RE: Some interesting in-public stuff

Programming note: I’ll be off for the next 2 weeks, finishing the draft of The Positioning Manual, back on Monday, August 24.

Chris Ferdinandi, the Vanilla JS guy, wrote me about his experience with un-gated content. Here’s his email, which he said was OK to publish here:

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Just wanted to respond to this:

I mean un-gating the content, and trusting that the value of the content will do more to help your business than using the content to collect or increase the size of a list of email addresses would.

Anecdotally, I’ve had a lot of success with this approach.

Rather than requiring an email address to get the thing, and then seeing a wave of unsubscribes from people who didn’t want to give you their email but reluctantly did just to get the thing, I flip the model.

I give away a TON of stuff for free.

All of my articles get posted to my website at the same time as my newsletter comes out. I have an online toolkit of vanilla JS resources. A collection of project ideas and starter templates. An ebook and talk on building a simpler, leaner web.

On every one, I add a “Like this? Get articles on topics like this sent to your inbox” CTA, and so far, it’s worked out pretty damn well.

My email list started with 38 people (mostly Twitter friends) three years ago. Last week, I hit 9,800 subscribers. I’m still not at “quit your day job” money yet, but I’ve about doubled my gross revenue every year, and product sales (ie. my side business) now comprise about 30% of my total income.

And of course, it goes without saying that you gently pushing me to start writing daily and focus on list growth was the single best thing I ever did for my business. Thank you!!!

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I keep wrestling with this brand vs. direct response marketing idea. It seems important, and I seem currently unable to render it with anything more than hedcut-level resolution.

It’s one thing for me to say “brand marketing uses no-strings-attached gifts to earn visibility and trust; direct response marketing uses data and urgency to sell stuff”. That’s both true and reflective of what we see Chris doing.

But examples like this one from Chris really help bring this idea to life.

Thanks for that, Chris.

-P

Two online experiential learning workshops this October: