Honey Copy


Riffs on marketing, writing, creativity and life ––

How I'm making money sending emails to a very small list.

You should have seen the look on my face.

I was at the gym, sweating my ass off on the treadmill when I felt the buzz in my pocket.

Bobbing up and down, I frantically reached for my phone nearly dropping it in the process… hoping, praying, pleading the buzz was a notification for what I thought it was…

When my eyes focused in on the micro-copy sitting pretty on my home screen, it was exactly what I had hoped for. But, it took me stepping off the adult hamster wheel for it to fully register.

The buzz was notifying me that I had made my very first sale of my copywriting guide. This was a monumental moment for me because it marked the first time I had sold a product online.

And, more importantly, via email.

It always seemed too good to be true… making money sending emails, that is.

I always thought it was smoke internet marketers would blow up your ass to sell you an email course about making money selling email courses.

(We’ve all seen those).

However, as I used cold email early on to build my creative writing shop by selling my writing & marketing services directly to brands, I became less skeptical.

My formula was simple…

I’d scour the internet for a brand I wanted to work with, hunt down the email address of the CMO and send them a compelling email on why they should hire me to write for them.

I’d do this again and again and again and eventually, something magical happened… I had a pretty hefty book of clients.

While this made me realize you could make an assload of money sending emails, I knew I needed a more effective way to generate new business.

This realization ultimately led me to email marketing.

Email marketing is cold emailing on steroids.

At your job, you’ve surely sent out plenty of cold emails. And unless, you can’t string a decent sentence together, there is a good chance you’ve received a response to the cold emails you’ve sent.

Humans are much more compelling than they realize and in a world where the average worker spends nearly a third of their workday in their email inbox… all of us are email marketers.

The only problem is that most of us aren’t firing off enough emails to see any monumental results as far as sales go.

Let me explain…

Back when I was doing a shit ton of cold emailing, I realized if I didn’t figure out a more effective way to email, I’d be cold emailing for the rest of my life to generate business.

(This is 100% okay if you have a massive team of business development representatives, but being that Honey Copy was and still is a one man band… I had a time crisis on my hands).

So, I began studying two of the greatest direct mail copywriters to ever do it… Gary Halbert and Joseph Sugarman.

If you’re not familiar with direct mail copywriting, it’s when folks send out identical sales letters to a large chunk of people.

It’s not unlike door-to-door sales, except it’s one door-to-door salesman with some serious ink slinging skills, selling to thousands of people at the same time with writing, rather than face to face.

Doesn’t sound all that dissimilar to email, does it?

Email marketing my way to $26,000.

As I began learning the tactics direct mail copywriters use to get folks to read their sales letters all the way to the bottom and ultimately buy whatever it is they’re selling… I realized I could apply this to email marketing.

Instead of going door to door, emailing one person at a time… if I built up a large list of email addresses, I could send out “cold emails” to thousands of inboxes versus just one.

However, there was only one problem, I didn’t have a list of email subscribers at the time.

So, to build one, I started a weekly newsletter called Sticky Notes, where I promised folks an email chalked full of marketing and copywriting tips delivered straight to their inbox (for free).

Here, here, here, here and here are all examples of previous emails I’ve sent out to my list –– as you can tell, it’s extremely valuable and there is a great deal of time and thought that goes into each email.

This, in my opinion, is what sets email marketing apart from direct mail copywriting… to gain your reader’s trust and ultimately buil your list, you must first give them something highly valuable for free.

Then, eventually, you can start selling them on whatever the hell it is you’re selling…

This is where a lot of email marketers get it wrong. They attempt to cram sales down their subscribers throats, without gifting them anything of value and as a result, they build a list that isn’t very engaged.

Both of my email lists are quite small. Sticky Notes is roughly 6,000 subscribers and Stranger than fiction (another email newsletter I started), is a little over 500 subscribers.

Yet, despite this size, I’ve been able to sell $26,000 worth of my copywriting guide and generate tons of new writing projects for Honey Copy.

And, I don’t have to cold email anymore (unless I stumble upon a brand I’m really digging).

One misconception when it comes to email marketing is that you must have a HUGE list for it to be worthwhile.

This is bullshit.

Most brands with massive lists don’t have high engagement. In fact, the average open rates are somewhere between 15% - 25% and click-through rates sit somewhere around 2.5%.

(The latter is the percentage of people that click on the links in your email).

Stranger than fiction, on the other hand, has a 55% open rate and an 18.3% click-through rate…

Now with all that said, here’s how you can start building a small highly-engaged list…

How you can start making money sending emails, too.

Quickly, here are steps you can take to ramp up your email marketing…

One, begin by finding a solid email software. If you’re just starting out, I highly recommend Email Octopus. It’s the cheapest, easiest to use email software available.

I personally use MailChimp because it has a few more tools that Email Octopus doesn’t offer. This isn’t a bad option either. Though, it is much more expensive.

Two, come up with a damn good weekly newsletter with a very clear, valuable offer… if you run a plant shop a solid newsletter would be… “Weekly Greens: one email sent once a week that’ll help you keep your plants happy, healthy and thriving.”

Three, create a tiered pricing model. In other words, a higher-priced product or service for subscribers with deeper pockets and a lower-priced product or service for those just wanting to get their feet wet.

At Honey Copy, if folks have larger budgets they can hire me to write directly for them. But, if they don’t want to spend a lot of money, they can buy my copywriting guide.

To revisit the plant shop example, they might charge $500+ to decorate an entire home with house plants and offer that as their higher-priced service and for their lower-priced service, they might sell a $29 succulent care course.

Four, trim your unengaged subscribers. On both my newsletters, I’m notorious for removing subscribers when they stop opening. I’ve removed hundreds. I will always choose a smaller more engaged list over a larger one. I think you should do the same. It’s cheaper and improves deliverability rates.

Five, practice consistency with your newsletter. Show up every single week, over and over and over again. Do it for an entire year.

Email has been good to me and I think it could be good for you, too.

But, I digress.

By Cole Schafer.

You gotta check this out -- Sticky Notes is my email list reserved strictly for entrepreneurs and creatives looking to sell like a Florida Snow Cone Vendor on the hottest day of the year.

Cole Schafer