NOTE: This is a single serving from The Digital Writer book, Writing Online by Sean Platt for writers who only need this specific information.
For digital writers, building a list is non-negotiable.
You can make money writing fiction and do extremely well. But build a list of avid readers, and you can make substantially more for every book you write, simply by sending an email. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, nothing will perform better than an in-house list of lucrative relationships, built by your hard work and consistent effort.
The longer readers remain on your list, the more likely they are to know, like, and trust you. Thus, they’re more likely to become buyers. A list of trusted buyers will give you the leverage you need to make the money you’re worth.
An opt-in to your list is a quiet commitment to receive your information. Whether that’s information on your latest book releases, or tutorials that will help them move further and faster in their career, they have agreed to hear from you because you’ve done a good job establishing an early baseline of trust. This trust makes a reader far more likely to read your emails.
Permission to enter your readers’ inboxes is infinitely more powerful than the RSS feed of your blog could ever be. Like you, your readers are busy. Having access to their inboxes over a sustained period gives you a golden opportunity to develop a deeper bond.
Your subscribers are special — they receive exclusive information and more attention than your general audience. If you're a fiction writer, perhaps you give list members exclusive previews, interviews, or some other giveaway that they'll enjoy receiving.
Emails have more power and potential than a blog post because when they land in your inbox, they require your attention, even if that attention simply means moving that email to the trash. If you make sure every email is valuable, some of your readers will look forward to everything you send. But if you abuse this privilege, and spam your readers, flood their inboxes too often, or fail to provide value, they will unsubscribe, or worse, simply ignore you.
If you’re a digital writer without a list, start one immediately. Even if you don’t have a product to offer, you will someday. And you’ll find no better time than the present to put that opt-in box in the upper right-hand corner of your blog. Several years from now, you will likely look back on that move as being one of the most significant things you ever did online. The Digital Writer's Guide to Building a List will tell you everything you need to know to build your first list immediately.
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