How To Market Yourself And Still Keep Your Soul

How To Market Yourself And Still Keep Your Soul

I hate writing about marketing.  Most of the time, I promise, I will leave it firmly in the hands of the experts like Seth Godin or Naomi Dunford.  Epic E-Book Creation is about to launch, and deciding “how” to launch this e-product by looking at traditional launch methods has been like listening to three year-olds bang on pots and pans in the kitchen.  Every faux-expert out there has an opinion and they’re all screaming to be listened to.

If I hate writing about marketing, why the hell am I writing about it?  Isn’t this blog about creating amazing products, not launching amazing products?  You’re right, completely.

I’ve been reading and researching strategies that people have used – some successful and some utter failures.  Throughout all of it, a “By Bloggers Marketing & Launching like a Human Being with a Soul” type philosophy has been brewing.  Philosophy and blogging aren’t normal bedmates, I admit.  It’s been pretty sexy to see what they come up with when they go at it though.

Let me be clear before we get too far: I have no problem with people making money through their blogs.  None.  Artists deserve to be paid for their amazing contributions – in fact, I believe they should create ways for people to pay them.  I have problems with the way that some people pursue getting paid.

Alright, now that we’ve got that out of the way, let’s look at how internet marketing usually works and then how we can make it work to build better, higher quality e-mail lists and keep our souls in one piece.

Don’t Be A Cheesy, Scammy Marketing Monkey

As you trudge through marketing strategies, you inevitably run into shady and dehumanizing methods.  They turn you into a number, a statistic or a frog (just kidding on that last one).  It’s all hype to get you emotionally engaged without actually ever engaging with you.  They’re saying that they want your money, but they don’t particularly care about you.

In a Web 2.0 (and beyond) world, people have options.  If you don’t particularly care for the By Bloggers Showcase, you can go check out Colin Wright’s ebookling. It rocks too.  If people don’t feel loved and cared about and special on your blog… someone else will be willing to make the extra effort.

Your blog is composed of layers of content, providing fertile ground for social interaction.  Social implies that there are people receiving what you are giving.  Giving and receiving implies relationship.  Relationships matter.

Relationships are only as strong as the time and effort you put into them.

Read that again.

Every time a visitor arrives at your site, you are creating a relationship with that person.  Your design, your content, the picture on your sidebar and how hard you pitch to that person are all the first cues on how the relationship begins.

Build Meaningful Relationships On Your Blog

Just like life, not every person that comes to your blog will result in a fulfilling and life-changing relationship.  Over time, people will separate themselves into various groups that you can interact with at different levels.    Check this out:

There is a lot of overlap between these groups and it’s not as clean and cute as this chart suggests.  It’s like a massive Venn Diagram where people pick and choose how they interact.  You need to show them some customer love at each point of contact.

Should you love each group the same? Yes, on an emotional level.  On a practical, take action level, it’s just not possible.  Would you spend time in a relationship where you had to put in 99% of the work and the other person was uninterested?  No.  Put in an appropriate amount of love and action at each level.

  • Readers: Provide amazing content.  Love them as much as they’ll let you.  Give them opportunities to get to know you and how to move to the next stage of engagement.
  • Followers: Listen.  Respond.  Show insane gratitude and do it with action, not just words, if someone goes above and beyond to interact with you.
  • “Friends”: These people are ready to take the next step and are truly interested in what you have to say and spreading your message.
  • True Fans: Treat your True Fans extra special.  Share what they’re doing with the rest of your followers if it’s awesome.  Give them deals.  Send them exclusive gifts.  Stay insanely grateful and humble.

Want to know the most amazing part of building meaningful relationships through your blog?  It makes you  feel incredible.  If you make your audience or a reader feel great, you will feel great.

A little secret to building relationships, through your blog or elsewhere: be insanely authentic.  Be as much yourself as you can possibly be.  Relationships based on lies always falter, like a home built on a weak foundation.

Be Honest: Set and Share Clear Goals

The way you interact with your audience has a huge impact on how you are perceived.  You can ruin all of the trust and authority you have built up in one day if you suddenly become a spammy monster.

When I wrote 5 Mistakes That Are Killing Your Email List, I left something out.  While I absolutely hate the whole, “Give us your e-mail and we’ll give you our free report!” movement, there are instances where it works, even on a spam-averse hermit like myself.

The secret?  Be honest in what you’re trying to achieve.  Communicate openly with your readers.  They know if they’re being sold to or if you’re really giving a gift, so don’t try and dress it up in a way that it’s not.

The way I see it, there are only a few goals that you can really have to create an e-book:

  1. To give a sincere gift
  2. To build influence and establish credibility or to share a vision
  3. To build your list
  4. To make a profit (a topic outside this already lengthy post)

If your goal is to give a sincere gift or you’re trying to build influence, give it away for free.  Free does not mean, “Free if you give put your e-mail address in this box.”  That’s just asking for a different type of currency, and you know it.

If you want to build your list, there are a few ways to do it.

Go Exclusive

Tell your audience that your e-book is an exclusive give away.  Tell them that you want to share more amazing content with a specific group of people – those who are really serious about your niche topic – and that this e-book is only for people that want to go deeper into your topic.  Then deliver.

Deliver First, Ask Second

Give your e-book away for free.  Tell them that you will deliver first, and if they want more, they can subscribe to the e-mail list where they can get more amazing value.  Wow the hell out of them.  Then near the end of the e-book, give them a reminder of how they can get more.

Both methods will result in a higher quality list, which is what you really want.  Huge lists are useless if the readers are not interested.

Every Choice Has a Cost

How you choose to launch your e-product is a choice, and like every choice, it has consequences that you need to consider.

Launching your e-book for free, no cost and no e-mail capture, will result in more downloads and potentially greater influence.  Some of the greatest movements and energy creators in the blogging world have been free releases:  Hugh MacLeod’s manifesto on how to be creative (which eventually turned into a book deal); Chris Guillebeau’s 279 Days to Overnight Success was a break out hit that generated huge visibility for Chris.

The downside?  You pour tens, potentially hundreds, of hours of emotional labor into a product that will not put any cash in your pocket.  Not really a downside if you’re goal is to give a gift or to attract eyeballs.

Launching with a newsletter opt-in will result in a larger list (hopefully), but risks limiting the growth of your influence.  This barrier to entry can be detrimental when you are growing, but a great idea when you are trying to create a focused list as a medium to large size blogger.

The downside?  Potentially less visibility and influence.  You’ve proven to your readers that you kick ass, but anyone stumbling on your site doesn’t know how awesome you are until they spend time reading your blog.  They probably won’t care or take a risk on you to read your e-book.

And Finally … The Wrap Up

Let’s sum this up quickly…

You deserve to get paid, but don’t market like a spammy, creepy marketing monster.  Market like you have a soul and you believe your readers do too.  Engage with your readers, don’t treat them like numbers in your Google Analytics account.  Be honest and authentic.  Create meaningful relationships.

This will save your ass time and again if you remember it: when you fuck up, apologize sincerely, no matter how much it hurts to have egg on your face.  You will fuck up.  Own it, apologize, make it up to your readers and move on.

Phew… thanks for reading.  I’d love to hear your thoughts.  Leave a comment.  I’ll love you back.  Thanks for being awesome!


David Crandall October 26, 2010 at 2:40 pm

As someone who just recently released an ebook, I’ll chime in. At first I did an email optin. It wasn’t intended to be scammy, just seemed to be the thing to do. After we spoke, I changed it to download for free. The number of downloads doubled quickly, but I’ve only gained 3 new subscribers in that time.

I think in the future I will give an incentive to subscribe to the email list. One though I’ve had is to only release content to my list so that they will feel honored and treated well for their willingness to trust me with something personal (their address). I’ve also thought about telling people that the download is NOT free; it won’t cost money, but the cost is the ability to contact them going forward. I don’t blast my list ever so I think I can maintain a good conscious about either one.

It is a tricky thing to market with integrity. There are so many scammy ways to do it and it is frustrating when you see people making money that way. At the end of the day though, I have to live with myself and I don’t want to live with a scammy bastard.

Lots of good thoughts and I’m glad to see someone taking this discussion up and presenting it to the rest of us. :D
David Crandall recently posted..Its time for me to split

Jonathan October 26, 2010 at 6:52 pm

I think you summed it up with, “Marketing with Integrity.” That’s really the key that I was hoping to communicate.

Use an opt-in for your list, give it away for free, whatever your goal is – be open and authentic with your audience in what you’re trying to accomplish. A) they’ll be impressed with your honesty and B) What you do has to fit in with your goals and your values.

Thank’s for taking the time to chime in David. Much appreciated and way cool to see you taking action!