The Biggest Business Mistake I Ever Made

POSTED ON May 25, 2015

Joel Friedlander

Written by Joel Friedlander

Home > Blog > Marketing, Self-Publishing > The Biggest Business Mistake I Ever Made

I didn’t know it when it happened, but it was the teleconference call that changed my life—my business life.

It was a monthly call with a mastermind group. We talked about marketing and tried to help each other get better at it.

Although my blog was becoming popular, I was struggling trying to find ways to make it profitable.

I was describing my frustration about this when one of the group members asked how my email list was doing.

“Pretty poorly, to be honest,” I replied. “I started a newsletter a few years ago, but haven’t kept it up, and there aren’t a lot of signups anyway, so why bother?”

“Well that’s your problem right there,” he said. “You’ve got great traffic, all you have to do is start building that list and you’ll be amazed at what happens next.”

He went on to give me some specific ideas about how to go about doing that.

So I started working on growing my email list, and eventually I found out my friend was right. This one effort has completely changed my business, my relationships with my peers, and the number of opportunities that are open to me.

A Blog Is Not to Make Money

Sometimes I wonder how I could have missed this crucial task

Well, I was pretty busy at the time. I was posting to my blog 6 days a week and running a book design business at the same time.

After 4 issues of my “newsletter” I quit.

  • I didn’t enjoy it
  • It was too much work creating copy
  • I wasn’t sure why I was doing it
  • It was too hard to deal with formatting

After three years of intense blogging and building my platform, I had plenty of readers, but a measly 1,400 email subscribers.

That was pathetic, because at the time I was getting about 53,000 page views a month.

While the solution was obvious to my mastermind friend, it wasn’t to me. All along I had thought that I was going to find a way to make money from writing blog posts or selling my design services to clients.

But I was wrong.

A blog is not really a way to make money directly. It is a way to grow your own online “empire” indirectly.

It’s Still Going On

I talk to lots of authors, that’s my job. All too often, when I go to visit their websites, they remind me of me in 2011.

Many don’t even have an email signup form on their site. Or if they do, it says something vague and generic like “Sign up for my newsletter, it’s awesome!”

You can tell that building an email list isn’t much of a priority for these authors. They haven’t woken up to the power of email in an author’s career.

Maybe that’s because they haven’t been listening to our more successful authors, bloggers, and book marketing specialists. If they had, they would have gotten the message, just as I eventually did.

For instance, here’s what uber-blogger and author Jeff Goins has to say:

“So many communicators don’t get the attention they deserve. Their messages fade into oblivion and irrelevance. Why? Because they neglect the single most important element to building a tribe. They forsake one simple, but essential marketing asset: the email list.”—Jeff Goins

Jeff’s a young writer who has pushed his career off to a great start with his blog. Here’s what publishing industry veteran and New York Times bestselling author Michael Hyatt has to say:

“People often ask, ‘What’s the most important thing I need to do in building my platform?’ My answer? ‘Develop a robust email list.’ … The most important metric when you’re building a personal platform is your number of email subscribers. Everything else is secondary.”—Michael Hyatt

And Dan Blank, a writer and consultant to authors and publishers—with one of the best email newsletters I’ve seen—knows how this works, too:

“Time and time again, I hear from successful authors that email is not only important, but actually essential in establishing meaningful connections to readers, and to selling more books.”—Dan Blank

My big mistake was ignoring my email list. I just didn’t understand why it was crucially important until a friend showed me the light.

Now my email list is at the core of my business, the one thing that helps me the most on my mission to make the world better for indie authors.

That mistake cost me thousands of dollars, tens of thousands of lost opportunities to grow my network, and that means tens of thousands of opportunities to help authors reach their publishing goals.

In other words, for a long time my mistake kept me from reaching my own goals.

That doesn’t have to happen to you.

Once I “got religion” my list signups skyrocketed, growing 2000% over the last couple of years. This one fact has made many things possible for me that were simply impossible before.

On Friday I’ll be back to talk more about email for authors, and to let you know about some free training that’s coming up, so stay tuned for that.

In the meantime, what about you? Have you “gotten religion” about growing your email list? Ever tried an email newsletter to your followers? Let me know in the comments.

Great Email List Resources

Why I Use and Recommend AWeber for Your Email Marketing

Yes, E-mail Still Works for Book Marketing by Jane Friedman

How to Get a Ton of New Subscribers to Your Blog by Michael Hyatt

How I Use Email Newsletters to Drive Traffic and Make Money by Darren Rowse

Email List Building Series (Part 1): The Power of an Email List (And Why It’s a Must) by Kimberley Grabas

Email Marketing for the Time and Cash-strapped Self-published Author by Caimin Jones

Email Marketing: How to Push Send and Grow Your Business by Copyblogger Media (opt in required, well worth it)

How Authors And Writers Can Build An Email List For Marketing by Joanna Penn

Best Email Platforms for Small Business by


Joel Friedlander

Written by
Joel Friedlander

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