up with the number of posts…I have them saved…and yet, honestly doubt that I will return to them and I want to! Life ticks on with warp speed, even though I am intentionally practicing slowing down and returning to what is most meaningful. I hear you doing the same. Maybe it’s a sign to add coffee roasting back into your life. Hmmmm, that’s the good stuff! 🙂

  • Jennifer B

    Yes! Change is good. . . these changes are very good! Mil gracias!

  • Krithika Rangarajan

    LOVEEEEEEEE – thank you, Jeff! #HUGS

  • I for one don’t want to read anything you wrote at the weekend; because that’s definitely not what weekends were invented for 🙂

    Less is definitely more, (and I mean that in the kindest way!).

  • I send two each week, a great piece of content and a simple invite to a Blab or wbinar. I have a unsubscribe rate of less than 1% a month, not bad for someone who has over 10K subscribers… Good for you Jeff, I like emails that mean something, not just any old email…

  • Laura Beth

    Jeff,
    I like receiving emails from you. The frequency is irrelevant. Yours are the only emsils I always read. Perhaps it’s because the tone is more personal, not sure. But for some reason, when I read your emails, I feel like you’re talking to me.

    That said, I am sure the changes will be great.

    Laura Beth

  • CILLYart @ CILLYart4U

    Jeff, thank you for sharing so much insight and wisdom! As a new children’s book author-illustrator, I am learning so much!

  • PEYTON

    Awesome news Jeff. Your emails are a huge Warm Welcome. Looking forward to it!

  • I really appreciate this change. It seems that once someone online gets permission to send you something online, their emails never stop. Ever. Even if I unsubscribe from certain updates, I still seem to be on three other lists. In order to declutter my inbox and reduce the interruptions in a day, I end up completely unsubscribing from everything. Now that voice is gone because they appeared too interested in convincing me to buy instead of being the voice of influence they said they wanted be. Yes, that’s saying most of the same things you did, but it’s true!

    This is one reason I’m not sure I want to build an email list. They appear to be more about selling and less about connecting. So now you have my interest piqued. What will Jeff’s new influence in my inbox look like? Excited to find out.

  • Linda Fode

    Thank you so much for these changes. I am a loyal goins writer supporter but was getting a bit frustrated with the number of emails especially the product based ones. I,look forward to the changes & continue to view as my virtual,mentor. Your site & Joe Bumting’s site have been invaluable.
    Linda Fode
    Calgary, Alberta.

    P. S. The My 500 Words group,has been truly life changing.

  • Love this, Jeff. I’ve recently had multiple emails every single day from various sources telling me about the very same thing (Jeff Walker’s launch series – which I’ve already seen, even though they say it’s new). But the ramming of it down my throat made me not want to see it even if it was good – and actually new. It’s almost like my inbox was screaming at me. So I greatly appreciate this. And appreciate you. I find your posts valuable and your approach refreshing. (BTW, here’s my permission to never work on weekends – especially Sundays. The blessings you’ll receive in return are far more valuable.)

  • I think it’s a great approach, Jeff. Quality over quantity. When I got hired to write a weekly column for Fine Art Views, I reduced my blog posts to mostly once a week. I feel like I’m doing better work now, instead of just pushing stuff out. Look forward to your content, Jeff, it’s always awesome.

  • I am on a few blogger/internet marketer email lists and with some of them, I feel as if I’m being treated as their own personal bank account. They need cash so I get 2 or 3 promo emails a day for their affiliate products. Setting yourself apart from that kind of behavior will win my respect for sure.

    • Sally

      I know how you feel, Susan. I once heard Pat Flynn say he doesn’t sell to his list. I was surprised to hear him say that, but I took it to heart. I think there’s integrity and wisdom behind.

  • deb c

    Just in the nick of time as I was going to become an unsubscriber…and for all the reasons named by others. Better to leave the audience clamoring for more than praying for less…

  • wkhojoseph

    Look like a great change with much better focus on audience. Might be good to do a case study on before and after.

  • Lisa Simmonds

    I really agree with your decision. I personally get frustrated with the amount of emails that I receive and need to wade through. For that very reason I have unsubscribed from some sites as I really want to spend my life living not clearing my inbox! I would much rather have a few pertinent emails from you that I will make a point of opening; they are always enjoyable reading and helpful. The tone you are setting is one of being part of a community and I think this strategy will support that, rather than feeling that we are a database for marketing. Thank you so much for what you do! Sometimes the decision made with integrity may not seem the smartest short-term but can be the most rewarding.

  • Jeff – what a fabulous idea! I only blog once a month, so that’s how often I send a newsletter. I will definitely check out this book as it has been stagnant for a while. I may actually need to start writing *more* frequently. 🙂

  • Sally

    Thanks, Jeff. Your view is refreshing and encouraging. I read most of what you send out, but, honestly, I can’t keep up with my email. I hit the “sweep” function often. Creating community–real or virtual–is important. We’re people and we’re wired to connect. I do think that we get “desensitized” to our email and stop responding because in the back of our minds we know another one is coming soon. Your emails might be opened more often if they’re perceived to be somewhat “scarce”. Just a thought. I’ll guess you’ll soon see. Thanks for the post and honesty.

  • It’s a game of constant adjustments. Good stuff.

  • I don’t know how you sent so much in the first place! Once a week is more than enough for me. 🙂 Do you think that sending out that much content helped your blog grow? I’m in the early stages and still trying to figure out how to find my audience.

  • Joanna Nicol

    Thank you jeff. I appreciate the changes and your candour

  • Cool stuff. Never settle into a rut.

  • Perhaps you’ve been reading Dan Blank and Porter Anderson. Perhaps I’m not the only writer who left Chandler Bolt’s week-long celebration of salesmanship nauseated. Perhaps you’re feeling the fibes of disgust at webinars where gurus get rich telling guru wannabes how to get rich teaching people who can’t write how they, too, can get rich writing. Less noise, please. More pride in craftsmanship and quality.

    • Good stuff, Skipper!

    • I love these words Skipper – “pride in craftsmanship and quality”. This should be the guiding light of every writer!

    • Cheryl Bonhomme

      It WAS a bit much, but only because there were so many giving a similar message. I think that message of salesmanship is okay, but not first. Totally agree that a real message to real people that will really be useful is so much more important.

  • Jeff, Back when I first started writing, ie when you were writing every day, you were a lifeline for me, well, for a lot of us. You always lit a fire under us to write. It was awesome! But change is the constant. I’m so busy working, writing, photography, etc I haven’t had time to check in for almost a year. In fact, I’ve been scared that my voice would get lost in the noise of all the posts and all the responses. What I’m trying to say is from this side, Good Move!
    And Thank You for being a writing mentor for so many of us! Love ya man!

  • Trevann Rogers

    Thank you!

  • Going back to your roots. Love this! Going back to where it all started is where we can gain the most clarity. Thanks for sharing, Jeff!

  • Good for you, Jeff! Like the idea of “going back to your roots.”

  • Danie Botha

    Good for you Jeff! Take the brave step and do what is right–for you and your readers. It makes sense: there is only so much one can digest at a given time.

  • Fiona Tarr

    Great decision Jeff. My in box was starting to look like an archive of your work which I had not had time to read. A summary email each week sounds awesome.

  • Blogging almost 7 days a week on more than one blog, I am seriously contemplating not sending out emails as and when posts are published. Your post gave me some seriously delicious food for thought, Jeff! Thanks. Roots are good. 🙂

  • Chris Goodchild

    I’ve been trying to cull my email subscriptions recently – I get too many emails from too many people. I currently have 900 unread emails in my inbox, and several hundred others that have been filed to read later. I doubt I’ll ever get to them all… unless I completely stop producing content for my community in order to consume everyone else’s. GOOD MOVE ON YOUR PART JEFF! Thank you!

  • I’m right behind you on this Jeff. I love reading what people have to say and learning from them, but I also want time to research and write my own work. Then there’s world news and social media to keep up with. Finding a balance is key to remaining sane and avoiding information overload! I’m less likely to read those sites that email every day. Like Chris, I tend to pop those emails in a folder and inadvertently forget. 🙂

  • I agree with you, Jeff. There’s a lot of “noise” in the world. I’ve culled down my subscriptions in order to have more time to devote to my own writing. If something is noteworthy, I’ll read it. Otherwise it goes in the deleted files. So in reality, if someone has 10K subscribers and hardly anyone reads their content, what good is it?

  • I think this is a great move, Jeff. As a long time blogger and long time follower, I will say that your email frequency was getting a tad crazy. It began to feel like a daily sales pitch. I think you’ll get a positive response from this and have more time to write. I did an experiment this summer on my blog and didn’t post at all. Surprisingly, my traffic went up. For me, going forward, I plan to post more substantial content less frequently. We’ll see how that works out. Neil Patel has had amazing results with his long authority posts, I think you might have similar results.

  • Susan Lower

    Many times I delete a lot of emails and newsletters sent to me because I just have too many in my inbox and too little time for them all. I always feel guilty that I’m not blogging enough, but as a wife and mother, I try to prioritize my time and my family and writing. Like you, Jeff, I want to be able to write other places and reach out to others. I now have a weekly blog post and give readers the option of signing up for those weekly blog posts or a monthly newsletter. My monthly newsletter has the most subscribers.

  • J.B. Hecock

    Great move man!

  • Yay! Jeff, I think you nailed it. Reading your words actually made me physically relax and take a deep breath.

  • Emily Tjaden

    This sounds like a great idea. I have never done much with email (beyond updates in conjunction with blog posts), and the idea of cranking out email content PLUS blog content on a regular basis felt really overwhelming. However, I am still kind of in the opposite boat of you, in that I feel like I probably should make more of an effort with email beyond the “Hey, look–a new blog post” stuff. Maybe what you said about doing a weekly overview. I’ll have to look into that.

    Thanks for a great post! It gave me some stuff to think about.

  • Leo Falcon

    Thanks you for thinking about your community.

  • In that case, I’ll sign up again. The frequency of emails was why I unsubscribed. Good move. 🙂

  • Vicky Lightner Cox

    As usual, you are overwhelming in your generosity, Jeff. I think this is a great move. I’ve had to unsubscribe to numerous lists. There’s no way to keep up and it’s far too much content to absorb. By going with fewer emails, they will become more relevant and more likely to be read – certainly by me.

  • Amanda

    Way to go! We were meant to change and re-evaluate. Thanks for modeling that.

  • Robin

    Thanks for writing this! I’m in the process of going through e-mail subscriptions myself, Jeff, as I’m getting way too many things to keep up with. Going through the Self-Publishing Summit workshops helped me narrow down which ones I wish to continue hearing from and helped me realize that I only need a few to keep me inspired and going forward. You’re one of them who has safely made the cut, as you take a no-nonsense approach to things and don’t go over anyone’s head in explaining things. And you’ve never steered anyone wrong, at least not deliberately (some have). So, I keep coming back to read your blog, as I learn something new each time. Thanks again!

    • Robin

      P.S. Very thought-provoking headline, by the way! I may also go for the weekly overview, as that seems to work for most people, including myself, when I start up the e-mail list thingy.

  • Nyakarima King

    I’m on every email list of every how-to-publish-your-book expert. Most of their resources are to future published authors. But the thing is I am also very busy trying to do so much for my journey and I feel these experts sometimes do not respect that. So if you send me a lot of email and have a new offering I need to buy every week I zone out. My number one self publishing expert sends such few emails but takes such care and time preparing everything for release; she has me hooked, I just salivate for whatever she will release. And I buy whatever she sells…she’s sold one thing since April. And it’s so well done. For me quality over quantity holds my attention. Though you are the exception Jeff! I love everything you have to offer. I make time for your articles, webinars I will so be in your conference next year etc. Coz I feel you really are trying to help people. Actually you do no wrong in my eyes:) But if you wanna go with less emails, it’s OK.

  • Sensible decision Jeff. I picked up a lot of ‘experts’ during the SPS and that’s resulted in loads of emails. When I get too much in any one day, it gets moved to my ‘when i get a minute’ folder. Only today did I get a minute and I’m looking at emails that go back 6 weeks, a lot of them yours. Your content is good, but it came too often for me to absorb. So I look forward to hearing from you, but less often! http://www.scrivenervirgin.com

  • Having just listened to chapter 20 of “The Essentialist” (to the point where I’m ready to move to Bangladesh and live in a mud hut and eat caterpillars .. ), this is a welcome move.

    My call with my business coach today resulted in my writing a To Do List of everything that’s on my plate. Just the thought of it is scary.

    Great move and thanks for letting us know the thought and strategy behind it all–as usual!

  • Jason Fleeming

    One of the most sensible and amazing post. Yeah you are right… These days it’s not just about content. If you have planned on creating an amazing and eye catching business website Viral Data and there’s no actual user in it. It’s of no use then

  • Gwen Hannan Meharg

    AMEN!!! Conversation with husband EVERY time I send out a newsletter. “WHYYYYYYYY AM I DOING THIS! I HATE NEWSLETTERS! I HATE EMAIL!!!!!” Notice that I never used a question mark? Well,. shoot, I just did, but not in the quote. Because it was not so much a question as a plea of desperation. I do hate email and newsletters, but I also feel GUILTY not reading them and just deleting them. Result is HUGE backlog of stuff that MIGHT be good but probably not. I am like the little kid who goes to bed early and can’t sleep for wondering what she might be missing. I am sending out a newsletter slightly less than once a week, more often twice a month, but at least once a month! Best writing. Short and pointing to the blog if anyone is interested.
    NOW I won’t have to feel so guilty about it. CHEERS!