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Brian Alt

Interview: Eldon Sarte, Part II.
By Brian Alt

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Today's tip finishes up the recent interview I did with Eldon Sarte of Free subscriptions to Eldon's excellent ezine for online entrepreneurs is available here.

Yesterday's Part I, which looked at cultivating an engaged ezine audience, is available here.

Brian Alt: Where do the majority of your ezine subscribers come from? Is your Web site an integral part of your efforts to attract new subscribers? Have you tried any other promotional techniques that met with particular success?

Eldon Sarte: Hard to say at this point in time, since we're starting to spend cash to attract new subscribers through online advertising and promotional efforts. So far, the results have been fantastic, and we're experiencing a considerable amount of growth. Whether all these new subs stay around long enough to have been worth the expense has yet to be determined. We've also been acquiring ezines, and will continue to do so, to grow our lists. I actually consider this approach very effective. Subscriber retention has been very good. Prior to all that, though, I had a nice little subscriber base assembled without spending a dime. My main source of new subs then was word-of-mouth. Which is really what I call reviews and recommendations by other ezine publishers. This kind of exposure from one's peers is definitely what I would tell a new ezine publisher to focus on. I don't think I would have done so effortlessly well, though, if I didn't have a website or if what I had sucked. A vital thing to have, a good website. But that's for a _business_ ezine. I think that the Net audience is a lot more forgiving in this area for non-business pubs.

BA: Is advertising a part of your revenue model, or do you derive the majority of your ezine's revenue from other sources? How do your own products and services impact your ezine's profitability?

ES: Advertising revenue is NOT in the mix in any way. No ads at all in Dirtsmart, except for products and our affiliate program. And judging from the number of inquiries I've received and turned away, we would have done pretty well in the advertising game too. But we're not interested in that arena. As for the ezine's profitability now that it's part of a much bigger and ambitious epublishing enterprise, it's still too early to conclude anything, or even know whether Dirtsmart will continue to play a central role in our business down the road. The company is literally only starting to get rolling; we already have a few products out, but I can tell you now that this is NOTHING to what you'll eventually be seeing from us, and very soon too. :-)

BA: Are there other realized benefits to publishing your ezine beyond direct financial gain?

ES: Lots. Publishing by definition is simply getting what you've got "publicly known." Towards that end, it shouldn't take a lot of effort to imagine all the possible benefits from publishing through this easy, practically free, and very wide-reaching medium. So I'll just mention one benefit that I consider quite important: CONTACT. Unlike print publishing, you can establish a direct channel between you and your readers that goes just as easily one way as it does the other. The implications for a business concern are obvious. But the same goes for any subject or area of interest you're publishing about. The potential for creating _multiple_ synergistic relationships with one's readers is very strong and real. And THIS is something you can't really duplicate in dirt world print. OK, that was just a bit too mental, even for my tastes. So let me see if I can oversimplify the thought: You'll make friends. Lots of them. And that's ALWAYS good. :-)

BA: Do you have any tips or ideas for the Ezine-Tips readers on creating useful content for their subscribers?

ES: Just one tip: Create content for YOURSELF. Something you'd be interested in reading, learning, knowing about. Do that, and you'll find it difficult to NOT come up with more content. Useful and interesting content at that. This, of course, assumes that your ezine is all about something that you're very interested in. You aren't? Then what the heck are you doing screwing around with it? That's a built-in second tip, BTW. :-)

Ezine-Tips for March 28, 2001

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