“Oh yeah, well what about Seth Godin?”

Previously, on “email from John”

I did my absolute bestest to convince you to treat your subscribers better than your social followers. 

Specifically, don’t blast every piece of content you ever create to your list, convincing yourself you’re ticking the email marketing box.

This idea is worth exploring further.

(If “exploring” sounds a tad energetic, don’t worry, I’ll be the one wearing the crampons)

“Oh yeah, well what about Seth Godin? He just sends his blog to his email list! What about him, huh? HUH?”

(I *may* have upgraded the hostile attitude to this genuine reply I got last week)

(Also: the word “may” in that sentence is TOTALLY superfluous)

Seth can send copies of blog posts to his subscribers, because… well, he’s Seth Godin.

You’re probably not Seth Godin.

Besides, he doesn’t JUST send blog posts. Subscribers get first notice of courses, books, and whatever other shenanigans he gets up to. Subscribers also get the perk of knowing the magic spot to click on his order pages to reveal the discounted price.

Even Seth Godin doesn’t JUST send out blog posts.

You don’t need to host a welcome parade and campaign for a national holiday for every subscriber you get. You just have to make them feel glad to be here.

(There’s another upside to this, that I’ll get to in a second. Please remind me if I forget)

A simple way to do this is not very well hidden in this email.

Look down. You’ll see I always include a link to the what-the-hell-do-I-have-to-do-to-make-this-world-famous GOOGLE DRIVE OF AWESOMENESS!!!! in most of my emails.

Even if there’s nothing in the GDOA!!!! of use to you at the moment, you get a reminder of the perks of being in this email club every once in a while. Maybe it helps convince you I’m not a totally terrible human being and – should the moon, stars, and Angel cards align – you’d trust me enough to hand over some money to write some emails for you. Maybe.

Either way, little nudges like this make a difference. 

Oh, and there’s the other advantage of not blasting your list with every piece of social content (don’t bother reminding me – I remembered) – you can make your subscribers do some legwork to find it.

Making your subscribers work sounds like a negative, but it’s not. Here’s why:

Aside from the “Yay – I’m soooo glad I’m on this list” happy dance, you want your subscribers doing something else too.

Something that will help your cash register ring when you launch.

That thing?

Thinking: “Good things happen when I click [insert your name]’s links”

Let’s look a little closer at that…

Every time you click a link to the GOOGLE DRIVE OF AWESOMENESS!!!! you:

a) End up in the place you expected – building trust I’m not a colossal clickbaiter 

b) Get a positive reminder of all the freebies – “what a nice guy that John is. I should buy him a house”

You might not experience waves of ecstasy as you rifle through my year’s worth of writing prompts, or learn my “Sniper Approach” to client getting, but every time you click, you add a support beam to the “Good things happen when I click John’s links” bridge.

(The wife and I watched three seasons of Grand Designs, so I’m reasonably certain this bridge analogy holds up)

Every time you ask your subscribers to do something –  click through to your latest video, comment on a post, or have a look at the testimonials on your sales page – and you send them to the right place, you’re building the same bridge.

So when it DOES become time to send them an “Ahem… excuse me, I have something for sale. Fancy checking it out?” link, their brains “scam nodules”* aren’t firing up.

They trust you enough to take the first step.

(The wife and I were busy watching three seasons of Grand Designs, so I’ve no bloody idea if this analogy holds up)

Even if you don’t have anything for sale, get in the habit of asking your email club to visit cool places and click things.

Build that bridge. 

Weaken those nodules. 

Eat the fence. 

Caress the gerbil. 

Hose the pathway. 

Stop the analogies.

John Holt

[INSIDERS ONLY] Why I’m not sending this to everyone…

I have a weird tendency to demonstrably overprove things.

For example, if I ever handle anything in a shop, I always do this hand dance for the security cameras after putting it back on the shelf:

… to prove I’ve not smuggled anything up my sleeve.

(And also so they’ll never think of looking in my trouser cuffs… MUAHAHAHAHAHAHA!)

It’s one of the reasons you should never call on me to defend you in court. Even if you didn’t do it (and we both know you bloody well did), I’d be giving off more tells than the lovechild of Pinocchio and Amber Heard.

My weird tendency is also the reason I blatantly disregarded my personal security by showing a waitress my laptop screen with my private details on – just so I could prove I was entitled to a 10% on a hot beverage.

I’ve started trying to be more sociable. You know – exploring new and exciting places to write in and be around humans…

… for five seconds before I cram my earbuds in, whack up the white noise, and spend three hours sitting in total silence, staring at my screen and ignoring bloody everyone.

My local library is a pretty good spot for this. But calling it a library is like calling the “Super Soaker Drenchmaster 3000 XM (Extra Moist)” a water pistol

It’s less of a library and more a thriving hub with a coffee shop, cinema, theatre, and unflappable WiFi connection.

For the membership fee of just £4 a month, I can get first dibs on tickets and shows and – more importantly – save 25p on every coffee.

(I’ll let you do the “how many cups do I need to buy every month to break even?” maths on that one)

I always get excited about joining a club.

I still remember the day my Dennis the Menace fan club pack landed on my doormat…

(Because it was last Thursday)

I remember because my sister and I were having a blazing row – a full on shoutfest. I was in the middle of a particularly harsh “oh yeah… well, you smell” tirade when I heard the unmistakable thud of “substantial package hitting doormat”

At that moment, everything paled into significance. All I wanted to do was rip open the box and put on the furry badge*.

* If you know, you know.

Sadly, I didn’t get to relive that same excitement when I joined my local library though.

Not even close. Once I paid my £4, I received…



Not even a “thanks for supporting your local charity and community (even though we know you only did it for the discounted caffeine, you cheap git)” email.

Not only did I miss out on the excitement of getting new stuff, but I also have nothing to prove I’m a member, hence my sharing far too many personal details with a waitress who is probably fleecing my bank account as we speak.

If someone joins your club/membership/group, you don’t need to buy them a Tesla or make a big song and dance, but…

You should probably do something to make them feel a little bit special.

For example, for joining this “email club” you get exclusive access to the GOOGLE DRIVE OF AWESOMENESS!!!! 

You also get these emails – hopefully, they’re of some value.

I also treat you a little better than non “email club” people – you hear first about anything I’m up to and discounts on my offers.

In my eyes, you’re an “insider”. You took action. You gave me your email. You decided to be here.

Every time you open this email, I want you to feel glad you’re here, whether you’re the weird fanboy who has posters of me in your room, or you’re like me at my local library…

… just in it for the freebies!

Email is great for bringing your audience in closer, but you need to make it feel special somehow.

You can’t do that by “blasting” your list with every piece of content you ever create.

John Holt

Are you on Facebook right now?

As a boring teetotaller, I’ll never know what it’s like to fall off/be back on* the wagon.

*I’ve never been sure whether it’s on or off, so feel free mentally delete either.

That said, I had a mini “wagon” moment last week.

I was heading out to take my dog out for a wander. I grabbed my walking boots off the welly stand my missus made to prevent her from having to convince 12 honest and true members of the public that strangling me with a power cable was a fair and just reaction to me traipsing half of our local golf course through our hallway.

A few minutes into my walk though, and I could feel something wasn’t quite right.

My feet felt funny.

I looked down and saw the problem – I’d put the wrong boots on.

A few days earlier – having finally decided wringing out my socks every morning was no longer filling me with joy and delight – I’d treated myself to a new pair of walking shoes. 

Being the complete and utter lazy bastard I am though, I couldn’t be arsed getting rid of the old ones* – I just popped the new ones next to them on the stand.

* Yep, I’m one of those “if I leave it long enough, eventually someone else will do this for me” people. The wife should probably mention this to the jury too.

This particular morning, my mind was clearly elsewhere during the “pick up the right shoes, dumbass” portion of this activity… and idly reached for my old boots.

Being the complete and utter lazy bastard I am though, I couldn’t be arsed going back and changing the boots for the new ones – I just stuck it out like the rock star superhero I am.

It doesn’t take much to fall off the wagon*

* I Googled it. You fall “off” the wagon.

And when your habits determine your success, it’s worth making sure that doesn’t happen to the important stuff in your life.

Me lazily reaching for my boots is the same as you lazily scrolling Facebook when you should be working on your next offer…

… or planning out next month’s emails…

… or doing that thing that you keep pushing further and further down your to-do list…

(I’m looking at you, “Get my accounts sorted”)

Ain’t no shame in paying for an internet blocker (Thank you, FREEDOM!) or pledging money to an anti-charity if you don’t follow through on something.

As Sinatra once sang:

“Do be do…”

… ing whatever you need to do to do the stuff you need to do.

John Holt

Were you one of the “lucky” 14.2%?

There was a colossal screw-up with Monday’s email.

(If you’re one of the 482 people wondering, “What email?”, don’t worry, THAT’S the screw up!)

And – for once – “What did you do this time, John?” wasn’t the problem.

I played my part to perfection. I did everything within my power to make sure your inbox was blessed with the subject line “I’ll have a Brazilian please, Gran”

I had the email lined up, scheduled and planned to go out. 

But as I sat in the Accident and Emergency department with my wife (another story for another email), checking my email… I couldn’t see it.

“That’s funny… I can’t see my email in my inbox this morning”, I said compassionately to the wife… while she was in blinding agony.

(Again, another time…)

(Subscribing to your own email list is like adding “write to-do list” to your to-do list – it doesn’t mean diddly, but it puffs up your ego a bit)

No biggie. I’ll check it when we get back home.

When I got back though, I was able to quickly confirm “Holt Error” wasn’t the problem.

After three cups of tea and a Jaffa Cake to recover from the shock, I looked deeper…

For some reason, my email software sent my email to only 14.2% of our glorious little email club.

The other (arrrgghhhh – I hate doing maths on the fly) 85.8% missed out on some morning Holt action in their inbox.

(Line blatantly stolen from the classic “Carry On Bouncing” email marketing-related movie)

Turns out 66%* of the Terminator movies were right – tech was the screw up.

* I’ve not seen all of ‘em, so that’s a guess.

As I’m writing this, my “I’ll have a Brazilian please, Gran” email is still somewhere in limbo. And since I’m not sure if my software will kick into gear and send it, I’m going to hang back.

Once I know for sure it’s not going anywhere, I’ll resend it so you can fully appreciate the image of me being waxed by my eldest female relative’s appallingly weak wrists and not-so-supple fingers.

Why am I telling you about an email you probably haven’t seen?

Because of what I noticed most during this whole “what the hell has gone wrong?” episode.

How little I cared.

In the past, I’d be sweating buckets. My heart would be pounding out of my chest and I’d be catastrophising the hell out of everything – doing anything and everything I could to make the pain stop RIGHT THIS SECOND.

Little things like this would ruin my day.

And for what?

I’m the only person on the planet who knows there’s a problem.

I’m the only one stressing and worrying.

(I’m very annoyed I couldn’t find a Chesney Hawkes gif)

Those that got the email, got the email. Those that didn’t, didn’t.

So… how did I go from nervous, sweaty, panicky “OH MY GOD, I NEED TO FIX THIS NOW!!!!!!” to not giving a monkey’s?

What made the difference?


When you get into a habit of regularly emailing your people, niggles like these go away.

Actually, they don’t go anywhere – you do.

The more you email, the further back you step. And the further back you step, the more you get a sense of what REALLY matters.

When it’s your very first email, every little thing means everything.

Every unsubscribe and unopen feels like a dagger through your heart.

When it’s your 13,253rd email… not so much.

The Stoics have a practical approach for scary and new things:

Imagine you’re doing it for the 1,000th time.

It’s not the first email you’re sending, it’s number 1,000. And you know what? You’re gonna send another 1,000 more.

(Probably because you picked up “Endless Emails” and are full to bursting with things to write about)

It’s not about not giving a toss. You absolutely SHOULD give a toss. This is email marketing after all. You’ll never do anything more important with your life than this.

(No, really. I’ve seen what you get up to in the evenings. And it ain’t healthy)

It’s about realising, that the more you do something, the better perspective you have of all these tiny, little niggles.

John Holt

“I’ll have a Brazilian please, Gran”

A while back, I told you I was going on a diet. 

Since I’m kinda done with it now, I thought I’d close the loop on that story, as the phone calls, constant emails, and messages have been pouring in.

I’ll keep it brief…

(Don’t worry, there’s a definite “why should I give a toss” nugget coming)

Between December and May, I lost about 50lbs 

(That’s 23kgs or 3 and a half stone in old money)

I went from being a 15 stone 2 lbs liability to the NHS to an 11 stone 10 lbs liability on my local kebab shop’s balance sheet.

I’m not posting before and after photos… 

UNTIL my gran does my full body wax and lavishly applies fake tan to my notable zones.

(I’m going for “Ready Brek Orange”)

Even though there are no photos, I did keep a record of my daily weigh-in. And I’m glad I did too.


Because I have no idea how I did it.

Actually, that’s not true. I know HOW I did it…

(Having one meal a day [OMAD] is great for keeping your calories down)


I don’t FEEL like I’ve been on a diet.

I hate typing that cos it’s the kind of hype littering every weight-based fakebook ad going.

Obviously, going from “Wait… are all these plates for ONE person?” to just one meal a day was a big shift, but after a week or so…

The urge to slaughter everyone within arms reach eventually passed I honestly didn’t notice.

Actually, that’s another fib. I DID notice, just not the hunger pangs…

What I noticed about OMAD was how much energy I had in the afternoons now I wasn’t weighed down by my “light* lunch” of four slices of bread, packed with meat and a share size bag of crisps.

* At this point, I’d like to remind you that “light” is a relative concept…

Also, the time I was usually sitting on my previously-fat-but-now-not-quite-as-fat derriere, munching away was now being used for more productive purposes, like writing an email to you, cracking the hell on with some client work, or counting down the milliseconds to dinner time.

Another thing I noticed – I needed less sleep. I started getting up at 4:30…


(I know… I’m one of THOSE people)

I started working out at 5:30am – AND KINDA LIKING IT!


As I say, I’m glad I kept a record as, looking back, I wouldn’t be able to tell you how I shifted the blubber.

With my trusty journal though I can see exactly how one small change led to the next… and the next…

Just like when you used to line up warehouse operatives with mattresses on their backs as a kid…

You played that too, right?

This “warehouse operative mattress effect” (someone should really come up with a catchier name) is one of the reasons my email writing course “Sent” is delivered “day by day” via email.

At 13,000+ words, it’s still a weighty beast but the daily emails make it FEEL less overwhelmy.

If you want to discover the approach I use make up words like “overwhelmy” and write emails like the one you’re reading now, you could do worse than check out “Sent.”.

Here – let me give you a clickable collection of blue letters to help you jump to the sales page:


 A few cautions…

“Sent.” is NOT:

– Going back into the vault any time soon, so there’s NO urgency.

– Strictly limited. I can sell as many as I want, so there’s NO scarcity.

– Discounted. In fact, the price has never been higher than it is right now… so there’s NO FOMO.

That said, if you know you should be ticking the email marketing box and you want to make more sales with easy-to-write emails that actually sound like you…

Give “Sent.” a quick looksie

John Holt