Survey – do you have a mailing list?

Do you have a mailing list? If you’ve just said no, you’re not alone.

99% of people who want to run a business (or already do so) when asked that question will say no.

Well I WANT YOU to have your own mailing list. I’ll explain why later on.

The importance of having a mailing list was something I’ve known for a while, but it was only 12 months ago that I started to build my list in earnest. Almost immediately, I realised that this was something I’d been missing out on for 3 years in business online.

Why the blimmin eck didn’t I start earlier? I just shake my head now and realise it as one of the biggest mistakes I’ve made.

I’ll tell you a little bit about what I used to do. Just a quick potted history of my career. I’m sorry if you find this boring, you can just skip to the survey if you like.

After leaving school, I went to work for a couple of small steel companies that were part of a larger group. I worked in wages first and then I moved into time and motion study – it was that last bit I didn’t like. I was nobody’s friend.

After 4 years of that, I went to a local technical college for a 6 month course in computing, and then found myself working self-employed through a management consultancy and contracted out to Land Rover which is just a few miles from where I live now.

After 5 years (!) as a contractor, I was offered a full time job as they realised they’d invested a lot of money in me and now couldn’t afford me to leave.

(Hah! I wonder how many thousands of times that’s happened in large companies?)

Feeling settled, I took a pay cut and signed the dotted line, and spent the next 16 years there.

Looking back, I suppose I had a pretty good career there by anyone’s standards. My biggest claim to fame was being the data manager for the projects that introduced both the current Range Rover and its predecessor, both times reporting directly to the project managers.

And I moved round the company a lot. I think I worked in all of the functions at one point or another.

The last few years though I wasn’t so settled and knew I needed to be doing my own thing. So eventually I left.

But before that, in early 2003 I started dabbling on eBay buying and selling used mobile (cell) phones. A hobby while learning the ropes.

Then in mid 2003 I decided to up the ante a little.

I’d spotted that chemical glow sticks were selling quite well and were fetching a decent price, around £12.50 ($25.00) for a tube of 100 eight inch sticks including £2.50 shipping.

So I did a bit of research…

I found a Chinese manufacturer that seemed reputable and after a bit of email tennis I committed to spend £3,000 ($6,000 USD) which I sent them by wire transfer.

I’d never done anything like this before and to say I was worried that I was never going to hear from them again was an understatement. I knew it was going to take 3-4 weeks to put my order together and then another 4 weeks before it would arrive by ship here in the UK.

I fretted about it until I received the bill of lading and the other documents via Fedex. Phew!

Then I fretted about all sorts of other things.

Where was I going to put all these boxes and boxes and BOXES of glow sticks? I cleared my garage.

How was I going to get everything through customs? I looked around and found a local freight forwarding agent that would not only clear customs for me, but would also deliver to my door.

(I didn’t even know they were called freight forwarding agents until a couple of days of research.)

So one day at the beginning of October, a 17 tonne lorry came down my sleepy little road and a mildly exasperated driver “they should have sent a 7 tonner down here!” dropped off something like 100,000 glow sticks – 1,000 tubes.

(EDIT: It was actually 200,000 sticks and 2,000 tubes – I got my calculator out! 🙂 )

I can’t remember exactly how many there were, but that seems about right from memory.

I can still feel the emotion of looking at all these boxes of glow sticks all the way up to the roof of the garage and thinking “What have I done? I’ll never sell all these! What a waste of money!”

I worked out how much each tube had cost me, including import duty and delivery all the way from China to my front door. £1.50 ($3.00) per tube.

I sold them at the going rate on eBay for £10.00 ($20.00) per tube, plus £2.50 shipping.

In 6 weeks they’d all gone. And I’d turned over a 600% profit on my initial £3,000.

That was it. With a sudden £18,000 ($36,000!!!) in my pocket, I *knew* I could make it on my own one way or another.

Things have been a bit bumpy since then, and there’s been more than a few times when we’ve wondered if we could meet the mortgage payment.

But here I still am.

No one said it would be easy.


I could have made my life so much easier if only I’d started building my mailing list from day one.

You see, I was selling both on eBay and on a couple of web sites I owned (I’ve sold one since I stopped selling glow sticks). Two thirds of my sales were coming from eBay.

About 20% of those eBay sales were from repeat customers.

Now here’s the REALLY annoying thing. Some of the repeat customers were buying from my main glow sticks web site (cheaper prices), but the majority would only buy from eBay even though there was no advantage for them to do so.

It was a habit.

So they were paying more money, and I was having to pay eBay fees. Madness.

IF, if, if…

If I had a mailing list, things would have been a lot different.

I would have been able to run special offers, special bundles, you name it, and let my customers know exactly where to take advantage of those deals.

I must have lost thousands in whatever currency you care to choose, just because I didn’t have a list.

So, going back to the start again.

I WANT YOU to have your own mailing list.

Why? Well, you always have to look for the WIIFM – What’s In It For Me?

This is the motivator that gets people to do things. If you can point out the WIIF THEM, then people are more likely to go do it.

I *hope* with my (true) story you can now see the real benefit of having a mailing list.

And the reason I want you to start building a mailing list immediately is because with a list, you join the game. People start to take you seriously when you do a promotion that results in $4,000 in sales for them from a single email.

And of course you get half of that…

Do I have your attention?

I want you to build your own mailing list because it’s in BOTH our interests for you to have one.

I know from the affiliate payments I make each month that those that make the most money are those with a list of their own.

And with you as a list owner, I could be sending you some of those big fat juicy (sorry) affiliate commissions.

I have a series of new products that I’ll be releasing in the next few weeks and months, and the bigger your list, the more of my products you’re likely to sell.

(Yes I’ve been very busy and yes I know I should only be working on one project at a time…)

There’s a double whammy WIIFM there. The bigger your list, the more you profit. The more you profit, the more I profit.

Win-win. I love that.

So, this is where we start. Go fill in the survey and we can see where we stand today. I’ll share the results and analysis with everyone that participates.

And then you and me will talk about list building.

BTW – the survey script is one of my upcoming products. Very useful… 😉

Posted by Frank Haywood


Jack Morehouse

Building an opt-in list is my main focus at this time. I have to manage that activity along with sourcing products and maintaining and updating my site(s) in order to attract new opt-ins. It certainly is a handful!!

The Grumpy Old Chef

Hi Frank,

Very interesting post and very timely survey.

I’ve been struggling along for 2 years without a list and have finally been talked into getting one going by a little Scottish barbarian we both know. LOL

I’ve got my 400 + sign ups in 3 weeks – just under – and am getting stuck right into it.

I KNOW that it is the best move I’ve made since starting online.

If you’re going to help – I’m all ears!

The Grumpy Old Chef.

Gerry Lennon

Nice idea, frank, and nice of you to share a bit of your history with us. It’s a change from the “look at me!” attitude a lot of IM “gurus” seem to have.

Mark Bridges

Hiya Frank – Great learning experience! Reminds me of a similar experience involing 2300 jackets. But aside from that, I have a question. I know it may sound a little “dumb”, but how could a list help me with a local, town directory web site I am building? I just bought the domain name, but I want to plan ahead. Any ideas?

Hi Frank, liked the article very much. Makes interesting reading, as I am about to look into creating mailing lists for one or two projects at the moment.

Thanks for the info and good luck in all you do 🙂


Thanks for the info, very helpful stuff!

Kathleen Gresham

Your survey form is very nice. (I filled out the survey.) For those of us who are busy and stressed out and not quite thinking straight (or just me?) it would be nice to tell us whether we are ranking in ascending or descending order.

I at first was putting the highest score (8) on the most important thing. Then I thought of David Letterman’s Top 10 (WWDLD???) and decided to put the most important thing as number 1.

Am I the only dummy?

And speaking of dummies. I don’t really understand how trackbacks work. What do I **do** with that Trackback uri? (I’m willing.)

Amin Motin | Get a free Ad Sense site

Frank, a brutally honest and very interesting account of what got you to where you are today. I think many people can relate to being stuck in a job and realizing that they could do better for their family if they struck out on their own – but are afraid to do so.

And it’s good to see that you admit you ‘wasted’ several years of opportunity even when you did strike out. A reminder that it’s ‘never too late’ to change your circumstances.

We’ve all heard that phrase ‘the money is in the list’ so many times that it almost becomes inaudible, but it does good to remind people that every day spent not building your list is a day spent not building your future.

I’m looking forward to seeing your new products – any chance you could tell us more about them?

Jonathan Paston

Hi Frank

Thanks for revealing your ‘life story’. Everyone likes reading a story. Quite eventful, especially committing $6000 by wire transfer – not sure I would have risked that!

I was not quite sure on one element of your survey. You asked for ranking but did not indicate whether ‘1’ was highest. I assumed it was, and ‘8’ was lowest in priority, but would have been happier to know that I got it right.

The survey is a neat way of collecting opt-ins too, I guess.

best regards

Hey Frank,

Thats a great story! I dabbled on the internet as a hobby for 7 years. About 4 months ago I decided to go full time and started building a list, and all I can say is WOW! I should have started building a list years ago! A list has really given my business a shot in the arm and now im earning almost the same as I was at my full time job. Having a passion for Fly Fishing I have even had alot of sparetime to do that now while still being able to pay the bills.

GREAT story Frank. I’ll have to bore you with mine, one day. A lot less successful, mind.
Going to do the survey now, but it just occurred to me, I haven’t noticed an export facility in SmartDD, or a way of sending further emails to the “list” produced by that script.
All the best,

Mike Russen

Hi frank,

Smashing story – it’s mad we have a lot in common although have never met. i too used to buy wholesale Jewellry and inscence fri India and flog on eBay and in to businesses in the California and London.

Reading your story brought a smile to my ugly mush as I remebered doing much the same as you.

Thanks for lightening my day.

Best wishes


Hi Frank
FINALLY I’m impressed by someone (you!), who gives a honest approach to this “Internet Minefield”!!! Your story impressed me cos speaking as an ex (due to a drunk driver disabling me) HGV1 driver I could relate to your mention of the 17 tonne driver! Anyway, after Three Years “dabbling” on Ebay with the occasional sale and “messing about”
with “Attempting” to build websites, plus reading hundreds of email offers
from so-called “Guru’s” promising to make me millions of £ or $ within weeks, I’ve received your email, honest, sincere and promising!
I’m certainly interested
Best Wishes
Mike Riley

Hi Frank
what an inspirational story of not giving up

100,000 glow sticks in 6 weeks – tremendous, it must have been some feeling to make £18000

I too am just realizing the importance of building a list, for long term
profitability and growth

will get stuck into the survey and hopefully gain more momentum

ps Smart DD rocks !

regards and thanks

concert reviews


Thanks for the blog posting. I’ll try to incorporate this idea into my own sales. it probably would make a huge difference!

BTW, I love your script for automated delivery. since readying your sales copy, I’ve gone robots to go through others peoples sites with ebooks, and I’m getting so much free info that way. It is very important to protect that link!



It’s always great to ready someone’s story. Thanks for that.

I started looking into im about 1 1/2 yrs ago, learning, subscribing, fretting, etc. Joined EasyAuctionProfits, largely because of the SmartDD bonus, and finally got some ebook listings up on ebay. Sales send them to download/squeeze page, so am on the way to list building there.

I also have participated in the cookbook giveaway and have 100+ subscribers so far. Am in a bit of a panic about getting good content into a newsletter while selling them stuff! But that will work out.

Anyway, thanks again for sharing – and for your great SmartDD product!

Dale Calder

Thank you Frank. I look forward to the survey results coming through.



Steve Roberts

Hi Frank
Thanks for that candid review of your experiences. I am still a novice but have commenced building my list, around 200 so far, and that is my main focus at the moment, which really means that traffic generation goes hand in hand with list building.
Look forward to the results.
Cheers to all.
PS when I completed the survey the numbers did not show up in the boxes – is there a reason for that?

Steve Roberts

Hi again,
I just did the survey again and the numbers were recorded this time.

Georjina Sinese

Completed the survey first and I’m anxious to start building a list. I have one for my blog, but there’s no way to tell who they are, what they are interested in (asked them…no one responded) and so I keep writing until I relocate the blog from Blogger, then I’m going full steam ahead because I know this niche is profitable.

Thanks and waiting anxiously for the list building information.

Hi Frank;

like you a dabbler with the job getting in the way. My problem though was I was self employed supplying direct services – an international sports photojournalist constantly on the road – you don’t work you don’t get paid and it was really difficult to move the goalposts when you have a business to feed as well as your family.

Sllowwwwly turning the corner and have started list building again. I say again because I did build a small niche list …. and then let it wither and die.

Hangs head in shame…


Thanks for sharing and writing this post Frank. The fact that I am on your list is enough reason that not only building a list but maintaining it by overdelivering to your subscribers (like you always do) is the way to go. It is not about the size or quantity but about the quality of your list.

About to go take the survey now.

Happy Friday :-),


I am inspired by your story.I have a very similar one.My Internet Marketing skills leave alot to be desired but I am learning.You are one of the few that I have stumbled upon(lucky) that has offered true value and support for your products and the ones you recommend. A customer for life.

Thanks Frank.
A great story and some good advice. If I could add one thing it would be to automate your list from the start. When my list was in the low hundreds it was easy enough to handle sign ups and unsubscribes manually. But now in the thousands I have had to automate things. It would have been much easier to do that from the start.
But I guess that’s the way we learn!

Good advice, list building is very important and hand help keep customers coming back as well as letting buyers know when specials are available.

Free eBooks – Hundreds of Subjects

Thanks for the opportunity to help, Frank. I’m looking forward to seeing your conclusions.

Cheers, Chris

Frank, if I didn’t know better, we could be “twins”. I was in the same position as you were, including the ‘lost years’ without building a list of my own. I’ve just started, with the help of SmartDD, to build ‘my’ list. I look forward to your survey results, as well as your upcoming teachings. Thank you for everything.

Easy Profit Auctions List building Package

I think everyone who is involved with internet marketing know it’s important to build a list. But, how many of us really work on getting that list built? I know I’m guilty of not focusing on it enough.

I always love hearing the stories of those who have found success.

Thanks for sharing,


Frank Haywood


I’m sorry for not replying sooner to your comments, I’ve had a few things going on.

Here we go then, in order…

Jack Morehouse : It’s a tremendous handful for sure, but I think you have a "breakthrough moment" which comes from just doing what you need to do. It then becomes second nature and all gets easier from then on.

The Grumpy Old Chef: I AM going to help, I’ve today started my 7 Products in 7 Days which I mean to inspire people to just get something done and start building a list.

I’ll be doing an analysis of what I’ve done and why afterwards, and also point out things I could have done better.

Gerry Lennon: Hey! Look at me! Look what I’m doing. 😉 But make sure you COPY it and build a list yourself.

Mark Bridges: I have one of those – it’s a classifieds site for Solihull where I live. It’s something I tried a couple of years ago and it’s just floundered even though I spent a lot of time and money on it.

I must be doing something wrong, but I’m not sure what it is. I’m very close to closing it all down and using the licence (Esvon Classifieds) to build a different site altogether.

Some sites work, some flop. It’s all a learning experience.

If yours works out, please let me know what you did!

Simon: The list is the most important thing you will ever do for your business!

ToolShackDirect: You’re welcome I think. I have my eye on you… 😉

Kathleen Gresham: Thanks for that feedback, I fixed it! 1 is most important. A trackback is a bloggy thing. 😉

If you’re referencing a blog by linking to it, then the trackback link lets the blog know that someone has linked to it if the site is another blog (I think). The best answer must be out there on the web somewhere.

Amin Motin: I’ve had friends and casual acquaintances say straight to my face they wish they had the guts to do what I’ve done. I look at it the other way. There’s no way I could stick a job out until I reached retirement age – in my book, the sheer hell of that far outweighs the (at times) severe risks I’ve taken.

Things don’t always work out either. My garage has about 500 battery chargers in it all with the wrong pins because the Chinese supplier didn’t take the care to do their job properly. The samples were correct, but the order was wrong.

It would cost too much to send them all back, so eventually I’ll get round to selling them at less than cost price, but you have to take the rough with the smooth.

Issues like that are amongst the motivating reasons for me to become involved with digital products instead.

I’ll do a formal announce of my new products soon enough. One a day for this next week, all fairly small items which I’ll be using as list builders. That’s if I can meet my self-imposed timetable.

Straight after those, some of my bigger items will come between then and Christmas, including of course SmartDD v2.

Jonathan Paston: I’ve realised (eventually) that I’m a risk taker.

"If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got."

I’ve fixed the survey thank you – 1 is the most important. At the moment the survey software doesn’t tie in with autoresponders, but it’ll be something I add with a later release.

Brian Dew: Wow indeed. It’s just amazing isn’t it? 🙂

Trevor D: The new version of SmartDD has an export facility to output data either as CSV or an XML file. Paul is tonight doing a hand over to me for me to have a play with, so I’ll be taking a look at that in the next day or so.

We’ll be adding in a method of integrating autoresponders into another release in January. We would have done it for this version, but it’s a bigger job than we both thought.

Mike Russen: Hey! I like making people happy. 😉

Mike Riley: It’s a crock isn’t it? I’ve bought lorry loads (pun intended) of stuff meant to help me, but a lot of it is junk, sitting doing nothing on my hard drive.

The best things I’ve bought have been the self-improvement stuff, and the tools to help my business. A lot of the hyped up courses which promise thousands of dollars a day if you follow their formula are just nonsense.

There’s a big one launched today that I will probably receive a kazillion emails about. I haven’t checked that email account yet as I’ve been busy putting together my first product for release tomorrow.

I always ask myself these questions now. If the system they’re touting is so DAMN GOOD, why the HELL are they selling it? Why aren’t they just employing people left right and centre and mopping up all the competition?

Of course the answer is because it’s crap. It has vital elements missing that someone who isn’t the know wouldn’t spot.

Yes, I’m angry about it.

Ken: I sat down and thought about it afterwards. It was actually 200,000 glow sticks. I bought 1,000 tubes of mixed single colours in 100s, and 1,000 tubes of two colour bracelets in 100s. I think the single colours were something like $2.60 delivered, and the dual colours were $3.20.

And yes, it was an amazing feeling to earn what at the time would have been about 7 months salary for me, in just 6 weeks – I was earning £30,000 at the time ($60,000).

It paid off my credit cards and a loan.

My wife and I were exhausted. We were packing constantly and also had my wife’s mom packing for us too. Each day I’d take a trip to the post office with 3 or more big grey Post Office sacks of glow sticks. One of the guys at the store where the post office was used to call me Santa. 😉

For about 3 weeks during that 6 week period I was living on pain killers and 2 hours sleep a night. The pain killers were the only thing that kept me going through the sleep deprivation.

I’m amazed I’m telling anyone that let alone writing it up in a public place!

I think SmartDD rocks too! Version 2 is even better.

Adam – Concert Reviews: Too right it will. The big companies have been doing it for years – think about all the junk mail you get from the banks every week. For a while I was signed up to a mailing list with a gadget company and I was spending a small fortune! Every Friday they’d send out a mailing with new bits and pieces and special offers, and half the time I’d buy something from them. 😉

Judi: I’ve recently realised that the important thing is to be yourself. Just write about stuff that interests you but remember how you’d feel to be on the receiving end of the email. If you were reading it, what would interest you? The fact is there’s lots of people out there just like you interested in what you have to say.

Dale Calder: The results have surprised me. I don’t know whether they’re skewed because people don’t want to admit they’re not list building or whether I just happen to have a lot of list builders on my own list. Either way it’s really interesting!

I do know I have a lot of ebook sellers on my list, so it may be that they’re clued up.

We’ll see.

Steve Roberts: I completely agree. The traffic generation is something I’m working on too, and that’s one of the reasons for my 7 products in 7 days exercise.

Georjina Sinese: Create a new blog away from Blogger definitely, as you could have the plug pulled on that at any time because you don’t own it. But keep your Blogger blog going too with the odd reworked article and point the traffic that comes in there to your new self-owned blog.

When asking for info from people, remember the WIIFM – What’s In It For Me? Ask yourself, if you were asked for info, what would make you give it? A high perceived value freebie maybe?

Jim McRoy: Yep, I sympathise. We all sell our time one way or another, but when you’re self employed and providing a service, it’s additionally hard to change directions.

I don’t know, but I would have thought that in your niche there would be a ready supply of up and comings who would be willing to work intern style as unpaid employees just for the chance to learn stuff from you?

Get them to do the donkey work while they’re learning, leaving you with more time to focus on other things.

It’s a hard one I know, but again I would have thought that your niche with a list behind you would be a very profitable one.

Start telling people what you do. All those little tricks that it’s taken you years to pick up. Watch the respect you get.

Femi: That’s what my wife says about size and quantity… I’m only 5’4" you see. Everyone is bigger than me. 😉

I remember being in a Yates Wine Lodge (drinking cask beer) in Birmingham about 15 years ago with some friends (Karaoke night – hilarious). Two of us both about the same height went off to find the toilets. On our way back, we walked past two of the biggest blokes we’ve ever seen, probably basket ball players.

As we walked past we all burst out laughing, because it WAS funny. One of the blokes turned to his mate and said out loud "is there a circus in town?" – we just howled.

My mate with mock seriousness on his face said, I am NOT happy. I said "so which one are you then?" 😉

Anyway. Reminiscing.

Yes you’re spot on. Quality not quantity. When you have 200,000 subscribers on your list, you can maybe afford to send out quite a few junk emails and get away with it, but not when you have a few hundred.

It’s better to have an army of people saying how approachable, how reachable and how helpful you are than having people in awe of you because of your success.

Well, that’s what I believe anyway.

Frank: Well thank you kind sir, that really means a lot to me. I do try very hard. I don’t always get it right, but I do what I can.

James Foss: Yep. I had an Aweber account for about 4 months before I started filling it just so I could learn how to use it properly. And that’s an interesting point, because once upon a time I would have said host it yourself, but it’s getting hard to get emails past all the filters now.

Aweber appear to have a very good reputation at delivering emails. Whether people read them is another thing.

Mike: Yup! There are lots of things you can do if you have a mailing list that you just couldn’t do otherwise.

Chris – Free eBooks – Hundreds of Subjects: It won’t be long. I’d hoped that more people would complete it. Maybe I’ll offer a freebie with the next one. 😉

Vern Brown: Twins. Okay, I’m Danny DeVito, which must make you the big handsome one. 🙂

Mike – Easy Profit Auctions List Building Package: you’re right. I should have been working on it harder, and I should have approached it differently. I’ve learned that now. Too much bad advice I think.

Things are changing. Stay on my list and watch what happens.

ALL: Thank you very much for completing the survey, and thank you for your comments. I’m really looking forward to meeting you one day, maybe in 2008.



John Garner

I wonder if you missed my recent posting as it didn’t appear on your site.

Fascinating to hear about how you got here and your current project – and thanks for the tip off about Camtasia; I was thinking of buying it so that’s really useful. I’ll now start playing with it.

The offer of free beer still stands – when you’ve got time that is!

John Garner

[…] okay I’m up for that. Especially as I’ve already written it up here on my […]

“My garage has about 500 battery chargers in it all with the wrong pins because the Chinese supplier didn’t take the care to do their job properly. ”

That reminds me of “Only Fools and Horses”

Were you having a “Delboy” moment Frank?

Frank Haywood


You might start to see them appearing on eBay as we’re having a bit of a clear out of our garage.

Can you imagine my face after going through several weeks of negotiations (and samples) with the Chinese suppliers, when the wrong chargers turned up?

I knew I’d have trouble selling them and sure enough I did, but I guess the time has come for me to shift them at whatever price I can get…


Prospect List

Trying ot build a business on his own is somehting my husband has wanted to do for a long time but we have two kids and he is worried what will happen to us if it doesn’t work out, I will show him your site, I really want to encourage him to have more confidence.