The Naked Truth About How I Got 7,568 Subscribers in 5 Months

This is a guest post by Danny Iny of Firepole Marketing.

Yes, the number is accurate.

In less than six months, I gained over 7,500 subscribers, which represented almost 1,000% growth of the list of about 840 people that I had built in my first YEAR doing this.

That’s pretty impressive growth, but even more impressive was that these were all people who love what I do, and engage with my (very frequent) emails.

Oh yeah, and the best part is that they buy lots of things that I sell.

Okay, enough suspense.

Want to know how I did it? 😉

First, I Found My “Type”

I spent a lot of time nailing down who I wanted to work with – people who would be the very best customers I would ever find.

At Firepole Marketing, our target audience is small business and entrepreneurs in the 0-10 employee range who are smart enough to be tired of the “5 Steps to Take Over the World with Twitter” nonsense that’s out there.

I realized that if I wanted to grow fast – and I really, really did – I would need an even narrower segment – one who would not only become my customer, but who would go ape-crazy for what I have to offer, and evangelize my work to their friends and followers.

That narrower segment turned out to be the ones who were interested in social media and engagement.

Now, I’m not telling you that you need to go after the social media and engagement crowd – I’m just telling you that you’ve got to find a highly specific group of people that’ll go crazy about what you’ve got, and tell everyone they can about it.

Then, I Got All Sexy

This is where it started to get fun.

Knowing who you want to impress is one thing, but then actually impressing them is a whole other project. So, I thought carefully about what I could offer these people that they would absolutely love.

What they would be the most interested in? What would it teach? What would they be excited to share? Who would it feature?

The end result was the promise made by the cover and copy of my book Engagement from Scratch! And yes, I spent a full six months putting that offer together – you already know that overnight success doesn’t really happen overnight, right? 😉

The promise was audience building that really works from people who really knew how to do it.

The sheer volume of information that I assembled (thanks to the generous involvement of my co-authors, including Think Traffic’s own Corbett Barr), and the massive credibility of my co-authors, made the “sell” a very easy one.

It captured attention, and promised to deliver.

Then Came Desire

Of course, the promise isn’t enough. Once you make the promise, you have to deliver!

I mentioned earlier that it took six months from beginning to end.

This may sound like a short time to assemble a book, and it probably is – but when I first started out, I figured “it’ll basically be a collection of articles – how hard could this be?”

Well, the truth is that it was very hard, and this is probably the most important lesson in this post: knowing your customer is critical, and making a promise they can’t resist is great – but what really separates the dabblers from the professionals is the WORK.

If you’re willing to put in the time that it takes – weeks or months if needed – to build something that people will truly love (after you know exactly who you’re trying to impress and what will turn them on, of course), then the results will be epic.

Which, of course, is what you can expect when you write epic shit, right? 😉

Hell yes, it’s a critical component in the recipe for success.

But wait, there’s more… 😀

Then Came Action (Eventually, You’ve Got to Make a Move!)

I priced the paperback version at $20, and I think Amazon has since discounted it down to about $15.

It’s also on Kindle – it started at $8.99, and I brought it down to $6.99 a couple of months later.

But I wanted to make it super-easy for anyone to get their hands on it – even if they needed to read it to be convinced that it’s great, and even if they couldn’t even scrape together the $7 bucks to buy it on Kindle.

So I made it free.

All 241 pages of the book, plus all the bonuses. Anyone could go to the site and just download the whole thing.

Why? Because that’s the smallest action that I could ask them to take, and the one that opened the door for me to reach out to them again in the future.

Then I could correspond with them, provide more and more value, and ask for higher levels of commitment.

It Was An Awesome Morning After!

Because I took the time to get to know who I was targeting, I was able to find the exact promise that they needed in order to go ape crazy about what I was giving them.

Because I did the work, I was able to deliver something truly spectacular (again, hat tip to all of my gracious co-authors).

And because I asked for a commitment, but kept that commitment as small as I could, everyone was willing and eager to take that first step and give me a chance to earn the rest.

The results were fantastic. I gained thousands of subscribers, launched Write Like Freddy, did over 100 interviews in just the last few months… and things just keep getting better.

So… do you know what the secret is to doing the same thing for yourself?

Okay, now it’s Your Turn!

It’s not the target audience that I chose.

It’s not the promise that I made.

It’s not the book that I wrote with the help of so many great people.

And it’s not the free download option, or anything that followed.

Here’s what it is: the process that I used to figure it all out.

Your target customer will be different from mine, which means that the promise will be different, too. You might have to work as hard as I did to deliver on that promise, but the nature of the work will probably be different, and so will the way you offer up whatever you give them, and the commitments that you will ask them to make.

But if you figure out who you want to be talking to…

…identify their biggest pain, and the biggest problem that you can solve…

…work your ass off to deliver spectacularly on that promise…

…and ask them for a small commitment, and work hard to exceed their expectations before asking for more…

If you do all that, you can look forward to achieving the same success that I’ve enjoyed – or quite possibly a whole lot more!

Now you know the steps, and all that’s left is to follow them. If you want more details about each step along the way, then check out my brand new Naked Marketing Manifesto. It’s my latest and (hopefully) greatest attempt at identifying exactly what *you* need, and then dramatically over-delivering.

Oh, and you don’t even need to opt-in to get it. How’s that for easy? 😉

Download it, or don’t. Use it, or don’t.

But either way, find the right customer for you, figure out what they need, dramatically exceed their expectations, and make it easy for them to get started.

And the rest is gravy.

Danny Iny (@DannyIny) is the co-founder of Firepole Marketing, the “Freddy Krueger of Blogging”, and the co-author (with Guy Kawasaki, Brian Clark, and many others) of Engagement from Scratch! (available on Amazon, or as a free download). The latest and greatest thing you can get from him (for free, of course) is his Naked Marketing Manifesto, about marketing that really works!

20 thoughts on “The Naked Truth About How I Got 7,568 Subscribers in 5 Months”

  1. Thanks for sharing this awesome action plan. Narrowing one’s target market is crucial and then building close relationships with those has proven to be the best way to determine exactly what they need. Exceeding expectations is a by-product of authentically wanting to help people live better lives. The relationships built alone are worth it, and hopefully along the way I can sell a few books if I don’t give them all away!! (which is hard sometimes to stop just emailing my book to people who I think would greatly benefit from it). But it’s also good to remember that what we offer is worth something – and if we find success, hopefully it will just allow us (me) to put more focus and time into my true mission of helping others.

    And yes, after empowering someone… after that, it’s all gravy!

  2. Very nice danny, i like the desire you had for narrowing down to your specific group of interest. Apart from guest blogging, is there any method that you employed that resulted to 7,568 Subscribers in 5 Months?

  3. I for one can attest that you are very different to other consultants (may I call you a consultant, Danny?) that I have spoken to. You break down something seemingly difficult to the untrained marketer and make it simple to follow.

    Nothing short of genius.

    Hat tip to you, Mr I!

    – Razwana

  4. Hey Danny,

    Great post. Your emergence has been very impressive, and not only have you been pumping out great content but also you’re EVERYWHERE! You have hit so many places, that anyone who pays attention to any of the bigger players in the online marketing niche have seen your name.

    I think the most important takeaways from this are that you have to WORK. You have to put your nose to the grindstone and make it happen. A half-assed effort isn’t ever going to get you there. You have definitely put in the work by creating “insanely useful” content and making it engaging and available. Thanks for the insights!


  5. To think that my 5-month old blog is only 6,400 subscribers behind! 😉

    Seriously, it takes guts to spend months and months working on something and then just give it away. I actually bought “Engagement from Scratch” before I knew it was available as a free download, but I don’t regret it for a moment – it’s the only book of its kind and I found it extremely valuable and encouraging as I built my site up from scratch.

  6. Thanks Danny for great tips and learned few new things regarding subscriber and certainly hard work and dedication helps to achieve your targets.

  7. Danny, you are everywhere and here you are again with a great post!

    Sure, i so much learnt a lot from you and Chris about writing epic post (Corbett, hey) and its surely going to help.

    Like a blogger said, find the ‘one man’ and then the millions will follow.

    How’s WLF picking up? Hope to work with you someday.


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