Bridges and Chasms

There's an old analogy I like to use about what makes video games fun or not-fun. And it deals with the nature of a challenge. Some challenges are bridges, and some are chasms.

A bridge is a sequence of challenges where partial success gets you partially there. You can meet the challenges that are at or below your skill level, and when you get to the point where your skills aren't up to the challenge, you have to stop there and grind until your skills improve. If you can't make it all the way to point B, you're stuck partway there.

A chasm, on the other hand, is all or nothing. Partial success doesn't exist. If you fail anything, you fail it all. When you jump for the other side and you don't make it, you fall to your death and have to reload your last save. Or, in the worst cases, start the fucking game all over again.

The key to an effective online business is to build a bridge.

Once you build a bridge, you can just walk back and forth over it whenever you want. You don't have to build a new one the next time you have to cross that area again. Jumping the chasm means you just have to jump it again next time. Unlike a video game, your bridge isn't populated with enemy mobs that resist your progress - it's just a bridge. You can walk back and forth over it all you want.

Once you have a blog, you can post on it whenever you want. Or don't. You can stare at a bridge and not cross it, just like you can stare at a chasm and not jump it. But your lizard brain can easily grasp that crossing the bridge has no downside.

So you need to kick it up a notch and get yourself a mailing list.

If you've no clue what this means, there's a fundamental marketing notion of collecting email addresses and sending people email. Now, before you start screaming "SPAM," let me clarify that you collect the email addresses by telling people "give me your email address so I can send you email." And you probably make some sort of promise when you do that. You say "hey, I'll give you this free short report if you give me your email address, and then I'll email you this other free information too."

But most importantly, you do this without any direct involvement. You write a bunch of emails and drop them into a hopper to go out for your subscribers. You do this once. Then you stick it up on the internet and walk away. People who want your free report give you their email address, and then your report and the emails go out automatically. You can just be sitting around sucking on balls.

Bubble tea poster with slogan "the joys of sucking on balls"
Why, that's every day crazy bananas.

You can tie this into your blog, as well, and you should. Every single email you send your list should have a call to action in it. And in the internet world, that call to action is a link. It leads to something else you want your subscribers to do. At a bare minimum, it is more of your free content that you want them to consume.

The question everyone wants to ask here is where to get signed up for a mailing list, and all I'm going to do is say that I personally use GetResponse. Well, I'm also going to say that MailChimp very seriously doesn't like the things I'm going to tell you about tomorrow, so don't sign up at MailChimp. They can and will delete your account - and all your hard work - without warning. It's entirely their right to do so, of course, but seriously... fuck them.

As far as how to get people onto your list, you advertise it. And the simple way to do that is on your blog - whether in a post, or on the sidebar, or whatever. Just stick a link in there which leads to your subscription form. You can get fancy about this later. Build a basic form where people can subscribe, queue up a few automatic emails, and hit the go button.

Every major list provider has training available for this, so check their help and support for more information. The terminology is not always standard, so I can't even tell you what these things are called. But what you want is for emails to be delivered a certain number of days after someone signs up to the list, and you want to have an email going out at least every two or three days.

And tomorrow, we'll talk about why this is so important.