Here’s a down-and-dirty how-to article that will take you from where you are today to a profitable minimally viable short-term email subscription program (STS) in just 21 days.
Why minimally viable (MV)?
Because perfectionism is the enemy. To be sure, I recommend taking longer than this to launch your STS, but with a lot of dedication and hard work it’s possible to create a basic email subscription that you can sell and market in just 21 days. In fact, I recommend this short and rapid approach to creating an MV STS because it gets you working and focused on the basic steps required.
You can always go back and improve. And I recommend that, too. With each book, guide, and STS that I’ve written and published I’ve taken this rapid route to get it organized and sold. Then I’ve gone back and fine tuned each step in the process.
This is a long article and one that you should read several times. Although it summarizes each of the three-day time periods devoted to a specific task area, there is much to learn and skills to acquire along to way. In reality, only 21 days is required to get an STS off the ground, but ideally you will spend more time after it’s initial launch refining, improving, and making it better.
I’ll be writing about this is more detail soon, but for now if you’re ready….let’s go!
21 Days to a Profitable Email Subscription Program
DAYS 1-3 / STEP ONE: Determine the problem your subscription will solve and understand it thoroughly
- There is really only one type of STS program: the type that solves a painful problem. Solving a problem is usually achieved in one of two ways, 1) with the information your subscriber needs in order to solve the problem; 2) by teaching them a skill so they can solve the problem now and in the future.
- Regardless of what your subscription teaches, you need to understand the problem thoroughly and completely. Ultimately, it’s this deep knowledge of the problem that will attract the attention of those you are seeking to help.
- You must be able to list and describe all the ways the specific problem affects your subscribers. Begin by writing about and exploring in your journal how it affects them emotionally, financially, and possibly even physically. By delving deep into each of these effects, you can turn up the heat on their problem. This is will encourage listening to and ultimately accepting your well-thought out solution.
DAYS 4-6 / STEP 2: Define who it is that experiences the problem and knowing where to find them
- Those who experience the problem you solve are out there and actively searching online for solutions. Finding them is your job and luckily there are ways to go about it.
- Facebook groups are a good way to gauge the popularity of both the painful problem and the solutions already out there (which informs you that there is a solid market for a different solution). Twitter searches aren’t as useful, but it is an alternative to investigating those who mention the problem and propose solutions similar to yours.
- Online forums, blog searches, and good old-fashioned Google searches related to the problem you solve are also ways to find those folks. Quora and Reddit are also good places to search for those dealing with the problem. This isn’t where we talk about marketing to these populations, just doing the research that leads to it.
DAYS 7-9 / STEP 3: Solve their painful problem in six steps with your MV solution system
- As I’ve done in this article, you need to provide an initial solution system that consists of no more than six steps. If there is a final step or two beyond the initial six, call them BONUS STEPS as I have. It’s good marketing and your readers will feel you’re going the extra mile… or two.
- The initial six-step solution is your minimally viable solution system. It can often be your initial STS and feed into a longer, more detailed (and more expensive) STS that focuses on a more detailed approach that includes important areas that might not be essential in the MV STS.
- Steps are better received when they encourage action or directions to follow, as I have in each of these six steps.
DAYS 10-12 / STEP 4: Organize your email delivery system
- The first thing you need to do here is decided on which email processor you will use. I recommend only two: AWeber and ConverKit. I am affiliates for both firms so if you click on these links and purchased either of their services, I’ll get a small commission. I’ve also used other providers in the past, but these are the two I recommend.
- I’ve used both and they each are powerful systems. Each will give you the deliverability you need to get your emails into in-boxes. Both also have free affiliate programs that allow you to promote the service and get a small commission each time someone uses a link to purchase their product.
- Choosing a thrid-party email processor is essential. You cannot just use Gmail, or your website’s Outlook email system. You’ll want to create sign up forms and have the ability to segment and tag users automatically as they progress through your subscriptions.
- You’ll want to create two lists: one for blog subscribers and another for your STS.
DAYS 13-15 / STEP 5: Create your minimally viable website
- I recommend using WordPress because 1) it’s open source and free as are all upgrades, and 2) it’s the easiest way to keep control of your content as your subscription services grow. If you can use MS Word or any other word processor, with continued daily practice, you can get the hang of WordPress in just a few days.
- Create pages titled Home, About You, About Me, Getting Started or Subscribe, Blog, and Contact Me. The Home page is important because it’s your first impression to educate a visitor about the problem and the promise of a solution. It should also have a prominent blog subscription form on it. The About You page is all about your potential subscriber and the problem they face; what kind of person your solution will work best for; who your ideal customer is. About Me is about you, your own experience with the problem and how it affected you, and finally about how you devised the solution you propose. Getting Started is where you sell your solution. You talk about why it works and why they need your STS. It contains and enrollment for that leads them to a payment overlay using Gumroad or PayPal.
- Your Blog page is where you write and publish articles about the problem and occasionally about your solution. You don’t want to ever do the solution-focused articles because it feels like selling. problems attract attention like a blinking light in your rearview mirror. The Blog is also where your readers and potential subscribers will get to know and trust you. The Contact Me page lists ways for readers to get in touch with you. I use a contact form plugin that is free via WordPress.
DAYS 16-18 / STEP 6: Drive massive traffic to your website
- No website without traffic will ever convert a reader into a blog subscriber or a blog subscriber into a paying customer for your STS. After completing all the steps above, this step will remain a top priority going forward. Driving visitor traffic your site is how you gain subscribers and paying customers for your STS.
- There are numerous ways to drive traffic to your site. FB ads are a good way to do it and they are very affordable. Partnering with another blogger in a similar space is probably the best way to get traffic that’s related to your area of focus. Getting known offline via speaking to groups and companies is a great way to drive offline interest online. Robert Middleton of ActionPlan Marketing, one of my early mentors, has always maintained that if his entire business went down the tubes overnight, he could rebuild it starting over with free speaking gigs. Guest posting articles for other bloggers without overtly selling your STS is also a very powerful way to increase your free subscriber base.
- You want to focus on getting free subscribers to your blog. That’s the list you will eventually sell to over and over as your solution systems grow is number and complexity. Very often you will generate raving fans that are crazy about nearly everything you create and offer. These are your VIP customers and you should always treat them as such.
DAYS 19-21 / BONUS STEP: Revisit and refine each step in the process
- See what I did there? My solution system here is really seven steps but I’ve called this last one a Bonus Step. It’s a bit sneaky but it doesn’t the trick. I’m still delivering value to my reader and educating them in the process.
- At this point you have a minimally viable STS. It can function on its own 24/7 and create passive income for you if you’ve created it with care and according to sound marketing principles, such as good copywriting, a functioning email delivery system as I mention in STEP 4 above, a blog that entertains, inspires, and educates, etc. Now you need to go back and refine each step.
- Revision means improving, making sales pages better, giving your potential customers ore options, strengthening you offers, improving graphics, etc. It’s a long-term process for each STS or evergreen subscription (ES) that you create and offer.
Boom! You See?
It’s possible to get a minimally viable short-term subscription program up and running in 21 days! I recommend to follow this approach initially to get all the pieces into place. Then, as I mention in the BONUS STEP above, go back and refine, edit, beef up, and improve every step in the process.
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