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Brian Alt

Interview: Boogie Jack,
By Brian Alt

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BA: Hey Booj! Let's start with your newsletter. In your opinion, what is it that makes it successful? What makes it unique?

BJ: Recalling recent feedback, I'd have to say it's a combination of things. The number one comment I get is that they love my humor. Several people have suggested I write a book, that I explain things better than most, so there's that. They like the chances I offer each issue to win a link to their web site. It's not often the average person can have their web site linked in front of an audience of thousands that have requested to receive the content I present. And nearly everyone loves the web site design and promotion tips.

BA: You mentioned reader feedback. Do you ask for the feedback, or does it just come?

BJ: I've only requested feedback once. My purpose was to find out how I could improve the overall quality and appeal. That turned out to be a great ego massage but provided little in insight to how the newsletter could be improved. The only thing I really learned was that over 90% of the respondents to the survey wanted the newsletter published more often. Now, I have a secret URL on my site for newsletter subscribers to provide feedback any time they want. This has been much more useful. I'm getting quality insight from different readers with each issue, and not just about the topics I choose to ask about.

BA: Do you have any tips for ezine publishers on how to promote their lists? What are some of the things you've done to get more subscribers?

BJ: When Almost A Newsletter was started it really was an idea I hadn't thought through. I put a short blurb on a page a layer deep into my site and offered it only to those who linked to my site with a button. That garnered a lot of button links and helped my site become known more than it helped grow the newsletter. The newsletter really took off when I made it free for all.

Now it receives prominent attention on my front page, which is where it should be if you're serious about growing your subscriber base. The best new subscriber days are when other ezines give you a good write up. Andover's Techsightings gave it a great review and I picked up about 500 new readers overnight. That's the best promotion that doesn't cost money out of your pocket so submit articles to other ezines and get seen by those with publishing power. Other influxes have come when I've picked up ezine awards, or via my articles being reprinted in other newsletters, but most of my subscribers have came from the steady, daily flow of sign ups off my front page.

BA: What do you think it is about your web site that makes it an effective subscriber generator?

BJ: From those who say, they see the quality of the free graphics I offer, learn how to do things in the Help Center that they didn't understand, and enjoy the humor there so they assume the newsletter will be of equal quality. So my answer is that to have your website be an effective subscriber generator, you need quality content and design. If they find that, they are fairly assured that they will benefit from your newsletter also.

BA: Do you sell advertising in your ezine?

BJ: I do sell advertising, but only 3 ads per issue to keep it content rich. I'm very fortunate in that one of my early subscribers started advertising when I first offered it and has been an advertiser ever since, so I really don't have to work for it. She buys the top position every issue, usually months in advance. The other two positions I either sell or I experiment with, usually one of each. I may trade one spot for a reciprocal ad in other ezines or try an affiliate program there. I've never had to look for advertisers, they find me. Word of mouth is the best advertising after all.

BA: You write most of your content, right? Any suggestions on coming up with ideas or managing time?

BJ: I write 99.9% of my content. Probably 75% of it could be found elsewhere, but readers say they like the way I write and present information. The other 25% they can't get elsewhere unless it's second hand from reprints. I don't want this to sound like bragging, but it's my unique style and humor that people enjoy, and is why my turnover rate is extremely low. I only had one person unsubscribe during my first year, and mom swore it was accidental.

I get idea's everywhere. On my computer I just quickly type a reminder in Notepad. If I'm not at my computer I write it down on a scrap of paper. I have notes all over. When you see something that is interesting, but not your take on it, that's fodder for an article. Most people sit down to write an article and they don't have any idea what to write. They don't start thinking about writing until it's writing time. I'm always looking for something to write about. When you get in the mindset that an great article idea can come at any time and in any place, you're far more likely to find unique subject matters. My last article was formulated in my head while the dentist was drilling holes in my molar. Side benefit: it wasn't near as unpleasant sitting there while I had the excitement of a new article to distract me from the drilling and filling.

Ezine-Tips for May 07, 1999

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