Tag Archives: Email

Building an audience

Last night, I wrote a detailed post on the end of the Week of Hustle. The post concluded that, while the experience had been fantastic, I had been neglecting an important piece which was marketing. This week, I want to tackle it by working on building an audience using my mailing list.

Humble beginnings

My mailing list is currently sitting at a hilarious 6 subscribers (including myself!) so I really have no place to go but up at this point! Conveniently for me, Justin Jackson focused his Week of Hustle on building an educational product for growing email lists to 1,000 subscribers. I have kept all the emails from the course and I’ll be going through the first day of it today.

Defining an objective

What I need to do today is quite simple I have to simply talk about myself and why I want to do this. Justin goes on to list a few examples in his day 1 email, but there are two that stuck with me. They were:

  1. They want to sell their own products, and gain financial independence
  2. They want to increase their profile within their industry

While the second one is very compelling to me, it is not a good enough reason to be a list. The first one is. Following that bit of soul-searching, we had to write an objective for our mailing list. Mine turns out to be nearly the same as the one he wrote as an example.

“My name is Carl Alexander. I want a mailing list so that I can build and launch my own products and eventually earn an income from them.”

I am hardly the special snowflake here. This is a pretty common desire for all of us struggling with our first product. Mailing lists have been working amazingly well for all the bootstrappers I follow so it’s hard to argue against them. However, it does seem so very hard to do when you start at the bottom like making your first dollar.

I’ll be working on that this week as hone in my ideal audience and work on the other tasks that the course as in store for me. I am also still working on Helthe. I expect some more marketing site changes to be happening soon.

Keep up with my progress

Could this be a plug for a mailing list!? Why yes it is! If you’ve liked what I have been writing the past week, you can subscribe here! You can also keep checking the blog every day if that’s your thing!

An email adventure

The past two days I have been knee-deep in email! Yesterday, I started by writing some basic documentation for Helthe Monitor which was on my to-do after my previous post.

Hooking up Mandrill

As I mentioned in the roadmap, Mandrill is the transactional email service that I chose for this project. I did extensive research on all the providers (Sendgrid, Postmark, Mailgun, etc.) when I was working on the previous Helthe version. I chose them due to their excellent pricing overall and their free tier. On top of that, they’re a spin-off company of Mailchimp which has excellent knowledge of email infrastructure.

So having done this before, I figured this was going to be quite easy  to do. The coding part didn’t take very long since I had done it before, but Symfony wasn’t sending the emails to Mandrill. Symfony would say that the email was sent, but it never made it to Mandrill. The rest of the day was spent troubleshooting the issue unsuccessfully.

I ended up solving the issue today by using SSL for the SMTP, but I never quite figured out why it did not work unencrypted. Once that was done, I made sure emails were only sent for new errors and not every time an error is logged.

Holy email styling batman!

For the rest of the day, I decided to tackle styling my emails. As I said Monday, I wasn’t sure I would have time for it, but I decided to work on the emails today. I had never done email styling before, but, armed with this sweet post from customer.io, I thought I could get it to work quickly. It seemed that way at first. My first version looked great. You can see an example below.

But then I saw it in Gmail. It looked horrid (I didn’t put some robot email skull monster screenshot for nothing!). None of the stylings were showing and I didn’t know why. I looked up some stack overflow questions, but nothing useful came out of it. I decided to try out a white color scheme and things looked better in Gmail, but I wanted black dammit!

Screen Shot 2013-11-14 at 10.26.35 PM

Eventually, I mentioned my problems in the JFDI campfire chat room and Justin pointed me towards this great tool from Mailchimp (!!!) called the Automatic CSS Inliner Tool which converted all the styles into inline ones BECAUSE APPARENTLY IT MATTERS. I love you email, but as if having to use tables wasn’t insulting enough already.

As a final note, I plan on using the first one, but if you like second one more. Let me know!

2 days left

We’re down to two days left now. I did a pretty good dent on that roadmap already. I think the main goal is to fix up the marketing site as was originally planned. It’s outdated so I would like to update it. Fix up some of the copywriting to reflect some discussions I have had the past week.

If I have time, I will do more design work on the frontend of the application so that I can put some sweet sweet screenshots! Nothing says progress like screenshots!

Keep up with my progress

I have been bad and haven’t sent emails everyday as I should, but I’ll be sending updates (I swear!) by the end of the project to my mailing list. You can subscribe here and you will get all the info when things are ready for testing.