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Prosperity: Email Is the New Mailbox Money

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When I was a young entrepreneur, the phrase “mailbox money” was thrown around a lot. I think, in today’s world, email is the new mailbox money. When you do it effectively, it can be a source of income, either directly or indirectly. I think that’s pretty cool.

If you’re stuck or reluctant, you’re not alone—that’s for sure. But figuring out your email strategy shouldn’t be something that holds you back from finding success as an author. Let’s get you unstuck and some e-mailbox money headed your way.

Initially, I wasn’t sure I’d have much to say about email and making money as a writer. This column, after all, is about the connection between prosperity and prose. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized there are a couple of delicious connections. 

First, your email list is the only platform you own. Simultaneously, it’s the only direct connection you have with your readers.

Second, procrastination seems to reign supreme when it comes to writers building their email lists. 

If you don’t believe you deserve to make money as a writer, chances are you won’t find the courage to put yourself out there in another way in which you might fail. 

Let’s unpack this one nugget at a time, shall we? And I want to go in reverse.

It takes courage to put words onto paper (or screen). Without a strong sense of self and some serious self-confidence, negative feedback can temporarily trip us up or permanently shut us down. It stands to reason that if we’re sure our writing won’t stack up, we’re not going to write the words.

That includes email words. Thus, procrastination.

Stack on top of that the unending drum beat of “build your email list!” complete with mixed messages about subject lines, length, and what works and what doesn’t, and it is no wonder there’s a temptation to just do it later.  

Please allow me to help you break through any resistance or hesitation you have with a couple of quick thoughts and tips.

  • You can’t do the wrong thing with the right person. You’re in charge. You get to decide how much, how often, how long, and what you want to write about. Just today I received two emails: “THANK YOU for your emails this year! They have been so helpful!” and “Your emails are too long. Thomas Jefferson had a quote about that.” I write for the former and ignore the latter. It’s my email list, and they’re my emails (in which I’m providing pretty awesome and free content, thanks so much). The folks my emails are for come and stay, and the other folks go fast (or eventually). Write what you want to write about, be yourself, and you’ll be a magnet for readers—both of your emails and of your books.
  • You’ll find your way as you find your way. I’ve had many iterations of my email strategies over the years. I’ve flipped from sending something every day to every couple of weeks to twice a week and back to almost every day. As long as I feel like I’m adding value and making a positive impact—and moving toward my goals and objectives—I keep going. And I do a regular check-in to make sure what I’m doing is working on all levels. You can too. 
  • You know what to do. There’s a lot of advice out there. Here’s a bit more: Follow your gut, even as you’re doing your research. I’ve gotten tons of advice that sounded right, but my instincts led me in a different direction. When I listened to my gut, I was right. Every time.

Here are a few suggestions to get you started:

  1. Just start. Confidence is created through action, so the more you do, the more you’ll do. Decide what you want to write about and how often, and then just do it!
  2. Your subscribers are grown adults. The ones who want to stick around will stick around. Those who want to unsubscribe can do that. You do you! The more authentic you are, the more you’ll attract the right folks to your list.
  3. Iterate as desired. If you start emailing on the first Tuesday of every month and then decide you like Fridays better, do that.

Remember—you’re living the dream. You’re writing for a living or moving in that direction. That’s awesome. All successful authors, or at least all the ones I know, have email lists, so get started on yours, and pretty soon your e-mailbox money will be flowing!

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