Can a print newsletter be profitable?

This interview I’m going to be talking to someone who I’ve been hearing so much about internally at Mixergy, especially from my mentor, who’s a huge fan and a subscriber.

Ben Settle is the creator of Email Players Newsletter, it’s a paper newsletter which teaches copywriting for emails.

You won’t believe how much he’s charging for it and how he’s getting people to pay.

Ben Settle

Ben Settle

Email Players

Ben Settle is the creator of Email Players Newsletter, which teaches copywriting for emails.

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Full Interview Transcript

Andrew: Hey, everyone. My name is Andrew Warner. I’m the founder of Mixergy.com. It’s the place where I interview entrepreneurs about how they built their businesses. If they’re new to this, you should go back and listen to some of my interviews with the founders of Twitch.tv, the founder of Wikipedia, the founders of Airbnb–so many of those people started out as Mixergy fans, learned from my interviews and then have come back to do interviews themselves.

This interview I’m going to be talking to someone who I’ve been hearing so much about internally at Mixergy, especially from my mentor, who’s a huge fan and a subscriber. I’m not going to do the usual intro. Instead what I’m going to do is tell you that this interview is sponsored by two companies, HostGator and Leadpages. I’ll tell you more about them later in the interview.

I’m just going to welcome Ben Settle on. Hey, Ben. Good to have you.

Ben: Hey. Thank you. It’s good to be here.

Andrew: So here’s what I understand about you from Bob. You have this newsletter, but it’s not an email newsletter. It’s a paper-based newsletter essentially, a few pages long that Bob, Bob Hiler, my mentor, and other people subscribe to and pay you $97 a month. Is that right?

Ben: Yeah. I mean, it’s 16 pages, not just a few.

Andrew: 16 pages for about $100. That’s pretty impressive.

Ben: Yeah, but it’s not the number of pages. It’s not the volume and width of the information. It’s the impact. It’s all stuff that I use personally. I don’t write about anything in there that I don’t use myself and haven’t profited from myself. I don’t let anything go out there door if I don’t think they will make their money back in spades with one idea.

Andrew: And what are you teaching them specifically?

Ben: Anything to do with email marketing, email copywriting mostly, anything related in the sense that I can talk about how to get leads and capture pages, but mostly it’s email stuff–subject lines, stories, how to write differently and how to be more entertaining and engaging, whatever I feel like writing about that I’m using and that I’m experimenting with myself, I’ll put examples of emails that I actually use in there all the time.

Andrew: Emails that you’ve used to sell what?

Ben: Everything from weight loss to stuff in the prostate niche and the golf niche.

Andrew: And you’re still doing that now, you’re writing sales copy for other products. What are the other products that you’re writing sales copy for?

Ben: I don’t do a lot of it now, but the golf market. I have a couple of offers in the dating niche and in the prostate niche, but I haven’t done much. A guy who works with me, we’re both kind of lazy on creating a backend. We’re doing great on the front end. It’s not doing us any good until we get off our butts and do it. Right now it’s just the Email Players stuff.

Andrew: Email Players is that physical newsletter that comes out.

Ben: Yes.

Andrew: Dude, why are you doing physical paper? Why bother sending it in the mail when you could just email it to people? You could send it in as a nice PDF. Why print the freaking thing, mail it out and have people wait for it to come?

Ben: There are several reasons. One, I’m just bias. I like print stuff myself. I’m not going to do something I don’t like. I just launched a membership site like ten days ago and it’s the biggest nightmare of my life. In fact, I hate it so much that I’ve already put an exit strategy to get out of it in six months. I think you use the tools you have for what you need.

You know how you get like a text message or a Skype message or a Facebook message or something like that and it’s kind of exciting? You get this little dopamine drip. That’s why we’re all addicted to gadgets, because of the stupid dopamine drip.

Well, I have heard somewhere–I think it was copywriter John Carlton I think I heard this from and I think it’s true. When you get something physically in the mail that you’re expecting, especially something you paid for and you’re looking forward to it, that dopamine drip is amplified like 100 times.

Andrew: Because? What makes the mail so special?

Ben: It’s a physical, tangible thing in their hand. If you think about this–I don’t know if the numbers are panning exactly out as I’m going to say because I’m going on memory. This guy named Ken McCarthy wrote about this in his book he has called “The System Club Letters,” which I recommend to everybody.

Andrew: What is it called?

Ben: “The System Club Letters.”

Andrew: Okay.

Ben: Okay. Great book. He was talking about direct mail. In fact, there are two chapters. One is called “Direct is Mail Part One,” “Direct Mail is Cool Part Two.” He was talking about how like certain amount of people take their mail with them everywhere in the house. They always bring it everywhere, including the bathroom and the bedroom, probably the two most TMI places. That’s how intimate this can be. People are taking me to the bathroom with them or they’re taking me to the bedroom.

Andrew: They’re also taking their phones to the bathroom. My sense is this–tell me if I’m misreading it as an outsider–my sense is it feels more special because it’s paper. Everything else that we’re buying feels digital. Everything else that we’re learning from is digital right down to the Kindle.

I can’t buy “The System Club Letters.” I can’t buy the physical copy of the book, I don’t think, but I can get the Kindle version for $9.95. In a world where all content is coming in digitally, for you to come into people’s home, Ben, with a physical product makes it feel more special, makes it stand out and makes it more valuable than if you were to sell it as a PDF. Am I right or am I over-reading?

Ben: No. You’re totally right. It’s an impact thing. I love email obviously. It’s my favorite medium to sell with, but it’s a cheap medium.

Andrew: It’s disposable.

Ben: It’s disposable, it’s cheap, it’s not very reliable, it’s flaky. Who gets excited by downloading air? It’s not the same impact as a physical product.

Andrew: One of the first things you send people who buy is “The Email Players Cookbook.”

Ben: Playbook.

Andrew: Playbook. What is the playbook? It used to be the cookbook, you’re saying?

Ben: Yeah. Then I changed it to playbook.

Andrew: Maybe that’s when Bob signed up and he was telling me that.

Ben: Probably.

Andrew: What is this? This is your system. What’s the system?

Ben: Okay. So, when I first started using email in my own business, I started experimenting in my own business, I was doing some stuff I was learning. I was making a lot of sales. I was selling other products. I have copywriting books and stuff like that. I had people on my list who would say, “Hey, Ben, I’m loving your emails. When is the product coming out?” I never had any intention of providing a product. The market demand was there. This was probably about six years ago.

So, I created an $800 product that was called Street Smart Email. I was always updating it constantly. I’m always learning new stuff. Every day when I write an email, I learn something new. I was always updating it. I was like, “Why don’t I do a newsletter?” That’s how that came up. I said, “What do I want to give away as a bonus, like a bribe?” When you’re selling content, it’s good to have some kind of premium you can give away. That’s a way to do it.

I thought, “Why don’t I take that $800 and condense it to a condensed version?” I strip everything off but the actual meat of it and give that away. It’s actually a very valuable product. It’s all the evergreen stuff that hasn’t changed. Then the newsletter stuff I’m learning as we go along.

Andrew: I see. Actually, you know what? Is there one idea that you’ve shared recently then that gives us a sense of your thought process, one technique that you’ve shared in your newsletter?

Ben: Oh, you mean for email?

Andrew: Okay.

Ben: I’m trying not to give any of the big ones away because that’s what they pay for.

Andrew: It’s just one. It’s not like they’re paying for. . .

Ben: I know. The ones I’ve done recently that are in my mind, they’re like really big ones. Here’s one. I’m going to teach this at AWAI. I don’t know if you know what they are. They’re a very prestigious direct marketing company. I’m going to be teaching this at their upcoming operating boot camp. I call it the Rogues Gallery secret.

Andrew: Okay.

Ben: Every pain and insecurity and problem that a prospect has is a separate villain.

Andrew: Okay.

Ben: I thought about this because when I was a kid I was watching a show called “The Wonderful World of Disney.” I was like sixth grade or something like that. There was this episode about villains. It was talking about why Disney movies, the classic ones, were always so popular. Why any real fiction can be really good is based on the villain. How bad is the villain? The hero is defined by the villain. Without a really powerful evil villain, the hero is just some chump. There’s nothing. He doesn’t really have a purpose. The villain is really the whole key.

Now I translate to email. So, for example, in the weight loss–we did a lot of working the weight loss. The guy who did the traffic told me we converted 40% of the list into customers. That’s pretty good. This is primarily how I sold them. I studied that market. I’m not an overweight woman. So, I had to really study the market and I did.

I picked out all the insecurities, all the pains, the problems, the things they obsess about, what’s going on in their minds all the time. All these things are different villains. I created like a rogues gallery. Each email would be about a different one of those. It really simplifies things when people think about it this way. “What do I write about?” Pick a villain that’s plaguing them and write an email about it and just end the email with, “Look, I can help you with that?”

Andrew: What’s one of the pains that someone who’s overweight would have?

Ben: Okay. I’ll give you an obscure one because this one made us a lot of sales. I let somebody in the weight loss niche, a friend of mine, I let him use it and he said it just killed. They beat everybody in a launch. He said it was partly because of this email.

I was doing research and I was researching forums where people that are overweight are talking about the problem in their own words. This is their language, their words, which are very important. I can’t come in talking like I talk. I have to be one of them.

This girl is having a lot of trouble. She was trying to lose weight. She was exercising. She was eating right. She was doing everything she could. You want this girl to succeed. She’s really trying. Her passive aggressive friends were purposefully tagging her heavy pictures on Facebook to kind of bring her down.

Andrew: Okay.

Ben: So, I wrote an email about it. I told her story. I said, “I heard about this person. . .” Just what I just told you, “Her friends are passive aggressive.” It’s just like a mean thing to do.

Andrew: Yeah.

Ben: It was a villain. It was a villain in their world and then I brought my product in as the hero, which now has more depth to it and has a purpose, it has a meaning.

Andrew: I see. The bigger villain here is friends who are not helping you and actually making it harder for you because of your weight.

Ben: That’s one of many. Another villain can be themselves, their self-image. A villain could be they’re scared of what their next driver’s license picture is going to look like. They want to lose weight for that.

Andrew: How do you know if more than one person experiences the fear of the next driver’s license photo? Does it matter?

Ben: Not really. If you know your market well enough, even if they don’t know that villain exists now–what do comic books and TV shows, they’re always introducing new villains. That’s all you’re doing. You’re not doing it to be mean or anything. You’re giving them a vision of, “Here’s a monster. Here’s how you can slay it.” This monster is there. Whether you like it or not. It’s there.

Email is a very intimate medium. It’s one of these things where you’re in their inbox. You have their complete attention and you’re having a conversation about something that’s important to them.

Andrew: And we have their attention if we write like you. One of the things that is different about your writing is you’re so vivid. You’re really good about painting pictures. Why?

Ben: Well, it’s probably because I used to want to be a screenwriter and that’s kind of how I learned. But really you have to. People think in pictures. If I say prink elephant you don’t think of the letters spelling pink elephant. You think of the pink elephant. Memory trainers have known this forever. Memory trainers will teach you to imagine these things and put them in a story in your mind and that’s how you remember things. I think images, that’s how our brains want to think. That’s how they want information.

Andrew: You are the only person on this show ever–ever, I’ve interviewed over 1,000 people. We’ve done pre-interviews with almost all of them. Not a single person has taken the pre-interview document themselves. This is what you must have done. You wrote it out as a story, the story of your life here in a way that I couldn’t freaking stop reading. I would usually skim when someone writes this much. What is this obsession?

Ben: That’s how I talk and tell stories in writing. I’m writing a novel right now. This is what I do.

Andrew: I admire someone who can do that, who can sit down and say, “I’m not going to half ass it. I’m going to have one reader for this whole thing. . .” You had to know it was going to be one reader, me, in preparation for this conversation. I would like your permission to share this somehow with anyone who’s listening to me. I’ve never done that before but I’d love for them to see how you wrote your life story here.

Ben: That’s fine. Understand something–it’s faster–I’m very jealous of m time. I have to guard my time. When I was asking your assistant how long it takes and all that, I realized in my mind I could write that faster than I could do the pre-interview.

Andrew: How long would it take you to write this? Let me see how many pages we have here–seven pages.

Ben: Well, you’ve got to understand, I’ve written that many times before. I didn’t even have to edit it. I’ve written that story so many times and told it so many times, not just writing it but telling it at seminars and stuff. All that is from in my mind. Some of it is stuff I wrote in blog posts. I could just copy and post what I already wrote. It’s not like I’m super-fast. I’m efficient.

Andrew: This whole newsletter thing–$97 a month for 400 to 500 people who subscribe every month. We’re talking about just under $500,000 a month that’s from this business, right?

Ben: Not a month, more like a year. It fluctuates in the low 400s. It can go up and down. It’s not $500,000 a month. That would be nice.

Andrew: I think I did my math wrong. I put an extra zero in. Overall, how much revenue are you making for your business?

Ben: Last year I did about a half a million.

Andrew: Total?

Ben: You have to understand I do work many hours. Per hour, I don’t know what it comes out to, but I know it’s pretty good.

Andrew: You crank out one post, ne email a day. It goes on your blog, goes in your email. Then once a month you create his physical newsletter that goes out and you started a membership.

Ben: It’s a pain. It’s an absolutely nightmare. It’s because I don’t want to deal with the membership site and all the digital stuff. It’s a pain. You have to have a team in place to deal with the stuff.

Andrew: I know. I’ve got a team in place. You need it for customer service issues alone when it comes to any tech problems. How many times do you have to tell people like little issues like they should clear out their cash or something because they couldn’t login? Why know that would be an issue?

By the way earlier when you said we have to understand their pain points, create a villain, tell the story of that villain and how your product as a superhero is saving people from the villain. I’m wondering where else you find the villain. You said you go and ready message boards. Where else do you go to find these pain points?

Ben: Well, I don’t think anybody should be selling anything unless do a very thorough avatar–people call it an avatar, customer analysis, whatever you want to call it of their market. Message boards, that is a boon for us.

Andrew: Message wars?

Ben: Message boards.

Andrew: Okay.

Ben: My Midwest accent sometimes is very lazy.

Andrew: No. I like that you’re also speaking very fast and that’s important and every once in a while when something is so fast I don’t catch it, I want to be open with you and ask you. Okay. Message boards are big. Do you want to interview people to understand these stories?

Ben: You want to talk to people. In fact, one of the best things you can do if you’re analyzing a market and have them tell you stories about the thing it is you can help them with. So, for example, when did the weight loss thing–again, I’m not an overweight woman, it’s obvious. I had to find some. I had family members and stuff. I’d say, “Tell me how you feel about this. I know you want to lose weight. How do you feel about this?” They will tell you stories like just told you there. You just show up and let them talk.

Andrew: I’ve even interviewed entrepreneurs where I want stories because that’s what’s memorable. That’s what shows they have the credibility to talk here. What they do is give me bullet points. I can imagine asking somebody, “Tell me what it feels like to be overweight,” and you say, “You always feel like you can’t find the right pose. Your friends keep laughing at you even though they’re being supportive, bullet points like that.”

What I want is the stories like the one you’re talking about where someone is tagging her intentionally to be mine. What are some of your techniques for getting people to tell you their stories?

Ben: I talked to a family member about that. I just got her talking, “Just tell me about this.” At first it is like canned. They’re trying to tell you what they think you want to hear and all that, that goes away. Once you get them lost in their own stories, I would just ask, “Tell me what it was like when,” something happened to her with her husband, like this girl was looking at her husband and her husband was kind of flirting back. I said, “Tell me the story about that.”

There was a story. I used that in the sales letter because it was such a powerful story. A lot of people in the market have dealt with that or they could imagine themselves dealing with it. It’s a horrifying thing to be in that situation. It really is. They feel like they’re never going to climb out of hell. You’ve got to be able to get them to talk about it in order for you to be able to sell them a solution for something like that.

Andrew: You said you want to know their pain points. You want to heighten it. You want to give them a characteristic. You want to make them the villain of the story. But you also said not to be mean–so if you’re not finding their pain and rubbing it in their face to be mean, what is the point? What is the purpose of doing that?

Ben: It’s kind of like–I hope this analogy makes sense. When I used to take copywriting clients, I would talk to them and I would talk to them and I would ask them, “So, how are you doing with your emails?” Now, obviously they’re talking to me because they need help. So, I already know they have a problem.

But I want them to acknowledge to themselves that there’s a problem here. Their imagination is your best friend. They’re going to blow things up to however big it is and probably then some. Then they look at you as automatically the person who’s asking the questions, you must have a solution for them.

Andrew: Because they told you that they have a problem. Is that it?

Ben: Yeah.

Andrew: Even if I were to say to someone–I don’t have nearly as much email experience as you–if I were to say, “How is your email marketing going?” the fact that they express their problem makes them feel that the person who’s listening has the answer?

Ben: I think there’s a lot to that.

Andrew: I think so too.

Ben: In one on one selling, it’s mostly done talking. You want them to talk about the problem. I always ask questions like, “What made you think I was the one who could help you?” Now they start selling themselves and why they need to hire me. Like your mentor, right? It’s the same thing. He sold you on probably wanting to talk to me just because you probably asked him a question or whatever.

Andrew: I don’t even know how it came up. I was pulling it up in our CRM to understand. Oh, I know. This is someone else who I work with who is our writer here at Mixergy, April Dykman. She is the one who added you to the list.

Ben: Yes.

Andrew: You work with her too?

Ben: I don’t work with her but I’ve met her. I bought her tacos once. She’s an Email Players subscriber. Yeah. I like April. She’s good.

Andrew: Yeah. She’s really good. She does great work for us. What’s your Avatar? Actually let’s hold off on that for a moment. I have to talk about my sponsor. My sponsor is a company called Leadpages. I’m surprised you actually don’t know Leadpages, which is totally fine. Have you used Leadpages at all?

Ben: I just don’t need them right now. I have such a simple funnel, it’s not necessary.

Andrew: Cool. Actually, I’m not even here to talk about Leadpages, the company that creates landing page software. They have a conference called Converted 2016. I’m surprised they didn’t get you to speak, but I’m glad they got me to speak. Converted 2016 is a conference designed to solve the single biggest problem that faces any business. That’s conversion. Specifically we’re talking about converting your visitors into leads and converting your leads into customers and converting those customers into lifelong fans of your product.

The speakers who are going to be there are going to be, of course, Clay Collins, the founder of Leadpages. But also–and you probably know these guys–you know Ryan Deiss?

Ben: I don’t know him personally, but he’s an Email Players subscriber.

Andrew: He is? Cool.

Ben: I’m pretty sure he is. Don’t quote me.

Andrew: I wouldn’t be surprised. Digital Marketer is his company. You’ve got Pat Flynn from Smart Passive Income, Marc Marron, the guy whose podcast just keeps killing it, Steve Kamb, who I interviewed from Nerd Fitness. All these guys are going to be talking about how they increased their conversions, what’s worked from them. The kind of techniques that I pulled from Ben earlier in this interview, many of them have many others that have worked for them and they’re going to share from the stage.

But frankly, I don’t think that’s why anyone should be going to the conference, not to listen to the stage. That’s just nice. The reason you go there is you can get to know the people up on stage. That’s how I got to know Ryan Deiss. I went to another conference. He and I ended up having lunch somewhere or actually breakfast with a friend and because of that we connected. We’ve talked a bunch and he’s also been an interviewee here on Mixergy. That’s the reason to go.

The other reason to go is to get to know the people in the audience. There are so many marketers who are going to go through the same kinds of challenges you are, who have solved some of the problems you’re going to go through who are just people to brainstorm with. That’s the reason to go to a conference like Converted 2016.

If you go there, I want you to not just hear me on stage but to get together with me for drinks afterwards. So, let me know before you come so that we can exchange phone numbers or Facebook Messenger accounts and so forth or whatever so we can setup a way to chat while we’re there and meetup.

Also if you go, I’m going to give you a special link which will give you $250 off. That means with those $250, you can get two and a half months of Ben Settle’s newsletter, essentially for free. Here’s the URL that will get $250 off the conference. Go to Leadpages.net/Mixergy. I’m going to give it to you again. It obviously will only work for a limited time–Leadpages.net/Mixergy. See you guys at Converted 2016.

What is your avatar, Ben?

Ben: My avatar–for what?

Andrew: For your newsletter, your customer, the person who’s buying these techniques from you.

Ben: The beauty of my avatar is I’m selling to people just like me, not necessarily introverted guys but people who spend all day working online, often over 35 and a lot of them are just independent entrepreneurs. They don’t have the same type of clear cut thing like the weight loss niche does, I’ve noticed. I wish they did, but there’s so much variety.

I have everyone from people just getting started in business to people who have been doing this for 20 years, like A-list copywriters on there. So, it’s not like I can just use the same villain for everybody. In that case what I do is I just talk about whatever I think is interesting.

Andrew: They’re all copywriters?

Ben: No. There are a lot of copywriters on there. There are a lot of people that want to learn copywriting.

Andrew: Doesn’t that defeat the whole idea of having an avatar, that if you have an avatar you’re very clear about who they are? You know their gender very often. You know what their problems are. They’re all similar. Isn’t that an issue then?

Ben: No. I’m guessing your show doesn’t have a very clear cut avatar.

Andrew: It does not. That is a problem.

Ben: Yeah, but it doesn’t need to be. Here’s the beauty of it. We can attract customers we want and repel away the ones we don’t so that if you want to sell someone like yourself–let’s say you wanted to sell to people just like you. You know exactly what to say to repel the people–to you, or what’s interesting to you.

What I find interesting about email is you become not just an expert, you become what people consider you, a leader. People follow leaders. They won’t become like you. They want to become like you. They see something in you that they want. That’s why they’re buying from us. I’m like that when I buy stuff. I see something in that person that I want to be like that or good at what they do.

So, a lot of it is just demonstration, demonstration of how you live your life and the values you have, the philosophies you use, the maxims you live by, that sort of thing. So, I think in our world it’s a little different. I wish it was as easy as weight loss. It’s a very simple thing. Or people with prostate problems–I don’t need to necessarily know about their demographics. I just know what the problem is I can talk about it.

With us, we’re not necessarily solving just problems. They have desires. They have dreams and hopes and all these things. It’s so varied across the board that I’ve never been able to sit down and nail it down to just one avatar. It’s like several.

Andrew: One of the reasons why we don’t give people the pre-interview doc ahead of time is they’re not going to fill it out. They don’t have the ability to sit and write and be there with a piece of paper. The other reason we don’t give it to them is that they would blow off some of these questions. We asked you or we would have asked you if you did a pre-interview like where did you grow up.

Not only did you not blow it off, you could have even just said where you grew up. Instead you told a story and you talked to us about your uncle. There’s some value in communicating that that you understand that other people did not. What is that value in sharing with an audience of potential customers, potential followers and admirers your story of what happened in Illinois where you grew up?

Ben: Okay. So, a couple of years ago, June, 2014, I did my first real public speaking thing. It was like in front of 1,000 people from the MLM niche. I remember I had an hour. I remember saying, “Should I cut my story out?” I went to the guys organizing it and I said, “Do you guys want me to cut the story out and maybe do more of the teaching?” They said, “Don’t do that. Tell your whole story. That’s what’s going to get people bonded to you. That’s what’s going to get people to realize you’re a real person and you’re not just up there lecturing them.”

We all find stories–what are movies but stories about other people. We’re all voyeurs. That’s where the whole reality TV thing is from. It lets them be a voyeur of your life and for whatever reason, we all like to do that.

Andrew: So, would you bond people as well if you just got on here and for the hour just gave ten tips or is it more bonding for them to know that you grew up in a suburb of Chicago, about your uncle who got into Amway? What’s more bonding, do you think? I’m wrestling with this myself.

Ben: Well, I think just giving tips is kind of dry and boring. They can go to Google and get tips. To get somebody’s story–people want to know, I think they want to know two things. There are probably a lot of things but two things come to mind. One is they want to know you’re un-okay. There’s a lot of power in being un-okay, perfectly polished and perfect and everything. You’re real. You’re at their level. You’re not trying to be something you’re not. It’s just a real person. I would say that’s one of the things. That’s a big one.

Andrew: They want to know you’re not okay.

Ben: They want to know you’re not perfect. I shouldn’t say not okay.

Andrew: But not perfect.

Ben: Not perfect and that you’re just like them. You have the same problems, insecurities. We’re all–

Andrew: I’ve been listening lately to a lot of Gary Vaynerchuk. He is now saying that he’s sleeping only five hour six hours a night. When he was talking to Ariana Huffington on sleeping, she said only mutants need less. There are some, but most of us are not. He goes, “I think I’m a mutant.” He says that he works–he’ll Snapchat that he works at 6:00 a.m. and he’ll show you he’s out late until 11:00. He said he willed himself never to be sick anymore.

Isn’t that what they want? Don’t they feel like their lives have problems and they want someone who’s perfect, who figured it out to guide them out of their problems as opposed to someone who’s saying, “I’m also flawed. I’m also not okay?” Which do they want?

Ben: I can tell you right now, what you just told me–I don’t know Gary V. I have nothing against or I have no opinion either way. I’m one of the few people whose never heard him speak. But he’s not–that is un-okay, not sleeping, working to the point where most people would have a heart attack. That’s not okay. He might be glorifying it, which is fine. There’s a lot of power in that. But I’m seeing a very imperfect person from what you described to me, just as imperfect as you and me.

Andrew: I see. By sharing things like he doesn’t sleep much. He works very hard. You’re seeing the imperfection.

Ben: I would say it’s probably fine for him, but most people don’t want to work all those hours and most people don’t want to go through life like a zombie not sleeping.

Andrew: They don’t and what I’m seeing is that a lot of times online, the people who come across as perfect are the ones who do better in their promotion. You’re giving me another approach. I think I’m trying to reconcile to the two, the vision of someone who’s perfect, who’s trying to build an audience of people who want to be perfect like them and your vision of someone who’s imperfect who an audience will connect with.

Ben: Can I give you an example?

Andrew: Yeah.

Ben: You like to have examples, I guess. So, I can’t speak for everyone else. Your mileage may vary. I can just tell you I think I’ve done pretty good for myself by most people’s standards. I can tell people right now I’m very imperfect. I go out of my way to tell people I’m introverted. I just want to be at home with my dog half the time. I’m like the Grinch looking down at Whoville complaining about the Whos. I’m crotchety.

I come out and admit all this stuff. That’s real. That’s why I think people like that. Most people are not like that. Most people don’t want to be like that. They’re not striving to be like that. They just want to know I’m a real person. Everybody’s got their flaws and their personality flaws.

Andrew: Because then if the real person has beaten the villain of your story, then they could too.

Ben: Absolutely.

Andrew: That’s the answer. I get that. Through the flaws we understand each other and connect with each other. But also if someone who’s flawed takes out the enemy that we’re trying to battle, then we feel like we can do it too.

If Gary Vaynerchuk works hard and creates this great company and he’s expressing no flaws, it feels like, “Well, you have to be that superhuman in order to do it.” You have to be a mutant as he called himself in that one episode in order to do what he’s doing. But if a flawed person does it, maybe we can too. They give us hope. They give us determination, ambition. They give us a guide.

Ben: I want to give you a more apt example. I think this will be a good one. You know who Spiderman is, right?

Andrew: Yeah.

Ben: You know who the creator of Spiderman Stan Lee is?

Andrew: Yeah.

Ben: Okay. Brilliant guy. When he was creating–Spiderman is probably the most superhero outside of Superman probably in the world, I’m just guessing. He’s up there, top three. Everyone knows who he is. One of the reasons that character has attracted billions of dollars according to what Stan Lee was saying–he didn’t say it exactly how I’m saying it–when he was writing those early stories that set the stage for everything else, he was always trying to think of problems to give Peter Parker.

He wanted you to just like–this is a kid who’s going through a lot of problems. He’s got family problems, girl problems, school problems. He’s trying to live two lives, but he’s a teenager. He’s got pimples, whatever. He’s a flawed guy. That is why you like him. Have you ever seen Spiderman 2, the one they did in like 2004, Dr. Octopus.

Andrew: I did, but I don’t remember it.

Ben: It’s mostly regarded as the best Spiderman movie. That is not a Spiderman movie. That is a Peter Parker movie. That’s who you care about. I think there are a lot of lessons you can get from something like that for marketing. Why be afraid to show that? I don’t think you need to be a mutant. If I needed to be a mutant, I would be like working at the Chevron station right now.

Andrew: Mutant as in perfection itself.

Ben: Yeah.

Andrew: Right. So, you said you grew up in Elgin, Illinois?

Ben: Elgin.

Andrew: Elgin, Illinois. Then you said, “If it’s not the armpit of the universe, it’s within burping distance of it.” I like the phrasing. My sense is that you’ve written that a couple of times. That’s something you could have retyped out. I’m wondering why. Why do you feel like that place was so bad?

Ben: Well, it’s way worse now than it was when I was growing up. I don’t know. There’s a feeling there that I don’t like. It’s just a gut feeling.

Andrew: I went to school in–I forget the. . . Why am I blanking on the place I went to school every day for high school? It was Brooklyn Tech. It was so bad. People tried to steal my sneakers on my way to school. They robbed my jacket on the subway going back home to Queens. The cops, there were undercover cops that took my jacket back and gave it to me. To me that’s why that part of Brooklyn was so horrible. I’m so close to getting where it was. It will come to me. What was it about yours? You weren’t being robbed of your sneakers. What made it so bad?

Ben: When I grew up in the 80s in that area, there were a lot of kidnappings and that sort of thing going on.

Andrew: I see.

Ben: It was pretty bad with that kind of stuff. In fact, I knew someone who got kidnapped. I don’t even know what ever happened to her. Honestly, I’m not even sure, but she got kidnapped. It was a friend of mine. It was just so long ago. It was like fourth grade. I don’t remember all the details. I just don’t think–there are people that like living there. That’s fine. I always didn’t like the depressed feeling of the area. I’m not even a touchy feeling kind of guy. I’m really not.

But there are certain places I can go and I’ll be like, “This place just bothers me. I can’t explain it rationally. I know it bothers me. Then I’ll find out–when I used to be married, my ex-wife, her neighborhood, I went up there once to visit and I was like, “This place just creeps me out,” like, “There’s something wrong about this area.”

And she would tell me stories later on that people would let their dog, their dog would get hit by a car and like its eye popped out and they wouldn’t even take it to the vet. Kids were getting abused her whole life growing up. I find these things out. I don’t know what it is. I don’t know what it means. I’m not saying it’s some mystical thing. It’s just a feeling of that area where I grew up. I didn’t like it.

Luckily when I was ten we moved to a place called East Dundee, which is about three miles north. It was a totally different story. It was fine. I liked that. The early years were in Elgin.

Andrew: Around that time, when you were a teenager, your uncle got into a multi-level marketing company. What was that?

Ben: He was already in it for a while. He was in Amway. He still is, I guess. He was getting pretty big at it and everything. When I was in high school, he would take me to rallies and stuff. I couldn’t join it when I was that young, but he was like prepping me. My mom hated it. She knew what he was up to.

Andrew: Why?

Ben: I have no idea. She’s not entrepreneurial minded. I’m glad he did it.

Andrew: But he was.

Ben: Oh yeah. He still is.

Andrew: He still is? And he’d give you books to read. You said he was grooming you.

Ben: I think he was–well, yeah, he was definitely grooming me to want to join Amway eventually. There’s no question about that. He never came out and said it, but why would he bring me to all these rallies and everything? He would explain all the products to me. They had like vitamins and all that. I would listen to tapes about the product. I wasn’t even in the company. I just loved the idea of your own business. It was fascinating to me.

Andrew: I liked how motivational they were. They really were good. I didn’t hear that many Amway CDs but I heard some. They were good about making it all seem so accessible. People who are so much further ahead of you were worse than you were and you got there or so much more credible.

They got guys who were well known outside of the Amway world, outside of multi-level marketing to speak and I’d listen to them and think, “If these guys are speaking at Amway, if these guys are supporting it, maybe there’s something here.” I always wanted to take more away from it. I felt like there are too many people on the outside saying Amway is just a cult and a multi-level marketing scheme and not enough people saying, “Here’s what works about it that even if you have no interest in every being in Amway or other multi-level marketing companies, here’s what you can take away from it and use it.”

Did you take any lessons away from it that you can apply today that we can learn from?

Ben: I didn’t actually ever end up joining Amway. I joined a different one, but same industry. I just sucked at it. I was the worst distributor in the world. I was probably every sponsor’s nightmare. But I’ll tell you what–it got me started. I had read books that gave me a good mindset.

In fact, one of the books I was given as a book of the month called “The Seven Lost Secrets of Success” by Joe Vitale. It’s about this guy name Bruce Barton. He was an ad man like in the early to mid-1900s. Everyone knew who he was. He was a household name. He was the second B in the giant BBDO ad agency. He was a Wall Street advisor and stock guy. He ran for Congress. He was an open enemy of FDR.

The joke was at the time that you could not go anywhere without hearing his name. He ended up dying like as an unknown guy in the 60s. The book is about him. I got started in copywriting because when I was living in this office–I couldn’t afford a real place–I was doing the MLM stuff and passing tapes out door to door. It was like the worst thing in the world you could do–recruiting tapes, cassette tapes.

One night I was living in this office. I was so depressed. It was like 3:00 a.m. and I said, “God, you don’t want me doing MLM. I’ve been doing this for two years. I’m up to my eyeballs in debt.” I just went into the other room and I picked the book up that I got as a book of the month about Bruce Barton. I turned to this page randomly. I still remember this. It was like 14 years ago, but I remember it.

I turned to the page where this guy, it was 1919, right after World War I. the economy was in shambles. This salesman came to Bruce Barton’s office wanting help. He needed help finding a job. He was an out of work sales manager who had a specialty of writing sales letters. I didn’t know what a sales letter was at the time, but the story was Bruce took him to the window and said, “You’re supposed to be good at writing sales letters. Why don’t you write a letter to one of these companies,” he pointed at all the buildings, “To hire you.”

That was when it all clicked for me like, “Holy crap. I can get paid to write letters?” So, I got on Google that night. It was a rabbit hole after that. I would not have had that happen had I not been in MLM. To me, I wouldn’t do it now. I think it’s a flawed business model. It’s like affiliate marketing. You don’t really control the product or anything.

Andrew: Why is it flawed? While you answer that, I’ve got to sneeze in the worst way. I’m just going to hit mute. Why is it flawed?

Ben: It’s not like it’s bad flawed, but it is flawed in the sense that you don’t control the product and you don’t control what the company does and the decisions they make. It’s no different than affiliate marketing, basically. It can be fine. You can make money doing it. You don’t control the products. They can start watering the products down for all you know. You just don’t know.

That’s what happened in the company I was in. They ended up going out of business. It’s not your product. You don’t control it. Then there are rules you have to abide by on how you market stuff. I don’t think it’s bad. I don’t think you can’t make money at it. I’m just saying it’s flawed in that sense.

Andrew: But it led to the book, “The Seven Lost Secrets of Success.” I see it now available on Audible for $6, Kindle it’s available or $0.01 if somebody wants the paper version.

Ben: It’s a good book.

Andrew: Go figure. My second sponsor is a company called HostGator, incredible hosting company. Let me ask you this, Ben. We’re still in the commercial, so you don’t have to say anything positive or negative about HostGator, though if you have anything negative, I’m okay with that too. But if somebody wanted to just copy your idea and say, “I’m going to crank out one blog post a day about a topic and I’m going to sell people on a physical newsletter that I have printed out that I have mailed to their homes. Do you think that would work?

Ben: Yeah. I’ve created a product with a company I mentioned earlier, AWAI, called the 10-Minute Workday. There’s a lot of buildup to get to there. It took me years, but I can show I can do it that much faster than that. That’s why you were asking me about the Leadpages thing. I don’t need it. My whole thing is opt in, sales letter, relentless email follow up until they buy and then sell them something else, but I don’t have this elaborate funnel, by the way.

Andrew: Leadpages, by the way–this isn’t an ad for them–but they just do that opt in page. What you have is I think a WordPress website, right?

Ben: It’s WordPress-based, yeah. I have a guy named Keith Commons who’s like to me the best web guy in the world. He just does everything for me. I don’t need software or anything like that.

Andrew: So, they can take on topic, obsess about the topic, write about it every day. You show up every day. Get people on the mailing list if they want to read it and then upsell them on a newsletter. Maybe we’ll have some time here to talk about how you launched this newsletter to come in the mail.

Ben: Okay.

Andrew: Is there a topic you won’t touch that somebody else should consider if they wanted to copy your format?

Ben: They could sell anything they want with it. Not everybody should be doing newsletters just like not everyone should be doing membership sites as I’ve demonstrated a couple weeks ago. There are so many ways–I do believe in selling continuity. Not everybody can do it upfront. Some people don’t have the skill to do it.

Maybe they should sell something like an eBook and then back end sell continuity. There are so many ways to sell continuity. Newsletters are one of 100 ways to do it. It’s got to be something that the person wants to do, that they like. Some people like video. Maybe they should be doing a private YouTube channel or something.

Andrew: You just happen to be good at writing. Is there another topic you would do, that you would write?

Ben: Yeah. I’ve thought about doing it for the dating niche if I got bored. I don’t really need to do it, but if I wanted to I would probably do it for that niche. I thought about doing it for some kind of a health niche, but I’m not sure about that yet.

Andrew: I could see that. So, probably this isn’t the best topic, but let’s suppose somebody was really into barefoot running. I could see them writing on a regular basis and then say, “I have this newsletter that will get you trained that will show you some tips on how to run your first barefoot marathon and if you sign up, it’s going to come directly by mail, in your mailbox, and you can read it in your bedroom, very intimate or read it in the bathroom, also very personal. And just copy your format.

Whatever the topic is, they could go to HostGator and sign up. HostGator has got incredibly low prices on web hosting. They’ve gotten this right. They’ve been doing this for so many years. It’s ideal for WordPress but you can do anything else you want on it. Everything that Ben has built, I believe you can do on WordPress with basic email newsletter.

Well, HostGator has got a 45-day money back guarantee. If you want to start promoting it, they even have a $100 AdWords offer that’s available to everyone listening to me here at Mixergy and $50 search credit from Bing and Yahoo, all the WordPress tools you want. They will even give you a free business listing in YP, which still works. YP, their company is here in my building. These guys are doing fantastic. YP is the Yellow Pages. Who’s out there using it? People are. You’ll get a free listing with them.

There’s so much other help you’re going to get from HostGator. Go check out this special URL where they’re giving anyone who’s listening to Mixergy 30% off. It is this–HostGator.com/Mixergy. Sorry. What were you going to say, Ben?

Ben: I was going to help you sell HostGator. I don’t use them now because my web guy is in Ireland and he likes a certain host. It’s nothing against HostGator. But I built my entire business using HostGator. It’s a great company. I have nothing bad to say. Some people complain. I don’t get it. They’re great. Their downtimes are not that much. It’s fine. Their prices are great.

Andrew: Their prices are really great, really low downtime. Frankly, if they want the next level up, which is what a lot of people end up going for, the next level up is managed WordPress hosting often. They have that too. They just don’t promote every single thing. They email me from time to time saying, “Andrew, here’s this other hosting we have. Here’s this other thing we have.” I can’t do it all. If I say every single thing you have, I’ll be a directory and I’m going to be a podcast.

So, I’ll tell everyone who’s listening. If there’s some kind of hosting package that you see somewhere else that you want, just go to HostGator, they have that. I’m just not going to talk about all of it. And they’ll take good care of you if you say you’re coming from Mixergy. Thank you, HostGator. Everyone go check out HostGator.com/Mixergy.

Before you started doing this, you were selling other things for other people when you realized, “I could actually use my writing to sell.” What was the first thing you decided you were going to sell and what was the financial structure you had with that, with the person you’re partnering up with?

Ben: Well, it was MLM. I was still in MLM at the time when I figured out the world of sales letters. I figured out what better to practice them than to try to get my own MLM leads or I would buy the leads and I would send them a letter instead of calling them. It worked. I was starting to sponsor people. You were told not to do that by the companies.

Andrew: They told you not to send out letters?

Ben: Yeah. MLM, well the company I was in very specifically, they only wanted you to hand out the tape or–this was back in the day of VCRs–put in the tape and let them push play. They call it duplicable.

Andrew: Right. They wanted to be able to manage it. They couldn’t have 50,000 different people writing 50,000 different letters.

Ben: Yeah. I did it. It was like a very simple letter, like a page long. It worked. It got people to call me. I wasn’t chasing them. They were calling me to get more information. It reversed the whole process.

Andrew: It started to work and you were starting to make some money.

Ben: Not a lot. Then that company was starting to have problems. There was weird stuff going on.

Andrew: This was the Kevin Trudeau company?

Ben: It was but he was already gone by then. They had been bought and acquired by some other company. It was fine. It was time for me to leave MLM anyway. That’s when I got into the freelancing thing.

Andrew: And when you got into freelance, is that when you worked with that biz op person?

Ben: I’ve worked with a couple of biz op people.

Andrew: I thought one of the first ones was a biz op company. You wrote here in the pre-interview notes that I hope everyone reads they were great, you got a bunch of people but you realized you were still an employee. Even though you were getting paid well, it still wasn’t your business. That’s what made you decide to switch out of being freelance for other people.

Ben: That was like eight or nine years after I started.

Andrew: Eight or nine years into it you said, “I can’t keep being a hired writer.”

Ben: Yeah. Like I said, I just like to work alone. I don’t like to filter ideas through all these people just to get it tested. It’s nothing against them. They were great people, actually, paid me on time, everything was fine. I realized I want to be my own client. I haven’t looked back since. I launched Email Players like six months after that.

Andrew: Email Players was your first thing or was it the Crypto Marketing Newsletter?

Ben: Oh, that was the first–well, Crypto Marketing was a 30-issue run. I started that in early 2010. Then when I started Email Players I was doing both concurrently. It was pointless to sell two. I was getting bored with Crypto Marketing, which is more generalized. It was general marketing.

Andrew: Crypto Marketing was essentially online marketing.

Ben: Yeah. It wasn’t all online marketing. It could have been principles of marketing and persuasion. I wrote about 30 different things and I just let it die. Then I eventually cancelled it and it’s fine. Now I compiled them all into a book called “Crypto Marketing Secrets,” which I don’t even sell. I just give it away as a bonus sometimes to people.

Andrew: I see. You closed that up. You were working insane hours.

Ben: Yes.

Andrew: I wonder why. I look at your writing and it feels like such a breezy writing style that I almost see you just talking into the dictation button of the iPhone. What takes so long with your writing?

Ben: This was a 45-day period I was writing about. When I decided I wanted to get out of that one biz op–I didn’t want to get out of the company. I was still with them but I wanted to do my own thing. That’s when I wrote this prostate eBook for people with prostate problems. I had a friend who was showing me how he did it in weight loss. He basically built a business in weight loss that wasn’t huge. It was like a $70,000 a year business. But he literally did nothing. He wrote like 1,100 e-zine articles in a very specific way, SEO and everything in a very simple way. He goes, “I don’t have back end. I don’t have affiliates.” He was just lazy.

I said if I can take what he did and do it right, this would be great. I can do my own thing. So, doing his thing, his system meant I had to do a lot of writing. I had to write original writing for a blog and my emails and I was doing work for that biz op thing and I was doing my BenSettle.com stuff. I wasn’t sleeping very much at all.

I got the thing up within 45 days. It was starting to make one or two sales a day, which was great. I only needed like five sales a day to be fine. I went on vacation. I was exhausted. I went to my dad’s. I went to Tucson. I went on vacation for a week. During that week, Google in its infinite evil–actually, I understand why they did it–decided to slap article directors. So all my page one articles were now like on page ten.

Andrew: These were articles on your sites or on other directory sites?

Ben: They were both on my site and then on eZineArticles.com

Andrew: I see. The method you were copying was to create a lot of content online, rank high in Google search results. Everyone who comes to that gets an opportunity to come to your site and buy a product from you. That’s the model. And then Google slaps all these directories at once. I remember when they did that They needed to do it. I don’t even blame Google for that. There’s a lot of junk out there.

Out of that I said, “What do I do next?” That’s when a couple days later I got the idea for Email Players. I just launched it. Everyone told me it wouldn’t work. Everyone said there’s a disconnect. It’s a print newsletter for email. I just did it. I thought I’d get maybe 10-15 subscribers.

But I had built up a base, subscriber base. This was something that happened over night. But I built up a subscriber base and I demonstrated that I knew what I was talking about long enough and I guess I liked it enough for people who wanted to be a part of this and I thought I’d get maybe 10, 15 subscribers. That’s a nice base. I ended up getting like 83 in the launch. That was it. I was like, “I’m done with client work.” I’ve been building it since.

Andrew: I see. 83 people willing to pay you on a monthly basis?

Ben: Yes.

Andrew: Why don’t you charge annually? Why don’t you say people get a bigger discount, they pay once a year?

Ben: It’s funny you’re asking.

Andrew: I know why I’m asking it.

Ben: I didn’t know if you read my email today or not. I don’t like being in debt. If I say, “Here’s a yearly subscription. . .” By the way, I don’t give discounts on Email Players anyway. It’s the only product I don’t do it with. I want it to be unique, kind of hard to get in. I want it to be like a club, like a prestigious thing. You don’t go to the country club and they don’t give you discounts. It’s very expensive and you’re happy to pay it. It feels like you’re part of something.

I don’t like being in debt financially because I’ve been there. But if I’m obligated to write newsletters–I may not want to do this five months from now. I don’t like having their money and then suddenly I mismanage it, I can’t give it back for some reason, then I’m really screwed. I don’t like the feeling. It makes me psychologically uncomfortable. So, I just don’t do it. I just do month to month.

Andrew: I get it. I think Neil Patel once told me this monthly thing is a big problem. People don’t like to commit to monthly expenses. He suggested figure out what your lifetime value of a customer is, increase it a little bit and that’s what you should charge for your stuff. Why don’t you do something like that?

Ben: That just sounds complicated to me.

Andrew: You just want to keep everything simple.

Ben: Everything simple.

Andrew: As simple as possible. What else are you doing beyond the newsletter?

Ben: I have other products. I have a podcast. That’s what I recently–I went for two and half years and then I put it behind this paid membership site and that’s what I was talking about earlier. It’s been a nightmare. I’m already exit strategying that. I’m having to put time in that right now.

Andrew: I’m pulling my phone out of my pocket. There’s a Ben Settle podcast?

Ben: Yes. It was called The Ben Settle Show. It’s no longer on iTunes or anything. We put everything behind a paid thing.

Andrew: I see.

Ben: That was experimental too. I didn’t know how that would work. I thought we’d get–I would have been happy with 500 members. We ended up getting almost 900, which posed a problem because all the technological problems that were happening, it made me look almost flaky. I just have the most patient customers in the world. I would have been mad at me.

Andrew: I think they like you. I think the reason they like you is they feel they get to know you through your writing.

Ben: Probably. They like the podcast too. I’ve been told how I talk on the podcast is exactly how they’re reading. They can hear my voice in the email because it’s the same voice. I try to make it congruent. I’m just talking. I just communicate how I communicate. It’s the same across all mediums. If you heard me speak publicly, you would say, “That sounds like a Ben Settle email.”

Andrew: What is your writing process?

Ben: I don’t really have one. I just write. Ideas come out now. I think it’s because emails beget emails.

Andrew: Do you have a point in the day where you wrote

Ben: No. I tend to write one or two days ahead. I just get an idea and I’ll write it down. But if I have to do, it, like if I’m not way ahead, I’ll do it in the morning first thing when I wake up.

Andrew: And how long does it take you to write a typical email?

Ben: 10-15 minutes maybe.

Andrew: That’s it? What does the rest of your day consist of?

Ben: Sometimes five minutes. Well, it depends. I’m writing a novel now. So, I’m doing that. I like working on other stuff. It’s not like I only work 10 minutes. I only have to do that, that 5, 10, 15 minutes a day stuff. The other stuff is just fun stuff. Maybe I’ll just go and take my dog to the beach for the rest of the day. I love by the beach and all this. I’ll hang out with my dad or something. Or maybe I’ll research something else that has nothing to with anything. I’ll just be surfing the internet and get lost in a rabbit hole or something.

Andrew: And you’re okay with all of that?

Ben: Yeah. I’m perfectly happy to–I know what I have to do every day. After I’ve done all that–I do wang chung kung fu, so I practice that every day. None of this stuff is a long, intense thing, but I do have a little ritual. I have to write every day the email and you have to do some exercise. I’m not a Gary V here. I’m not a mutant or anything, but I have to do something.

Andrew: He is. He now has a guy who follows him, has for years and makes secure that he exercises enough. I want to spend just a little more time about how you understand your customer’s pains, partially because I think that’s a topic I’m going to talk about the Leadpages conference. But also because that’s the way I see so many tech startups build their companies, by understanding a core problem that someone has and then creating software that solves or addresses that problem. I’m wondering about how you do that. How do you understand a problem April has or Bob has, who’s your customer?

Ben: Everybody pretty much struggles with writing copy. It’s a very confusing thing to write. It’s overwhelming for people. I like to simplify things. I think that’s what attracts my audience to me. I’m the one saying don’t build out these giant funnels for $300 a month software when you’re starting. There’s a time to do that later, but people are doing it when they’re starting out and they don’t have a product.

Andrew: I agree. It’s not a time suck. It also is just extremely complicated and hurts your business to have those deep, crazy funnels that so many people are peddling right now. But you still want to know Bob’s problems. What’s the process that you go through to understand Bob’s problem? What’s the problem you go through to understand someone who’s in your customer base, the problem they experience, the story that’s equivalent to somebody tagging one Facebook the way you expressed in the diet example.

Ben: Yes. Like I said, it’s a little bit different for that list. It’s not as black and white, clear cut. There are times when that’s case. For example, people are having problems with email delivery. This is always happening. It’s always happened. My philosophy is–sometimes I just give them different options thinking differently, basically.

My other thing is there’s only so much you can do with delivery. There are things you can do, but most people are never going to do them. Why don’t you just focus on–most people need to focus on becoming a better copywriter. If you just did that, a lot of this will kind if solve itself. I’m giving different options for thinking differently.

Andrew: But how do you know how they think in the first place? How do you know they’re having delivery issues? What’s your process for understanding that? I didn’t know people had delivery issues to that extent.

Ben: People tell me.

Andrew: How do they tell you? You don’t ask them to hit reply and tell you, do you?

Ben: No. I should, but I don’t do that.

Andrew: What do you do? You don’t call your customers on a regular basis, do you?

Ben: No. I understand that I have a dialogue with my list every single day.

Andrew: How? How does that dialogue play out? I don’t see you intentionally calling it out.

Ben: Just by emailing daily, you become a talk radio show host. People love to tell to the radio show host.

Andrew: Give me example. Yes.

Ben: So about the subscription thing, which really was not solving anyone’s problem. It was just me answering an objection I had been getting a lot. That was my way of doing it. So, somebody who emails me back quite a bit is this guy named Bob Bly.

I don’t know if you know who Bob Bly is. He’s an A-list copywriter, one of the most respected copywriters in the game. I respect him tremendously. I’ve learned a lot from him in his book. A lot of times he’ll challenge things I say, which I love. It gets me to think differently. I don’t always agree with him and he doesn’t always agree with me but we have this banter.

Even though I didn’t say this in the email, he goes, “I’ve sold a lot of newsletters, Ben, I’m telling you yearly works better.” Nowhere in my email did I say yearly doesn’t work. I never said it didn’t work. I just think I don’t want to do it. That’s a dialogue with my list. I got two or three other people email me something similar. So, now that I know there is something about that that if I want to talk about it more–every two or three people that say something, there are probably ten people that aren’t saying something.

Andrew: I see. Yeah.

Ben: Again, I’m introducing new ideas. I’m not talking about the same stuff. I don’t even throw benefits out there half the time. I tell stories. I’ll give an example, I told a story about–I call it the beer thief. When I was in high school–this is when I was living in Dundee–I didn’t hang out with these guys a lot, but there’s one dude who would hang with us and at night on a Friday night, we’d go to the grocery store. He would walk in with this receipt, put it on a case of beer, tape it on there and walk out with it. Nobody ever–to my knowledge, nobody ever stopped him.

So, what I did was I told the story. I said that’s kind of a degenerate thing to do. But think about all the people that do that online, who they allow in their store. I don’t even let certain people buying my stuff. I don’t want them in my store because I know maybe it’s a known spammer or somebody who’s going to make me look bad because they’re representing me.

People who buy my products are representing me. I have an eject button and I’ll push it. I will unsubscribe people and they’ll be like, “Why are you doing it?” I had to do this for a guy. Ten months he was an Email Players subscriber. I caught him plagiarizing me. I kicked him out because I don’t want to let him in my store.

So, there was a lesson attached to it. I think it also got people to think, “Who am I letting in my store right now?” Maybe their businesses would be better off if they got rid of some of their customers and got better new ones. So, it’s not like it’s a problem they’re thinking about. It’s mostly just a different way of thinking, another option for thinking differently.

Andrew: I see that. I see that article from 2014 here, so short, so simple. Each sentence almost hangs on its own paragraph. Some sentences don’t even fully finish. They’re just three dots at the end. I like your writing style that way and I know a lot of other people just feel a sense of connection to you because of your writing style.

I want to, as I said, make the pre-interview notes that I have available to anyone. You said you’re okay with it.

Ben: Yeah.

Andrew: Good. I don’t think we have your email address or anything personally identifiable with it. I’ll make sure it’s edited out if it is. If you’re into it, come see. I’ve never done this before. I’m not sure how I’ll do it. But somewhere on the page where this interview lives on Mixergy, there will be a link to these pre-interview notes. If you’re ever curious about what I look at, this will give you a sense of it.

More than that, I think what Ben makes this so interesting is I’m seeing a private moment of the way you think in this, the way you write, the way you work. It’s all written in here for anyone to see. I like that about this doc.

Thank you so much for doing this. If anyone wants to follow up, it’s just BenSettle.com. Of course, my two sponsors for this interview are HostGator, the hosting company that Ben started on that so many people who I’ve interviewed have used and are continuing to use. It’s also sponsored by Leadpages, who’s having a conference I will be speaking at. I would love anyone who’s listening to hang out with me there. Go get it at Leadpages.net/Mixergy. They’ll give you a big discount because you’re coming from Mixergy. Email me to let me know you’re coming so we can connect here.

Thanks, Ben.

Ben: You got it. Thank you.

Andrew: Thank you all for being a part of it. Bye, everyone.


  • Andrew, you did a great job of planting the seed of suspense. I am now REALLY eager to read the pre-interview story.

    Can you link to it?

    Don’t make be beg.

  • Why did he say the 97 was annual (re: revenue) when the sales page reads monthly?

  • gary

    Andrew, Brooklyn tech is in Fort Greene BK. Alot has changed since your time there, as have most of Brooklyn. Even East NY, where your dad had his store is slowly going through changes.

  • I’m waiting too ;)

  • Andrea

    Here is the link for the pre-interview notes that Andrew mentions: https://docs.google.com/document/d/13AiZSyVjroLtsjOmzXL73Y6JofuEK0gtxk2qxmzeimo/edit?usp=sharing

  • ruth.snelling

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  • jody_brooks

    I get paid in the span of 6-8 thousand bucks a month working from home on the internet. Those who are considering to finish basic at home task for few hrs every day from your house and gain solid benefit in the same time… This is a invitation for you… http://fave.co/1Pj8UFH

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