I keep mail lists, just in case. It’s what everyone says to do if you want to sell online.
I created one for Lent, one for this project, one for that project. Each of those lists was for a good idea, an occasionally helpful project. After all, I wrote the Nehemiah book to an email list. It gave me purpose and accountability to have to send a conversation with Nehemiah out every Sunday afternoon.
But there is a cost to maintaining those lists. Part of the cost is financial. My Mailchimp account has charges associated with tiers of numbers.
But there is another kind of cost to maintaining possibilities. The “what if” and “I should do this sometime” projects create a weight on our hearts and our plans. If we have the list, we tell our selves, we can maybe do more to offer impact. If we have the list, email theory tells us, we have more opportunities to monetize. To make money through selling to the names on the list.
In my writing, that’s a risky thing to try. I remember a few years ago on a Bible reading project I was doing. I sent out a followup email using the statistics available to me. I quickly heard back that the person didn’t appreciate my spying on their reading. And they unsubscribed.
(This is different from the friend who has worked with me to see whether Mailchimp can keep no trace. It’s not about me in this case, it’s about the notion of tracking. And we’ve decided that there isn’t much we can do.)
Last week I sent out emails to a couple of my lists.
“Thanks,” I said, “for being part of that project. If you want to hear from me from time to time, you can sign up for Social Media Chaplain updates. But I carry forward too many threads and so I’m going to delete the list you are on.”
And on August 23, I’ll delete them.
I want to suggest to you that you might want to do a similar pruning of your archive of “what if” and “maybe someday” and “It’s a great idea for them”. I’m thinking that the good but not essential things I drag along might be part of why I’m dragging.
I’m not deleting the list for 300wordsaday.com, by the way. That list of some of you, which carries just this blog, is too important to me.