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Episode 321: Anna David (That's Me!) on Always Remembering You’re The Messenger (Excerpt 2 From My Book)

Jul 22, 2020

This week's episode features a very special guest: me. I got such a great response to last week's episode that I decided to release a few more excerpts from my new book. This week, it's the 13th chapter, which is focused entirely on how to find, nurture and serve your readers.




Hi there. Welcome to Launch Pad podcast hosted by me, Anna David, where I talk to bestselling authors and the world's best marketers about how to launch a book successfully and what a book can do for your career. Now, I have a special treat for you last week. I gave you an excerpt from my new book. Y'all really liked it. So now I am giving you a second excerpt from my book, and I'm not doing this just to be self-indulgent, I'm doing this because if you listen to this podcast, this is the best information that you can get about it because it's information I've culled from my 20 years in publishing and from other guests on this podcast. So this is the 13th, the lucky 13th chapter from my new book, Make Your Mess Your Memoir, and it is focused entirely on how to find, nurture and serve your readers.

So just like last week, you are going to get me reading the book, but I'm going to be a lot more formal than I'm being now because it was an audio book and that has to be a little bit more professional than, than we get here. If you would like show notes, which is to say that actual section from the book and links go to, but you can also just go grab the book. You know, you can just go to Grab the book. I hope you love it. And I hope you like this excerpt.

Chapter 13: Always Remember That You’re The Messenger

Now that we’ve covered how to do a successful book launch, you need to get clear on what and how you want to do a book. Call this “expanding on your why.”

For that, one factor matters more than any other. 

You Need a Plan

Whether you want to use your book to create a coaching, consulting or other online business or to build an already existing business, the rules are the same: you need to get used to saying your message over and over again and you need to accept that some of what you’ll try to do will not work overnight.

When I first decided I wanted to have a career I controlled, I thought creating online classes was the way to go. I bought courses by all the people who teach others how to become successful with online classes, studied them thoroughly, acquired all the software they recommended and spent months upon months creating and recording courses.

The webinars I did to sell them were nerve-wracking— somehow far more nerve-wracking than going live on CNN—and yet, they didn’t work. I’d spend months creating and promoting a webinar only to have it sell a course or two.

I also tried coaching a group of students. I had an easier time signing people up for those programs, but it was still a struggle.

The day that one of the students in my coaching program told me she hated the program and found me useless, I had coffee with a new friend. I told him about this woman and how she had demanded a refund because my (quite inexpensive) program was too pricey. I then told him that people like Darren were asking me to publish their books.

He looked at me, a bit dumbfounded, and said, “You’re telling me that you have wealthy people with abundant mentalities who treat you well and value your work and then you have people without abun­dant mentalities telling you that you’re worthless and that you’re putting your effort into the latter?”

I nodded. I hadn’t realized it until that moment.

From that day forward, I switched my focus from the latter group to the former and that’s when business started booming. That is officially when I created my new playing field.

While I still coach students and make compara­tively little money doing it, the fact that I’m not dependent on their payments for my income means I only allow people into the program who I sense have abundant mentalities, no matter what they can afford to pay.

A few months into coaching my current group of students, I realized something else: what I was learning from working with them was giving me invaluable insight into what my audience wanted. I’ve now set up a certification program so that those who work with me can spread the Launch Pad method to even more people.

Coaching students also gives me unbelievable support. Whether I’m asking if they’ll review or comment on something or read one of my books, this small but mighty group shows up with a passion that almost makes me cry. And that brings me to some­thing else.

You Need a Small But Mighty Group

We’ve already talked about how you need an audi­ence.  It’s going to start small, just like it will for anyone whose last name doesn’t start with “Kardash.” But you need them as much as you need your message.

So how do you get them?

I have a course on how to build an audience, and its main message is this: it takes way longer than you might think so you better make it fun.

Building an Audience 1: Instagram

Let’s first talk about the platform I’ve found to be most effective: Instagram.

No, Instagram is not just for mindless scrolling, followed by Ben & Jerry’s-accompanied sessions of comparing and despairing. Some of my biggest clients have come from Instagram, including my first client Darren, who found me from doing a hashtag search for recovery.

I resisted IG for so long, telling myself I was a words person; the resistance just meant I was late to the party. Still, Instagram is not a requirement for every­one. I know people with companies that pull in millions who wouldn’t know how to sign onto Instagram and I know people with millions of follow­ers who don’t make a penny. If you’re in the former category, ignore this. If you’re not, here’s what I suggest:

Figure out your message. Sound familiar? Well, Instagram is an amazing place to hone and perfect whatever it is you have to tell the world. If you’re thinking, “I have more than one message,” great. Now pick the one you believe in most passionately and that you also believe could eventually net you the highest income. The message I always try to convey through Instagram is “share your story” and I sprinkle that in most posts. Your message could be “recovery is possi­ble” or “self-love is everything” or any damn thing you want. Just know what it is so you can share it.

Don’t only share your message. Before you go calling me a hypocrite, know this: people are much more likely to care about your “thing” if they know you. So share yourself—your pets, your significant other, your penchant for karaoke, whatever the hell makes you you. I recommend peppering in some personal material every three or four posts.

Be consistent. As a non-psychic who doesn’t work at Instagram, I can’t tell you how the algorithm works. But I can tell you that it favors people who use the app the most. This doesn’t mean you have to post multiple times a day but if you want to grow, I would aim to post at least three times a week. You can go crazy using different apps to try to determine what time of day is best for you, like I did for a short time, but you can probably just observe when your posts tend to get the most interaction and determine when and what to post from there.

Be brave. I’ll be honest: I feel unbelievably vain posting photo after photo of myself and the people who unfollow me every week (I tend to get as many unfollows as follows, therefore remaining at a steady 20,000-ish followers) surely agree. But I do it not only because I am unbelievably vain but also because it works. Yes, my boyfriend is tired of taking 20 photos of me in a certain pose so that I can pick the one I believe is most Insta-worthy but if it’s going to net me a $50,000 client, I’m going to continue to do it. And I don’t take it nearly as far as others do. A woman I know who has millions of Instagram followers says to really grow on the platform, you have to be polarizing. You have to, she says, be willing to have people hate you. Since I’m a fragile flower who doesn’t think inspiring hatred would be worth it even if it made my audience grow, I resist this method. I just post what allows me to feel honest while still honoring my own privacy. Speaking of which… 

Post what feels honest: In case it’s not obvious, the captions we post are just as, if not more, important than the photos. I used to judge people who used all 2200 characters until I had the experience of posting blogs on Medium that no one read, then re-posting the same content on Instagram and getting an amazing response. Instagram, for better or worse, is where people are consuming content these days and while a picture may be worth a thousand words, it’s far easier to convey your message through the words you put below your photos.

Talk to your people: While it can be easy to get caught up in numbers, never forget that every single person who’s following you made the choice to follow you. How nice is that? You may choose to follow them back or you may choose not to but if someone comments, make your best effort to respond to that comment. Not only do more comments show the Instagram algorithm that followers are responding to your post, but it also shows people you value them.

Stay on message: If you’re trying to build a busi­ness, don’t post bikini photos. That may be obvious but I can name a handful of people who claim to want the former but do the latter. I get it; for certain people, a bikini photo is going to get a lot more likes than an inspiring business quote, but staying on message and building your story is so much more important than the validation that comes from those likes.


Use the features: Instagram is constantly busting out new features and the algorithm allegedly loves to favor those who use them. Stories are those short videos and photos you can post by pressing on your image in the top left corner. If you have over 10,000 followers, you have a “swipe up” option, which means that users can actually click on a link you provide. (A standard Instagram caption doesn’t allow for click-able links.) You can also “go live” on Instagram, add­ing other people to chat with or interview. For longer videos, you can use IGTV.

Building an Audience 2: Emails

Make no mistake: starting and maintaining an email list is no small feat. It requires dedication and persistence. It is also the best way there is to build an audience. So how do you do it? 

Sign up for an email provider account: There are countless companies that offer this service—from Mailchimp to Constant Contact to Drip to Kajabi (what I use and love). Most of us start out on Mailchimp, not only because they offer free accounts but also because it’s the simplest. Once your list grows and you want to start doing more advanced things, like segmenting which people purchase certain offers or click on certain things, you can move on to one of the others.

Come up with a lead magnet: Once you have an email provider, you need something to incentivize people to sign up for your list. Whether it’s a quiz or a 10-step guide or anything else, create a PDF that’s valuable to your ideal newsletter subscriber. Just put­ting SIGN UP FOR MY LIST on your site is unlikely to get the sort of traction that SIGN UP FOR MY AWESOME THING THAT YOU FOR SURE WANT will. Settling on the right lead magnet isn’t easy; I’ve probably tried out a dozen and while some have worked well, I’ve never had one that was a gusher that inspired thousands of people to sign up for my list. It really is one email address at a time.

Craft a nurture sequence: Once someone’s on your list, they may not have a clue who you are. That’s why it’s a good idea to warm them up to you. Set up a series of emails that go out every few days, starting the minute they sign up, slowly explaining who you are and what you do or offer. It’s ideal to provide a great deal of value in those emails, whether it’s providing another free download, links to your most popular blog posts or special offers on something you sell. 

Write your subscribers! This may seem obvious but you need to communicate with your subscribers regularly—ideally once a week. Just think about when you receive an email from some company you don’t even remember. “Delete” followed by “unsubscribe,” am I right? Try to provide your audience with infor­mation, stories or links every week so that they’ll want to open your emails. If writing them every week seems laborious, consider this: it’s going to get easier the longer you do it. Also: you’re a writer! So this is good practice, right? Plus, this is the beginning of your 1000 true fan base so it’s worth it. 

Track what works: Once you’re committed to writ­ing your subscribers, start looking at what they like. Check out your open rates and try not to get discouraged. The average open rate is between 15-25%; if I get over 30%, I’m giddy. Experiment with different subject lines. The highest open rate I ever got was for an email with the subject line “Oops!” (I had just sent a different one by mistake so I was telling subscribers not to open that one.) My second most popular was “Can you help me?”

Conclusion: subscribers like mistakes. They also like to help. They don’t like to be marketed to. A successful copywriter I know recommends crafting subject lines that sound like an email from Mom; the example she gives is “dinner on Sunday?”