Leslie is the founder of Ricule Lean and the author of the Asian-Inspired Ultimate Guide to Naturally Losing 30 Pounds.
Just 2 months ago, Leslie was sitting on 238 email subscribers. Not a bad start, but considering she’s been hustling and focusing on growing her email list for over 6 months, she knew that she could be doing better.
She was doing everything she was “supposed” to be doing – from guest posting to creating influencer roundup posts – and her email list barely budged. At most she got 50 email subscribers from a guest post that she spent weeks and weeks writing.
Nothing seemed to work as well as she thought it would, and she was frustrated that her hard work wasn’t paying off.
Fast forward to today – Leslie has TRIPLED her email list in just 3 days after she created her first Ultimate Guide. Not only does she now have 500+ NEW, highly engaged email subscribers, she also has 29 raving testimonials from her Ultimate Guide readers and people waiting in line for her to create her first online course.
Today, she’ll tell us ALL about how she did it in this post – and how you can too.
Leslie, take it away!
HOW I GAINED 500 EXCITED EMAIL SUBSCRIBERS IN 3 DAYS WITH MY FIRST ULTIMATE GUIDE
By Leslie Chen from Rice Lean
How are you doing with growing your list so far?
For me, it has been tough.
The idea of guest posting makes my stomach churn. And for most of the time, pitching felt like shooting in the dark.
Besides guest posting, I’ve also ventured in writing an influencer roundup post. After about 80 hours of hard work on researching, outreaching, and writing, all I got was crickets.
To really speed up my list-building progress, I decided to reach out to 10 influencers each week. But knowing the chance of getting a “yes” was slim, my motivation sank right before I wrote the emails.
So after about 6 months of work, I’ve only got 238 email subscribers.
The situation felt like a cold, hard deadlock. And if you ever asked me then, I’d tell you I’ve never believed that I could have my own story of getting 500 new email subscribers just within 3 days – UNTIL IT HAPPENED 3 DAYS AGO.
(This is the report of the above-mentioned Mailchimp list. 0 subscribers before 6/9, almost 500 after 6/12)
This mind-blowing experience almost felt surreal.
(If you don’t know what an Ultimate Guide is yet, here’s a 30-second explanation of it:
An Ultimate Guide is a comprehensive, remarkable, in-depth piece of content you create to solve a burning pain your audience / clients have. It’s the BEST piece of content on internet around the topic you write about.)
By showing me a highly implementable roadmap for how to write an Ultimate Guide, Primoz removed the mental barrier I’ve had against list-building for months. And I knew by doing what Primoz recommended, I would easily get my first 1000-2000 subscribers particularly because of a few reasons:
- Many experts including Neil Patel believe long, remarkable content works extremely well for driving organic traffic.
- People have already achieved sizeable list-building success with Primoz’s Ultimate Guide Strategy. Some even got featured on premium media, such as Selena Soo on Business Insider and Peter Nguyen on HypeBeast.
- Primoz used his first Ultimate Guide to create his first business as recounted by this Business Insider article. He himself is a living proof of this strategy he proudly shared.
- Knowing Primoz and his work ethics, I knew he wouldn’t let his audience down by offering something that wasn’t significantly meaningful.
With all the newly sparkled excitement, I started working on my Asian-Inspired Ultimate Guide to Naturally Losing 30 Pounds right away.
It’s an Ultimate Guide which teaches women the little-know secrets that Asian people use to effortlessly stay in shape without dieting, counting calories, banning carbs, or being a slave to the treadmill. It’s inspired by my own experience of losing 50 pounds in 10 months.
I knew this piece of content, once published, would bring me a continuous stream of traffic and email subscribers.
What I didn’t expect was to gain 500 new email subscribers BEFORE I released it.
How did that happen?
The secret was a “beta-reading” campaign, which I launched simply by making a post in a Facebook group to tell people about this Ultimate Guide, asking if they’d want to be a beta reader.
Within a few hours after that post was made, hundreds of enthusiastic readers have already subscribed to my email list, screaming “HELL YES!”
Sounds simple, but nothing was random.
Let me show you exactly how I:
- Found the right Facebook group that helped me get 500 enthusiastic email subscribers
- Wrote a non-spammy Facebook post that offered the community members the beta reading opportunity
- Collected 29 persuasive testimonials from my Ultimate Guide readers
I’ll also show you how you can implement ALL of my techniques to grow your own online business.
1. How I’ve found the RIGHT Facebook group that helped me get 500 enthusiastic email subscribers
Taking a step back, beta-reading wasn’t something that Primoz recommended to me. But realizing how big of an undertaking creating an Ultimate Guide was, I decided to make the most of every step of the way even if that might require me to wander afar a little bit.
Interestingly for me, list-building wasn’t the goal to start with when I launched the beta-reading exercise. Instead, I was hoping for getting the following 2 from the experience:
- Get readers’ feedback for final editorial changes so that the released final version would be truly remarkable.
- Get reader testimonials so that I could use them to drive my business in multiple ways.
And if you remember I mentioned earlier that I posted about this beta-reading opportunity in a Facebook group, you’d probably wonder how I found the group that could delivered such a great result for me.
It was a strategic win, following a 3-step method below:
Step 1. Define your audience – from demographic, lifestyle, needs, to mindset
Primoz, when he was a business coach at Ramit Sethi’s Zero To Launch, once coached me on doing in-depth market research to find who my audience really were.
My business is about Asian-inspired food and nutrition wisdom for natural weight loss, and based on my research, I listed down a few loose parameters around my audience’s profile:
- Demographic: North American women in 20s and 30s.
- Lifestyle: single / married, working professional / entrepreneur, with or without kids, dieting, counting calories, limiting (fearing) carbs, cooking frequently.
- Needs: losing 20-50 lbs; gaining confidence, inner-freedom, long-term health, positive social images, better relationship life, career success, being a better mother.
- Mindset: ambitious, culturally open-minded, sick and tired of self-deprivation.
If you look at these parameters, most of them indicate a strong drive towards personal improvement, career development, and mental, physical well-being. This tells me what my audience cares about.
But what about weight loss communities in particular?
Since I’ve already found out that people who are big believers in FAD diets don’t usually have the fitting mindset for what I do, I excluded most of the online weight loss communities from my list because FAD is what they are focused on.
At this moment, knowing who exactly my audience were and what truly needed, I was ready to find where they were.
If you want to find out the best places to connect with your audience, start by listing key parameters around their demographic, lifestyle, needs, and mindset, using the same framework above.
Step 2. Create a list of high-quality sources of traction
“Source of traction” refers to the place you can gain traction from, it can be online or offline – online communities, blogs, magazines, webinars, podcasts, offline workshops, networking events etc.
In my case for this Ultimate Guide, the source of traction I used was a Facebook group which I’ve done research in and posted my beta-reading request.
Speaking of Facebook groups, they can be an overhead because every time when you search for a common keyword, hundreds of groups show up. You don’t know which ones are for you, and vetting each one of them takes too much time.
So after learning exactly what types of groups I should pay attention to in Step 1, I used a hack to quickly find out the groups which were worth investing time in.
It’s very simple: just go to the profile of other entrepreneurs who share the similar audience group with you, and check out which groups they are in.
The following image shows you where you can find that information.
Ideally, this entrepreneur you are looking at is a few steps ahead of you in their business.
In my case as an example, I checked out my friend Camille Virginia’s Facebook group list as a reference for myself.
Camille is the girl behind MasterOfflineDating.com – a relationship coaching site which teaches women authentic, proven skills to find love and romance in the real, offline world. Since she already runs a successful brand, I was confident that her sources must be of premium quality.
This simple hack enabled me to quickly amass a list of 20+ highly engaging Facebook groups within just 10 minutes.
And all I needed to do next was to find out which one works the best for me.
Step 3. Run simple and meaningful tests.
As you can see, Camille’s audience and mine have a significant overlap in-between because many women who struggle to find love simultaneously desire a sexy, lean body.
And since her market is mostly professional women, another parameter that I have for my market is automatically covered.
But how do I know if women in these groups she follows meet my other parameters? After all, being culturally open-minded is the key considering the theme of the business I’m running.
To find out, I ran a test by asking the following questions in these groups:
“Do you like Asian food, and do you feel you might be a little bit healthier if you lived in Asia?”
Close to 200 people responded, with over 90% saying “of course!”
This was the green light pass that showed me this Facebook group would work for me.
But just having a list of working Facebook groups wasn’t enough.
As an entrepreneur, your resources are limited, and finding out the HIGHEST performing source of traction for the time being gives you the shortest path to your goal because this enables you to maximize your results by focusing your time and resources on activities with the highest ROI.
This realization was inspired by my mentor Marc Aarons. Marc is the guy behind 80/20 Solutions which helps companies grow into 7 to 8 figures, often time by increasing their conversion by 500% through optimizing business strategy, content strategy and copywriting.
To really find my ultimate, primal source of traction, I posted the question mentioned above in all 20+ Facebook groups I’ve collected.
To my surprise, some groups which I thought would be high-potential groups (such as food-related groups) did not turn out to be high-potential at all. Others which I didn’t prioritize really surprised me with blooming results.
When you are running this test, there are two numbers that you can use as an indicator of effectiveness for each Facebook group:
- The number of positive responses to your post.
- The response rate among people who have seen this post.
Since I had no clue if “seen” was equivalent to “read” in the book of Facebook algorithm, I chose #1 just to be safe.
After 2 days of data collection, I found my top Facebook group and went with that one.
Here’s the screenshot of an excel tracker I used – nothing complicated, just two columns:
2. How I wrote a non-spammy Facebook post with my beta-reading opportunity
By now, I already knew which is the Facebook group I should go to in order to get the maximized conversion for my beta-reading campaign. So I created the post where I asked people if they wanted to be a part of my beta reading group.
I was totally blown away with 106 people enthusiastically saying “YES!” in the very first hour, handing me their email addresses without a second of hesitation.
It was a moment of ecstasy!
More importantly, even though I made it very clear on the post that beta-reading was free, people kept telling me that they’d be happy to be a paying customer!
Below is what they told me exactly:
Even after the beta-reading sign-up window has closed, I still kept receiving requests from highly enthusiastic readers:
This meant massive validation for my business idea, and it made me mentally alive again.
So what was leading to all these?
Besides finding the primal source of traction as I just showed you, it mattered infinitely to write a compelling copy.
And to me, it wasn’t a home run to start with.
The first version of my post, while being nicely written, only got me 16 lukewarm “okay”, with a neutral, I-can-spare-some-time-to-help-you tone.
You can take a look at the copy here:
Thankfully, I only used this copy as a test by dropping it into a working Facebook group within my Top 5 list, leaving the highest-performing Facebook group for the ultimate winning copy, which was yet to be made.
Realizing that copy would not work, I took it off and rewrote it with a completely different approach.
This time, I wanted to make it highly personal and deeply relatable to my audience by following the 2 principles below:
1. It’s not about taking, but giving and helping.
Felicia Spahr, my business coach at Ramit Sethi’s Accelerator program, wrote in her book that “people want to hear what you have to say if you’ve created something that will help them.” After analyzing the result, I realized neglecting this rule was the biggest mistake I made in that copy.
Here’s why: my entire Ultimate Guide was about over-delivering value to solve my audience’ problem, but the post I made didn’t really show how it would help them. Instead, the post sounded more like a request for an transactional exchange – free time for free reading. This instantly downgraded my value proposition and turned off people’s interest.
2. It’s not about talking, but showing.
One question I asked myself was: what do my audience desperately want at this moment?
After re-reading all the frustration and pains they’ve revealed in their posts and comments, I realized what they desperately needed was to be assured that they could reach their goal without experiencing another failure.
This is exactly what my Ultimate Guide could give them, and to highlight that for them, I needed to take them into the moments and let them feel the feelings of both their deepest vulnerability and the most wanted success.
Soon the new copy was ready:
It turned 16 lukewarm “okay” into 106 resounding “YES!” in the very first hour after I posted it.
And within 72 hours, I got 500 passionate email subscribers.
Now having read this copy, you might wonder why I didn’t include a landing page URL in the post.
This is because it might feel spammy to the audience, which was the very last thing I wanted to happen. Once the trust is broken, nothing can be done.
Instead I just asked the people that were interested to comment or private message me.
The result was that I had to manually create entries for everyone who wanted to join, switch back and forth on Facebook messenger windows to find their information, and go through everything again and again to make sure the names and email addresses were documented correctly.
It was 5+ hours of work, and every minute of sweating was well worth it.
3. How I collected 29 passionate, persuasive testimonials from my Ultimate Guide readers
As I mentioned earlier, collecting testimonials was really the main goal of running beta-reading. To achieve that, making this experience truly valuable for the readers meant everything.
To create an interesting, inspirational, and transformative experience for them, I converted the Ultimate Guide into an email course series.
As Primoz advised, I also sent them the full PDF version so that they could have the flexibility to read it in one sitting.
Besides receiving a substantial lesson and guided action items from me each day, my readers were invited to email me for any questions they might have.
This really excited the readers because with a guided path of transformation designed for them, they were able to see in their own eyes the immediate changes on their daily habits, mindset, and scale number during the 17 days of beta-reading experience.
Also, an Ultimate Guide would bring you highly engaging readers because people who want to read the 100+ pages you created are usually committed, high-potential customers to start with.
This explains why 46% of my beta-readers have been following every single email I’ve sent to them, which is about 250% higher than the industry benchmark:
So now I’ve created some happy readers. How do I get them to provide me high-quality testimonials which I can use to grow my business?
Selena Soo gave me the answer.
In her INFLUENCE program, she shared this technique of using a few simple questions to guide your clients or audience in this process. She also shared some word-for-word scripts for requesting testimonials, which I found very helpful for getting me what I needed.
Within 24 hours upon my request, I received 29 strong, passionate, and persuasive responses from the readers:
This again blew me away.
The biggest benefit I got out of creating my Ultimate Guide
So far, this Ultimate Guide experience has truly been an eye-opener for me. However, getting 500 new subscribers in 3 days, even though enormously gratifying, wasn’t the biggest win for me.
What is it then?
- Validation – seeing this business which I’ve put my heart and soul in actually has a future made me feel mentally alive!
- Clarity – through Ultimate Guide beta-reading, I’ve gained invaluable insights directly from my potential buyers, which could help me strategize a winning product in the near future.
At this moment, I can finally take an afternoon off, sitting in my backyard, sipping the homemade mojito while visualizing a blooming business that is entering my life.
And I’m finally close to telling everyone this is a “business”, not a “side hustle.”
For the first time in a long time, I stopped feeling frazzled.
And I know something very promising is coming.
Now, what are my next steps for my Ultimate Guide strategy?
There are 2 things I’m currently working on:
- I’m making the final editorial changes to the content based on the beta-readers’ feedback. Primoz’s new article about 7 Mistakes to Avoid While Writing Your Ultimate Guide has given me some new ideas which I have to incorporate.
- I’m brewing more interests, traction, and momentum before the release of my Ultimate Guide by letting more people know about it. This includes forum posting, guest blogging, and influencer outreaching.
Beyond these immediate to-dos, I want to write a cookbook which goes hand-in-hand with this Ultimate Guide.
Many of my readers have demanded it, and it could be a great idea for my first information product.
Perhaps I’ll see it in Barnes & Noble some day.
Now I know I have a lot of great ideas for the future and this is just the beginning.
And to think of it, none of these would have been close in sight before I wrote the Ultimate Guide 2 months ago.
So what are you waiting for? Start working on your first Ultimate Guide!
Leslie teaches ambitious women the little-known secrets that Asian people use to effortlessly stay in shape without dieting, counting calories, banning carbs, or being a slave to the treadmill. Download her FREE copy of the Asian-Inspired Ultimate Guide to Naturally Losing 30 Pounds.
P.S. If you’re interested in using Ultimate Guides to grow your email list and get your first paying customers, you can now join Ultimate Guide System – a one year program where I’ll teach you, step by step, how to create incredible Ultimate Guides and finally get your online business off the ground in 2018.
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