how to monetize a small email list kate doster herpaperroute podcast

How To Monetize A Small Email List

Today on the HerPaperRoute podcast we are giving you a blueprint for how to monetize a small email list. And to help us is email marketing maven Kate Doster.

Listen now: How To Monetize A Small Email List With Kate Doster

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How To Monetize A Small Email List – Shownotes

Kate Doster is the host of the Inbox Besties podcast. She is all about doing email marketing the right way.

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Where you make major sales from your list without ever resorting to icky outdated sales tactics. She’s here to share some tips about how you can make big money even if your list is small.

Resources mentioned in this episode:

Q: Welcome, Kate! You and I both love including Schitt’s Creek GIFs in our newsletters, hey?

Kate: Oh yes, anytime I can include David or really any of the characters. I just love putting them in there. They’re my favorite GIFs.


Q: How did you get started as an online entrepreneur?

Kate: I was actually, not really a natural bred entrepreneur. My mother was very much like the traditional, you know, her parents were in the depression.

So it’s like, you know, go to college, get a good job. Sales was a four-letter word, everyone’s out to steal your money! Rich people, you know, other words, it turns out as looking back, it was more of jealousy and really a scarcity mindset because she had a well-paying job.

That’s the most ironic part of all this, she was in the medical field, she was at the top of her game. She was extremely white-collar, upper-middle-class, but she just had such a scarcity mindset. It was ridiculous as I’m looking back on it.

So I even though I always had the inclination of selling of making money, (it was hard). In elementary school where you could sell wrapping paper and candy for school fundraisers, I would not tell anybody in my family that we were doing one because I’d be “stealing their money and money was so hard to get”.

And that would make me an awful person. So that was kind of what I was dealing with. And so it was going against all of my natural inclinations.

So, as I got a little bit older, in high school and in college, I actually started flipping designer handbags on eBay, because eBay was a big thing back then. And so was flipping and so I worked at a discount retailer store, I would buy the name burn bags, especially when they went on clearance.

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And then I flipped it on eBay. And so that’s how I started dipping my toe into this. And then I went to college had a million different majors because I can’t park my butt! That’s why I ended up with a degree in communication, and ended up with a job at a bank.

And I literally found out like two weeks after I got to the bank that I was pregnant with my first child. This was back in 2011. And it turns out that it was 100% legal for them to fire me for giving birth!

So they fired me! It was a big thing

The company had just been acquired by a different bank and they didn’t want to make a big stink of it. So there was some settlement involved because Kate is not one to be walked over!

What it really showed to me because I always wanted to teach and to help and be a speaker. I think that getting fired, they’re like, well, you have three days to get back. I had an emergency c-section. I couldn’t even get out of bed by myself for three days after I gave birth to my oldest. So, I was a stay-at-home mom, my husband was in social services. We didn’t have a lot of money. So we were on like food stamps, health insurance through the state all of this.

And I was just like -and this is no offense to anybody – I was in the exact situation that I never wanted to be in, I was dependent on somebody else. I was cleaning, I was cooking. I don’t mind cooking, but I hate cleaning. We were poor. I was just like, nope!

And then I got a little bit of an inheritance

I spent the money on a computer. And like everyone, you know, you start blogging! I did a little bit of flipping, but with, you know, retail triage, because I didn’t know about drop shipping, you need to have some capital right at the beginning, if you’re going to do that.

So we didn’t really have any capital for me to then flip. So that was a little bit tougher then. And that’s when I fell into blogging and to the online business space.

And with having the degree in communication and psychology, it’s just sort of like, I stumbled upon this thing about like, it was called copywriting. And I was like, what’s copywriting?

And it was, everything that I loved. It was human emotions, it was writing, I was telling stories. You know, you got paid to research and read and interview people for hours on end. You just whip up some words on a page. And so I was so smitten.

So I invested in a whole bunch of copywriting courses

I started as a junior copywriter, under a very experienced copywriter. And she was nice enough looking back to sort of real mentor and anytime I would hand in stuff, she’d say “here’s how I do a little bit different. Here’s the type of questions that you need to be asking.”

So having a mentor in the space just made a huge difference. I was finally ready in my mindset.

I decided that I was going to sell my own courses and products and not just have to trade dollars for hours. And that’s how I ended up teaching email marketing. Because when you are a copywriter you get paid to write words to make people slap buttons, you write everything from about pages (which I hated) home pages, sales pages.

But what I loved 100% was making landing pages, and I loved emails. So I did emails and launch funnels. And that was just my absolute favorite. So I took everything that I learned from helping people make hundreds of 1000s of dollars, to actually helping myself make hundreds of 1000s of dollars, and teaching others how to do it.

I was interacting with other people in Facebook groups in the blogosphere. Some of them were coaches, but they really, truly, honestly just wanted to help people. But they also needed to eat, which was kind of in the same position that I was, I really, truly want to help people.

But I needed to eat and like, how was I going to worry about paying a bill or, if my husband’s third shift job was gonna pay enough? How could I give people 100% of me and my attention and my energy if I was worried about all of these other things?

And so for myself, it was finding money mindset teachers, and I have to say, I, I went through the gambit! But you have to with the sales and the money mindset until you find that one person that just sticks.

My degree is in human psychology and communication. I know that people truly do value things that they pay for

I’m not saying that they aren’t people that can take something for free. And then they go and they’re off to the races because I was in that spot where if it wasn’t at the library on YouTube, it wasn’t going to work.

But for most people, if you spend $100 on a purse, you’re going to treat it a lot better than the $25 when you got from Target. That’s just human nature.

And so when I was like “Oh, it’s not that you’re putting $1 sign on things to make people feel bad. It’s that you want to make sure there’s enough skin in the game. So they do stuff so they come back to it.”

So it was between working away on my money mindset, and realizing what was basic human nature. That’s it!

Q: Email marketing and funnels are such an important (if not the most important) part of any business. Why do you believe that email marketing is really where it’s at?

Kate: I love email marketing, because I always felt like I was writing to a friend. And there are actual stats to back this up, like for every dollar that you spend on your email list, you’re should be making about 42, and all of that sort of thing.

But I just loved the personal connection. This is gonna sound really funny, I like that emails are a lot shorter. So you know, I started off as blogging before I did podcasting, and blogs just took me so long to write.

Whereas like, I can put out a 500-word email, because emails can be as long as they have to be as long as they’re entertaining. And it’s just done.

And then what’s great about email, and not a lot of people realize this is that emails do really well as Instagram captions. So now you’ve got double duty, like, it’s the best.

That’s why I love email marketing. Because if you think about it, again, with our example, when people pay money for things, they tend to treat it better. If somebody is so into learning how to flip a website or they are so willing to learn about how to make sourdough that they are willing to put in their email address, they are committed.

They are somebody who’s proving that they want to take more action.

And so it’s like, “Okay, so now I’m getting the people that are most likely statistically want to take the most action, I get to talk about things that I actually enjoy talking about, I get to be a little bit more personal, I get to interact and bond with them.”

Sign me up all day, every day, like, like, let’s just do it!

Think about it, when you’re going on a social media cleanse, you’re usually deleting Facebook, Instagram, maybe TIKTOK, Periscope, and so on. No one’s deleting their Gmail app, no one’s deleting outlook.

When they are disconnecting, they are still checking their email constantly. So you need to be where their attention is. And it’s the inbox.

If you do a good job of providing that escape, which we might be able to talk about email escape in a second, they’re going to keep looking for you. Because even if they will no longer following anyone on Instagram, they still have their Gmail account.

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My whole philosophy on everything is to treat people like people!

People value the things they pay for people always second guess themselves.

So when you are going to your inbox 9 times out of 10, if you have that tab open, you’re going for some type of escape.

  • Maybe just business to business
  • Maybe you are working on a sales page
  • Maybe you’re working on a blog post
  • Maybe you should be doing something else like planning your Instagram…

But you don’t really want to say “well, I should double-check to make sure that I don’t have any new emails just in case.” You’re going there because you want to be distracted.

If you are writing super juicy, long emails with a whole bunch of tips, and are treating it like a blog post, well, that’s the wrong kind of email.

Because I’m not going to my inbox to read an encyclopedia or to learn. If I go to a blog post, that’s the mindset that I’m in kind of like planning is different than executing.

But when I go into my inbox, I just want a quick hit of entertainment, maybe a quick tip, something that I can go with.

So you want to make sure that the emails that you send, you know if your personality isn’t fun, if you will, you don’t say things like “butt-face” and “spammer-face” like I do.

You do not have to send the GIFs from Schitt’s Creek. You don’t have to do those things if that’s not you.

How To Monetize A Small Email List 1

Maybe for you if you’re going to lead with an interesting stat like “did you know that on July 2 (and I’m making this up) is national Hot Dog Day?” And then somehow you’re going to relate that to whatever you normally talk about. Now all of a sudden, it’s like, “Kate always has the most interesting things to say.”

70% of people would much rather see promotional things in their inbox than on social media. Or, ‘search this hashtag.’ Okay, I can search that one hashtag. It’s not ‘do this, do that, do that…’

When you give people too many things to do or too many choices, they’re going to shut down.

So when my students are coming to me about Love Your List, they’re usually asking, “Why aren’t I getting any interaction?”

I tell them, “Don’t do entertainment before escape format.” And then all of a sudden, it’s all working. It’s because you’re meeting people where they are, you’re treating them, like people, they came into their email to escape.

Q: We have some listeners who are going to be just getting started with email marketing. What are some other tips that you can share?

Kate: The first thing is that the easiest way to make money from your email list is to make sure you’re only letting people on it that are a good fit for things.

I know it’s a giant shocker.

So I know that everyone out there is trying to build a giant email list. But I would much rather you have a smaller email list of the right people than 100,000 of the wrong people.

You know, tons of people on your list but no one’s opening up your stuff. No good! So you always want to start by actually getting the right people on there.

For your freebie, you want to make sure that it answers a “yeah but” question

That means you answer a “yeah but” or a stumbling block your audience faces. The condensed version is to get inside your ideal client’s head and anticipate what they are thinking. 

I call it the SIR Mix-A-Lot principle. Because just like he likes big butts, in the song Baby Got Back; so does your email list. So does your wallet.

For example, if your niche is meal prepping on a budget, a “yeah but” might sound like “Yeah… I can make a meal for less than $10 but I’m tired of eating chicken all the time”. “Yeah, I can make a meal for $10 but there aren’t affordable vegan options.”

So, it’s not “how to start a blog”, it’s “How to start a blog in 3 days, even if you stink at tech.”

Not just “how to get traffic” but “how to get traffic, even if you only get 100 views on a good month” 

So then all of a sudden, you don’t have to have that stigma in your head of “oh, my goodness, I’m going to annoy them so much if I send them this email.”

Because your freebie is so specific and answers their ‘yeah but’ qualms, you will know that sending them emails about this topic will be appreciated. 

That’s first and foremost. It gives you like free rein.

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Alright, we’ve got the right people on it

So we started with the right type of people, then what we’re going to do if you do not have a product created yet, is you can use your email list again.

Just send them quick yes or no questions. And you can, you know, start to sort of tease these out to see what topics people are opening up more.

So when it comes to subject lines, the worst thing that you can send to people when you are looking to create a product is “tell me what your biggest struggle is about losing weight or about Facebook ads or about your videos”.

None of that stuff is gonna work. People can’t answer that question.

What they can answer is a simple rephrasing, which is just fill in the blank for me, “I know I should do Facebook ads, but…”

People cannot explain things, but they love to complain!

This way you are hopefully going to get some responses. Sometimes you will get overrun with them. Sometimes it’s just like three or four.

And you’re gonna see what are people complaining about when it comes to Facebook ads.

  • “I run Facebook ads before I lost all this money.”
  • “No one clicks on my ads” 
  • ” I can’t get approved”

Do you know what I mean? They’ll run the gambit when it comes to complaining.

So you’ve got that aspect. And usually though, you can kind of read between the lines with what people are nervous about.

You could very easily give them like the 3 million mistakes, maybe little tiny explanations underneath. And then at the end, you pitch your products because your products can help them avoid those mistakes.

I have this infamous email that I have for one of my products, where I combined locking my keys out of my car. The keys were in the trunk, because I didn’t want to spill my iced coffee. I compare this to how people don’t email their list regularly. Because they’re so worried about frivolous things.

Such as paying attention to Instagram, rather than to actually pay attention to the one thing that turns the engine in their business.

So you can really just have an analogy or a story in your day, and turn it into a sales email, without it feeling like one. 

Q: That’s such great advice. You mentioned creating products. And you mentioned freebies, what makes a great free lead magnet?

Kate: What makes a great free lead magnet, I think is going to be a compelling topic.

We always like to have a “yeah but” and sometimes you have to pick a couple of different “yeah but” topics before you land on the one that resonates with your audience.

Because, again, treat people like people, but people aren’t logical.

So you might be like, but everyone is telling me that, you know, they can’t make money with their blog. And I know it’s because they don’t know their ideal client avatar.

No one’s going to sign up for that freebie. “One ideal client avatar”, no one thinks that’s fun and exciting. It’s just not going to happen.

So you want to pick a catchy, “yeah but” for your thing.

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Relationship building is the best, too. People often think that if you have a bigger list, you will make a lot of money

Well, that’s not necessarily the case. Yeah, the more people you’re talking to, that’s good.

But if it’s more of the right people, that’s amazing.

So you wanna make sure your freebie lead magnet answers the “yeah but” and you want to make sure that you have a related paid product that is the natural next step.

So maybe you have a productivity course. You would not want to create a free Mini challenge that completely solves their productivity issue. Because if people complete the free challenge, they’re not going to want your paid offer, regardless of how much it costs, because they will think that their problem has been fixed with the freebie.

So you need to think of what tiny bit of the bigger problem can you fix? Or what sort of prerequisite can you help people accomplish?

Where I see a lot of people falter, is that they will have a freebie ebook that’s like, “101 ways to grow their traffic”, which is way too big to consume.

And then on the next page, is their full traffic building course as a tripwire offer.

If you try to sell them your traffic course this way, they’re not going to want it because they think that your ebook “101 Traffic Secrets” is enough to solve their problem. Instead, your freebie should be just ONE traffic-building tip.

You want to see the full spectrum (of your product suite) and make sure that your freebie lead magnet is specific. Make sure it’s a catchy one that they want and make sure you can easily show them the next step.

CHELSEA: I love that. nail it down niche down, simplify it, don’t give away the whole “Ultimate Guide to x.” But just one little thing to hook them in so that you can share all of your expertise as a paid product later on.

Q: Are there any mistakes that you see people making on their lead magnet opt-in pages?

Yes! Ok, this goes back to the copywriting training. There are different types of audiences. They call them in the online realm, and honestly, any marketing realm, they call them hot, cold and warm audiences.

The cold people are people that have never heard of you ever. And the hot people or even the warm people are people that might have read a blog post before, they might have listened to a podcast interview with you, they kind of know you a little bit.

So for your lead magnet page,

If a hot or warm person is viewing your lead magnet optin page, you could pretty much have no copy. 

But if you are trying to get cold audiences from Pinterest or Facebook ads, who have never heard of you before, that won’t work. Your landing page needs more copy and content!

  • Make sure that you have mock-up of your freebie
  • Make sure that you have a picture of your face
  • Include your bio (especially if it’s a webinar opt-in)
  • Have testimonials about how great you are

And of course, you should always test things because you might find that your particular cold audience really does just like the short, sweet and simple pages. But a mistake I see is some people only include the headline of the freebie.

“Busy moms guide to household planning” or something like that. That’s not very exciting. Instead, I want the headline to be what we call moments or a symptom of this busy mom who is not organized.

For example, a headline could be: “Can’t find your keys, even though they’re in your left hand? Keep scrolling…”

You want to capture their attention. So that you make the reader think “Oh my goodness, how does this person know me?”

Because then they’ll read the next sentence. And that’s when you can talk about your freebie. Add some intrigue to your landing pages as well. They call them bullet points, but for us copywriters, we call them fascinations.

What I mean by that is, think about what makes your thing unique. Maybe you’ve got a framework that you’re going to teach with them, even though you’re just teaching a tiny sliver it.

Maybe it’s the results that people have gotten. You want to spend some time thinking of bullet points because people will read headlines, bullet points and honestly buttons the most.

Q: That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing those tips. You’re someone who is so good at sprinkling your fun and humorous personality in your sales pages and your newsletter copy. Are there any other copywriting tips that you’d like to share?

Kate: Don’t be afraid to write the way that you talk! Simple things like using contractions.

When someone is reading, there’s a big difference between: “I am going to teach you” versus “I’m going to teach you.”

I’m going to teach you actually sounds like a real person said it. A real person isn’t saying “I am going to…” No, they’re not.

So start like that. I’m not saying that you have to throw in slang. But if that’s the way that you normally talk, throw it in there.

If you can start by including a fun GIF, as we’ve talked about. For the slang, it can be how do you say “Hello.”

  • Hi
  • Hello
  • Hey, hey, hey
  • What’s going on?
  • What’s up?

Just start infusing your personality into things.

And then the next thing to really remember, is that you cannot rely so heavily on things like scarcity and urgency.

Scarcity and urgency is, when you say “There’s only five left, or. the carts closing in 10 minutes.” Those have a time and a place, sure. That’s really the salt on the french fries as I call it.

You want to make sure that in sales emails, and in your sales funnels, you are saying “Hey, I know that this is the situation that you’re in. I know that this is what you’re thinking right now, which is why I’ve created this product that’s going to help you avoid A, B, C and D. We’re gonna make it easier with E, F, and G. And oh, by the way, it’s 25% off if you buy it today.”

Rather than leading with “It’s 25% off my amazing product today, you giant dummy. Why haven’t you bought it yet? You’re so stupid.”

It is leading with compassion and treating people like people. “I know you’re here. I know, this is the issue. This is why it’s here. This is how it’s helped other people. And you’re gonna get 25% off today.”

Do you see how you can switch it? Your audience is already sold on the fact that you know them, they trust you and trust that you can get them the results. And I get it for cheaper, too? Hot damn!

Or they are one person out of four that’s going to be able to get a spot. In these situations, they must know the deadlines, yes. But the deadlines are just the salt on the fries. They shouldn’t be a whole plate of salt that you’re trying to shove down their face.

The fries are the juicy helpful offer and the salt is the urgency. 

Chelsea: That’s the perfect analogy!

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