Your blog and newsletter (oh, please tell me you have both!) are where your fans get to know you as a person and develop the connection which will ensure their fandom for life.
List-growing is all the rage. More more more. Ask these folks “Are you looking for more followers, or better followers?” and they’ll universally say “Both!”
Consider the concept of focus: it’s not possible, with our eyes or our mind, to focus on two things at once. That’s just not what focus means.
If you want both, focus on the best quality listees. Time will give you the quantity. But adding names quickly just leads to churn, and unconsciously, when you see 100 new names and don’t know who they are, this teeming horde upon your shore, you will, without realizing it, broaden your approach and write with less edge, less opinion, because hey, now that they’re here, let’s not drive them away, right?
But supposing you manage to keep your laser focus in your writing — many who just signed up for your freebie or jumped on the bandwagon will flee from the fires of your passion. They weren’t looking to join a mission to change the world, they were looking for a free lunch. A few will stay, become insiders. Many will see themselves as outsiders. Some of those will leave. Most, though, will become deadwood on your list.
And week after month, you’ll wonder why your open and click rates are at the industry average. You’re not average; how come your list is average?
My listees are about 90% people I interacted with personally before they signed up. I taught them something, and explicitly or not, let them know I had a newsletter.
My personal approach gives me open rates 3X more than the average and click rates about 4X. My small list engages.
We are not the Persians, coming to take Greece. We are the Spartans, defending the pass. Small, focused, changing the world so it won’t change us.