Last year I had a Viking funeral for my email list.

I don’t know if it was technically a Viking funeral because our pyre was a portable fire pit and we put in our driveway, not a river. I also lit it with a bic lighter instead of an arrow that had been set aflame.

I would have done the arrow thing, don’t doubt that for a second, but our HOA would have killed me if I started shooting flaming projectiles at makeshift funeral pyres in our neighborhood pool. (It’s right there in our home owner tenets next to what kind of siding you can have on your house.)

I lit my email list on fire because it had become a sore spot in the Acuff house.

For a year, every time I met with someone smart, they would ask me, “How’s your email list going? It’s all about the email list! You’ve got to get your email list together or you’ll probably have to dance for nickels in the street soon.”

Then I would freak out, tell Jenny I didn’t know how to do an email list but that it was the most important thing in the world and then freak out some more.

Worst of all, I didn’t do anything with my email list for a year. I was so confused by what to do that I decided to do nothing. (That’s kind of like when you’re so busy you decide that the best decision would be to take a nap.)

The email list went cold.

Finally after watching me wring my hands for a year, Jenny told me to let it go. (If you’re the parent of a daughter, you just repeated the phrase “let it go, let it go,” in your head.)

We got the list, crumpled it up, said some kind words and lit it on fire in the driveway.

If that’s a point of advice in any Internet Marketer’s approach to growing your audience please let me know because it sounds like what crazy people do. I’d love to tell you that after that moment things worked well, but that would be a lie.

I started sending out my blog posts via email, but I still had a confusing number of different lists in my system. Faced with more complications, I set it up best I could and then moved into a four part system I call: Laziness, Entitlement, Embarrassment, Empathy or LEEE! for short.

Step 1: Laziness
In this phase, you tell yourself, “I don’t want to do something.” And then you don’t do something. (In this case, I was too lazy to figure out how to use an email list correctly.)

Step 2: Entitlement
In this phase, you tell yourself, “I shouldn’t have to do something.” I write about entitlement a lot because I struggle with it. Case in point. Who exactly was I expecting to handle all my email issues? Why did I think I shouldn’t have to do it? So entitled.

[Tweet “Laziness says, “I don’t want to.” Entitlement says, “I shouldn’t have to.” Both are toxic.”]

Step 3: Embarrassment
In this phase, you tell yourself, “I should already know how to do this.” It’s embarrassing to feel like you’re the only one on the planet who doesn’t know how to properly give people your blog posts via email. That’s so 2008 of me.

Step 4: Empathy
In this phase, you finally admit you messed up, apologize and ask for empathy.

That brings us to this exact moment.

I recently found out I had been sending out duplicate emails to 7,000 people. I hate getting emails myself and double emails is twice as terrible. I apologize if that’s been happening to you.

I also have known for a year that 20,000 people signed up to get emails from me and then I didn’t send them any. I was just lazy/confused and didn’t fix the issue. Nothing builds long term trust like telling people, “Sign up for my email list and I’ll send you my blog posts. Just kidding!”

I apologize.

Today, everyone who has ever said, “I’d like to see some ideas from Jon Acuff,” got this blog post sent to them.

If I haven’t sent you anything for a year and you forgot who I was, save for one vague memory of a writer who is really, really, really ridiculously good looking, I understand if you want to unsubscribe. Please, please don’t mark this as spam though.

When you do that, it makes the email provider think I’m some sort of global pirate company selling gold schemes from a relative you didn’t know you had and they suspend my whole account. I’m not a global pirate, I promise.

I’m just a writer who is terrible at email, standing in front of you trying to remember a line from the movie Notting Hill.

I didn’t have a fire in the driveway this time, but I am learning how to do things better.

And apparently that sometimes means being terrible at them first.


P.S. If you want to sign up for the new and improved, most awesome email list ever, here’s the link!