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Be Ruthless

By Jessica Albon

Be Ruthless I don’t have much of a green thumb, but every year, I fill a flower bed with zinnia seeds. And every year, they sprout up in clumps–lots of baby plants in one spot, lots of dirt in another.

According to the package, I’m supposed to thin these clumps. And though I know it leads to healthier plants, more flowers, and a better-looking flower bed, every year I avoid the task until it’s too late.

Two weeks ago, I sent an email to my list sharing my brand new report, “Unmask Your Irresistibility “ For whatever reason, the link didn’t work for everyone. (Sorry about that!)

Most of my readers were delightful about it–they sent me a quick emails telling me they really wanted to read the new report and asking if I could send it directly.

But one reader was less-than-delightful. He was pissed. (“Outraged,” actually, he said in his email.) In his view, I had deliberately wasted his time by sending a broken link. He even went so far as to suggest that I had intentionally sent a broken link so that readers would email me.

To be clear: I get more than enough email ;-). I love hearing from readers, but I don’t need to manipulate anyone into emailing me.

I emailed him back, apologizing and letting him know that the link worked for some people, and it certainly wasn’t my intention to send out a link that wouldn’t work for him. His response? He called me a liar. (Yikes!)

For me, that’s an automatic disconnect.

See, if I’m worried about one or two readers on my newsletter list, that skews what I write. If I’m trying to prove this fella wrong, I’m not focused on writing great content.

If you want to unmask your irresistibility, it’s crucial that you get really, really choosy about who you let on your list. And that means being ruthless. It means creating your own policy for Who’s Not Allowed.

What kinds of behaviors get someone automatically unsubscribed? When they’re rude? When they don’t leave their first name on your subscribe form? When they’re a competitor? When they criticize your grammar?

For me, I’m pretty relaxed about this–the only readers who get unsubscribed are those who are pretty outrageous or a clear mis-match. But that’s because I like hearing from my readers when I make mistakes (keeps me honest), and I genuinely like many of my competitors.

Your newsletter list isn’t supposed to be a free-for-all just because it’s free. It’s a service you offer. It’s something you invest your time and money in to make it wonderful. And just as you need to show up fully in this commitment to your list, you also need to take full responsibility for who’s on your list.

That means getting really ruthless with who’s already subscribed. It means pruning out the subscribers who don’t belong, for whatever reason.

Just as thinning those zinnia plants helps the plants that remain grow healthy and strong, so does thinning your newsletter list help your Tribe grow healthy and strong.

Today, I challenge you to be ruthless. Make your Who’s Not Allowed list and then cull at least 15 people from your list. (If that doesn’t seem like nearly enough, feel free to do more!) Maybe you’ll drop that former client who you’d really rather never work with again, or that reader who entered, “None of Your Business” as their first name.

Then, come back here and post that you’ve done it. Feel free to share your new criteria, too, if you’d like.




Pamela Feb 21, 2013

Love the new site, Jessica! It’s gorgeous. I’d never thought about this before, but you’re right. It *is* my list. And I should be more conscious of who I let on it.

I have a list of who’s not allowed in my life. They are already off my list. 😀 Great post about boundaries and how to maintain them.

Brian Feb 21, 2013

I remember when you gave me this advice and I was shocked–unsubscribe people? Seriously? But you were totally right, Jessica. Best thing we ever did with our list.

Michele Bergh Feb 21, 2013

Love your post. I always prune my list. Every six months or so, I go through and delete. I just wrote a blog post about your ideal client and how important it is to focus your energy there and it came off of a client I fired who finally moved all her stuff this week to someone new. The release I felt was like being in heaven and I instantly had money coming in from other place that day! There was a time I didn’t understand the value of this task. Now I do 🙂

Becky Feb 21, 2013

The nerve of some people! One of my old college profs is on my list and it always makes me nervous that hes going to be disappointed in something I write. I just unsubscribed him and its like a weight is gone. Thanks!!!

Donna Feb 21, 2013

What a great post! Luckily my list are all gorgeous – the universe seems to preen them for me by making them ‘bounce removals’! But as it grows, I’ll definitely be remembering it’s *my* list! Thanks. xxx

Jessica Albon Feb 21, 2013

Thanks all!

Pamela, Glad you like it!

Arwen, I’m impressed you have a list for who’s allowed in your life–that’s awesome.

Brian, I remember that conversation! I could tell you were thinking, “We paid her to help us grow the list and she’s suggesting we cut people?!”

Michele, That’s fantastic that you do this regularly! I think sometimes we get so focused on growth that we forget it’s up to us to steer that growth–way to go for keeping your eye on the goal. (And what a fab story about releasing the client’s stuff!)

Becky, It’s funny, even when someone hasn’t said anything, the energy we put into trying to keep them happy can be really intense. Glad you took charge of your list.

Donna, Yay! That’s the real goal–everyone on the list being gorgeous ;-). And that’s a great way to think of bounces.

Shann Feb 21, 2013

You handled the situation with class and grace. I love that you didn’t “feed the trolls.” We are here for such a short time. It seems silly to play with people who aren’t a good energetic fit. Big LOVE to you.

Dominee Feb 24, 2013

I loved this post although I think that I’m going to apply it to the contacts in my phone. Some people just need to be cut out ya know? This was a good reminder to keep the nourishing and let go of the rest.

Jessica Albon Feb 25, 2013

Thank you, Shann! You’re right–it is a silly way to spend even a moment, engaging with the folks who just flat out aren’t a good fit.

That’s awesome that you’re going to apply this to your phone, Dominee! Way to go.