How Procrastination Cost Me 72,800 Email Subscribers

Putting things off can be an expensive form of self deception. The art of the start can be difficult because our internal conversations can paralyse and freeze.How to build an email list fast

The reasons our mind conjures up are extensive and many.

The artistic creations of deception often start with the perfection piece. It’s got to be just right. It then can move onto what if I stuff up. Fear also often creeps in as we go into the psycho babble of other people’s judgement.

The other reason  that we don’t often own up to is “just plain lazy”.

We all make excuses why we don’t get things done. The reality is that it will cost you money, opportunity and even relationships.

Sometimes we don’t start a blog, a book or that business because the priorities are the wrong way around.

The freemium economy

We live in a freemium economy. It starts with offering something of value for free online to display snippets of your knowledge. Then the steps are asking for $9.99 for a book and we can move onto selling an online course, a paid online webinar or even a monthly subscription to a membership site.

Give away free content that adds value and solves problems and you start building trust and credibility.

The sad story

It was about two years ago that I offered a free ebook. To download it you had to enter your name and email address and agree to receive my daily blog articles and other updates. It worked well for a while but then I had some technical issues and I pulled it.

For two years I didn’t do anything. Excuses were varied. Fear of technology. It requires some technical understanding of your email platform and I had struggled with that. (I could have easily got someone to do it for me). I needed to write a new ebook which takes time and it needed to be designed well. I could have used Elance to find myself a designer or even used

Instead, I just put it off.

Finally I got around to it. I now offer a new 57 page ebook titled “8 Key Steps to Blogging Mastery” and between 100-120 are being downloaded  every day. If I have my maths right, that is 72.800 subscribers (using the conservative 100 a day) that I could have signed up and would have been on my email list if I hadn’t procrastinated 104 weeks ago.

Does the word “idiot” cross your mind?

The steps to build an email list

So what are the steps to creating and publishing the ebook and building an email list that will provide a solid foundation to your blog and business?

1. The idea

So what should you use as the topic for your book? A great place to start is to ask yourself this question…”What are the biggest problems that face people on my topic or industry category?” Then write several headlines to make the title for the ebook and pick the best one. Don’t wait to get this perfect. Just start.

2. The outline

The next step once you have selected your title is to create an outline for your ebook. There is no black and white answers to this.

This is a simple 5 step formula that works for me that comes in various colors, shapes and sizes.

  1. An introduction:  This could include a personal story to build credibility, the current andscape of the sector that you are covering that provides context for the book.
  2. The challenges: What are the problems that you know you have faced and others will also face along the way. You will also identify with your reader by doing this.
  3. The opportunities: What will the reader gain from reading the rest of the book? What fun, fame and fortune will they receive should they follow your instructions?
  4. The steps to success: This is where you lay out a framework for your readers to follow. Take them by the hand and show them the way to the promised land.
  5. Key takeaways: This is where you distill the book and highlight the priorities that your reader should focus on. It could even include providing a fast start option to get them out of the starting gate.

You may find an another outline formula that works for you. Whatever you do don’t get sucked into the “paralysis by analysis” syndrome, where you nothing happens because you want to know the perfect approach. Pull your running shoes on and hit the road.

3. The words

Now you have to sit down and write the words. It’s also called “doing the work”.  Some ebooks are a compilation of blog posts woven together. What is vital is to write with your voice and put some passion and personality into it especially at the start. This is “Finding Your Writing Voice“. Don’t make your brand bland but give it some heart and soul.

Finally you need to make sure that it looks and reads like a professional wrote and produced it. This means includes editing and proof reading in your process after the first draft. Editing is important because when we write we often fill it with fluff . These are the redundant words, sentences and paragraphs that can be removed. An editor will cull and cut these and make it a tighter read. Don’t edit yourself because as Stephen King said it is like killing your own children. You need an outside and pragmatic person to do this as you will be too attached.

4. The design

A design is important as it will include your branding and make it something that you will be proud of. It doesn’t need to be complicated but it needs to be well structured and easy to read and consume. I used a designer from Elance and that included the following.

  • Cover  
  • Internal design 
  • Formatting 
  • PDF format

The price for that was only $219. We are all busy so give this to a professional. They will leverage your time. Do what you are best at.

5. The technology

We all have email platforms of choice. It might be AWeber (which I use), MailChimp or Campaign Monitor. You can do it yourself if you are so inclined or you can give it to your web developer and get them to do it. I have done both and I know what I prefer.

So how should you set it up? There are two schools of thought on this.

  1. Place the “Optin” for your ebook in a visible and obvious  location on your site (top and right) and let people sign up. 
  2. Place the “Optin” for your ebook in a visible and obvious  location on your site (top and right) and also provide a light box with an email subscribe “call to action” that pops up after a few seconds that darkens the blog/website.    

Option two can annoy but it will increase your conversion rate (sometimes as much as 500%. Your call….whatever you are comfortable with.

Instruction to construction

That is the instruction and now is time for you to start the construction.

The learning and magic happens when you start the work. Have you started building an email list? Are you offering a free book or some premium content that offers an incentive for people to hand over their email address and name?

Look forward to hearing your stories and insights in the comments below.


Want to learn how to create and market your content?

My book – “Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” – will show you how.

It is now available to download. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It also includes dozens of tips to create contagious content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website and blog.

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  • Jeff Bullas

    So procrastination is overcome? :)

  • Jeff Bullas

    Yes, the numbers in black and white are are a bit sobering.

  • venkyiyer58

    Is there any definite way of judging whether a light box will lure more or piss off more?

    • Jeff Bullas

      Maybe the only way is to do a split test and see what the numbers are.

  • Zsuzsa Szabo

    Jeff, I am happy that you stopped procrastination!! It happened to me last week too, and delivered something important. I was in the gym, and the trainer said, “now push it hard, hit it like you would punch someone in the face” … I am not an angry person, and I don’t want to hit anyone so I punched procrastination in the face. :)

  • Ashwin D Kini

    Hey Jeff, what do you look for in your freelancer when you’re searching on elance?

  • Spook SEO

    Jeff, though you’ve lost a hefty amount of email subscribers, I’m sure that what you’ve learned right now about not procrastinating will bring you to even greater heights! Great post. Thanks for sharing!

  • Ryan King

    This is great inspiration to get the ball rolling on several projects, including an eBook of my own. When you think about procrastination in terms of opportunity costs, it makes it much more motivating to get started!


  • Jeffrey James

    It’s true, procrastination costs us a lot more than we think it will. Though if we realized that at the time, we probably wouldn’t procrastinate in the first place! That’s why it’s so important that we start the habit of doing things now instead of later. I’m glad that you were able to learn from your mistake, and hopefully help others avoid doing the same thing.

  • Jane

    Hey Jeff thanks for sharing your procrastination story with us! I just shared mine at my personal blog >

    Yup procrastination does cost us and most of it goes unnoticed. We should not take procrastination easily.

    I usually relate every task (undone) to a value in terms of money and that helps me stay on track.

  • Alexander Paul

    Hi Jeff, great post and advice you share. I was so free to link back to this article from here Thx a lot for sharing these ideas!