Interview with Bryan Harris


Starving to Successful: How to Become a Full-Time Writer


Lesson Info

Interview with Bryan Harris

Our guest it my good friend Bryan Harris. Every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday Bryan and I work out together. And he is one of the smartest guys I know. He has done everything that I've done online better and faster. And he, I actually hired him very early on to help me grow my email list. He is the founder of a website called, which is one of the fastest online marketing resources around. He also has a course called Your First 10,000 Subscribers. He helps people grow their email lists to that they can launch their products into the world. He is the creator of many cool tools including Slingshot, which if you want to launch a product, is a piece of software that will tell you email by email what you need to write to launch a book, launch an online course, launch an event, what have you. Smart guy, he's gonna share with us some tips on how to grow your email list quickly. Bryan, welcome. What's up Jeff, how are you doing man. Oh hey, there you are, you look good man. ...

Just coming in from the ether over here like God. (laughter) Hello Jeff, how are you -- You sound good, you look good -- If you haven't seen Jeff do a squat yet, you're missing out. Come to Franklin, Tennessee. (laughter) Monday, Wednesday, Friday I'll hook you up. Just hit me up on twitter at harris_bryan, I'll let you know where to go. And he will really do that unfortunately. (laughter) So I was texting with you about this, I just think... We just talked about getting 100 subscribers, I talked about. So I shared with you, somebody challenged me to start a new blog and get 100 subscribers and try to launch a product. Well Bryan was the person that challenged me to do it. He's like, you gotta do it, and you gotta do it in like 48 hours, and so that's how that started. And so he's really smart at this stuff. I thought it would be helpful if you could share with us what's working now for really getting your first 1,000 to 10,000 subscribers. We talked about 100 subscribers. I just talked about guest posting. I'd love for you to talk a little bit about your first 1,000 subscribers. Yeah so, I just wrote down a few things. One of the, this kind of, when I think about list building strategies I think about them in four buckets. Zero to 100, 100 to 1,000, 1,000 to 10,000, 10,000 and up. And try to, when you hear a strategy, one of the key questions you have to ask is when should I use this. Because if you try to use something really advanced early on, you're gonna get bogged down and quit. If you try to use super beginner strategies when you're later on, there just not going to be super effective. So one strategy that works all the time, I used this today with an e-mail list of over 100,000 people, and used it early on when I was first starting out and just had 100 people. It's something I call the Poster Boy Formula. So, basically, almost any website you go to has a testimonial on the homepage showing someone that has used the product or service of that company that has had success with it. For example, if you go to on the homepage up there is a guy we worked with before, Casey Graham, and it has a testimonial of him and a link to his website and his face on the homepage of Infusionsoft. Infusionsoft gets a ton of visitors every month, and he gets traffic to his website and gets to build his e-mail list as a result of that. So a couple of things that you can do to execute on this, number one, just make list of five blogs you read, five books you've read, five podcasts you've listened to. Just jot them down real quick. Like alright, I've read J.K. Rowling, I like Game of Thrones, I follow Jeff Goins, like whatever the websites are, you just go down a list, write them down, podcasts you've listened to. And then, step number two, so step number one list out the places that you pay attention to. Step number two, write a quick little note to each person that runs that company or that blog or that newsletter or that podcast and just tell them thank you and share a win that you've had as a result of their teaching. So for example, like if you're listening to this Creative Live right now and Jeff just talked about guest posting, writing a first time guest post, go get a guest post today. Go pitch someone today. Like right now. Just stop listening. Maybe finish listening, and then write a pitch to one site. And as soon as you get done writing the pitch, respond to Jeff, or whatever the email address is, respond to Jeff, join his newsletter and hit reply, that's a good hack by the way, join his newsletter and hit reply and he'll answer that. And just tell him, hey Jeff, dude, your Creative Live was awesome, you really inspired me to get some guest posts. I went out and already pitched my first person. Here's a screenshot of the email that I sent. I haven't gotten a response back yet, but I'm really excited about it. So that's step two, just tell them thank you and show them that you did something, because guess what, of the thousands of people watching this right now, almost none of you will actually do anything with what you're learning. (laughter) Like almost no one. You're all listening like, yeah guest posting and I can respond, but you're not going to do anything. Raise your hand if you're going to do something. How many people are raising their hand? (crowd laughing) So somebody right now is on their phone, doing this right now and you're gonna win. You're gonna kill it. If you're on your phone right now listening and sending that guest post pitch right now, you're gonna crush it, no doubt. So, the second thing is Jeff will respond to that email. When someone responds back that it's done something and shows you they've taken action, you start a relationship with the person. And that relationship, step three, can show itself in many different ways. One of the first times I did this, and I almost hesitate teaching this as like a tactic, because it's really just a good human thing to do, to like take action and then tell people thank you, so I want you to not really think about this as a marketing tactic but think about it as like an operating system for being a good human that happens to be a really good marketing tactic at the same time. So one of the first times I did this, I bought a course from a guy named Noah Kagan, a mutual friend of ours, runs a site called AppSumo and, go check them out. I bought a course on how to start a business, this was four or five years ago. Bought the course, executed on the course, and just updated him on my progress as I went along. Not because I wanted something out of it, just because I wanted to share as I was going along. Well that resulted in me being featured, and I think maybe still today I haven't looked at the site in awhile, on their main product page of a site called, like the number one picture on the left side was me and my whole story and it linked to my site. And I got 200 email subscribers from that feature because they emailed me out to their list as well. So this is something I have on my weekly checklist to do every week even today. And it opens up more doors and more relationships than any other thing I've ever done. Just tell people thank you. Another thing you can do, kind of a tangent of this, or maybe a contemporary or whatever, tell people they're doing a good job. People that are contemporary to you. We all nitpick ourself, we all think all of our stuff is crap. I guarantee you Jeff right now is thinking, man I should have said something else an hour ago, or this six hour thing is a long time. Just tell him he's doing a good job. You'll be surprised just what being a good affirming human will do for opening up doors. So this has resulted in partnerships, webinars, emails to lists, testimonials on people's websites, all different types of things. Working together, I think this is maybe how me and Jeff started working together two or three years ago was through me just doing stuff, introducing myself as a result of that, and then him hiring me to help do the thing that I was good at. So that's the number one thing. If you can just pick one thing, it's a good human thing to do, it'll make you feel good, and it will open up relationships with almost anyone you can possibly think of. That's good. Another thing I want you to talk about is going from 1,000 to 10,000, we're gonna talk about that more in our next segment. So you talk about bucket zero to 100, and we talked about kind of, you know, your first hundred subscribers are you just finding people in your life and friends of friends, because you know over 100 people that can get on your list, and then 100 to 1,000, you just shared a great strategy for that, what do you do once you get to that 1, person mark, because you teach in your course and on your blog, when you get to 10,000 subscribers, that's a game changer, that's a business, that's a full time living. How do we get there? So there there is a handful of strategies. I'll give you maybe one or two of them. The basic approach is something I learned from Noah. The one thing he taught me a long time ago was just make a list of the ten things you think will work, go execute all ten of those things, and then do a whole lot more of the thing that worked the most. Let me give you a list of a couple of the things on my list of ten things that have worked well. One of them is partnerships. Partnerships can look a lot of different ways, but it's still the number one thing we do to grow our list and get sales today. Find other people, kind of like guest posting, guest posting is a form of partnership. You find someone that has an audience that you want to be part of your audience and you give them a reason to tell them about you. So one thing in addition to guest posting that's worked well, and it's actually less work, this is what I like about this, I actually do this a whole lot more and I used to do guest posting more but guest posting is actually like, if you're not a writer, which I'm not, like I write but I'm not a writer, ask anybody who's read any of my stuff that hasn't been edited or ask Jeff because he critiques me all the time. (laughter) Another good way to do that is through doing no pitch webinars. So here's what a no pitch webinar would look like. Let's say, find someone, first of all you've got to identify someone you want to team up with, and the best way to do this is look one rung above you or two to three rungs below you. So like, if you're starting out today with a new blog, don't try to pitch Tim Ferriss tomorrow, like he's like 17 rungs above you, he's not gonna say yes until you have a relationship of some sort. But if you have a site that gets 100,000 visits a month, and you got an email list of 5,000 or 6,000 people, you could reach up to Jeff, like Jeff is one or two rungs above you. So don't like shoot for the stars in the beginning. Maybe that's slightly contrary to your advice of pitching celebrities. I would say that's probably more the exception than the rule that complete nobodies with no built in advantage can pitch a complete celebrity and get them to say yes. First of all, pick a contemporary group of people. Second thing is, go to them and offer to do a live training to their audience on a topic that makes sense for them and has overlap with your audience. So let me give you an example of this. Me and Jeff did these, and probably two years ago was the first time I did it. I pitched Jeff. I said, hey man, you have a bunch of authors who want to sell books. One of the best ways to sell anything online is by having an email list, but you don't talk about it a lot. So why don't I come on and do a live workshop for your people, I'm not gonna sell anything, all I'm gonna do is just teach them how to grow an email list. We'll talk for an hour, we'll do a Q&A, and then we'll make the video available to you so you can use as a lead magnet wherever you want. It's a total gift. We'll in fact, we'll write the emails, we'll set up the landing pages, we'll do everything for you. All you have to do, is we're gonna give you a Google Doc that has two emails in it, just send that to your list and everything will magically happen. He was like, okay, I don't have to do anything, my people get a total gift out of it, and I get a lead magnet or a bonus for a course I sell in the future. Okay. So we did that. And think about this now, think about how this works. Let's compare it to a guest post. A guest post, you write and article, it takes you, for me it would take me three to 15 hours depending on the type of site or whatnot, but it's gonna take awhile for me. Very hard to reuse that again, so you do one post, if you optimize it really well and position it really well and get their promotion to do really well, you could get anywhere from 200 to 1,000 email subscribers from that. 1,000 would be on the high end. But more likely in the 50 to 200 range of new e-mail subscribers. Now, contrast that with this no pitch webinar. I team up with Jeff. He emails, instead of emailing to a blog post that somewhere has a call to action or a link to my site that maybe people click and maybe people come over and maybe people will sign up for my email address, he emails directly to a landing page that says, hey, I'm having a live class with Bryan, he's gonna teach you how to build an email list and sell a million books, click here to sign up. He emails you directly to an Godwin-mail opt in form. The email opt in form opts you in for my list, I remind you about the webinar, you show up to the webinar, I deliver complete value to you, I'm positioned perfectly for you to trust me because Jeff's made an introduction to me, and now you're on my list. And the result is, like the webinar we did with Jeff, the first one, produced 2,500 email subscribers. Now that's a big, Jeff has a bigger site, so if you're starting smaller, you could like, go to a Facebook group of a course you bought recently, or a Facebook group of a book you bought recently that your in. Just join them. Look for people inside of there that are doing similar things and go invite them and say hey man, I'd love to partner up with you and do a webinar for you. You can do the same thing to my audience, we'll trade. And you pick up 200, 300, 400 subscribers. The cool thing is, now you have a speech. Think about a webinar like a speech. You have the canned speech. You can just do that again and again and again, like I presented the same webinar 100 times to 100 different audiences, and we picked up over 75,000 new email subscribers just from giving the same speech over and over and over again to different audiences, with slight tweaks to fit their audience. That's one of my favorite things to do. Because you can just, like Nathan Barry at ConvertKit, he's a mutual friend of ours. They grew their business by, I forget the exact number, something like six million annual recurring revenue in 2016. The number one thing they did? They did 142 partner webinars. 142, that's really hard to do actually. That's a lot of freaking webinars. They just did it over and over and over again, and on the webinar, they would talk about their product and give a free trial to their product, and if people liked it they would stay and pay money. So, that's one of my favorite strategies, is trying to find cool ways to partner with people. And a partner webinar is something that we still do today, and works great. Bryan, while they're maybe thinking of a question, what are just some common areas you see people get stuck with getting to you know your first 1,000 or 10, subscribers. Are there common mistakes that we can avoid just by being proactive? Where do you see people getting stuck? One thing I see people doing is wait to long to make money from their lists. We're not building non-profits. If you are, God bless you. Most of us aren't. (crowd laughing) Like we're actually trying to sell things to people. And by selling things to people doesn't mean you're selling out, it's a completely different thing. Go read the book Thou Shall Prosper by Rabbi Daniel Lapin. It's great for some cool framing of that if you struggle with that at all. But, sell stuff. Like when you get to 1,000 subscribers, it's time to build something and sell it. Once you get to 1,000 I wouldn't focus on building to 10,000. When you get to 1,000 subscribers, the next thing I would do would be to go find the product to build to ship. And this is how I would do it. This is a cool little framework we've discovered and probably stolen from different people and cobbled together. The basic framework is, once you get to 1,000 subscribers, if you really hustle, that takes you about 90 days. If you really go slow, that could take you 90 years. So, typically we see people, if they hustle and stay focused they can get to that in about three months. At the end of that three months, just look back at the content that you've published over those 90 days, and a lot of people publish once a week, and I think that's a good rhythm to be in in the beginning. Look back at that content and rank it. Look and see what content got the most traffic, the most shares, the most comments, the most replies to emails. Just make a little spreadsheet and map it out. Put all your blog posts in there, map it out by interaction points, and then roll it up by category. Because typically, even if aren't really intending to write by category you have three or four topics you talk about and every email you write or blog post you publish falls in one of those categories. And look and see what category was your list most interested in. So, I'll give you an example of this. Two and a half years ago I did this, the list got to 1,000 subscribers, I think I got to like 6,000 because then I was gonna do a product of 1,000, but same deal. I looked back at my list, and I found I talked about three main topics at VideoFruit. I talked about how to get traffic to your site, how to build your list, and how to sell stuff. And then I rolled up all the numbers on that and the topic that people were the most interested in, I got the most comments, the most likes, the most shares. People had already said what they were interested in by their actions, not a stupid survey, but they actually, by numbers of their interaction they said they were most interest in list building. So, we just did a little validation. I opened up a Google Doc, I'm like alright, people want to know how to build their list, how could I help solve that problem. So I wrote out like I could build a little software product that could do it, I could write a course that could do it, I could make a book that could do it, I could do coaching that could do it, and then I just picked the one that I thought could do the best, the one that I would like the most, the one that would be the most fun, the one that would help the most people. And that was a course. So then, I just deleted all the other ones out and wrote like a two page description on what the course could be. And just said hey, I just now have an email list, I have an email list, I've sold stuff from the list, it's a really smart way to build a business. I'm gonna have a course that does these things, do you want it. And then I just emailed my list and said, hey I just, get group of 50 people. Said hey, can you help me with something. I need you to do two things. First, go read this little janky product description I just wrote, and number two, give me your feedback on it. And I had a little form in there that would give them some basics of like, do you want to buy this, yes or no, what did you like the most, what did you like the least, what would you add. Just some basic little Google Form survey. And from that, my goal was to get ten percent of those people to pre-order the product. So we have a little methodology we go through, you can just type in like validation VideoFruit and there's a whole article, 10,000 words it goes over, just with examples and stuff. The goal of that is to find out will people pay me money for this before I build it. If people won't pay you money before you build it, they won't pay you money after you build it. If you find your 50 best people on your list, and you manually reach out to them, and talk to them, and craft that little invitation, and they say, no I'm not interested, dude you're wasting your time building anything. But if they say yes, you're on to something. So we did that with our course. We made a little description, sent it out. We got two or three people from that initial group of to pay us $99. We then took their feedback, the things they liked, the things they didn't like, and the things they wanted. And just adjusted that product description. Like, Seth Godin calls this thrashing on the front end. It's a whole lot easier to edit an outline of a book than it is to edit a 300 page book. So like, do your thrashing on the front end, and use your actual subscribers to figure out what that is. So anybody that said they didn't want to buy, we would just delete them out. Like I don't even want to hear from you. But the people that do want to buy, we'll listen to you. And we'll just craft that entire product description based on what they've told us. And then, we just email the list and say hey, y'all wanted this, come check it out, here you go. And we'll just give them the thing they actually wanted. If you want to see like a whole product launch framework, just type in, I think it's, online course VideoFruit and there's like a big long blog post with emails and kinda how we go through the whole validation and launching process and everything, you can kinda see some of that laid out. But to answer your question, I took a long winded answer to that. The short answer is, what most people do is, they get to 1,000 and they keep trying to build their list, and they get two years in, three years in, and they've never sold anything. Yeah. Like, go make money. You can make five to 10,000 dollars from an email list of 1,000 people. One of our mutual friends, John Meese, he built a list of 250 subscribers, launched a product on how to use Michael Hyatt's WordPress theme, which is the most niche product you could possibly think of. (crowd laughing) He bought his WordPress theme, couldn't figure it out, other people couldn't figure it out, so he just, went hey I'm gonna build a list about this. Built a little list about it. Shipped that course and made over ten grand, on a little janky course that taught you how to use Michael Hyatt's WordPress theme. With a list of 250 people. Wow. Right, so, like you can get 250 people just by inviting your friends to join your list. You do one partner webinar, one or two blog posts, guest posts, and you can be there, and you can be making money. So go make money. Don't be afraid to make money, that's a good thing. It's a certificate of appreciation that people want and like the thing that you just made. That's good. Any questions? I've got one here from the online audience. Bryan, this question comes from Melissa Joan Walker, who says, do you recommend using an autoresponder series for new subscribers, or do you wait until you have a product to pitch before you start doing an autoresponder series. Yeah, I would wait until you get to 1,000 subscribers to worry about any automation stuff. It's just a fancy form of procrastination before then. Like, it'll look good, you'll feel good about it, but no one's seeing it. It's not gonna move the needle on anything. So I would, they're good, they have their place, but it's a sequence type of deal. You can go to, we're releasing a new tool, free tool, that will help you create email sequences from scratch. So, they're all based on proven, they have a welcome series and a launch series and free class series, and Jeff has a few series he contributed to that. Just go to tomorrow morning, whatever the date is on that. We'll be shipping that. And you can actually, when you get to that point, you can just enter a few variables and it will spit out your entire email sequence for you that you can load in your ESP. But yeah, I would wait on any fancy form of automation until you get ready to launch.

Class Description

Do you love to write or want to start writing, but think that if you do that you will always be broke?

Do you want to write full time and be the next Stephen King? Do you want to be a thought leader and get paid for your ideas like Tim Ferriss? Or are you an author/entrepreneur that wants to create a business from your writing or maybe simply be a better blog writer?

Did you know that the most writers, do not make more than $1,000 a year off their writing?

Jeff Goins, author of, Real Artists Don't Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age, debunks the myth that if you are creative person, including being a writer, that you need to be broke.

In his class, he will first teach you how to stop self sabotaging and get you to break that mental block so you can see yourself as a profitable writer.

He will then help you identify which type of writer you want to be to set you on a path to profitability. He will teach you the strategies to get going in each of these paths.

After you pick your course of action, he will then get you to 1k a month, then 10k a month, and soon you will be able to do what you love AND make money doing it.

  • The first 500 people to purchase, Starving to Successful: How to Become a Full-Time Writer, will be receiving a free copy of Jeff's new book Real Artists Don't Starve: Timeless Strategies for Thriving in the New Creative Age. 
  • Books will be mailed to the billing address on file. 
  • Restrictions and Rules apply - visit for full details


Caroline DePalatis

I had the opportunity to be LIVE for this class recording. An amazing experience, for sure! I came to this day knowing about Jeff Goins' work but not familiar with CreativeLive. Now I know I will explore more classes. THIS class offers so much value to the participant. You will gain a boatload of confidence and terrific ideas, as well as learn a step-by-step process to take action on your idea and make it something you can be proud of and grow your creative idea upon. Jeff's teaching is clear, inspiring and actionable. Unequivocally worth the investment.

Caroline DePalatis

I had the opportunity to be LIVE for this class recording. An amazing experience, for sure! I came to this day knowing about Jeff Goins' work but not familiar with CreativeLive. Now I know I will explore more classes. THIS class offers so much value to the participant. You will gain a boatload of confidence and terrific ideas, as well as learn a step-by-step process to take action on your idea and make it something you can be proud of and grow your creative idea upon. Jeff's teaching is clear, inspiring and actionable. Unequivocally worth the investment.

Corrie Ann Gray

Jeff has a terrific delivery method of his material. He is passionate about writing and truly wants to help other writers make a living doing what they love. This class, his books, and his courses are all worth your time and money. Lots of call to actions that, if you do them, will help you become a successful and prolific writer. Thank you Jeff! You rock!