How John Corcoran Uses Email Marketing to Monetize His Business (And How You Can, Too!)

John Corcoran knows all the right people. He has to – having friends in high places is literally his job. He uses his website, Smart Business Revolution, to teach entrepreneurs how to build solid business relationships and grow their networks. But growing an audience can be tough when you’re first starting out, even for a well-connected guy like John.

“I started blogging because I wanted to write a book and every publisher will say, if you don’t have a platform, you’ve got to start a platform,” John said. “I quickly realized that it’s not as easy as it seems to build an audience.”

After some trial and error, John found a way to cut through the noise, grow his following and make a living while doing it: email marketing.

“Monetizing is not hard if you’ve got an email list,” he said. “Early on, the learning curve was that I didn’t prioritize building an email list. I tried a lot of different things to monetize my business – creating courses, ebooks, advertising, affiliate promotions – none of those things produced a blip in revenue until I produced an email list.”

If you’re looking to monetize your business but you’re not quite sure how to get started, you’ve come to the right place. Email marketing can help pay your bills, but only if you’re doing it right. Read on to learn how John builds profitable relationships in the inbox, and how you can do it too.

Quick Stats on Smart Business Revolution
Number of subscribers: 24K+
Average open rate: 17-25 percent
Average monthly website visitors: 10-12K

Be real. Don’t be scammy.

Email marketing isn’t a magic elixir that will convince people to buy stuff from you. For it to work, you first have to want to form real relationships with people, not blast them with information and expect them to fall under your spell.

“You have to treat your subscribers with tremendous respect and deliver overwhelming value,” John said. “Treat them like trusted friends.”

You can start by treating your prospects like the amazing human beings they are before they become subscribers by offering something valuable for free. John offers his website visitors five free email templates just for signing up for his email list.

email marketing sign up form

Once people are in, they need to know that signing up for your list was a good choice. This part is super important because it’s how you build trust.

Here’s an excerpt from John’s welcome email to his subscribers:

email for business

John talks to his subscribers like he would his close friends. He tells them what they can expect to see in their inbox from him and asks for feedback. He even gives a heads up that he’ll promote his paid content to them once in awhile, but he isn’t pushy about it.

“The one thing I’m very upfront about is that I’ll offer a product I have for sale like a digital course or I may promote another product that I think is relevant to my audience,” he said. “I recently ran into an affiliate manager for a course I promote. She said my conversion numbers are really high and she can tell my audience trusts me. I’m very careful about what I promote and try to make it as relevant to my audience as possible.”

Of course, John provides lots of free content to his subscribers too.

“Every once in awhile, I’ll send broadcasts that are complete value-laden resources with no strings attached whatsoever,” he said. “I put together massive free ebooks and long, detailed blog posts and videos that are aimed at continuing to earn my right to be in someone’s inbox.”

The bottom line? Don’t even think about promoting your products or services until:

  • You’ve already given people something awesome for free
  • You’ve asked for feedback and put that feedback to work
  • You’ve been honest and upfront about what exactly you’re promoting

Turn your best content into automated emails.

We’ve already covered how John uses his welcome email, free content and a no-BS attitude to set the stage for a great relationship with his subscribers. Once you have your subscribers’ attention, you can use email automation to keep delivering valuable content while occasionally promoting your products or services. To make email automation easier, you can use a platform like Campaigns so you can send the right message to the right person at the right time.

John does exactly that with his automated emails. He send tailor-made messages that deliver a personalized experience to his subscribers.

“I have a number of different resources on my site, everything from 52 books to email templates to free courses that I give away in order to capture email leads,” he said. “Then, I give them a series of autoresponder messages aimed at what they signed up for.”

content for email marketing

As you can see, John has a lot of resources. Lots of resources = plenty of content for his autoresponders. You might be thinking, “I don’t have 52 books full of content. What the heck am I supposed to write about in my autoresponders?” No sweat, not everyone is a content machine like Mr. Corcoran.

Create game-changing content that sells with these 3 steps.

1. First, define your pillar content. Your pillar content should consist of a handful of topics that address your audience’s biggest needs.

“My autoresponders are probably 70 percent pillar content I’ve written that is timeless, not timely, so it doesn’t get stale,” John said. “Everything from how to build relationships at a conference to surrounding yourself with influencers and VIPs that you look up to. It’s in the ballpark of the things that people come to me asking for advice on. I also have some evergreen-style course promotions.”

Pillar content turns you into a reliable and valuable resource for your audience. Then, when they’re ready to buy, they’ll turn to you because they trust that spending money on your products is money well spent.

2. Once you’ve defined your pillar content, you’ll want to comb through the content you already have that fits inside those pillars. John recommends using this strategy to create six weeks of autoresponder content:

“Take six articles that you’ve written already that are the most valuable content for your target audience,” he said. “Turn them into autoresponders and spread them out over six weeks. You will know that anyone added to your list will get one email a week from you for six weeks and they can get to know you.”

3. From there, your automated emails continue building those relationships so you can focus on other things – growing your network, writing new content – whatever! You can always revisit your autoresponders to tweak them or add more, like John often does.

“I started with five or six emails and just kept on adding more and more to the bottom of the series until eventually I had 45 of them,” he said.

Here’s an example of one of his many autoresponders:

email marketing for business

You’ll see the same friendly, conversational tone is woven throughout John’s autoresponder series. The message is short, delivers a useful resource and addresses a common hurdle that his audience faces. This is what great autoresponders are made of!

Use this checklist for getting started with monetizing your business.

  • Start with email marketing. Everyone has to start somewhere. John recommends starting an email list as a crucial first step for anyone who wants to make a living doing what they love. “There are some people that start blogs or YouTube [channels] and they’re able to get a tremendous amount of traffic, yet they neglect to build an email list,” he said. “It didn’t work that way for me. I tried all kinds of different things and it wasn’t until I built my email list that the revenue started coming in. That was the turning point.”
  • Give people valuable resources for free. You’re the expert, so share your expertise! Whether you have ebooks and courses like John has or just a few great blog posts, getting the good stuff in front of people turns them into subscribers and loyal customers. And if you’re not sure what to write? Check out the next item on this checklist…
  • Define your pillar content. Help people with their biggest problems, and they’ll love you for it. They might even buy something from you in the future!
  • Create an automated email series. Only have a handful of blog posts you can use to create your first autoresponders? That’s ok! If you’re just getting started with email marketing, you won’t have dozens of autoresponders like John does. Start with a few, then add to it later.

And just in case you’re still not convinced on the whole email marketing thing, here are a few closing remarks from John about what makes it so awesome:

“It’s such a smart investment for so many people. There are hundred of thousands of business owners out there who are able to spend more time with their kids, spend more time with their family, diversify their business and make it less of a rollercoaster ride.”


  1. Carolyn

    10/29/2015 4:09 am

    I am in a group of like mined prople
    who are shareing there experience on
    becomeing independantly free in there
    day by day activity Like going to a
    J.O B. we say its like { Just over Broke}
    and becoming free is Awesome

  2. lisa

    10/29/2015 1:35 pm

    This is a good start, but most of us are past this…I would like more tips on sales and marketing within the email auto responder series.


  3. Greg

    10/29/2015 1:54 pm

    I was interested in how John monetizes. We all use email lists – that’s why we are at AWeber. But I wanted to see some copy. John gives stuff away, fine. So then how does he convince people to buy something? Most people – correction, all people – choose free over paid. How does John get over that hurdle?

  4. Pat Bosman

    10/29/2015 2:15 pm

    I have written a book and want to do workshops and one on one coaching to help people to get out of a rut or want to overcome depression have a very small list.

  5. Pat Bosman

    10/29/2015 2:19 pm

    I have enjoyed your tips many thanks.

  6. Owen

    10/29/2015 6:50 pm

    John’s approach is different to some other e-mail marketer’s. They re-direct the subscriber straight away to a trip wire product for sale. Apparently, they claim that that is the only way to create a buyer’s list as opposed to a freebie seekers list. I personally prefer John’s method.
    I would like to know what method’s John uses to get the potential subscribers to first view the lead capture page. I guess that’s the traffic, preferably paid traffic.

  7. Laddie

    10/30/2015 12:40 am

    We should not be afraid to give valuable stuff away. Many will love it but the few who want to further their experience and knowledge will always buy. Those are the ones we want. We can’t get everybody. We must build trust and affection first.

  8. Murat Asil

    10/30/2015 5:39 am

    how about for the people can’t write well enough letters?

  9. Murat Asil

    10/30/2015 5:41 am

    Very good way to build a business but how about if you are not good writer?