A Flexible Email Marketing Platform Allowed this Author to Keep Control

Creating good content alone is not enough — you also need to figure out how to get paid for it. AWeber provides a platform to actually help creators make money.

This is True, or TRUE — as founder Randy Cassingham calls his newsletter — is an email newsletter that uses “weird news” as a vehicle to explore the human condition in an entertaining way. 

TRUE’s mission is to provoke more thinking in the world. Each issue contains stories of people who didn’t think, sometimes with hilarious results, capped by a brief comment on each story. It’s biting social commentary that’s “about” the human condition, but designed to be entertaining so it’s fun to read.

People are starving for an intelligent look at what’s going on, rather than the doom or denial that seems to dominate the major news outlets,” Cassingham says.

But creating good content alone is not enough —  you also need to figure out how to get paid for it. Cassingham actually turned down two syndication contracts to put TRUE into newspapers because he thought the future was online, and newspapers would suffer in the long run. 

He decided to go the self-publishing route and identified a publishing platform with all the tools he needed for both publishing and promotion: email.

Content creators require options beyond a blog platform. “It is very hard to monetize a blog. Creators need tools that can provide a gateway to reach paying customers. I am very grateful that AWeber provides a platform to actually help creators make money without depending on Google, or advertising in general,” Cassingham says.

Taking great content and converting subscribers from free content to paid premium subscriptions is an art that TRUE has perfected. Last week was the 26th anniversary of the first newsletter he ever sent — in fact, he’s gone 1,359 weeks without ever missing an issue.

Treat customers the way you want to be treated

Maintaining a strong relationship with readers has been the backbone of TRUE’s business. With average open rates above 70%, it’s clear subscribers can’t get enough of TRUE’s unique content. 

From the very first communication, Cassingham clearly lays out what subscribers will receive using his unique style of humor. And every correspondence includes a link to upgrade to the premium subscription to enable conversion. 

TRUE’s welcome email:

Example of subscription sign up notification and welcome email.

He also sends a follow-up email to help identify if the reader is a brand new reader or a long term subscriber. Because Cassingham wants every email to provide value, he includes a link for extra content as a ‘thank you’ for opening his email. 

TRUE’S follow up email:

Example of This is True follow up email.

How TRUE uses AWeber’s Blog Broadcasts

AWeber’s Blog Broadcast feature allows Cassingham to send customized notifications to readers when he posts a blog entry.

Example of This is True new blog post notification.

Cassingham has a creative use for AWeber’s Blog Broadcast (automatic RSS to an email list). “It is more powerful than most people realize,” Cassingham says. “It’s not just to notify readers of new blog posts. I use it for a special paid list. My server drops a ‘Best Of’ archive story to a specific feed URL, and AWeber picks it up and sends it out early each morning. The subscribers love it, and it’s totally automated for me.”

Example of Best of This is True daily premium email.

AWeber’s Blog Broadcast pulls content from a blog and reformats it into an email newsletter template to share with subscribers. But it doesn’t have to just be a blog excerpt: anything that can be formatted into an RSS feed can be dropped into an email template and sent to a list or a segment. “It’s a great example of the flexibility that AWeber provides,” Cassingham says, “which provides another income pillar that’s completely hands off so I can use that time to create more content.”


Step-by-step on setting up your Blog Broadcast

1. Under the Messages tab, select Blog Broadcasts.

2. Then, click the “Create A Blog Broadcast” button.

3. Enter your RSS feed URL for your blog in that first field.

4. Select the template you’d like to use, click on the Load Template button.

5. Next, you’ll need to schedule when your broadcasts will be sent out.

6. Then click “Save Blog Broadcast” at the bottom of the page. 

Create income by having subscribers upgrade to paid content 

TRUE’s primary source of income is subscription upgrades from the free content. Premium upgrades are Cassingham’s “bread and butter,” so every free newsletter has a pitch to upgrade to the paid version, which has more than twice the stories, no external ads, and several other enhancements. “It’s a model that has kept TRUE profitable for more than two decades,” says Cassingham.

Example of This is True free email with a link to upgrade to the premium subscription.

How email gives Cassingham the freedom to do what he loves

TRUE is the oldest entertainment feature on the internet, running weekly for more than 26 years. TRUE started June 26, 1994 — and has never missed sending out a weekly issue. It is older than Google, Amazon, and eBay.

 “While I haven’t gotten ‘rich’ from it,” Cassingham says, “I have something that many rich people don’t have: the freedom to live exactly where I want, work and ‘play’ pretty much every day, and have the time to give back to my community as a volunteer medic. I carry a pager and can dash off to help others get through the worst day of their lives. That’s extremely fulfilling. One of the big reasons I can do it all is AWeber’s automated tools do so much of the tedious work for me.”

Ready to grow your business?

Whether you’re starting a new business, need to grow your audience, or you run an established e-commerce business, AWeber provides a powerfully-simple email marketing solution for any small business.

AWeber’s email marketing platform includes unlimited landing pages with every plan, unlimited emails, email automation, sign up forms, and email analytics.

Start for free and quickly grow your business with powerfully-simple email marketing from AWeber.

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  1. Karyn Garvin

    7/9/2020 12:05 pm

    Two questions
    1. what is an RSS feed?
    2. I am guessing that video blog is out of the question?

  2. Brandon Olson

    7/13/2020 9:32 am

    Great questions, Karyn.

    1. RSS stands for “really simple syndication.” An RSS feed allows your audience to receive updates when new content is added to your blog through the use of RSS or feed readers. It also allows you to automatically send emails to your audience with your latest content.

    2. As long as your blog has an RSS feed URL, you can use AWeber’s Blog Broadcast feature. If you embed videos on your blog, your subscribers will receive emails when new blog posts are published.

    I hope that helps. Let us know if you have any other questions.

  3. Randy Cassingham

    7/14/2020 1:29 pm

    I definitely use the Blog Broadcast feature to automatically send out notifications of new episodes of my podcast. The podcast itself isn’t included in the email, but recipients know that’s what it is: a notification, and if they want to come to the site to listen to the episode using the player embedded on the page it’s just a click away. It’d work exactly the same way for a vlog. And the best part is, it’s completely automated. I set it up once, and it does its job without my having to do a thing.