An experiment in selling bullshit, plus a brand new website launch

As my first post back since I wrote about unconventional marketing tactics using your testimonials (in October 2012!) I wanted to give a bit of background on where I’ve been, what’s been happening behind the scenes and where we’re going from here (spoiler alert: onward and upward).

Over the past couple of years, I have spent the majority of my time in the freelance world, working on client projects and being generally miserable. Things haven’t went as well as I had hoped and I have wanted to get as far away from freelancing as possible, so I spent zero time here doing anything worthwhile.

And for that, I apologize to you, because you read this blog to find encouragement and advice on how to grow your freelance business. I just wasn’t in a place to help you, especially since I couldn’t even help myself.

Experimenting with selling bullshit

Over the past year or so, I have let this place sit dormant and never thought much of it. In that time, I decided to test something out; I hear marketing experts all the time talking about how building an email list is the most solid foundation for building a sustainable blog that can earn you a full time income.

With my goal of building a passive income from this blog, I thought I would test out the exact opposite advice they give you, which is to send 100% value to your list and never push sales.

So I sent nothing but sales emails, 25 in the last 6 months alone, and I found some interesting results.

Yes, there were sales that trickled in. Yes, some people would count that as a blessing and be happy that every time they hit “send” on a newsletter, a couple of sales would come in.

But this resulted in me losing 25% of my subscribers and alienating the rest to the point that my open rates were at 7% and the click rate was under 1%.

Those are horrible numbers.

I even had a subscriber email me the following:

OK: newsletters = cool
NOT OK: sending me the same salesmail over and over again.
DEFINITELY NOT OK: sending me the same salesmail over and over again while I ALREADY BOUGHT THE PRODUCT

Stop doing this! Seriously!

As you can see, I pissed people off and in turn, I lost out on a lot of opportunities to build trust with my subscribers and have them happy to buy products I put up for sale.

An end of that newsletter list

Over the past 3 years I have built the list to over 2,000 subscribers. That’s not a huge number but since I did practically zero promotion for the list, I counted that as a huge win.

After this experiment, I want to earn the trust back from you, so I am deleting that entire list. If you had signed up to it before, I apologize for making you a guinea pig in my experiment and you will never get another email from me through that list again.

A new list, and a new focus

I have since started a new list, which you can sign up for below if you’d like. This list will send out 1 email per week and it will be freelance advice only. No emails geared towards selling you anything, no spam – no bullshit.

And now, a brand new website launch

Last night I pushed the new version of this website live for the world to see and it was one of the greatest moments in my life from the last 5+ years of running this blog. A refreshed and updated look with an easier readability, less clutter and a responsive WordPress theme make this a place I want to spend more time now.

before-and-after

The comments are also opened back up, which was another experiment I had with this blog that went horribly wrong. So feel free to read over past articles and leave a comment on them, and keep an eye out for new content that will be published again, by myself, on a regular basis.

Something else I noticed

Over the past few years, there were three prominent freelance blogs out in the wild that people (even myself) looked to for advice and information on building a solid freelance career: Freelance Switch, Freelance Folder and Guerrilla Freelancing.

Well, as we can see by visiting the www.freelanceswitch.com website, it’s been closed down and merged with their microlancer website, and the www.freelancefolder.com website looks more like one big giant spam blog now after ownership changed hands again.

So where does that leave this blog?

Without a solid place for freelancers to interact and read about freelance tips, marketing advice and how to grow your business into a solo success story, I want to position this blog to be your go-to resource for freelance advice.

I will be writing up a post in the upcoming week digging into the freelance blog situation more and breaking down my thoughts on everything, but in the meantime, if there’s any topic you’d like to see covered more, don’t hesitate to leave a comment or contact me and I will make it happen for you.

Thank you for listening, and thank you for sticking with this blog throughout the years. I appreciate you.

Here’s to a successful 2014 for all of us stuck in the trenches together!

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Author: Mike Smith

Mike Smith is a WordPress designer & developer at GUERRILLA and the owner and main blogger here on Guerrilla Freelancing.

Comments

  1. Thank you for being honest. I am very disappointed by the number of freelance websites that have become pure spam or just plain selling shit to the masses. It’s like everyone swallowed a giant spoon of “gimmie money niche website”. It’s hard to find those websites that truly want to help people, focus on that and you will do fine.

  2. dennyzhang says:

    Mike, why would you do that. Just don’t get your point.

    Another interesting point is interesting for me: your website doesn’t have any google adsense.

    Just checked guerrillafreelancing.com in alexa rank. It looks good.

    Keep happy, keep profit during your journey of freelancing, Mike.

    • Mike Smith says:

      Thanks Denny. Yes, I don’t have adsense on this blog, because I believe that covering your site in ads isn’t the most beneficial way of profiting from the blog.

      As you can see, I have a membership area (The Trenches) and also sell guides, so I would rather leave the site ad-free and focus on great content.

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