So this past Friday morning, I got a pretty angry reply to my most recent email — and I even sort of deserved it (though I would argue we all deserve a little grace and maybe some benefit of the doubt right now, and it costs nothing to be kind).

This subscriber reminded me that, a couple of years ago, he had clicked a link saying that he didn’t want to hear when I had something to sell — when I opened courses or discounted a book or that sort of thing. Then here comes this email “shoving” my course down his throat. He marked me as Spam and sent a reply to let me know that I had violated his trust and he would never buy anything from me again.

For those of you who didn’t see it, in the opening section of that email, I mentioned that my email went out late because I had been up all night creating worksheets* for one of my courses. I included an image of them, because who doesn’t love a worksheet*, right?

I’ll tell you who: this guy who emailed me on Friday.

Including a picture of the worksheets* was “manipulative” and meant to “pressure people into spending money,” and on top of all that, when I mentioned the course, I made it a hyperlink. (This is a hyperlink.)

If I sound a little cranky, it’s because he was right, and that makes me feel defensive. He was right. I had told him I wouldn’t talk about things that would cost him money, and then, because I was tired and feeling kind of loopy, I just flat-out forgot to exclude the people on this list who had indicated that they did not want to hear about things I was selling.

Now, when I created this list, it was important to me that I not be one of those relentless fake-scarcity fear-based funnel-hacking upselling but-wait-there’s-more internet marketers — you know the type.

bro marketers collage
Collage from this very excellent article by Amanda Bond.
Arrow drawing and typography done by me.

So, in the past, I’ve given folks the chance to opt out of any mentions of courses, price drops on books, cross-promotions, etc., and when I compose my emails, I use an ActiveCampaign feature (conditional content blocks) that allows me to hide any part of the email from people who meet one or more specific conditions. (Great feature, by the way.)

It seemed like a good idea at the time; I didn’t want to send sales pitches to people who didn’t want them.

But here’s the thing: I don’t send sales pitches.

I send chatty, casual emails with:

You know … things people like. I don’t think I’ve ever sent an email that was just a sales pitch and nothing else.

But — and this is an important but — these Snausages don’t buy themselves, guys.

Do you want Mocha to starve?

So sometimes I’ll stick in a paragraph about a course or a book or a product — something that will earn me a little of that filthy, filthy lucre. Heck, sometimes a few words in a sentence will reference one of my things, so I make it a hotlink. I shouldn’t feel guilty about that, or work as hard as I do to protect a relatively small portion of the list from it.

Hiding paragraphs behind conditionals — and then rewriting the email so people who can’t see that paragraph don’t know something is missing — is a pain in my butt, honestly isn’t worth the effort, and seems ridiculous to me.

You’re grown. (Tip of the hat to Chrishaun Keller-Hanna, whose voice I hear in my head every time I say this.) I don’t have to protect you from the horrifying knowledge that I sometimes exchange goods and services for money.

And if you can’t scroll past a course opening notice or book for sale without needing a vial of smelling salts, you gotta toughen up!

Thanks for reading all this! If you return to the email that sent you here, there will be an Unsubscribe button for you … but I hope you stick around.


*I really wanted to add (blerksheets!) here, but I was afraid y’all would be like:

If you were one of the many (literally dozens!) of people who replied to my last email to tell me you cracked up at my delirious blerksheet goof, just know this: every time I type the word “worksheet” in one of my emails, I will think of you, and the laughter, and all the good times we had.