Boring emails? Time to change that.
👉 here's how we'll be doing it *together*
Boring emails are a curse.
They’re a curse for us writers because boring emails don’t get read. No readers = no relationship building, no credibility, no trust, no sales. Too many boring emails and your subscribers quietly quit and just don’t bother opening any more.
They’re a curse for our readers because boring emails steal their lives when they could be doing something interesting instead.
And they’re a curse for the world because great people with a lot to offer don’t get to work with great people who need their help.
In my last message about tiktokifying your email I kind of said the same thing. And I said I’d be sharing my best tips to help you make your emails more interesting and entertaining.
But the minute I sent out that email and read it back I cringed.
It felt like I was saying “look at me, I’m a god at writing entertaining emails and I’m going to let you mere mortals in on some of my secrets. Lucky you”.
It’s the kind of vibe I get all the time from Twitter and Linkedin these days where it seems every 23-year-old is sharing their deep wisdom on life and business and relationships with a straight face.
But then I realised there’s a different way.
Rather than telling you how to make your writing more interesting and entertaining, I’m going to dedicate myself to learning how to make my writing more interesting and entertaining for the next month.
And I’m going to share what I’m learning as we go along.
Don’t get me wrong. This is not false modesty. I reckon I’m pretty decent at writing emails. So some of what I share will be based on what’s worked for me so far.
But I still have a lot to learn.
So I’m going to do that learning. And share it with you.
And I feel way more excited about upgrading my writing and sharing the journey than I did about pontificating about what I already know.
So here’s the first thing I picked up today, from Stephen Pinker’s The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person’s Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.
Pinker starts off by analysing the poetic opening from Richard Dawkins’ Unweaving the Rainbow:
We are going to die, and that makes us the lucky ones.
As Pinker says, there’s no cliché (“since the dawn of time…”) there’s no banality (“Recently, scholars have been increasingly concerned with…”). Instead, it begins with the juxtaposition of the most dreadful fact we know with a paradox. How on earth can our death make us lucky?
Now that’s opening strong.
I opened this email with the subject line “Boring emails?”. I hope that’s quite strong.
Maybe “Your emails are boring” would have been stronger. It would have punched you in the face a bit more. But it didn’t quite feel true to me - I’m a bit gentler. So I toned it down a touch with “Boring emails?”.
But it’s still strong I think.
A good measure of strength is whether it will get noticed as someone scrolls their inbox and cause them to pause. To do that it needs to trigger some kind of gut response - an emotion.
It’s hard to put yourself in your reader’s shoes - curse of knowledge and all that - but you’ve got to try. Send yourself a test email, scroll down your inbox and see if your stands out. Not just visually - an emoji will do that. But emotionally. Does it trigger a reaction?
It doesn’t matter so much whether that emotion is surprise or shock or desire or anger or pure curiosity. But you need to trigger something or your email won’t get opened and read.
No readers = no relationship building, no credibility, no trust, no sales.
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