Writers need one illicit drug: traffic.
Without traffic to our work, any goal we have to earn a living from our writing is dead. Social media is how we get eyeballs on our writing. We don’t own those eyeballs though. We can’t message them whenever we want and say “howdy mate, how ya been?”
That’s why email subscribers matter.
So, if your online traffic is down then here’s the formula I’m using. I have over 50,000 email subscribers and know what I’m talking about. This formula is how I’ll easily get 100,000 more in the short term. Steal my strategy.
The platform many writers have snoozed on
There’s one platform I’m extremely bullish on. They’ve been around for 15 years: Twitter. It’s a great tool for writers. Here’s why.
- The time required to write short tweets is low.
- Writing tweets is fun.
- Tweets give you data that can help decide which are your best ideas.
- The organic reach on Twitter is still high after all these years. Meeting a new audience via Twitter isn’t hard if you invest a small amount of time each day.
- You probably already have Twitter and have used it, therefore, zero learning curve. High five.
The way I’m using Twitter is different from how I’ve seen most writers use it. Let me explain.
Use Twitter (like this) to find a brand new audience
Twitter released a feature a few years ago called “Tweet Threads.” They’re like blog posts but better. Why? Tweet threads are a series of up to 25 connected tweets in a row.
What makes them special is each tweet is still limited to 280 characters. This matters because many of you, unfortunately, don’t get to the point fast enough in your writing.
Tweet threads force you to get to the point.
All the filler has to be deleted. The long intros go out the window. Full essay-style conclusions are dead too. Twitter Threads take you from being a traditional writer, and transform you into an online writer. This type of writer does better in the long run because you’re forced to respect the reader’s time, and this is so rare!
Once you master Twitter Threads you have a superpower that can drive fresh traffic to your writing. As crazy as it sounds most Twitter users don’t utilize threads. It’s a feature that doesn’t get used often, but one the Twitter algorithm gives a lot of extra support to.
The key with Twitter Threads is to hook the reader with a strong first tweet that explains what you’re about to say, and has a strong curiosity factor.
Then you hit them with the meat in each tweet.
Most writers stuff this part up (it contains all the growth)
The second part to the formula is to capture the email addresses so you own your audience. This is done in your tweet thread.
You write your tweet thread. Then you make the second last tweet a link to a Substack newsletter. Many writers unknowingly make their last tweet a link to a newsletter. This doesn’t work.
When Twitter shows your thread to an audience they’re going to see the first and last tweet. You don’t want people who don’t know you to see an external link as the first thing.
Instead, make the last tweet a TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) which summarizes each of your points. That way, a reader who finds your Twitter Thread gets the first tweet that contains your headline and subtitle, and your last tweet that summarizes the thread and helps them work out if it’s worth their time.
The Substack factor
This formula works the best if you use Substack. Let me explain. Twitter users are very familiar with Substack. It has a premium feel about it.
People are used to paying for newsletters offered through Substack. So when you use Substack to capture emails instead of something like ConvertKit or MailChimp, the chance you’ll convert a follower into an email subscriber is higher.
The best part is it’s free.
The alternatives cost money. If you’re not currently making money as an online writer then you’re best to start with free. The other part that’s missed is that landing pages, personal websites and email software require customization. This is often bad.
Most writers have not done the A/B testing work to know what looks good, what will convert, and what readers will fall in love with. Substack has. Their number goal is to help writers convert traffic into email subscribers.
Substack has a superpower
There’s another reason to use Substack to collect email subscribers. Substack enables writers to become media companies. Making money from writing and newsletters is a very narrow field. Substack is building other formats like podcasts into their platform.
These extra media types give you other income sources later on and allow you to expand beyond just writing, if and when, you’re ready.
This simple formula is pointless if you forget this
Many Twitter timelines are full of external links and content creators who keep asking for money. It’s modern-day begging. Don’t do this.
Sell in private not in public.
Forget websites. Forget eCommerce. If you want to sell digital products and services then do it via email. Add value to the email list you built on Substack and occasionally offer a paid upgrade. The secret is to underdo it.
Sell less than your ego tells you to.
Resist the urge. The more value you give, the more email subscribers might decide to invest money in your side hustle later. If you overwhelm them with ‘asks,’ they’ll simply unsubscribe. Then you’ll be stuck on the hamster wheel of always needing huge amounts of traffic forever and crying about platforms.
Fire up your Twitter account. Make sure most of your followers are still active. Write one tweet thread per week. Make the second last tweet a link to your Substack newsletter. Ensure the last tweet is a TL;DR.
That formula is going to easily get me another 100,000 email subscribers. It can do the same for you. Once you build your own list, don’t oversell. Instead, be generous and you’ll become a highly successful writer.
Follow me on Twitter to watch me implement this strategy in real-time.