The first time I had success with an email

It was 11pm on a Friday night, at a party, having a few drinks….when I checked my phone and thought “Oh fu*k.”

Something just HAD to be wrong with what I saw.

I was looking at my iPhone and saw 120 orders for my site (a rave company I owned).  That’s a lot of orders for just a few hours (and a lot of money)!!!  Giggity.

Normally this little drop-shipping company I had made about 10 orders per day.  So when all of a sudden I got 120 orders in one night, this was a sign that SOMETHING BIG had happened which would change my income level forever.


Two hours earlier at 9pm on Friday night, I had pushed the “Send” button to an email list of 7,500 past HouseOfRave customers.

I was really afraid of this flopping, because it was COMPLETELY different from all the past emails I’d ever sent out.

Here’s what some of the previous HouseOfRave Newsletter emails looked like:


I took all the pictures myself, Photoshopped them myself, and did all the work to get those newsletter-style emails out at least twice a month.  I was soooooo proud of them.

But you know what the results were?  Here’s the actual number statistics for a snapshot of 2009 if you wanna see:


These numbers were alright.  Not stellar, not horrible.  On average 700+ people would open each newsletter.  And at first I thought that was great!!  I mean more than 700 people would look at what I had created each time I sent out to the email list.  Cool!

But there was one MAJOR MAJOR problem I started to realize after putting in all the work for each newsletter:


I would send these hard-to-make newsletters out, and the next day there wouldn’t even be a slight uptick in sales!!  Ughh.

I thought I could just smash pictures and products in front of someone’s face, and they would be like, “WHHOOAAAA NICEEEE I’M GONNA BUY THAT WHERE’S MY WALLETTTT!!!”

Oh stupid stupid Neville….

This approach rarely works, yet it’s the only way most people know how to sell something. Till this day I see people doing this everyday.

But it was around this time I started learning about a little marketing concept called “Copywriting”.

I learned simply pushing stuff into someone’s face was NOT a good strategy for selling, in fact it was pretty awful, unreliable, and makes people not want to hear from you.

So after devouring the works of famous copywriters like Gary Halbert and Joseph Sugarman and talking with friends who were great copywriters, I tried my hand at an email that was psychologically designed to sell.

If you wanna see it, here it is.  If you click the image below and type in the password you can see the full email.
Password: giggity


 You can see the full email here:
Password: giggity

 Now this email was heavily influenced by a friend, so it doesn’t really sound like me.  BUT, the results of it taught me the extreme importance of learning to sell properly.

It was the complete opposite of my previous emails that had little text and lots of pretty pictures.

I started understanding that selling was more about hitting certain psychological spots in someone’s brain to make THEM desire the product…..not just trying to smash it into their face and force them to buy.

My previous emails made 0 sales.
This properly written email made 120 sales in two hours!!!!!!  :-O

I then repeated this successfully over and over (not every email would make 120 orders each time, but I would ALWAYS make money on every email promotion I did from that day forward).


I realized I could type words and make people want to buy stuff.
I thought to myself, “I’m gonna be alright in the future if I can do this.”

Till this day copywriting is the most valuable skill I’ve ever learned.

Tomorrow I’m gonna show you how I started finding my own voice to write in, and started sending out emails to 50,000 AppSumo customers……all the way to over 700,000 AppSumo customers….and had people look FORWARD to reading them.


P.S.  Leave a comment  with one of these two things:
1.) Do you actually look forward to any emails you get?  Which ones?

2.) Do you send out emails to an email list….or are planning on it?  What products are you trying to sell?

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  1. 1. I look forward to emails from you, Noah, Bring a Trailer, and Ramit Sethi.

    2. I used to send out shitty emails that got no response. But using your Kourse and check list I sent out an email using A>I>D>A. 200 subscribers, 77 opens, 7 purchases within 24 hours, over $3,000 for my small detailing business. After a few weeks that single email brought in a little over $5,000.

    Thank you.
    No really.
    From the deep sub-cockles of my heart.


  2. I can’t say I exactly look forward to many emails at all (I get too many per day), but it’s funny because yours are ones I usually read. Even if I have no interest in whatever AppSumo deal is going on at the moment, I still usually read your emails and learn a little tidbit. :)

    • Awesome to hear Caitlin :)

      The difference is the emails are always EDUCATIONAL by their nature, even if the goal of a particular email is to sell something.

      Give people awesome info, and they’ll look forward to your emails.

      Btw, I’ll be showing more tactics for this in the upcoming emails I’m sending you :)

  3. 1. I’ve carved email down to almost nothing. Generally the stuff I like is simply products that I actually want, though these have to be once per week max or they get cut. REI seems to stay in my inbox because they send out discounts. I stay on Ramit’s list because I’ll study his copy occasionally.

    2. Working on an online course. When that launches I’ll run a newsletter opt-in to get a free product.

    I’ve thought about doing an unrelated product on marketing. Mail out a free physical CD (+S&H), and then snail mail a newsletter just to get a feel for the non-internet world.

    Is there a Sugarman book or other resource that you prefer?

  4. 1. I always read your emails first when I see them in my inbox. Most other emails get ignored from time to time but I always open up yours. I also look forward to emails from my customers. They usually are asking for help buying products and I am always glad to be able to help customers out.

    2. I send emails to an email subscriber list of ~1500 for the company I work for. We sell Detroit sports apparel.

    • Woot! Good to hear you still like me :)

      The reason you like my emails is probably because they’re more personal, useful, and not always selling something (although if I DO sell something it’s also probably something that would help you).

      2.) Looks like you’ve already got some experience selling through email. Send me some stats if you wouldn’t mind at (only if you’re allowed to)

  5. 1. Not blowing smoke up your ass, but I do genuinely dig getting your emails. I also enjoy my emails from John Carlton, so maybe I’m just a copy nerd?

    2. I have a few thousand customers in the pro audio software space. (Know how you can plug a keyboard in Garageband and play a tuba or a hard or whatever? – I make those instruments.) Copywriting is my most valuable tool. The branding of my business is kinda serious/artsy fartsy, which I offset with super casual/kinda goofy emails to my customers. They love it, and I love it.

    I used to hide behind super sleek graphics and spiel, which is what EVERYONE in my industry does. Your emails actually inspired me to try communicating to my customers in my own voice. It clicked in my mind as I was reading one of your emails – “I friggin’ LOVE reading this guys emails, AND this guy sounds like me… Maybe that means people will love reading my emails!” – and now I write plain text emails in my own silly ass voice, and I get a whole mess of thoughtful replies from my customers every time. It’s amazing. I literally never got a single reply from anyone before I started doing this. Obviously it’s helped sales in a major way too.

    The “holy crap!” moment around copy was when I sold a few hundred units of a new product WITHOUT HAVING AN AUDIO DEMO ready. An expensive pro audio product. For musicians. Without giving them any idea of what it even sounded like. Just text. Word. < (pun!)

    Thanks Nev, always learning a ton from you!

    • 1.) WOOT WOOT!!

      2.) I actually use GarageBand all the time to make my guitar sound all cool, so DEF know what you’re talking about!

      Unless the graphics directly attribute to sales, they’re not as important.

      And it’s AWESOME that you simply started writing “more like yourself” and you’re getting more engagement. See how much more powerful (and easier) that is than fancy design?

  6. Love your emails bro!

    Everything your doing is just perfect.

    I love how much I actually learn from then and then every now and then we get a taste of Nevlife and adventures. It’s the perfect balance.

    I love how they aren’t over educational or blah blah and just really simple and never salesy.

    I actually ignore all Ramit Sethis emails now a days cuz it’s nothing but a pitch to a course every email.

    Shhhh don’t tell him I said that lol

    • Hahahha……I try to keep it a nice balance between education/fun/sales.

      I mean I DO have to sell occasionally, but it is also fun to just give away cool stuff too. Thanks for reading and the kind words man!!

  7. Your e-mails are AWESOME Neville!!! I make time to read almost everyone.

    My favorites are your posts about business development & copy writing.

    I also like you posts on effective job hunt ideas. I’ve applied the principles you’ve shared from your NevBlog Posts & Kopy Kourse and I got an excellent response rate.

    I’m currently validating some local business marketing ideas & I’m planning on sending out e-mails to my list.

    - Alex

    P.S. Love the insight you’ve been sharing on the Forever Jobless Podcast.

  8. 1) I always open your emails, Perry Marshall’s, Cal Newport’s, Noah Kagan’s, and Seth Godin’s.

    I love getting, but don’t always open, Ramit Sethi’s, Farnam Street, Erik Barker, and the Harvard Shortlist.

    2) I’m sending emails to my email list, and the call to action is getting people back to the site to listen to the podcast. It’s a small list (69), and I’m averaging 59% opens and 13% clicks. That’s like 4 people, lol.

    But I LOVE those people!

  9. Hey Neville,

    The main emails I love to read and open are yours, Noahs and Frank Kerns.

    I’m trying to sell items on site basically I sell or try to sell solar toys and gadgets on this site.

    Regards Chris

    P.S would be really awesome to get some more swipes of the email you have sent to your house of rave business.

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