Interested in Starting an Email List? Read This First.

marketing Dec 09, 2017

A lot of therapists have been jumping on the email marketing bandwagon lately.

I guess when you listen to every podcast, read every blog, and are a member of every single Facebook group for therapists in private practice, you start to notice all of the things that people say you "have to do" to build a successful practice. 

I'll be the first to admit that there's an allure to email marketing.

My email list is one of the most important parts of my online business, maybe even more so than my website. 

But email lists aren't for everyone. 

They're not absolutely necessary for you to have a successful private practice (unless you plan on selling shit online, in which case it becomes a non-negotiable in my book). 

And it can be really easy to do it the wrong way. 

So before you take the next stop to Marketing Tactical Hell, I wanted to share with you 5 Rules of Badass Email Marketing.

1. Get clear on the purpose of your list

Who do you want on your list? That might sound like an easy question, but take a minute to actually think about this. 

Do you want an email list specifically for potential clients? What about possible community referral sources? Are you planning to launch a digital product - like an ecourse or an ebook and looking to grow a more global audience?

Once you get clear on who you want on your list, then figuring out what to send them is much easier. But if your list becomes infiltrated with different types of audiences, you'll see your open rates plummet and will have no idea how to fix it. 

Now, before you overwhelm yourself by trying to cater to multiple groups all at once, focus on ONE that matters the most to you. You can always expand over time if email marketing is something you enjoy doing, but avoid the temptation to do all the things (I see you there. You can't fool me). 

2. Avoid Analysis Paralysis and Overwhelm

Do I go with MailChimp, AWeber, MailerLite, or ConvertKit? 
How do I set up A/B testing?
What is segmentation?
How does automation work?

I see therapists get caught up in all of the nitty gritty details of starting an email list, and it usually leads them to just throw their hands up and quit. I picture it looking something like this:

The important thing is that you START. Every email service provider has its pros and cons, so you just need to do some basic research (no more than an hour) and go with one. 

I promise that whichever one you choose, you'll really like certain features and will be mildly annoyed that it's lacking something else. 

Here's the honest truth (this might sting a little).

Your email list is gonna start off small. Like, really fucking small. Like 2 email addresses (and both of them are yours). 
And that's OK.

Unless your list is heading towards 10,000+ subscribers, there's no need to even think about things like A/B testing or segmentation. 

*cue sigh of relief*

And IF your list ever grows so much that your email service provider no longer meets your needs, that will ALSO mean that you'll be making enough money to pay someone else to make the switch to a different platform. Boom. 

So pick an email service provider and move on. You've probably already spent too much time stressing out about this.

3. Quality Over Quantity. ALWAYS.

Hearing people talk about the size of their email lists isn't too far off from high school boys comparing their penis sizes: They always exaggerate to make themselves seem more important, and none of them even know what to do with what little they have anyway.

My newsfeed is constantly flooded with sponsored ads telling me about how I need to grow my list...

That having a massive list should always be my #1 priority...

And that a large list is a sign of a successful business.

Well that's just horse shit.

You know what really matters? 

Having an engaged list. A list of people who love what you put out in to the world and who look forward to getting your emails. 

I'd take a list of 500 engaged readers over a list of 5,000 lookie loos ANY DAY. What's the point of having a huge list of people who couldn't give two shits about what you have to say? 

So focus on having a high-quality list of people who perfectly fit the population you're trying to attract. 

And then...

4. Send great shit

I can't tell you how many times I've joined someone's email list only for them to violate my inbox every single day with garbage. 

**1-DAY ONLY!!**
**BUY NOW!!!**


When I write to my list, I focus first on providing so much valuable content that my readers look forward to opening my emails knowing that I'm not constantly trying to sell shit to them.

In fact, every single email and blog post goes through my own internal Litmus test:

Is this content so good that I could charge for it? 

If the answer is yes, then it's worth sending. 

But if the answer is no, the email either gets reworked or goes into the trash. 


Because if it's not something that I find valuable, why waste anyone else's time? 

This is how I want you to think about the emails you send to your list. Are you sending content that actually helps them and adds value to their lives? 

Now don't get me wrong: There is absolutely nothing wrong with selling to your list.

In fact, when I sell something to my list, I do so unapologetically

I have no reservations about selling to my list because I know that the free content I send throughout the year is better than most of the paid material that's out there.

So know what your audience wants, and then send them high quality emails. When you invite them to buy from you -- whether it's a couples retreat, a new group you're starting, an ebook, or traditional counseling -- do so with confidence.

5. Be consistent 

Remember that time you got all excited about a new marketing endeavor only to let it die a slow, painful death 6 months later because you couldn't keep up with it? 

Whether it's your neglected Facebook business page that you only use to share other people's shit, the Instagram account that started with so much promise but ended up being the biggest time suck, or the $97 you spent on an e-course promising to "unlock the secrets of Pinterest," you're probably guilty of overcommitting yourself to something after hearing how it's The Next Big Thing

Welcome to Shiny Object Syndrome, my friends. It's a bitch.

Email marketing is no joke. In order to do it well, you have to be willing to stick with it and commit to playing the long game. This also means regularly sending valuable content to your list - weekly is the gold standard, but you might be able to get away with every two weeks.

Remember, people are more likely to buy from people they know, like, and trust - and being consistent with your emails is the best way to encourage this. If part of the reason for having an email list is to stay top-of-mind for prospective clients or potential referral sources, then sending your half-assed quarterly newsletter is just going to be an annoyance -- both for you and for the people on your list.

Email marketing is one way to position yourself as a trusted authority in your area, but it's NOT the only way. 

If you follow my 5 rules of Badass email marketing, you'll be well on your way to building an engaged list of raving fans who love the shit you put out into the world - and who will buy from you again and again.

Have you been toying with the idea of starting an email list but have no idea where to start? Comment below and tell me the biggest challenge you have when it comes to email marketing.

In the future I plan to create a 3-part video series on building an email list, so I want to make sure I answer any questions that you have. 


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