Back in November I wrote a post about 9 bits of business advice I gleefully ignore. Not long after I published it, I realised I’d missed out one of the worst offenders: POP-UPS. I’d intended to write a whole post devoted solely to tearing them down, but then a couple of other things I’d missed came to my attention. So fuck it, I am writing a new post featuring three things I could do in my business to make more money, but won’t because they’d make me feel gross.
Warning: this post will have a decidedly darker, angrier feel to it than its predecessor, because I started writing it when I was insanely tired, owing to the four hours I spent puking into a bowl the night before and the terrible night’s sleep I had afterwards. Yay! Let’s go.
Fucking hell, these are just the worst, aren’t they? I hate those things and I’m sure you do too. Because, well, nobody actually likes them, right? Pop-ups seem to be getting ever more pervasive and sneaky. People blindly click-off your bog-standard ‘appears as soon as you land on the page’ pop-ups these days. They don’t even read them. Just click right off. So now there’s this new thing – ‘welcome mats’. I’m 99.98% certain you’ve encountered welcome mats and gotten just as annoyed at them as I have. They seem like they’re not as bad as your regular pop-up at first glance… but they are.
Welcome mats are the same ‘omg please sign up to my email list!’ messages you see in pop-ups, only instead of popping up they take up the entirety of the screen when you land on a website, and you have to scroll down to see the website content you actually came here for. Those are the better ones – the ones you can just scroll away from. But more and more prominent are the ones that require a click to be able to escape them. And how is that any better than a regular fucking pop-up? IT ISN’T, IS IT? It’s still the same amount of annoying effort – and you’re still being asked to give up your precious email address to a website you haven’t even had chance to peruse yet.
There are, of course, also pop-ups that appear after you’ve been on the website for a certain amount of time (‘Hey! You’ve seen some of our goodies now, so you must be ready to give us your email address, right?’) and pop-ups that scream desperation as they try to capture your email address as your cursor hovers over the X (‘Wait! No! Don’t go yet! Please give me your email address first! I neeedddsss it!’)
And they try to sound like they’re doing you a bloody favour. Please fuck the fuck off. If your website is interesting enough for me to give you my email address, don’t worry – I will seek out the means to do so. David Cain over at Raptitude has written has fabulous article about his contempt for pop-ups. I recommend you check it out.
2. Bullshit countdown timers
You’ve seen them, right? The timers that say ‘buy now or miss this great price forever!’ Now, I am not against countdown timers, per se. They can be a useful tool, although it’s rare I use them myself, mostly because of the hassle involved. But I signed up to this mailing list recently, and as soon as I did, I was redirected to another page – one with a big glaring 20-minute countdown timer on it.
Now, my initial reaction was, ‘Oh! That’s so clever!’ It was for a bundle deal where you could get $49’s worth of ebooks for $7. I’m betting they get a high conversion rate on that page. It’s a good deal. And you’ve only got 20 minutes to decide in. Except… you don’t. I wanted to see what would happen if I let the timer run out. So that’s what I did. And you know what happened? Fucking NOTHING. The timer hit zero, and THEN I hit the buy now button – only to be redirected to a page where I could still, in fact, buy the bundle deal for $7. And better yet? When I hit the back button, I was taken back to the countdown page and the timer had reset itself.
So basically it’s a massive fucking con. If you don’t ACTUALLY only have 20 minutes in which to buy, you shouldn’t be told that this is the case. That is the seller lying to the buyer, straight up. It’s underhanded and I don’t like and I will never do it. Rest assured, if you see a countdown timer on my site, you have until that timer hits zero to grab whatever the hell I’m selling.
3. SO MANY GOD DAMN FUCKING EMAILS
Now this I know would net me more sales. That’s what an email list is for, right? Selling shit. And the businesses that make a fuck-ton of money this way send out a fuck-ton of emails. When they’re launching something, you will get a new email every single day for, like, two weeks straight. Sometimes maybe even more than one email a day. I get it: they want people to either buy or get off the list by unsubscribing. But… I hate that. I hate it.
I want to build an actual relationship with my readers, and that’s hard to do when it’s painfully transparent that literally the only thing you care about is getting their money. I try to treat my subscribers the way I like to be treated, which is why I usually just talk about my course sales inside The Untamed Lowdown, occasionally sending out reminder emails when sales are about to end, discounts are about to end, or whatever. (By the way, my freelance writing course begins in a couple of weeks. If you want to learn how to get paid to write, check it out.)
I could no doubt run a more profitable business if I incorporated these three things into Untamed Writing. Like, literally no doubt. I’m sure there’ve been studies and shit. Some people would argue that doing so would make me more successful. But I don’t see it that way. To me, success is about making money in a way that feels good to me, without compromising my ethics, without doing any of the shit I hate to see other people do, and without ever ever considering – even for the slimmest moment – putting a fucking pop-up on my site. Because I want the people who come here to sign up for The Untamed Lowdown because they’re excited to. Not because I harassed them into it, but because they actively sought out how to do so.
Oh, hey – did you enjoy reading this and want to get on my mailing list, The Untamed Lowdown, where I share deeper, more personal stories that don’t get shared anywhere else? Then head over here to sign up. See how easy that was?