Listen to the Content Creation Made Easy Podcast

Making E-Mail Work For You 'Cuz It's Not Dead with Tarzan Kay

content creation made easy

Coupla things you need to know about using email as part of your marketing plan...

(Whether you like email personally or not):

  1. It’s NOT dead.
  2. You’re not BOTHERING people with your emails

It might be hard to believe, given the huge push of short-form video video video, but emails still a VITAL part of building a relationship with your audience.

How’s your email approach working? How’s the relationship you have with your email community?

In case you needed an email expert in your life, Jen’s got your back and is bringing you one today!

Tarzan Kay - a done-for-you copywriter turned email expert, specializing in writing emails that are fun to read, and more addictive than Netflix.

Her online courses teach how to write story-based copy and make consistent sales from a small email list, without using fear or FOMO.

Be sure to sign up for E-mail Stars here

Her company’s mission is to make high-integrity marketing the new status quo for online business.

Through Tarzan & Jen’s conversation today, you’ll find out:

  • Why email? Isn’t short, snackable content the way to go?
  • How to get your readers to REPLY to your email messages!
  • Realistic talk about what it takes to hone your personality with your email community.
  • Easy-to-stop mistakes we can shift out of for more impact with our emails
  • Why we have to protect ourselves AND our audience when we're truthy or vulnerable in our messaging.

Tarzan also shares some startling data points about what your audience WANTS!

Listen in and discover how to do email BETTER - without making it HARDER!

Interesting to note: In a previous life, Tarzan was a music major and once did a 3-year stint in law school, in French! When not writing emails, you’ll find her taking mid-day dunks in the ice bath or playing Billy Joel’s greatest hits on the piano.

Tarzan and her family live in Ontario, Canada.

You can access the Email trainings, workshops, and programs we discuss at

Connect With Tarzan

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Full Transcript

Jen Liddy

I want to welcome you today to the Content Creation Made Easy podcast because you know for a while I've been talking about short form content and I'm always talking about how to do things with your content, your copy, and your messaging in a non-bullshitty way. 


Today I want to talk about how to move from short form content and why there's still a place for your longer form content and also that we can do that in a non-bullshitty way. 


I’m talking specifically about email. I love email. I use email. I want you to use email. I've literally brought on an email expert who I've been following for a long time. This is Tarzan Kay. I'm really excited that Tarzan is here!


Tarzan is a former copywriter for hire and she totally pivoted her business to really lean into email. Making email a viable option to create an incredibly successful business. I've taken Tarzan’s email courses. I have a lot of her stuff, and I know that she's an expert when it comes to this.

That’s why I brought her on here to talk about no bullshit, how to make it more fun, how to do it well, why we should do it, and also getting into some more vulnerable stuff where I want to head at the end.

I want to just say thanks Tarzan, for taking time, especially in the middle of your Email Stars launch, to come and chat with me about this stuff.

Tarzan Kay

Thanks for having me. It's my favorite topic. Let's do it.

Jen Liddy

I think people would really love to understand what made you move away from something as tried and true as done for you copywriting and really lean so heavily into the email lane.

Tarzan Kay

Well, in fact, even when I was in my early days as a copywriter, I was mostly doing email. In my first year in business, I did this email copywriting contest that was probably in retrospective a small-time thing. But at the time I felt really excited and I thought, “Okay, like maybe email could be my specialty. Email could be my thing.”

So I just started leaning into email and I started really focusing on doing emails for my clients. And then at the same time I was emailing my own list and I just discovered something that I really loved doing. I only added social media many years later and I'm still really spotty.

But email just from the beginning was something that felt really in my zone. It felt like it really gives back a lot. It's really an intimate space to talk with subscribers and share ideas and it feels unlike anything else out there.

And I've just loved it for a long time. And so eventually I pivoted away from doing email for clients to teaching email to my email subscribers in the audience that I had been growing along the way.

Jen Liddy

What was it when you say it gives back? And I'm just curious what you specifically mean by that, because I have an idea, but I'm wondering what it looks like for you.

Tarzan Kay

Yeah. Okay. So in terms of, like, a stat that is often thrown around when it comes to email marketing, some people will say and there are studies to back this up, that for every dollar you spend on email marketing, you can expect an average return on investment of $42. And email is really like the place where you can see consistent measurable return on investment. So that's one thing. The first time I made an offer to my email list, I was so blown away, I was like, “Whoa, okay!” I'd been nurturing them for a year, and I had a list of maybe 700 and some subscribers, and I couldn't believe that they were so interested in buying my offer. I was absolutely blown away.

So it gives back in monetary terms, but also to me, email is just a much more peaceful space when compared to social media. It feels quieter than my news feed, and I think it gives back in terms of just having really, those intimate conversations. It feels like real, true relationship building in that oftentimes when I'm selling a program, a lot of the names that I see coming through, I'm like, “Oh, yeah, I recognize those names. Those are people that I've been speaking with for months, maybe even years.”

Jen Liddy

So you're saying people reply and respond to your emails?

Tarzan Kay

Exactly. Precisely, yes. Thank you.

Jen Liddy

Tell us, is there? Because I hear a lot of people complain that their lists are really quiet. What is your secret to getting people to reply to you?

Tarzan Kay

So my emails, I'm really known for writing emails that are very story driven, and I didn't start out that way. I've just leaned into that over the years. But my shtick has always been that my emails are fun, they're story driven, and they're also really transparent.

From the beginning, I always really shared from where I was at, I'm a personal brand, and with my clients I'd written so many emails with the rags to riches story, and it just felt like a little bit overdone and also just boring.

And from the beginning, that's just what felt good to share. And it felt like it was the most interesting to share.

As I was growing my business, I would bring my subscribers along and I would say, here's something we tried. This worked, this didn't work. I think it was just a natural evolutionary process.

And I think it’s really important for all email marketers to know is it takes time for an email newsletter to really take shape, and it's good to think about articulating the value of your email. But in the beginning, you're kind of still figuring it out and you do just have to commit to consistency, keep doing it week after week and let those themes and things come through.

In the beginning I couldn't have said, “My emails will be very brave, authentic, story driven, and we'll talk about transparency in the industry.” I did not know that that was years of evolution and it's still continuing to evolve. So it was something that gets discovered over time.

Jen Liddy

I think that's really great because it gives people permission and time to figure out what theirs looks like, what is the thing, your pillars or what you're leaning on. And I think people are loath to jump into something because they're like, “Oh my God, all of these people that I follow are so far ahead of me and everybody's figured it out and I'm going to look like a fool if I don't have it figured out.“

So this is a big takeaway. Give yourself permission to suck for a little while and kind of learn as you go because you don't learn unless you do it.

Tarzan Kay

Yeah, yeah. I always say a large percentage of my emails are pretty average and a small percentage of them are absolutely awesome. I always live by the maxim that my best work is ahead of me. So you have to continue to publish and they'll get better over time.

What is average now four years ago was the absolute best I had.

Jen Liddy

Yeah. So I want to talk about it because sometimes my clients who are pretty much solopreneurs trying to build an audience, a little bit overwhelmed with content, sometimes they are loath to create an email list because it's so much work or they think that their audience isn't on email or doesn't open email.

And then the other thing I hear push back on with email is but everything is short content right now. Everything is like Tik Tok and Reels and YouTube Shorts and I know that things are getting snackable.

So where and how does email a content option that is still viable for us? What are your thoughts?

Tarzan Kay

Well, since I've been in this industry and your people may just be tired of hearing about this, but it remains true. Like your email list is the one thing that will always remain yours.

And yes, people will come and go. However, when you earn someone's email address, it is not the same as having someone follow you on Instagram.

Like as an example, I have let's say 8000 Instagram followers and when I do a story, 500 people maybe see them. That's a pretty low percentage. Whereas if I send an email to my list of 12,000 people, I can be certain that 4000 of them are going to see that email. So that's a much higher percentage of people that are seeing my content. Plus there are things that I can do to increase my open rate.

It's just like to me it's a lot more predictable and also I think it's just important to know, like, we need email addresses actually to function in the world. You don't need a social media account. If you buy things online, you need an email address. Like, you just sign up for things which to go to school, you must have email. People join my classes all the time and they're like, I can't join your Facebook group. I'm not on Facebook.

So whatever your feelings are about whether people like it or not, they are actually in their inboxes every single day, multiple times, in some cases glancing over to it every time it dings. So I think it has at least the same potential, probably more as social media.

And one thing that I feel like is really different about email is that you do have, like, a podcast format.

Actually, with email, you have time to share an idea that is actually substantial. And I think people want that. I am also digesting bite sized content all the time. I love TikTok, I love Instagram. And also I want something that I can sink my teeth into.

And I also want real connection, like when I really can connect with someone's story and hit reply and have a conversation. It's just very different than what's happening, say, in my DMs on Instagram, which is also fun and exciting and nothing against that. I like that. However, it is a unique space that is very different and also serves so many purposes.

We're just talking about nurturing and selling, but we also need to talk about delivering our products and bringing customers back to purchase.

Again, email just does so many things for me and my business. It is the backbone of everything we do. We could cut off all social media tomorrow and we would figure out a way to do it.  Email is like, it's the spine. We just cannot. I know some people don't do email in the way that we do it. And I wonder myself, like, how do they do it? Like, how do they walk without a spine. I don't even understand.

Jen Liddy

I totally feel the same way. It's such a foundation of my content. So I love that you said two things. Like, I'm taking away from what you just said.

One is email is there, and it's showing up in people's inboxes and it's kind of on us to entice them to open up those freaking emails at this point. We have to really have great headlines and subject lines and great content.

Tarzan Kay

Yeah. I also want to say another stat that gets turned around a lot. This was a recent study in the last couple of years that 49% of consumers want to receive promotional emails from their favorite brands.

And I think often, especially for people like me who are in business to business, and they're on a lot of email lists and they know the space really well. They're like, “Don't people hate this?  I'm so annoyed.”

No, they actually don't. There's a very good chance that your customers want to get the emails from you. They actually consented. In our case, we don't get almost any opt ins. Currently, you can get the opt in without joining my email list. We have practiced a high level of consent. So you have to tick a box to say you want to hear from me.

They actually want to hear from me. And I think it can be really surprising.

I've noticed this in a lot of my students in Email Stars that when they really lean into their own personality and their brand personality and really show up in a way that feels real, they will start to see their subscribers responding and saying things like, “Oh my God, this is the best thing in my inbox.” Or like, “Oh my God, yours are the only emails I ever want to read”

And that can be really eye opening. Well, yeah, you might think that it's annoying, but when you actually really practice this in a different way that feels good to you, you're going to find that what people’s inboxes may be crowded, but they're not crowded with gold. They're crowded with shrapnel that they're trying to pick through.

Jen Liddy

That's a good point.

So when we're talking about all this stuff, what are some of the mistakes that the really low hanging fruit that… I know Email Stars because I've taken it goes in depth and has a lot of good nuggets in there. But what are some of the low hanging fruit that people the mistakes or the myths or whatever that you could just kind of pop up for us?

Tarzan Kay

Well, the first thing is just consistency. It seems so basic. But for those of your listeners who haven't just achieved a basic level of consistency, which could be every two weeks or even every week, consistency is the most important thing and will make the most dramatic difference in the long term. Email can be short game.

Like, yes, you can do 48 hours promos and make money quickly when you have a well nurtured email list, however, it really is long game.

And in this world, like in online business, so much of the marketing that we see is very much about get it fast. Like this strategy tomorrow, like seven figure business this year, like fast.

And I think that email marketing is really for people who like, I just want to encourage people to think about it as like something that will benefit your business in the long term and it will just grow and grow and grow. So consistency is the most important thing if you really want to leverage that long term growth.

And I would say the second thing, I'll just say one more thing when it comes to selling, like actually just sending more emails like that can be uncomfortable for people who haven't mailed very often.

Tarzan Kay

And it's uncomfortable because the more you mail, the more you see people unsubscribe. However, people do need more touch points most of the time, and it can take a number of emails to address all of the objections you need to address. And just like, get people to wake up and realize you're selling something because they might have missed the first three times you said it, and then also that there's a special sale on or it's not happening forever.

That does take time, and that could apply to a promo sequence, but it also could apply to in the past, I would send one or two webinar invitations if I was doing a webinar, and that was it. And now I'm like, “Okay, well, the webinar, that's how I get people into the whole promotion. So I got to put way more focus on that.” So sending more emails when you have something to offer and in general, just sending them consistently.

Jen Liddy

The statistic you said before about the 49% of people want to see you in their inbox. I think that if people could marry that statistic with the piece that you just said of showing up more. But if you think you're being a pain in the ass by showing up in somebody's inbox, this is your big block.

But Tarzan is saying 49% of people want more of those touch points. And so you're never going to be more consistent if you still think you're a pain in the ass in people's inbox.

So really leaning into that 49% is like, I think that's a super helpful number to kind of like put on a Postit note and remind yourself every time you're putting out an email. I love that. Thank you for I didn't know that. That's amazing.

One of the things I really wanted to talk about today is how consistency and all of the stuff that we've been talking about…My whole platform is like it has to be sustainable, it has to be realistic, and it has to be non bullshitty. So how does Email Stars, which I know is coming this summer? How does that help us do everything with email with more ease? What are some of the big takeaways from Email Stars?

Tarzan Kay

Okay, so opens June 9, by the way, and this program, this is our 7th time promoting this program, launching and selling this program. And it's evolved a lot over the years. And in those years, I've gone from using every persuasion strategy that I could think of to being a lot more intentional about how I promote and what sort of things I'm willing and not willing to do in terms of applying pressure to the sale. So a lot of that's been built into the program.

But actually, right from the beginning, one of the things I feel really proud of in our program is it's always been like, here's a very systematized way to do email. From the time that someone joins your email list, what to do next, how to write weekly nurture emails, like how to sell things, how to get people on webinars, how to get people booking calls, onboarding people to your programs, all those sorts of things. We go through the entire customer journey. And also the program is very nonlinear. People will sign up and start by watching module five, which is all about sales, because they just need that, and then they'll go back when they're ready for nurturing.

Or it's like something that you can really skip around. And it's also very much like, here's what works. If you only do one thing, do this thing, and something I say all the time, just look for the 10%, because email marketing is something that you really can build on and you don't have to…While I've followed a lot of people's systems. I've never felt like people necessarily needed to do exactly what I need to do.

It's mostly like nurturing is really important. Here's how to do it. Here's how to format your emails. Here's all of the logistical stuff, tagging and segmenting. And here are the must dos. And here are like all the other things you could do based on the type of business you want to do, how you want to sell, what strategies you feel comfortable selling. Like, do you use upsells, down sales, cross sells? Here's how to do those.

And it's really like a choose your own adventure kind of program. And I think that's incredibly important because what I want the most from my students is that they really find the joy in their email marketing and really learn to just love the process, because if they love it, then they're going to keep doing it.

And if they keep doing it, then they will really start making money from it.

Jen Liddy

Yeah, I wanted to really encourage people to check out Email Stars. So I have a program called the Content Creator Studio, where it's a membership where people every week get content support. But I'm not an email expert.

I don't want to go deep into emails because like you've said today, there's obviously so many avenues you can go with emails, welcome emails, nurture email, selling emails, webinar emails, sales. Like, there's so much and I don't want to be the Oracle for email. And part of why I really wanted to have you on was that if people really want to go deep and wide on email, this program is a really great program, and you have it on your computer for the rest of your life.

You can go back, you get the updates, Tarzan updates, things. She's very generous with that. And so I really want to say to the people listening, if email is a thing that you have really kind of said, like, I suck at this and I don't know how to do it. Go buy this program. It's accessible, and you have a live component to it. Right, Tarzan?

Tarzan Kay

Yeah, definitely. There's about twelve weeks of support with the program and it's really hands on. And there's one thing that people really love. Some of our power users have logged in like more than 150 times.

We have swipe files for everything. So sample emails, like those things, not everybody uses them. Honestly, some people don't like site files, but having samples of like, here's how it was done in the past and that just tends to make things go so much faster.

Jen Liddy

It just gets the ball rolling. So anyway, that's my plug for Email Stars. I'm not getting paid to say that. So I just really believe in this program, especially if you really want to go deep and wide on email.

I have another question for you, though, and it's kind of a little bit out of this lane, which is one of the things I've watched you do over the past two years, is really dive into kind of looking at your marketing practices, deciding what feels good for you, what doesn't feel good to you really start to be transparent with your audience, kind of in an effort to break down some of the bullshitty stuff, the bro marketing stuff, the overt promises that we see that have become the norm in the industry.

And I'm curious. Well, I'd love to hear your evolution about how you came to this decision to kind of put the brakes on and say, I'm going to do this a different way.

Tarzan Kay

Yeah. Well, at a certain point, like, you know, I've used all the strategies, everything that I was taught and made lots of money doing it. And along the way, I just sort of ignored or rationalized why some people were getting results and other people weren't.

And of course, that's business like, not everybody will be successful in the businesses that they start. And I do understand that's normal.

However, I just sensed like a lot of people had resistance to doing things like fast action bonuses and countdown timers and value stacking valued at $8,000 today, only $500.

All these things, I started to find them a bit cliche, but also I just felt enormous resistance. And I also observed people buying like mechanically buying, buying because they just wanted to they were just in an enormous amount of discomfort.

Maybe they were already in discomfort or maybe because some promotion they looked at was making them feel like they were not going to be successful unless they bought this thing. I've seen that style of marketing over and over where it's like if you are serious about your business, you must invest in yourself.

And how do you want to feel when you wake up tomorrow? Like, are you going to buy this product or are you just going to go back? Are you just going to be satisfied with the way your life is?

Just so much of that messaging that felt really manipulative and I never said things like that.

However, I wrote them for clients, and I just got to a point where I kind of had enough and I had to do things differently. It showed up in other ways. Like, I just felt like I was promoting all the time and I didn't put that much effort into creating my own courses.

I was just constantly selling, constantly selling other people's things and constantly talking about how this thing was going to make someone rich or this thing.

And along the time at that time, I also was sort of having an awakening in terms of my understanding that I hold these dominant identities as someone who is white and cisgender, English speaking, beautiful, charismatic, all these things.

I was like, "Oh, so I started to put it together that maybe why some of this stuff was really working for me and not others was because of some of these layers of privilege that I hold."

And me going and telling people, if I can do it, you can do it too, is, like, not really fair and not actually acknowledging that in many ways I had a head start.

And so, I mean, that really just kind of shredded my whole world. And I had to think about not just marketing, but everything differently.

And it's been years, two and a half years now, of trying to figure out what sort of marketing makes sense for me and what I feel good about. And initially, I was just wanting people to say, this is good, this is bad.

Do this, don't do that. And along the way, I really realized it's only me that can make those intentional choices about, do I use countdown timers?

Do I not? Will I maybe use a fast action bonus for this product but not for this one over here?

Like, just thinking about these things and making the choices that are right for my business and my customers, rather than just using every strategy, because that's what someone told me I had to do in order to be successful in making these changes.

In my mind, the students who come into my programs are actually, like, really ready for them and really wanting them as opposed to people that just buy and then fall off the map because they never really wanted it in the first place.

They just found the marketing so convincing that they ended up there. Yeah.

Jen Liddy

Or they didn't have capacity for it. Like, they never really were going to have the ability to move through it.

So when we were kind of shredding everything and rebuilding it and assessing, I know that by watching your emails, I know that there's a lot of vulnerability that comes through because your stuff is so story based and you were going through such an enormous transformation.

How did you protect yourself? And I'm also going to ask you, how do you protect your audience in being so vulnerable with them?

Tarzan Kay

So I have had to learn how to have hard conversations in email marketing and in all places. And initially, any time I said something controversial and people didn't like it, I just would instantly be like totally central nervous system, completely out of whack and just wanting to hide under my desk and say sorry and never speak to anyone again.

I have had to learn and find strategies to self regulate and also really get clear on what I believe in and who I am and what strategies I'm comfortable using.

I have had to grow. I think being a business owner is like ultimately one of the most profound exercises and personal growth that there are.

And so it was hard in the beginning and I think it is for everyone and having support is helpful.

I have a team that I can talk things through, but for other people that might be having like a peer group that you can have conversations with, that support is really important and especially as you're trying to figure out who you are in the world and what your business is really doing, that can take time to come through.

And in the early days, like getting critical feedback sometimes, especially for people who are marginalized or people who have a lot of trauma, I just would automatically think like, I am so bad I just have to quit.

So building that strength and resilience within myself and realizing and this took time, what do I need to take responsibility for and what is not mine? Like now when an email comes in that's highly critical of something that I wrote, I'm pretty good at reading it and seeing like, oh, that's your stuff.

And in many cases too, I'm like, "Oh yes, there's something that I really didn't think of and we could talk about that,' and just coming to understand some people will attack you in email. That does happen, but sometimes people just want to give feedback and it can feel like an attack when it isn't an attack. So all of that is really like it's learned over time. It requires. I think email is a really brave space and I think just like with the writing, you get better at it by doing it.

Jen Liddy

By doing it instantly. I know we're going to wrap up, but have you had to do anything to consider your audience when you are being super vulnerable with them?

Tarzan Kay

If I'm talking about abuse or Kanye West or there's some subject that I will put like content notes at the top because I know that I have subscribers who will find the topic triggering.

So I like to have content notes. It's pretty rare, but I do do that.

And also my team generally reads all of the replies before I do. And I understand I'm fortunate. I have a team that can do that.

But that has been helpful, especially in times when I was just really going through a lot and I just needed I think, let's say you're checking your own email and you've sent something that you think could be a little bit polarizing, even just like taking a few breaths and going into the space in a grounded place where I have gotten hurt and where it's been hard is when

I just went to check my email right before a call and there was this bomb in there that I wasn't prepared for at all. So even just like setting aside time now, I do it every Friday. I read email replies and I know there's going to be all different types of replies in there and I'm ready for it and I have time set aside for it.

Jen Liddy

Love it. Thank you so much. How can people get into your orbit and how can they find Email Stars?

Tarzan Kay

Okay, so right now we're running a series of workshops called the email workshops which you can find at the . There's also a Facebook group that goes with it. It's whole like three week-long event.

The group opens on May 16 and then we have workshops on how to do welcome emails.

We have workshops on email metrics, and I have another workshop on storytelling.

So that's happening throughout the end of May and then Email Stars opens on June 9 so you can go to . All the information will be there, there will be a link there or join the email workshops.

I think that's a really great place to start and hang out with my crew, meet my team, and learn about email. It's a really fun series of workshops. It's interactive. There's no slide deck.

I'm teaching from a Google Doc and you can copy the Doc and follow along and get some writing done and really get going on your email marketing, if it's a goal you have for this year.

Jen Liddy

I will drop those links in the show notes and everything else I send out about this. How can people follow you on Instagram? Where are you on Instagram?

Tarzan Kay

I'm Tarzan underscore KAY. I'm also sporadically on LinkedIn but more so on Instagram and my stories.

Jen Liddy

Thank you so much for all your gems and your time and your expertise and for going to all the places I needed to go today to have this great interview. Thank you so much, Tarzan.

Tarzan Kay

Thanks, Jen.

Jen Liddy

Bye, everyone. Bye.

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