Not being shy about your newsletter


I like the way Tim Ferris puts his newsletter as a menu item on his website. This is part of an integrated strategy—I like what he says about the newsletter too:

Every Friday, I send out an exclusive email with the five coolest things I’ve found (or explored) that week. It could include exclusive giveaways or chances to interact with me, books, gadgets, albums, articles, new hacks/tricks, and — of course — all sorts of weird stuff I dig up around the world. These “5-Bullet Friday” emails are only available if you subscribe to my e-mail newsletter. 

He emphasizes that it’s short. You get these promises:

  • It’ll be short
  • This is what will be in it
  • This will be the format
  • You will get things that you cannot get elsewhere

I just signed up so I haven’t gotten one yet, but I like the promise.

There are several principles I am seeing here (and I am sure I’ll find some more, and add them to the list):

  1. Make a promise about length. “Short and to the point” seems good nowadays, although just as important is that it is organized and clear. Example: Dave Pell is not that short, but his emails are extremely organized, and have a consistent format.
  2. Make a promise about format. I like the five-bullet idea. And calling it “Five Bullet Fridays” actually embeds three promises: time, length, and format.
  3. Make a promise about timing. Again, Tim’s email brilliantly makes the promise in the name of the newsletter. Doesn’t that lower your resistance to the idea of getting it?
  4. Promise something useful and interesting. Of course. You have to.
  5. Promise something you can’t get elsewhere. It makes it feel special, of course. I’ve heard that some smart musicians only sell their merch at the shows, for example—so people line up at the show to buy it, because it is scarce. Many smart groups use this to invite people into a sort of inner circle; to share things that are a little bit more unedited, or personal, making people feel part of something. (Such a better story than just “subscribe to my newsletter,” it feels like it’s on a different planet.)

And here is the bonus one:

  • Build the format and content around who you are and what you love to do. Because Tim is a multipotentialite who loves learning a gazillion new things, it makes perfect sense for him to capitalize on how his brain works—in a way that will satisfy his readers.

Tim also invites the listener in very gently, and with respect for their autonomy:

Do you want to get a short email from me? would you enjoy getting a short email from me?”


Thanks for checking it out… If the spirit moves you.

Things are so much more attractive when it doesn’t feel like the person needs something from us. Many calls to action end up feeling this way (pushy)!