207 FS Email Courses with Josh Earl
Check out Ruby Remote Conf!
01:47 - Josh Earl Introduction
- Simple Programmer
- The Entreprogrammers Podcast 02:23 - Creating Email Courses03:57 - Marketing vs Email Courses
- How to Market Yourself as a Software Developer 15:26 - Length
- 5 Learning Mistakes Developers Make 18:49 - Opt-in Forms21:48 - Single vs Double Opt-in26:28 - Keeping People Engaged29:26 - Offering Discount Codes33:35 - Content41:32 - Tips for Telling Better Stories 44:45 - Agitation 47:22 - Competition and What Comes Next?51:02 - Asking People to Share
- SmartBribe 54:39 - Selling Services Picks
- The New York Times Mobile App (Reuven)
- Slate Plus (Reuven)
- Double Your Freelancing Conference Europe (Reuven) Discount Code: FREELANCER
- On Writing Well, 30th Anniversary Edition: An Informal Guide to Writing Nonfiction by William Zinsser (Jonathan)
- Jonathan's Webinars (Jonathan)
- Fitbit One (Chuck)
- The Entreprogrammers Podcast (Chuck)
- Wired for Story: The Writer's Guide to Using Brain Science to Hook Readers from the Very First Sentence by Lisa Cron (Josh)
- Scrivener (Josh)
- Strides (Josh) Check out Josh's How to Make More Sales with Email Courses!!
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CHUCK: Hey everybody and welcome to episode 207 of The Freelancers’ Show. This week on our panel we have Jonathan Stark.
CHUCK: Philip Morgan.
CHUCK: Reuven Lerner.
REUVEN: Hi everyone.
CHUCK: I’m Charles Max Wood from DevChat.tv. If you're into Ruby, go check out Ruby Remote Conf.
This week we have a special guest, and that’s Josh Earl.
JOSH: Hey there.
CHUCK: Do you want to give us a brief introduction? You haven’t been on for a while.
JOSH: Yeah. I’m Josh Earl here. I’m a former programmer turned to the dark side. I’m an email copywriter and marketer now. And I blog at joshuaearl.com, and I’m also kind of the right-hand man at simpleprogrammer.com, which is John Sonmez, my long-time friend, and I run that and we’re also on the Entreprogrammers Podcast with Chuck. So lots of good stuff going on.
CHUCK: Yeah. I heard you stumbled over the word m-m-m-marketer.
JOSH: It’s the old reflexes.
CHUCK: That’s right. We brought you on today to talk about something that at least I think you’ve mastered – and I love reading the ones that you’ve written – creating email courses.
JOSH: Yeah. This is something I've gotten into – I stumbled into this after my – before the show we we’re talking about my first internet business, which was selling ebooks about Sublime Text, and I had this problem where I’d get people onto my list and I was able to do product launches and make money by doing that, and I was able to do occasional sales and make money doing that, but as a general rule, my books didn’t sell and it was really frustrating. I tried a bunch of different things and you always end up feeling like a spammer because you're just hammering people over the head all day with the Buy Now call to action.
Since I've started working with Simple Programmer, what I've figured out how to do is to create these email courses. They're like usually 5, 7, 10-day email courses and they teach something specific, and in the process, you are also building awareness of a product, and at the end you sell it.
It’s a great way – I really like it because it gets people who are just coming onto your list familiar with your product. You get all the low-hanging fruit of the sales; the people that are most interested in what you have to offer will end up buying right away, and it turns the one-time sales into kind of like [inaudible] where you get a pretty consistent stream of revenue every month versus just going through the sugar highs of the product launches. So I've build out several of these for Simple Programmer; building out one for my own site now, and it just been – they're a lot of fun and people really like them.
CHUCK: We've talked about email marketing and we've talked about managing an email list some on the show. How is that different from that?
JOSH: Well, I think – couple of things. The big advantage for me of an email course is that you're talking about one thing that’s very specific for an extended period of time. So when people sign up, I always advertise these things as my lead magnet. So people know you're going to get a 5-day email course or a 10-day email course. So it gives you permission right up front to focus on something for an extended period of time and really get people focused on it, and it gives you the space you need to actually build the case for your product. That’s the main – and then also since they're educational, people don’t feel like you're spamming them.
REUVEN: When you say it’s your lead magnet, so people come to your site and you don’t say to them “join my list”, you don’t say to them “buy my product”; you say “hey, why don’t you sign up for 5-part course, 10-part course” – I guess we’ll talk about how many parts in a little bit – “to learn more about X”.
REUVEN: And they sign up, and everyday for the rest of their lives, everyday they get email from you telling them useful information about whatever the topic is.
JOSH: Yeah. Now, I don’t do the everyday thing for the rest of their lives with Simple Programmer yet. I do that with my own blog where I talk about marketing and email copywriting because those folks have a higher tolerance for constantly being marketed to than programmers do. But yeah, that’s pretty much it.
On Simple Programmer, one of our email courses is called 5 Learning Mistakes Software Developers Make, and that is a – it’s a 5-day course and that cover, just like the title says, it’s 5 things that a lot of developers assume about learning that are actually wrong and are making it much harder for them to learn new programming languages, learn new technologies. So that transition is very [inaudible] into a sale for the product that we’re offering which is a longer course about how to learn quickly and efficiently.
CHUCK: So you tell them that they're doing it wrong and then you put the thumbscrews to them and get them to buy your stuff.
JOSH: Exactly. That’s kind of how it works. A little evil, but it works.
CHUCK: Sorry, I couldn’t help but – and we've talked about this quite a bit on Entreprogrammers – the thing that I find interesting about it is that essentially you're giving what they want and setting them up to buy something. And I think there's a certain art to that that I haven’t quite mastered.
Let me tell you a story about a friend of mine, and this friend of mine [chuckles] has decided to write a book about how to find your first programming job. And so he set up a website and he got people to join the list, and he actually told people what was in – what the topics of each of the emails were and got a whole bunch more people excited to join his list, and then he found himself writing his book in the emails. And so then he changed it, but they still feel a little bit dry. So what do you put in there? What's the secret sauce for “hey, I really want you to buy my thing, but I want you to buy it because you feel good about what I've given you so far”?
JOSH: Yeah. It’s hard to talk about this in the abstract, so let’s dive into this specific example then. So your objective here – alright, I’m going to have to think on [inaudible]. [Chuckles]
Your objective here is to get people to buy a book about how to get their first programming job.
CHUCK: Can I argue with you a little bit about that?
CHUCK: Because my objective is actually to get them to do the things that they have to do to get the job. Selling the book helps me, but it helps them. And ultimately, I’m much more interested in helping a whole bunch of people. Selling the book is just the way I’m doing it.
JOSH: Yeah. It’s funny; I actually am kind of in a similar position. I’m in the process of creating my first digital product around email marketing and it’s going to be about this email course stuff. And I actually would prefer to – at this point, I just would like to grow my email list and I’m willing to go on webinars and talk to – the free educational stuff that talk to people about this – but I’m finding that I can’t do that without a product to sell because especially in the marketing niche, nobody wants to talk to you. Nobody wants you on their webinar and they see it as like you're poaching their subscribers. And if you’ve got a product to sell, you can say “well, we’ll split the proceeds 50-50” and they're like “ok, so that makes sense”.
Yeah. That’s just – yeah, it’s a different – it’s probably – I wouldn’t be that way personally, but that’s pretty common attitude that I bumped into.
JONATHAN: Makes sense when you put it like that.
JOSH: Yeah, yeah. I think it’s less of a – it would be less of a problem in a lot of other niches, but people in marketing can be a little bit – a little territorial. So yeah, Chuck I’m totally with you on that, on your objective there.
CHUCK: You're with my friend. Sorry, I just –
JOSH: Sorry, sorry. Yeah, you just meant – I’m with you there.
So the thing that you have to do – there's a few ways to do it. Where you start with it depends on where your audience is and what their questions are and what their concerns are. So it could be that what they're looking for right this minute is not “how do I get my first programming job”, they're actually looking for “gosh, I need help with my resume”. And so you could do it an e-course, an email course about mistakes that you make with your resume or how to prepare a resume – stuff like that.
So it’s directly connected to your product and it leads into it, but it doesn’t cannibalize it. Does that make sense?
CHUCK: Yeah, that makes sense. So in this example, I could say 10 things you're doing wrong on your resume or 5 things you're doing wrong with your resume, and that could be the email course.
JOSH: Yeah, or it could be – just keep going with the mistakes thing. That’s one of my go-to templates because it’s just easy to talk about. So it could be that you do 7 mistakes that developers make when they're applying for their first coding job or something like that, or it could be interview – there's a lot of anxiety around interviewing, so it could be problems that people have with their interviews.
CHUCK: Yeah. The one that I – or my friend built is [chuckles] 10 ways to get noticed.
JOSH: I feel like this is breaking down this charade you're pulling here.
REUVEN: Chuck, you’ve told everyone you're writing this book.
JOSH: It’s a leaky abstraction.
CHUCK: It’s a leaky abstraction. So yeah, so I wrote the email course and basically, it’s 10 ways to get noticed and there are 12 emails in there, and the first one is just a welcome and hello, and then the second one is “here’s the one thing that you need to supercharge all the rest of them”, and then there are 10 ways.
JOSH: Ok. One thing I would suggest would be teasing that – instead of giving them the highest value one upfront, you can promise it down the road. That would be one way to get people anticipating that.
But that sounds like a pretty reasonable place to start. There's usually about 10 – a lot of times what I do is I’ll come up with 10 of 20 different options as far as what the topic could be, and then I take a look at my product and I look for how is this course – how am I going to connect this course to the thing that I’m eventually going to be selling, because there needs to be a very clear logical – set of logical ties between the course and the product that you're selling at the end.
So usually I’ll come up with a list of potential topics and I’ll pick the ones that look like they're going to be the most – that are going to tie together the most tightly.
REUVEN: And when you say that it has to tie together, there has to be a logical connection, you're not just talking about topical connection, right? You're not just saying “well, I’m talking about resumes, so I should have an email course about resumes”. I assume it has to be a little deeper than that.
JOSH: No, you're right. It has to be what you're really looking for is what's the ultimate goal. What do they ultimately want out of this? Nobody wants a resume. What they want is their dream job or a better salary or more free time or something, and so your product has to be something that can meet that need in a way that seems logical.
So right now at Simple Programmer, our main lead magnet is this blogging course. So John produced a product called How to Market Yourself as a Software Developer, and he launched that 2 or 3 years ago. And the way that he’s been selling it up until now is what this big blogging course is like 6 or 8 installments, and it’s basically like an end-to-end “how do you set up a blog, how do you write your first post, how do you install Wordpress” – all that stuff. And at the end, he’s got a lesson where it’s like – he tries to turn the corner a little bit and he says “well, the reason that you set up a blog is because what you actually need to do is market yourself and I've got this course”. It’s not that bad, but it doesn’t really work all that well. So I’m going to be redoing that course and making it more of a straight shot from what they opted in for and this marketing yourself course.
I think the angle that I’m going to take here – I haven’t written this one yet, but I think what I’m going to do is – software developers are aware generally, I think, that they're underpaid because – John has a story where he wrote this software for a company he works for that made them millions of dollars, and he got paid 45 bucks an hour. So how is that? You're not really capturing the value. You're creating – you basically – between the sales team and the development team, that’s pretty much the company for a lot of businesses. And sales guys, a lot of times, get commissioned; they get to capture more of the value they're creating, and developers don’t. We’re like cap out it like 80 or $90,000 or maybe 120 or whatever.
So I think a lot of developers have this sense that they could be earning more than they are, and I've talked to people that have bought the course and that’s what their mindset was when they bought it. So I’m going to start there with my next email course for this and I’m going to play off of this team of like “you are underpaid” and I’m going to spend 5 or 10 days telling them all of the ways, all of the reasons why they're underpaid. They took the bad job or they're not respected and valued, they didn’t negotiate their salary – lay out all the reasons why they're not earning as much as they could.
And then I’m going to take that and I’m going to say “look, the fix for all of this is you need to be in a position where you have more offers coming to you than you could ever possibly take advantage of”. And the way – how hard would it be to negotiate the salary increase if you had 3 employers who are all trying to hire you and you're bouncing their offers off of each other? That’s like no-brainer negotiation. And so I’m going to say “and the way that you do that is by marketing yourself. You have to do these certain things. Get your name out there, market yourself and this will be the result”.
So I’m testing that theme, the “you are underpaid” theme right now on our site in a pop-up and it’s working pretty well. So I think that’s going to resonate with our audience.
REUVEN: Well, it’s pretty hard to go wrong if you say to people “do you feel like you're underpaid?” Not too many people are going to say “actually no. I am very happy with the amount I’m making”.
JOSH: Right. I feel like the strongest appeal for this course is increasing your salary, but if I just come out and say “make more money” – and we've tried this. I just come out and say “make more money”; developers don’t really believe that. It seems unbelievable, and a lot – it’s a skeptical audience rarely so, and so by making that claim upfront is not believable, but by building the case for it, you can actually make that claim credible later on.
REUVEN: So how long should these email courses be?
JOSH: That is a good question. I typically will do a minimum of 5 days, and my goal is I want to be in people’s inbox, assuming they're a new subscriber, I want to be in their inbox at least 10 times in 2 weeks. And the reason for that is just so that I – so they develop the name recognition, they get familiar with me and they get used to hearing from me. A lot of people will – you'll sign up for their list and you won’t hear from them for a week. They won’t even send you a welcome email.
Building that name recognition is actually one of the strongest points of the email course. You give them something, they start to look forward to your emails. I have multiple people every week emailing me and saying “hey, I didn’t get lesson number 3. What going on? You send that to me”. And that’s what you want. You want people to be looking forward to it and associating that with your name.
REUVEN: Yeah. I just signed up for an email list earlier today. And it was very interesting. The guy said basically “I’m going to send out email about once a month, but I've been writing this for a while and there's a lot of stuff. So over the next few days, I’m going to send you once a day one of my best [inaudible]”. And I thought “wow, that’s brilliant”. Not only does it give me what he thinks is the best off, it solves the problem of me going and looking for it, although he does give me the link to the archive. And it means that it’s exactly what you're saying now. I will see his name in my inbox everyday. I will read his stuff and say “that’s really good” hopefully presumably, which is good for him and good for me.
JOSH: Exactly yeah. And setting the expectation like that is great. An email course does that. It’s this intense time box thing, and you'll keep emailing after that, of course, but they know – the expectation is there that you're going to be – they're going to be hearing from you a lot.
CHUCK: So 10 times in 2 weeks. So if you only have 5 emails in the course, how do you get the other 5?
JOSH: For the 5 Learning Mistakes course, I’ve got a welcome email which is – so the welcome email, when I do an email course, the welcome email is actually basically me reselling them on the email course they're about to take. So I created one of these for my site about the giveaways thing that I did. I think I talked about that last time I was on the show. I had this giveaway I used, this WordPress plugin, and it went viral.
So my welcome email for that course, I talked about my reasons for writing really for – I told my story, basically. I said I was really frustrated with blogging and I wasn’t getting as much traction as I wanted, and I see I was it was a pain the butt, and then I have this giveaway and things went crazy, and I’m now going to tell you how I did it. And I set up the emails that way in the welcome email. It’s not just like a “hey, thanks” type of thing.
So that’s one. I call that Day Zero. And then Day 1 through 5 are going to be your actual lessons. And then I usually wait a day or two and drop them into a sales sequence. A lot of times I’ll have one or two follow-up content emails too, maybe like the first 6 or 7 emails are all content and then I drop them into a sales sequence after that. So they could be getting anywhere from 7 to 12 or 14 emails from me in 2 weeks.
CHUCK: Alright. So let’s say that I've got this down; I've got – well, let’s not assume anything. So the opt-in form; what do you put on the opt-in form?
JOSH: That really depends on what the traffic sources. So I’m in the process right now of rewriting my homepage for my website. Right now I just have blog posts and I’m going to be rewriting that to be more of a call to action opt-in page. And it’s going to be above the fold big call to action that’s assigned to get my course, and then below the fold it’s going to be actually the way I just explained. I’m going to be telling my story and why I created the course. And I’ll have another call to action at the bottom.
So that’s like a longer page; it probably will be around maybe 500 words. A general landing page, you don’t want to have a lot of copies so it might just be the title of the course and then a short sub-header like “get the free 5-day course here” with a call to action on the form.
If you're going to use Facebook or Google for your traffic, they have a lot of other requirements that you have to put a lot more copy on the page, there has to be a lot of extra links and stuff that you typically wouldn’t want on a landing page but they require it. So for a pop-up or something, it’s more similar to straight up vanilla landing page which is just going to be headline and then a short descriptive sentence that sets their expectations.
Does that make sense or –?
CHUCK: Yeah. Do you outline the problem you're trying to solve or do you just – “get the 10 secrets to looking nicer” – I don’t know.
JOSH: Yeah, it has to – so sometimes – gosh, it really depends on – what you're trying to do when you're at this point, when you're trying to get somebody to opt-in, what you're really trying to do is connect with them where they are – in copywriting we have this expression of joining the conversation that’s going on inside their head. So if they are surfing the internet feeling unappreciated and underpaid, well a pop-up that says “are you underpaid” is going to get your attention. So that might be as far as they’ve gone in that process.
I did talk to one of our customers who literally sat down and Googled “how do I market myself as a software developer” which is the exact title of the course that John sells. So if there were tons of people coming to my site with that phrase looking for that, then that would be the title of my pop-up. It takes some experimentation, but you have to figure out where people are, what information they're actually looking for, and that’s where you start.
JONATHAN: I've done this with Facebook ads. A/B testing. So I’ll make 10 Facebook ads that link to the same thing and I put variation on what I think are the most obvious headlines. And without exception, it’s never the one that I think will be the best one.
JOSH: Yeah. All of the stuff is educated guessing. When you study marketing you get better at the educated guessing, but you're still frequently surprised.
JONATHAN: I have a question that I don’t think you actually answered. I hope I didn’t miss it, but single or double opt-in?
JOSH: Oh my goodness. This is a –
CHUCK: [Laughter] Sorry.
REUVEN: [Inaudible] of email marketing.
JOSH: I am actually going to – I’m considering doing a test on this because we get enough traffic at Simple Programmer that I could just setup a simple split test with our homepage opt-in form and just run people through both ways. And as of right now, as of today, I reserve the right to change this, but as of today, I think that double opt-in is stupid.
CHUCK: We've had long conversations about this on Entreprogrammers. That’s why I was laughing.
JOSH: Yeah. I’ll give you the short version. The double opt-in thing is pushed by the email service providers like MailChimp because it makes their job easier. One of their main jobs is to keep their emails getting into the inbox. And when you use double opt-in, it’s true that you have overall fewer spam complaints and stuff, but that doesn’t really help you as a sender very much. It helps MailChimp as a whole because they're round-robinning you through a bunch of different servers, so there's really no direct benefit to you.
What it does do is basically crumple up 30% of your email list and throw it in the trash because people – because 25 or 30% of people will not click the double opt-in link. And there's an argument that “oh well, they didn’t want your emails”. Well, that’s not true because right off the bat, anywhere from 15-16% of emails from MailChimp, AWeber, they don’t get delivered. They just vanish; either they go into the spam box or they just are zapped in transit.
REUVEN: I hate the fact that they're working so hard to get everything sent. [Chuckles]
JOSH: I actually had this guy reach out to me yesterday and he’s got this new tool that analyzes your email and tells you how – where your deliverability rate will be based on what words you use and stuff. And he ran one of my emails through it and it came back 83.5. And that was good.
It’s 30% of people don’t confirm. Half of those people probably never even saw the email and never got the chance to confirm.
JOSH: Yeah. I've definitely had people email me and say “I can’t sign up for your list. Where is –”? Back when I was using it, I got people that would complain.
So there's an argument that I've seen tests that indicate that there's no advantage as far as how interactive, how active your list is. I have seen one test where the double opt-in list was more active. And the steps that MailChimp typically sites, I don’t give any [inaudible] to because they're comparing so many different businesses and so many different business models that mom pop antique dress store that sends one email a quarter is not comparable to a savvy internet marketer who’s built a list of 500,000 people. There's just too much – there's too many different variables that MailChimp doesn’t control for. They just look at everything and they say “oh, better open rates”. So that’s my 3 or 5 sense on that.
JONATHAN: Yeah. I agree with you. But my own rationale for not using double opt-in is that it’s annoying for [inaudible] to sign up.
JOSH: It really is. My welcome emails typically get anywhere from 50-80% open rates. So right there, if you have people open your welcome email and they click some kind of link to download whatever it is you're sending them, that sends a pretty good signal to Gmail and Yahoo that they want your stuff. So making them do that twice has no benefit in my mind.
And really, what determines how active your list is what you say to them and the onboarding process and not hammering people over the head with obnoxious spam. End of rant.
REUVEN: Ok. I’m going to turn off the double opt-in on my list. You have convinced me in this.
CHUCK: Yeah. It took him one whole try to get me to turn off double opt-in.
JOSH: It took me two tries to – [crosstalk]. Yeah, yeah. Exactly. Yup.
I think I was the first person to request that in Drip.
JONATHAN: I don’t know – there are a number of people I know had inside access to Drip and they would email and say “hey, could you turn off double opt-in for me?” and then one day a checkbox appeared, so there you go.
JONATHAN: Annoy the developer enough and eventually a checkbox will show up.
CHUCK: So here’s the other thing that I’m wondering about is once you have them on the list, your opt-in or landing page, all of that stuff lines real well. Maybe you're buying traffic, maybe you're not, but you're getting people on your list. How do you get them from there to “oh, I really want to keep getting these, I really enjoy this email course”, and at the same time, keep them engaged enough to want to buy it at the end of it?
JOSH: Well, they're opting in specifically for the email course usually. So how do I keep them engaged after that or –?
JOSH: I don’t ask for permission to continue sending them email for one thing. It just happens. So usually now on Simple Programmer, we've got a few emails that go out. I’m working to do a better job at this. I want to have a long-term – I’m going to call it a nurture sequence where I’m just sending content. Right now I’ve only got a few emails in that sequence. So you'll get – you come off of the email course and you get – you start to get Drip with these content emails.
The other thing that I do is when you come off of the email course, you go through the sales sequence; you buy, you don’t buy – whatever. I immediately drop you into a sequence that pitches you on taking another one of my email courses.
My goal is to build out 8-10 of these email courses that are all lead magnets so they appeal to people of all different interests, and then they all cross-promote each other. So once I get you into my web, I have all these different things that are interesting – yeah, I've got all these different things that are interesting to software developers, and I will just keep offering them to you. “Hey, would you –?”
So when you take the 5 Learning Mistakes course that I've created, when you're done with that, I’ll say “hey, we've got this course about how to create a blog. You want to take that?” and about 20% of people say yes. And that’s like – those are going to be like the 20% that are the most engaged anyway. So between the other courses and cross-promoting the courses like that and the nurture emails that I send out, that’s how I keep my list warm, engaged, and buying stuff.
JONATHAN: Can I point out that this sounds like an awful lot of work? What's the 80-20 rule or the average – [crosstalk]?
JOSH: Yeah. I would say it is a lot of work. It is more complicated than you need. If you have one product that you're selling, then it’s way more than you need. So the 80-20 would be – I think most people would benefit from having a good email course that is somewhere in the 5 or 10-day range followed by a sales sequence where you're offering a limited time discount. And that would be where I would start.
And then if that were – if you find out works really well for you, you can always add one or two other email courses that are set up the same way. So you get people coming in from multiple different – if you go back to Chuck’s friend, maybe they're not interested in resumes but they're interested in negotiation. So if you had an email course about both, you’d get both of those groups of people.
REUVEN: So Josh, [inaudible] something which was interesting, which was – [inaudible] wrong, but you said you put people through the email course and then you do a sales cycle including giving them a limited time discount. Now in my email course as I've always said “well, thanks for going through this. Now [inaudible] you can apply the following discount code if you want money off”. And it sounds like what I should be saying “apply it now! You have 48 hours! The countdown is on!” or something perhaps less mean and sales-y, but still true. You find that it makes a big difference, I assume?
JOSH: Yes. Yeah, it does. Versus just being open-ended about it, yeah it does make a big difference. I can’t site statistics right now off the top of my head, but generally what you find when you do any kind of sale is that about half the sales come in on the first day, and half the sales come – more than the third of the sales come in on the first day, more than a third of the sales come in on the last day, and then there's this little trickle of sales that come in on the middle. So more than half of the people or probably close to half of the people won’t buy if you don’t give them a specific deadline.
CHUCK: Well, yeah I got to buy that, and if I don’t buy it today, I won’t be able to get the discount.
JOSH: Exactly. Yup. And also what I’ll do is on that last day, usually I do these – if it’s like a little-priced product, I’ll usually do it as a 36-hour flash sale. So I’ll do like 11am, I’ll send an email saying “hey, this is – get this discount” and then the next day I’ll say “this is the last day for this. It’s going to end tonight” and then maybe at 8:00 at night I’ll say “this ends in a few hours” and you get sales from each of those.
JONATHAN: You're not doing this on a Drip campaign. You're doing this on a broadcast.
JOSH: No, this is on Drip campaign.
JONATHAN: So it’s completely fake.
JOSH: There are tools you can use that make it not fake.
REUVEN: I wanted to ask that.
JONATHAN: [Inaudible] what those are.
JOSH: Yes. There is a tool called deadlinefunnel.com that is awesome. Basically, the idea is that it gives you a token. It integrates with Drip so when people sign up for the course, they get a token, and the token gets used in a URL when they click the URL. If they have an expired token, they get redirected to a So Sorry page.
JONATHAN: So basically, the deadline is real, but it’s –
JOSH: Yes. Yeah, exactly. Yup.
JONATHAN: I see.
REUVEN: [Inaudible] Does it work with all online stores? I use Gumroad for instance. Does it integrate with that?
JOSH: I haven’t tried to set it up with Gumroad. I believe it would because it is – you might have to hack it a little bit. It’s based off of a URL so you set up an Add to Cart page on your website that would have something set up with Gumroad where it would apply the discount, or it’s maybe it’s like a special hidden version of your product that’s priced at a lower price point, and then – you know what I’m saying? You just copy your product and create an 80% off version of it or a – not 80%, good grief – 20% off version of it. And then the only way to get to that – you don’t advertise that anywhere. The only way to get to it is on this page and they have to go through the email course to get to the page.
JONATHAN: Yeah. It sounds like [inaudible] expiration date that’s email specific.
JOSH: That is a good way to describe it, yeah.
JONATHAN: Very interesting.
CHUCK: Yup. So – [crosstalk].
REUVEN: I feel like I just have to do a fake one. I figured I’d say “well, the time’s running out”, and someone somewhere would be smart enough – because I’m dealing with programmers; they’d say “what happens in a week later?” and I would do that. I would say “if he claims that it’s not –”
JOSH: Right. Personally I think it’s important to make it real. There's a few other ways you could do it, like you could have a – one simple way to do it would be to just have a code that you – like if you timed your emails to go out on specific days, maybe you run people through the course and then they fall off the end and then they go into a sales sequence, and the sales sequence always starts on Monday and always ends on Wednesday.
So you could set it up so that you got a coupon code that has an expiration date of Wednesday, and then you just, once a week, go in or have your VA go in and just copy and paste your coupon code. That’s kind of hacky, but that would be another way to do it.
CHUCK: I want to go into the content of the emails a little bit because as I said before, the first two emails, I still haven’t rewritten them, so they are effectively long chunks of a rough draft of my book instead of actually being “hey, for users groups, here’s some ideas of things that you could do and here are a couple of good stories”. Is the second way the best way to put that together or how do you structure those so that they're not so long that it drives people off and not so short that people feel like “oh ok, I’m just getting fluffed”?
JOSH: The length is not the primary thing that you should be thinking about. Now, writing 2000-word emails can get to be a bit much, but people will read it if it’s interesting generally. Though I’m still formalizing this, but I've got this 3-part – when I write an email, I've got 3 basic objectives that I’m trying to hit. I want to educate, I want to entertain, and I want to agitate.
So the education part is the bait that you use to get people on to your course in the first place. The entertainment, that’s where the stories come in and that’s what will keep people reading. And then the agitation piece is where you're using the stories and the content in your emails to open the door onto problems they didn’t know they had.
So what you don’t want to do is you don’t want to have this course that they go through the 5 days and they get to the end and everything’s tied up in a nice little tidy box with a bow on it and there's no reason to read any more of your emails. And that’s how a lot of email courses are written. They're like “I’m going to walk you through for 5 days how to solve this one specific problem”, and then I’m going to get to the end and it would be like “oh hey hey hey, I still – I have this product you might like”. That’s not what you want to do. What you want to be doing is you want to be as you're teaching them, you want to be also making them aware of a bigger problem that your product solves.
The most effective way to do that is I think through the stories because they're entertaining and they're believable and they can shift people’s way of thinking. That’s how I usually tackle the content.
CHUCK: Nice. So you don’t have to put all of the information to the email. You just put enough of it [inaudible] valuable, and then stir up that feeling of “oh, but there's more”.
JOSH: Yes. And honestly, you don’t want to go overboard. A lot of people will go way overboard with the amount of just pure information that they provide. And pure information is interesting. I’m talking like step-by-step code samples. That’s useful and it helps a little bit in the sales process because you're establishing your credibility, but it’s not really going to do a lot to convince people that they actually need what it is that you're selling.
JONATHAN: This is touching on a couple of topics that I've found useful in my recent conversion to email marketer, and one of them is – I don’t know where I read this or someone told it to me, but the quote is that “you don’t need to teach people everything you know. You need to teach them what they need to know”. And it feels weird because – I think there are two reasons why it feels weird. One is because if you don’t know your audience, you don’t know what to leave out because you don’t really know what they need to know. And the other thing is it makes you feel like you're oversimplifying because you have the curse of knowledge. So you know all of the complexity and you know all of the nuance, and that’s totally overwhelming to somebody who’s new.
It’s like my sister’s a PhD in Spanish literature and she teaches Spanish to Spanish people, and – wow, it sounded weird, but not Spanish people, but people who speaks Spanish – that was weird. Anyway – and she told me that it’s actually easier to do translations like at the UN, live translations, if you're not that amazing because it’s easier when you're not as good at it. If you're intermediate, it’s easiest because you don’t get hung up on trying to – you just do as good a job as you can. It’s not complicated. When you get better and better, it actually becomes harder because you have to actually think about what's being said and trying to add the accent and the inflection and choice of words becomes more difficult, and I find I struggle with that myself when I’m trying to teach noobs about stuff that they really need to know and maybe I've been doing for 15 years. It’s hard to leave that stuff out, but I think it’s critical that you do.
JOSH: I think these courses work better if you are able to stick to higher level principles and not dive down into the nitty-gritty really detailed how-to stuff. That’s usually for a product or a blog post. An email like – [crosstalk] – yeah. Emails should be more like snack food. They're more like potato chips.
JONATHAN: Are you familiar with the concept called open loops?
JOSH: Mm-hm. Yup.
JONATHAN: I know that Philip’s having a hard time connecting to Skype and he's a huge – well, I think I’m not putting words in his mouth, but he’s a big fan of leaving open loops in emails. It’s like a cliffhanger.
JONATHAN: Where you purposely focus on one thing that you maybe have to touch on some other things, but you don’t flush them all out and you talk about them later and the curiosity is already there because you brought it up but didn’t explain it.
JOSH: Yeah, and stories are awesome for this. When we were launching – the emails that I’m using now is the course for the 5 Learning Mistakes course where actually emails that I wrote for a product launch for the product that we’re selling. So I actually wrote them deliberately to be both product launch and an email course later.
And the very first email and so it’s talking about I’m going through and basically reselling them on the course and saying “here’s the problem that this course is going to help you solve”, and at the end I talk about how John had – “the first learning mistakes we’re going to cover, it’s a big deal. You probably don’t realize you're making it and it’s such a big deal that it got me fired from my first programming job”, and it ends there. And people freak out. When we first did the launch, we got so many emails back from people going “ahhhh! We can’t wait until tomorrow. What's going on?”
So yeah, it’s a really really powerful technique, and the bigger – stories are great because they're so dramatic. I don’t think it works quite as well when you say “there's a CSS selector and I’ll tell you about that tomorrow”. That’s not quite as – unless they're really dying for that.
REUVEN: That’s drama of that [inaudible].
CHUCK: Yeah, but we all hate open loops on our stories, and that’s – it gets people. It’s like “how does it end?”
JOSH: Yup. And if you can take – the ideal situation is you’ve got your – Chuck, for your friend, if he’s got a story –
CHUCK: I think we gave up on that pretense.
JOSH: Did we?
JOSH: So yeah, Chuck. If you’ve got a really good story about you getting your first programming job or one of your friends getting their first programming job that you could string out across 7-10 emails and just keep dripping out pieces of the story and walking them through it and teaching a lesson at each step along the way, you're going to see your open rates pretty much stay rock solid across that course because people are going to want to know what happens next.
CHUCK: Yeah. Currently, the open rates on that course are about 70%.
JOSH: Well, that’s actually – yeah, it’s going to be hard to beat that. That’s pretty good.
CHUCK: Yes, but I've gotten a lot of good examples from you, so I kind of mimicked what you did and it’s worked, but the first 2 emails are basically sections out of the book and then I was like “urgh, this isn't going to work”.
JOSH: Yeah. It can be too much. The email is like you are checking your email, usually you're in a hurry. You want to grab people’s attention and give them something. I usually try to limit it to one story and one point and it’s focused you're in you're out and people enjoy it and they look forward to hearing from you again.
JONATHAN: I have two questions that might be outside of the scope of the conversation, but one would be any tips on how to tell better stories, and I forgot the other one.
REUVEN: It’s the open loop.
JONATHAN: Tune in next week.
JOSH: I think you have to do it more – one of the big points that I think a lot of people get hung up on is keeping your story very streamlined and relevant and moving forward in that every detail that you include needs to be moving the story forward. I had somebody send me some emails to critique one time, and they were good like I need to chop out – his story was about 300, maybe 200 or 300 words long, and it went down too many blond alleys. It was – and actually it’s back to the open loops concept.
Whenever you include a detail in a story, your brain hangs on to that detail because it assumes it’s relevant. We've learned or conditioned to believe that everything that we hear in a story has a point and it will come into play later. So your brain is like – if you throw 10 different details in the beginning, even if they're interesting, if they don’t come back around and they were not relevant later, your readers are going to start to split their focus and they're going to – you're going to lose them.
JONATHAN: Yeah. It’s like in a movie. If the camera focuses on a pack of gum, you expect that it’s [inaudible].
JOSH: Yeah. There's a saying in the screenwriting that if you show a gun in the first scene, it had better go off by the second scene.
CHUCK: Just another case in point. I listen to a podcast about the TV show Once Upon a Time, and in their spoiler section, it was funny because they actually said “yeah, we've gotten some indications that they're going to go back and close all of these loops”, and it’s all the questions that all of the viewers have had over the last – I don’t know – 7 or 8 seasons, however many they’ve had. And it’s because it’s you broached this topic and then never came back to it.
JOSH: Yup, exactly. So that’s one thing. The other tip is you’ve got to get into it really fast. And this is generally true of emails in general. That first sentence especially should be really short, quick, punchy, and ideally you want it to be something that’s attention-grabbing. And then you also want to give some clues along the way that gives the readers some idea where you're headed with it, and at least indicate that there's some benefit that’s topical.
I see a lot of people do these story-based emails and they have a curiosity type of headline that doesn’t really say much. And then they go into this story and it’s like 300 words and I’m like “you're selling beef. I don’t know how this story relates to beef”. This is an actual example from somebody that I've helped.
CHUCK: It’s what's for dinner.
JOSH: Yeah. He sells premium really high-end meat.
JONATHAN: Oh, Chuck’s steaks?
CHUCK: Somebody went there.
JOSH: Yeah, yeah. Ok, we’re not going near that.
JOSH: But yeah, you’ve got to drop some breadcrumbs early on that least hint at where you're going with the story so that they stick around.
JONATHAN: Yeah, that makes total sense.
JONATHAN: I did remember my other question which is could you talk just a little bit more about some specifics or tactics about the agitation part of the email?
JOSH: Yeah, ok. It’s not something that you can easily tack on or it feels really forced. So the way I usually do it is I use the stories that I tell to do the agitation for me. So for example, in the learning – this learning course, John’s example about getting fired from his first programming job is a good example. So spoiler, he negotiates his way into this job as a C++ programmer and he doesn’t know any C++ or he knows very little C++. They hire him at 75 bucks an hour and then he just shows up and he’s like “ok, well I should probably learn to write C++”.
So he buys this monstrously thick C++ book and spends the next month or two, every waking moment is spent reading this book, and he clocks away from it, he doesn’t learn anything about C++, and he ends up getting fired because everybody caught on that he didn’t really know how to write C++. And so what I’m doing there is I’m agitating the mistake that people are making which is this traditional linear way of learning is less than ideal. So the mistake is – or the agitation is in presenting a familiar scenario and then showing the consequences of it. Does that make sense?
CHUCK: Can I throw [inaudible] there and you can tell me it’s terrible? The first email or the first tactic for getting noticed is going to users groups. So I could tell the story of the first time I went to a users group. I was a brand new programmer, I was super nervous, and I had no idea what I was supposed to do there. I just knew that I wanted to be there because other Ruby programmers were there. And I feel like that kind of agitates, and then from there I can talk about “thank goodness somebody came along and showed me what to do”.
JOSH: Yeah. The more realistic and detailed and [inaudible] language that you use in that – you want to try to get them feeling that remembering that same anxiety and that’s the same feelings as they're reading it, and so they're like experiencing it themselves and not just reading about it.
And then the other place that it comes into play is by showing them that even what you’ve shown them is only the tip of the iceberg. There's so much more and then you can illustrate the consequences of not knowing whatever it is that’s the rest of the iceberg. So it’s something you can do both at the beginning and kind of at the – toward the end of your email.
CHUCK: Makes sense.
REUVEN: I get this feeling [inaudible] I like having an email list and I like writing to it although I don’t do it as often as I should on email courses I’m working on right now, but I have this feeling that everyone’s going into email marketing and everyone’s got a mailing list, and we sort of maxed this out where we close the maxing this out?
JOSH: That’s a great question. I worry about that from time to time because I'm building a name for myself in this area. I don’t think so just because of most people do it really badly. So the competition for people that are doing it well is pretty slim. So it’s like anything else. It does get more crowded over time. The volume of email continues to grow up or grow every year, but most people are either not emailing at all. They're sending out pitch after pitch or they're like doing the department store thing where they just send you offers all the time. And that’s really not what we’re talking about here.
And if you can get people’s attention early on when they first sign up for your list, get in front of them bunch of times pretty quickly, they really start to look for you and you don’t really get lost in the noise like you could.
It does happen. Every channel tends to get more and more congested, but I think a lot of the people who do email badly now have moved on to social media.
CHUCK: Now they're doing social media badly.
JOSH: Yeah, exactly.
JONATHAN: Philip and I talk about this a lot. He’s going to kick himself when he’s so mad when he hears this episode. I’m sure he had a million things he wanted to ask, but we talked about what's after email marketing if there's such a thing? And I think the way that I personally like to do it, and I know Philip and it sounds like Josh is, well the fact that it’s email does come into play in some ways because there's some tactical things like how do you make the links work and you use Drip to do this or do that or the other thing you mentioned before.
But really, the core feature here or the core skill is the story-writing part and this serial nature of the delivery. And it could be any – if something – if Slack replaces email, you still have the same environment where you have what I call a nonanymous, not anonymous, group of people who you can – it’s hard to say this in a non-creepy way, but you can know enough about them to deliver relative content to them, unlike the way websites typically work where you don’t know who you're talking to. I’m a web developer. I’m a huge web evangelist, but for a marketing standpoint, the web is a joke compared to email.
JONATHAN: So whether the next thing is Slack or Facebook or some new thing that we – Slack book, whatever, then as long as you can know a little bit about the people who you're talking to and can basically engage in a two-way conversation with them and you know how to write good stories in a serial format, I don’t think it matters if email dies, so to speak. I don’t think it’ll happen at any time soon, but the core skill is I think are easily transferable to another medium.
JOSH: Yeah, I totally agree with that. And it could be whether it’s video, video via sales or video sales or YouTube videos or Facebook. Most of my emails, I can copy and paste them into Facebook and they work great. They're a Facebook post that would do really well. It just good storytelling and tying in what you're selling to the story. And as long as you're offering something that’s relevant to the audience, they're going to appreciate it.
CHUCK: Do you ever ask people to share the email course that they're on, for example, over social media and things like that to try and drive traffic, or is that – does that dilute the rest of the sales message?
JOSH: Oh, that’s a really good question. I have not done that much so far. What I’m planning to do, experiment with, is – Bryan Harris is a guy who’s pretty big in the email list building area, and he developed this tool called SmartBribe, and it’s basically like “you just opted in for my email course, and on the Thank You page, I’m going to show you how you can get this additional piece of content that’s related to this same thing”. And the way you do that is you tweet about the course or you share it on Facebook.
I’m going to give that a shot, I think. It’s on my list, but I haven’t gotten around to it. I think it’s ok to do it. That’s probably the best place to do it. I wouldn’t do it necessarily in the course; maybe all the way at the end after they’ve been through the sales process and everything. But honestly, I’d rather just get into something else at that point, get into somewhere good content.
JONATHAN: Someone just hit me with exactly what you just described and I found that to be incredibly confusing.
JOSH: And they did it in the Thank You page and it was confusing?
JONATHAN: Not a Thank You page. It was like “oh, thanks for – and oh by the way – wait, there's more”. And I was like “wait a second, is this – wait, do I need to download this thing I signed up for? Wait, I have to download this?”
JOSH: What I do is –
JONATHAN: It’s very confusing.
JOSH: What we’re doing right now with the learning course that I was talking about is the Thank You page has a video on it so that – one of the most important concepts in marketing is maintaining logical consistency between the different steps. It needs to be clear to the user “I took this action and now I’m here and I understand why I’m here, what I’m seeing, and I understand that it’s all relevant”.
What I've got is on our Thank You page, it says something in a very simple way like “welcome to this learning course. By the way, here’s a bonus tip number 6. So we've got 5 that you opt-in for; this video is tip number 6”. And in the video, John gives the sixth lesson tip and then he talks about the course that we’re going to be pitching at the end, the product”, and we get sales from that. We get a significant – not a huge number of sales, but – I don’t know what the percentage is, but there's some percentage of people who are just ready to buy right there. So I give them that option right away.
One thing I didn’t mention too is that as far as when you start to pitch the product, the way that I usually do it is I like to get it out in the open early on that I have a product to sell, and I like to get the name of the product in front of people, and then I will continue to mention it and up the intensity of that as I go. And then usually towards the end, there's a longer email that makes the case for the product as a whole.
So in this email, it’s pretty much just like the call to action – sorry, in the video on a Thank You page, the call to action is pretty much just like “I have this product. It’s related to this. Check it out. Click the button below, type a deal”, and we make – I want to say maybe 5% of our sales comes straight through that page. So it’s a small –
JONATHAN: You're saying in the 5-day course, you'll be mentioning – now, do you link to a sales page?
JOSH: Yeah. Yup. Usually not in that Day Zero that welcome email, I won’t do it, but usually in Day 1, I’ll mention the product and link to it.
CHUCK: Alright. One last question; because this is the Freelancers’ Show, we've been talking a lot about selling products with email courses, how do you do this differently for selling services? [Inaudible] or whatever.
JOSH: Yeah. I think that’s a good question. The main difference I think is that with services, you're able to actually do more in terms of giving away step-by-step information. If you’ve got a product and you're selling how to do a certain thing and you give away half of it in the email course, it starts to look pretty pointless to actually buy the thing. But when you’ve got a service, in a sense you almost can’t tell them too much because if anything, they're going to go try and do it for themselves, hang themselves, fail miserably, and then they’ll come crawling back to you and ask for your help, or they just see that you have so much credibility and you know so much about it that they're going to want to hire you.
So if anything, as a freelancer, you have more – or as a service business, you have more latitude as far as what you choose to give away. The one thing that’s going to be critical is figuring out what your best customers – where they are in the buying process and what questions they have now that you can answer in the course that are going to lead them to want to hire you.
I had a client who had a business and he was selling explainer videos. And he had this email course and it was basically selling the idea of explainer videos, which if you come to his site where you click on a Google ad saying “I want to buy an explainer video”, why would you need to be sold on the idea of an explainer video? So that’s where you want to match the topic of the email course to where they are in the buying process and move them forward.
CHUCK: Sounds good. Well, we’re getting toward the end of time, so we’ll head towards picks. Reuven, do you want to start us off with picks?
REUVEN: Sure. I’m an avid consumer of news, known to some as a news junkie, and so I was thinking lately – I've just been enjoying a few different sources that people might or might not know about. First of all is I’m a long long long standing subscriber of The New York Times, and lately I guess in the last month or two, I said “you know, I should really [inaudible] more. I should really try their mobile app”, and I love it. It is really great. I can read things. I don’t use any of the social functions or comment to anything, but I just find it almost is as good as getting it on paper. Ok, that’s an exaggeration, but it’s really good.
The other thing is that Slate Magazine has this Slate Plus service. Now, I have listened to a ton of Slate podcasts, and a lot of them if you subscribe to Slate Plus, then you get the thing online without ads and in one page. But the nice thing on the podcast is you get them without ads and you get extra bonus features. And after thinking for a while that’s really nonsense, I actually subscribed and they're actually pretty good. So I feel like my media consuming has been improved on a number of fronts. So anyway, people who like good quality writing and analyses, I can recommend both of those.
And for those of you who might be interested in going, the Double Your Freelancing Conference Europe will be taking place in late June. I’m going to be in there. I’m going to be speaking there. And if you still have not signed up and you want to go because it’s going to be really cool and lots of fun, you can get a discount by using the FREELANCER coupon code, and I’m going to put a link to the discount code in the show notes.
CHUCK: Alright. Jonathan, what are your picks?
JONATHAN: Yeah. So my first pick – I've got two picks today. My first one is a book called On Writing Well by William Zinsser. And when I wrote my first contract with O’Reilly to write a book, they sent me this for free. Hopefully it wasn’t the – hopefully they sent it to everyone and it wasn’t just for me specifically that they singled out. [Chuckles] It’s an amazing book. Amazing. It answers every question you're going to have about – well, not every, but it answers many of the questions you will have about the tactics of writing. And it’s a short read. It’s just fabulous. So Chuck, you might want to check it out. It really helps you maintain a consistent level of specificity, if that makes sense. But if you're writing a non-fiction book, you owe it to yourself and your readers to read On Writing Well.
CHUCK: What are you trying to say Jonathan?
JONATHAN: I’m saying that I saw some of your emails and you should read this book.
REUVEN: He’s writing a book.
CHUCK: Yeah. My friend should definitely check out that book.
JONATHAN: [Chuckles] Yeah. Everyone should read it. It’s really good.
Alright, the other thing is that – I don’t think I've mentioned it on the show, but I've been for the past several months, I've been doing free webinars every month about software development and how to deal with things in a software developer’s world relative to your business, not how to be a better developer or not how to learn Ruby, but how to make more money, how to deliver better results to your clients, etcetera, etcetera, like scope creep and all that stuff.
So if you go to crowdcast.io/jstark, you can see the four videos that are currently up. The recordings are free. You can watch it at your own pace. And if you want, you can sign up and you'll get information about upcoming videos and you can ask me questions and all that stuff. People have been pretty happy with that so I thought I’d share it.
CHUCK: Awesome. I've got a few picks. The first one is something that I bought for myself recently. I bought one for my wife too. It’s the Fitbit One. I had the Fitbit Force before which is the one that goes on your wrist, and eventually I started getting a rash underneath it. And I think partially it’s because I wasn’t washing it off often enough because you go work out with it on and then the sweat stays on your skin and can irritate it. But also, the band started to come apart.
The other thing is my Pebble Time Steel does fitness tracking, but I’m just not convinced that it’s that accurate, and I've liked the way that Fitbit tracks things before. So I got one that I could just clip on my belt or put in my pocket, and I think that tracks a little bit better. I also got it because I'm looking at getting a – or building a treadmill desk. We have a semi-defunct treadmill, which means that it works but we never use it. My wife said I could tear it down. So I’ve been looking at that, and if I have my fitness tracker on my wrist, it won’t count the steps that I’m getting if I’m typing while I’m walking. So I switched over to that. I forgot how much I really liked the Fitbit dashboard and things like that. So I’m definitely picking that. And then it’s just my overall focus on health that I've been doing.
The other thing that I want to pick – and since Josh is on the show, I’ll pick it publicly – is having a Mastermind group. Now, my Mastermind group – I’m in 2 of them; one of them publishes the meetings publicly and that’s Entreprogrammers and Josh is in that group. So if you want to hear what's going on with me or with Josh or John or Derick Bailey who does watchmecode.net, we have the discussion every week. It’s a long podcast, but it’s just been really really helpful for me in a lot of different ways.
And I think the biggest thing in both the groups that I’m in is that I have people that I am fully invested in as far as wanting to see them succeed, and I have those same people fully invested in me and wanting me to succeed and –
JOSH: Or so you think.
CHUCK: [Chuckles] That’s right. Yeah, next time we meet in Las Vegas, Josh is going to stab me in the kidney. But it makes such a huge difference just knowing that there are people out there that you can count on, and I know I can count on my wife and I can count on my kids sometimes, but it makes a huge difference, and so I’m just going to pick that as well because those relationships and the benefits of that both in feeling like I’m contributing to them and having them contribute to me has been really tremendous for me. So yeah, those are my picks.
Josh, what are your picks?
JOSH: I want to second the On Writing Well book that is a fantastic book. I taught a course on feature writing when I was working at a college while back, and that was one of the books that I assigned. Two other books that are really really good if you want to learn the storytelling stuff, they're both more from a journalistic or – one of them is more from a journalistic standpoint, one of them is more from a screenwriting fiction-writing standpoint.
Follow the Story is a book by a Wall Street Journal front page feature writer and it’s fantastic. Wired for Story gives you a lot of the science behind how stories are constructed and why they resonate with us and how to write stories that really hook people’s attention. So those are both fantastic.
Also, I’m going to pick Scrivener. I’m sure you guys have talked about that before, but it’s fantastic. I use it for basically all of my writing now, all of my blogging. I use it for research, note-taking, everything. It’s amazing. It’s kind of bloated, kind of ugly, but really really functional.
And last thing is this new app that I've started using in the last month called Strides, and it’s iOS – I don’t know if there's an Android version, but I recently started the thousand day – thousand words a day writing habit about a month ago. I've been doing that 7 days a week and use this app to track my progress on that and I really really enjoy it. It lets you create different habits that are all very configurable, different frequencies and everything, and check them off and that way you don’t have to put that stuff in your task manager or on your calendar or anything. That’s my picks.
CHUCK: Awesome. If people want to know more about what you're working on these days, what should they do?
JOSH: joshuaearl.com. Sign up for my email list.
CHUCK: Alright. Well, we’ll go ahead and wrap up the show. Thanks for coming Josh.
JOSH: Thank you for having me.
CHUCK: We’ll catch you all next week.
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