I’m not saying you should stop emailing your list, but…

You might wanna after reading this…

There’s a long list of benefits to having your own email list.

I won’t trot them out here. If you’re getting this email, there’s a fair to middling chance you realise the awesomeness email can bring to your life.

Having typed that, I DO want to mention something that’s often mentioned in the “scraping the barrel” section of “2,354,142 reasons email is awesome” lists…

And that’s the fuzzy feel-good factor.

Yeah, yeah, moolah makin’ ‘mails are lovely… but it’s also nice when people notice you’re gone.

Case in point – I’ve not emailed you for about three weeks.

After the first week, I had a few folks reach out, asking if I was OK.

Second week, a few more.

Then, in the third week, Google called me, begging me to email my list, as the “are you ok?” emails were crippling their Gmail servers…

(Clearly I’ve spent the three weeks at Exaggeration Camp. If you’ve not been, you should go. It’s the GREATEST THING IN THE ENTIRE HISTORY OF THE UNIVERSE!!!!!!!)

If you write good emails, people will miss you when you’re gone.

You might have a hard job ascribing a cash value to that, but it feels pretty darn good.

And this isn’t about a schedule either. People don’t miss you because you normally land in their inbox on a Wednesday at lunchtime.

They don’t miss seeing your name on their screen as they sit on the toilet emptying their outbox.

They miss the connection with you.

I’m not talking about anything deep and meaningful here.

Just connection. A simple touch point.

It’s like when you miss a friend…

You don’t think, “It’s 11:13 on Bubble Wrap Appreciation Day… I wonder if Nigel’s OK?”

You just notice something’s missing.

Connecting with someone over email is still a connection.

Yes, you’re “broadcasting” to your email club but, like radio, it still feels personal.

Write good emails and people will miss you when you’re gone.

John Holt

How’s my opening?

“I think I have a groin”.

Not the best opening salvo – especially for someone hoping to charm his way into a same-day appointment to see his GP.

The receptionist laughed. That’s a good sign.

“Sorry, I DO have a groin. Though, to be honest, I haven’t checked today… what I meant was – I think I have a hernia…”

A lot is made of headlines and subject lines.

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, you might say.

Your first line counts more than most.

It’s the same with any form of communication though, even verbal.

What’s the best first thing I can say to help me get the result I want?

In this case, it was Friday morning and I knew I’d developed a hernia. Something poking out of your body at your beltline is pretty hard to miss.

I didn’t want to cancel my Only Fans webcam shows this weekend, but also knew my chances of getting a same-day appointment were slim.

A hernia is probably something that can wait until next week.

“What can I do to get the receptionist on my side?”, I thought at 7:57 am, three minutes before the lines opened.

“I think I have a groin” seemed pretty solid – weird, rude, excusable, and with plenty of riffing options should I happen to strike gold and find the one medical receptionist with a sense of humour.

Plus – and this is a big plus…


It gives her a weird story she can use over the weekend whenever the conversation runs dry.

Don’t overlook the power of that ^^^^.

People like to laugh, sure, but they LOVE being the ones to make other people laugh more.

It’s basically how I landed three whopping clients in my first year as a copywriter.

(It certainly wasn’t my non-existent portfolio of proven samples)

I got proof at a team event recently when the boss called out the personalised sales page I created for them when I applied for the job.

“I passed it to my team and said… ‘You gotta see this guy!’” 

Not a bad first impression, eh?

It’s not just big things like sales pages that can have this impact.

Anything you can do to move an interaction from banal to “Oh! I gotta tell you about this…” is worth exploring.

Typos, spelling errors, and “accidental” mistakes are a good place to start. Especially if you’re looking to get on the good side of a medical receptionist.

Want an example?

No. Figure one out yourself. 

Kind refarts,


Far be it from me to go against Ben Settle, but…

I choose not to follow his work-on-your-own-business-before-even-thinking-about-doing-any-client-work advice.

Don’t get me wrong, “paying yourself first” is a rock-solid idea. And if anyone deserves your “best” first hour of your day, it’s probably you.

For a handsome Cheshire copywriter, that probably means I should be paying myself first by writing emails to my list email club or creating mouth-watering offers that make you dribble into your Aldi own brand cornflakes.

But… I don’t. 

And not because I disagree with the advice, but because I REALLY BLOODY agree with it 

“WHAAAAAAT???!” – you, I optimistically imagined when I wrote this.

Putting your own business before your clients is just ONE of the ways you can “Pay Yourself First”.

Another is doing whatever the hell you can to minimise your stress levels and have a semi-enjoyable day.

And that’s ^^^ how I choose to pay myself first.

Working on my own stuff when I have client deadlines looming is NOT enjoyable.

It fires up the nagging voice in the back of my head:

“Oh man, you’ve still got those emails to write… they’re due today, you know…”

Call it “Conscience”, “Your inner voice”, or “Francine”, whatever…

Having that whirl round my mind when working on my own stuff is more annoying than force-pumping me 10 hours of Baby Shark.

Getting client work done frees me up to focus on my own nonsense.

It might not make me the most productive copywriter on the planet, but…

… it makes me happier.

This is why blindly following motivation tips and tricks often doesn’t help.

Joining the “5 am club” so you can do some early morning deep work is all well and good, but if you know your creative cortex only works after 10 pm, you’re just shooting yourself in the foot.

Same with using “fill in the blank” copy templates…

Don’t just blindly copy, paste and fire them. Look a bit deeper.

Try and figure out why it’s written the way it is.

Read it out loud and think how your audience will take to it.

Do you need to change a few of the non “[INSERT NICHE’S 17TH PAIN POINT HERE]” bits to better suit your people?

How would YOU say this?

Oh, and if you’re ready to say goodbye to templates forever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever and ever… 

Check out my email writing course “Sent.”. 

John Holt

How I’d have dealt with the “Schofield Queuing” thing…

Shamefully, I wasn’t paying too much attention to The Queen’s funeral arrangements, but I did hear about the “Tale of Two Celebrities” queueing saga.

(Dear god, if International folks thought us Brits loved waiting in line BEFORE this, gawd only knows what they’re thinking now)

In the red corner, we have David Beckham – world famous footballer and long-time stubble bearer. The man who took his life into his hands and queued among the great unwashed for twelve hours so he could pay his respects.

And in the yellow corner, we have Philip Schofield and Holly Willoughby – the This Morning presenters who, because they were there “in a professional capacity”, were given deluxe, VIP, Diamond encrusted, lightning-fast passes that seemingly allowed them to bypass the throng and go straight to the front of the line.

(Kinda reminds of me of that time I got a cheat code for Sonic the Hedgehog that let me walk through walls)

Needless to say, skipping the queue annoyed folks. Even fans of This Morning were pissed. All four of them.

Some Twitter users petitioned ITV to sack them.

(You know it’s bad when the calm and serene folk of Twitter kick off. You know how reticent they are to voice their feelings)

When This Morning next hit the airwaves on Tuesday, everyone was waiting for the inevitable apology.

They’re still waiting.

Instead of apologising, the presenters came out with this:

“Like hundreds of other accredited broadcasters and journalists…”



OK, NOW I’m done.

“Like hundreds of accredited broadcasters and journalists, we were given official permission to access the hall and moved to the front for reporting purposes. Please know we would never jump a queue.”

And that ^^^, my dear subscriber, is the best the combined brain power of the This Morning team could come up with after staring at a whiteboard with the words “HOW THE HELL DO WE SALVAGE THIS?” on it for THREE BOODY DAYS.

It’s not for me to say whether we should be annoyed or not, but…

There ARE two people – and ONLY two people – who have good cause to be pissed at “Schofeby”. 

(I’m a bit shit at nicknames).

The two people at the front of the “I’m sorry, but we’ve got to cut the queue off here” line.

Imagine standing for a day, only to be told to go home cos the line was too long?

If I was on the This Morning team, I’d have pitched them the idea of totally owning their VIP status:

“Yeah, we jumped the queue. But we had a damn good reason – we’re celebrities, bitches! If I wanted to spend more time hanging around ordinary people, I’d do my big shop on Thursday nights and talk to my executive assistant”

That would’ve been awesome.

Of course, I’d have been fired immediately, but what a way to go…

Whatever happens, Phil and Holly look like a pair of selfish so-and-so’s.

They saved themselves 12 hours, but the media clear up is going to be more intensive than getting a 1-star slaughterhouse fit for a Queen’s King’s banquet.

* Sorry, that’s gonna take some getting used to.

I’m willing to bet £3.52 that, if Phil and Holly could do it over, they’d plump for the “let’s queue for 12 hours” option.

It’s why you have to be careful with shortcuts. 

What you save in time, you pay in consequences.

It’s why most folks don’t save time by driving across roundabouts or through shopping centres.

Sure, you’ll save time and get to hang around lots of people in uniform…

… but the consequences are a little on the “messy” side.

Same with copywriting…

You could join a bunch of email lists, save their emails and sales pages, and then blindly tweak them to suit your business, but…

Unless you know what’s going on under the hood – and I mean you know exactly why that email was sent… at that time… to this particular segment… and who that sales page is aimed at…

… you could end up doing a “Schofe”.

If you’re looking for a non-shortcutty way of writing emails that sell, click here and check out “Sent.” – my day-by-day email writing course.

I know it’s a bold claim… but, so far, NONE of the folks who’ve joined have ended up trending on Twitter, with an outraged public demanding their heads.

Who knows though… maybe you’ll be the first! 🙂

John Holt

P.S. Dammit…

I wrote this entire email and only NOW realised I missed an obvious This Mourning pun…

Were you up at 2:17am? I nearly emailed you

Today is not going to be a good day…

Probably. I don’t know for sure as it hasn’t happened yet.

If history has taught me anything though, it’s that I’m not very productive after a restless night.

I’ve been up since 3 am. And I’m not virtue signalling there BTW.

You won’t find a “Hello insomnia my old friend 😢😢😢😢!” woe-is-me tweet or a “Look at me, crushing the shit out of my day, 2 hours ahead of the 5 AM Loser Club!” post adorning my Facebook wall.

You know why?

Cos I couldn’t find my bloody phone.  

I’m trying to get my sleep dialled in at the moment.

A few years ago, I was Vaynerchucking my way through life, staying up till 2 am and getting up at 7.

“Margaret Thatcher had only 4 hours of sleep”, I’d tell myself, forgetting she also looked like she survived on four hours of sleep.

Recently though, I’ve upped my game. I’ve switched off devices, cut my evening Red Bull consumption down to single figures, and hit the hay by 21:30.

I’m ready for retirement village life, yo.

The switch works well, unless…

I wake up at night.

If I do that, I’m screwed. Cos I’m one of those annoying people who wake up like this:

My missus won’t thank me for sharing this, but early on in our togetherness, I once woke up and said “I love waking up with you.”

Her response to this Hallmark movie-worthy moment?


Waking up early is bad for me.

That’s what happened today. As my crusty eyes opened at 2:17, my hamster brain immediately leaped straight on his wheel…

“You could write an email about waking up early…”

What?? No!! Shut up!

“You know you’re looking for some social media ideas? I think I have one….”


You ever seen a hamster try and stop one of those wheels?

Anyway… my noggin has been whirring since the early hours.

Today, at some point… I’m going to flag.

Ain’t enough Kenco in all of Amazon’s warehouses to prop me up.

But that’s OK, cos I is a professional.

I plan for this.

I’m like a Navy Seal. Or at least the one whose book I read:

“Prioritise and engage” – that’s what he said.

Or, in less shouty military language:

“Look around and decide what you need to do”

As entrepreneurs, shit happens. Sometimes a lot of shit.

You can time block your day full of big rocks, 80/20s, and W.I.N.’s, but you better be ready for when it goes wrong and the fan begins to whiff.

Don’t beat yourself up if something doesn’t go to plan, or you fall short.

Take a second to see where you are and figure out your next move.

We’re entrepreneurs. 

We’re problem solvers.

This is what we do.

Today, for me that means front-loading everything.

My goal is simple…

Tank myself full of caffeine and blast through my to do’s by lunch.

That way, when my hamster brain screams, “I’m out!” at 2pm, I’m good.

Right, that’s enough. 

I’ve a lot to do today and, what’s worse…


John Holt