The road to starting a new blog with 2,000 email subscribers [Update 1]


Austin of SimplifiedMind.com here. This is my second post in the PRSUIT Road to Success Series. If you missed my first post explaining why this site exists, how it works and what it’s all about, I recommend reading through that before diving into this post.

This is my journey to starting a new blog.

This post reveals my high-level vision for the site, practical steps you can replicate today to get started and my current focus. As always, feel free to get in touch with me if you have any comments, questions or suggestions: austindean.me@gmail.com.

Enjoy, and thanks for taking the time to read through this!

High-level Vision

A few months ago, I had a conversation with a mentor about what my next move should be. At the time, I had just left a door-to-door sales job where I sold advertising to small businesses. Yes, it was as horrible as it sounds.

I took the job only to make money. Naturally, I didn’t make any money. After explaining this to my mentor, he said three words that have stuck with me: follow your curiosities.

In a nutshell, I’m curious about scientific self-development (yes, I’m a Tim Ferriss wannabe) and online business models. Hence, the birth of SimplifiedMind.com. My high-level vision for SimplifiedMind.com is for it to evolve into a seminar and event business. I want to travel the world hosting seminars that help 20-somethings (and probably 30-somethings) evolve into high-performers. That’s the vision, at least for now. Here’s how I want to do that.

The seminars and events won’t come to fruition until later down the road. Once I have 2,000 subscribers, I want to start one-on-one coaching. Now, I know what you’re thinking: “Dude, you’re 22. What do you know about being a coach?” Hey, I completely agree with you. The last thing I’m going to do is a charge premium fee for something I’m not qualified to do… yet.

I’d like to offer free coaching services as an experiment. Assuming I can help my case study clients improve, I can then justify charging fees for coaching down the road. At the end of the day, I’m learning and want to share my findings with my peers in a more intimate setting. Free coaching seems like a great opportunity to start doing that.

starting a new blog - austin dean

If you’ve read this far, I’d like to thank you. I’m guessing you’re curious about launching something similar, so here are some practical steps I’ve taken that you can replicate to get started today.

Practical steps to replicate today to start blogging.

From the original idea to acquiring 1,200 subscribers in 48 hours, here’s what to do if you want to create a blog:

1. Fine-tune the idea

At first, I wanted to launch a self-development blog for anyone and everyone. My marketing mentors told me if I try to appeal to everyone, I won’t appeal to anyone. I fine-tuned my idea by becoming selfish. I’m a Type A personality. I also enjoy learning about scientific strategies for improving productivity, performance and psychology. As Tim Ferriss often says, I decided to scratch my own itch. My focus shifted to helping Type A 20-somethings improve productivity, performance and psychology with scientific strategies.

I’m sure you have an idea of some sort in your head as well. Make it specific and go from there.

2. Create Your Space on the Internet

I’m not a coder, so I opted for Wix to design my site. I have experience with Adobe Illustrator, and Wix works similar. This was the easiest option for me, but choose what’s best for you.

The only pages I created were a home page, an articles page, a resources page and a contact page. My home page is an opt-in page designed to get email subscribers. The articles page is home to my blog posts. The resources page is home to my free eBook, and down the road I’ll add more free resources there as well. I want my blog to function as a two-way dialogue, so my contact page encourages people to ask me questions for article topics.

The point here is to not spend weeks making your site. I made mine in 24 hours. Shoot for a minimum viable product that requires the least amount of effort on your end.

3. Generate a Free Value Giveaway

To get love, you need to give love. When you go to most blogs, you’re typically offered something for free in return for your email address. If you’re launching a blog, email addresses are important. To get email addresses, you need to give something worthy of someone’s email.

I created an eBook about ten scientific strategies for overcoming ten big obstacles 20-somethings face as they grow professionally. The project took a lot of time and effort, but having something of value was necessary for a successful launch. Download the eBook now and tell me what you think: simplifiedmind.com.

Brainstorm and create your giveaway. This will take some sweat equity, but I’m glad I put in the time to create my eBook. I’ve gotten great feedback and people are finding a lot of value in the recommendations I put together. It’s a cool feeling.

4. Tell Your Network

When I was ready to launch, I told every single person about my blog in my Facebook and LinkedIn network. With the advice of a talented business coach, Zach Luz of ZachLuz.com, I acquired 1,200 subscribers in 24 hours.

In a nutshell, I exported the email addresses from my FB and LinkedIn contacts and emailed them via MailChimp an “Unsubscribe” email. Basically, the email says: “Hey, we know each other. I’m making this thing, and I want you on my list. If you don’t want to be on my list, click this huge unsubscribe button right here.” About one hundred people unsubscribed, and the strategy was successful.

Build Systems

After my Unsubscribe campaign to my internal network, I began releasing articles on a consistent schedule. But, you and I both know releasing content doesn’t guarantee page views and new email subscribers.

I created a content distribution system to get more eyes on my website. I’m still fine-tuning this process, but here it is for your replication. Note: I’m releasing two articles per week (i.e. Article #1 and Article #2).

Distribution strategy (as of September 19th 2016):

Day 1: Publish Article #1 on site
• Internal
o Email subscribers about post
o Post on personal LinkedIn
o Post quote image on Instagram (note: I design this via PowerPoint)
o Post intro paragraph with link to site on Facebook
o Post Infographic on Pinterest (note: I design this via PowerPoint)
• External
o Post on Medium
o Post on Reddit (specific Sub-Reddits vary per post)
o Post link on StumbleUpon
o Post on Partner Blog 1: Huffington Post

Day 2:
• Internal
o Post Infographic on Instagram
o Post quote image on Facebook
• External
o Post on Partner Blog 2: [Need 2nd Partner Blog]

Day 3:
• Internal
o Post 1 minute video on Instagram (this is a video where I talk about my main takeaways from the research)
o Post Infographic on Facebook
• External
o Post on Partner Blog 3: [Need 3rd Partner Blog]

Day 4: Publish Article #2 on site
• Repeat above process

I hope that wasn’t too confusing. If you’re unclear about any of the above steps, feel free to send me a note: austindean.me@gmail.com. Again, I’m still learning and this system will evolve over time. If you have any suggestions, please get in touch.

KPIs and Current Focus

As of now, I’m only tracking three key metrics: weekly unique users, email subscribers and source of acquisition (i.e. where are people finding my site from?). I’m trying to keep this as simple as possible to allow more time for action.

I’m currently focused on leveraging partner blogs for republishing my content. Ideally, these blogs have more than 10,000 subscribers and are okay with republishing my content. If I can republish my articles on other sites, I can get a larger return on my content creation efforts.

I’m realizing that most of my potential partner blogs need original content. This means that in addition to the two weekly articles I create for SimplifiedMind.com, I’ll need to create another original piece for my partner blogs. This is doable but not ideal. Because my content is research-backed, the time of creation from ideation to publish is about four hours. I generally spend two hours researching and outlining and two hours writing and revising.

I’ve identified ten possible partner blogs I’d like to write for. As of now, I haven’t reached out to the editors or completed any contributor applications. The reason for this is I’m currently trying to figure out how to position myself as a genuine and value-centric blogger. I’m sure the decision makers of these publications are contacted frequently, so differentiation is key. Some of these partner blogs are ambitious while others are attainable. Here’s my top ten list:

• Life Hack
• Elite Daily
• Thought Catalog
• Influencive
• Addicted2Success
• Pick the Brain
• Fast Company
• Inc.
• Forbes
• Productivityist

Once I see successful results in my partnership efforts, I’ll definitely update you all on the steps I took.

As of now, that’s all I have for you. Thank you so much for taking the time to read this, and I hope you received some value. If you have any suggestions, comments or critiques, please get in touch: austindean.me@gmail.com.


P.S. –

If you haven’t subscribed to my site yet, you should do so now: SimplifiedMind.com.