Public or Private?
This week I'm going to ask you to help me decide the direction of this newsletter. It's my newsletter, of course, and if I don't write it, it doesn't go out – so from that point of view, the only person who gets to decide that is me. But a newsletter is of no use without a community. It's a very young newsletter, only 11 issues old, so maybe it is too early to be having this conversation. But one of the responses I got to the Coffee Challenge newsletter was this.
I originally assumed that this email was an RSS feed from a blog post, so I trucked on over to your site to post my comments there. But alas, it appears this wasn't recycled content from your blog. You actually crafted this letter to your subscribers. I have mixed feeling about this. On one hand, heck yeah! You actually crafted this letter to your subscribers completely apart from your blog. Good on ya! On the other hand… I want to comment publicly on this. I want to share it. I want to… well… I dunno… I guess I just want it out there. Which leads me to wonder about whether I actually like the strategy or not.
I shared this question with Chris Brogan, who was kind enough to respond to me:
The question, as always, is what you want to see happen. In my model, the newsletter is the gold. The blog is for commoners. In my world, the newsletter leads to sales. The blog is more of a lead generation tool. But that's my model. What's your goal?
Of course, Chris's newsletter has thousands of subscribers now, but he didn't start off that way. He has a podcast and a Facebook group as well as a blog, which all funnel into the newsletter. The newsletter allows him to communicate directly with his community, and if you hit reply on it, Chris himself will respond, as you see above. It is an incredible resource not only for him, but for lucky subscribers like me who can have the benefit of his thoughts at the touch of a key. When he does want to sell something (usually some great deal on his courses, exclusively for his subscribers), he makes it very clear – usually with the headline "Selly Sell Sell" or something like that. He keeps those carefully spaced out, because the main goal of the newsletter is to build the community that may eventually take advantage of those deals.
So what is my goal with this newsletter? I am a member of many communities, both online and off. I love to share my thoughts, my development and yes, my vulnerabilities and mistakes as well, with people who can relate and respond, and I love it even more if I can help someone along the way. That particular thrill is really hard to beat. I do hope that eventually the value I provide would translate into helping support my family with my online activity, following Chris's "Selly Sell" model. Eventually.
Most of all, as I travel from one stage to the next (WordPress to the Lizard Brain to the Coffee Challenge is just one example), I desire your company on the road. I am, it would appear, first and foremost a writer in search of an engaged audience, an audience that finds value in interacting with me. By choosing to subscribe to my newsletter, you are giving me the privilege of access to your Inbox. I do not take this gift lightly, and I thank you.
So what is in it for you? I hope that you chose to subscribe to this newsletter because you find what I have to say entertaining or possibly even valuable. As the newsletter community grows, I would like it be less about me and more about you, my reader, and the community we are building together. I do need your feedback to do that, so we can grow together.
As an example, I'm in the middle of drafting the first of a series of posts about network marketing, which is the latest thing I've decided to learn about. Have no fear if you do not find this subject interesting – you know I can't stick with one topic in perpetuity. If you don't like this one, send me suggestions. But this is what I'm planning to do for now.
I am a big fan of David Wood, who espouses a community-based approach that really, to my mind, meshes beautifully with the lessons taught by Chris and by my wonderful coach, Berni Xiong. I plan to look at why network marketing is so maligned, what people do wrong and why (a great source for that is Michael O'Neal, who works with David Wood) and some suggestions I've found that might lead to doing it right. Doing it right being defined as doing well and improving people's lives with a truly useful product without being obnoxious or pushy. I'm also going to spend some time on the concept of The Law of Attraction, trying to separate possible reality from gobbledygook (there is an amazing amount of the latter written on the subject!).
I am having a serious debate with myself about where those posts should go. Should I put them on the blog and share them with the world, as my friend J urges me to do above? Or should I keep them for you, my special newsletter community? Have no fear, I will not inundate you with sales pitches. In fact, I do not intend to talk about my own product in this series at all. If you want to know about it, you'll have to ask me or wait for a "Selly Sell".
I'm going to put the introductory post on the blog, but depending on your responses I may take it to the newsletter later. It should be an interesting conversation, I hope, and valuable both to you and to me. Do please participate!
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