Hi there 🙂 How many times have you heard that “the money is in the list?” Probably more than a hundred, I would guess. And although money shouldn’t be the only reason why you would want to build a list, it’s still an important one.
So one Tuesday morning at 7:24, you decided that you were going to build a list. Only problem is… how do you catch people and drive them to your list?
When I started on the Internet in 1996, it was enough to write, “Sign up to get updates,” and people would sign up, and they would look forward to your updates. Back then, we were feeling immensely popular if we received more than ten emails per week, and updates to a site that had caught your interest… That was something to look forward to.
Nowadays? Ha! In most cases you need more. You need to offer your vict… er.. your prospect a delicious bait to make him bite the hook.
If you agree with me, then you’re probably already thinking, “Yeah, that’s all very well, but how do I create that bait?”
It’s not as hard as you think, and I’ll give you a blueprint to follow.
What Problem Do Your Readers Want to Solve?
You must start by figuring out what problems your readers have, and which one in particular they want to solve.
I’ve seen it so many times: You get an email from a marketer, and he writes, “What is your biggest Internet marketing related question right now?” or “What is the biggest obstacle you have to overcome?” or “Why have you not reached your goal yet?”
Those questions are well meant, but I have the same answer to all of them, “I DON’T KNOW!”
What’s my biggest question? Er… well, maybe what my biggest question is? I don’t exactly have questions. I’m here, and I want to go there, and I know some of the way but not all, but I’m not quite sure how to ask the right question to get there…
Or biggest problem? Well, not making enough money, I guess?
Those are not useful replies, and if you want to know your readers better, and want to know what’s really bothering, this is not the way to ask them.
Be much more specific.
“What’s your biggest concern about starting list building?” A: Not making enough money to pay for the auto-responder. B: I don’t know what I should write to my list. C: I don’t know how to make people sign up for my list. D: Something else (tell me about it).
When you phrase your questions like that, you’ll get answers you can use, because now you’ll know the real problem that’s bothering people.
Assuming that they are interested in list building in the first place, of course…
Another excellent way to find out what’s bothering your readers is to look at their questions and comments, also on other related blogs or forums.
Now that you have a problem your readers want solved (notice: A problem, not THE problem, there could be more than one, and you don’t have to find THE PERFECT problem…) you should start creating your bait.
Start With the Outline
I learned this trick when I was in high-school. Teachers had told me for years that I should write an outline and include it with the essay. So I wrote the essay, deducted an outline from that, and turned the paper in.
One evening not long before bed time, I discovered that I had an essay to turn in the following day.
I’d totally forgotten.
I wouldn’t have time to write the essay with a pencil, come up with an outline, and then write it all nicely with a pen.
I needed a quick method.
For some reason, I decided to start with the outline. I added notes to the different parts of the outline, and I moved headlines to better positions, and then I wrote the outline and the essay with pen. When I got it back, I got a better rating than I used to get (and I used to get high ratings).
Since then, I’ve always started with the outline. It saves you a lot of time, and it makes your writing easy to read, because it’s obvious that you had a plan, while you wrote.
An outline can consist of headlines and then notes to yourself about what to write in that paragraph. The notes are important! When I wrote an outline for a book that I was about to write for a Danish publishing house, I named one of the chapters, “Driving Without Hands.” The book was about content management systems. When I reached that chapter, I had no idea what I’d thought about when I wrote the outline. So I had to delete that chapter.
So headlines and notes.
Let your headlines follow a chronological order. That works under most circumstances. If your reader needs to sign up for a free account on Twitter, before he starts creating Twitter contests, then make sure you have the chapter about signing up before the chapter about contests.
Let Your Readers Know Why
Most people, myself included, like to know why they are supposed to do something. If you tell your reader, “Create a new community page on Facebook,” tell them why they should do that. What’s the reason for that page. What are they going to do with it later.
You can even go as far as telling your readers why they should read your book, or why they should read the chapter they’ve just arrived at.
Make as much as possible clear for your reader. Why? Because why else would he read your book and do what you ask him to do?
What Could Go Wrong?
If there are certain things that can go wrong, when your readers follow your guidelines, then write about it, and tell them how they can avoid it or make it good again.
This will help your readers succeed, and they’ll love you for it.
Unfortunately, it’s often very difficult to foresee the problems that can turn up. Use comments and questions from readers in your updated version, and make this edition even more successful.
Illustrate If Possible
If you need your reader to do something that’s a little unclear and maybe difficult to explain with words, then use pictures. You can take screenshots with a lot of different programs, even free ones. I recommend Jing both for screenshots and videos, if you want a free tool.
Your readers will love you for taking this step, because it will save them time and trouble trying to figure out what to do, when you show it to them on a picture.
Convert to PDF
I’ve seen freebies given out in Word format, and that’s not ideal. Not all people have Word on their computer, and even if they have, there could be plenty of reasons why they wouldn’t want to open a Word document:
- The Word-file can contain virus.
- Their Word-version is not compatible with the document version.
- Word takes a long time to start up.
- A document just doesn’t look as good as a Word document as a PDF document.
So come up with a way to convert your document to PDF. Plenty of programs can do that. Open Office and Scrivener are just two of those… On a Mac, you can even use Word and save as a PDF document. You’ll also find online tools to help you with this task. You just need to upload the file and the tool will convert it to PDF.
So Now I’ll Ask You…
What do you think will be the easiest part for you when you’re creating this e-book?
And what will be the most difficult?
How do you plan to get your bait created even despite those hurdles you might encounter?
Please let me know in the comments.