My Hobby + A Big Shift In Strategy
Good morning and happy Monday. 🥰 And... change is in the air. I'll spell that out more below. But first...
To all of my clients, a quick heads up...
Next week, I will be out of town all week for my family's last trip of the summer. No RV this time. 😜 In fact, we'll be on a cruise ship for a week.
So, for all client projects, don't expect much to be happening the week of July 10th. But, I'll have you know that I have purchased grossly overpriced wifi on the ship so that I can keep up with email, answer client questions, etc. Just know... I won't be in full "work mode". 😇 But, I know when my Concierge clients have me as their "web dude", it is nice to know you can get in touch if an issue arises. And you will be able to.
Man, the prices they charge for internet access on cruise ships is ridiculous! 🤯 But, that's another rant for another day.
Anyway, I've got some big changes afoot in how I handle... my email list. And my little "side hustle" blog. And maybe even... The Edge. I'll explain more below...
My Hobby + A Big Shift In Strategy
My long time subscribers here may remember that, several years ago, I started another blog. It's a blog for RV owners known as Happily RV.
When I first started the blog, I got the site off the starting line with intention by running Facebook ads to a lead magnet. That lead magnet was a checklist for doing an inspection on buying a used RV. It ended up being pretty popular and the ad converted quite well.
Pretty quickly, I built an email list of over 1,000 people. And the blog went on from there. Thing is, I didn't really have any strategy behind it. And in terms of money, I didn't have a plan to monetize it.
Over time, my activity on the site subdued. Then came in spurts.
But, as I was sitting up in Boone, NC a few weeks ago, having a cigar in my campsite at the KOA, I thought I'd check in on this old site and see how it's doing. After over 2.5 years not ever posting to it, I found that the site was still averaging about 100 page views daily and now had an email list of over 1,900. 1,947 to be exact.
Frankly, I was surprised it was still purring along as well as it was. And immediately, the thought occurred to me... "Why am I not doing anything with this thing? I should really make something of it."
But, I needed a strategy. I've got enough going on already, so don't need another blog just to run aimlessly with no real point.
But, remember a couple EDGE issues ago when I talked about a "renaissance" in email newsletters? That was Issue #433. You can go back and read it again if you wish.
My Shift In Strategy
I decided to re-focus Happily RV into primarily an email newsletter. And I have decided to do that on the BeeHiiv platform.
Actually, for me, that's almost TWO shifts at once. Because I've also been pretty vocal about how I prefer to run my email lists "in house" on top of FluentCRM. And that's what I was doing for the RV site. So, why am I now making a change to BeeHiiv?
(The news may not stop there, but I'll get to that in a minute...)
My instincts about digital sovereignty and my fandom for FluentCRM have not shifted. However, I also want to be using the right tool for the right job.
My GOAL if I am to do this is.... growth. The entire point of a public-facing newsletter is growth. Just... raw numbers. Big growth in opt-ins. High deliverability. Solid open rates.
Now, having a blog with opt-in forms can grow your list. But, some of the functionality of BeeHiiv (and some others such as Substack) are literally BUILT for this purpose.
Simply put, BeeHiiv is a platform with tools built into it specific to my purpose. Things such as:
Ability to publish (to the blog) and send the email simultaneously without having it be two separate actions.
Built in newsletter referral program. FluentCRM doesn't have that and I would have needed a third-party tool like Sparkloop.
Built-in ability to do cross-promotions with other newsletters on the BeeHiiv platform.
"Magic Links", which are basically one-click subscription links. Great for promotion in other newsletters. FluentCRM has Smart Links, though, so there are ways to do that.
Ability to do paid "boosts" on the BeeHiiv network to promote your newsletter.
Built-in ad network, if I choose to monetize with ads in the newsletter. And I may.
Built-in ability to run a paid newsletter upgrade and basically run a premium newsletter. And BeeHiiv doesn't take a cut.
Basically, BeeHiiv is purpose-built for newsletter publishers with features aimed at growth. The platform was literally built by the people who built up the technology for Morning Brew. They know what they're doing. :)
So, last week, I migrated my list over to BeeHiiv for the RV site. Switched out the opt-in forms. Imported my blog content. And switched up the blog. There's still some cleanup work to do on the old content. And the WordPress site will remain, but will take a back seat to the BeeHiiv-powered blog.
And as for digital sovereignty, I will now have a repeating task to export my list every week or two and import into FluentCRM for backup purposes. I will also be setting up an RSS-powered setup that will auto-publish my posts from BeeHiiv into my WordPress blog for backup purposes. BeeHiiv is actually pretty good when it comes to data portability.
And For My (Possibly) Next Trick...
I may indeed be moving The Edge over to BeeHiiv as well. At least, I'm strongly considering it.
As you can probably tell, my strategy here at the Blog Marketing Academy has shifted over time. I've moved much more heavily into client services. While I still blog and create some training content, it isn't nearly as regular as it used to be. But, this newsletter stays pretty regular. And The Edge has sort of become my primary content marketing vehicle.
Obviously, growth is important for The Edge as well. And, the growth tools and the overall platform of BeeHiiv just seems as if it will be a much better fit than FluentCRM.
As the basis of a membership site, FluentCRM is rock-solid. Couple it with WP Fusion and I simply love this platform that I am running. But, FluentCRM is a full marketing automation tool. Using it for customers and clients and all memberships makes perfect sense, but...
Using FluentCRM as simply an email newsletter tool makes less sense. While you can prepare and send a newsletter with it no problem (and that's what I'm doing right this minute, actually), it is not purpose-built specifically for newsletter publishers. FluentCRM is meant to be... a CRM.
So, here's my thought...
I am strongly considering switching THE EDGE over to BeeHiiv. I will then have all the marketing and growth tools for The Edge on that platform. And the platform "in house" here will remain as it is now. FluentCRM will stay focused on members, customers and clients.
I will be using the referral program, so you guys will all have incentives to help refer people into The Edge. And I hope you will. :)
Frankly, the decision has been made. :) I'm beyond the "thinking about it" phase here. I just haven't yet made the switch. Still some work to do on that front... and I've got a trip coming up next week which will play with my schedule.
Anyway... I'm a fan of BeeHiiv. And over the coming months, I will continue to share with you what I learn and how strategies can shift in a changing attention economy.
It looks like Stitcher is shutting down and ceasing operations. Stitcher is a podcast publishing platform. I didn't know this, but Stitcher is owned by SiriusXM. And apparently, Sirius is looking to combine things and fold their podcast arm into their main corporate SiriusXM subscription platform. You can read more about this on their FAQ. If you have any podcasts there, I suggest you make sure you don't need Stitcher anymore.
Elementor Hosting is growing up a bit more... now offering database access via PHPMyAdmin, SFTP and site cloning. These are all standard features of most hosts, though, so... I guess good to see Elementor playing catchup. I still don't get why anybody would want to pay for hosting with Elementor, but.... ok.
Speaking of playing catchup, Gravity Forms is introducing Gravity SMTP. Which is yet another email SMTP plugin for WordPress. And at least as of now, the features are nothing we can't easily find in other tools. Interestingly, this plugin looks to be exclusive to license holders and will eventually only be for Elite members of Gravity Forms. Why, though? Just go get FluentSMTP for free. It does everything.
Things getting renamed! In WordPress lingo, "reusable blocks" is now going to be re-termed to simply... "patterns". And patterns will have synced and non-synced options. I guess the idea here is to get rid of any confusion on what the difference is between the two.
You may be familiar with Zapier. Well, this last week, I came across Make.com when a client mentioned he was using it for something. Like Zapier, Make is used to connect tools together and automate things across platforms. Two things stood out and got my attention. One was it's integration with FluentCRM. It is actually a good integration, too. Zapier doesn't have one. Secondly, the pricing for Make.com actually seems much better. So, if you need this kind of tool, check out Make.com and see if it might work.
My absolute favorite plugin for powerful membership sites: WP Fusion.