I finally broke down and subscribed to an e-mail distribution service. All the stuff I’ve been reading about how to promote your web site and your blog require you also to promote yourself regularly via e-mail to a large distribution list to which people “opt-in,” i.e. they subscribe so it’s not spam. To get them to subscribe you’re supposed to offer some “freebies”, a short e -book or report, a handy reference tool, some “inside information,” etc. As I mentioned in a prior post, the idea is to set up a marketing operation in which you have a virtual storefront from which to sell products, namely your books or pamphlets or photos or something. I’m not interested in scaling up to operate a storefront, virtual or otherwise, and I don’t sell anything —not even my book. It’s distributed only through Amazon.com and its subsidiaries.
My purpose is simply to keep my name in front of people so that I don’t get lost in the hundreds of contacts in their address book. I’ve added contacts from Facebook friends, Linked Connections, former clients, and queries with which I’ve had regular contact. As much I as would like to include the senior editors of some of the major periodicals, that’s just not in the game or how it’s played. I have Writer’s Market, both in print and online, and I get a Facebook feed from Folio magazine and subscribe to Folio: Media Pro group on LinkedIn so I have detailed information, including names & contact info. LinkedIn sends me updates on some of the personnel in the periodicals I’m pursuing, but I’ve been careful in requesting “introductions.”
I post to this blog about every 10 days, and I propose to issue my e-mail “newsletter” monthly with a “tip of the month.” I’m considering writing about a short little gem I’ve picked up in my research that I hope may appeal to the small group on my distribution list. Bob Bly claims to have 80,000 on his distribution list, and he recently apologized that some folks had complained that he was sending out too much self-promotional material and too frequently. It’s one thing to keep your name out there, and it’s another to become a nuisance. I know of one writer who posts to Facebook several times a day about everything on her schedule. That’s OK to put on her web site or her blog, but I get lots of Facebook feeds from lots of people, and I really don’t want to be kept that “well informed.”
There are many companies providing this service, and I chose a local one, iContact, because I know some of the people and the price is reasonable. I still miss my Microsoft Entourage that I used for years that included address book, calendar, email, and a simple project management tool all in one package. I never could get it to work right when I shifted to a new Mac running Snow Leopard, and my technician told me just to change over to Apple Mail and Apple Address book so I could use Mobile Me to sync with my laptop and iPhone without having to re-enter data. That’s OK, but it’s still not as fully functional even though I have several “groups” set-up in my email. In retrospect, I found it funny that I didn’t use any of the people in my address book for this e-mail newsletter distribution. They’re not prospects or clients. Of the 255 most are friends, family, acquaintances in various volunteer groups, etc. Even though I’ve gleaned out most of the people from my old Palm Pilot contacts, I’ve still saved it on my computer since you never know when you might need to look up some old contact that you suddenly need to reach again. I didn’t even use any from the large stack of business cards I have since I rarely contact any of those folks. I bought an iPhone app that was supposed to be able to scan those cards, but it didn’t work so I’ve never entered them into my address book. They sell dedicated card readers, but since I stopped going to the local LinkedIn Live events that draw 200-300 people I don’t collect that many cards anymore. None of them ever worked out to be qualified prospects for my type of writing. I’ve considered adding some of the folks who have responded to my blog in the past, and I may do that later.
iContact provides a variety of templates and tracking information as well as follow-ups and response forms. Since I’m starting with a very small list, I don’t expect to be overwhelmed.
What has been your experience in using e-mail as a marketing tool?