People happily pay for things that help them. Back when I lived in Joplin and had a car, I happily paid for oil changes even though I knew how to do it myself because it gave me more time to work on my writing. I happily pay for delivery when I’m in a rush because it saves me the time of cooking a meal. And I happily pay for books I love because they give me meaning.
I even happily pay certain bloggers that have helped me learn how to blog well.
But that doesn’t happen immediately.
I gave those people consent to contact me. Often because they offered something like this:
And I gave them my email because they had already added value to my life.
See if you’re relentlessly helpful to people, you create lasting connections. And by offering to take care of them, you can get their consent to contact them more regularly. Respecting the boundaries of their consent, you can actually let them know how to purchase things they already want more of.
It starts with being super helpful with works of substance.
Then it moves towards consent.
And respecting that consent with more helpful work, more generousity, and the occasional request to make it possible for you to add value to their lives in perpetuity.
I moved away from popups on my site, for instance, because substance upgrades work better. For instance in the David Bentley Hart article post, I give people a list of twenty articles so they don’t have to google them. Then I bundled the rest of DBH’s work into a PDF and offered it for free in exchange for consent to contact them.
Sure, some of these people unsubscribe.
Sure, others actually enter fake emails.
But about 3% of them hang around. 3% of 10,000 hits is 300 human beings. You do that 100 times in a year and you’ve got an audience of 30,000 whom you’re actually setting yourself up to help again and again.
Good blogging isn’t about SEO and content and posting daily.
Good blogging is about taking really good care of people and letting them give you consent to contact them again and again.
Because just like anything else that takes a little bit of work at a time, a blog’s audience will compound quickly if you know how to blog.
So find people who will give you consent to contact them, even if you collect the first hundred emails by hand, face-to-face. Go around to friends and family and people you think your blog’s deepest intent will help and ask for their consent to contact them regularly. Add an email aggregator for upgrades — I use SUMO paired with Mailchimp.
You might be surprised at who dials in and stays engaged.