Do Open

Do not treat is as a manual, but as advice from an experienced friend — good first book for someone who’s thinking about starting and newsletter for business.

Highlights & Margin Notes

They build community. They build your brand. And they relentlessly build long-term growth.

We look at a screen before we look at the sky.


If you respect people’s time – and I don’t just mean by saying you do, but you actually do – then you will think hard before you send them a newsletter. You will do your best to make it super-useful. To make it truly inspiring. To make it deeply relevant. To make it as simple as you can. As beautiful as you can.

Cal Newport has written a great book called Deep Work. In essence, you need to find two to three hours each day without wi-fi, without your phone, and make that part of your daily routine. That two to three hours will be worth more than other people’s eight hours. They may be working longer but they will be doing shallow work. They will be distracted by gossip in the open-plan office, by an email that has just arrived, by a great photo on Instagram.

At Hiut Denim Co, we are an incredibly small team. We have organised our week in the following way by using the M+M method. The first ‘M’ stands for Maintenance. These are the things you have to do to maintain your current position. And that takes most of your day. If you do that well, and it’s vital that you do, you can hope to grow by at least 10 per cent. The second ‘M’ is Momentum. The things that push you forward. The hardest thing about Momentum is finding the time to do it. You have to divide your day up so you make time for ‘Momentum’. Momentum is the thing that will take you up to the next level. And beyond.

US studies have shown that for every $1 spent on a newsletter, there is a $40 return. Compare that to $7.30 for catalogues, or $17 for ad keywords. Plain and simple, newsletters are one of the best ways to grow a business. So spending time on it makes sense. And money.

They [people who talk only about themselvs] sit down at the dinner table and just talk about themselves. It’s kind of fun for a while. But just a short while.

Gary Vaynerchuk understands this best. Read his books. Watch his talks.

I didn’t knew Gary Vaynerchuk before.

When you are selling, sell. Get to the point. ‘Here’s a great pair of jeans, please buy them. Here’s a quick backstory. Would you like a pair?’

So one thing you should be thinking about is getting your Twitter, Facebook and Instagram followers to sign up to your newsletters. All roads should lead to newsletter sign-up. Because having a slower conversation in a crazy fast-paced world has become more important than ever.

The single biggest reason for people unsubscribing is mailing too often. Play the long game. Email less. Email better.

Mobile will soon become the number one place to see your newsletter. So as you sit at your computer designing your newsletter, and everything looks super-fine, do this. Send a test to your phone and see how it looks on the place most people will see it.

Kevin Kelly, the founding executive editor of Wired magazine, wrote a great piece about the music business. His theory was you only needed a thousand true fans to make a living from the music business.

Think differently on unsubscribes. No, you don’t want to lose all your community. So yes, you will listen to unsubscribes. It will tell you information. It will tell you that you are becoming less relevant. You are emailing too often. You are not trying hard enough.

So before you set off, just work out how you are going to provide the connections and meaning and change for your tribe.

Sharing other people’s great content makes a lot of sense when growing your newsletter list to a certain level. But to go to the next level, you will have to find the time to create your own content. Remember, it’s the Momentum, rather than Maintenance, part of your day (see here).

Idea: Write essays that share underlying knowlidge behind it.

[…] the open rate tells you everything. It is the pulse. It is the vital signs. It tells you people are interested. Or not. It tells you everything you need to know. It tells you that you have done a great job. Or not. The size of the list doesn’t tell you the truth. Engagement does.

Google achieved more by offering less than its competitor. Rather than closing down opportunities, going narrower opens them up. Those who spend their days trying to be all things to all people rarely have time to change the world.

Make products for a purpose. That chase a function and not a fashion. Invent for your customers’ needs. Small needs can become big business. If you suddenly become fashionable, it is because you have chased being useful.

They don’t leave them to the last minute. They understand that if the headline doesn’t get clicked, then the story doesn’t get read. So what do they do? Well, they have a culture of testing to find out what headline is going to work. So they write around 25 headlines per article to make sure they find the most viral one.

The Emotional Marketing Value Headline Analyzer ( is a tool based on the research that is made freely available by the Advanced Marketing Institute.

You can do an A/B test. This is basically an ‘either/or’ test. You simply test which one is clicked the most (you can set the criteria). This test goes out to a small portion of your newsletter community, and after four hours (or whatever time period you choose) there will be a winner. And then, your whole community will be sent the winning subject line that has shown the most engagement.

In total, he did 5,127 iterations to make his vacuum cleaner work. I don’t know anyone who has his level of sheer determination to make something work. He deserves every bit of the success he gets.

Another story how success looks easy, when it’s incredably hard.

Checklist Ritual:

  • Check the right to use photos
  • List cleaned
  • Print out for read through
  • Spell-checked
  • Device-checked
  • Email provider check
  • Check it’s the right list
  • Links checked
  • Loading speed checked
  • Subject line checked/tested
  • Test line sent
  • Test sent
  • Pre-mortem (Ask why it may fail, rather than why it did fail)