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Project ABC Peeks its Head Above Water

abcIt has been one heck of a long time since I’ve posted an update about Project ABC.

I’ve missed it!

Both writing about my business plans… and working on them. Before sitting down to write this update for you, I went back and read my post from January.

Oh my.

Wasn’t I enthusiastic about working extra hard to meet my big goals?

I can only chuckle a little sadly at my hubris. I meant well. 😉

You know pretty well why that is – you read about the launch, and you may be following the the Scavenger Hunt – so I won’t re-hash any of that. I will say that in some of the time I was able to snatch away from other important endeavors, I did some serious thinking, about some pretty serious questions.

Really serious.

Like:

  • Do I really have the time and energy to do this?
  • Am I still interested in what I started out doing?
  • Am I going to be able to do a good enough job to serve as a case study for all of our students and readers?

I came to the decision that the answer to all three is a (slightly tentative resounding) yes.

So let’s get down to brass tacks – what’s been going on?

An Important Missing Piece

There are a couple of things that, I’ll be honest, I ought to have done ages ago. The biggest one being writing my initial engagement sequence.

An initial engagement sequence is the first series of emails that a new subscriber will get from you, meant to jump-start the cycles of commitment and reward. It’s something that you should have if you’re, you know, collecting emails at all, ever.

I blushed a little every time I extolled the virtues of this kind of sequence to our students in ABM because I was not at all practicing what I preached.

So I finally did it!

If you’d like to take a gander you can either:

Subscribe to the Paying for Life email list, OR, if you’d like it all at once:

Download the sequence right here.

(If you’d like to join the mailing list, I’ll welcome you with open arms,  but if personal finance advice for the young and underemployed isn’t really useful for you, then I’d just download the sequence – no hard feelings!)

Also, for the record, any documents, writings or opinions presented as a part of Paying for Life may not necessarily reflect the tastes, opinions or values of Mirasee. There is also occasional swearing. You’ve been warned!

So, this was my first engagement sequence. I’d like to dive a little bit into what that means, and why I made the choices about it I did.

As I mentioned above, an Engagement Sequence is a series of emails that you set to go out to a new subscriber in the days and weeks after they subscribe. You want your Engagement Sequence to be doing a few different things for you:

  • Delivering the content you promised on your landing page.
  • Starting the process of engagement.
  • Getting your subscriber used to consuming your content.
  • Demonstrating that you’re a real person.
  • Setting expectations for what the relationship is going to be like.

Just for fun – you can go through the engagement sequence and see if you can pick out which emails are dedicated to which goals.

Getting a Feel for Guest Posting

So with the Engagement Sequence out of the way, there is no longer any excuse for me to put off a grand guest posting bonanza.

I’ve been commenting on Personal Finance blogs and other blogs my ideal customer is likely to be interested in, and am starting to get more of a “feel” for the industry at present.

What do I mean by “feel?”

Well, it’s kind of cool actually.

There are bloggers out there who I feel like I sort of know now, even though the engagement has mostly been one sided: just me on their blog. But I know how they’re likely to fall on an issue. I also like that I have a sense of what matters to people, and find that I’m getting inspired by reading the work that’s being produced by my soon to be peers.

It’s pretty awesome.

I’m also becoming really familiar with the micro-networks that exist around the blogs that really interest me. Micro-networks are the group of commenters – who are mostly other PF bloggers – that frequent and comment on each other’s sites. I call them “the cool kids.” I totally want to be one.

Having this kind of insight has made a WORLD of difference in the luck that I’m having coming up with ideas for guest posts (not to mention the likelihood that they’ll be accepted).

I’ve got a much better feeling about guest posting now – I know it takes longer folks – but spending some time commenting and getting to know the scene first makes a huge difference!

Now, that being said, titles are a weakness of mine. (Writing skills I’ve got, but titles? Honestly, Danny usually edits them for me…)

A good title, as anyone and their brother will tell you, is critical to blogging success. Bad or boring headlines don’t get read or clicked on, and every person who skims past your first impression with nary a backward glance is a wasted opportunity.

We’ve all read Why Headlines Fail and Headline Hacks by now, right?

So here are some examples I’ve come up with (just in the running file of things I’d like to write about someday) and I would LOVE your feedback: do they sound interesting and engaging? Click-through and share worthy?

  • The Dumbest Financial Advice You’ve Ever Heard
  • Roll d10 for Savings – How Nerding Out Can Save you Massive Cash
  • Cheap Date!  How to Be One
  • A Totally Selfish Argument for Eating Vegan
  • The Side Hustle – An Epic Journey

What do you think? We all know that how a title ends up depends on which blog it goes to, and the editor’s taste, but as blog post titles, I’d love your opinion.

I’m making a solemn promise to pitch at least 10 ideas to different blogs before my next update – so I’ll let you know how it goes.

The Importance of Timing

Now, all of the carefully laid out plans I had for this year were smashed to smithereens by the crazy first three months of the year, so I’ve had to revisit a couple of ideas I had about that too.

Here is a pretty high-level look at what I’d like to be doing with Paying for Life for the rest of the year.

  • April and May – Guest Posting and preparing Red Panda Content
  • June – Soft Launch
  • July – Prepare for Hard Launch with Red Panda Content
  • August – Release the Red Panda! Begin preparing runway for First Offer for Sale
  • September – October – Smaller content campaigns while preparing
  • November – Launch window and release First Offer for Sale
  • December – Post-sale Recovery

It’s aggressive – but not too aggressive. I think that this is a reasonable amount of time to do a pretty good job at everything, but enough pressure is on that the need to meet deadlines has been activated.

What say you, marketers? Is this a good looking schedule, or should I be allowing more or less time for some things? How do you organize your long-term plans for your business or blog?

Okay, that’s about all I’ve got for you today about Project ABC – I’ve got to stop writing and get to work!

I’m excited to announce the winners of our Scavenger Hunt on Monday, but in the meantime, I’d like to know what you appreciate the most in an Engagement Sequence – personal stories, tons of information, laughs?

What works for you?

About Megan Dougherty

Megan Dougherty is an alumnus of Mirasee and is passionate about online education, small business and making a difference in the world. You can find out what she's up to and how side-hustles will take over the world at PayingforLife.com. Follow her on Twitter at @MeganTwoCents.

15 comments

  1. Jim Bessey | SoWriteUs ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Thanks for your helpful update, Megan!

    Letting us see your email sequence in one shot was enlightening. When we’re on the receiving end of an engagement sequence, we wouldn’t normally notice much about the progression. I, for one, don’t bother saving those mailings! 🙂

    I also thought it was VERY interesting how you tailored your language and phrasing to suit your target audience. Good thing to keep in mind.

    I like your first headline. It’s clear and invites readers to immediately think about sharing their own experiences. Even before reading a word of the post, I would have already conjured up some horrid advice from my past.

    Best of luck to you as you move forward with all of this. I wish I’d had the sense to seek out ANY solid financial advice when I was in my 20’s.

  2. Katie S says:

    If I can make a suggestion about the titles – on #1 and #3, maybe put something in there about what it will do for the reader? Otherwise, they’re kind of negative.

    “The Dumbest Financial Advice You’ve Ever Heard” – why would I listen to that? I’m more interested in “The Dumbest Financial Advice That Ever Saved You Money” (or something like that; that’s off the top of my head and could be tweaked).

    “Cheap Date! How to Be One” – ‘cheap date’ has a negative connotation. What about Cheap Date! How to Be One and Still Have Fun/a Romantic Night/Whatever. (Again, top of my head, needs tweaking).

    Thanks for sharing your email sequence. I’ve never crafted one before and can use all the examples I can find.

    1. Megan says:

      I think these are good points to consider Katie – but I also think it depends a bit on who you’re writing for. (Also – HEY – Split-testing opportunity!!) I have reason to believe my audience will be drawn to anything that rings a little anti-establishment, such as the idea of bad advice being given and “cheap dates as a positive” but that’s a hunch, and not verified by click-through’s. 🙂

      1. Katie S says:

        That would be interesting to do an experiment on, Megan.

        To be fair to your titles, I’m 38 – older than your target audience and in search of solutions. If I were younger, I have had a different initial reaction.

    2. Rodney C. Davis says:

      IDK Katie, it’s negative for sure, but that’s not always a bad thing. If I’m not being very successful at saving money even though its a goal of mine, I’d be very attracted to a headline about dumb financial advice… if only to check how many of them I’m making so I can correct them.

      I fully agree with you on your thoughts about the “cheap date” thing. To tweak a little further: “How To be A Classy Cheap Date That Totally Rocks!” I’m trying to use some of the vernacular that I hear with all the time I spend around younger folks.

      Hey Megan, thanks for the post. I finished my sequence last week, but got busy with other parts of the ABM course and put aside the task of sending it for you to look at. Now I feel we’re all just one big happy family rowing frantically in the same direction.

      1. Megan says:

        I’m glad you found it useful, Rodney – and thanks for the suggestions.

        I feel like we’re one big family too! Send that sequence over!

  3. Michelle Twohig says:

    Hey Megan, thank you so much for sharing your engagement sequence. I learn best by seeing examples, apparently…huge help in ABM.

    As for your headlines, I’m not in your targeted audience but I would be an ideal “sharer” of your stuff because I know many who are. I would click through all of them except the “Roll d10” one because it means nothing to me, and therefore feels more limiting. I wouldn’t know if my circle of nerds would be right for it…so keep that in mind.

    1. Michelle Twohig says:

      P.S. Forgot to say…I would click through on it if it were just “How Nerding Out Can Save You Massive Cash”

      1. Megan says:

        Thanks for the tip, Michelle! I think for this one, it would depend on who it was for – if the blog’s main audience was likely to get the reference, I think I’d keep it. 😉

  4. Adrianne Munkacsy ( User Karma: 0 ) says:

    Megan, you’re rocking it! I really like the more personal email in your sequence. I don’t see that type of connection enough when I sign up for people’s lists. In fact, I’m missing that in my own sequence, so I’ve added that to my to-do list.

    I also love this post overall. Makes me feel less alone in the process knowing that you (and others) are out there planning, learning, and diving right in.

    1. Megan says:

      Thank you Adrianne!

      I felt like having a personal element would be really important for the type of people I want to attract – but it may not be the case for every audience.

      We’re all in this together!

  5. Iain says:

    I like those headlines that you proposed. My personal favourite is:

    “Roll d10 for Savings – How Nerding Out Can Save you Massive Cash”

    That is a pretty awesome one.

    Also, if people haven’t read headline hacks, they most definitely should it super helpful to get some fantastic ideas for headlines.

    I think your schedule looks fine. As you said, not too aggressive, but just aggressive enough. I hope you have added time in there for unexpected things to happen. Think about Murphy’s law.

    Becoming a regular commenter can go a long way to get to know the way people write, and it also helps to connect with the author. It is a great feeling when you comment on something and you get the, “hey I know that person” as you scroll through the comments.

    Great update. I look forward to the next one.

    1. Nita says:

      I must be perfectly honest at this point. I very seldom go by the title of a blog, article, or anything by email unless I know who the author is. Otherwise, what I am saying is that if it came from Danny, Megan, or anyone else from Firepole Marketing I will read it. There are only a few of those names I recognize and will read.

      1. Megan says:

        Thanks for that endorsement, Nita!

        How do you find new authors/bloggers etc. to read? Generally on recommendations, or do you keep it at a minimum?

    2. Megan says:

      Thanks! I kind of like the roll d10 one as well. 🙂 Tabletop gamers unite!

      It can be hard to convince someone how much regular commenting can help – but feeling like you’re part of the broader community makes it easier to take risks, I think – people who know you are more likely to support what you’re trying to do!

      Thanks!

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